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News for April 21, 1999
Festina affair continuesFrench Cycling Federation President Daniel Baal, Team Manager Roger Legeay and former Festina manager Bruno Roussel will confront each other in Lille on May 6. The Investigating Judg Patrick Keil has ordered this meeting in relation to his on-going enquiry into the Festina scandal which came to light during last year's Tour de France. Richard Virenque will confront former soigneur Willy Voet at a meeting on May 10, also ordered by Keil. Roussel will also be there.
All have been accused of being involved in organised drug taking by cyclists. Festina was thrown out of the 1998 Tour for their obvious involvement admitted by Roussel and Voet. Virenque has always denied any involvement and is now riding for the Italian team Polti.
Riis is ill and out of the Amstel Gold RaceAndreas Boe Sj°holm from Denmark writes that according to a report in the Danish newspaper the Politiken on Tuesday Bjarne Riis is out of any further classics for the time being. The former winner of the Amstel Gold Race has had a cold over the last few weeks and it has worsened. He has been forced out of Round 5 of the World Cup this Saturday. The announcement was made by Telekom manager Walter Godefroot after Riis finished a comprehensive medical examintion in Italy on Monday.
Riis said at a press conference: "Up until now there are no results from the large number of tests that we have done on me. I'll get them some time during this week. But Godefroot and I have agreed that there is no point in me racing on Saturday when I already know that I would not be able to finish. I might be ready to race the Rund um den Henninger Turm (May 1) but only time will tell."
Riis dropped out of LBL after only 150 kms.
Other Amstel NewsLance Armstrong will be starting in the Amstel Gold Race. He has now indicated that his target for this season is the Tour de France. He rode well in the Tour of Aragon but missed the Ardennes classics.
Rabobank has a strong team for the Amstel Gold Race: Michael Boogerd, Erik Dekker, Leon van Bon, Koos Moerenhout, Mark Lotz, Maarten den Bakker, Markus Zberg and Rolf S÷rensen.
Scott Sunderland talksHe had a lot of bad luck in last year's 33rd Amstel Gold Race. He was in a good position towards the end of the race when he was hit by the TVM team car driven by TVM manager Cees Priem. The Australian rider hit his head against the road and it began a long period of suffering which is not yet over. Sunderland is waiting for financial reparations but at the moment that is a matter of secondary importance. In a recent interview at his home in Zottegem he said: "I want to return to racing." However, his body is not yet willing to allow him to do this.
He has been in rehabilitation for a year now. 32-year old Scott Sunderland spent the northern winter back home in Australia and had the "worst xmas in his life." He said: "I spent more than 6 months just recovering from the traumatic injuries but things were not improving. I also lost muscle mass and strength. I saw no light at the end of the tunnel."
Sunderland was a model rider. He rode for 5 years with TVM (rather ironic), 2 years with Lotto, and a year with the French team GAN. He has 5 victories to his credit. The most recent was the GP Nokere which he won while riding for the small Belgian team Palmans. He rode the Amstel Gold Race for Palmans.
After he was hit by Priem's car he was admitted to hospital in Maastricht. They released him soon after and he returned to Belgium. He was rushed to hospital in Gent late the following night when he appeared to be suffering serious injuries to his head. He then had blood clots removed from his brain and his life was threatened. He also has whiplash to his neck and problems with his lower back. In the new year he began careful training and rode a few training races. But the back and neck problems persisted and he then encountered additional injuries from riding out of alignment. First his foot and then a muscle behind his knee. His headaches also persisted.
This week he begins riding again after a 10 week layoff to get over the new problems. He has been treated by the physiotherapist who treated Johan Museeuw after his bad injuries during last year's Paris-Roubaix. He said: "I can ride for an hour per day and it feels great."
The financial matters are dragging out. He is currently receiving worker's compensation. It is equal to 90 per cent of his base salary from Palmans. "That is not much. Given Palmans is a small team I was on a low salary - around 25,000 guilders a year. To supplement that we have to win prizemoney. And I have been a year without that."
He is unhappy with TVM who are contesting the payout. "My wife and my lawyer have spoken with Priem, the TVM boss Bos and their lawyer. What they are offering is "peanuts". We have placed the matter in the court at Tongeren. But I have no idea of when it will be heard. Given that I worked for Priem for 5 year you can say I am disappointed with him and TVM. I know that Priem has his own problems (EPO affair). But he hasn't even bothered to ring me and see how I am."
"I have been watching the classics on TV. I saw RVV and LBL and they gave me mixed feelings. Great races but I wanted to be there. I think when I watch the Amstel Gold Race this weekend those feelings will be even stronger."
Ernie Lechuga UpdateErnie Lechuga is set to undergo another operation on April 26 to remove 2- 5cm tumors from his abdominal area. Lechuga was hoping to be able to appear at the Ride for the Roses. His recovery will not allow him to make the trip to Austin for the Lance Armstrong Foundation Event. Mercury will help sponsor the event and several team members will be on hand for Friday's Criterium.
The tissue was first found when his testicular tumor was found in November 1998. The Alpha and Beta Protein count is normal. His cancer count is 0. The surgery will remove the dead tissue and help speed his recovery. Lechuga has been back on his bike and has been seen at the local training rides. After the operation, he should be able to resume riding with the hope of racing a local event at the end of the year.
Grand Prix TellThe Cat 2.4 Grand Prix Tell which was scheduled from 22-26 September has been cancelled due to financial problems.
52nd Peace Race Route announcedThe 52nd Peace Race will have 14 teams racing including ONCE-Deutsche Bank, Festina, Telekom, TVM-Farm Frites and Rabobank and it starts on May 7 in the Czech Republic. It finishes 8 days later in Madgeburg (Germany).
Stage 1, May 7, Znojmo - Znojmo