News for July 10, 1999

Fast Tour Stages

Mario Cipollini won the fastest road stage ever contested in the Tour de France when he was first over the line in Blois (during Stage 4) on Wednesday. But there have been six ITT stages which were faster in the history of the Tour. The fastest ever stage counting ITTs was ridden by American Greg LeMond in 1989. 54,545 km/h Versailles - Paris. This was the stage that won him the Tour from Laurent Fignon.

Counting the prologues the fastest have been in 1994 when Chris Boardman achieved an avs of 55.152 km/h.

For the road stages, the following order has emerged.

Koos Moerenhout to Farm Frites-TVM

Koos Moerenhout (25, Rabobank) will probably go to Farm Frites/TVM next year. He has already discussed it with Cees Priem. The team manager hopes to give clarify the status of the rider within a few weeks

Tour snippets after Stage 4

Jaan Kirsipuu (Est, maillot jaune): "It was an easy day. The team didn't have to use much energy and that was the main thing. The only delicate moment was the escape of the 10, in which we were not represented. But apart from that there were no particular worries."

Antony Morin (Fra): "When we counted a 6 minute and 40 second lead, I thought that we could go a long way with the attack. In the last 30 kilometres with Mondidni, we gave it our all. Through bad luck, we had to confront the wind head-on and the sprinting teams started to pedal fast. But this failure, far from getting to me, gives me great hope for a win in the next stage."

Damien Nazon (Fra): "I am getting slowly towrads the podium. (7th in Blois). Today, you had to be in the first 5 to have a chance in the last 500 metres."

Along with Marco Pantani, Cipollini is the rider who brings out the most enthusiasm in the crowds, fascinated by his sense of spectacle as much as by his efficiency or availability. Aware of the responsibilities of those in his league, "Cipo" goes along with all of the requests of children. In the Giro, the Tuscan rider is regularly surrounded by children who want a cap, a jersey, or a signature on a school book. He does it with patience, with a written comment specific to each child.

Holder of records of all types, the rider from Lucques, city near Pisa, has 30 stage victories - the best result of all riders since the war - in the Giro. With more than 140 wins since his professional start in 1989, he has in fact been for some time, assured his place in the history books of cycling. His collection of nicknames speaks for itself. "Super Mario" as a reference to his insolent superiority in sprints, the "Lion King" because of his striking blonde hair, "Il Magnifico" for his allure.

He also has a strong character. His first particpation in the Tour ended with a pitiful abandon in 1992 during the passage through Belgium. The following year, he came back to win the first stage at Sables d'Olonne and to get the yellow jersey during the following week.

At 32 years of age, Cipollini continues to please journalists. To one of them who interviewed him about the speed-record during the Blois stage (50.355 km/h), he responded with "If I become unemployed, I could do some advertising for the TGV!" (high speed French trains).

The Australian Stuart O'Grady, among the best sprinters in the peloton (3rd at Blois) is very happy. His parents, Brian and Faye, are following him through the Tour thanks to a sponsor. His father is a chauffeur who drives politicians. Last year, when Stuart got the yellow jersey, Brian stole the limelight from the leader of the Opposition, Kim Beazley, who he was driving to Parliament. The journalists all wanted to interview Brian rather than Mr. Beazley.

Cipollini victory list

Mario is riding his 7th Tour and has already won 10 stages. He is has the most victories of all the Tour riders. He also holds the record for Giro wins with 29.

Willy Voet's book and some comments from Phil Anderson

A book by former Tour de France team masseur Willy Voet has blown the lid on systematic doping and how the cheats beat the testers, reports Paul Kent, in the Sydney Morning Herald (Wednesday, July 7).

He was in a cell that smelled of urine and vomit. He was alone. On a television nearby he overheard cyclists saying they were clean and that they had never tried drugs. The cyclists said the drugs found in his car were not for them, but for his own use.

It was at that time Festina masseur Willy Voet got angry and realised he had had enough. He decided - so to speak - to come clean. And about the time he called in French authorities, in another part of the country Australia's Neil Stephens was working for Festina, racing in the Tour de France and trying to avoid the controversy that had swallowed his team when Voet was arrested days earlier, before the race had started, with illegal performance-enhancing drugs in his car.

Stephens would be forced to defend his stage win from a year before, insist he was not part of the systematic doping Voet's arrest had suggested was rife within Festina.

It is a year later and Neil Stephens is retired. Willy Voet lives in France and is forced to report weekly to his local police station as he awaits trial for illegally trafficking performance-enhancing drugs.

In the meantime, he has released a book, Chain Massacre: Revelations of 30 Years of Cheating. It details more than half a life's involvement in world cycling, where he estimates he treated 500 cyclists in his career and that, from them, the innocent ones he can "count them on two hands, maybe two hands and two feet if I'm generous". Only two ever tested positive.

His book displays diary pages he kept in code during his six years at Festina. The diary has been discredited by Festina, even though he said shortly after his arrest that team director Bruno Roussel called his wife Sylvie and asked her to destroy the diaries. She turned them over to authorities. The diary was kept because part of Voet's job required him, if the doctor was not around, to administer performance-enhancing drugs that would be deducted from the cyclist's end-of-season bonus.

Obviously Voet's book has cost him many friends. Now he has spoken to America's Sports Illustrated, the latest edition of which promises more broken dreams. He confirms what many suspect and are scared by. Australia's Phil Anderson, former stage winner and yellow jersey leader of the Tour, sits in Victoria and is worried about the perception Voet's book and last year's scandal - which saw Festina disqualified and other teams withdraw - has left on the sport. "Everyone points to cycling as a drug sport now," Anderson says. "You might have seen the television last night, there was a man connected with the Olympic committee and he was talking of drugs in sport and he pointed the finger at cycling. It's very strictly controlled and, unfortunately, the number found positive is higher than other sports but that's because they test so many."

Anderson says cycling suffers no more, proportionately, than other sports. If that is the case, then world sport should come with an R-rating. Because Voet offers a bleak picture. He was arrested with two coolers containing 234 doses of EPO, 24 vials of growth hormones and testosterone, 60 capsules of Asaflow, a product that thins the blood and counters an effect of EPO, which creates more blood cells to carry oxygen but thickens the blood to dangerous levels. To escape EPO detection, which can result in a rider being disqualified only if his red blood cells rise above 50 per cent of his total blood volume, Voet rigged a handheld centrifuge system that indicated if a blood sample held an elevated level. He taught the riders how to use it and read it.

To beat surprise tests - like on race mornings - Voet would leave IV bags of saline solution under their beds. If drug testers knocked on their doors, riders could hang the IV bag from a bent spoke, stick the IV needle into a vein, and in 20 minutes the saline solution had the blood ratio below 50 per cent.

For urine tests in the 1980s, before EPO became the fashion drug, Voet would get a sample of clean urine, fill it inside a condom with a rubber tube attached, then plug it. He would glue pubic hairs to the tube to camouflage it. After a race but before doping, a rider would get the condom from the team car, insert it in his anus and the tube would be glued to his crotch. Come the test, he would simply unplug the tube and presto, the test was clean.

He admitted once injecting a rider, leaning from a car window, during a race.

Working 19- to 20-hour days, Voet would keep himself awake with what he called "Pot Belge": a mix of cocaine, heroin, caffeine and amphetamines that are injected into the arm.

Voet was carrying two vials the day he was arrested, and said it was a common cycling practice. He claims to have seen the drug of preference change from amphetamines in the 1970s, to anabolic steroids and cortisone in the 1980s, to growth hormones and EPO nowadays.

Back in Victoria, Anderson says he has seen plenty of riders take needles. "But it's no secret that the best way of absorbing vitamins or minerals is through needles," he says. "That's a common practice. If anybody was injecting something I figured it was vitamins." Still, Anderson is no fool. "The doctors are always one step ahead of the blokes trying to catch the drugs. In my time it started with amphetamines and went to steroids and to blood doping," he says.

"The doctors or pharmacists are always concocting something else and they're not alone in cycling. When I first came in I was shocked to hear some riders were using amphetamines. But it wasn't the big races, it was the smaller races. And I couldn't believe it because I don't see why riders would have to get into a high like that. Before the end of the 1980s, and in the early 1990s, I heard there was this EPO problem. Everybody had their suspicions. That was when not many people knew about the product and doctors and coaches and athletes were experimenting. I guess they learned how to control it."

Voet did. Or was shown. He was in prison when he heard Festina's star rider, Richard Virenque, talk to a reporter about Voet. "He's been my personal trainer for eight years, but I'm not responsible for what he's done behind my back."

When he was released, Voet eventually ran into Virenque.

"If I had injected you with everything you had asked me to," he told him, "you would be a dead man."

Italian press report on drug investigations

The Italian newspaper La Republica has published an article about the doping investigations in Italy. They claim the most substances were found after a search of Gianluca Bortolami's house. 31-year old Bortolami rides for the Vini Caldirola team, which was banned from this year's Tour. In Bortolami's house four packages were found and they allege it probably contained EPO. There was a container with a liver protection substance called Ornitina Achetoglutarato, which is forbidden in sport and used for masking EPO use.

The raid on Ivan Gotti's house allegedly found two portions of Clenil (on the forbidden list) plus 15 packages containing unidentified medicines, some of them produced outside the EEC, which are not registrated in Italy. Packages containing Bentelan were found in the possession of Mario Cipollini. In Pavel Tonkov's house five containers of medicine were found but they have not yet been analysed. Suspected products were found with ex-professional rider Giorgio Furlan (5 ampules) and with cycle cross rider Luca Bramati (11 tablets of Bentelan, a portion Neuton 500 and 42 doses of medicines, which are not registered in Italy). At Magliano Piccoli's house, the police found 19 tablets (including Orudis Retard) and 10 ampules of a still unknown product. At Franco Ballerini's house, they allegedly found 56 tablets including Moduretic, 171 capsules of a Spanish product that isn't registered in Italy and 54 tablets of the stimulant Guaranà. Marco Velo had around 70 pills and ampules at home but none were known at this stage.

Mansveld wins first stage of the Ster van Walcheren

Debby Mansveld has won the first stage of the Ster van Walcheren raced over 86 kms between the Dutch towns of Koudekerke - Kortgene. The Dutch rider who lives in Gasselternijveen beat German Hanka Kupfernagel in a sprint. The two had a gap of 48 seconds on a group of 12 riders. It was the 9th victory for Mansveld.

 1. Debby Mansveld (Ned) Farm Frites-Hartol 2.04.10
 2. Hanka Kupfernagel (Ger)
 3. Spijkerman (Ned)                           0.48

Brazilian Update from Rodrigo Gini

Rodrigo Gini, who reports for from Brazil, has sent his latest update. He says that the Brazilian team has been chosen for the Pan American Games but he assesses it as inferior to the American team. No doubt we have a lot of guys with talent, like Cassio de Paiva Freitas, Marcio May and Daniel Rogelin, but I don't know if they will match riders like Dylan Casey, Levi Lepheimer or Steve Larsen. Our best hope is, once more, Luciano Pagliarini, who is racing as an amateur in Italy, with some victories and good placings in his roster. No doubt, this guy will be a Pro soon, and a good sprinter. A mention also to Claudia Carceroni, who made a good job at the Panamerican Cycling Championships last year, earning the bronze, beaten only by Karen Bliss-Livingston and Elizabeth Emery.

The team:

Cassio de Paiva Freitas (Caloi) - Road Race/Time Trial
Marcio May (Caloi) - Road Race/TT/Team Pursuit
Luciano Pagliarini - Road Race/Team Pursuit
Jose Reginaldo Cardoso (Specialized) - Road Race
Daniel Rogelin (Caloi) - Road Race
Murilo Fischer (Pirelli) - Track (points race/team pursuit)
Hernandes Quadri (Caloi) - Track (points race/team pursuit)
Claudia Carceroni (CC Ile de France) - Road Race
Janildes Silva - Road Race
Marcio Ravelli (Scott/Mercedes-Benz) - MTB
Ivandir de Souza (Caloi) - MTB
Adriana Nascimento (GT/Mastercard) - MTB

Brazil has earned eigthh medals in the Pan American Games:

Anesio Argenton (200m sprint/Chicago 1959/Gold)
Anesio Argenton (200m sprint/Sao Paulo 1963/Bronze)
Luis Carlos Flores (Cali 1971/Silver)
Team Pursuit (Caracas 1983/Bronze)
Marcos Mazzaron (Indianapolis 1987/Silver)
Team Pursuit (Indianapolis 1997/Bronze)
Wanderley Magalhaes (Havana 1991/Bronze)
Team Pursuit (Mar del Plata 1995/Bronze)

As an appetizer for all this action, next Sunday we will have our most traditional bike race: "9 de julho" (July 9th race) on the streets of Sao Paulo. More than 800 cyclists (Elite, masters, juniors, women, MTB) are expected to race in a 2.5 mile circuit. Marcos Mazzaron, a bronze medalist in 1987 games and now Sao Paulo's Cycling Federation representative, invited cyclists from Argentina, Uruguay and United States. Argentina will bring Sebastian Quiroga, Daniel Seccatto and Rafael Lombardo. Uruguay will be represented by Jose Maneiro Ramirez and Gerardo Menoni. Two cyclists of team Colorado Cyclist will also be racing - Paul Collins, fourth place at the last North American championships (in Cincinnati) and Ryan Guay.

Jonathan Vaughters report

Jonathan Vaughters is resting comfortably in Paris for a few days before returning to the US on July 9. Vaughters was forced from the race following the crash on the Passage du Gois. Vaughters confirmed that he indeed suffered a concussion and also slightly dislocated his jaw in the crash. He also received nine stitches in his chin.

"It's going to take a while for me to get my head back together and find another event (to race)," Vaughters said. "I will try to focus on the time trial at the worlds. I think it will be difficult for me to find the form I've had the last couple of months. I entered this race as good as I've ever felt."

Vaughters had a terrific month of June, finishing second overall at the Dauphine Libere and first at the Route du Sud. At both races, Vaughters received tremendous support in the mountains from Armstrong. Vaughters was determined to return the favor at the Tour.

"I wanted to be part of the mountain "hit-squad" for Lance; I hate to let him down like that," Vaughters continued. "That's my biggest disappointment. However, I have all the faith in the world in Lance."

Sweden, Hökensås Youth Six Days, Stage 2, 140 kms.

Stage 1, 141 kms:

Tomas Nilsson, who reports from Scandinavia writes that the first stage of Under-23 6-days of Hökensås was a double victory for Team Wirsbo with Stefan Adamsson as the winner ahead of teammate John Nilsson in a mass sprint. The bonifications, 10, 8, 6, 4 and 2 secs for the first five, was enough to give Adamsson the leader's jersey. Quite well deserved since he also was in the most serious break of the day when a group of five got 1.51. The gruop was caught with 20 kms to go.

 1. Stefan Adamsson (Swe) Team Wirsbo     3.10.25
 2. John Nilsson (Swe) Team Wirsbo do
 3. Björn Sjöberg (Swe) Motala AIF do

GC after Stage 1:

1. Stefan Adamsson (Swe) Team Wirsbo      3.13.29
2. John Nilsson (Swe) Team Wirsbo            0.01
3. Björn Sjöberg (Swe) Motala AIF            0.03
4. Andreas Hägg (Swe) Borlänge CK            0.07
5. Jonas Ljungblad (Swe) Team Crescent       0.08

Stage 2, 140 kms:

Tomas Nilsson, who reports from Scandinavia writes that there are two major Swedish cycling teams, Team Wirsbo and Team Crescent Tranemo. So when Borlänge CK's Markus Juneholt attacked 20 kms before the finish of the second stage of Hökensås six days the riders of the two majors kept looking at each other. Result. Juneholt won with 35 seconds to the peloton and grabbed the leader's jersey. This was Borlänge's second victory in the race since Andreas Hägg won the prologue.

 1. Markus Juneholt (Swe) Borlänge CK     3.27.38
 2. Kristoffer Ingeby (Swe) Team Wirsbo      0.35
 3. Nicko Lauke (Ger) Frankfurt
 4. Per Ola Linden (Swe) Falkenbergs CK
 5. Kristian Johansson (Swe) CK Antilopen
 6. Jaan Malir (Cze) Czech National Team

GC after Stage 2:

 1. Markus Juneholt (Swe) Borlänge CK     6.41.12
 2. Stefan Adamsson (Swe) Team Wirsbo        0.30
 3. John Nilsson (Swe) Team Wirsbo           0.31
 4. Björn Sjöberg (Swe) Motala AIF           0.33
 5. Per Ola Linden (Swe) Falkenbergs CK      0.35
 6. Andreas Hägg (Swe) Borlänge CK           0.37