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Cycling News and Analysis

News for December 19, 1998

Contracts and Transfers

After Arnaud Tournant, Vincent Le Quellec and Laurent Gané, Mickael Quemener will be the fourth track rider, to secure a contract with the French team Cofidis. Mickael is a former Track World Champion in the Junior category.

Drugs Update

ONCE doctor - charged then "uncharged"

The ONCE team doctor Nicolás Terrados was been once again charged by judicial officials in Lille in relation to the illegal importation of banned substances. Terrados, who also serves as the head of the professional cycling team doctors association, was previously charged in July for supplying drugs at sporting events. The problem now is that the most recent charges are in connection with EPO but the analysis presented to Judge Keil in Lille last week showed that the substances taken from ONCE during the Tour de France did not contain EPO. There is no further news about the test results. We know that drugs were taken by police from the ONCE team but whether they were legal or not is unknown at this stage.

The lawyer for Terrados, Bernard Gorny told the press: "He is being linked with the taking of EPO, but there was no EPO in the products which were analysed. Now he is being accused of importing medicines without authorisation, medicines which a doctor would take with him when he is looking after 40 people for three weeks. He has provided precise technical explanations and has said that he has never broken the law."

On Friday, things had changed. Judge Keil annulled the accusations of against Nicolás Terrados relating to inciting riders to take drugs and freed him from further processing under this charge. This will now reduce the investigation to the importing charge which is about the possible lack of authorization to import four containers of medicine.

The judge confirmed this morning that there were no traces of EPO in the analysis that were run and then requested that Nicolás Terrados supply him with documentation to justify the therapeutic use of four medicines: Couldina, Celestone, Pregnisona and Logradine. Dr. Terrados showed the judge the official certificates from the Spanish authorities that justified the possession of those products.

Nicolás Terrados was implicated in the drugs scandal after the Swiss rider Alex Zulle accused him of being involved.

Canadian rider suspended

Following yesterday's short story on the suspension of Steen Madsen this story was published in the Canadian Globe and Mail.

Sprint cyclist Steen Madsen of Edmonton reached his ambition of making Canada's national track-racing team, but the first positive result he posted wasn't in a velodrome, but a doping lab. The 27-year-old cyclist was handed a four-year suspension by the Canadian Cycling Association (CCA) after a random drug test on Nov. 11 in Edmonton revealed traces of the banned anabolic steroid nandrolone. Madsen had only been named to the national team development program on Nov. 3, at the end of the season.

"It was bad news, but in a way good news," CCA high-performance director Pierre Hutsebaut said. The sport of cycling was devastated at the international level by the Tour de France scandals in the summer. The sport was overwhelmed by daily news of doping revelations and drug-connected police raids.

"But this is the first positive test we've ever had in Canada, and it happened with someone who hadn't been in the national program. He was new. "I really never got to know much about him, except that he showed potential at the Canadian championships."

Madsen's urine sample, analyzed at Montreal's Olympic-sanctioned laboratory, indicated a positive result on Dec. 2, and it was confirmed with the second part of his sample on Dec. 12. "The Canadian Cycling Association's position on doping is clear," said Patrick Healy, executive director of the CCA. "We have a no-tolerance policy.

"Steen Madsen, in accordance with Union Cycliste Internationale rules and Sport Canada policy, will be ineligible to compete in cycling or receive any services from the CCA for a period of four years from the date he provided the sample." Madsen can appeal the four-year sentence, which comes at the prime time of his career.

"Curt Harnett won the third Olympic medal of his career at the age of 31, but he never had to leave the sport," Hutsebaut said. "Maybe he [Madsen] can maintain his fitness with another activity. Sprint is a power event. You don't put in the thousands of kilometres for endurance.

"I don't have any personal feeling toward him. If he made a mistake, he's paying for it. If the rules say that after four years you're rehabilitated, then let him come and show his talent like any other athlete. But above all, we want a clean sport. We have to play by the rules."

Antwerp bids to host a stage finish in the 2K Tour

Antwerp in Belgium has indicated that it wants to be a candidate as a finishing town in the Tour de France 2000. The town officials do not think they have much of a chance in 2000 but they believe if they do the work now they will certainly get a position on the Tour route in 2001. In 2001, the Tour will start in the Netherlands. Three years ago, the Tour passed through Antwerp.

Tour de Romandie 1999:

Theo Muller has sent me the details just announced about the route of the 1999 Tour de Romandie. This tour is classified "Hors Category" along with other notable races like Paris-Nice and the Tour de Suisse. It is a race that attracts the great riders and the large teams. Former winners include: Ferdi Kübler, Hugo Koblet, Vittorio Adorni, Gianni Motta, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Thévenet, Joop Zoetemelk, Guiseppe Saronni, Bernard Hinault, Stephen Roche, and Phil Anderson (Aus).

The Tour de Romandie will run from May 4-9 with 6 stages and a prologue for a total distance of 751 kms. The route is:

Tuesday, May 4, Prologue, Bernex (Geneva), 4.9 kms
Wednesday, May 5, Stage 1, Balexert-Val-de Travers/Fleurier, 159.6 kms
Thursday, May 6, Stage 2, Val-de Travers/Fleurier-Moléson, 172.9 kms
Friday, May 7, Stage 3a, Bulle-Moudon, 54.0 kms
Friday, May 7, Stage 3b, Moudon-Moudon, ITT 18.5 kms
Saturday, May  8, Stage 4, Moudon-Veysonnaz, 151.4 kms
Sunday, May 9, Stage 5, Sion-Geneva, 189.7 kms

The major difficulties:

Stage 1: Climbs from Fontaines to Mauborget (8 km) then Buttes to La Côte-aux-Fées
Stage 2: A 4 km final climb from Pringy to Moléson
Stage 4: The difficult climb up to Veysonnaz - twice
Stage 5: The climb to St. Cergue by Arzier

Pantani a pure climber?

It is often stated that Marco Pantani is a "pure climber." He was credited as being the first "pure climber" since Lucien Van Impe to win the Tour de France. Some readers have questioned this designation and argued that:

  • Pedro Delgado was a pure climber after Van Impe.
  • Pantani is an all-round rider with time trialling abilities.

The term "pure climber" does not mean the person does not have other skills. It is not mean't to confine the person to merely being able to go up mountains fast. It relates rather to the techniques that are used by the rider to climb. Pantani is a pure climber because he rides cadence up the hills. He pedals. Riders like Indurain and Ullrich, for example, are power climbers. They rider bigger gears and spend a lot of time on their saddles. The light pure climbers dance up and down on their pedals and have incredible acceleration. It is in that sense that the term is used. Whether Delgado fits that bill is another matter. He certainly could pedal but did not have the super acceleration in low gears that Pantani (or Van Impe) has.

Banesto resume for 1999

Banesto has resumed its team activities aimed at 1999. The 22 riders will be meeting for two days in Madrid, including their two stars, Alex Zülle and Jose Maria Jiménez. The official team presentation will be in January and they will again meet before their first race of the season, la Vuelta a Mallorca.

Alex Zülle will be taking over the spot left vacant by Abraham Olano: Team director Eusebio Unzue told the press: "Alex perfectly covers the absence of Abraham. He is a rider that brings certain guarantees, so the team will maintain extraordinary quality. He is a classy rider which makes us feel very optimistic about the season."

The management added that they think Zülle is a nice guy and the problems the team had in the last Vuelta a Espańa between Olana and Jiménez will thus be avoided. Does this imply that Olano is not a nice guy? Further, I wonder what the team doctors are thinking about Zülle given his behaviour during the Festina drugs enquiry - ask Terrados!

Unzue continued: "I hope that we have the problem of having to decide who would win a race. I think that spreading the responsibility is good for them (Zülle and Jiménez) and for the team. It would be risky if all the weight of the season was on the back of only one rider."

Banesto will compete in all three national tours for the first time since 1995. Alex Zülle is considerd the great bet for Banesto. The Swiss rider met his teammates for the first time yesterday. The team leader won't be able to compete until May 1 because he is under suspension from the Swiss Cycling Federation. If the weather is good he will debut at the Tour of Romandie, if not at Volta ao Portugal. He answered questions from the press at the meeting.

- At last at Banesto.

- There are still a couple of little things with Festina to do. I have a contract with them until December 31st. Then it will be a new season in a new team and that motivates me.

- Especially after the nightmare that you lived in 1998.

- Luckily the year ends and 1999 is coming, which I hope brings great things. Sporting-wise it will be an atypical season, because I can't compete until May 1. All that changes my program and my mental preparation.

- You are back in Spain. You like us that much?

- I'm lucky to be back. My friends told me that it is the best country for me. And my girlfriend Andrea, also encouraged me to come back. The Spanish teams knew me and that was an advantage. In cycling, as in life, you have to be lucky.

- Luck which, for example, your teammate Richard Virenque hasn't had..

- It's something that I deeply lament. The teams turned their backs on him and he was forced to retire.

- What is better, a Banesto with one leader or with two?

- One with two. It's always better to have to riders with possibilities of winning a major stage race. I feel at ease with Jimenez by my side. We can get to know each other well and the team will appreciate that, since their strategy is to win.

- Were you surprised by the form of Jiménez in 1998?

- A lot. He has made a jump in quality. Now he can win a major race. I'm sure that next season there will be again talk about him.

Then it was the turn of Jose Maria Jiménez, the idol of Spanish cycling, to face the press. His biggest fans are the kids and they were all over him during the official team photograph sessions. Eusebio Unzué has declared that 'el Chaba' is the popular leader and now he needs to become the sport leader. Jiménez answered questions put to him by the press:

- Has the time come for a jump in quality?

- I hope so. I'm very optimistic because of the great end of the season that I had. In addition the route of la Vuelta a Espańa favors me.

- Abraham left and Alex arrived. What do you think of the change?

- The team continues to have great potential and that is what's important. Alex is a good guy and a rider who has shown his quality for many years. His presence will help the team to aspire for the maximum at all races.

- Is the Banesto 1999, better than Banesto 1998?

- Yes. The team has been reinforced very well and shows a lot of promise. Zülle is a great rider, at the level of the greatest ones in the international peloton. And Piepoli, for example, is a man that will help us tremendously in the great climbs. His arrival makes us even more competitive.

- The rival to beat?

- The predictions are more and more open. Cycling changes and now there is a generation of new cyclists who aspire to win the great races. In addition, very tough races are being designed, favoring the spectacle so that the fans will enjoy. I hope that people are entertained by cycling, but only by cycling.

- Because the rest, has been left behind...

- I don't know, I prefer not to talk about it. I just want to talk about cycling pure and simple.

- About chainrings, gear clusters, percentages, breakaways and all that.

- About all that. It would be a relief.

Miguel Family News

Miguel Induráin and Marisa López de Goicoechea are very happy with the birth of their second son, Jon, who was presented to the public on Friday at the Clínica Universitaria de Navarra. Marisa, who will leave the hospital soon, explained that Jon "looks like Miguel when he was little". And when Miguel was asked about further expanding the family he said that "for now we have enough with Jon".

Jon behaved himself even with all the photo flashes, though he cried when his brother tried to kiss him. Marisa said that the birth of their second son had really pleased little Miguel. They announced they will be spending the next few weeks at the family home in Pamplona. Miguel also showed his happiness after finding out that the "Trofeo Comunidad Foral de Navarra de Ciclismo", the only race organized for professionals in Navarra together with the Criterium de Pamplona, will be renamed next year the "Gran Premio Miguel Induráin".

He said: "I'm very happy with the recognition, because it is a race from my town, where the competition is increasing every year."

Lance to race MTBs

US Postal rider Lance Armstrong has just signed a contract to ride MTB for the Trek Volkswagen Professional Mountain Bike Racing Team. Lance had a great comeback season in Europe placing 4th in the Tour of Spain, the World ITT Championship and the World Road Championship. He previously was very ill with testicular cancer which required a 16 month layoff while he received treatment. His new MTB career will run parallel with his road racing contract with the US Postal team, which is also sponsored by Trek. His goals are simple - to be part of the US team for the Olympics in both MTB and road.

The spokesperson for Trek, Nate Tobecksen told the press: "Never before has a road racer of Lance's caliber attempted a world class mountain bike race series. I'm expecting him to be a factor in every race he enters, both off-road or on."

The official Trek press release said that Lance's first major MTB event will be the NORBA national No. 2 at Welch Village, Minnesota. He anticipates also riding some of the World Cup events towards the end of the season.

Lance said of the move: "I have always cross-trained for my road racing on mountain trails, and I am excited to test that hard work in high quality mountain bike events in 1999."

Dutch Mountain Bike Calendar 1999

  7-3-99  Nieuwkuijk (MTB)
 14-3-99  Berlicum (MTB)
 21-3-99  Zeeland, WV Uden (MTB) Cat 2
 21-3-99  Rabo strand race, Kijkduin (MTB)
 28-3-99  Zeddam (MTB)
  5-4-99  Oldenzaal o.v. (MTB)
 18-4-99  Lemelerveld (MTB)
 25-4-99  Zwolle (MTB)
  2-5-99  Norg (MTB) Rabobank Top Competition E1
  9-5-99  Valkenswaard (MTB)
 16-5-99  Havelte (MTB)
 23-5-99  Eindhoven (MTB) Open Class (Street Race)
 24-5-99  Steenwijk (MTB)
 30-5-99  Nijverdal/Hellendoorn (MTB) Rabobank Top Competition E1
  6-6-99  Lichtenvoorde (MTB) Rabobank Top Competition E1
 12-6-99  Rhenen (MTB) National Championships
 13-6-99  Rhenen (MTB) National Championships
 20-6-99  Spaarnwoude (MTB)
 27-6-99  Rijswijk (MTB)  Cat 2
  4-7-99  Arnhem (MTB)
 11-7-99  Den Helder o.v. (MTB)
 18-7-99  Leiden (MTB)
 15-8-99  Honselersdijk (MTB) Cat 2
 29-8-99  Zoetermeer (MTB) Rabobank Top Competition E1
  5-9-99  Braamt o.v. (MTB)
 12-9-99  Heeswijk-Dinther (MTB)
 19-9-99  Lemelerveld (MTB)
 26-9-99  Rhenen (MTB)
 3-10-99  Groesbeek (MTB) Rabobank Top Competition E1
10-10-99  Gieten (MTB) International E2

South Australia, Adelaide, Frank Parker Trophy

Graham Fowler reports on Adelaide's premier track endurance event held at the Adelaide Superdrome on Friday night. It was won by local AIS rider Luke Roberts. Conducted by the Kilkenny Cycling Club, it derives formerly from the annual 200 lap derby on the 400m Hanson Reserve track (80 km). The Frank Parker Trophy is a 300 Lap Derby. It consists of a sprint every ten laps of the 250 m track and has a ten minute break at the halfway mark.

The final result of the race was not known until the last double points sprint.

The Frank Parker 300 Lap Derby, 75 kms:

 1. Luke Roberts (AIS) 			62 points
 2. Gene Bates (SASI) 			56 points
 3. Nigel Grigg (AIS) 			51 points
 4. Brett Lancaster (AIS) 		38 points
 5. Brett Aitken (Adelaide CC) 		38 points

Winning time: 93 mins