News for November 22, 2000

Jalabert's future

Laurent Jalabert, who finally signed for the Danish-US sponsored team, Memory Card-CSC next season, may still have a future in the team despite the latest financial problems with Memory Card. Yesterday it was revealed that the team's title sponsor for this season, Memory Card, had been experiencing financial problems with its stock, and had not paid its riders for November. For them to continue sponsoring in 2001, a sum of $US 1.8 million has to be found.

However the U.S. computer company, CSC, is much healthier on the stock market and its sponsorship is still considered to be secure. It remains to be seen what the team will be called, and how many riders are in it. Both Laurent and Nicolas Jalabert's contracts state that they must be honoured by the team - where the money will come from will depend on Memory Card's involvement.

The team is due to meet for a training camp at the end of November.

USA Cycling accused

The United States' national cycling federation, USA Cycling, has been accused of illegal doping practices in the early 1990's. Former national junior representative, Greg Strock, has filed a lawsuit against the federation and one of its coaches, Rene Wenzel.

Strock alleges that he was given cortisone injections during his time with the team, but his career was cut short after he contracted a virus. Now a fourth year medical student at the University of Indiana, Strock claims that the drug supressed his immune system leading to the infection. The virus was called the Parvo virus and is not normally considered to be harmful unless the recipient's immune system is weak. Strock also says that there is an "85% correlation between the virus and testicular cancer" according to medical studies. However, he didn't actually name the other members of the team at that time.

He is suing for puntive damages as well as damages based his potential earnings as a professional cyclist.

USA Cycling has launched their own investigation into the matter, and they are "taking the allegations seriously," according to an official statement. The USCF (as it was known then) released Rene Wenzel from his duties in 1992, and he then became coach of the Saturn Cycling Team. He resigned from that position in April this year, and has since then been concentrating on his coaching business with his wife, Kendra.

Nijs to represent riders

Belgian cyclocrosser Sven Nijs will replace former teammate Adri van der Poel as the rider's delegate of the UCI cyclocross committee. He was asked by Laurent de Backer, chairman of the committee to take this role, and has been invited to the next meeting on December 18.

"I believe it's better to have an active rider in this committee who represents his colleagues," said De Backer. "First I thought about Mario de Clercq. But in that case we'll have a non-active rider again within a year. Therefore it seems Nijs is the best man. He's intelligent and was on the spot in the discussions about the Superprestige races and the material places in the last few weeks."

Adri Van der Poel is now the technical delegate for the parcours of the cyclocross World Cups and World Championships. However, he claims that he doesn't know anything about the Nijs appointment. "I'm still member of that committee and it is no problem to combine the two functions," said Van der Poel.

Bölts talks

34 year old Udo Bölts is one of the most experienced domestiques in the peloton, and has ridden for team Telekom for the past 10 years. He is the archetypal "hard man" and proved it this year when he entered and finished the Hawaiian Ironman triathlon (168th overall, 39th in his age category).

In a recent interview with, Bölts said that he aims to once again be at the head of the Telekom train during the Tour de France, but may give up a spot in the Giro d'Italia to "younger riders". He commented that his performance in this year's Tour was not up to standard, which he put down to his young son being hospitalised with a virus just beforehand. He could not concentrate on the race until his son had recovered, and then Udo's performance lifted.

As for triathlons, there may be a future for him, but only after he retires from cycling. He realised that after his efforts in Hawaii, where he "was practically in a wheelchair during the run". The problem was that despite having excellent cardiovascular condition, his muscles could not cope with the demand, especially after just three weeks preparation. However, he still managed to pass 960 people on the bike leg, recording the 8th fastest time in the process.

Tour de Suisse to start in Germany

Next year's 65th edition of the Tour de Suisse, arguably the fourth most important stage race in the world, will start in Germany on June 19, and finish in Lausanne, Switzerland on June 28. The 1460 kilometre race is considered an important final preparation for the Tour de France, and has often had a significant German presence, although few winners from that country (Ludwig Geyer in 1934 and Hennes Junkermann in 1959 and 1962).

In 2001 it will commence with a 7.9 kilometre prologue time trial in Europapark in Rust, Baden, and will contain one other mountain time trial in Crans Montana as part of its 10 stage format. In addition, there will be a mountain top finish at the end of stage 5 in St. Gotthard, again a first for the Tour de Suisse.

Mount Rubidoux for Redlands Classic

Click for larger image
Mont Rubidoux
Photo: © Redlands Classic

The Redlands Bicycle Classic in the USA will hold its opening stage on Mount Rubidoux, overlooking the city of Riverside in 2001. The picturesque hill with its mission-era buildings and a paved road spiraling up to the top of the mountain creates the perfect setting for the 5 kilometre time trial that starts the Classic on March 13. The riders will take off from Fairmont Park and finish near the summit under a bridge that arches over the road.

Some pro's have already been spotted checking out Mount Rubidoux. This year's overall 3rd placegetter and winner of two stages, Trent Klasna (Team Saturn), commented after his first training ride on the course: "I think it's excellent. This is definitely going to split the race by a few seconds on the first day."

He was accompanied by two other local racers, Norm Carter of Redlands and Scott Cochran of Riverside (both Jelly Belly Cycling). They all agreed that the time trial on this course would be a tough race. "It's going to be more painful for a longer period of time," said Scott Cochran, who lives at the base of Mount Rubidoux. He was very excited about the new location: "It's awesome to have a whole, real race in Riverside." His teammate Norm Carter commented: "I like the course a lot and I'll definitely be out here often. Knowing the course will make a big difference."

In previous years, stage one has consisted of street sprints, but these are no longer allowed with the race being promoted to UCI Class 2.4 next year. In addition, the race has been extended to six stages to make it the toughest edition in its 16 year history.

Covered track in Belgium

Laurent de Backer, chairman of the Belgian cycling union (KBWB) wants a permanent covered track in Belgium, and is considering the Blaarmeersen in Gent. "Our union has invested a lot in track riding in the last few years," he said. "The World Championships in Antwerp in 2001 are an important step."

"Belgium is the only cycling country without an covered track for training during the winter. The government has to help us, because we have the right to it," he added. "And the Belgian clubs have to invest in track racing for younger riders instead of riding around the church."

Eddy Merckx for Belgians

After January 1, 2001 the Belgian national teams will ride on Eddy Merckx bikes instead of Giant.

No Libéma involvement

The team manager of the new American Greg Lemond/Eddie B pro team, Johan Lammerts, has denied that the Dutch company, Libéma, will be the co-sponsor of the new team. Libéma came into the picture as a sponsor for a Cees Priem-managed cycling team at the beginning of 2000, and some have linked them with the US team.

In addition, there will be no involvement from Dell computers as reported earlier. However, the head sponsor is a "major US telecommunications company."

There will be no signing of ex-US Postal rider, Kevin Livingston, who reportedly has a big deal in the works. However, Peter Van Petegem is definitely on the team's roster, confirmed by Cees Priem himself who has a background role in the team. Stay tuned...

Garmendia signs for Coast

Spaniard Aitor Garmendia will sign a two year contract with the German Team Coast, after reaching an agreement with the team recently. The former Banesto and ONCE rider is looking forward to the challenge, which will commence with a team meeting between November 23-25.

He had finished his contract with Banesto on October 31, but had not yet found a team for 2001. The offer came from Coast because of his availability and his UCI points, which will help the team into first division next year. He said that he will fit into the team, as it contains the likes of former teammate Alex Zulle and fellow Spaniard Fernando Escartin, "people who I know very well," he commented.

Benfica stops

The Portuguese cycling team sponsored by the Sport Lisboa e Benfica club has folded, according to director Nuno Moreira da Cruz. The team suffered from serious financial problems for its entire existence (two seasons), resulting in the non-payment of several of its riders' salaries. Most prominent of these was team leader, Melchor Mauri, who left the team at the end of this season.

Mauri's teammates, Hugo Lucio, Rui Roqeu, Quintino Rodrigues and Luis Sarreiro are all wondering where their money is going to come from. "We have a right to an explanation, some of us are experiencing financial problems because we have not received any wages since June," said Mauri. "If Benfica do not pay, the the only solution is to unlock the wages guarentee deposited with the UCI at the beginning of the year."

Benfica only decided to sponsor a professional team two years ago, in collaboration with ONCE.

Holidays are over for some

The off-season has already finished for some professionals, who will train over the latter part of November and through December in order to be ready for the early season classics. Alexia Alluminio for example have met for their first training camp of the season, with new signing Ivan Quaranta already declaring his goals.

"Next season, I hope to race in the Giro and the Tour," he said. "My intention is to repeat my success in the Giro and make it to Milan. My number one adversary is Mario Cipollini, who pulled out at Pň this year."

Other teams that will meet in the coming weeks include Cantina Tollo (in Civitanova), Mapei-Quick Step, Panaria Florio and Mobilvetta.

More from Aqua & Italy

Czech U23 rider, Ondrey Fadrny (Aqua MG Mema) has signed a 2 year contract with Linda McCartney. He's the 5th rider of the Aqua team to turn professional, after Cancellara and Zerzan (Mapei), Bianchi (Liquigas) and Castellan (Mobilvetta).

In addition, the Australian national team (U23, Juniors and Women) will continue to base themselves in Italy (Novellara RE) next year.

Courtesy of Angelo Eunini.

New Italian team

There will be a new Italian professional team next season, La Birra Morena, sponsored by an Italian beer company. The team will be directed by Antonio Fermo and will have 14 riders. So far, the following have been signed: Oscar Borlin, Gianluca Fanfoni, Luca Barettero, Mirko Biondi, Andrej Mukin, Sebastiano Scotti, Luigi Giampelli, Filippo Baldo and Francesco Arazzi.

Van de Vijver has to change

During the Sydney Olympics, the KBWB promised a coaching position for Heidi Van de Vijver, however this has since been curtailed due to lack of funds. Not even for a part time position. Now Van de Vijver will join the Vlaanderen 2002 team as an assistant team coach, and her priority will be young talent.

She decided to retire after Sydney because the BWB offered her a job...