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Cycling News and Analysis

News for July 23, 1999

Tour News

Pavel Tonkov did not start Stage 17 due to a death in his family.

NYT on Lance Armstrong

In recent days, a number of American readers have written abusive emails to me because I have tried to present the diversity of views about the allegations of doping by Tour leader Lance Armstrong. I have not given my own view on the European press approach. But I do think it is part of a free society to allow all views to be expressed. Then we can (as adults) make up our own minds on the balance of information. That is what freedom is all about. For those who want to censor views because they don't agree with them think about that.

Here is a story from the New York Times from Samuel Abt which was published under the headling "Armstrong is engulfed by a frenzy over salve", on July 22, 1999.

PAU, France: Lance Armstrong continued to make news on two fronts Wednesday: he protected his commanding lead in the Tour de France with only four more race days to go and he found himself ensnarled in still more charges and countercharges about drugs, with cycling's governing body and Armstrong both stating that he has been using a skin cream, with authorization, to treat saddle sores.

The cream contains corticosteroids, which are anti-inflammatory and pain-killing drugs that are banned unless prescribed by doctors for health reasons. Armstrong's use of the cream is apparently why legal trace amounts of the substance had shown up in his urine tests early in the race. Countering accusations in a French newspaper that he has used an illegal drug, Armstrong acknowledged today that he had treated a rash with the cream but that "it has absolutely nothing to do with performance" and that "this is not a doping story."

The governing body of the sport agreed, saying in a statement that "minimal traces" of a cortisone substance that were found in a test of the American "did not constitute doping."

In a televised news conference after today's stage, a bitter Armstrong described himself as "persecuted" and a victim of "vulture journalism." He singled out Le Monde, which has devoted two long articles to Armstrong and drug tests he took in the race's first two days, July 3 and 4.

Discussing the results, the newspaper said that they showed "traces" that "do not show quantity but do show that he used a banned medication." It identified the product as a glucocorticoid, which it described as "steroid hormones secreted naturally."

Armstrong did not identify the salve he used. "They say stress causes cancer," said Armstrong, who had testicular cancer two and a half years ago and underwent three months of chemotherapy. "So if you want to avoid cancer, don't come to the Tour de France and wear the yellow jersey" of the overall leader. "It's too much stress."

The rider, who, after another strong performance in the Pyrenees today, seems certain to win the Tour de France when it finishes Sunday in Paris, seemed strained and weary as he spoke. Part of that was because of the long stage over four mountains that he had completed, consolidating his lead, half an hour before.

"I made a mistake in taking something I didn't consider to be a drug," he said, referring to what he called "a topical cream" for a skin rash. "When I think of taking something, I think of pills, inhalers, injections," he said. "I didn't consider skin cream 'taking something.'"

Defending him, the International Cycling Union said today that he had used the salve Cemalyt "to treat a skin allergy" and had presented a medical prescription to justify its use.

"After discussion with French authorities," the organization said, "we declare with the greatest firmness that this was a use authorized by the rules and does not therefore constitute doping."

At his news conference, Armstrong was pressed by a reporter from Le Monde, an authoritative and respected daily newspaper. Its reporters have been refused interviews by officials of the United States Postal Service, Armstrong's team, with the explanation that the paper's goals were not the team's.

Le Monde's reporter asked why the race leader denied this week that he had presented a medical certificate to justify the use of a banned substance. "Are you calling me a liar or a doper?" Armstrong asked in his only flash of anger. He then said that he had made a mistake in making the earlier denial.

In response to another question about the speculation that has surrounded his domination of the bicycle race after his treatment for the cancer that spread to his lungs and brain, Armstrong said that he was tired of questions about "How is that possible?" "You have to believe in yourself," the 27-year-old Texan said. "You have to fight. You have to hold the line."

Speculation about his comeback, especially in the French news medias, began shortly after he won the race's short prologue on July 3 and increased after he crushed his opponents in a long time trial, or race against the clock, on July 11. He followed that performance with another victory on July 13, this time on the first of two stages in the Alps, and has held the yellow jersey ever since.

With a lead of more than six minutes, Armstrong is virtually assured of victory, barring illness or injury, and would become the second American, after the three-time winner, Greg LeMond, to win the world's greatest bicycle race. Yet, speculation about Armstrong's stirring comeback has turned into what he describes as "innuendo."

"It's bad for the sport, for the Tour and for me," he said today. "I understand why there are more journalists here this year than ever before," he said, referring to the fact that about 950 reporters are accredited, about 200 more than the normal contingent. Some are particularly interested in the drug scandals that nearly destroyed the last Tour.

"I can understand their interest," Armstrong said, noting last year's scandal that resulted in the ouster of the Festina team on charges of systematic use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs. But, he said, reporters should be "a little more respectful."

After his news conference, he appeared on a television program devoted to the Tour and was asked briefly about the charges and his defense. "I'll sleep better tonight," he said.

New French team - Bonjour

Jean-René Bernaudeau (43) is the team manager of the new team "Bonjour". The sponsor is an advertising magazine which has committed itself to at least a three year involvement in the sport. The first target for the team is to start in the Tour de France 2000 ("without buying UCI-points"). The budget will be 20-25 million French francs (the same as Saeco or Lampre this year) and the team will work in collaboration with the amateur team "Vendée U". Bonjour will have 18 riders and half of the team will be neo-professionals from Vendée U.

The other new team "Delatour" has a budget of 15 million French francs

Germany, Dekra Open, Stuttgart

Prologue, 6.5 kms:

 1. Michael Blaudzun (Den) Team Home-Jack & Jones   7.44.09
 2. Marc Streel (Bel) Team Home-Jack & Jones		7.44.97
 3. Jans Koerts (Ned) Team Cologne                  7.45.25
 4. Michel Kyneb Holst (Den) Team Home-Jack & Jones 7.46.19
 5. Allan Johansen (Den) Chicky World               7.48.93

Stage 1: Altensteig - Wart, 156 kms:

 1. Dario Frigo (Ita) Saeco Cannondale                4.0.47
 2. Holger Sievers (Ger) Hohenfelder-Concorde		0.16
 3. Fausto Dotti (Ita) Liquigas 			0.16

GC after Stage 1:

 1. Dario Frigo (Ita) Saeco Cannondale

Stage 2: Esslingen - Stuttgart, 210 kms:

 1. René Haselbacher (Aut) Team Gerolsteiner         5.26.33
 2. Giovanni Lombardi (Ita) Telekom
 3. Andreas Kappes (Ger) Agro Adler Brandenburg		s.t.

Final GC:

 1. Dario Frigo (Ita Saeco) Cannondale	     	     9.35.34
 2. Holger Sievers (Ger) Hohenfelder-Concorde         	0.04
 3. Fausto Dotti (Ita) Liquigas                		0.07
 4. Peter Wrölich (Aut) Team Gerolsteiner            	0.36
 5. Michel Kyneb Holst (Den) Team Home-Jack & Jones     0.51
 6. Andreas Kappes (Ger) Agro Adler Brandenburg        	0.57
 7. Christian Henn (Ger) Telekom			0.57
 8. Andreas Klöden (Ger) Telekomekom        		0.58

Two Irish riders outed for drugs

Anton Moran from Ireland has sent me a report about two Irish riders who were found to be positive with what the Federation describes as light stimulants. Michael Fitzgerald was positive in the Prutour and Simon Coughlan, Irish hour Record holder, was positive in the Tour of Ulster. Both riders were outed for 3 months.

Fitzgerald, from Clonmel but not attached to any club, was tested after stage four of the Prutour in Britain in late May and his urine sample contained ephedrine above the permitted level. He said he had taken the herbal product for a number of years and all previous tests had been negative. Fitzgerald won the junior tour in 1992 and was senior road race champion in 1995. He won two stages of the Tour of the North at Easter and his only other success this year was in the Stamullen Grand Prix on April 18th.

Coughlan, from the Navan club, won the junior tour the year after Fitzgerald. He was tested after the fourth and final stage of the Tour of Ulster on May 3rd and was found to have used pseudoephedrine above the allowed level. Coughlan said he took cough mixture for a cold, which he bought in a chemist's shop.

The riders were disqualified from the events they were in when tested and suspended for three months from last Friday, June 18th. The ICF have carried out 38 tests this season, many more than any other Irish sporting body.

Sweden, Stjernelöbet (Swedish Cup), Kristianstad, 161 kms, July 18

 1. Örjan Gustavsson (Swe) Skoghalls CK- Hammarö      3.34.13
 2. Allan Bo Andersen (Den) Team Fakta
 3. Stefan Adamsson (Swe) Team Wirsbo
 4. Fredrik Johansson  (Swe) Västerås CK
 5. Anders Eklund (Swe) Örebrocyklisterna
 6. Klas Johansson (Swe) Team Crescent
 7. Tobias Lestrell (Swe) CK Bure
 8. Johan Flodin  (Swe) Team Crescent
 9. Jonas Rydberg (Swe) Team Crescent
10. Lasse Jonassen (Den) Team Fakta			0.20

Swedish Cup GC after 3 races:

 1. Örjan Gustavsson (Skoghalls CK- Hammarö)		205
 2. Stefan Adamsson (Team Wirsbo)     			145
 3. Martin Johansson (Team Crescent)   			135
 4. Niklas Rönnerling (Team Crescent) 			135
 5. John Nilsson (Team Wirsbo) 				125
 6. Kristoffer Ingeby (Team Wirsbo) 			125
 7. Marcus Ljungqvist (Team Wirsbo) 			125

Sweden, XC MTB National Championships

Tomas Nilsson who reports for cyclingnews.com from Sweden writes that Swedish road champion Henrik Sparr, Team Wirsbo, took second place 1.48 behind winner Philip Tavell, Team Cycle Pro (47th, 8.11 behind Sparr on the road) in the Swedish cross country MTB-championships last weekend.

The race was held on a 6.4 kms circuit and riders had to do 7 laps.

 1. Philip Tavell (Team CyclePro)         2.25.20
 2. Henrik Sparr (Team Wirsbo)               1.48
 3. Anders Wickholm (Sandvikens CK)          4.12
 4. Stefan Nilsson (Härnösands CK)           5.12
 5. Roger Persson (MTB-91 Falkenberg)        6.10
 6. Tony Andersson (Borlänge CK)            10.14
 7. Stefan Carlsson (Falu CK)               11.06
 8. Rickard Karlsson (Kvänums IF)           11.58
 9. Ulf Jacobsson (Borås CA)                13.28
10. Stefan Hoflund (IK Hakarpspojkarna)     15.07

Netherlands, Alkmaar, Dutch Track Championships

Women's Sprint:

Semi-Finals:

 Van Melis - Miggels 2-0
 Laan - Mansveld 2-1

Final:

 Van Melis - Laan 2-0

3rd Place:

 Miggels - Mansveld 2-0

Women's 500 m ITT:

 1. Mansveld       38.64
 2. Van Melis      38.87
 3. Laan           39.03
 4. Miggels        39.64
 5. Van Alebeek 40.05

Final ranking Speed-Omnium:

 1. Van Melis 	      12 points
 2. Mansveld          31
 3. Laan              40
 4. Miggels           55
 5. Van Alebeek       63

Belgian MTB Championships:

Women:

 1. Laroy (Bel)
 2. Van Wersch (Ned)
 3. Van de Brand (Ned)

Men:

 1. Paulissen (Bel)
 2. Van den Abeele (Bel)
 3. Moonen (Bel)
 4. Van Mil (Ned)

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