News for February 5, 1999

Riis Going for a Classic

While the focus of attention might have been elsewhere at the presentation of the 1999 version of Team Deutsch Telekom on Monday, Bjarne Riis indicated that he is hoping for big results in the first half of the World Cup season, as reported in Politiken, the Danish daily. Riis also said that he believes his new training principles will amaze his rivals. "I won’t go into the details of the program that I’ve been working with, partly because I haven’t yet gone through it all the way, and partly because I am beginning to feel that it is going to surprise my rivals so much when they see what I am able to get out of it. Earlier I have been too nice and been too generous with my knowledge and experience. This time it’s going to be me, who gains maximum advantage of discovering something new."

Riis continues, "I have discovered these new training principles myself, and further developed them in cooperation with my Italian adviser, Luigi Cechini. The time will come when I tell others what it is all about. But for now I will just say that it’s actually quite simple, while at the same time very difficult to work with, as it requires an enormous amount of concentration." Riis claims that he can already sense a significant increase in his ability to produce, and that his capacity is presently 30 watts higher than it usually is at this time of the year.

"I have only ridden half as many kilometers as the rest of the members of the team. Nonetheless I didn’t have any problems following the others when we were training in Mallorca, and I weigh less than I usually do in the beginning of February. I am only 5 kilos from my racing weight."

There has been earlier speculation that Riis might mount up for this year’s Giro. "I have considered it several times, but have now decided not to ride the Giro. And further on I can’t really see what’s in store for the last half of the season. For not to mention whether or not I continue to race next season. For the time being I’m focusing on the classics and the Tour, of course. In the first months of the season I am planning on riding a few less races than earlier. I am going to be riding all of the spring classics except for Paris-Roubaix."

Thanks to Jon Jay Neufeld, Denmark

Xavier Jan - a Tour without Dope

Xavier Jan is not one of the best known riders in the French peloton but since the 1998 Tour disaster he has applied himself relentlessly to fight for anti-doping measures in professional cycling. The La Francaise des Jeux rider has a dream! He explains that "for me, the dream is to go to the start at the 1999 Tour de France and say to himself that no-one else on the starting line is using banned drugs. This would be the only way I would know my true talent and potential."

However, the rider from Bretagne is not naive. He knows that it will be a long battle to wipe dope out of cycling. But he is fighting all the way from the start of the season in Provence this week and the Tour in July. He took part in the medical conference late last year which was organized by the Ministry for Sports at Echirollesa and a meeting at the UCI in Lausanne. Last week he met with the French Sport's Minister, Marie-George Buffet.

Xavier Jan said he is optimistic: "It is a unique opportunity to wipe out doping, perhaps the last. Therefore we do not have the right to let this chance pass. We need to begin testing a large number of riders on a longitudinal basis through the French Cycling Federation (FFC)." Xavier Jan has been defining his priorities over the last 5 months. He wanted the IOC conference which has just let everyone down with a cave in to sectoral interests (including cycling) to show unity. He said before the decision was announced: "This conference in Lausanne is crucial. It is necessary to develop a European position on this. Mrs Buffet can count on 13 of the 15 European countries. But two countries, the Netherlands and Spain are reticent. Unity is the only way to begin the fight against drugs in sport."

He placed a lot of faith in the IOC. He said: "the CIO is the only organization able to finance the fight anti-doping, to subsidize the research tasks. When one sees the amounts they can get for the TV rights for the Olympic Games then it is clear that they have funds to start this fight."

Xavier Jan also wants the riders in the peloton to be better informed of the dangers of using these substances. But, like others, he is uncertain about demarcations - what is the real definition of doping? He said: "These last months, it is clear that there is a basic conflict between the doctors of the Sport's Ministry and the Sport's Medicine Doctors. The former consider using Vitamin C to be equivalent to doping. Riders have to take care of themselves to help recovery. The types of things they use for this purpose contain iron, glucose, and vitamins - all necessary supplements as long as they are not misused. Take a stage in the Alps during the Tour de France for example when the sun is beating down. After that effort the rider needs around 4 hours before his digestive tract is recovered. But the sort of recuperative care I am referring to must be administered in the first two hours. The only way it can occur is via injection. Let us stop saying that syringe = doping. Only the product counts. If we support these recuperative practises then we are beginning the fight against the dangerous drugs."

Secret défonce - a confession by Erwann Menthéour

Erwann Menthéour has just released a new book entitled "Secret défonce", which is published by JC Lattes, and is selling at 89FF for the 190 pages.

A review of the book reveals that it is a very alarming confession by the former French hope who retired at the age of 25 totally disillusioned with professional cycling. He breaks the "code of silence" that exists among riders in the peloton. He summarises his experience with cycling by saying "why continue pursuing a dream that was good when in reality it had become a nightmare?"

He says: "While racing in France in the spring of 1996 I started having a heavy nose bleed once I returned to my hotel room after the race. When I called the team doctor into my room he told me that this was normal, my blood had become too dense to flow through my blood vessels. He said that he would give me some medicine to keep my cardio-vascular system from closing down completely. At the Tour of Trentino a few months later I began having terrible head aches because my blood hemotocrit had risen to 60 per cent - it was too high. On the same race one of my French team mates risked death one night because his blood was too thick."

Erwann Menthéour was caught in March 1997 just before the start of Paris-Nice. He was one of the first three riders who have excessive red blood cell counts as the UCI introduced blood tests. He admits to using EPO and says it was the reason his count was above 50 per cent. But before this, Erwann Menthéour says he had used a lot of dope. His first injection of amphetamines "allowed him to cross the psychological threshold". Then he started using what he says is the "terrible pot belge" - the Belgian cocktail - a mixture of heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, corticoids, and analgesics. He says this cocktail "transforms the ass into a thoroughbred; a "lanterne rouge" in the 1990 Tour de France into a "meillor grimpeur" (KOM) in 1998. He talks about the Italian Rodolfo Massi, who was implicated during the last Tour, as he was holding the KOM jersey, for trafficking in drugs within the peloton.

He issues scathing attacks on famous names in cycling - ex-riders, current riders, team managers, soigneurs - and elaborates on practices which have now become public as a result of the Festina revelations during the 1998 Tour.

He answers those who criticise him for breaking the code of silence. He said: "People are saying I am spitting in the soup, but it is necessary when it is poison."

Menthéour retired because he was unable to cope with riding like this. He now dreams of being a grandfather, a stage of life he says is less and less likely to be realised by today's great cyclists. Among the riders he accused were Evgeny Berzin and Franco Chioccioli. Both issued stern denials in the Italian press.

Chioccioli and Berzin: "We do not use drugs"

The 1994 Giro winner Evgeny Berzin has had a tough reply for Menthéour. He said: "Since when is Menthéour a doctor?" The Russian also denied that he had health problems. "Who is this mister who dares to say such things I have never even set eyes on him? Only my doctor, with my authorization can give reports on the state of my health. However, I will gladly show my medical file which shows there are no significant problems. Menthéour is an idiot who lies." Berzin has announced that he will file a complaint against the rider.

Franco Chioccioli also had strong reactions to Menthéour's accusations: "As a team manager, I'm at races 240 days a year. Do I look like somebody who's doing badly? That rumor is ruining my reputation, he has defamed me for no reason".

No searches in France

As the season started in France on Tuesday, everyone was tense about the prospect of more police searches. While the French Government has just introduced even tougher laws to combat doping in sport, the French Police did not interfere with any riders.

Saeco's Special Internet Event

My friends at Saeco have sent me the transcript of the questions and answers that were part of their special Internet event associated with the team presentation last week. Here they are.

Q: Serge Boulanger, Belgium - This team will only try to win "one day races" and big tours stages?

A: Claudio Corti, Team Manager - We have a team that can do well on every kind of races. Naturally most of our victories will still come by Cipollini's sprints, but even in the tours we can count on high quality riders. I mean Savoldelli can be our leader for the Giro d'Italia; he is young but now has experience enough to be a captain in such an important race. Then we have Dufaux that will participate to Tour and Vuelta: he already had many good placements in this races, and this year with a whole team working for him he can even fight for the victory.

Q: Steven Madeley, Cardiff (Wales) - The team and the riders have had a lot of success recently. Is there any race that is a particular or special target for this year?

A: Claudio Corti, Team Manager - As I already answered to the previous question, this team can do well on every kind of race: don't forget that we even have Petito who has to delete last unlucky season, and come back the rider he was. A rider who can compete even for the final standing of the world cup

Q: Jeff Rowe, USA - This winter I saw Mario ride the Munich 6-day and make several suggestions that he may be serious about track competition at either the World Championships or the Sydney Olympics.

A: Bruno Vicino, Trainer and 3-times World Track Champion - He already is a good track-rider: in Munich he showed that with a specific training he can become n°1 even in track.

A: Mario Cipollini - The Olympic Project is already in act: I'm seriously thinking about Sydney and talked with the national team trainer who showed me how the pursuit race is turning into a race made up for road cyclists: with the new rules who participates to the 1st place final has to race three times in one day. This means that for this race are required high recharghing capibilities.

Q: Brian Roth, Texas, USA - You have been a pro from the time of Moser, Hinault and Saronni, through the Indurain years and into the era of Ullrich and Pantani. Who are some of the riders that have most influenced you?

A: Giuseppe Calcaterra - I'll never forget Hinault, he is the one who has influenced me mostly, may-be because when we raced together I was so young and he was the most important rider of the group.

A: Mario Cipollini - Calcaterra is a very important "piece" of my train: don't forget that when he was a young rider he was considered as one of the best. Do you know that Cribriori - his team manager when he become a pro - was sure that he had to become a great champion and not Bugno, who was in the same team!?!

Q: Claudio Adani, Italy - Is it possible that Cipollini becomes a finisseur at the end of his career, just as it happened to you?

A: Guido Bontempi, Trainer - He has all the characteristics to follow my same evolution. And if he will prepare himself for the track races, this evolution may even be faster.

Q: Nica Lewis, Philadelphia, USA - Will Mori return in Philadelphia to vindicate his 2nd place finish of 1998?

A: Massimiliano Mori - The Philadelphia Pro Championships is probably my favourite race: I will go back there, of course, because I've been very close to win that race two times, and I'm sure one day I will make it mine.

Q: Jesper Andersen, Copenhagen, Denmark - I would especially like to hear about the plans for Dario Frigo.

A: Dario Frigo -I will have more chances for myself this year: I have more responsibilities, but I like it - my season's main event will be the Giro d'Italia

Q: Jan Versluys, Amersfoort, Netherlands - How does it feel to be the quickest Mario of the squad? A: Mario Traversoni - Are you sure that this question is for me!?!?

Q: Franco dal Canto, Livorno, Italy - Is it true that your lack of hair is due to Cipollini's foolish behaviour?

A: Antonio Salutini, Trainer (after a general laugh) - I believe that my lack of hair is due to genetic reasons... but Mario's behaviour has quickened up the process

Q: Alain Galladier, France - Who is the rider of the team - who is not yet well known - that you believe can become a champion?

A: Antonio Salutini, Trainer - I'd bet even my clothes on Commesso

Q: Aronne Berlinghieri, Italy - Do you believe that the presence of Dufaux in the team may be dangerous for you: you could have less space in the tours?

A: Paolo Savoldelli - We don't have the same programme: we will participate together only at the Tour de France, but my main objective will be the Giro d'Italia, and Laurent will not be there. Anyway, in this team there is a good feeling and I believe that in any race the boys will support who is on a better position.

Q: Remc Reiding, Netherlands - How do you look back at last year's problems during and after the Tour? You left Festina and chose to go to Saeco. What is the difference between both teams if you look at the goals, the atmosphere and the capacity of the cyclists?

A: Laurent Dufaux - I like the organization of this team, and the riders are good too: it is an "high profile" team. Cipollini has a big "charisma" and he always keep up our morales. It is a closed chapter of my athlete's carreer. It is something hard to forget, but I've turned the page and I have to look forward.

Q: Alain Ciocca, Switzerland - Your ambitions in the big Tours?

A: Laurent Dufaux - I will participate to Tour and Vuelta. even if my season will begin only on may 1st, I believe I can be in shape for theese appointments. Expecially for the Vuelta: it is a race on which I've always done very well and I will be the captain of the team.

Q: Baby Bags - Mario Cipollini- Why are you such the man? I love your hair.

A: Mario Cipollini - Just let me know if it is a woman or a man to write this e-mail... then I will answer!

Q: Brian Roth - Mario, you mentioned in your great column in Cycle Sport that you and some team mates went to Namibia in Africa for pre-season training. What was it like there and was it better than training in Europe?

A: Mario Cipollini - Yes, we could train in the best conditions - good roads, no traffic, wonderful weather. I knew Frankie Fredericks, the sprinter: we have an idea that will soon become reality: a 100 mt sprint with him on his foot and me on my bike. What a wonderful challenge!

Q: Leta Weedman - You were once quoted as saying that it would be fun to sprint against the world's fastest field and track sprinter Michael Johnson. We in Kentucky would like to propose a similar challenge: Since we host the world's greatest horse race, The Kentucky Derby, (referred to as the "Greatest 2 Minutes in Sport") we propose that Super Mario race one of the Kentucky Derby thoroughbreds.

A: Mario Cipollini - Thanks a lot for your invitation, but this kind of challenge has already been done many times in Europe in the past. I like new experiences, and the challenge with Fredericks is one.

Q: Raimond Vasiljevs, Latvia - I want to be in professional team (maybe like Saeco), what I gonna do ? I'm 18 years old.

Q: Daryl Kingsford, New Zealand - I live in New Zealand and have ben riding for three years now and have only won three sprints since I started riding, I've always come second by the narrowest of margens. I've done a lot of distance work and also a lot of strength work but cannot seem to put the two together. Can you help me please?

A: Mario Cipollini - I receive hundreds of e-mail messages like these. I'm very glad that the young riders look at me as an example to follow and ask me advice, but it is almost impossible to give correct anwers. The only thing I can say to those young riders it is: be serious and don't ever stop training.

A: Mario Cipollini - My main objective for this season are of course Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, but this time I want to do my best to win Milan San Remo. I've been dreaming of it for years and as soon as I believed that it was impossible for a sprinter to win it, Zabel won two times. So this year that race is back on the top of the list of my objectives. After the Tour, I will prepare the World Track Championships.

Canberra Criterium Championship 1999

A Grade, 30 minutes plus 3 laps:

 1. Mick Rogers (AIS)
 2. Pete Rogers (Die Continental)
 3. John Forrest (Catalyst)		0.16
 4. Sean North
 5. Jeff Dau
 6. Joel Stewart
 7. Allan Sieper
 8. Dylan Cooper
 9. John McBride
10. Tim Palmer				0.16

Starters: 30

B Grade, 20 minutes plus 3 laps:

 1. Brendan Savage
 2. Michael Bloomfield
 3. Mick Aisbett
 4. Tim Buchanan
 5. Tracey Gaudry
 6. Dave Osmond
 7. Geoff Osborne
 8. Keith Ayotte
 9. Mike Cave
10. Tanya Cramp

Starters: 26

C Grade, 15 minutes plus 3 laps:

 1. Tom Walter
 2. John Bell
 3. Chris Clery
 4. Marc Williams
 5. Robert Cottis
 6. Daniel Franze
 7. Cilla Ballard
 8. Steph Maxwell
 9. John Warren (Snr)
10. John Warren (Jnr)

Starters: 29

Caulfied-Carnegie Criteriums

162 riders gathered to race the popular car park circuit in 35C heat with a light Northerly breeze, it was a perfect summer's evening. The classy A grade field held together for the first half hour then a break of four escaped. The bunch's efforts to return the break to the fold failed, with the escapees finishing half a lap up. Victory to James Taylor, who stopped working at two laps to go, making three wins and a third from four starts. Visiting American Michael Varski was second with Footscray’s Colin McEvoy third from former AIS rider Marcel Lema.

B grade was shattered by the efforts of endurance multi-sport specialist Russel Newnham who drove the initial break to a half lap lead, then in a mighty surge he rode off his companions. Regrouping, with a view to racing out the minor places didn’t appeal to Steve Martin who managed to bridge up and win the two up sprint.

15-year-old Berwick youngster Travers Nuttall, led home C grade spinning his 83 inch top gear for all he was worth. The leadout provided by the lad’s father, Tim, was enough to see him home by a wheel from the sprinters lined out behind. Michael Drayden won the traditional bunch sprint in D grade.

A Grade, 1 hour plus 3 laps:

 1. James Taylor
 2. Michael Varski
 3. Colin McEvoy
 4. Marcel Lema

Started: 34

B Grade, 1 hour plus 3 laps:

 1. Steve Martin
 2. Russel Newnham
 3. Denis Toce
 4. Mathew Chessum

Started: 42

C Grade, 45 minutes plus 3 laps:

 1. Travers Nuttall
 2. Martin Peeters
 3. Andrew Hall
 4. Eddie Perez

Started: 48

D Grade, 45 minutes plus 3 laps:

 1. Michael Drayden
 2. Andrew Cameron
 3. Cliff Lynch
 4. Chris Sal

Started: 38