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News for August 4, 2000

Vandenbroucke feels the pressure

After Frank Vandenbroucke's admission to hospital in Roselare recently for depression, more details have come to light as to his situation. Paul de Geyter, the personal manager of VDB said that "It's a pity somebody talked to the press about what happened in the last few days. But I can't deny it. Frank's light is out. He needed (and still needs) help. VDB is a man who has to work under pressure. But when he doesn't reach his target the reaction is doubly hard. And we all know he made a lot of enemies in the last few years with his manner. "

"Now he has reached the time for a big change. He knows that too: he wants to become a new VDB and he can't do that on his own, so he looked for help. For next year that means a new sponsor, a new team. We're still happy about our decision of last year to stay with Cofidis only in 2000. I'm glad that we can go to another team. Nobody of Cofidis has helped Frank in these difficult days. For next year I believe Frank needs a team manager who he respects. And I'm sure next year you will see a new human being and a new cyclist!"

Patrick Lefevere (a former team manager of VDB and new leader of the Domo-team) said that "I knew what was wrong with Frankie. We talked a few weeks ago about a future with Domo, but without any result. It wasn't a good idea to go to a hospital in Belgium. Then you know for sure the press will get the news within one or two days. Stupid. He had to go to a place other than Belgium. But he has nobody giving him good advice."

"Of course I know VDB is a big egotist. But the people he needed weren't there at the important moments. Do you remember the press conference after he was held in France by the police for two days? He was there alone with 200 journalists. Nobody in his neighborhood for help. Where was Cofidis? Is there a future for VDB? Then he has to change his mentality 100 percent, change his lifestyle and start a new life as sportsman," said Lefevere.

"Can I help him? How many times did I do that in the past! Privately I will talk with him, help him. But the chance he rides for Domo next year is very slight."

Ullrich to defend Vuelta title

Telekom have announced that they will be headed again by Jan Ullrich in La Vuelta a España, August 26-September 17. Although last year's Vuelta champion will not have his powerful Tour de France team (except for Vinokourov), he managed to get by in similar circumstances in 1999. In addition, this time around he is not starting from zero results, a factor that may or may not work in his favour.

Ullrich's major goals this year include the Olympic time trial on September 30, 13 days after the finish of La Vuelta. Can he maintain his condition and overcome the jet lag in those two weeks? Much will depend on his performance in the Spanish race.

The team is as follows: Jan Ullrich, Andreas Klöden, Rolf Aldag, Danilo Hondo, Gerard Trampusch, Kai Hundertmark and Jorg Jaksche, Giovanni Lombardi, Georg Totschnig and Alexander Vinokourov.

Blijlevens back to Farm Frites

Estranged Dutchman, Jeroen Blijlevens will ride next season for a Dutch team, according to Dutch newspaper De Limburger. Polti team manager Gianluigi Stanga confirmed that the sprinter will go back to Farm Frites.

Blijlevens has only had one victory this season in the 3 Days of De Panne, although he certainly hasn't lacked racing. Sponsor Franco Polti is dissatisfied about Blijlevens' results. He had (along with Bart Voskamp) a contract for two years. However, Voskamp's future is not yet known.

Blijlevens is clearly unhappy with the way things are going this year and he took some of his frustration out on Bobby Julich after the last stage of the Tour, leading to his complete disqualification from the race. There was also a big fight between Stanga and Polti, meaning that the Polti team will split into two next year. Stanga wants to start a new team, Franco Polti will first investigate the market. The contracts of Richard Virenque, Pascal Hervé, Enrico Cassani and Mirko Celestino end at the end of this season.

Wesemann returns in 10 days

Telekom rider, Steffen Wesemann, who broke his collarbone in a fall during the Tour de France, is set to compete again in 10 days time in the Joeseph Voegli memorial in Switzerland, August 13. The Nürnberger Altstadtrennen on September 3 and the Tour of Poland, September 4-9 are also likely to be on his agenda.

Posties want Heras

The US Postal team has reportedly offered a large sum of money for the Kelme climber Roberto Heras. If they can successfully negotiate with Kelme about a buy out, Lance Armstrong will have three helpers in the mountains: Kevin Livingston, Tyler Hamilton and Roberto Heras.

Contract rumours

Banesto may lose Swiss Alex Zülle to Saeco, but may gain Euskaltel's top rider, Haimar Zubeldia. Kelme will have to come up with enough money to keep Escartin, Otxoa and Vigil, as their contracts end this season. ONCE's David Cañada and David Etxebarria are free to go as well, and Euskaltel have certainly been interested.

Vitalicio may lose Igor Gonzalez Galdeano to Banesto, but Javier Mínguez has tried to assure him that he will have a sponsor. He has repeatedly indicated this to the team, who have Santiago Blanco, Juan Carlos Domínguez and Miguel Angel Martín Perdiguero "up for sale" as well. Finally, Festina's Joseba Beloki's contract finishes this season, but his team have already taken steps to keep him on board.

Thanks to cycling4all for this information

Norwegian Olympic road team

Norwegian MTB ace Gunn Rita Dahle will not start in the Olympics. Her original plan was to concentrate on MTB this season and then do some road racing and start in both disciplines. But inappropriate training has worn her musculature and now she will not be able to participate at all. Last year she tried to double the World Cup series on MTB and road but fell through at the MTB World Championships.

Norwegian road team

Men

Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole)
Kurt Asle Arvesen (Amica Chips)
Bjørnar Vestøl (Linda McCartney)
Svein Gaute Hølestøl (Gerolsteiner)

Women

Monica Valen
Ingunn Bollerud
Solrunn Flatås (who will also ride the ITT)

Notable absentees: Steffen Kjaergaard (US Postal) and Ragnhild Kostöl. Both are reserves though.

Stangelj positive

Slovenian national road champion, Gorazd Stangelj (Liquigas-Pata) has tested positive to ephedrine following his National Championships. This means that second placed Andrej Hauptmann will be awarded the title. Hauptmann however was one of the three riders not allowed to start the Tour due to a high hematocrit.

What's really up with Tokyo Joes?

By John Alsedek, cyclingnews.com correspondent

For the most part, cycling is a pretty straightforward sport...at least, the actual competition is. What goes on behind the scenes is rarely so direct, however. Case in point: the Tokyo Joe's cycling team. Over the past a couple of items about the team have appeared on the site, the first, a brief news item about the team's demise; the second, just a few days ago, a longer story in which I tried to set the record straight.

Unfortunately, things were not so clear cut and as it turned out, some aspects of the second item were incorrect - particularly the part about the team being defunct. I would like to apologise to all the principals in that article, as well as well as the readership of cyclingnews. What follows should make the whole Tokyo Joe's situation make sense, and is certainly a more positive story.

It began this past winter, when Colorado pro Antoine Bodwin approached Larry Leith, owner of the Tokyo Joe's Japanese restaurant chain, about sponsoring a professional cycling team. Leith, an avid mountain biker and supporter of the sport, agreed; Bodwin recruited a group of relatively unknown Colorado racers, and Yahweh-Tokyo Joe's was born. However, things started rough, and got worse: after spending a third of its budget to acquire a UCI Division III license, the team was quickly in the red, forcing riders to dip into their own pockets and cut corners wherever possible....and it showed in their results, or rather, their lack thereof.

Though the Yahweh-Tokyo Joe's squad managed a modest success in finishing two riders at the First Union U.S. Professional Championships, the overall state of affairs was so bad by late June that Leith felt he had to take serious measures. So he did, and replaced Bodwin as team manager. According to his replacement, John Bickmore, it was a much-needed move "Things were very bad when Toni was the manager. For example, I remember racing on zero sleep and less than good food. Our results back then were worse than terrible."

At that point, it would have been easy for Larry Leith to just cut his losses and disband the team...but he didn't, and for the sort of reason that's unlikely to come from a Wall Street boardroom, because he was afraid of hurting what he characterized as "a good group of guys...They love racing and want to compete, and I would have hurt them if I'd shut the whole team down and taken that away," he relates.

So they were able to continue racing, albeit a largely-regional schedule, thanks to Leith's generosity and love of the sport. Then things got really interesting, as, in an example of kindness begetting kindness, a number of Colorado racers volunteered their services in the cause of restoring some lustre to the Tokyo Joe's name. Former Motorola pro Michael Carter helped Mike Koenig, manager of the University of Denver cycling team (another Tokyo Joe's project), to assemble a Tokyo Joe's composite squad (including Carter, the mountain biking Swenson brothers, and U.S. Postal's Christian Van de Velde) to compete in the Zinger Cycling Challenge. They did more than compete, they made the race: Van de Velde blew the race apart on the 12-mile climb to Guanella Pass, leaving only a four-man lead group that included both Carl and Pete Swenson. The duo went on to finish second and fourth in the epic event, and Larry Leith was so pleased with the effort that he gave each of the riders a year's worth of free meals at Tokyo Joe's.

Meanwhile, the Monsoon Racing Team, an up-and-coming amateur outfit based in Fort Collins, began making plans to compete, at their own expense, in Tokyo Joe's colors for the rest of the season. They even went so far as to have Koenig add some of their own sponsors, including Cannondale, Saturn, and Speedplay, to the redesigned Tokyo Joe's jerseys.

Monsoon team manager Matthew Smith explained why in no uncertain terms "I have watched a generous and enthusiastic sponsor have his trust and his image abused....for me, it is an act of good faith, to show Larry that most of us in cycling are deeply committed people with integrity."

The squad, which includes Colorado standouts Andy Clark and Chris Fisher (recently second in the Mt Evans Hillclimb), will race the Tour de 'Toona (where Fisher was ninth overall after stage 2), the Manhattan Beach G.P., Hotter 'n Hell Hundred, Killington, and perhaps the U.S. PRO Criterium Championships and BMC Arlington Grand Prix as well (pending approval). Combined with the results of the Zinger squad, Koenig's collegiate program, and the continued existence of the UCI team, the Tokyo Joe's name looks to be in good hands.

As for the future of Tokyo Joe's Cycling, it looks to be pretty bright, even given its inauspicious start. According to Koenig, who Leith has put in charge of all his two-wheeled activities, "Tokyo Joe's is very committed to cycling and supporting the sport; but, like most things, the best way to learn how to swim is to jump in the water."

There will be a new Tokyo Joe's squad for 2001, one built upon the experiences of 2000, both good and bad. "We want a regional powerhouse team, and, hopefully, we can assemble that with all the pieces from this year", says Leith. With the collection of talent and character at hand, that should be a very achievable goal.

And as for Yahweh...

While all of this has been going on at the Tokyo Joe's end of things, the picture is less clear as to what Antoine Bodwin has been up to since his dismissal from the Tokyo Joe's team on July 1st. For his part, Bodwin continues to plead his case in regards to his time with Yahweh-Tokyo Joe's.

"I spent every cent I had in my savings. I work for the airlines, and used every ticket I could....I started this team on nothing. Every step of the way, I was able to get money to go to races and pay the bills."

While Bodwin's passion for the sport is undeniable, that last is open to considerable debate, as former teammates and at least one equipment supplier have come forward with claims that he owes them substantial sums. Still, Bodwin remains uncowed, as he discusses plans for a new team that will compete under the name Yahweh, in keeping with his religious beliefs. The projected six-rider squad will begin racing in September, with the centerpiece of their schedule being a trip to Bulgaria...pending confirmation of his new sponsor, that is.

While Bodwin himself has no doubts about how the situation will turn out, "I believe in Yahweh, so I know the team will make it," his former Tokyo Joe's associates deny that he has anything in the works. With the sponsorship announcement set to be made in two weeks, it won't be long till there is an answer, one way or another.

Adam Myerson update

After an incident in last weekend's Naugatuck Criterium in Connecticut, Breakaway Couriers rider (and cyclingnews contributor) Adam Myerson found himself in Waterbury Hospital with a fractured skull. The incident occurred after the race when a former teammate of Adam's, Scott Mercer (GS Mengoni) allegedly struck Myerson in the side of the head. The two had been talking, although reportedly the discussion was not heated when incident happened.

Afterward, Myerson was taken to hospital by his teammates and upon examination and a CAT scan, he was found to have fractured his skull just above the ear. The four hour operation was delayed until the morning when staff reassessed his condition but it was deemed necessary. He is now out of hospital with a large horseshoe-shaped scar on his head, but recovering well.

Despite describing himself as a friend of Mercer's in the past, Myerson said that the relationship between the two dissolved last year when Mercer relocated to NYC. However, any animosity was kept on the road in the races. The incident last weekend therefore came as quite a shock to Myerson.

Both the USCF and the Naugatuck Police Department are investigating the matter, and Myerson said that he will press charges. In addition, Scott Mercer's GS Mengoni team manager, John Issendorf issued the following statement:

Mr. Fred Mengoni expressed his shock and disapproval when he was informed of the altercation between Scott Mercer and Adam Myerson. Mr. Mengoni stated his view that incidents of this type have no place in our sport. Mr. Mengoni further stated that he will take whatever disciplinary action he believes appropriate when he learns of any USCF action taken against the G.S. Mengoni rider.

John Issendorf
Team Director

Australian team update

After the signings/trial periods of three members of the Australian U23 team (Michael Rogers, Baden Cooke, and Scott Davis), the remainder of the Italian based team went on a one month training camp in the mountains in Livigno, on the Swiss border. Upon returning, they were joined by a development group of riders from Australia, Cameron Jennings, Bruce McIntosh, Adrian Laidler, Denis Mungoven and Adam Cox.

One other departure was Daniel Mackey who returned home after a tough 5 months abroad. The team felt that it was enough for a first year under 23 and that they should open up a position for one of the other the talented youngsters trying to gain some experience.