News for December 21, 2000

Marcel Wüst hopes for a miracle

Le Tour 2000 hero Marcel Wüst needs a miracle if he is to continue racing. The German, who wore the mountains jersey for four days in this year's Tour and treated us to some titanic sprint battles with Erik Zabel, has only 0.5 per cent sight in his right eye after a racing accident in France later this year. That accident broke his leg, put him in a head brace and in three operations doctors fought to save his sight.

Nevertheless Wüst has not given up hope. The 33-year-old told a German newspaper: "The doctors tell me that medicine is not mathematics. Perhaps I can get the sight back in my right eye and then return to racing."

Even if his sight does not return, all is not lost for Wüst. His Festina team has extended his contract, so even if he is not racing, he can continue to be involved with the team as a driver or member of the team staff in some other capacity.

Heras and Kelme part amicably

Roberto Heras and his former Kelme team have managed to resolve their differences after Heras' painful separation from the team to US Postal. At a Kelme team Christmas dinner in Alicante, team owner Pepe Quiles awarded Heras the Gold Insignia of the team in recognition of his efforts in winning the Vuelta. The Kelme team enjoyed their most successful season in 2000, winning the team's classification in the Tour de France and the Vuelta, and reaching third place in the UCI rankings at one stage.

The Gold Insignia highest honour that the team could give to Heras, and it was intended to settle their differences of the last few months as well. The two parties will meet in the coming days to finalise their financial agreement.

"We will always care for you, wherever you are and you will always be part of Kelme," said Quiles in his after dinner speech. "The recent past is already forgotten. Five years of comradeship cannot be erased in a few days."

Heras responded by saying that he would be leaving a team full of "great companions" and that he "felt bad about leaving them." He added that "Many will think that the money was the determining factor, but my heart also moves...I wish you all the best for the coming season," he finished.

No Merry Christmas for Virenque

Richard Virenque can't be much looking forward to the holiday season. It will be bracketed for him by the final verdict on the Festina trial on December 22 and the decision of the Swiss Cycling Federation on sanctions against him on December 29. Virenque is registered in Switzerland rather than France, but it seems unlikely that will make any difference: he faces a minimum suspension of six months for his admitted EPO use during the 1998 Tour de France, a punishment that will keep him out of this year's Tour.

Other members of the Festina team who admitted EPO use received seven month suspensions that started October 1, 1998, and were able to salvage something of the following season. UCI rules now mandate suspensions should start February 1 which would keep him out until at least August. It's possible the rule change would give Virenque a case in the Court of Arbitration of Sport for a different penalty, however. He could make a case that he should receive the punishment that applied at the time and that was levelled against his teammates.

Fassa Bortolo complete first goal

Giancarlo Ferretti's Fassa Bortolo team has finished their first training camp where they spent time planning the 2001 season, as well as carrying out medical tests on the riders, and official photos. The team has depth for both the classics and the tours, with riders like Konychev, Baldato, Tosatto, Loda, and Ivanov for the former, and Casagrande, Belli, Frigo, Petacchi, and Rumsas for the latter.

"I like all the northern races," said Ivanov. "Tour of Flanders, GP E3 Harelbeke, Flèche Wallone, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Amstel Gold Race...and I want to do my best at all these races".

For the Giro, Francesco Casagrande is aiming to avenge his second place this year. "It is my main target," he said "And this year I have a strong and devoted Team with Belli and Frigo who are strong in the mountains. I am also thinking about the World Cup. Last year I finished third in the classification, I want to do better".

The Team will also ride for the first time in the Tour de France, with Raimondas Rumsas being a chance for a good place overall. He finished 5th in the Vuelta 2000, as well as winning the Giro di Lombardia, the last classic race of the season.

CSC/WorldOnline looks forward to 2001

Rising pheonix-like from the ashes for the MemoryCard-Jack&Jones team, CSC/WorldOnline looks to be stronger than ever for 2001. With the top core riders Michael Blaudzun, Bo Hamburger, Tristan Hoffman, Arvis Piziks, Martin Rittsel and Michael Sandstød remaining, the team has been greatly enhanced by some big arrivals.

Chief among these is Laurent Jalabert, who has come from ONCE together with his brother Nicolas and Marcelino Garcia. The former World Number one with over 140 victories to his name, Jalabert will be aiming to improve on his fairly average (by his standards) 2001 season.

Then there are Rolf and Nicki Sørensen (no relation), the former of whom will add an enormous backbone of experience to the team in 2001. Rolf has been professional since 1986, and has never been out of the top 100 in the UCI rankings. He has won some great races in his career, and may add a few more before he retires.

Riis sees no problem taking a chance with veterans like Jalabert and Sørensen. "Jalabert won a lot of victories last year. And you don't just age five years in the course of one year," he told Danish daily Politiken. "We have a lot of experience, and that is important. No, I am not worried that they (Jalabert and Sørensen) won't cut it. We also have a lot of young talent. I am expecting a lot from Nicki Sørensen, and it is time for Michael Blaudzun to get going again."

This year was the Danish t

eam's first year in the division I ranks, after it topped division II in 1999. There were some good performances, especially in the early part of the year when the team was aiming to snag a wild card spot in the Tour de France. They succeeded, although didn't exactly set the world on fire with their performances during the Tour.

Riis' goals for the team are to play a role in the World Cup races and make the team's presence felt at the Tour de France. "We need stage victories, we will ride after the green jersey and see whether we can enjoy a day or two with the yellow jersey," he said.

"If Zabel can take the green jersey, then Jalabert can as well. Zabel scores most of his points in the bunch sprints, whereas Jalabert can play a role on the difficult stages. And then we must also hope that we have a good team to support him. In any case, I think that we are putting a pretty good 'rocket' together for him, when the sprints are to be ridden. The others are going to have to ride pretty fast to get by." It will be up to the likes of Tristan Hoffman, Rolf Sørensen, Nicolai Bo Larsen and Arvis Piziks to get Jalabert into position in the Tour.

Riis also says that the team will not just be built around Jalabert or Sørensen: "We will be riding for those who are riding strongly. It is not so important who they are. ...I do not think that it is right to have a captain and focus on his success every time we hit the road. Everybody ought to get a chance. They just have to demonstrate that they are good enough."

He expects that those riders who aren't good enough to win will give their all as domestiques, as he did for much of his career. "You have to be in the right place at the right time so that you can take the wind or be able to get people and drive them up in the peloton - again and again. You have to take leads and be dropped and then fight back and be dropped again," he said.

Riis has introduced the riders to some of his own training methods. The riders have received equipment by which a computer on the bicycle registers a wealth of data concerning the rider's performance while training and racing, including their pulse and the energy in the pedals. They can send this data to Riis via e-mail, who is then able to provide the rider with specific recommendations for the rider's training. "For example, I can tell them that they are to ride a certain distance while maintaining an output of a certain number of watts," who will not share all of the secrets that make up his training program.

CSC/World Online for 2001

Manager/director: Bjarne Riis
Directeur sportif: Alex Pedersen, Johnny Weltz, Per Pedersen

Exising riders

Bo Hamburger (Den)
Nicolai Bo Larsen (Den)
Michael Blaudzun (Den)
Michael Sandstød (Den)
Jacob Piil (Den)
Michael Steen Nielsen (Den)
Bjarke Nielsen (Den)
Rene Jørgensen (Den)
Jacob Moe Rasmussen (Den)
Tristan Hoffman (Ned)
Martin Rittsel (Swe)
Arvis Piziks (Lat)

New in 2001

Rolf Sørensen (Den) (Rabobank)
Nicki Sørensen (Den) (Team fakta)
Danny Jonasson (Den) (Team fakta)
Laurent Jalabert (Fra) (ONCE)
Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) (ONCE)
Marcelino Garcia (Spa) (ONCE)
Francisco Cerezo (Spa) (Vitalicio)
Olivier Asmaker (Fra) (Festina)
Koen Beeckmann (Bel) (Lotto)
Raphael Jeune (Fra) (Neo)


Allan Johansen (Den) (Team fakta)
Mikael Holst Kyneb (Den) (Team fakta)
Jesper Skibby (Den) (retired)
Christian Andersen (Den) (retired)
Frank Covers (Bel) (Ville de Charleroi)
Matthew Gilmore (Bel) (Vlanderen 2002)

Courtesy of Jon Jay Neufeld/Source: Politiken

Braikia as well...

The formalities have finally fallen into place for Tayeb Braikia's contract extension with the Jacobs Creek-Linda McCartney team. The 26 year-old Dane is looking forward to facing 2001 with a reinforced team, particularly the arrival of the Spanish trio, Juan Carlos Dominguez, Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero and Inigo Cuesta.

"My interest in continuing with Linda McCartney has definitely been strengthened by the fact that we are going to be more riders on the team, which will make it possible to plan the necessary periods of training in the program. But it also helped that I got a nice raise," he told Danish daily Politiken.

Braikia is presently at a training camp at Lanzarote. He is heading 'Down Under' on the second day of the New Year, where he will be part of the team that will be riding the Tour Down Under (January 16-21).

Braikia is planning on again being included in the team's 9 riders to contest the Giro d'Italia in 2001. The 2000 edition was Braikia's first experience with a Grand Tour. He was a part of the peloton that made it to Milan and collected four top 10 stage finishes and a few UCI points along the way.

The Dane has not had much of a break from competition this winter. In the beginning of December he finished 3rd in the Six Days of Zürich, together with Jimmi Madsen and Beat Zberg. Braikia is planning on continuing his endeavours on the track, though he likely will not have opportunity to concentrate on that before the second half of the 2001 season. But he has made sure that his contract includes a clause allowing him to participate in the track World's in Antwerp in the end of September. He has a fifth place in the points race at the World's in Manchester to live up to.

Courtesy of Jon Jay Neufeld/Source: Politiken

Pinotti graduates

Click for larger image
Marco Pinotti
Photo: © Sergio Pinotti
Lampre-Daikin's Marco Pinotti has become one of the few professional cyclists in the peloton to be awarded a university degree. The 24 year old, who has ridden with Lampre since 1999, completed a Masters of Science in Management Engineering. He was presented with his degree (which took 5 years to complete) at the University of Bergamo in Italy.

The picture at the right was taken during his oral defense of his thesis, courtesy of Sergio Pinotti.

Japanese Champion comes back to Italy

The current Japanese Champion, Yoshiyuki Abe, will join Italian second division Colpack next year. He wrote on his personal web site that he signed a contract with the Italian team on Tuesday.

Abe is an employee of Shimano company, and turned pro in 1996 for Panaria-Vinavil. He won a stage of Tour of Poland in 1996, and joined in Mapei in 1997, becoming the first Japanese winner of the Japan Cup while riding in support of Andrea Tafi and his teammates. Despite his success, he couldn't find a new contract with any Trade Team in 1998, so he headed back to Japan and joined his home team, Shimano Racing Team.

Abe is now 31 years old, but he won the Japanese Championships this year and as a result, he became the only Japanese to participate in the Sydney Olympic Road Race. Abe will also be taking his roommate, Hidenori Nodera to Italy to join Colpack. Nodera is 25 years old and finished in 16th place (the best Japanese rider) at this year's Tour of Japan.

Colpack is a small Italian team, so they won't start the Giro (May 19-June 10), but they will ride the Tour of Japan (May 20-27)

Courtesy of Miwako Sasaki

Sergio Perez signs for Fuenlabrada

Vizcayan rider, Sergio Perez (Café Baqué) has signed a professional contract with Fuenlabrada. The 22 year old will make his debut in the Vuelta a Majorca next year, the first race of the Spanish calendar. In 1999 he won (as an elite) the Vuelta Avila as well as placing 3rd in the Spanish TT championships this year.

Rowney signs for Yeti

Likeable Aussie cross-country MTB racer Paul Rowney has inked a deal to race for the Yeti team in 2001. Yeti is planning a return to cross-country racing, a pattern that seems to be common in the fat-tyre world for next year, with sponsors moving the focus away from the expense of developing highly specialised downhill bikes that don't subsequently sell in significant numbers.

Keys to the city for Pezzo

Paula Pezzo is to be awarded the keys to the city of Finale Ligure in a ceremony on Friday. It may not be quite as prestigious as her brace of Olympic gold medals but Pezzo is reported to appreciate the honor just as much!

Jean Luc Vandenbroucke accused

Former Lotto team leader, Jean-Luc Vandenbroucke has officially been accused of document fraud, according to the Wednesday edition of the VUM newspaper. The case is related to a doping investigation involving ex-sprinter, Djamolidine Abdujaparov, who tested positive three years ago while riding for Lotto. The judge is trying to determine whether doping extended beyond Abdujaparov into the rest of the Lotto team. It is alleged that J-L VDB hid the team's doping expenses in the accounts.

Brescia doping enquiry closes

Investigator Paulo Guides has closed the enquiry into several Italian riders and managers accused of being involved in a long-standing doping ring. The two-year enquiry into illegal drug distribution has interviewed 30 people including Pavel Tonkov, Wladimir Belli, Gianni Bugno, Italian national coach, Antonio Fusi, team managers Pierino Gavazzi and Fabio Bordonali and various pharmacists. It was started by an amateur rider, who said that he refused to take illegal medicine despite threats from his team director.

It now remains to be seen whether the evidence collected will lead to actual legal action or whether it is insufficient for it to be taken further. The charge would be similar to that which led to the sentencing of Marco Pantani.