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News for May 24, 1999
World Track Cup, Olympic Velodrome, Mexico City, Day 2:
Men Kilometre: 1. Hervé Thuet (Fra) 1.02.780 2. Jason Queally (GBR) 1.03.060 3. Matthew Sinton (NZL) 1.03.383 Men Individual Pursuit 4 km: 1. Francis Moreau (Fra) 4.30.605 2. Robert Karsnicki (Pol) 4.42.384 3. Franco Marvulli (Swi) 4.35.142 Men Olympic Sprint: 1. Great Britain 2. Poland 3. Spain Men Keirin: 1. Roberto Chiappa (Ita) 2. Martin Nothstein (USA) 3. Jan Van Eijden (Ger) Men Américaine: 1. Spain 2. Russia 3. New Zealand Women 500 metre: 1. Tanya Dubnicoff (Can) 35.147 2. Nancy Contreras (Mex) 35.347 3. Oksana Grishina (Rus) 35.456 Women Points Race: 1. Mandy Poitras (Can) 2. Antonella Bellutti (Ita) 3. Olga Slioussareva (Rus)
More from the Willy Voet bookYou didn't even have to ride
Willy Voet doesn't just deliver the news on drug taking in the peloton. He also devotes a section to fraudulent behaviour of other kinds. He writes in one section. "I think back to 1979, the Tour of Germany. It was a heavy mountain stage. The stage started with a very tough climb. Albert van Vlierberghe, a rider in the the Flandria-team wasn't a climber at all. And he said. 'Take me to the top with the car.' The riders will start very fast and I had to be at the back of the peloton the whole day. 'Don't worry, Willy' the riders would say ... 'If someone sees you helping then we will say that I am abandoning.' Simple! So we took him up in the car 15 minutes before the start. On the top we stopped and I left him in a barn. He hid there and waited for the ideal moment and came back in the peloton. In no time he was at the front of the peloton. He ended that day as 6th...."
Gisbers admits to drugs use
In the Dutch TV programm "Barend and Van Dorp" there was an interview with Jan Gisbers. Willy Voet has implicated him for giving his riders drugs during the PDM days. Now, for the first time he said "we used to use drugs" (after the publication of the book by Willy Voet).
Gisbers said: "I hope for a cleaner sport. More open. It is a sport with a lot of secrets. Not really big secrets. PDM wasn't in any way a unique team. All teams used drugs to get advantages. We had a system for preparing riders and it was based on a lot of research. We used substances that were close to natural. I think it was better stuff than the EPO that they are using now. At that time the drugs were not banned. But now I think that any product that makes you go faster is faking the competiting and should be classified as doping.
The interviewer asked him about Gert-Jan Theunisse who always denied using banned substances. What do you think about the statement that his body naturally produced high testostorone levels?
Gisbers replied: "I don't believe his body could do that. But like all top sportspersons he was scared that he would be pilloried. If there wasn't a system of judgement which crucified the rider then it would be easier for them to tell everyone what substances they had used."
Did you ever discover riders who had been involved in illegal doping?
Gisbers replied: "Yes, one of our riders was caught using amphetamines. He left the team soon after once we discovered it. Prior to that we didn't know about it. But everyone knows that there are methods of using drugs which are undetectable. Anyone who tests positive is basically stupid. Mostly they are riders who are inexperienced. The regular users aren't very often caught. I still think the top riders, however, are not using much. Most of the riders that are using drugs are riding from the middle bracket down."
Vandenbroucke still waiting
There have been no analyses releases as yet concerning the products which VDB acquired from Sainz. According the the French newspaper, L'Equipe, however, the products taken from the office of French lawyer Bertrand Lavelot were steroids and corticoids. Lavelot and Bernard Sainz have been accused of working together to supply banned drugs to sportspersons.
The English Look at the Drugs Scum across the ChannelThis article appeared in the UK Sunday Times on May 23 and was written by David Walsh under the heading "The death of Tom Simpson in 1967 should have been a watershed. Instead, cycling chose to destroy itself - Simpson's sad legacy all in vain." It is reproduced here for those unable to read that newspaper.
Even now, knowing what we know, it is easy to see nobility in the ambition that killed Tom Simpson. A great bike rider, but not a good enough climber to win the Tour de France, Simpson knew his limitations. His potential was another matter. More successful than any British cyclist before him, he desperately wanted to do well in the Tour. "If I fail in the Tour, it will not have been for want of trying," he wrote in his autobiography a year before his death.
Thirty-two years have passed since his fatal collapse on Mont Ventoux. Enough time for the sadness to pass, but it never does. Infernal heat, a towering mountain and murderous desire. Simpson was wasted but wouldn't let go. He died from asphyxiation; dehydrated and exhausted, he couldn't breathe.
On the barren upper slopes of the Ventoux, there is a monument to Simpson. It is a touchstone for the sport, a shrine to dark heroism to which cyclists inexorably return. The autopsy revealed traces of amphetamine in Simpson's system and the medical report concluded the drugs had contributed to his death. Stricken with grief and guilt, the cycling community comforted itself with the thought that Simpson had not died in vain. A year later they started the race at Vittel, the spa town that produces pure water and called it the Tour of Health.
On the eve of departure, race director Jacques Goddet wrote in L'Equipe: "Dear Tom Simpson, you will not have fallen in vain on the stony desert of the Ventoux." Simpson's death should have been a watershed for the sport. It never was. Since his passing many other bike riders have died prematurely, their tragedies worsened by the probability that so-called performance-enhancing drugs killed them. For all the shock felt after Simpson's death, continental cycling has never been able to see as immoral those who dip, sometimes blindfolded, into the pharmaceutical box in the attempt to surpass themselves.
Antoine Blondin, the French writer, once articulated the perennial dilemma: "In a rider's life, there are moments and places where circumstances require that he transcend himself. Each struggles to face up to that obligation . . . There is a certain nobility in those who have gone down into lord-knows-what hell in quest of the best of themselves. We might feel tempted to tell them they should not have done it. But we can remain, none the less, secretly proud of what they have done. Their wan, haggard looks are, for us, an offering."
If you can understand, even empathise with this ambivalence, you will know how the peloton destroyed itself.
Willy Voet competed as an amateur cyclist in his native Belgium, a passionate but modestly talented racer. He settled for next best, a life spent looking after the best cyclists. In the morning he prepared the food they would snatch from him in mid-race, at the finish line he was there with a dampened towel rubbing the sweat and spittle from his riders' faces. Afterwards he carried their suitcases to the hotel, massaged their bodies in the evening and, not least, he administered their drugs. Voet was a soigneur.
Up to July 8 last, he had never been stopped for a police check. Not once in 35 years, but the first was no accident. On his way to the Tour de France, Voet's car was packed with drugs. Instinctively he said they were for his personal use; the riders had to be protected. Long days behind bars eroded his altruism and, to a startled world, Voet began to tell what it was truly like inside the Tour de France. Last week he finished his tale. The book is called Massacre à la Chaine, which translates as Assembly Line Massacre.
What makes Voet's portrayal of his sport so brutal is the pervasiveness of the cheating and the matter-of-fact way he describes it. Sean Kelly was one of the first great riders Voet worked for. They got on well, Voet respected Kelly as a champion and clearly liked him as a man. But Voet tells it as it was with Kelly; that he sometimes used cortisone and once tried to cheat his way through dope control. Now retired and living in Ireland, Kelly has refused to comment on the allegations.
In Voet's depiction of the peloton, today's riders have elevated cheating to an art form. They use banned drugs that cannot be detected and trick their way through dope control if there is any danger of getting caught. "I realised," said Voet, "that dishonesty becomes a way of life."
Last year, before his arrest, Voet worked for the highly successful Festina squad. In his book he details the systematic nature of the doping within the team. At the beginning of each season the team's management and riders would meet at the Hotel Corail in Gruissan, not far from Montpellier. "The day's agenda was predictable enough," wrote Voet. "It centred on the setting up of a doping system and its financing. At the meeting Bruno Roussel, the team manager, spoke to the team: 'I've seen what's happening in cycling and rather than lament the way it has gone, we have decided to opt for this course of treatment and we would all like you to listen to the advice of Dr Rykaert.'
"This decision concerned EPO and growth hormone and it didn't surprise anyone. Most of the riders were strongly in favour and it was decided that at the end of the season, each rider's consumption would be deducted from his earnings and prize money. The team put up the money, about 500,000FF [£65,000] and since everyone trusted me, it was decided I would keep a record of individual consumption throughout the year."
And so Willy Voet kept a ledger of what each rider took and how often. It is here the bodies are buried. For example, Voet records that Richard Virenque, once France's most popular cyclist, took 102 doses of EPO in 1996 and 34 doses of growth hormone in the same year. Ludicrously, Virenque continues to deny using drugs. Other stories are recalled by Voet; how the Festina rider Laurent Brochard won the 1997 world championship road race in San Sebastian, tested positive and escaped unscathed because of an official cover-up. Drugs didn't simply turn wheels, they transformed doctors into liars, race officials into cheats.
And after helping the rider to win the race, they fuelled the post-race celebration. Voet recalls the evening French rider Luc Leblanc won the world championship: "We all got together in a hotel room, riders, support staff, national team selector Bernard Thevenet and team manager Patrick Cluzaud.
"Most started injecting themselves with pot belges (a Belgian cocktail containing amphetamines, caffeine, cocaine and heroin) and got high as a result."
Amiable Thevenet shooting up with the youngsters? Hard to imagine but in an environment where there are no checks, perversity becomes inevitable.
Thevenet had been a fine rider in his own time. He won his first Tour de France in 1975, his second two years later. Soon after retiring Thevenet admitted he had used drugs throughout his career, a confession that did not stop him becoming a team manager, national selector and television pundit. Nor did it diminish his enormous popularity in France. The old ambivalence had not changed.
Cycling's management and administration is full of old pros like Thevenet, who once hitched their systems to an outside motor. They come from the past with their stories of conquest, their preparedness to take whatever was necessary, and by their presence they shape the future.
Few sights in sport are as engaging for the spectator as Tour de France climbers fighting their way to a summit. Great moments tatooed to the souls of our memory. Laurent Fignon, imperious on the Galibier in 1984. "I divided my time," he said, "between admiring the fantastic Alpine landscape and checking how far behind Bernard [Hinault] was." The attacks that separated Pedro Delgado from the pack in 1988; others stamped on the pedals, Delgado's style was to dance.
Then, a year later, Fignon and Greg LeMond sniping away at each other, attacking, counter-attacking and tempting us to romanticise that in a century distinctly short on epics, the Tour de France was a final frontier. But even then it was a strange kind of glory, for the suspicions wouldn't go away. Did one rider have an unfair advantage over another? Occasionally there were hints; LeMond would say something about things going on in his team, but then back off. Blinded by love for the event, we took the Tour's litany of negative drugs as evidence of fair competition, not knowing that officials were central to the conspiracy.
Paul Kimmage turned pro in 1986. He spent four years in the peloton and soon afterwards wrote his story. Kimmage's book, A Rough Ride, detailed the pervasive corruption that riddled professional cycling. Many of the races had no dope control, others brazenly put up the signs for controls that didn't exist and the message to the riders was unmissible: carry on doping. Kimmage identified the source of the poison but the sport looked the other way. What right had Kimmage to tell his story?
So vicious was the reaction to his book that old friends threatened to sue him, others to beat him up and most refused to speak with him.
So into the Nineties cycling went, out of control and halfway towards hell. In the evolution of the peloton's drug-taking, EPO played a critical part. Here was a drug that could transform a rider. It was dangerous: young cyclists died because it, others won big races by taking it and its use escalated.
The police, it is said, stumbled onto the scandal, acting on a tip from a provincial hospital that the theft of EPO could be linked to professional cycling. Riders were watched, phones tapped and when they stopped Willy Voet, the police knew what they were looking for. That was 10 months ago and since then cycling's sickness has been fully revealed.
The police recently tracked down Bernard Sainz, a bogus doctor who has for years supplied illegal drugs to the peloton. In the early 1980s Sainz worked for the Renault team that included Fignon and Hinault.
Police sources claim they have a list of Sainz's latter-day clients, among whom there may be three top French footballers. This allegation is a reminder that few professional sports would emerge unscathed from the kind of scrutiny to which cycling is being subjected. More will be revealed in the court cases that will follow the investigations.
Cycling may not be able to repair the damage. The signs are not encouraging. From the debacle, only three men remain banned from the sport - Voet, Roussel and Rykaert. Not one official has resigned and the evidence of the season so far is that some riders continue to use illegal products.
Voet delivered his book with the hope that cycling turns a page. It must do more than that. It needs to tackle the ambivalence that informs its attitude to drug-taking. Rather than turn a page, the sport should throw away the old book and begin again.
Results from around Europe
France, Les Gets, World MTB Cup: Men: 1. Peat (GBr) 6.22,14, 2. Garcia (Fra) 6.22,30, 3. Vouilloz (Fra) 6.35,72, 4. Palmer (USA) 6.35,79, 5. Koch (Fra) 6.38,44, 9. Peters (Ned) 6.56,21, 11. De Bever (Ned) 6.57,68, 35. Kruiper (Ned) 7.22,08. Women: 1. Chausson (Fra) 8.00,74, 2. Giove (USA) 8.17,97, 3. Streb (USA) 8.18,83. Belgium, Beaumont, Belgian MTB Cup 1999: Men: 1. Van Dooren (Ned), 2. Paullis (Bel), 3. Tolhoek (Ned), 4. Trevisan (Bel), 5. Coenen (Bel); 11. Bakker (Ned). Women: 1. Dorland (Ned), 2. Laroy (Bel), 3. Van Wersch (Ned), 4. Van Deun (Bel), 5. Van de Brande (Ned). Netherlands, Woerden, Criterium, May 24: 1. Tristan Hoffman (Kalmthout) 80 km 1.56.13 2. Jan Boven (Woldendorp) 3. Davy Dubbeldam (Sluiskil) 4. Maarten Den Bakker (Abbenbroek) 5. Van de Ven (Nieuwegein) Netherlands, Uithoorn. Women's Criterium, 70 km: 1. Van der Zee 2. Van Alebeek 3. Kroes
USA, Men's Rankings after Atlantic Races
Men's Individual Rankings 1. Gord Fraser (Can) Mercury 536 2. Frank McCormack (USA) Saturn 464 3. Scott Moninger (USA) Mercury 276 4. David Clinger (USA) Mercury 246 5. Eddy Gragus (USA) Pro Peleton Velo 235 6. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Saturn 219 7. Chris Wherry (USA) Saturn 205 8. Graeme Miller (NZ) Shaklee 199 9. Jonas Carney (USA) Shaklee 174 10. Kirk Willett (USA) Mercury 151 Men's Team Rankings 1. Mercury 1350 2. Saturn 1107 3. Shaklee 569 4. Navigators 361 5. U.S. Postal Service 306 6. Nutra-Fig 250 7. Merlin 172 8. Colorado Cyclist 171 9. Smarttalk 157 10. Team 7-Up 148 11. Lombardi Sports 125 12. Breakaway Couriers 111 13. Volvo-Cannondale 110 14. Defeet 107 15. Lequipe Cheval/Eisentra 96 16. Team GT 87 17. GoMart West Virginia 54 18. WalMart 42 19. Cox Atlanta Velo 36 20. Saeco-Cannondale 22 21. Jet Fuel Coffee 15 22. Team Mach 14 23. Ikon-Lexus 13 24. Kissena 13
France, Tour International feminin de Bretagne, Circuit race, 63.5kms, May 23:
1. Natakija Juganijuk (Ukr) 1.41.25 (37.5kmh) 2. Tracey Gaudry (Aus) 3. Isabelle Nicoloso (Fra) 4. Alexandra LeHenaff (Fra) 5. Anne Samplonius (Can) 6. Elisabeth Chavanne-Brunel (Fra) 7. Laurence Restoin (Fra) 8. Alexandra Bähler (Swi) 9. Karin Möbes (Swi) 10. Evi Gensheimer (Ger) 0.23 11. Delphine Guille (Fra) 13. Alexandra Rutz (Swi) 2.24 38. Sandra Wampfler (Swi) Started: 103 Finished: 47
Australia, Footscray Cycling Club, Norm and Phylis Salter Memorial, 86 kms handicap
1. Joel Leonard (fastest and off scratch) 2. Colin Morris (off 4 mins) 3. Mark Finlay (off scratch) 4. Graham Carlson (off scratch) 5. Darren Roberts (off 4 mins 6. Glen Hutchinson (off scratch)
Belgium, Wortegemse Koerse, 122 kms, May 15
1. Bill Vandererven (Bel) KVC Deinze 3.06.00 (40,323 km/h) 2. Wim De Vocht (Bel) Groeninge Spurters 3. Stijn Van Autreve (Bel) Go Pass-Slagino 4. Kenny Lisabeth (Bel) Reigerlo 5. Kurt Niemegeerts (Bel) Onder Ons Parike 6. Glen Bak (Den) 7. Geoffrey Coupé (Bel) OC Saint-Ghislain 8. Jan Vervecken (Bel) Den Tip Vorselaar 9. Kurt Dierckx (Bel) KWV Turnhout 10. Kurt Verholen (Bel) Edegemse BC 11. Erik Verboven (Bel) 12. Wesley Van den Broeck (Bel) KWV Turnhout 13. Daniel Rutherford (Aus) 14. Kevin Neirynck (Bel) KVC Deinze 15. Jeffrey Pirson (Bel) SS Leopoldsburg 16. Dieter Larno (Bel) WSC Oostakker 17. Kristof De Zutter (Bel) WPC Kapelle 18. Sjef De Wilde (Bel) Toekomst Baal 19. Timothy De Mets (Bel) Onder Ons Parike 20. Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) SG Koksijde 21. Frédéric Furnière (Bel) KSV Deerlijk 22. Stefan Hardy (Bel) KZWLC Sint-Truiden 23. Tom Vanbecelaere (Bel) Groeninge Spurters 24. Tom Buytaert (Bel) Hoop op Zegen 25. Kevin Van den Bergh (Bel) KVC Heist Sportief 26. Sune Frederiksen (Den) 27. Peter Van Agtmaal (Hol) Pedaalridders 28. Stijn Retoré (Bel) RDM-Bianchi 29. Jens Renders (Bel) Toekomst Baal 30. Jeroen Proost (Bel) KWV Turnhout Started: 166
France, Ronde de L'IsardJamie Burrow has been called the English Pantani after storming to victory in the Ronde de L'Isard in southern France over the weekend. Jamie Burrow created a storm in the French Pyrenees by being the first Briton to win the Ronde de L'Isard in it's 22 year history. His victory was sealed when he attacked on stage two during the final climb of the Plateau de Beille winning the stage by a clear two minutes and equalling Pantani's record established during the ascent of his memorable climb in the 1998 tour de France.
The following morning he went on to win the 16km time trial establishing a new course record by 18 seconds and beating last year's Espoir world champion time triallist Thor Hushovd by 22 seconds.
For the remaining stages Jamie and his team mates from the Italian club UC San Paolo controlled the race allowing only lesser placed riders to drift off the front.
The French paper Dépeche before his dominance of the time trial ran the headline "Burrow, le Pantani Anglais" Following his victory it is describing him as a complete cyclist and a certain future champion... "sympathique en plus".
Thanks to Janet Flanagan
Australia, Carnegie-Caulfied Cycling Club, Jack MacGowan Handicap, May 22Mild, overcast weather with a light North wind met the 120+ riders taking part in the 16th running of the Jack MacGowan 100km handicap at Modella in Victoria's Gippsland region.
The course is flat and exposed, consisting of two laps of 50km. The conditions held providing the out markers with a golden opportunity to take advantage of their generous mark. Three women took the top places, leaving the minors to riders from the second and third limit groups. The female riders were reported to have ridden off their co-markers and displayed great discipline and endurance to hold off the field. Doubtless their handicaps will be adjusted after such a performance.
The 11 scratchmen worked hard, averaging 45kph, but failed to reel in the evenly working winning group. With the arrival of the predicted cold front failing to produce any appreciable increase in difficulty other than light drizzle during the second lap the number of working scratchmen fluctuated as factions looked to the fastest time money. Despite the attempts of Ashburton's Robert Tighello to escape in the last kilometres and the subsequent increase in tempo the scratchmen came to the left turn at 200m to go together. Hilton Clarke Jnr made a move into the turn which saw him on the ground after his back wheel went from under him in the greasy conditions, similarly youngster Michael Gill (16) lost it as he attempted to jump out of the corner. 1999 club road champ. Kristjan Snorrason, who had conserved himself for the finale took to the gravel verge to avoid the fallen and powered across the line ahead of fast finishing James Taylor and D. Johnstone.
1. J McPherson 2. R Rademaker 3. L White 4. M French 5. B Gilholme 6. L Browne 7. J Burley 8. R Chapman Fastest time: K. Snorrason
Tour of Ireland report from Martin HardieTeam SmarTalk takes five stages in all!!
The two man Los Angeles based Dutch team of Harm Jansen and Pelle Kil appear to be continuing their good form gained during the Australian Summer of Cycling. They may not have dominated the general classification in Ireland but they did take five stages in all with Pelle Kil taking the coverted points jersey. The Tour of Ireland had a field of 160 riders from 11 different countries who raced over 850 miles.
Pelle Kil opened the account early for SmarTalk when he took the first stage of the Tour of Ireland from Dublin to Waterford. After losing 9 minutes in stage 2 the Dutch duo were keen to make amends in stage 3 from Charleville- Killaloe. The course over rough roads and hilly terrain and an ever present but this did not stop the stage from being an attack festival. Towards the final part of the stage a 3 man break was defending a 1min 30 lead. With 15 miles to go, Jansen and Kil attacked and powered away from the peleton. A six man chase group struggled 15sec. behind but could only watch how the Dutchmen slowly pull away. When the three leaders came in sight they were caught, overtaken and left behind on the last climb of today's stage!! Finishing side by side in Killaloe the emormous crowd went crazy when Harm crossed the line ahead oh his team mate Kil.
Stage Four saw SmarTalk lose another 10 minutes on GC. But in stage 5 from Ballinrobe to Sligo saw Jansen soloed to his second stage win while Kil took second in the sprint of the chasing peloton bringing both Dutchmen on the podium again!! Jansen and Kil were active right from the start. Kil created the first serious break. But several GC riders had missed this move and sent their teams to the front chasing. When the break was brought back another 9 riders looked for adventure. On the last climb of the day the break was caught and Jansen launched a sharp attack right before the top. Two riders tried to follow but not for long as theyw ere shortly dropped by Jansen who managed to keep a 10-15 second lead over a mad bunch for the last 7 miles!! Soloing into town with another huge crowed waiting in anticipation, Harm Jansen took his second stage win while 5 seconds later Pelle Kil defended his green points jersey, taking second in a crazy bunch sprint behind Van Hooft (Bel). In the final sprint 30 (!!) riders went down and ambulances were driving off and on the course!!
Stage 6, Donigan - Kilibeggs, was the hardest stage of the Tour of Ireland. Reaching the northern part of this country means more and steeper hills. After the first hill Jansen joined a 20 man break, which dwindled over the next three KOM's. Only Jansen and KOM leader Jeff Wright (GB) stayed away with Jansen taking the two man sprint 30 seconds ahead of the chasing peleton.
At the conclusion of Stage 9 Harm Jansen set an all time record with four stage wins in the Tour of Ireland. No rider, not even Roche or Kelly, has ever managed to win four stages in the 47 year history of the tour. May 22, 105 miles. In Stage 8 after being away with his teammate Kil for most of the day and then being caught not far from the finish Jansen broke away on the last climb to take the stage. Stage 9 in Dublin was 35 mile Criterium with an estimated 20,000 spectators watching in O'Connel Street. In such an atmosphere everybody seemed to have forgotten all the suffering from the previous 8 days and seemed to be going a few notches faster. An at all time strung out bunch of 97 survivors put up a great show. Jansen was going all out to set up Pelle Kil with the long finishing straight away. A bunch sprint was unavoidable in this high speed final event. Kil took over from his lead out man with 300 yards to go but a slight hesitation just before the finish was the little bit Van Hoof (Bel) needed to take the stage. The Belgium sprinter took the win with Pelle Kil in second. Pelle Kil won the points jersey while Jansen took four stages overall.