News for December 10, 1998

Drugs Update

Casino riders questioned

Seven unidentified riders from the French Casino team were taken into custody in Lyon on Monday for questioning after orders were given for their detention by the investigating judge in Lille Patrick Keil who is leading the Festina enquiry. Casino, ONCE and Francaise des Jeux are all implicated in the probe.

The only Casino rider so far under formal investigation (one step before charges are laid) is Italian Rodolfo Massi who was detained after police had discovered corticoids, in his Tour de France hotel room. He was leading the KOM at the time and was forced out of the race.

Now other Casino riders are being dragged into the matter.

The puzzle gets deeper by the day. A leading French research laboratory has issued findings which conclude that the only sure way of detecting banned drugs is via blood tests. The report was entitled 'Drug Use in Sports' and was published by the well-credentialled National Center of Scientific Research. Its main finding was that urine samples are unable to effectively detect EPO and HGH usage.

The 7 riders held at the police headquarters in Lyon since Tuesday afternoon were freeded on Wednesday morning. They were detained for 24 hours and questioned by a panel operating under the instructions of the investigating judge in Lille Patrick Keil, who is in charge of the Festina probe.

Richard Virenque update

The alleged UCI points problem

Does the UCI points system support pure climbers like Richard Virenque? Scott Goldstein has done some analysis of the claim that Virenque was in part disadvantaged by the way the UCI awards points.

He writes "the statement that the system of UCI points hardly supports riders like Richard Virenque supported by the evidence that he is currently sitting in 46th place is ridiculous. You get plenty of points for the Tour to last year round. Richard is in 46th simply because he didn't ride the Tour this year! A quick check of data from your site shows the following consistent rankings by Mr. Virenque over the last 4 years:

Year        Place       Points

1994        12th          650
1995        12th          947
1996         7th        1,369
1997         7th        1,162

Van Impe speaks

Lucien Van Impe, the ex-climber who is sympathetic to the problems faced by Richard Virenque believes the Frenchman is bluffing and will continue to race next season.

"The problem is that he is currently facing a 6 months ban. It is logical that a team would be cautious before they invested in him. But it remains that Virenque is one of the best climbers in the peloton and has special skills. Us climbers stick together on the road and over the top of the climbs. We attack in tough places. Richard is like that. He is a real climber. He has no interest in touring along. He always has to face the attacks of many riders who want the polka dot jersey. But in a head-to-head battle with Pantani I think he doesn't stand a chance."

What about the popularity of Virenque?

Van Impe said: "The peloton thinks he is a showoff. But that is normal when there are riders with flair. In Belgium he is not big but that is different in France where hs is very popular with the children even. The peloton though is apathetic to him."

Will he be missed?

"Not for his bearing but for his attacking riding style. He is one of the most aggressive riders in the peloton."

Maybe follow Richard Nixon

Michael Wright from the USA compares Richard Virenque with Richard Nixon, the disgraced then resurrected ex-President of the USA> He said the whole Virenque situation makes on think of what Richard Nixon once said "It's the cover-up that gets you". After resigning from office he maintained that the voting public will forgive you for anything except a cover-up. Richard should take a lesson from an ex-American president who left in disgrace. If you come clean the public will forgive you.

But we all know Richard is clean!!!

Van Heeswijk to ride the Giro

Max van Heeswijk, who is riding for Mapei next year will be part of the strong team they field in the Giro d'Italia. He has recently met with the team leader Patrick Lefevere to determine his program for 1999. He will aim to be strong for the early spring classics. The main objectives are the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix. In the middle part of the season he will have a light program to make sure he is at his best for the Giro.

The Mapei team announced that they will be travelling in January to Ethiopia to train at altitude.

Brazilian Update

Rodrigo Gini, our Brazilian correspondent from Belo Horizonte has sent me the latest from his part of the cycling world.

The season in Brazil is over, so its time to think about next year. There is an interview I did with 33-year old Cassio de Paiva Freitas, Brazil´s only professional cyclist. He had a disappointing first half of the year due to injuries and the loss of his father. The second half, however, was much better. He has lived in Portugal since 1989.

He was second on the Panamerican Championships Road Race, and won the South-american Games Race, in Cuenca (Equador), beating strong riders from Colombia, Venezuela, Uruguai, Chile and Argentina.

Cassio is from Belo Horizonte, the city where I live, and went here to see his mother. The former LA Aluminios/Pecol cyclist targets the Panamerican Games (Winnipeg) and Italy´s world championships as his main goals for next season. He may ride for a Brazilian team during part of next year and come back to Portugal to race between June and August (maybe for Recer/Boavista). In Brazil, he is negotiating with Caloi, but he would like to return to the Pirelli team, his first strong squad).

Although he is not a world class rider, Cassio has a lot of interesting results, racing for Sicasal (1990/91), Recer/Boavista (92/96), Troiamarisco (97) and LA/Pecol (98):


- 20th Olympic Games Road Race


- 2nd overall Tour of Portugal
- 14th overall World Championships (Chambery/FRA)


- One stage Vuelta a La Rioja (Spain)
- 7th overall Tour of Luxembourg


- 2nd GP Jornal de Noticias (Portugal)


- 14th Tour of Vaucluse (France)
- 8th Route du Sud (France)
- 1st overall Tour of Portugal
- 1st overall GP Jornal de Noticias
- 1st overall Superprestigio Roda de Ouro


- 1st overall GP Correio da Manhã
- 1st overall Volta ao Algarve
- 1st overall GP O jogo
- 17th Dauphiné Liberé


- 1st overall GP of Lisbon
- 1st overall Volta ao Algarve
- 5th Tour of Portugal


- 1st overall Classic Porto to Lisbon
- 7th Tour of Portugal


- 2nd overall Volta ao Algarve
- 1st Circuito de Nafarros


- 1st overall Vuelta a Mendoza (Argentina)
- 3rd Portuguese Time Trial Championships
- 1st overall South-american Games (Road Race)
- 2nd overall Panamerican Cycling Championships (Americana/Brazil)

Here is the interview I did for

Cyclingnews - How did you become a professional?

Cassio - I was in Europe after a training camp and some races in Belgium and Germany and I met the Portuguese National Team coach. He invited me to race as a stagiaire and, in my first race - 89 Tour of Portugal, I was second overall. Since then, I had a lot of good results, and even the chance to go to Spain (he had some proposals from Kelme in 93 a 94), but I decided to stay in Portugal. It is so much easier in a country with the same language as mine and I had the chance to earn good prizes.

Cyclingnews - What was the most important moment of your career?

Cassio - No doubt about it, the victory in the 1992 Tour of Portugal. Everybody on the team (Recer/Boavista) was committed to my victory and they helped me a lot. I tried to make the difference in the mountains and in the Time Trials. It went well. It is such an special emotion to wear the leader´s jersey, specially in a race that I believe is the fourth strongest national Tour elsewhere.

Cyclingnews - And what can you say about this year´s Tour?

Cassio - I needed to work a lot in the earliest stages in order to keep the yellow jersey with Pedro Lopes. I needed to withdraw in the seventh stage, with tendonitis. I suffered a lot on the mountain stages.

Cyclingnews - What can you say about all this doping confusion?

Cassio - It begun at Tour de France, but soon UCI started to work. In Tour of Portugal, seven Italian cyclists were disqualified after failing blood tests. Many team directors know about it in some cases. In others, the riders themselves try to improve their performances with everything they can, legal or not. It isn´t something new, and I believe it will never be completely solved. I agree with the tests, but not with the procedures used in France. Why didn't the Police force the Soccer World Cup players to take drug tests? Now we know that a lot of Italian soccer players used EPO and other drugs years ago. Anyway, I don´t believe that the increase of the average speeds is due to doping only. We had better equipment and training methods.

Cyclingnews - What about your future projects?

Cassio - I want to stay in the peloton at least for two more years. I would like to stop after Sydney Olympic Games, and so try to help young cyclists in Brazil, maybe as a coach or working in our Federation. We had a lot of good talents, but they need to have the same opportunity I had, try to improve their skills and fitness in Europe. It is a totally different reality - race almost every day, in a lot of countries and against the best in the world. But they can do it as I did.

Glen Magnussen

Tomas Nilsson who reports from Scandinavian for has the latest on Glen Magnussen. Magnussen has signed a contract with US Postal for next season is getting a lot of problems from his former employer Amore e Vita. The Amore e Vita manager Ivano Fanini has refused to pay his salary since September and he says he wants 15 percent of his first year salary from US Postal.

Magnussen said in reply: "They are pulling some dirty tricks and using the methods of the mafia."

He was offered a lifetime contract with the Italian team which is based in the Vatican. He said: "I couldn't accept that because then I would have been in the same place with no possibility of reaching muy goals."

Fanini is infamous for rough house behaviour. During the 1997 Giro d'Italia he punched the Polti manager who had the audacity to approach Magnussen to discuss contracts. Only US Postal has shown an interest since.

Asian Games, Men's MTB Cross Country

 1. Akihito Udagawa (Japan)            2.05.07
 2. Surajit Jirojwong (Thailand)       2.12.00
 3. Li Fuyu (China)                    2.13.10
 4. Ma Ye (China)                      2.14.38
 5. Man Wai Chung (Hong Kong)          2.16.12
 6. Joo Dae-Young (South Korea)        2.18.08
 7. Jung Hyung-Rae (South Korea)       2.19.43
 8. Placido Valdez (Philippines)       2.25.59
 9. Meesak Pakchiyapoom (Thailand)     2.28.28
10. Ruel Casaljay (Philippines)        2.36.29

Palmans rider wins in Melbourne

Every Tuesday night in summer there are criterium races at Melbourne's Football park around the extensive car parks. The Carnegie -Caulfield Cycling Club run the races over a challenging 2.2km circuit. On Tuesday, December 8 there were two grades:

A Grade, 1 hour plus 3 laps:

 1. Roger Hammond (GB) Palmans-Ideal
 2. Robert Tighello (Aus)
 3. Hayden Bradbury (Aus)
 4. Baden Cooke

Started: 26

B Grade:

 1. Robert Crowe
 2. Ashley Gowie
 3. David McFarlane

Started: 56