News for August 14, 2000

Zabel remains king but there is dissension

By Jeff Jones, online editor

Erik Zabel finally had an another "off day" in the World Cup, failing to pick up any points in the Clasica San Sebastian in Spain on Saturday. Zabel finished 55th, the first man home in the chasing bunch after he missed the cut on the Cote de Jaizkibel with 30 kilometres to go. He still leads Andrei Tchmil by 124 points, but he will have a job defending his lead in the last three rounds, especially if the Olympics are on the agenda.

Tchmil has the ability to catch him, as he proved by winning last year's World Cup. In the next round, Meisterschaft von Zürich this weekend, he placed third last year, gaining a valuable 50 points. The final two rounds, Paris-Tours and the Tour of Lombardy should also suit the Moldavian-Belgian classics hard man. Romans Vainsteins (Vini Caldirola) is well placed too, at 188 points. The Latvian sprinter may be able to pull off something in Paris-Tours, but next weekend will be tough.

Erik Zabel was disappointed at his missed opportunity on Saturday, and leveled a blast at his Telekom teammates who should have made the selection. Jörg Jaksche and Georg Totschnig are climbers, but they finished behind Zabel on Saturday. "More could have been expected from these specialists," said Zabel to DPA. "Some of us didn't seem that motivated."

A likely reason was their non-selection in the Vuelta. Jaksche has signed a contract with ONCE after he was left off the Tour de France team, and now it seems as though team politics will keep him out of the last big race where he has a chance to shine this year.

Udo Bölts, who had a bad race due to stomach problems agreed with Zabel. "I don't completely understand why Jaksche is not racing in Spain, as he has always been nominated for the team there. Only because he changes...", said Bölts.

Instead, Walter Godefroot will have Jaksche ride the 2.3 Tour of Poland despite claiming that he is still in good with the team. "In terms of the team, it is more important that Kessler rides the Vuelta," he said.

World Cup rankings after round 7:

1 Erik Zabel (Ger) Telekom                            330 pts
2 Andrej Tchmil (Bel) Lotto-Adecco                    206
3 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Vini Caldirola              188
4 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step                160
5 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                   134
6 Peter van Petegem (Bel) Farm Frites                 122
7 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step           119
8 Zbigniew Spruch (Pol) Lampre-Daikin                 116
9 Gabriele Missaglia (Ita) Lampre-Daikin              112
10 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Mapei-Quick Step               111


1 Mapei-Quick Step                                    63 pts
2 Rabobank                                            52
3 Fassa Bortolo                                       45
4 Lampre Daikin                                       42
5 Deutsche Telekom                                    29
6 Vini Caldirola                                      25
7 Farm Frites                                         22
8 ONCE-Deutsche Bank                                  21
9 Lotto-Addecco                                       18
10 US Postal Service                                  14
11 Française des Jeux                                 12
12 Liquigas-Pata                                      10

Bad news from Belgium - Museeuw injured

Belgian great, Johan Museeuw was severely wounded in a motor accident near his parents' home this Sunday evening, when he was hit by a car. He was taking a ride with his wife and his son on his Harley Davidson. His parents, who saw the accident, said he was riding at about 25 km/h (15 mph), and a car was driving behind him. Apparently, the driver thought that wasn't fast enough, so he began to pass Museeuw. Unfortunately, Museeuw was turning left at that moment and was struck by the car.

He sustained a contusion to the skull and fractures on the left side to his collarbone, shinbone and ankle, as well as a minor blood clot near his calf. He was first taken to a hospital in Oostende, but was later transferred by helicopter to the UZ (university hospital) in Gent on his request. It appears he will be undergoing an operation to his calf muscle tonight according to Belgian TV1. The good news was that his wife and son were unhurt, apart from minor grazes.

So it's certain his season is over now, as he won't be able to ride any of the remaining World Cup races, the Olympics and the World Championship. Although it may be seen as an unfortunate career end, he has recovered in the past to come back to the top. He has previously said that "fate won't decide when Museeuw will stop, only Museeuw will."

Although a cycling friendly country compared to some that could be named, Belgium also has its share of lunatic drivers. In Langemark, near Ypres (Ieper), a cyclist was killed and five others hurt, of which two were seriously injured and fighting for their life. The accident happened on a rural road. The car driver, who was reportedly going faster than the permitted 90 km/h (!), didn't notice the group until just before a corner where the accident happened. In an attempt to slow down, he began to skid, went off the road, hit a post and was catapulted amidst the group of seven cyclists, where the car landed on its roof. He wasn't drunk, and it is not known how seriously he was hurt. In two other accidents, two cyclists were seriously hurt, and another killed respectively. In the latter case, the motorist just drove on, but was later arrested (he was totally drunk).

This all happened on the same day the Cyclist's Union asked all parties to set up real cycling plans (and carry them out!) after the upcoming municipal elections, as well as asking everyone to vote for 'cycling friendly' politicians.

Thanks to Joris Verstappen

Wüst down for the count

German sprinter, Marcel Wüst is in hospital in Clermond Ferrand, France after he fell heavily during a criterium in Issoire on Friday. The 33 year old Festina rider has serious head and eye injuries, and his start for La Vuelta a España is in doubt. He remains in the French hospital for the time being but is intending to transfer (with the help of his wife as well as Telekom's Rudy Pevenage) to one in his home town of Cologne, Germany. He will have to wait until he recovers from an operation on Sunday evening though.

The fall in Issoire happened during an intermediate sprint and Wüst was travelling at 60 km/h when he hit St Quentin Oktos rider, Jean Michel Thilloy.

Jalabert says no to Saiz

Despite maintaining a cordial relationship with ONCE's director Manolo Saiz over nine years, Frenchman Laurent Jalabert will likely end it according to French newspaper L'Equipe. After his poor performance in the overall classification in the Tour, and his dramatic loss of his number one UCI ranking this year, Jalabert may go to a French team in 2001. It will be the first time since 1991 that he has ridden for a French team when he was with Toshiba, as he has spent the best part of last decade with the Spaniards.

A strong candidate is Bonjour, but the contract is certainly not confirmed yet, as the second division team's budget ($US 3.5 million this year) will have to grow to accommodate Jaja. Bonjour's directeur sportif, Jean Rene Bernaudeau told AFP that "I can only say that Jalabert is someone who I know and like very well."

Other French teams have declined, including Ag2r and Francaise des Jeux. Cofidis' manager, Alain Bondue said that "Laurent Jalabert is a rider of great class. In spite of his age, he is capable of some good results (31)." There is also a chance that Cyrille Guimard will start a new team next year, and this may suit Jalabert well.

Jaja has indicated that he would like to retire in another two years or so, and is undoubtedly capable of winning more top races despite being past his best. His palmares are impressive, including three Paris-Nice races (1995, 1996, 1997, two Classiques des Alpes (1996, 1998), the French Championship (1998) and the Vuelta in 1995 (5 stage wins).

This year, his preparation for the Tour was intended on getting him to that race a little more rested than previously. He reduced his race program, lost his number one ranking and failed again in the high mountain stages, but did capture the yellow jersey for a day. He eventually finished 50th overall, two hours behind Lance Armstrong. His team director wasn't too impressed at this though, and relations have reportedly been cool ever since.

Post wants a quick solution

"If Peter van Petegem wants, his problems can be solved within 5 minutes. But he must want. No talk to journalists, but simply come and sit at the table with me and talk peacefully. I prefer to do this as soon as possible, because now Peter has destroyed himself and blocked the complete working of the Farm Frites team," said Post, who is Farm Frites' appointed 'crisis manager' since the beginning of July, in an interview with

Post is critical of Farm Frites' number one rider and his 'indirect' relations with the team. "I can read in the papers that Peter wants to leave the team. I started in July and after 5-6 weeks, the situation is still the same: only because one rider, Van Petegem is blocking the whole thing.

However, Post doesn't believe that Van Petegem has found a new team yet, and is still biding his time. He has a contract with Farm Frites for next year and is the team leader. However, if he leaves then Post will need to look for another team leader, and soon at that. "That's the reason I want openness from Van Petegem. If he wants to leave I want to know why: maybe he will stay if the work conditions change? And if that isn't a solution I want to talk in a quiet way about his contract with us...I'm not being obstinate, I just want a solution," says Post.

It is known that Van Petegem is interested in Cees Priem's 'new team', but this is still a castle in the air like many other potential teams. A phone conversation between Post and Van Petegem last week went as follows:

Post: Hi Peter, I want to talk with you about your situation with Farm Frites.

Van Petegem: Hi Peter, I will leave the team. Farm Frites knows that already for a long time.

Post: I've read and heard that, but you never contacted Farm Frites for an official talk. And you have to do that with me. I understand that you have a contract till the end of 2001. You can't leave without doing anything, we have to talk about that.

Van Petegem: I have a manager. Call him.

Post said that "I called the manager, but he is on holiday. So the situation is the same as the beginning of July, and I don't want to be involved in this case until the end of the year. Because I don't like the way it's going now: all the blame is going on Farm Frites but I believe you can't blame Farm Frites. If Peter wants to blame Farm Frites, I want to hear that from Van Petegem. I've been in this business for many years, but this is the first time that I've come to such a situation. My riders were the best of the world, but even for them a contract was a contract. Maybe Van Petegem thinks the contract can be stopped without consultation. But with me then, he is at the wrong address. I repeat: I don't want to be obstinate, I want to talk when Van Petegem officially asks about ending his contract. But if you don't ask me anything, you don't get anything from me. Then he has to follow his contract till the end of next year."

Aussie Olympic track sprinters finalised

Over three weeks after the Australian Olympic team was selected, the final four spots have been named. As usual, controversy reigned as Sean Eadie, Gary Neiwand, Shane Kelly and Darryn Hill snatched up the final four spots. A noted omission was Australian champion, and best performed kilo rider this year, Ben Kersten, who left the Australian training camp at Colorado Springs after a fight with Darryn Hill.

According to AAP, Hill allegedly attacked Kersten and pushed him off his bike after the two had argued about how long the team was warming up for. Cycling Australia president, Ray Godkin confirmed the incident, and said that Hill was fined $4000 and put on a good behavior bond.

Ben Kersten's father Harry was reportedly outraged at the incident, and wants to appeal the selection on this basis alone. "My objection is based solely on the fact Ben's been assaulted," he told AAP. However, Ray Godkin said that Kersten could only appeal on the grounds that the selection criteria had not been followed. "He's a fiery type of guy, he's very aggressive - most sprint people are. That's not an excuse but that's the sort of person Darryn is," said Godkin.

Competition for the four man team was very tight, especially between Shane "minute man" Kelly and Ben Kersten. The selection criteria for the men's 1 Kilometre Time Trial include the following statements: "In competition or authorised CA trials, a male athlete shall have performed a 1 kilometre time equal to or better than 1.03.00," and "Athletes will be considered on their ability to maintain performance in competition or authorised trials at the nominated times (as required for Squad selection above) or better," and "The selectors shall also consider the athletes starting skill and time for the 1st 250 metres and the 1st 500 metres in order of merit."

Interestingly, Ben Kersten is the only rider to have ridden under 1.03.00 this year (1.02.048 at Mexico, where he finished second to Arnaud Tournant). Kelly's best is 1.03.040 (Colombia where he finished second to Arnaud Duble). Kersten beat Kelly in the Kilo (1.04.005 versus 1.04.601) and the Olympic sprint (NSW - Eadie, Kersten, Kersten beat Vic - Kelly, Neiwand, White) in the Australian championships in March. Both riders have maintained or bettered their times this year, and both have good starts. Again, a closer look at the selection criteria has to be taken if Australia is to avoid controversy in coming years.

Kelly is a little like the Keiren Perkins of Australian Cycling with regard to big events. He will certainly ride his best in Sydney, and has the class and experience to do the unthinkable and beat Tournant. However, 18 year old Kersten is a triple junior World Champion and has ridden exceptionally well this year. Ray Godkin called him "a rider for the future" but perhaps that future is now?