News for March 24, 2000

The Dane doctor and the Danish doctor

By Tomas Nilsson, correspondent

In the Danish TV show "Danskelaegen" (The Dane doctor) 27 year old ex-pro Brian Dalgaard revealed that no less than 13 Danish pro riders, from all the major Danish pro teams, had been patients of the Belgian alleged doping physician, Georges Mouton. After Dalgaard's disclosure he will now be used as an anti-doping ambassador by the Danish Cycling Union.

"I am going to call Brian and tell him that we will help him," said Union president Peder Pedersen. Dalgaard will meet the Union's doping expert Bo Overgaard this week in order to plan a tour to the Danish cycling clubs.

"The young riders must be convinced not to use doping. For the older ones I'm probably an idiot that ought to shut up, but the young ones demand better information than I had as a young rider. This is the best way I can help the sport," said Dalgaard to the newspaper Aarhus Stiftstidende.

Dalgaard rode his last professional seson in 1998 for the Belgian team Spar-RDM. He spent his last seasons in minor Belgian and German teams and it was then he started to use doping. A dream of better contracts, better teams and better races pushed him on. Memorycard Jack&Jones manager, Torben Kølbaek is not shaken by Dalgaard's disclosures. The riders on his team have not, with one exception, consulted Mouton since they came to the team. The exception was Michel Steen Nielsen who visited Mouton in February 1998, before Jack&Jones had employed a team doctor of their own.

"The riders were alone in Belgium and went to the doctor when they needed one, and of course they went to the doctor that their friends recommended. If they had used Mouton for doping purposes they would have stayed on as his patients," said Kølbaek to Ekstra Bladet. No rider on the team is allowed to consult any other doctor than the official team doctors. Bo Hamburger is allowed to have an Italian physician as his trainer but not take any medical therapy from him.

Team Fakta's sports director Kim Andersen, himself involved in doping in the eighties, says that his team is clean and uses a Danish doctor. Last year he led the pro team Chicky World. Of the Danish riders, Nicki Sörensen once went to Mouton in an acute situation, Claus Holm had him as team doctor for a minor German team four years ago. The two Norwegians and the German rider (Steffen Kjaergaard, now at US Postal, Svein Gaute Hölestöl and Torsten Schmidt, both at Gerolsteiner) on the Chicky World team were also Mouton's clients but Andersen does not know to what extent.

Meanwhile, the Danish doctor Søren Kragbak has been accused of having tried to introduce EPO into Danish cycling in 1991, something that he denies. According to the newspaper Ekstra Bladet, Kragbak's friend, Danish national track coach Kim Refshammer, was offered to try EPO on the Danish track team.

"Søren Kragbak offered us erythro-something. I then didn't understand what it was but I am happy now that I turned the offer down," said Refshammer, who is still coaching the track team. Kim Refshammer got Kragbak involved in Danish cycling and he gained a position as medical consultant for the Danish Cycling Union, also involving the road team. He was also hired by the first Danish pro team, Home Jack&Jones in 1998 as team doctor but sacked for some reason after a month.

Kragbak denies and doubts that Refshammer really has said that he offered EPO to the track riders in 1991. According to him, the Danish Cycling Union was offered EPO from a Swedish medical company in 1989. They wanted to test the product on the riders but the Danish Sports federation turned the offer down, since EPO was considered to be too dangerous.

"My theory then was that it would raise the performance level of the athletes. But it was actually a medicine for kidney patients in dialysis. That is what I have said to Kim Refshammer, but we never used the stuff. That is what I know about EPO. I have never seen an ampoule or had one in my hand," he said.

According to him EPO was under development in 1989 and the medical industry wanted to test it scientifically on known athletes. After the turn down from the Danish Cycling Union the company, according to Kragbak, started testing in co operation with the Swedish national cross country ski team, the best in the world at that time.

Ballerini and Bartoli to Belgium

Franco Ballerini and Michele Bartoli will start the Italians assault on the northern classics, starting with Saturday's GP E3 Harelbeke and Sunday's Brabantse Pijl. In the succeeding weekends, there will be the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix, the latter being a race that Ballerini would dearly love to win again.

35 year old Ballerini will have to work hard though, with his Lampre team attempting to break the Mapei domination of recent years. Andrea Tafi, a key man in Mapei's line up will not participate in this weekend's classics, although most of the usual suspects will be there: Bart Leysen, Johan Museeuw, Kevin Hulsmans, Leif Hoste, Wilfried Peeters, Tom Steels and Max van Heeswijk will make up the Belgian contingent, with Paolo Forniciari, Daniele Nardello, David Tani, and Stefano Zanini the Italian's for the two races. Tafi's time will come on Tuesday, with the Three Days of De Panne, the other traditional lead up to the Ronde. He is the defending champion in Paris-Roubaix although he would like a good result in the Flanders race.

Ballerini has good support as well: Missaglia, Spruch, Serpellini and Camenzind. These riders may almost be a match for the Mapeis, and it may come down to who has the most luck on the day. Ballerini won in 1995 and 1998, Tafi last year. The next two weeks will be very interesting for these two riders.

Jan Ullrich skips Critérium International

Telekom's star rider Jan Ullrich will not take part in the Critérium International this weekend in southern France. "The race is too hectic with an ITT and a hard mountain stage. Jan is recovering from a cold and should prepare for the main objectives of this season in peace," said Telekom's director Walter Godefroot on Thursday.

Ulrich is training at home in the Schwarzwald area and will begin a one week training camp on Monday with most of his team mates under the supervision of Mario Kummer. His next race, according to Godefroot will be the Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco (2.HC) April 3-7 or the Circuit de la Sarthe in France (2.4) April 4 - 7.

The Dwars door incident

Yesterday's running of the Belgian semi-classic, Dwars door Vlaanderen, saw an enterprising win from Memorycard Jack & Jones rider, Tristan Hoffman, who attacked with half a kilometer to go to win the race for the second time. However, it will probably be remembered more for the incident just before the finish, where Lotto's Andrei Tchmil swung out at former teammate, Jo Planckaert (now Cofidis) with a 100 meters to go. The resultant loss of control of his bike brought several riders down, including teammate Mario Aerts, and Sergei Ivanov and Andreas Klier of Farm Frites. Tchmil came off worst, but was in no mood to cry about his wounds.

He got up immediately, and went hunting after Planckaert who was, strangely enough, nowhere to be seen. Planckaert told Belgian paper Het Volk afterwards that "It was an especially sketchy sprint. In the final kilometer, everyone was pushing and pulling. However, I have no idea what I could have done to Tchmil to earn that elbow. We've never been close friends before, and after this we certainly never will be."

Planckaert also filed a protest against Tchmil for unsportsman-like conduct. After a short deliberation, the race jury decided to disqualify Tchmil. For his part, Tchmil claimed that Planckaert tried to pull his saddle, and he reacted accordingly. However, the jury's decision remained firm. Tchmil will be fined 200 Swiss Francs (not a great deal unless you are a starving amateur Belgian kermesse racer) but will not be suspended, as there have been more serious incidents than this in the past that have not resulted in suspension.

The race jury said that they couldn't find a scrap of evidence to show that Planckaert had done what Tchmil claimed he had, so the matter will rest. Not in Andrei's mind though.

Bruylandts fired

Although yesterday it was reported that Dave Bruylandts Farm Frites team would wait for results of followup hematocrit tests before determining his future with them, they announced today that they would terminate his contract.

Jaques Hanegraaf, Farm Frites manager issued the following statement: "The management of Farm Frites have decided that today, Thursday March 23, they will end the contract of Dave Bruylandts, effective immediately. Dave Bruylandts may pursue his career with another cycling team."

Now where was that phone number...

Pantani leaves home

Italian cyclist, Marco Pantani has gone underground so to speak. He left his home today in Cesenatico, Italy in search of peace and quiet according to his manager, Manuela Ronchi. "Marco left Cesenatico, but will not reveal more than this because we intend to protect his private life," said Ronchi today.

"Il Pirata", "Swampy", "Dumbo" (etc.) announced his indefinite departure from cycling last Monday, in order to sort out problems with his life and health. He has been separate from his Mercatone Uno teammates in recent times, preferring to train by himself. The remainder of his team management has been given similar treatment so that Pantani can come to a decision about his future.

In his letter last Monday, he detailed his reasons for the break, but not its duration. "I want to return to cycling with sincerity and enthusiasm. At this point, even if I am able to ride from a physical persepective, I'm undergoing a difficult time, with many internal sufferings," he wrote.

The interruption has placed in severe doubt his intention to contest the Giro d'Italia in May, as there is only six weeks of racing before it starts on May 13.

USA cycling coaches

USA cycling have announced their coaching staff for this year's Olympic Games in Sydney. The following have been named: Des Dickie (sprint track coach), Craig Griffin (endurance track coach), Stephane Girard (MTB coaching), Jim Ochowicz (men's road) and Henny Top (women's road).

Additionally, Sean Petty will serve as the Team Leader for the cycling delegation, while Jiri Mainus will be the assistant team leader. USA Cycling will field a record sized squad of 27 cyclists.

Wauters renews

31 year old Rabobank rider, Marc Wauters has ensured his future for 2001. The 1999 Paris-Tours winner renewed his contract with his team today, which will run for at least another year.