News for April 10, 1999

Museeuw to start in Paris-Roubaix

Johan Museeuw will start on Sunday in Paris-Roubaix. The Belgian Mapei rider who won the race in 1996 said after the Ronde van Vlaanderen last Sunday that he was doubtful about his participation in Paris-Roubaix. He is still worried about the parcours after his very serious fall last year which cost him the rest of the season and a lot of anguish. He rode over some of the parcours on Friday with some of his teammates - Paolo Fornaciari, Daniele Nardello, Andrea Tafi and Stefano Zanini and decided afterwards that he would be racing.

Meanwhile there are rumours in the Cofidis team that Belgian Franck Frank Vandenbroucke will also start in Paris-Roubaix next Sunday. On Wednesday he announced that he preferred to ride in the Belgian classics the following week - Waalse Pijl then LBL. Apparently he then went to the Cofidis team management and requested a place in Paris-Roubaix. He will now miss the Waalse Pijl and instead race in both World Cup races - Paris-Roubaix and Luik-Bastenaken-Luik.

Francesco Moser - clean cycling is an Illusion

Francesco Moser, three times winner of Paris-Roubaix and a former hour record holder has admitted to using blood doping. He said in an interview with the French sport's paper L'Equipe that "clean cycling is an illusion". Moser now 47 years old was one of the best riders in the peloton 20 years ago. He retired at the age of 32 but returned briefly to attack the hour record of Eddy Merckx. The ex-World Champion was often in the attacks in the races and is now being dragged into the doping investigations in Italy over the practices of the sport's doctors like Ferrari, Conconi, Tredici and Arcelli.

He said in the interview: "They had experience. Conconi has worked with various sports like canoers, athletes and cyclists. I was not the only one nor the first who used blood transfusions to improve my performance. I was told that Jacques Anquetil had done it and that was well before my time.

He did not think he was breaching any rules. He said: "The method was being used everywhere. Sportspeople are always open to scrutiny but we should take a look at what normal people have in their medicine chest. It is simply life.

He did not express any anguish that he used blood doping. He said: "It was my own blood. And I was not the only rider doing it. With EPO that is a whole new thing. It is dangerous and unnatural. A well-trained cyclist can take it though and stay just under the allowed limits. But the team managers and sponsors must not allow this and have to take care of the riders well-being. It is clear that in top sports with all the pressure that doctors and riders will explore and use drugs." zich daarvan al bediende, dat was ver voor mijn tijd,''

The Belgian drugs scandal

The court in Kortijk decided yesterday to keep Mapei's soigneur Tiziano Morassut in jail for another month in jail. Morassut was responsible for the package that was intercepted by Belgian police at Zandem Airport in Brussels during the Driedaagse de la Panne. The package contained amphetamines. Morassut assumed responsibility for the shipment and absolved the Mapei team and management from any blame. He said he had acted alone. He also said in a written declaration that: "I had no intention of hurting Mapei or cycling."

Meanwhile, the Belgian police has re-arrested the 44-year old Edouard Verhulst from the Belgian town of Fleurus. The arrest was ordered by the investigating judge in Kortrijk. Verhulst visited Tiziano Morassut at the Mapei team hotel. He denied delivering the ampules but the police have decided to arrest him anyway.

He is not a former professional rider but is well-known in the cycling world. He was a former top amateur cyclist.

The French drugs scandal

Two soigneur from cycling teams have been called before an investigating judge in Grenoble to answer charges of "illegal provision of medicine". The inquiry follows the operation in November 1999 during the Grenoble 6 Days race and earlier during the Dauphiné Libéré.

Michel Decock and Guy Bentabou, who were paid in cash are being pursued for illegal work by the prosecuters in Grenoble. The police found substances in the rooms of the Palaise des Sports Grenoblais during the racing.

The drug tests on cyclists competing during the 6 Days race were all negative.

Bjarne Riis and doping

Thomas Kaarsted from Denmark sends this news about Bjarne Riis. Riis did an interview on Danish TV2 on Tuesday. It was kind of a showpiece, no critical questions asked (the network covers the classics and Le Tour). On doping he claimed that nobody should worry about anything, as long the riders were not harmed. Furthermore that all professional athlehtes - who have the goal of winning - should be free to whatever they want to do. It's in the nature of the game.

And it has been noted that Riis' lawyers never sued the Danish TV1 for the report on his 56.2 per cent value.

Marco Pantani

Marco Pantani has told the press that he had a positive feeling at the la Vuelta al País Vasco but he doesn't know yet if he will race in the upcoming Belgian classics - Waalse Pijl and , Fleche Wallone and Luik-Bastenaken-Luik. He said: "I'm getting ready for the Giro de Italia and that's why I'm not forcing the pace yet. I am still recuperating from the fall that I suffered at Setmana Catalana. I'm feeling good racing here and I'm doing only the necessary work. Strange enough I'm better at the mountain finishes. I will decide nest week if I'll go to LBL because I'm worried that I could be involved in a fall that may hurt my plans for the Giro. I don't want to take risks and I will surely make my decision a few hours before the race based on the weather".

"I will also decide after the Giro about my participation in the Vuelta a España. I can't say anything new right now but I have already said that I like the route of La Vuelta better than the Tour. But I also have to think about the sponsors. At the Giro, my main rival will be myself. If I feel good, I'm convinced that I will win again, if it isn't like that, then everyone will be my rival."

Jan Ullrich

Jan Ullrich is continuing to prepare for the Tour de France and is seemingly unconcerned with his poor form at the moment. He is getting dropped in races and coming in a long way back in the peloton. The German champion is now avoiding press conferences so that he won't have to answer questions about his performance in races. Yet, his sport director, Belgian Rudi Pevenage, assured everyone that "Ullrich's preparation is going well. He has certainly suffered delays due to health problems that he's had to overcome. But I'm not as worried about last year. Right now he's improved a lot and I hope that he will be ready in the Vuelta a Aragón to help Zabel setup for the sprints".

About Ullrich's possible participation at la Vuelta, Pevenage is clear: "If Jan wins the Tour, I doubt very much that he'll ride la Vuelta. Even as preparation for the Worlds Ullrich will race the Vuelta only with the intention of winning".

Jiménez reappears

After suffering injuries from a heavy fall in training (25 stitches to his head), José María Jiménez will reappear on Sunday at the Gran Premio Primavera de Amorebieta (Vizcaya). His teammate Lastras, who fell with him, has already recovered and is currently riding in France at the Circuit de La Sarthe.

Alex Zülle getting ready for the Tour

Next Monday Eusebio Unzué will travel with Alex Zülle, Piepoli, Beltrán and possibly Peña, to examine the stage in the Pyrenees which will finish at the unknown climb of Piau Engaly. The stage will have six mountain climbs and will clearly be a decisive one in determining overall standings. After that Zülle will go to la Vuelta a Aragón and although he still can't compete due to his suspension, he will train over the race route. The Swiss rider will debut at the beginning of May at the Tour of Romandie and then will participate at Bicicleta Vasca, Clasique des Alpes, Dauphiné Liberé and Route du Sud or Vuelta a Cataluña.

New Dutch professional

Sandro Bijnen has signed a professional contract until the end of next season with the Dutch AXA Cycling team. Bijnen (23) will replace Niels van der Steen.

Further news is that Dimitiri Sidorenko has now been contracted by the Batavus-Bankgiroloterij team which makes it 12 in number now.

Netherlands, Amsterdam Track, Overall Omnium, April 8

1. Matthijs van Bon                   49 points
2. Lust                               31
3. Slippens                           25
4. Cornelisse                         24
5. Zuijderwijk                        14