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Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest News for March 24, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry

Museeuw gives kudos to Bettini

Johan Museeuw, who gave up his place in the Quick.Step-Davitamon team for Milan-San Remo, had no regrets about doing so after watching Paolo Bettini win the race on Saturday. In Het Laatste Nieuws and Het Nieuwsblad today, Museeuw said that he could not have done what Paolini did for Bettini on the Poggio. "I don't have that sort of attack in the legs, never had it," he said.

"I reconnoitred the whole Ronde van Vlaanderen on Saturday. I was just back in time for the blood curdling finale. Impressive stuff from Paolo and Luca. Bettini is the perfect team player who in the coming years will always be good for at least one classic."

"I know how important La Primavera is for an Italian, especially also wearing the World Cup jersey. What Bettini did, from the Cipressa onwards, I have rarely seen. I phoned him immediately. What a great start for our team."

Third fastest Milan-San Remo ever

The average speed of Saturday's 94th Milan-Sam Remo was 44.031 km/h for the 297 kilometre classic. This is the third fastest on record, behind Gianni Bugno's 1990 average of 45.806 km/h and Eddy Merckx's 44.805 km/h in 1976.

In addition, the last time Italians filled the top five placings in Milan-San Remo was in 1949, when Fausto Coppi beat Vito Ortelli, Fiorenzo Magni, Adriano De Zan, and Vittorio Rossello.

40th Setmana Catalana

Taking place between Monday, March 24 and Friday, March 28 this week is the 40th edition of Setmana Catalana, the most important Spanish race of the season so far. The five stage race will see Lance Armstrong back in action, after his first outing in Murcia where he finished second in the final time trial.

"I worked very hard, and I've also tried to lose some extra kilos and just relax," Armstrong told L'Equipe of his recent preparation. "I'm hoping I won't be too far from the leaders this week."

Armstrong, together with US Postal's Viatcheslav Ekimov and Victor Peña, will be racing against Javier Pascual Llorente (Kelme), winner of two multi-stage races already this season, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE), Dario Frigo and Aitor Gonzalez (Fassa Bortolo), Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) and Gilberto Simoni (Saeco).

The first stage starts and finishes in Lloret de Mar, run over 146.7 kilometres. It contains the Cat. 1 climb of Alt de Sant Grau (500m), but other than that is not too mountainous. The second stage from Lloret de Mar to Empuriabrava is slightly hillier, with two Cat. 3 climbs, a Cat. 2 climb, and then the Cat. 1 Alt de Sant Pere de Rodes (530m) which comes at 25 km to go.

Stage 3 from Castelló D'empuries to Parets Del Vallés is more suited to the sprinters, with only a couple of small climbs to be overcome. The fourth stage starts from Parets Del Vallés and finishes on the Coll De Pal, a tough Cat. 1 climb reaching 2,080 metres. The final stage from Baga to Vic (176 km) is not nearly as challenging as the previous one, however the hills in the final part of the race will not make it easy to control the stage.

The stages

Stage 1 - March 24: Lloret De Mar - Lloret De Mar, 146.7 km
Stage 2 - March 25: Lloret De Mar - Empuriabrava, 158.7 km
Stage 3 - March 26: Castelló D'empuries - Parets Del Vallés, 174.8 km
Stage 4 - March 27: Parets Del Vallés - Coll De Pal (Bagá), 144 km
Stage 5 - March 28: Baga - Vic, 176 km

US trackies complain about World's selection procedures

By Jeff Jones

USA Cycling's recently released selection criteria for the Track World Championships in China in July/August have raised concerns amongst riders who believe that they are unfair. Specifically, it's the timing of the release of these criteria, coming just four and a half months before the World's, that has angered some riders, who say that they needed to be informed months ago in order to plan their seasons effectively.

Madison rider Colby Pearce, who has represented the USA in World Cups and World Championships, expressed his criticism of the selection criteria in a letter to USAC, also received by Cyclingnews. Pearce wrote that "I think the procedures which were posted have a lot of positive points.." However, "It is absolutely essential that these procedures are known to the athletes before the World Cup competitions begin. Specifically, months before. Not over half way through the World Cup calendar, as is the case now."

Pearce continued, "If I had known that I could make the World's team through World Cup competition, I never would have given up my position on the madison team for Moscow, which I had earned at the previous year's US National Championships. I also would have raced very differently in San Diego. When you know that World Cup performances have no bearing on your selection for World Championships, they become optional. Announcing a qualification program like this after two World Cup events have already happened is nothing short of completely unfair to anyone who has been, is, or is potentially involved with the US National Team."

As far as the selection criteria are concerned, Pearce is largely in favour of them, as they give riders who represent the USA internationally a better chance at selection. Describing the previous system, Pearce said that "To pick the World's team based on results from National level competition in the US is not desirable, because the US track fields lack depth; this means a few favourites end up racing only against each other, which makes is very easy to have an unusual outcome."

"It is in everyone's best interest to send the best possible rider for the event: the USAC coach (who gets acclaim and personal satisfaction if the rider who is selected under their program performs well at Worlds), USAC (who gets more funding from the USOC for that event if the rider places well at Worlds), and the rider himself/herself (who gets what they deserve, if they are the best: a shot at the World title). Thus, the proposed qualification system makes a lot of sense, if it is known in advance to everyone."

Pearce's regular madison partner Jame Carney voiced similar concerns about the selection criteria, telling Cyclingnews that he is "100 percent" in agreement with Colby's views. "I would have loved this selection procedure four months ago but I will not accept it four days ago," said Carney. "Retroactive selection is not legal and it is not fair. I am planning on moving forward legally if this procedure is not completely retracted."

Carney added that he "entered school this semester and gave up my Moscow World Cup start positions because I was told and assured that World Cups were not a part of World or Pan Am Selection this year. I was told that selection was in Colorado Springs on June 13-15 and that it was 'winner goes' in all events."

Gonzalez de Galdeano facing possible suspension

Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE-Eroski) has once again come under scrutiny for use of the restricted substance salbutamol. Gonzalez de Galdeano faces a possible three month (minimum) suspension in France by the Conseil de Prévention et Lutte contre le Dopage (CPLD), the French anti-doping authority, according to a report in Monday's l'Equipe.

Gonzalez tested positive for salbutamol during the 2002 Tour de France, as well after the final stage of the 2002 Midi Libre. The focus of the CPLD's current investigation is Galdeano's positive test on July 12, 2002, following the sixth stage of the Tour. Galdeano's urine sample contained 1,360 nanograms of salbutamol, produced by asthma medications including Ventolin.

Salbutamol is considered a banned substance by the International Olympic Committee, except when used by inhalation as a medication, typically to treat asthma. UCI rules state that a concentration of more than 1,000 nanograms of salbutamol in a urine sample is considered a positive test for an anabolic substance, unless the rider has a medical certificate to permit its use. Galdeano did indeed possess one of these during the Tour de France

Gonzalez de Galdeano, Dr. Alain Garnier, head of WADA's Lausanne bureau, told AFP that regular use of asthma medicine does not typically return a reading as high as was recorded with the ONCE rider.

Following Galdeano's control in the Tour de France the UCI, which did not label the result a doping offense, began a face-off with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which insisted the case was indeed one of doping. The UCI declared during the 2002 Tour that so long as a rider uses salbutamol with a prescription, there is no limit placed on the amount of the substance permitted. In accordance with UCI rules, Gonzalez de Galdeano was therefore allowed to continue the Tour, where he ultimately finished fifth overall.

The issue has resurfaced, as the CPLD considers whether to treat these controls as grounds for suspension. Meeting Monday in Paris, the CPLD will discuss Galdeano's case, with neither the rider's presence, nor any representation. In fact, Galdeano has never responded to any of the CPLD's written correspondence.

The CPLD has the authority to impose suspensions on foreign riders, preventing them from competing on French soil, could conceivably impose up to a six month ban on Galdeano, which would preclude his participation in the centenary Tour de France.

Millward surgery successful

Australian cyclist Anna Millward (31) is hoping she will return to racing after having surgery last Saturday to repair hip damage she sustained when she crashed during the 2001 World Championships.

"The surgeon found and repaired a tear in the lining of my right hip capsule but there was no sign of cartilage damage," said Millward. "There was a fair bit of inflammation but that was to be expected because with the tear it had been aggravating the hip."

Millward, a two time World Cup champion and previously ranked number one in the world, last year won a silver medal in the time trial at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in August, despite battling the injury throughout the 2002 season. But since then she has been unable to race due to recurring pain.

"My big problem now is going to be overcoming the boredom of sitting on the couch while I give the hip time to recover properly from the surgery," explained Millward who is expected to be on crutches for at least a week and will undergo intensive physiotherapy to rebuild the muscle strength in her right leg.

"I'm going to see the surgeon in a week to see the photographs and find out from him what I can do at each stage of my recovery," she said. "But I'm hopeful because the damage was isolated my rehabilitation will be quicker.

"I certainly don't want to do too much to soon and risk stuffing it up."

Peers to return in Waregem

Chris Peers (Cofidis), who was injured in a crash in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne at the beginning of March, will return to competition this week. Peers will ride in the Dwars Door Vlaanderen on Wednesday, March 26, after receiving the all clear to race again.

Broken pelvis for Van de Vijver?

Heidi Van de Vijver (Vlaanderen-T Interim Ladies Team) fears that she may have broken her pelvis, after falling twice in three kilometres during Saturday's Primavera Rosa. She will undergo x-rays today to determine the extent of her injuries.

Aug breaks collarbone

Estonian rider Andrus Aug (De Nardi) has broken his collarbone as a result of a fall in the last stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. The break is not too big, but Aug will probably have to forego racing for much of April.

McCauley quits Giant Asia team

New Zealand road champion Gordon McCauley has left his new Giant Asia Racing Team after doing only one race, the Jadranska Magistrala in Croatia. According to team captain Glen Chadwick, McCauley decided to call it quits due to "uncomfortable arrangements".

The team believes he is on his way back to Belgium, where he rode for RDM-Flanders last year.

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)