News for April 29, 2000

Priem's new rider: A beat up?

Former TVM director, Cees Priem has been attempting to set up a new team with the aim of having a rider win the Tour de France. He has been seeking sponsorship for the team for the past few months, but has so far been unsuccessful. According to a news item in the Dutch newspaper, "Algemeen Dagblad", Priem had already signed a new rider to the team - a certain Peter van Petegem who is currently riding for Farm Frites (refer to Wednesday's news). However, this appears to be far more based on rumour than fact, as Priem tries to stir up some momentum to attract a head sponsor for his team. It should be noted that on the same day, Belgian daily "Het Laatse Nieuws" published a story on Van Petegem and his excellent relationship with the team and its environment.

Cyclingnews spoke with Farm Frites' media director, Ardie den Hoed in relation to this matter. According to him, Van Petegem, along with Van Bondt and Knaven all have definite contracts for 2001 and are not going to be riding for Priem.

"All Cees Priem has said is that he is going to find a sponsor. There is no team yet and there is certainly no contract with Peter van Petegem," said Den Hoed. "We are a team that is very open with regard to rumours such as these that concern the former team director."

Was Priem trying to do this simply to attract attention for his team? "If that's his way of working, then we won't comment," said Den Hoed. "He says that he wants to find a rider who can win the Tour de France and that's great if can do it."

So, it appears that Priem may have to turn further afield in order to get his team ready for 2001. His quest has overtones of Belgian hopeful team director Jean-Pierre Van Rossem who had bandied around several big names in February.

Festina affair: Terrados a little lighter

The "Festina affair", set to be heard in late October in Lille by Judge Patrick Kiel, will question ten people. Six former members of Festina, along with ONCE's doctor, Nicolas Terrados, ex-FDJ soigneur, Jeff D'Hont, and two pharmacists Christine and Eric Paranier will be examined in relation to the use, facilitation and trafficking of illegal substances.

According to Gérarld Vinsonneau, the public prosecutor for the case, the accusations against Terrados have been lightened to that of "importing medicine without authorisation", and he will not have to present himself in court. Last November, Judge Kiel summoned former ONCE and Festina rider, Alex Zülle to court to ask whether he had been urged by Terrados to take drugs whilst he was on the team. However, the Swiss rider did not show.

Similarly, former Casino rider, Rodolfo Massi (now Cantina Tollo) will probably not have to front in October. He was accused of trafficking in 1998, but according to the public prosecutor, the charges may be dropped as he only had small quantities of medicine " for personal use".

Chiotti wants to continue

French mountain biker, Jerome Chiotti, who last weekend admitted, via an interview in a French magazine, that he has used EPO to win the World's in 1996 has said that he wants to keep riding. He is also critical of the way he has been treated since the revelation, saying that he at least had the courage to do so, and hoped that others would follow suit.

The comments were prompted by frustration with the fact that "nobody wished to clean up the situation," he said French daily "Libération" in an interview on Thursday. They came off his own bat, but he did not realise their effect until he was forced to seek a lawyer three days after.

The reaction of Daniel Baal, president of the French Cycling Federation was to start proceedings against him, rather than telling Chiotti "You know, you are a courageous person." A disappointed Chiotti told AFP "I suppose they (the FFC) will sanction me for that occasion. There are nevertheless presidents of clubs who support me," he said.

He did fear for his job (he currently rides for GIANT), as sponsors don't like their riders talking about doping. However, he intends to keep competing for the time being, and hopes that his team management will see things his way.

Rolf's wasted spring

A crash on an freezing day in March might have signal the career end of Denmark's Rolf Sørensen. He had hoped for a good season start in order to get a decent contract for next, his last, year on the roads. Now plans have to go in another direction, writes Susanne Horsdal in the Danish news paper Berlingske Tidende.

Rolf Sørensen, Denmark's most victorious rider, had the spring classics as his major goal. Not only for the sport but also for acquiring a good negotiation platform for a last lucrative contract before career ends. However, a few days before the Tour of Flanders, on the second stage of the Three days of the Panne the veteran Danish rider fell and hit his lower leg hard.

He took some time to recover, but managed to ride the Tour of Flanders a couple of days later almost one legged and ended in a 14th place. He did not start Gent-Wevelgem in order to rest for Paris-Roubaix - but a broken pedal stopped him there. Then, in the second last spring classic, Liége-Bastogne-Liége, doctors found that his injury was simply too bad for him to start. He did ride the Amstel Gold, but was a designated helper to Michael Boogerd (2nd) on that day and could not ride for himself.

"The crash was a catastrophe for me. It put me off completely at a point when I should have been at the top," said Sørensen to Berlingske Tidende.

For next year "I will have to see what offers I can get, but of course the economic conditions look different now. I will have to prepare for lower wages," admitted Sørensen, who would prefer to stay with his current team, Rabobank.

"I know that they want to use me to take care of the neo pros. But I still have my own ambitions. An agreement where I can go for results in the spring classics and then be a teacher for the rest of the season would be acceptable, and I've already had some loose conversations with the management along those lines", said Sørensen who also would like to have a clause giving him a raise in pay in case of a victory in the World's or Olympics.

His alternatives team wise would be Italy or Denmark. "I'm not to be bought for my ranking points but for my experience, and I really think that I could help a Danish team and would really like to raise some Danish young cyclists," he said. Cycling did cop a hiding in the Danish media during the Nicolaj Bo Larsen case when the Danish Champion was found having a high haematocrit level at the Tour of Flanders.

"I haven't followed the case in the Danish press, and I might have another view than others. I've been around for fifteen years and with the right people throughout my career. But I am really tired of all the awfully bad publicity our sport has had in Denmark. It was not the kind of thanks I had expected. Of course there are doping problems, and there's reason to be critical but there is also a need to describe all the good sides of this sport so that young people and their parents wont be scared from trying it. And I still believe that it is clean enough in Denmark so that should not be a problem," said Sørensen who welcomes an EPO test.

"That would be a relief because then you would be able to see how big the problem is, " he said. "When the accusations against me came last fall and winter I was of course upset because I really think they were ungrounded. I would have understood if cases had been opened but as far as I know, no one has had any verdicts, so it is still a question of suppositions," commented Sørensen over his disappointment with the Danish press.

"I just had broken my collarbone and everybody called me but no one asked me about that. I was still without a contract for the year and I didn't know how my injury would affect me. I took the arm out of the sling and tried to ride on a home trainer. It was damned hard. And nobody cares that you as a bike rider rides six hours a day in snowy weather. This is no sport for sissies," he says.

However, sunnier times are on the way, he hopes and he will start the Four days of Dunkerque next week. "The spring has been an unbelievable anti climax. Now I'm calming down a bit to slowly build the form for the Tour de France," he concluded to Berlingske Tidende after a spring that has been costly in every sense.

Larsen back in German classics

Danish Champion Nicolaj Bo Larsen will be back racing in the Rund am Flughafen Köln/Bonn on Saturday and then in the Henninger Turm. Larsen was found to have a high haematocrit level at the Tour of Flanders which caused his team's (Memorycard Jack&Jones) sponsors to consider an immediate stop in sponsorship. Larsen for his part said immediately that this was the end of his career. The team however managed to produce an investigation explaining the high haematocrit level and the sponsors were not only satisfied but actually demanded that Larsen would continue to race.

Cyclocross season reduced

The Superprestige cyclocross series, the premier non-world cup winter series in Europe, has been reduced to nine races for 2000/2001. The reduction comes from the UCI, who wish to lower the number of races during the year.

Cyclocross chairman Etienne Gevaert said that "The UCI international calendar is so full that the UCI wants to cancel races. And they came to us. It's a pity because without Superprestige the sport of cyclocross is nearly over. I have to take care for the interests of the sponsors Kärcher and Parky. Both will sponsor us for the next two winters."

Next month we take a decision about which races shall be cancelled. Not in Belgium or Wetzikon in Switzerland. Silvelle in Italy is on our 'to be canceled' list, because cyclocross isn't popular in Italy. Besides Italy the 'victims' will be in the Netherlands. There, we'll talk about Sint-Michielsgestel, Gieten, Surhuisterveen and Heerlen."

VDB sighting

Whilst training in the US, Frank Vandenbroucke took some time out to attend the Austin criterium during the Ride for the Roses, where he was spotted by cyclingnews reader, Leah Wiggins.