News for July 2, 1999

Virenque in the Tour

Willy Voet disgusted

Willy Voet, the former soigneur to Richard Virenque and the shamed Festina team said that he was extremely disappointed in the decision by the UCI to reinstate Richard Virenque in the Tour de France. He said: "It is ridiculous, scandalous, ... It is a pity that just as we were making some advances in the fight against the doping we get this. I wanted to believe that everyone was acting together in good faith. But then the thunder bolt that came down yesterday revolts me. This is not the first time the UCI has tried to choke the affair. If one knew the real reason they bailed out Virenque it would be useful. They are a band of hypocrites. There is money involved and a company which is very powerful. Everyone wants to keep the peace so that everyone becomes protected. It is difficult to think of this as a sport anymore. All that has occurred since my arrest proves to me that nothing has changed. Given all the products that are being used now it will take many years to stop it totally. The only hope lies in the future generations. It is futile to have hope in the current generation."

Jalabert wants a global solution

Laurent Jalabert says that attacks on doping in cycling made by national authorities will fail and that the problem requires a global solution involving all sporting authorities. A letter from the French rider was published in the French sport's daily L'Equipe on Thursday in Paris. Jalabert said in part: "The solution to doping cannot be strictly French. It can only come from an international normalisation, otherwise French riders will be penalised."

Jalabert has been at odds with French cycling authorities since he left the Tour de France last year in protest. He has not raced in France since that time. He was also banned by the French Cycling Federation from taking part in the recently completed national championships because he refused to undergo testing outside of the routine tests done by race officials.

Jalabert has been linked to some strong comments on doping and his own feelings about it. He said at one stage he "did not feel like he was French anymore" and that there was "no doping in cycling". As to the latter comment he claimed in his L'Equipe letter that he had been wrongly quoted. He said: "Obviously, I'm not denying that there is a problem in the biological preparation that unfortunately leads to doping. But it concerns sport in general. One only needs to read about the controversy surrounding 100 metres world records or big scores in rugby, and cycling in particular. At a personal level, I have never been involved in any doping case. I have always found big Tours, in which I have had but moderate success, too long and too hard on the health of riders, even if they have had excellent training."

So where is Virenque?

While the press and organisers were waiting with different emotions for Richard Virenque to turn up for the pre-Tour gloss, the French rider was maintaining his whereabouts and movements secret. There were mad scrambles as rumours mounted about Virenque's arrival plans in Puy du Fou. He was soon coming, he was here in a car, he had caught a train or was being flown in by helicopter. And so on. The medical testing of the 180 riders was underway and Virenque was still absent.

Various so-called important people were giving their gratuitous opinions about the UCI decision to force the organisers to take Virenque. The president of the French Cycling Federation, Daniel Baal, himself having been investigated by Judge Patrick Keilwas said: "The decision may hamper the peace we were hoping to prevail at the start of the Tour. I hope that this serenity will return and that the last minute starters will not cause any problem."

With the time limit for sign on being Friday, the Polti team was clearly waiting for the press and officials to run themselves around in a frenzy before they arrived in cars at the front of the required building and presented themselves for the routine tests.

Meanwhile Judge Patrick Keil has closed the Festina investigation

The Festina enquiry, which began 12 months ago after the Tour de France scandal erupted, has now been closed by Judge Patrick Keil. His dossier comprises 11 books (5539 pages). The initial enquiry was only focused on the Festina team but subsequently the judge opened investigations into Casino, La Francaise des Jeux, and ONCE. All the parties mentioned have 20 days to react to the accusations. 11 people, including Richard Virenque, are facing charges as a result of the report. It is now up to authorities to conduct these trials.

The tests will be relentless

Tour de France organisers have said that the testing this year will ensure that only clean riders will succeed. All riders entered for this year's race have had to undergo blood tests before the race.

Latest Tour teams:


Stefano Garzelli (Ita), Marco Artunghi (Ita), Sergio Barbero (Ita), Roberto Conti (Ita), Michele Coppolillo (Ita), Marco Fincato (Ita), Dimitri Konisjev (Rus), Massimiliano Napolitano (Ita), Marcello Siboni (Ita). Team Managers: Guiseppe Martinelli and Alessandro Giannelli.


Erik Zabel (Ger), Udo Bölts (Ger), Alberto Elli (Ita), Guiseppe Guerini (Ita), Kai Hundertmarck (Ger), Jorg Jaksche (Ger), Jan Schaffrath (Ger), Georg Totschnig (Ger), Steffen Wesemann (Ger).

Team Managers: Walter Godefroot and Rudy Pevenage.


Bobby Julich (VSt), Steve de Wolf (Bel), Laurent Desbiens (Fra), Peter Farazijn (Bel), Claude Lamour (Fra), Massimiliano Lelli (Ita), Thierry Loder (Fra), Roland Meier (Swi), Christophe Rinero (Fra).

Team Managers: Bernard Quilfen and Alain Deleouil.

Mapei-Quick Step:

Pavel Tonkov (Rus), Davide Bramati (Ita), Gianni Faresin (Ita), Manuel Fernandez Gines (Spa), Paolo Lanfranchi (Ita), Bart Leysen (Bel), Axel Merckx (Bel), Daniele Nardello (Ita), Tom Steels (Bel).

Team Managers: Patrick Lefevere and Serge Parsani.


Michael Boogerd, Erik Dekker, Maarten Den Bakker, Patrick Jonker, Marc Lotz, Robbie McEwen (Aus), Leon van Bon, Marc Wauters (Bel), Beat Zberg (Swi).

Team Managers: Theo de Rooy and Adri van Houwelingen.

ONCE-Deutsche Bank:

Abraham Olano (Spa), David Etxebarria (Spa), Marcelino Garcia (Spa), Santos Gonzalez (Spa), Laurent Jalabert (Fra), Luis Perez Rodriguez (Spa), Andrea Peron (Ita), Marcos Serrano (Spa), Mikel Zarrabetia (Spa).

Team Managers: Manolo Saiz and Sebastian Pozo.

Team Polti:

Ivan Gotti (Ita), Romano Brasi (Ita), Stefano Cattai (Ita), Mirco Crepaldi (Ita), Stéphane Goubert (Fra), Silvio Martinello (Ita), Oscar Pellicioli (Ita), Fabio Sacchi (Ita), Richard Virenque (Fra).

Team Managers: Gianluigi Stanga and Vittorio Algeri.


Mario Cipollini (Ita), Guiseppe Calcaterra (Ita), Salvatore Commesso (Ita), Laurent Dufaux (Swi), Gian Matteo Fagnini (Ita), Armin Meier (Swi), Paolo Savoldelli (Ita), Mario Scirea (Ita), Francesco Secchiari (Ita). Team Managers: Claudio Corti and Antonio Salutini.


Jacky Durand (Fra), Mario Aerts (Bel), Fabien de Waele (Bel), Sébastien Demarbaix (Bel), Thierry Marichal (Bel), Kurt Van de Wouwer (Bel), Rik Verbrugghe (Bel), Geert Verheyen (Bel), Peter Wuyst (Bel).

Team Managers: Jean-Luc Vandenbroucke and Jos Braeckevelt.


Alexandre Vinokoerov (Kaz), Stéphane Barthe (Fra), Frédéric Bessy (Fra), Pascal Chanteur (Fra), Fabrice Gougot (Fra), Jaan Kirsipuu (Est), Gilles Maignan (Fra), Christophe Oriol (Fra), Benoit Salmon (Fra).

Team Managers: Vincent Lavenu and Laurent Biondi.


Marco Serpellini (Ita), Franco Ballerini (Ita), Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat), Ludo Dierckxsens (Bel), Pavel Padrnos (Cze), Mariano Piccoli (Ita), Zbignew Spruch (Pol), Jan Svorada (Cze), Johan Verstrepen (Bel).

Team Managers: Pietro Algeri and Maurizio Piovani.

Kelme-Costa Blanca:

Fernando Escartin (Spa), Joaquim Castelblanco (Col), Carlos Contreras (Col), Jose de Los Angeles (Spa), Jose Javier Gomez (Spa), Javier Ochoa (Spa), Javier Pascual Llorente (Spa), Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Spa), Jose Angel Vidal (Spa).

Team Managers: Joan Mas and Alvaro Pino.

Vitalicio Seguros:

Angel Casero (Spa), Elio Aggiano (Ita), Hernan Buenhora (Col), Francisco Cerezo (Spa), David Garcia (Spa), Alvaro Gonzalez de Galdeano (Spa), Pedro Horillo (Spa), Prudencio Indurain (Spa), Gines Salmeron (Spa).

Team Managers: Javier Minguez and Jose Luiz Lopez-Cerron.

Crédit Agricole:

Chris Boardman (GBr), Magnus Backstedt (Zwe), Sébastien Hinault (Fra), Anthony Langella (Fra), Stuart O'Grady (Aus), François Simon (Fra), Cédric Vasseur (Fra), Henk Vogels (Aus), Jens Voigt (Ger).

Team Managers: Roger Legeay and Serge Beucherie.


Wladimir Belli (Ita), Laurent Brochard (Fra), Javier Hernandez (Spa), Rolf Huser (Swi), Fabian Jeker (Swi), Laurent Lefèvre (Fra), Laurent Madouas (Fra), Christophe Moreau (Fra), Didier Rous (Fra).

Team Managers: Juan Fernandez and Michel Gros.

La Française des Jeux:

Stéphane Heulot (Fra), Christophe Bassons (Fra), Jimmy Casper (Fra), Frédéric Guesdon (Fra), Christophe Mengin (Fra), Lars Michaelsen (Den), Anthony Morin (Fra), Damien Nazon (Fra), Jean-Cyril Robin (Fra).

Team Managers: Marc and Yvon Madiot.


Alex Zülle (Swi), Jose Luis Arrieta (Spa), Manuel Beltran (Spa), Vicente Garcia-Acosta (Spa), Francisco Mancebo (Spa), Jon Odriozola (Spa), Unai Osa (Spa), Miguel Angel Pena (Spa), Cesar Solaun (Spa).

Team Managers: Eusebio Unzue and Jose Luis Jaimerena.

Cantina Tollo-Alexia:

Bo Hamburger (Den), Alessandro Baronti (Ita), Gabriele Colombo (Ita), Moreno di Biase (Ita), Marco di Renzo (Ita), Massimo Giunti (Ita), Luca Mazzanti (Ita), Nicola Minali (Ita), Giampaolo Mondeni (Ita).

Team Managers: Guiseppe Petito and Leonardo Levati.

US Postal:

Lance Armstrong (VSt), Frankie Andreu (VSt), Pascal Derame (Fra), Tyler Hamilton (VSt), George Hincapie (VSt), Kevin Livingston (VSt), Peter Meinert-Nielsen (Den), Christian Vandevelde (VSt), Jonathan Vaughters (VSt).

Team Managers: Johan Bruyneel and Johnny Weltz.

Big Mat-Auber 93:

Lylian Lebreton (Fra), Ludovic Auger (Fra), Thierry Bourguignon (Fra), Carlos Da Cruz (Fra), Thierry Gouvenou (Fra), Dominique Rault (Fra), Alexei Sivakov (Rus), Jay Sweet (Aus).

Team Managers: Stéphane Javalet and Pascal Dubois.

Tonkov looming as a favourite

Despite the French press installing Richard Virenque as the favourite, 30-year old Russian Pavel Tonkov, the leader of the Mapei-Quick Step team in this year's Tour, is also looking serious. He last rode the Tour in 1995 and 1994, abandoning on both occasions. His motivation in recent years has been for the Giro d'Italia which he won in 1996 and has consistently placed in top 10. This year he has told the press he has planned his training and build-up to the Tour. He said: "In the past, it was in my team's interest to have me race in the Giro. Now maybe it is good news that I'm not well known in France. I may surprise a few."

Mapei-Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere said: "Everything is in his favour, if you look at his past record on the Giro. Now he is 30, has more experience. He has the right team mates to help him out in the mountains. "We left him free to prepare the way he wanted. He did not race much, trained hard. He's in great shape."

Tonkov knows that without Ullrich and Pantani present the race is wide open. He said: "I just feel a lot of confidence from my team, from my sponsors. I just want to win a stage, finish on the podium and if I don't win it, come back next year."

He will get major support from Axel Merckx.