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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for February 23, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry

Chavanel defends clean riders

Sylvain Chavanel
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? No!"

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 camp.

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
Miki Bartoli
Smilin' Pippo
Celestino family
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 English abilities.

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.

Lefèvre sidelined

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).

Dufaux ill

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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