News for October 7, 1999

Heulot withdraws from road race

Of all the nations competing at this year's World Road Racing Championships, the French have made the most farcical and indeed sad announcements. The French federation has not selected world number one (on UCI's rankings) Laurent Jalabert and climber Richard Virenque for a variety of legal and ethical reasons. Yesterday came news of Catherine Marsal's six month suspension, and later it was revealed that French rider Stéphane Heulot has withdrawn from the upcoming World Championship Road Race this Sunday.

One positive is that he will be replaced by Gilles Maignan, who put some pride back into the tri-colours with a strong ride and placed seventh in the ITT yesterday. France has only medal so far at these world's, that being the silver of Juliette Vandekerkove in the junior women's ITT.

France's team director Charly Bérard told journalists in Treviso that although Heulot was one of the four best riders France could field, his form had fallen away at the end of the season. "For the next season, I said to him to manage his approach for the World Championships which will take place in France, in Plouay, in the third week of October," he said.

Nonetheless, the director was unhappy with his late withdrawal, particularly given the depleted resources of the French team. Team doctor Gerard Guillaume said the rider had had gastro-enteritis, but he had not managed his season with a view to being in form for the World's.

Henn calls it quits - fertility pill turns bittersweet

By Tomas Nilsson, correspondent

Telekom rider Christian Henn, 35, will end his career as a consequence of the doping case in which he is embroiled. The sanctions against him are yet to be decided but Henn has decided to quit, according to an official statement from his team Deutsche Telekom.

Henn was caught in the Tour of Bavaria with an extremely high level of testosterone. According to Henn the reason must have been that he had taken some natural fertility-raising (no pun intended) remedy, since his values were completely normal the day after the test. "This product helped us in 1997 to have our first child, and my wife is now pregnant again", said Henn to German website Radsport.

He also states that his family has suffered from the affair "and I can't motivate myself any more in this demanding sport, regardless of what the sports court decides." He still believes that his future is somewhere in the cycling area.

Henn has ridden five Tours and six Giros and started his pro career in 1989 with Claudio Chiapucci in Carrera. He came to Telekom as a domestique in 1992, but has won a stage in the Vuelta in 1995 and was second in Paris - Tours in 1992.

Riis: Telekom or nothing

Bjarne Riis, acting as co-commentator on Danish TV, said today that he still has problems with his arm and legs, after his crash earlier this year. He has tried to train in Australia for a week but he is not able to straighten his arm completely and his legs became swollen.

After medical examinations, the Dane will decide about the future. In cycling his only choice is a future with Telekom. A meeting with the team will be held in November/December.

Van Moorsel to concentrate on track

Elite women's TT winner, Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel (Ned) will not be starting the road race on Saturday. She checked the parcours and decided that it wasn't a perfect parcours for her, especially because of the dangerous descent. She left Italy on Wednesday night and will prepare herself for the World Championships Track in Berlin later this month.

ONCE confirms for 2000, but denies talks with Pantani

Spanish team ONCE will continue at least one more season as a cycling sponsor and the team's Secretary General, Jose Antonio Montero denies press rumors that it has had conversations with Marco Pantani regarding a contract "Of course we would like to have a rider like him or Ullrich but which team wouldn't. I can only say that this sort of contact never has occured", says Montero in ONCE's own magazine "Profiles".

Next season will be pretty much like this one with Olano and Jalabert as captains. "The team will certainly go on for next year but there are for the moment no decisions made for 2001, but I belive that matters will be clearified before this year's end", said Montero.

Gerolsteiner update

The German second division team Gerolsteiner is aiming high with a bigger budget than last year. On Tuesday evening, Tobias Steinhauser (Mapei-Quick Step) signed for the Germans, according to Radsport. The 27 year-old German made his pro debut in 1996 with Refin and qualified for their Tour team. He changed to Spanish Vitalicio Seguros last year and then moved again to Mapei this season. His best result so far is the third place in this year's Tour of Luxemburg. Nevertheless he drops down to second division with a team with a lot more "room" for him. He is ranked 329th with 123 points.

Gerolsteiner has also signed 26 year-old sprinter Olaf Pollack of Agro Adler, who came second in the German ITT Championships this year, and also has won stages in the Peace race and the Niedersachsen Rundfahrt. He also has good team pursuit experience on the track.

Other new signings are, as previously reported by German Torsten Schmidt and Norwegian Svein Gaute Hølestøl, both from closing Danish team Chicky World.

Neo-pro for Euskatel

Spanish (Basque), team Euskaltel-Euskadi has signed neo-pro Rubén Díaz de Cerio for two years. He comes from the amateur team Olarra Ercoreca and is the fifth new rider on the team.

The 23 riders of Euskaltel Euskadi's team for 2000 are: Mikel Artetxe, Peio Arreitunandia, Angel Castresana, Iñigo Chaurreau, Txema del Olmo, Unai Etxebarria, Bingen Fernández, Igor Flores, Iker Flores, Gorka Gerrikagoitia, Ramón González Arrieta, Aitor Kintana, Roberto Laiseka, Alberto López de Munain, Alberto Martínez, Mikel Pradera, Aitor Silloniz, Haimar Zubeldia, Gorka Arrizabalaga, Iban Mayo, Samuel Sánchez, Josu Silloniz and Rubén Díaz de Cerio

Mapei signings

Promising young British rider, Charley Wegelius has finally signed for Mapei-Quick Step after being on the verge of signing for Cofidis earlier in the week. He will be part of their new development team next year, which includes Italian riders Chesini, Rizzi, Paolini, Ratti, D'Amore, and Bodrogi, and Belgian Hulsmans (winner of the Baby Tour of Flanders). Also on the list are juniors Pozzato & Cancellara (dual junior world ITT champion), although Cancellara will not be able to ride professionally for another year.

Spanish domestique Manuel Beltrán (Banesto) is also being hired by the Italian squad according to their recently released team listing. However, he has yet to sign on the dotted line.

Hutchinson still on track

British time triallist Michael Hutchinson's bid to break the RRA (Road Records Association) 25 mile cycling record (40km) and become the first rider on record to cover the distance in under 40 minutes (1 km per minute) could take place on Saturday 9th October at 11am.

It will be subject to weather conditions of course, but he is hoping to succeed in the attempt before the 18th October, when roadworks will make the course unrideable. If Hutchinson does not break the record, his sponsor MDT will back him for another attempt next year.

Whither Escartin?

Current Kelme team leader, Fernando Escartin, still has not resolved his contract for next year, and is running out of teams it seems.

After rejecting offers that came from Dutch teams, he now has the choice of either staying with Kelme or going to Festina. However, neither of these teams are willing to pay his asking price of just under US $1 million. The other Spanish teams have their leaders already, leaving Escartin in limbo somewhat.

He plans to resolve the issue before the 29th October, when he is marrying fiancee Ana. If nothing comes up by this date, then he will leave it in the hands of his trainer Ignacio Labarta, while Escartin and Ana are honeymooning in the US.

Van Petegem's chances

Belgian daily newspaper Het Volk, reports that of the four Belgian team leaders for the World's (Vandenbroucke, Museeuw, Tchmil and Van Petegem), only Van Petegem is still in Belgium. He is preferring to stay at home in order to get some quality training in the Ardennes, and to keep his morale up.

This year's Tour of Flanders winner and last year's World road race silver medallist is looking forward to this year, and has got to be a reasonable chance. Tchmil and VDB will be more heavily marked, and Van Petegem may be able to take advantage of this as part of a small break. Providing he can handle the 16 x 200 m ascents of course.

When asked about his current fitness, he stated "I feel good, very good. Like in the spring. My fall in the Vuelta could have really messed up my preparation. With a bit of rest my knee injury recovered quickly. And a full Italian campaign seems to be a perfect alternative to the part of the Vuelta I missed."

He believes that the team is well balanced and can use it's four "leaders" to it's advantage: "He [VDB] is the super favorite. For him it is normal that he sees himself as the true leader. It is really for Jose De Cauwer to decide. He surely will not want to bet everything on one horse. We can take advantage of everyone looking at Frank. If Museeuw and Tchmil get in a break, the competition will have to chase."

He adds that "I am not the type who goes early in a race. The course is such that I think the best tactic is to save your strength as long as possible. The ideal scenario would be that VDB gives a good shot 3 or 4 laps from the end, that a group of ten gets away and that we are there with two or three Belgians." Obviously, he would like to be one of those two or three.

He will have the help also of his TVM teammate Geert Van Bondt, who rode well for him in Sunday's Paris - Tours. Van Petegem was happy with that race, where he finished 18th but felt as strong as the in-form Boogerd or Vandenbroucke. He attacked with Museeuw towards the end to try and take the win, but was brought back by Vandenbroucke. Hopefully this will not happen on Sunday!

Indurain on Pantani

Spanish Tour de France legend Miguel Indurain, who is in Verona (Italy) to follow the World Championships commented about Pantani's absence:

"I wish the best for Marco, but he has failed badly in not coming back as soon as possible to ride the bike, only 20 days after the forced stop. If he would have done that, now nobody would remember what happened to him at the Giro and everyone would be talking about his achievements at the Tour de France or la Vuelta a España, and the Worlds which he could win. The more time passes, the more difficult it will be for Pantani to return to the rider he was. Although I'm sure that with his strength and character I will do it, but he will have to suffer. As a friend, my advice is to come back as soon as possible", said Indurain.