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News for November 26, 2000
US Postal respond
After an official enquiry was opened in France on Wednesday evening into the US Postal team as a result of alleged suspicious goings-on during the Tour de France, team management continue to be kept in the dark. Team General Manager, Mark Gorski, claims that there has been no official notification made to him or the US Postal team by French justice authorities. He maintained the team's stance in an official statement released today:
"We are appalled at the unfounded report by France 3 television containing baseless accusations against the United States Postal Service Pro Cycling Team."
"The team follows all of the strict guidelines set forth by the Union Cycliste International (UCI), the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the Societe du Tour de France concerning prohibitions against the use of banned substances. In addition, all medical products used by the team physician at the Tour de France are reviewed and authorized by the Agence Francaise de Securite Sanitaire des Produits de Sante, the French medical control agency."
"We have not been notified of any formal enquiry by French authorities. I am completely confident that if and when such an inquiry does occur, the facts will unconditionally support our assertion that the team meets or exceeds all of the standards set by the organizing bodies and agencies that govern the sport of cycling. "
Heras will start in January
U.S. Postal new recruit, Roberto Heras, will commence his season with the team in January, despite still not having finalised his leaving of Kelme. He declined to comment further on that at an event run by the Municipal School of Cycling in Palencia where he participated. He did however reaffirm his goals for next season, which will revolve around working for Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France.
He will try to finish the Tour, the "most demanding race in the world" but did not include himself as a candidate for victory. There are simply too many other good riders that could win, he said.
Triple teams for Zurich Six
For the fourth time in its history, there will be three man teams in the Six Days of Zurich, that starts on Monday evening in in Oerlikon. A large field of 16 professional teams (48 riders) in addition to 17 amateur teams (34 riders) and 8 stayers (motorpace riders). Several high profile road riders will combine with the track pairs in a novel move by director Urs Freuler to make this one of the most specacular Zurich Sixes ever.
Pascal Richard, Markus and Beat Zberg, Oscar Camenzind, Niki Aebersold, and Eugeni Berzin as well as MTB and cyclocross specialists Thomas Frischknecht and Beat Wabel will all join the fray, which will be started by Mario Cipollini at 9pm on Monday evening. The road riders won't be taking part in the highly skillful madisons, but will be seen in action behind the dernys, in the elimination races and time trials, as well as an Olympic sprint with their track counterparts.
The hard core teams will be there of course, despite having no let up from the Gent Six, which finishes Sunday evening. Last year's winners, Bruno Risi and Kurt Betschart will be together again, with roadie Markus Zberg in tow. However, they will struggle to beat the in form Matthew Gilmore and Scott McGrory (with Oscar Camenzind), currently running first and second in Gent. Brett Aitken might be ruing his pairing with Etienne De Wilde, who is currently struggling with illness in Gent, although he started off quite strongly.
Other combinations to watch are Danes Jimmi Madsen and Tayeb Braikia (with Beat Zberg), world champions Eric Weisspfenning and Stephan Steinweg (with Beat Wabel), Juan Llaneras and Adriano Baffi (with Pascal Richard), and Silvio Martinello and Marco Villa (with Eugeni Berzin).
The Zurich Six will unofficially start on Sunday afternoon, with a "prologue" that includes the "Blau Band von Zurich", as well as a madison and a stayer race.
1 Erik Weispfennig/Stefan Steinweg/Beat Wabel (Ger/Ger/Swi)
Stayers with pacers
1 Carsten Podlesch (Ger) behind Bruno Walrave
Information courtesy of Ernst Bretscher/Veloinfo
No 2001 World's for De Wilde/Gilmore
Belgium's best performed madison partnership in recent history, Matthew Gilmore and Etienne De Wilde, will not appear together at the World Championships in Antwerp in 2001. Gilmore will instead form a team with Tom Steels, who will presumably be released from his road commitments by Mapei at that time.
Pantani on TV
"Il Pirata" Marco Pantani will give an interview on Italian TV (TG5) this evening, where he will publicly air his grievances with respect to accusations of doping that have been levelled at him. Pantani is currently on trial in Forli for "sporting fraud" i.e. falsifying results via doping, after he was measured with a 60.1 % hematocrit after Milan-Turin, 1995. That case is still proceeding, although certain key pieces of evidence (like whether Pantani was tested directly after the accident or in hospital) have been lost when, for example, the hospital's basement flooded.
Some excerpts from the interview: "I think that at one point or another, a person with a strong influence in the sporting world played a role in my case and the injustice that is happening. A lot has been said about me - a lot of false accusations and very serious things. Evidently, I annoyed someone."
He also said that he was never considering retiring from the sport, despite his long absence after the Giro '99 disaster. He admitted to going through "a difficult time" but "to stop would have been an unjustifiable action. It would have been a little bit like recognising and giving reason to the accusers. I thought that someone would have defended me."
Paris Corrèze, Fignon's new race
Paris-Nice race organiser, Laurent Fignon, has officially unveiled his new project, Paris Corrèze that will take place from September 28-30 next year. The three day race will carry a UCI 2.4 class, but he has plans to increase its status. At this point of the year, there are few opportunities for French riders to race on home soil, and Fignon thought that this would be an important preparatory race for the World Championships, two weeks hence.
The plan is to have 20 teams of 8 riders in the race, that will finish in Tulle in 2001. In future years, other towns in Corrèze will host the finish including Brive and Objat.
Lawless resigns from ICF
By Shane Stokes
Twelve months after he was elected president of the Irish Cycling Federation, Mick Lawless today dramatically resigned his post at their Annual General meeting in Malahide. Lawless, whose term was due to continue until 2001, finally gave in to pressure after months of tension and disagreement with some of the other 9 members of the ICF board.
The Dubliner resisted calls by some of the 96 delegates present to reconsider his decision, stating that clashes of opinion had led him to conclude that he was acting in the best interests of harmony within the sport. Vice presidents Tommy Campbell and Jack Watson - who both retain their positions on an otherwise unchanged board - will take over duties until a replacement for Lawless is co-opted. It is expected that this will be completed by the time of the next board meeting, in a fortnight.
A motion was also passed to allow five other, as yet undetermined, individuals from the world of business and sports administration to join the board. While this quintet will not have voting rights, it is anticipated that they should facilitate the smooth working of the ICF and help the governing body address the twin problems of falling membership and a projected budget deficit of some £32,000 for this year.
Shane Stokes is a correspondent with the Irish Times.
Indoor Cycling World's
The World Indoor Cycling Championships are taking place at the moment in Böblingen, Germany (November 24-26). Indoor cycling is well over 100 years old and is a UCI recognised sport, consisting of "artistic cycling" and "cycleball" with competitions held throughout the year, mainly in Switzerland, Germany and the Czech Republic. In Germany it is particularly popular (more so than road racing), with over 10,000 people holding licences according to the UCI.
Artistic cycling is the equivalent of Rhythmic Gymnastics or Synchronised Swimming, where competitors perform a routine to music for six minutes, either singly or in pairs. There are 120 recognised movements, and singles have to perform 28 of them in a routine, while pairs need to perform 22 (11 on one bike, 11 on separate bikes).
In Böblingen, Astrid Ruckaberle (Ger) won the gold medal in the women's artistic singles, scoring a world record 332.57 points. She beat reigning World Champion, Martina Stepankova (Cze) and Sandra Schlosser (Ger), the latter touching the ground during her routine. Stepankova vowed to retake her title next year, while Schlosser now has a complete set of medals: Gold (1997), Silver (1999) and Bronze (2000).
However, in the women's paired competition, the Germans were beaten by the Portuguese combination of Ivone and Carmen Carvalho, who scored 295.42 points to win. In second place was the Czech partnership, Blanka Neuschlova and Sarka Janeckova (288.92 points) who nearly took the gold but for a fall with just 7 seconds to go. Third and fourth went to Germany (Sandra Steegmueller/Katrin Ludwig and Eva/Yvonne Breitenbach) but they were clearly disappointed with the result.