The drugs found in Festina's car was destined to be shared by three other teams: BigMat, La Francaise des Jeux and Casino. During the investigations into Festina these team names were mentioned by the Festina riders who gave confessions. This now explains the reasons why other teams have been targetted and the search of BigMat's truck. The other part of the link, alleged by Dutch radio, is that police think the link-man between Festina and Casino is a rider. They currently have him in custody. The name is being bandied around but I prefer not to list it.
- Kelme and Vitalicio Seguros have now left the Tour. The whole Kelme team (including the number 4, Ferdinand Escartin) left the hotel by bus at 8.30 am. The team is on its way back to Spain. Alvaro Pino, manager of Kelme, told the press that: "The riders were insulted in the climb to Revard by the Spanish public. We received some threats." (Revard was one of the climbs in yesterday's fateful stage).
- Only 15 teams now remain and all four Spanish teams are gone.
- Rodolfo Massi (Casino) did not start in Stage 18. The Italian who is 7th on GC and also leader of the KOM has been detained by police shortly before midnight (Wednesday). His team will start however. Casino's manager, Vincent Levanu was also arrested but released. Bo Hamburger said that the team are going to continue for their sponsors but not with any motivation or heart. Levenue said to press: "We're going on even though it is very dificult to ride when one of your comrades is being detained. I've known Rodolfo for two years. I know he is clean and I can't understand why they're questioning him."
- Also arrested late on Wednesday night by Chambery police were Marc Madiot, manager of La Française des Jeux, and the ONCE team doctor Nicolas Terrado. Madiot's team will remain in the Tour.
- Big Mat are in the clear. Anonymous police sources said here on Thursday that no illegal substances were found among medication seized Tuesday by customs officers from the Big Mat-Auber 93 team.
- And the biggest rumour in the symbolism stakes - when the peloton cross the border into switzerland they are all going to stop and leave the Tour. Another version of this is that on Friday's Stage 19, the peloton will stop on the border of Switzerland and France and refuse to ride back into France. This is totally unconfirmed.
Virenque to sue
Richard Virenque announced this morning that he will be suing the organisers of the Tour de France for expelling him from the race without having ever been tested positive for any banned substance. He told La Provence, a French newspaper that: "I'm going to court. I was one of the favourites. I trained to win this one and they threw me out without me ever testing positive. It's unfair. The Tour is my life. I ride for the Tour... I'd really like to win it, that would be a sweet revenge."
French press divided
The daily French newspaper, Le Parisien opened with the headlines "What Sadness!". It questioned the tactics of the police. It said: "Was it necessary to hit so hard, so fast and with such a sense of judicial spectacle that people are wondering whether the yellow jersey will be awarded to a prosecutor?"
The Liberation was not sympathetic to the riders. Its headline read "The Big Flat Tyre". The editorial said that the riders: "appear much more outraged by the police raids than by the doping, as if the real problem was the bothersome judicial probes rather than a practice -- widespread but concealed -- of taking banned substances."
Le Figaro - headline "The Tour de France Assassinated" - said: "Are they killing off for ever the greatest of our summer sport spectacles? How can one not be deeply saddened, not feel a childlike sense of loss?"
Miguel Indurain has his say
Miguel Indurain, who has won the Tour five times has written in the daily Spanish sport's newspaper, Marca, that things will get worse before they get better in cycling. He said that individual dignity is more important than winning - at any level. He wrote: "What we saw yesterday isn't cycling. Yesterday we witnessed, for another day, something that we didn't want to see. This Tour started badly and it's going to finish worse. There is something more important than winning. Dignity must come before everything, including victory in a race as important as the Tour. You can't treat people without respect."
He also said that with the race so tainted he felt for Marco Pantani, who is a deserving winner under any circumstances. The events of the last 18 days have overshadowed his great performance.
And now the post-Tour Criteriums are affected
Organisers of Monday night's Boxmeer Criterium, the traditional first post-Tour race in the Netherlands are still hopeful that the TVM riders (Servais Knaven, Bart Voskamp, Steven de Jongh and Jeroen Blijlevens) can start next Monday at 20.15. The concern is now that the TVM team has to appear before a Judge in Reims (France) at 10.00 on Monday. Jeroen Blijlevens thinks he will only have to stay there for an hour which will give them enough time to get back to Boxmeer. The other contracted starters in Boxmeer include, Michael Boogerd, Jens Heppner, Rolf Aldag, Jan Svorada and Andrea Tafi. Marco Pantani will not race as he has commitments in Italy, while Jan Ullrich has to be with his sponsor in Germany.
The organiser of a Criterium in Château-Chinon (France) on August 3 has decided to cancel the race following the scandals that have arisen in the Tour. Richard Virenque was originally planning to ride but has now declined the invitation.
Open Keirin: 1. Craig Percival (Team Brite RT) 2. R. Darley (Brixton Cycles) 3. R. Kennedy (Chesterfield Coureurs) 4. M. Whittaker (VC St Raphael) 5. Peter Jacques (City of Edinburgh RT) Boys Under 16 Sprint: 1. R Gruffydd (Cardiff Byways RCC) 2. D Sims Team (Brite RT) 3. G Holland (Brixton Cycles) Junior Pursuit Final: 1. Bradley (Wiggins Team Brite RT) 2. M Kelly (Manx Road Club) 3. S Collins (3COM RT)
Womens 15 km scratch result - the winner is Melanie Szubrycht of Universal CC. She is mainly a road rider, with a powerful road sprint. She and the other two medal winners lapped the field, and all lapped riders were withdrawn from the track with 5 laps to go so the three of them contested the final sprint alone on the track. This is per the regulations, but it looks weird!
Junior 20 km Scratch Race: 1. Bradley Wiggins (Team Brite RT) 2. M Kelly (Manx Road Club) 3. Ben Hallam (Team Brite RT)
This was another race where four riders lapped the field, and the judges instructed all lapped riders to leave the track with 10 laps to go. Unfortunately, telling testosterone-laden teenagers to stop racing meets with little success, so the race had to be neutralised until all but the four leading riders had left the track, at which point the 4 riders contested the last 10 laps alone on the track. It is worth noting that Ben Hallam is actually still a juvenile (not old enough to have to race in the Junior category, but choosing to do so). Makes his bronze medal even more impressive.
Men's 1000 metre Time Trial: 1. Craig MacLean (City of Edinburgh RT) 1.05.060 (55.334 km.h) 2. Jason Queally (Harrods-Giant) 1.05.081 3. Chris Hoy (City of Edinburgh RT) 1.05.789 4. Neil Campbell (Team Brite RT) 1.05.840 Women's Points race (25 km - 100 laps): 1. Sally BoydenClarkes Contracts CRT 36 points 2. Melanie Szubrycht Universal CC 33 points (3 wins) 3. Michelle Ward Condor Cycles 33 points (2 wins) 4. Karen ByrneTeam Stonefield 9 points (Race time 38 min 22 sec) Junior Points Race: 1. Bradley Wiggins (Team Brite) 38 pts 2. Mark Kelly (Manx Wheelers) 31 pts 3. Luke Anderson (Wigmore CC) 17 pts 4. Ben Hallam (Team Brite) 16 pts 5. Sam Collins (3Com RT) 11 ptsNote: Ben Hallam initially placed 3rd, but his last set of points were disallowed due to taking pace from a teammate whilst unlapping himself (teammate had dropped back from the bunch to pace him; said teammate got placed last for his troubles!). Ben Hallam is actually a schoolboy (juvenile), but has elected to ride on a junior licence.
Open Pursuit: 1. Rob Hayles (Team Brite) 4.27.851 2. Matt Illingworth (Team Brite) 4.32.743 3. Jon Clay (Team Brite) 4.32.082 4. Colin Sturgess (Team Brite) 4.35.610 Italian Sprint: 1. City of Edinburgh RT 2. Team Brite RT 3. CC Lancashire
Nothstein highlighted the event with his aggressive sprinting style to claim the Keirin Cup Trophy for the 5th time. Edging Darryn Hill of Australia and teammate Gibby Hatton, "The Blade" showed why he was recently crowned triple National Champion.
The Marty Nothstein Junior race series had their finals with the local riders finishing very well to show why "T-Town" is the hotspot for track racing. Larry Detris, a 13-15 year old, took the first place in the 4 km scratch race. Kyle Wamsley took the honors for the 15-16 year old 5 km scratch race. For the junior women, Ashley Kimmet took top honors over a strong Sarah Uhl and Lauren Franges. Marty Nothstein himself was on hand for the awards ceremonies of the junior racing series bearing his name.
Other action included a showdown for the Morning Call Rider of the Year on the women's side. With Nicole Reinhart out of town, Becky Quinn took top honors in all three women's events, including the keirin cup final. Tanya Lindenmuth, 19 years old, gave Quinn a battle for those points. It could be a battle to the finish for all three women racers. During the awards ceremonies, spectators got a chance to participate in each Keirin Cup final by picking their favorite racers of each keirin race for fabulous prizes. Every racer had a prize for their box and first place for both won mountain bicycles.
Professional Keirin Heats: 1. Nothstein defeated Katakasi, Schuler, Hutt 2. Hill defeated Solt, Hodskiss, Oliver 3. Sharman defeated Hatton, Lee, Alfred 4. Sinton defeated Gannon, Haines, White Women 12 lap Tempo Race: 1. Becky Quinn 2. Linda Braley 3. Lauren Franges 4. Sarah Uhl 5. Ashley Kimmet Junior Men 13-15 4 kms Scratch Race: 1. Larry Detris 2. Andy Lakatosh 3. Travor Woomer 4. Andy Ziegler 5. Paul Lorah Professional Men Keirin Repechage 1. Stephen Alfred def. Hutt, Oliver, White Women Miss-and-Out (Top 8 to Keirin Final): 1. Becky Quinn 2. Tanya Lindenmuth 3. Michelle Woomer 4. Ashley Kimmet 5. Ryan Kelly 6. Tammy Thomas 7. Lauren Franges 8. Amy Heckman Junior Men 16-18 5 kms Scratch Race: 1. Kyle Wamsley 2. Jason Orowitz 3. Jeremy Miller 4. Kurtis Bishop 5. Todd Yezefski Professional Men 30 lap Points Race: 1. Brent Dawson 2. Neil Fronheiser 3. Shane Hodskiss 4. John Katakasi 5. Marty Nothstein Junior Women 3 kms Scratch Race: 1. Ashley Kimmet 2. Sarah Uhl 3. Lauren Franges 4. Renae Burke 5. Suzanne Ruddy Professional 15 Lap Tempo Race: 1. Shane Hodskiss 2. Marty Nothstein 3. Ryan Stoner 4. Vince Oliver 5. Leigh DeLuca Women Keirin Cup Final: 1. Becky Quinn 2. Tanya Lindenmuth 3. Lauren Franges 4. Tammy Thomas 5. Amy Heckman 6. Ryan Kelly 7. Michelle Woomer 8. Ashley Kimmet Junior Men 12 lap Tempo Race: 1. Jeremy Miller 2. Ross Letwin 3. Tim Reinhart 4. Todd Yezefski 5. Kyle Wagner Professional Miss-and-Out: 1. Brent Dawson 2. Shane Hodskiss 3. Leigh DeLuca 4. Phil Hutt 5. Joe Masser Professional Men Keirin Final: 1. Marty Nothstein 2. Darryn Hill 3. Gil Hatton 4. Graham Sharman 5. John Katakasi 6. Trey Gannon 7. Matt Sinton 8. Jeff Solt 9. Stephen Alfred