News for June 7, 1999

Giro Roundup

Gotti Talks

Italian Ivan Gotti, who won his second Giro by default said that he certainly didn't expect to win this edition due to the superiority shown by Marco Pantani. Even though, he feels "very happy" with his win. He said: "What happened to Pantani is sad but the rules apply to everyone and I wasn't the one that kicked him out of the Giro. That is why I am happy with my win." Gotti added that the win came by some tough riding on the Queen Stage into Aprica which included the Gavia and Mortirolo passes. "It was a very tough stage especially as the riders were emotional at the start over the Pantani explusion. But as soon as I got going I thought that I had to concentrate on riding to my maximum and trying to take the Maglia Rosa which Savoldelli was carrying. It wasn't easy but the effort was worth the end. Pantani had the Giro won and what has happened has been a big hit but the rules are for everybody and he will have to accept it. He will go forward because he continues to be the best."

Pantani goes home

Italian Marco Pantani, excluded from the Giro on Saturday morning because his hematocrit level was too high returned to his home at Cesenatico on Saturday night. The pirate was a passenger in a large car and it passed quickly into his house after the gate was opened by his father. They ignored the large number of journalists and photographers that had gathered outside.

The famous kiosk in the centre of the little village, where the Pantani family has served their famous piadina (a sort of local pizza) remained closed all day. The whole town which had earlier in the Giro celebrated the pirate's "homecoming" was a very sad village after the image of their favoured son had been dented by the expulsion.

The reactions

Franco Polti (patron of Mapei): "It is the rule and it has to be obeyed. But for me, I have been saying that for 4 years that the UCI has to find a remedy before it is too late. There will be a catastrophe. Our riders are riding the Giro on bread and water. The current blood tests for hematocrit levels are inferior because they have 5 per cent error rates. The levels can swing by that much from the start to the finish of a race. We have to search for better methods. Let's stop the sport for one year, and talk about all the problems. Then begin again from zero. On Friday, I spent three hours talking with Hein Verbruggen and he doesn't give any clear answers about the problem. I am sadder than Pantani. I have been in this sport for six years and I have put in passion and money. Yet today I could not enjoy the success of my rider."

Alberto Zaccheroni (Milan AC trainer): "I know Pantani and I am certain that he has a high natural hematocrit level. He was very dehydrated on Friday and that can raise the level. He is an honest man. I know that tried all day but have been unable to talk to him. I am sorry to say that the problem he faces is a certain Italian mentality that will challenge his credibility. The only real issue is that he has lost the Giro that he deserved to win."

Marco Pantani: "I have a lot to think over. I am sorry for the sport of cycling and for my supporters. On Friday night our doctor checked it and it was normal."

Francesco Moser: "I can't believe it. I know for sure that Pantani would not take the risk to use wrong things."

Mercatone Uno's doctor Roberto Rempi: "I cannot understand the test result. On Friday evening we tested everything and he was good. Marco normally has a high level of more than 45 per cent, but on Friday night the results of the controls were showing that our riders were beneath 50 per cent. A change of temperature from heat to cold in two days may have affected his level. In the mountains riders drink less and this can dry out the body, and that could make a difference."

Giuseppe Martinelli, Pantani' team manager: "I don't believe the tests for a second. This is frightful. I hope that Pantani now goes on and starts in the Tour de France."

Hein Verbruggen, UCI president: "It was a dramatic day for the Giro and for cycling in general. It is the hardest sport there is and it is very commercial. Those factors bring pressure so obviously there is more doping in cycling than any other sport. It is, however, not doping in Pantani's case. It is only the health checks that we make daily. When we introduced them two years ago we wanted a limit of 53 per cent, not 50 per cent, because we know levels can change. If there is a culture of doping then there is also a culture of anti-doping and I am happy to hear some team directors say that their teams are clean."

Ivan Gotti, winner of the Giro: "Pantani is the strongest and best rider in the world. Nothing can change that. He will go through a bad time now. But he knows he is the best. I feel for him but I must also think about my own racing. I had been targetting second place. But the events then gave me a chance to win and I took it."

Jean-Marie Leblanc, director of the Tour de France: "This is very sad for cycling. It is also obvious that some riders and doctors have still not accepted the fact that we must make a break with the old habits. We must increase our efforts against doping. It means we must keep on struggling relentlessly with all the parties involved."

Would he let Pantani start in the Tour? "He said he did want to come a long time ago. I doubt he will change his mind now." Leblanc said he wanted to know more before deciding whether to allow Mercatone Uno-Bianchi into the Tour. He said: "I don't want to act hastily. It's a decision you can't take lightly. I'll be very careful about commenting on Pantani's responsibility. But it's certain that whoever was at fault is thoughtless 10 months after last summer's events."

Manolo Saiz, team leader of ONCE: "There is no quick solution to the doping problems in cycling. But there are other bigger problems like hunger in the world, alcoholism ... they also don't have quick solutions."

Jacques Rogge, vice-president of the medical commission of the IOC: "I congratulate Hein Verbruggen and the UCI for getting their controls to work."

Gianni Petrucci, president of the Italiam Olympic Committee: "I hope that Pantani doesn't quit. This whole affair has shocked everyone but we must not overreact. We have a good anti-doping routine now and we will continue until the sport is clean."

Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission: "I hope that this was a mistake. It will make people think a second time."

Massimo d'Alema, premier of Italy: "I am feeling very sad for Pantani. The news has disappointed me a lot. It hurts all Italians. At this time I can imagine the bitterness felt by this great cyclist, a bitterness which I share. But I cannot say much more because I do not know the details of this case."

Lance Armstrong, winner of the prologue in the Dauphiné Libéré: "There are a lot of bad things said about cycling. I know that cycling is not synonomous with doping."

Richard Virenque, teammate of Giro winner Gotti: "The UCI make the rules and conduct the tests. I don't watch what the results are."

Jan Ullrich, Pantani's big rival for the Tour: "I have never used any form of doping. My only secret is that I train hard and lead a healthy life. Scientific training and medical control rule at Telekom. If anyone of us privately used doping, he would have to pack his bags straight away."

On Pantani, Ullrich said: "It was a shock for me. Not only Italy cried, I did a bit too."

French Youth and Sports minister Marie-George Buffet said the Pantani business might be: "a strong warning in favour of the riders' health. Italian sports officials and governement have decided to struggle against doping. This is the health of the athletes which is at stake. I hope it will dawn on everyone that we must find a way out of this vicious circle."

Netherlands, Ster van Zeeland, Women:

Stage 2, Westdorpe, 96 kms:

 1. Leontien Van Moorsel (Rotterdam) 	     2.31.44
 2. Debby Mansveld (Gasselternijveen)
 3. Sonia Van Kuijk (Eindhoven)
 4. Yvonne Brunen (Swifterbant)
 5. Arenda Grimberg (Almelo)			s.t.

Stage 3, Kloosterzande, ITT, 12.3 kms:

 1. Leontien Van Moorsel (Rotterdam) 	       17.52
 2. Edith Klep (Oud-Gastel) 			0.31
 3. Anouska Van der Zee (Wageningen) 		0.47
 4. Sonia Van Kuijk  (Eindhoven)		0.59
 5. Harder (Hardinxveld) 			1.08

Stage 4, 96 kms:

 1. Debby Mansveld (Gasselternijveen)	     2.32.42
 2. Leontien Van Moorsel (Rotterdam)
 3. Sonia Van Kuijk  (Eindhoven)		s.t.

Final GC:

 1. Leontien Van Moorsel (Rotterdam)	     7.07.57
 2. Edith Klep (Oud-Gastel) 			3.11
 3. Debby Mansveld (Gasselternijveen)		3.38

Carnegie Caulfield Cycling Club, 1999 Sonny Barnes Handicap, June 5:

The Carnegie Caulfield cycling club hosted the Eastern region's clubs for the 100 km. handicap over the flat course starting at Modella in Gippsland. A strong turnout of 100 front and middle markers took to the road ahead of a disappointing scratch group made up of a dozen riders representing the better end of the field. The scratch group was depleted early when, at 25 km, a dog dashed from a farm gate into the bunch. The dog was struck solidly, with at least one rider riding straight over it, and disarray at the rear of the group saw one rider spectacularly unloaded into the roadside ditch. With two of the 12 gone, and a strengthening westerly, the uneven group of backmarkers battled on.

The winners came from the 15 minute bunch, exactly mid-field, who arrived at the line some 2 minutes ahead of the large group that had coagulated behind. From all reports the chasing middle markers were actually slowed once caught by scratch as the battle for fasted time money assumed precedence for the scratchmen.

The race was taken by u17 Australian Champion Alan Schnable in a hard fought sprint with Jason Lobascher, who took the u19 prize. Both riding gear restricted they had to sit on for the final down wind leg before turning 750m from the line. Spinning his biggest gear (40X12) Schnable held off Lobascher's last desperate lunge. The track racing experience of both youngsters, together with the ability to spin at very high cadence saw the lads through. Graham West led home 59 y.o Dutchman Marten Peeters, who had acted as "captain" of the five survivors of the 12 strong 15 min group. First woman home was the enthusiastic Katie Mactier (5th) who impressed the experienced Peeters by not missing a turn in the whole 100km.

1. Alan Schnable    1st u/17
2. Jason Lobascher  1st u/19
3. Graham West
4. Martin Peeters
5. Katie Mactier 	1st woman

Fastest time   Chris Kypriotis
1st over 60    Ray King

Top End Tour

The focus of the National Road Cycling Series moves to the Territory this week with the 22nd Top End Tour being from over three days from Katherine to Darwin. A number of Australia's top road racing cyclists will take part in the race that forms a part of the Compaq National Road Series.

Over the last few years a number of riders, including Tour de France star Robbie McEwen, Jamie Drew and Tom Leaper have used the Top End Tour as a part of their progression to the European pro cycling ranks. This year is no different with some of Australia's best up and coming riders seeking to gain vital points to move them up the National ladder.

Of special interest should be the duel between Penrith Panther's Peter Milostic, and Eddie Salas and Parramatta's Cameron Hughes. Milostic was leading the National Road Series up until last weekend's Barkly Challenge in Mt Isa. However, his teammate, by former European pro, Australian National Champion and Olympic representative Eddie Salas has leap frogged over Milostic with victory in the prestigious $20,000 event. Salas and Milostic are closely followed by Cameron Hughes in third place just ahead of last years Tour de France leader, Stuart O'Grady. The Top End Tour will see Salas, Milostic and Hughes each vying for vital points in order to secure the overall National Series Championship.

Hughes formed a part of the highly successful multinational, Abom Mt Buller team which dominated the Summer of Cycling in Victoria and the Tour of Tasmania earlier this year. In the internationally ranked Tour of Tasmania he finished third overall just behind the Katherine born, World Mountain Bike Champion, Cadel Evans and Nathan Clarke, both of whom are riding in the US this year. Hughes is keen to give Salas and Milostic a run for their money this week after missing the Barkly Challenge through illness. Hughes is accompanied by Parramattta teammates, Trent Wilson and Jono McCormack.

But as ever the contenders will have to keep a close eye on West Australian Top End Tour stalwart's Chris Brown And Ed Hollands. Brown has won the event on two occasions and Holland's once, they won't be letting the east coast boys off the hook easily. Other riders to watch in the A Grade event should be Commonwealth Bank Race Sprint Ace, Baden Burke, former NT riders Dave Hennessy and Nic Haddon and Darwin's Peter Verhagen.

In the combined B Grade an interesting dual between the Darwin, Katherine and Alice Springs squads should take place. However, both groups should keep an eye on some of the women they are up against. 1997 Australian Cyclist of the Year, Sandra Smith will be using the Top End Tour as preparation for her assault on the US, Dutch and Belgium criterium circuits later this month. Sandra is known for her devastating sprint and has won numerous Australian and international titles. Her victories include the International Track Titles, the National Track Championship, National Criterium Championship and the Skilled Bay Criterium Series, ahead of Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist, Anna Wilson. Sandra will have to watch Jodi Kaesler of Alice Springs who finished second last year in the National Women's Series, winning on her way the Queensland Individual Time Trial Title.