News for April 27, 2000

Gotti not quite on song

The Giro del Trentino forms part of the traditional lead up to the Giro d'Italia in just over two weeks time, and already we can see some of the main protagonists emerge. Last year's winner, Paolo Savoldelli won today's stage, and currently lies 3rd overall (he came second in last year's Giro). Similarly, Roberto Sgambelluri and Gilberto Simoni have had success, as well as current leader Sergio Barbero and second placed Niklass Axelsson.

Others have not been so lucky: Davide Rebellin withdrew after yesterday's stage claiming tiredness, although he will start in the Giro. Ivan Gotti could only finish 5.35 behind Barbero on day 2, and is currently 35th at 8.17 down. "After the Settimana Lombarda, I trained a lot - 6 hours with many hills," he told La Gazzetta. "Perhaps I overdid it because I am tired here at Trentino. Not that I am worried: there is enough time to improve."

Cantina Tollo's Danilo Di Luca had a bad day as well, finishing 10.51 down. "As soon as we reached Mendola, I felt bad in the legs and had to go slowly," he said. "Perhaps it was the heat after the cold of Lienz."

Savoldelli actually lost 55 seconds on this climb, but he is a fearless descender and regained the group. He claimed it was the changing tempo on the climb that did it, but has recovered since then it seems. He also said that he should have ridden in the Tour of the Basque Country to gain a little more form.

Pavel Tonkov was riding well until he fell on the climb, and he was forced to stop to change bikes and ended up losing 1.47. Apart from elbow and knee abrasions, he was unhurt and will be once again Mapei's big hope for the Giro.

Festina up and down again

Although they almost had a rider in the front group in the Amstel Gold (Cristophe Moreau, who tried to bridge at the end but finished 18th), Festina's troubles continue with injury problems putting their riders out of action.

Rolf Huser is out for three months following surgery to repair a herniated disc. Huser had been suffering from the disc injury for sometime after he aggravated it over the winter. After Fleche-Wallonne he was unable to sit down - lying on the floor of the team minivan to get to the airport. The condition had not improved by Liege-Bastogne-Liege and he opted for surgery. The operation was completed 20 April and Huser reports that he is already feeling like a new man. He will be off the bike for five weeks followed by an easy return to training in June, full training in July and racing In August.

Oliver Asmaker (knee tendinitis) returns to racing this week. Andre Korff (infection after knee surgery) returns to training May 1. Laurent Madouas (broken elbow) returned to racing April 23rd. Angel Casero (achilles tendon surgery) is now back to full racing in his build-up to the Tour de France

Virenque and co. for late October

Richard Virenque and nine others will appear at the end of October in court in Lille to resume, and hopefully finish, the case of the "Festina affair" that started in July 1998. A total of six former members of Festina will be called although none are current, as Festina have almost a completely new team now, albeit an injured one.

Richard Virenque's lawyer, Mr Eric Hemmerdinger, told AFP that he recede an official notification from judge Patrick Kiel (Lille) today that he was to present himself in October. The date has been arranged to coincide with the end of the professional season, and could last at least two to three weeks. Although Virenque has always denied that he was amongst the drug users of the team, Judge Kiel has kept him under investigation because, as leader of the team, he had a "moral responsibility" to look after the others.

The ten people who will be present in Lille in October include Willy Voet, the Belgian Soigneur who started it all, Eric Ryckaert, Festina's former Belgian team doctor, Bruno Roussel, former directeur sportif, Jean Dalibot (soigneur) and Joel Chabiron, also part of the team at the time.

In addition, ONCE's doctor Nicolas Terrados will be there as well as former Francaise des Jeux soigneur Jeff D' Hont. Finally, pharmacists Christine and Eric Paranier will be questioned with regard to supplying cyclists with doping products. The only one missing out of the 11 initially questioned by Judge Kiel is Rodolfo Massi.

The ten will be required to answer several questions related to complicity of the use, facilitation and trafficking of illegal substances.

Daniel Baal, president of the French Cycling Federation, and Roger Legeay, former president of the Professional Cycling League, had also been put under examination last year, but were subsequently released from questioning.

Schnorf and Dahle out

By Tomas Nilsson, correspondent

Former Swiss champion Yvonne Schnorf is nearing the end of her two week rest period after her haematocrit level was measured at 47.1 per cent at Fleche Wallonne, April 12. The level for women was lowered this year from 48 to 47. Neither Schnorf nor national trainer Edith Schönenberger had noticed the change in rules.

Norwegian MTB and road ace Gunn Rita Dahle's muscles are worn out, according to Norwegian daily Verdens Gang. She will have to rest for some weeks before resuming training. Right now she can only walk and swim as exercise.

"It ain't fun but I have no choice. As soon as I train hard it's like the muscles don't react. The brain wants more than the legs are able to do. I don't know when I can start training again," said Dahle who will concentrate on MTB this season but has planned to go on the road in the late summer and try for a double at the Olympics in Sydney. Last year she managed a full MTB season as well as on the road, ending in a disappointing 14th place at the MTB worlds.

Trainer Ole Kristian Silseth explains: "The muscles are overstrained. She is not finished but must take it easy. The overall World Cup is no longer a goal for her. Only rest and massage can get her back. We hope, and count on, the fact that she'll be back in June or July."

Portuguese join forces

Two of Portugal's major teams Benfica and LA-Pecol will form a combined team in the Spanish Vuelta a Rioja, April 28 to May 1. The team will consist of Joona Laukka, Fabio Querciolli, Daniel Bayés, Alberto Amaral and José Garrido of Benfica and LA-Pecol riders Rúben Orbioscoa and Ignácio Gutierrez.

New division II league?

A new pro league might be formed by teams from second division. The initiative has come from Frans Leroy and Claude van Coillie (Vlaanderen 2002) and Tönissteiner's Gerard Bulens. The formation of the league is seen as a reaction to the UCI's plans for dividing Europe into minor sectors, thus restricting the number of countries that teams can compete in. They also plan to restrict the number of first division teams from 22 to 16 within a couple of years.

Stone goes north

The Canadian cycling around Australia, Perry Stone, continues his journey down under. He made it through Sydney safely over the Easter break, stopping firstly for a refuel of Isosport in Sydney and then for a couple of hours in Gosford (100 kms north) for a rest

Then began the journey northward towards Queensland which he managed, despite consistent headwinds and some more rain. One stop en route in Coffs Harbour (about 600 kilometres north of Sydney) for another rest, and he was over the border into Queensland, glorious Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. There he was spotted by another reader, Kriss Yunker who was driving home from a race. "He was riding into some awful weather that is hanging around the Qld coast. Strong head/crosswinds and drizzling rain," reports Kriss.

Perry unfortunately lost one of his valuable crew members a few days ago. Gene Schafer who is Perry's masseuse had to leave the race because of ill health. Perry had benefited greatly from Gene's expert massages and is very grateful for the time and effort Gene has already put in.

GP Breitling gets new sponsor

The two man time trial that started in Bühl, Germany as the GP Telekom was last year moved to Karlsruhe, Baden where it was known as the GP Breitling. However, it is to undergo another name change this year to the "EnBW Grand Prix" to reflect its new sponsor, "EnBW energy Bad-Württemberg AG".

It will take place on July 29 again in the metropolis of Baden, where it was held in front of an estimated crowd last year. Those of you unfamiliar with John Clarke (a.k.a. Fred Dagg) can read this number as 150,000.

The 72 kilometre two-man time trial is ranked 1.2, meaning it is one of the top UCI events in Germany for the year, and has an internationally high renown. The program for the day includes live music to go with the plethora of beer tents that form part of the carnival.

Van Den Haute leaves Lotto

Ferdi van den Haute is no longer the trainer for Lotto-Adecco, a position he has had for five years. He will work as trainer for individual riders in the future.

Mt Snow dates

The correct dates for the Chevy Trucks NORBA National Championship Series event in Mount Snow, Vt are June 23-25. Please note these in your calendars.