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News for June 9, 2000
EPO test: will it be useful?
Despite the excitement surrounding the publication of the French developed urine test for EPO this week, there are still hurdles to overcome. Jacques de Ceaurriz, head of the laboratory that originated the test told French radio today that "No cyclist will be able to cheat or hide the use of erythropoietine (EPO)."
His words might be true, but there is the question of context. According to Mr de Ceaurriz, the urine test is accurate and sophisticated, and is able to detect EPO up to three days after its use. Analysis of the results takes between two to three days, and he says his lab can analyse 80 samples a week. In contrast, the blood test developed by the AIS and other labs can detect EPO within three weeks of its use.
EPO is not a drug like amphetamines or caffeine, which act almost immediately, nor is it like anabolic steroids which can show up in a urine test a long time after they've been taken. It acts to stimulate red blood cell growth and as such, takes 4-6 weeks to be effective. The three day limit is far too short to be used totally effectively for the Tour, because EPO could be taken now (or two weeks ago). The only thing stopping potential EPO abusers is the increase in out of competition testing, which will presumably be ramped up in the weeks prior to the Tour. Samples obtained from this may be tested using the new method, although the best solution would be to test all 20 Tour teams within a one week time frame at the end of May.
So, the 2000 Tour might not be 100% clean, but it's certainly getting there. A combined blood and urine test will remove a lot more doubt when the former is fully approved.
New Belgian team?
Mapei's main team director, Patrick Lefévère, may be seeking to form a new team according to an official statement today. He wishes to leave Mapei and branch out on his own, with the new team as the main motivation. The team would be sponsored by an English telecom company, KPN Orange, which has been recently acquired by Telekom France, and has a subsidiary in Belgium.
Lefévère's team would aim to gather all the Belgian stars, including Johan Museeuw, Peter Van Petegem and Frank Vandenbroucke. Johan Museeuw said earlier this week that he'll make a decision shortly as to the team that he wishes to end his career with. Presumably, this will tie in with Lefévère's announcement.
Van Petegem and Vandenbroucke are less certain - the former has a contract with Farm Frites for next year, while the latter was expressed strong desires to ride with a Spanish team. Lefévère's budget will undoubtedly cope.
Capiot to head Farm Frites
Johan Capiot is the new team director of Farm Frites after Teun van Vliet left yesterday. Capiot (36) will be the second team leader, along with Hendrik Redant during the Tour de France. Capiot, from Rijthoven in Belgium had 90 victories as a professional, and rode for Ronold, TVM, Reffin, Collstrop, and TVM-Farm Frites.
Before the decision was made, Farm Frites media spokesman, Ardie Den Hoed elaborated further on Van Vliet's dismissal. "There wasn't any chemistry between the riders and Teun van Vliet. Our team had too much bad publicity since January. Sometimes that came from the riders, sometimes from other people. But we couldn't take the risk to have a bad Tour de France. There is too much money involved. So we asked the sport management for a solution."
"Van Vliet is the loser, but that doesn't mean the riders have to think they won. If the solution was: five riders out, then that would have happened. The riders have to get results now. Jacques Hanegraaf will first of all take over as the manager. Maybe we'll find a new man soon. Maybe we have him already in our team," said Den Hoed.
Capiot was that man, although Jelle Nijdam (leader of the Farm Frites espoirs team) had pretty good credentials. How this will impact on the rest of the riders remains to be seen. Peter Van Petegem may well be attracted to the new Belgian team although he still has a contract with Farm Frites.
What does Teun Van Vliet make of the whole affair? "I don't know for how long I'm going to be active in the Farm Frites-team. The sponsor said I wasn't allowed to go to the Tour of Luxembourg, the Tour of Sweden and the Tour de France. That's the only thing I know. What did I do wrong? I don't know, but they should have their reasons for this action. I will wait and see."
26 teams announced for the Vuelta
Unipublic, the organisers of La Vuelta a España have announced the short list of teams to start in the 55th edition of the race, commencing September 26. The 2,933 kilometre event is relatively short by Vuelta standards, and contains two rest days in its 21 stages. US team Manheim Auctions-Mercury have made it onto the short list, and it will be interesting to see which teams are finalised. The teams that will be allowed to compete are as follows:
France: Cofidis, Festina
'Cross World's to Italy
Today at the Mountain Bike World Championships in Sierra Nevada (Spain), the UCI said that they would grant the 2003 World Cyclocross Championships to the city of Monopoli (Bari) in the south of Italy.
Polti want Virenque and Hervé
Italian team Polti have made some preliminary announcements for their Tour team this year. Team captain will be Richard Virenque, who will be aiming for a 6th KOM title. He will be joined by former Festina teammate, Pascal Hervé who left that team at the end of 1999. Dutch rider, Bart Voskamp will be part of the team, however Italians Ivan Gotti and Mirko Celestino will not. The former will ride the Vuelta, while the latter is sick at the moment.
Bartoli the warrior
The coming weeks look to be solid ones for former world number one, Michele Bartoli. He is at last on top of his knee problems, and has shown some of his form recently in the Tour of Germany. Next week, he will ride the 10 day Tour de Suisse, followed by the Italian national championships on June 25. The Tour de France will be Bartoli's big test, but he says he'll take things a day at a time.
In an interview on Mapei's website, Bartoli said that "I'll try to keep up with the best every day. They'll win stages? Very well. I can hang around the top of the general classification? Even better."
He is looking forward to the Tour, especially if the new EPO tests are in place and enforced. "Should these new tests prove reliable, it will be for the benefit of all," he said.
Brits lose a couple
The British National track team have been lessened recently with the withdrawal of two of their team pursuit riders, Colin Sturgess and Matt Illingworth. Apparently, the departure came about because of a dispute with the British Cycling Federation, although more details have yet to be released.
Leading Czech keirin/sprint rider Pavel Buran received a setback to his Olympic preparation when along with fellow rider Martin Hrdlicka they had all their track bikes, race wheels etc. stolen along with their turquoise coloured Peugeot. The biggest loss was the bike Buran was set to use at the Olympics.
The incident happened en-route to the GP. Paris & Hannover & before they had even crossed the border, at an overnight stop in Stribno. So all you readers out there in Central and Eastern Europe keep an eye open for some specialist track equipment and if anything shows up contact the Cesky Cyclistiky Svaz