First Edition Cycling News for February 23, 2004
Edited by Chris Henry
Chavanel defends clean riders
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
In the midst of an early season already swirling drug accusations and
the tragic death of Marco Pantani, Sylvain Chavanel, one of the most promising
young talents in the French peloton, has expressed his frustration over
assumptions that all cyclists are doping. For Chavanel, who rides for
Brioches La Boulangère, the greatest frustration comes from the
emphasis given to those who find themselves under the spotlight, rather
than those who insist that clean riders are not such a rarity.
"I'm sick of everything that's being written and being said," Chavanel
said in Saturday's l'Equipe. "It seems now we're only capable of
giving the microphone to guys who are shooting their mouths off about
the dopers. We're not all dopers. Do they give us (the clean riders) the
chance to talk? Do they look for clean riders to let them express themselves?
Chavanel also bemoans the hypocrisy of those who do speak out about the
current situation, where affairs such as the recent police investigations
into past and present members of the Cofidis team prompt quick comparisons
to the Festina affair of 1998.
"Jérôme Chiotti, whenever he speaks on television, speaks
about what he does or doesn't know," Chavanel said. "But he forgets to
say that he has a book to sell. He forgets to say that he returned his
rainbow jersey [from the 1996 MTB World's] after admitting to having doped,
but he never gave back the money for a title that wasn't his.
"In the Cofidis affair, it's three riders who were trafficking," he added.
"Cycling today doesn't earn the same treatment as other sports. When someone
like John McEnroe admits to doping, it gets a day of coverage. Does someone
like Rutkiewicz, who barely anyone knew, deserve months of headlines?"
Ultimately, Chavanel hopes others who are clean will become more vocal.
"We just need a bit of solidarity. When I look at all the sacrifices I
make for cycling, the work and the lifestyle of a monk that I have to
lead in order to make myself credible, the idea that we're all taken for
dopers makes me crazy. But I still have hope..."
CSC Misses Tirreno invite
Organisers of this year's Tirreno-Adriatico (March 10-16) have opted
not to invite Team CSC, to the surprise and disappointment of team director
Bjarne Riis. Among the schedule adjustments to be made as a result are
the inclusion of Michele Bartoli on CSC's roster for Paris-Nice. Bartoli
will also race the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen, which was not initially
part of the team's plans.
"This means we have to make alternative plans for March," Riis commented.
"I'm of course disappointed by the decision, because even though the organizers
have every right to choose who they want, it's rather late they inform
us of their decision not to invite us."
The team is currently assembled in Lucca, Italy for its second training
Italian spring fling
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
Although it's officially winter on the calendar until the day after Milano-San
Remo, at last Tuesday's Trofeo Laigueglia on the sunny Italian riviera,
the official opener of the Italian road race season, it might as well
have been spring. Plenty of top names like Bettini, Bartoli, Pozzato and
Popovych were on hand and, despite the death of Marco Pantani, i tifosi
were out in force to support their heroes.
Paolo and Monica
Photos ©: Cyclingnews
Leipheimer and Swindlehurst
Here's world #1 rider and Cyclingnews diarist Paolo Bettini, with
his wife Monica and five month old baby daughter Veronica, who were on
hand to meet daddy when he abandoned after 90km.
"My legs still felt a little heavy from Mont Faron last weekend, but
I'm really looking forward to Milano-San Remo again," Bettini told Cyclingnews
after the race.
Michele Bartoli sports his new CSC livery at Laigueglia, while his father
Graziano holds baby Clarissa. We said ciao to Miki and asked him how his
English was coming along on international squad CSC. Fuoriclasse Bartoli
replied "OK", another international affirmation of Bartoli's ever-increasing
Four hours and change after Cyclingnews snapped this quick shot
of a smiling Filippo Pozzato on his way to the race start, the Fassa Bortolo
rider was smiling again as he rode across the finish line of Trofeo Laigueglia
with his arms raised to the sky for the second consecutive year.
Pippo told Cyclingnews that he was pleased with his form and thought
he would have a better shot at a Milano-San Remo win this year. "I've
done a lot of work this winter and I'm climbing better this year, so I
hope it goes well."
All smiles too for Yaroslav Popovych. The Colnago-Landbouwkrediet rider
is somewhat behind in his preparation this season as he had to stay in
the cold winter climes of his native Ukraine longer than expected due
to some administrative problems.
The super-talented Popo was quickly back in the mix, with a powerful
last minute attack at Laigueglia that was finally neutralized by Pozzato's
runaway Silver Team train in the final. "I'm feeling better than I expected,"
Popo told us post-race as he munched a pannino in the team's camper.
Former Trofeo Laigueglia winner Mirko Celestino, a lad from Alassio,
just down the via Aurelia SS1 from Laigueglia, was reportedly the strongest
at Saeco's recent training camp in Terracina. Celestino hopes to improve
his runner up spot at Milano-San Remo last year.
American riders Levi Leipheimer and Burke Swindlehurst have a chat prior
to the Trofeo Laigueglia. Leipheimer (Rabobank) was optimistic about his
early season form, while Navigators' Swindlehurst opted for a training
ride across the Ligurian hills rather than racing.
VDB Counts on Ferretti's wisdom
Frank Vandenbroucke is hoping his new Fassa Bortolo team director Giancarlo
Ferretti's plan is a good one. Normally a man for the Belgian classics,
Vandenbroucke will sit out several of the big season openers in his home
country, as Ferretti hopes to hone his new recruit's form for the tough
Ardennes classics such as Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Vandenbroucke
had a strong start to the season in Qatar, but with the cancellation of
the International Turkish Riviera Tour, and his non-enrolment for races
like the Ruta del Sol or Trofeo Luis Puig, VDB is finding himself out
of competition for a longer stretch than he would prefer.
"It's boring, but there's no drama," Vandenbroucke told La Dernière
Heure. "After the cancellation of the Turkish Riviera Tour, and the
stage in the Giro della Liguria, this forced rest isn't my thing. Then
again, Het Volk isn't the World Championships. The important races [for
me] are coming later."
Part of Ferretti's plan for Vandenbroucke is a lighter schedule in the
lead up to the first major rendez-vous, the Tour of Flanders, which means
skipping classics such as Dwars door Vlaanderen, E3 Prijs Vlaanderen and
the Brabantse Pijl.
"The only one I'll miss is Harelbeke (E3 Prijs)," Vandenbroucke admitted.
"But there's no point in complaining, I've known this for three months.
It could be a problem for Flanders, but Ferretti is convinced that I'll
be fresher for the Ardennes classics."
Beloki delays again
After a bout of tendinitis prevented him from taking part in the French
season openers in the colours of his new Brioches La Boulangère
team, Joseba Beloki has once more delayed his season start. Beloki was
to have begun racing at Sunday's Trofeo Luis Puig, but has again heeded
caution and decided to wait until the moment is right.
"We preferred to wait a little longer," Beloki told Spanish newspaper
AS. "Even though I already feel good physically, it's not worth
the risk of aggravating the tendinitis. Perhaps it's a bit premature."
It appears Beloki may also sit out the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana
next week. No new re-entry date has been set.
Laurent Lefèvre (Brioches La Boulangère) has been sidelined
since his crash in the Tour Méditerranéen. Lefèvre
injured a vertebrae when he went down, and has been forced to sit out
several major races, notably the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and possibly
Paris-Nice. He will likely return to competition at Italy's Tirreno-Adriatico
stage race (March 10-16).
Quick.Step-Davitamon's Laurent Dufaux missed Saturday's Tour du Haut
Var in France, suffering from intestinal problems. Dufaux, who joined
Quick.Step this season to ride with his close friend and former teammate
Richard Virenque, will likely rejoin the peloton at the Volta a la Comunitat
Valenciana beginning Tuesday, February 24.
20th Regio Tour
Organisers of the Rothaus Regio-Tour International in Germany have announced
the parcours for this year's event, scheduled for August 4-8. The 20th
edition of the race will cover 737 kilometres over five stages, including
a 33 kilometre time trial on day two.
Stage 1 - August 4: Heitersheim-Wehr, 181.2 km
Stage 2 - August 5: Müllheim-Müllheim ITT, 33.7 km
Stage 3 - August 6: Neuenburg-Guebwiller/Elsass, 178.9 km
Stage 4 - August 7: Emmendingen-Lahr, 166.8 km
Stage 5 - August 8: Herbolzheim-Vogtsburg, 177.1km
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