News for April 4, 2000

Cipollini and Sörensen out

Italian speedster, Mario Cipollini has been forced to withdraw from Wednesday's Gent-Wevelgem and also Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, after a training accident. He hit a dog last Friday and decided to cancel his racing plans for the week on Monday. He has won Gent-Wevelgem on two occasions, 1992 and 1993, however in recent years he has suffered (according to him) from a lack of team when it counts. Paris-Roubaix on the other hand, is a race that he is not particularly keen on anyway.

He will aim to prepare for the Giro in May, one of the major objectives for him and his team.

Rolf Sörensen will not start in Gent-Wevelgem next Wednesday. He is still experiencing problems after his fall in the Driedaagse van De Panne. He finished 13th in the Ronde van Vlaanderen on Sunday, but does not want to risk aggravating the injury even more.

The Rabobank team for Gent-Wevelgem: Marcel Duijn, Matthew Hayman (Aus), Coen Boerman (debutants), Marc Wauters (Bel), Leon van Bon, Steven de Jongh, Matthé Pronk and Aart Vierhouten.

Doping for French amateurs

Four French amateur cyclists and their coach at the Vélo Sprint de Narbonne have been implicated in a doping affair. The legal authorities in Perpignan are investigating EPO trafficking and two of the involved are being kept in custody while the three others have been released after questioning. Their identities have not been revealed.

The affair started on February 29 at a routine control at Céret in the eastern Pyrenees by three police officers. They saw a car passenger inject something with a syringe and stopped the car. The analysis of the ampoule showed that it contained EPO.

The cyclists have said that their trainer treats them with EPO regularly. 50 doses of EPO were found in his home. He says that he had got them from contacts in Spain without giving more detail. The Vélo Sprint de Narbonne belongs to the third national division in France.

FdJ for Roubaix

La Française des Jeux was the by far the best French team in the Tour of Flanders. A 20th place for Mengin might not seem too impressive but no other French team had anyone in the peloton that chased Tchmil in the end. FDJ had three and therefore sports director Marc Madiot, looks forward to Paris-Roubaix with optimism. He won the race in 1985 and 1991 and in his debut as sports director in 1997 the sensation Frederic Guesdon won. Guesdon was one of the three remaining FDJ riders in the final drama in the Tour de Flanders last Sunday.

"Flanders is not really our terrain, but Paris-Roubaix is," said Marc Madiot to AFP, content with his riders' performance so far this year and optimistic with regard to Paris-Roubaix. The only disappointment so far in the season is Emmanuel Magnien but just give him time, Madiot says. And in waiting for Magnien to come back to his normal form he can always rejoice at the newcomer from US Postal, Frank Höj, aggressive towards the end in the Flanders.

Telekom still on target

Despite Jan Ullrich's series of minor setbacks, including his latest cold forcing him out of the Circuit de la Sarthe tomorrow, Telekom's sports director Walter Godefroot believes that the team is well on track to a successful year.

"In May, he must be good," said Godefroot who is not afraid of the past. Ullrich won the Tour in 1997, and though he has promised much since, he has not quite managed to get it together come July. He may return in the Tour of Aragon on April 12 providing he passes medical tests, according to Telekom's spokesman, Olaf Ludwig.

His main goals are in the second half of the season (Tour, Vuelta, Olympics/World's), but again time is slipping away from him if he wishes to be in top form, especially for July.

Virenque cuts back

Polti's Richard Virenque has decided to reduce his early season program in order to concentrate on the second half of the season. He was to have participated in the Tour of the Basque Country this week, but the Frenchman decided to restart with Liege-Bastogne-Liege on April 16.

The French races he will aim at include the Classique des Alpes, the French Championship and of course, the Tour.

Australian women's road squad named

Cycling Australia has named the 10 rider road squad that will contest this year's Olympic Games and the World Championships. Five are selected for each event, with the Olympic squad to be narrowed down to three in July. There were no big surprises in the Olympic team, as two of the riders were automatic choices: Anna Wilson (Vic) and Tracey Gaudry (ACT). The remaining three, Juanita Feldhahn (Qld), Alison Wright (ACT) and Sara Carrigan (Qld) will be vying for that last position come selection time.

According to national coach, James Victor, the squad is one of the strongest in women's cycling, and they have a real chance of obtaining medals in both the road race and the time trial. With current world number one, Anna Wilson and world number six, Tracey Gaudry, the team will be very competitive at the Games. The third member, according to selection policy will have to have demonstrated "teamwork, cohesion, consistency, ability to deploy agreed strategies and a commitment to unity between team members for the overall success of the team."

"We can only have three riders in the race so it's crucial they work together to enhance our chances of winning a medal," said Victor. "That's how the other strong nations will race for the Olympic gold and to beat them to it will require a concerted team effort."

Although the above five are the primary candidates for the Olympic team, Victor said that other cyclists may force their way into selection with good results in all the international women's events leading up to July.

The five woman squad for the World's will most likely remain separate from the Olympic team, due to the proximity of the two events. Liz Tadich (Vic), Kym Shirley (Qld), Hayley Rutherford (WA) Kristy Scrymgeour (NSW) and Margaret Hemsley (NSW) will make up this team.

2004 World's to Italy?

The are of Lombardy in Italy have officially been granted the right to be a candidate for hosting the World Championships in 2004. The road races will be held in Bergamo, on a course using the end of the Tour of Lombardy route, where Tafi won in 1998. The time trials will be held either in Bresciano, Franciacorta or on La Garda.

Indurain and UCI awarded

Former Spanish legend, Miguel Indurain has been awarded by the the organisation of the Vuelta a Catalunya. The five time Tour winner was awarded a medal of honor by the organisation, Unió Esportiva Sants who will also present one to the UCI in commemoration of their centenary.

The ceremony will take place at the end of May, coinciding with the presentation of the Vuelta a Catalunya, which takes place from June 15-22. The tour will start this year in Vila-Seca and finish in Andorra, taking in a number of Pyreneean climbs.