News for April 13, 2000

64th Flèche Wallone: some post race comments

Francesco Casagrande (Vini Caldirola, winner):

"When I attacked, I had a head wind and I think my opponents did not believe that I could stay away. I felt very good. Verbrugghe remained for a long time on my rear wheel. In the last 250 meters I gave everything, in order to shake him off. I had to give up during the Tour of the Basque Country last week because of a bronchial infection. The Giro d'Italia remains my number 1 season target, but I wanted to do well in the Ardennes races. With Liege-Bastogne-Liege, I have a good chance now. But racing there is so hard, that it is important to have good legs."

Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto, 2nd):

"Casagrande was too strong for me. I am not ashamed for second position though. Merckx and I, we had an understanding. But 10km before the finish Casagrande came up. It was work to stay with him - on the last rise in Huy he was more explosive than I."

Laurent Jalabert (ONCE, 3rd):

"I had too much patience today. I waited up to the last climb, because I felt a little tired from the Tour of the Basque Country. I wanted to play some cat and mouse. Third is not quite satisfying, when I have won it twice already. However I have also tested myself today for Liege-Bastogne-Liege, which is a longer and harder race. I know for a fact that I am in good form and there aren't too many opportunities to left to win Liege."

Axel Merckx (Mapei, 10th):

"I played my cards to show what I can do. With Rik (Verbrugghe) I had a good chance, but when Casagrande came to us, nothing could stop him. At the end I was exhausted. I even had cramps on the last climb. I felt better though, than in previous years. A little rest, then I am ready for Liege-Bastogne-Liege."

Marc Streel to court

Marc Streel, the Belgian who was fired by Home Jack&Jones (now Memorycard) in 1999, has made his mind up to sue his former team according to He was found to have a high hematocrit level at the GP des Nations last fall, according to team policy. However, the fact that Nicolaj Bo Larsen wasn't sacked immediately after his high test at the Tour of Flanders caused Streel to act.

"That shows that they don't treat us all equally," said Streel. "It also shows what kind of person Kølbæk (Memorycard's managing director) is. They have ruined my career and given me a bad image. Therefore I will seek compensation. I also want the salary they owe me, and the prize money, and also something for having ruined my reputation. I can not say how much, but it will be over one million kroner (USD128,000)."

Streel today rides for the small Belgian team Ville de Charleroi with a monthly salary of less than 7000 kroner (USD900).

Scott Sunderland update

Courtesy of Sabine Sunderland

Scott has finally got a better view on how the coming weeks will evolve. Team director, Walter Planckaert and he had a good look at the program and decided, among other things that Scott will not be riding Veenendaal-Veenendaal (April 13). The race simply isn't one which Scott could do well in, as it's a flat, sprinters race. Scott doubted if that was the right decision for only a few moments. Just as they were talking, the weather report came on and predicted cold, windy and wet weather for the end of this week...and as Scott is dealing with a bit of a throat and sinus infection he said "bugger that".

So, Scott will be training instead of racing. Our new Vespa scooter should arrive any day now and Scott is planning to do some long miles behind it. I hope he doesn't want me to ride the thing in this weather, as it could lead to a domestic. There's people enough around willing to do Scott this favour, and I just don't think I'd cope with the cold on a motorbike, although Scott has ordered a screen for it.

Anyway, so he will be racing his next race on the 19th. That day, the second most popular race here in Flanders is ridden. The Grote Scheldeprijs in Schoten can't compete with the Ronde Van Vlaanderen of course, but it is attended by quite a large public. Most importantly, the race goes close to the premises of the main sponsor Palmans. The boys always want to show themselves and Scott will be trying for sure to be of assistance.

After that, we have got Amstel Gold Race (22nd) on the menu. A dish Scott is looking forward to, after being out for most of the other spring classics.

Livingston out until mid May

One of US Postal's top domestiques, Kevin Livingston, crashed last Friday in the final road stage of the Tour of the Basque Country in Spain, suffering a double fracture of his right collarbone. According to team reports, he will be out until at least the middle of May.

He was patently disappointed, but it has not shaken his desire for competition, and he plans on coming back stronger than before.

"From a team standpoint, I'm only going to miss the next four races I was scheduled for - Flèche Wallonne (today), Liege-Bastogne-Liege (Sunday), Amstel Gold and Gippingen. Then I was going to head home in the beginning of May for a break, so now instead of resting at home, I will start training. There is never good timing for this, but the whole Tour (de France) plan will fall into place after the healing process," he said from his home in Austin, Texas.

Livingston was part of a breakaway in the 105 kilometer morning road stage from Santesteban to Azkoitia on the final day of the race when approximately 15-20 kilometers from the finish, he crashed heavily while descending, breaking his helmet.

"There was some gravel on the road, it was shaded and a little wet in this turn," Livingston said. "It was a fast turn, I was probably going at least 25-30 miles an hour, and landed on my elbow and right shoulder. My hands were in the drops, so the elbow and shoulder took the impact. I knew something was wrong pretty quickly."

Team director Johan Bruyneel believes that it will not hinder his Tour preparation, and he will still have enough time to be ready provided the healing process is not delayed. He anticipates Livingston will rejoin the team for the Midi Libre stage race in France, set to begin on May 16.

UCI turns 100

The international cycling union (UCI) officially celebrates its 100th birthday this Friday, April 14. Tomorrow, several ex-pro's will ride from Paris to Lausanne in Switzerland, the home of the UCI to commemorate the event. Amongst the 100 riders on tour include Eddy Merckx (Belgium), Greg Lemond, Ron Kiefel, Juli Furtado, Davis Phinney, Sheila Young Ochowicz, Jim Ochowicz, Connie Paraskevin Young, Andy Hampsten, Dory Selinger (USA), Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli (France), Tony Rominger (Switzerland), Claudio Chiappucci and Maurizio Fondriest (Italy).

The first meeting of the UCI took place in Paris on April 14, 1900 and a special commemorative plaque will be unveiled at their headquarters tomorrow. However, in two years time the UCI intend to move to a new building in Aigle, Switerland where they will continue to manage the affairs of cycling.

Pantani relives memories

Marco Pantani may be turning into a recluse at the moment as he sorts out his personal problems, but he is still riding the bike. According to reports, he has been seen training on the Giro d'Italia course - the race that starts in just one month's time. Last Saturday, he rode up the Abetone, the concluding climb of stage 9 of the Giro (12 km at 5.1%). However, it is still not known whether he intends to return to competition in time for this race, that was the catalyst last year for his long absence.

Pate appeal dismissed

Australian track cyclist, Stephen Pate has had his appeal for selection in the Australian track squad dismissed by Cycling Australia. Pate was not named in the team last month after the Australian track championships, and immediately put forward a plea to be included. Pate won the national madison title, finished 2nd in the national scratch race (behind Brett Aitken) and 5th in the points race (won by Scott Suckling), and was seeking to ride either the madison or the points race at the Olympics.

According to Cycling Australia's Tribunal Chair, Deborah Healey, "The panel determined the 2000 Selection Policy had been correctly implemented and as such there were no grounds to include Pate in the squad."

The two remaining two members of the tribunal were Geoff Strang (Australian Sports Commission and Los Angeles Olympic cycling gold medallist, Kevin Nichols. However, Pate may still take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

More to be questioned in Southern France

Three or four other "consumers" will be questioned later this week in the latest French doping affair, according to AFP. The four people seized for questioning earlier this week remain locked up, after a decision was made by judge Francis Boyer in Perpignan in Southern France. The four are ex pro track rider Eric Magnin, 33 years, former amateur cyclist Jean-Paul Gauthier, 30, who rode for the club SO Charvieu-Chavagneux, Ghislain Marty, also former amateur racer, and finally a pharmacist, Bertrand Delage.

Since the investigations started 13 people have been held and investigated as suspects of possession, use or trade of drugs. Amongst the nine others, some are ex-professional cyclists like Thierry Laurent, Jérôme Laveur-Pédoux; others have amateur careers in renowned amateur squads like SO Charvieu-Chavagneux (Gauthier and Frédéric Morel). Frédéric Morel's brother, French cyclo cross champion Christophe Morel, has also been questioned but has now been released.