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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition News for September 15, 2003

Edited by Anthony Tan & Jeff Jones

Sevilla, Sastre and Casero suffering

Aitor Gonzalez coming good
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image

As Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano says, the Vuelta doesn't give you a chance for a breather. While some riders like Aitor Gonzalez have managed to fight back after a bad start, others have fallen by the wayside. Alex Zülle abandoned today in Stage 9, in what could be his last Vuelta. Others like Oscar Sevilla, Carlos Sastre and Angel Casero are all having their own difficulties.

Sevilla is suffering from a combination of lack of training kilometres and his crash during the early stages of the Vuelta. He seems to be improving with each stage, although he has given up his role as Kelme-Costa Blanca team leader in favour of Stage 9 winner Alejandro Valverde.

Carlos Sastre (CSC), who demonstrated a fine level of form on stage 2, has lost strength in the Pyrenees as a result of a heavy cold that he has been suffering from.

Angel Luis Casero (Team Bianchi) is suffering during this year’s Vuelta as a result of a knee injury. The Valencian rider has seen one of his tendons gradually become inflamed, leading him to lose almost an hour and a half during the first three mountain stages. Courtesy:

Riders drug tested in Landuyt affair

Investigators in Kortrijk have ordered drug tests for some of the professional riders involved in the José Landuyt affair. Johan Museeuw, Jo Planckaert and Mario De Clercq were all asked to give blood and urine samples for testing purposes. The investigators are looking in particular for traces of the super-EPO drug Aranesp, which while being far more effective than EPO is also much easier to detect due to its longer half life in the body.

The possession and use of illegal drugs can be quite serious when considered as a criminal offence. Riders in Belgium who are found in possession of and use illegal drugs risk a maximum jail sentence of five years. If they test positive but the drugs are not found in their possession, then they can be suspended by the federation for varying lengths of time, depending on the drug.

Aranesp is believed to be one of the drugs that Landuyt was dealing in, supposedly having the code name "wesp". Other alleged code words that were used in conversations between the veterinarian and his clients include "gesneden brood" [growth hormone] and "kevers" [possibly testosterone].

Verhaegen positive for the second (and last) time

The news from the amateur scene in Belgium is that Johan Verhaegen (John Saey) has tested positive for nandrolone, and has decided to retire from cycling. Verhaegen was a career amateur (elite zonder contract) and in 2001-2002 won a total of 70 kermesses, more than any other amateur in Belgium in those years. He has already served a past suspension for doping, and the penalty for a second offence will be too long for him to restart his career.

"It is at the same time the end of my career," he was quoted on as saying. "I will not ride another race. A new suspension is too much."

Verhaegen also admitted that he had taken drugs. "Until my 25th birthday I rode clean. Then I won about ten races per season. After that not only my but also my supporters always wanted more. Without that you have to look for other means. And then you come naturally to doping. And I am certainly not the only one in the peloton who does. The world is sick. But I find that this hypocrisy must be broken down."

Crash ends Vanlandschoot's season

A crash in the last stage of the Tour de l'Avenir has put and end to the season of James Vanlandschoot (Vlaanderen-T Interim). The 25 year old broke his collarbone and three ribs in a crash that occurred in the finishing sprint.

Australian women's team for World's to be confirmed soon

"Best ever chance of a podium place in both events"

National women's team manager for Australia, James Victor, believes the country's prospective team line-up for this year's World Road Championships in Hamilton, Canada, will be its strongest ever since Anna Millward's double silver achieved in Verona four years ago, and is confident of holding onto their number one ranking until 2004.

"With the depth of our women now racing in Europe, and on a tough course in Canada, I believe Australia has its best chance of a podium in both events," said Victor to Cyclingnews. "Also being a pre-Olympic year, the depth of the Australian women internationally has made it a super competitive year for World's spots, with riders working harder than ever chasing the three spots available for Athens."

"When you look over the names of our women that have worked so hard over the last few years to climb their way steadily towards the top, it's a very satisfying position to currently hold the number one ranking amongst all nations, with the aim to finish in that same position post-Worlds," added Victor.

Road race expected to follow Plouay and Portugal

The Australian women's team manager also expects the road race to follow a similar vein to that of the 2000 and 2001 World Championships in Plouay and Portugal respectively, with the winning selection coming in the remaining two to three laps.

"From all reports, and following the results of the Canadian Road Championships in June, I expect the race to be determined much like previous championships, with a selection to come in the final 2 to 3 laps of about 10 to 15 riders," said Victor. "With two distinct, sharp climbs in each lap of the road race, I expect the profile and technical aspects of the circuit to suit the classic one day rider, more so than a Tour climber. Also with the time trial, I believe both events will produce worthy champions on testing courses."

Victor also noted the change in weather conditions may well play a role, taking into consideration Europe's stifling summer temperatures only a month ago and Hamilton's historical susceptibility to rain and cold in October. "With the expected adverse weather, it will also be a case of who is ready for these conditions, after the long hot summer in Europe," he said. "From reports we've looked at, the daily temperatures are expected to range from 2 to 16 degrees Celsius, and 40 to 50 per cent chance of rain."

Team to be determined following Giro della Toscana

The squads for the men's and women's team is likely be announced within the next fortnight, with selection for the women following the conclusion of the Giro della Toscana stage race in northern Italy, which ends today.

"The selection criteria is clear, with automatic qualifications for the time trial and road race," explained Victor to Cyclingnews. "At this stage, based on a points system for time trials, Sara Carrigan has qualified as our best time triallist, and remains unbeaten in all time Trials she has contested this year. For the road race, our top three UCI-ranked women at the end of August - which had to have been ranked in the top 30 overall - are Sara Carrigan, Olivia Gollan and Alison Wright. The remaining team positions are likely to be filled from the following candidates: Margaret Hemsley, Emma James, Katie Mactier, Hayley Rutherford, Kym Shirley and Oenone Wood."

Victor emphasised that performances at the Giro della Toscana will determine the remaining positions, citing that winners of the previous seven editions of the race have produced world champions in 1996, 1999, 2000 and 2002. "2001 World Champion Rasa Polikeviciute featured on the podium of the 2001 Giro [della Toscana] - hence the importance placed on riders condition through this final lead-up tour before Road World's," he said.

Thomas Lövkvist signs with

By Gabriella Ekström

Tomas Lövkvist
Photo: © Patrick Serra
Click for larger image

19 year-old Swedish revelation Thomas Lövkvist, having just finished the Tour de l'Avenir in sixth overall, has signed a two year contract with

Lövkvist took the lead on Stage 4 of the 10-day event after breaking away with Jean Delatour rider Samuel Dumoulin 15 kilometres from the finish. Although the young Swede lost the leader's jersey the next day, Lövkvist rode consistently throughout the remainder of the race, and finished with a top 10 placing on the overall classification.

Lövkvist, who does not turn 20 until April next year, will be the youngest Swede ever to sign a professional contract, and sees Marc Madiot's squad as a great opportunity, believing the team shows a serious approach to the sport, especially in regards to nurturing young talent.

Lövkvist's recent results also include a prologue win in the Polish stage race Dookola Mazowska (2.5) and a string of podium places on Stage 6 of the FBD Milk Ras, the Scandinavian road championship, and the Swedish road and time trial championship.

Click here to read a Cyclingnews interview with Thomas Lövkvist.

More contract news

Cyril Saugrain (BigMat-Auber 93), a past Tour de France stage winner, has decided to end his career. Cedric Fragnière (Credit Agricole) will also retire.

Marco Serpellini (Lampre) will ride for Gerolsteiner for the next two seasons.

Jens Renders will debut with Palmans-Collstrop next season.

World's tune-up race for juniors and espoirs

A tune-up race leading up to the World Road Championships in Hamilton, Canada for junior and espoir riders, the Nella Cramaro World Cycling Grand Prix, will be held in Ontario, Canada on Sunday, October 5.

The junior race will carry a UCI 1.13 classification and will be conducted over a distance of 125 kilometres, with the Under 23/Espoirs race awarded a 1.14 classification over a distance of 175 kilometres. The St. Catharines Cycling Club, hosts to the Tim Hortons (Canadian) National Championships in June this year, will again be the hosts to this event in Ontario's beautiful Niagara wine country. The course is approximately a 40 minute drive east from Hamilton towards Niagara Falls, Ontario.

For more information and entry forms, visit

Emerald City Cyclocross Series starting soon

This year's Seattle Emerald City Cyclocross Series kicks off this coming weekend, the first round scheduled for September 21 at North Sea-Tac Park, Seattle. Presented by Microsoft, the eight-race series caters to all categories, including A, B and C Grade, Masters A and B, as well as a free kids' race for children aged 12 and under.

Cyclocross is a combination of running and riding on a short course roughly two miles long, comprised of a combination of riding and running surfaces. Typical courses are partially on roads, partially on trails and include a few steep or sandy 30-60 foot funning sections. The occasional 15 inch-high barrier forces all but the most technically gifted racers to dismount and remount, with the result being a very athletic and dynamic form of bike racing.

The final race will be held on Saturday December 6, one week before the National Championships in Portland on December 14. For more details, visit or email:

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