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News for October 21, 2000

Jalabert signs with CSC/MemoryCard

Jaja and Riis
Photo: © AFP

Laurent Jalabert and his brother Nicolas have signed contracts with Danish team, CSC/MemoryCard for next season, ending months of speculation about the French star's future. MemoryCard held a press conference today to announce the deal, which will see Laurent riding for two years with them.

"Laurent Jalabert is a fantastic rider and I have wanted him on the team since I started in CSC/MemoryCard," said a satisfied Bjarne Riis after the final negotiations with Jalabert. "There is no doubt Jalabert will be a great and positive asset to the team. He has an enormous experience, from which the young riders on the team can benefit."

This opens up many possibilities for the team now in the top races, and it was an important factor in CSC's recent sponsorship.

Jalabert (32) has spent the last nine years with Spanish team ONCE, but announced that he was leaving them after the Tour when they couldn't reach an agreement over his salary. Jalabert wanted to ride for a French team, but the only real candidate was Bonjour, who pulled out of the negotiations earlier this week.

Despite this, Jalabert described himself as happy because he could still contest the major races with a division I team. He went to the Olympics in Sydney uncertain as to his future, and gained two 5th placings in the time trial and road race, and it was there that MemoryCard first contacted him. They then came to a "non-negligible" financial arrangement.

He will be given complete freedom by the team to ride in a program of his own choosing, and this will include racing more in France in order to reinforce his bond with the public.

Two other French riders will join CSC/MemoryCard next year: Olivier Asmaker (Festina) and amateur Raphael Jeune. In addition, Spaniards Francisco Cerezo (Vitalicio) and Marcelino Garcia (ONCE) will also sign.

Cyclists in court

The European cycling season is ending and the court cases have already started, as seems to be normal for this time of year. Marco Pantani, Festina and Sunderland/Priem are some of those that will be heard over the winter months.

Pantani

Pantani's "sporting fraud" case recommenced last week in Forli, northern Italy, however the Pirate was not in attendance to give evidence. Judge Luisa Del Bianco wants to know why Marco Pantani's hematocrit was measured at 60.1% when he was hospitalised after his accident in Milan-Turin on October 18, 1995. In June, it had been measured at 45, and its substantial rise over the next four months was considered suspicious by the prosecution, who are accusing Pantani of falsifying sports results through EPO (or other blood boosting) drug use.

Sante Tura, a hematologist speaking in Pantani's defence, explained that Pantani was training at 2,500 m altitude in Colombia in September, to prepare for the World Championships in that country where he finished third in the road race. This could have raised it by 4 points to 49 in time for the World's, according to Tura. With Milan-Turin immediately following the World's, Pantani's "starting value" for that race should have also been 49.

Tura went on to explain that dehydration during that race could have further raised Pantani's hematocrit by 4-5 points, bringing it to 54 (citing Roberto Rempi, Pantani's team doctor in 1999). Combining this with the trauma of his accident (multiple fractures, contusions and bruises) may have elevated it another 4 points to 58 percent. "Regarding the 60% value, there is a 2% error margin that is considered normal for the sampling method," he finished.

Festina

The 10 persons associated with the "Festina affair" will be questioned in Lille, France next Monday, October 23. The case is scheduled for three weeks and involves one former Festina cyclist, Richard Virenque. When the case broke two years ago, it almost signalled the end of Virenque's career when the majority of his teammates admitted to using EPO, also pointing the finger at Virenque who denied it. After insufficient evidence was found to convict him of EPO use, Virenque's career as a professional cyclist continued. He is now being charged with a lesser offense, and will plead not guilty according to his lawyers.

He will be formally questioned in regard to complicity in helping and inciting the administration of doping and masking products to others, complicity in the importation without authorization of drugs, complicity in the importation, smuggling and improper circulation of prohibited goods. He faces up to two years in prison and a fine of 100,000 francs ($US 18,000) if found guilty.

Former soigneur, Willy Voet (55) will be questioned regarding helping and inciting the use of doping products, importation without authorization of drugs and complicity in the importation, smuggling and improper circulation of prohibited goods, and infringements in the narcotics law.

Former directeur sportif, Bruno Roussel (44) for helping and inciting the use of doping products during sporting competitions, importation, smuggling and improper circulation of prohibited goods, complicity in the importation, storage and acquisition of illegal substances.

Former doctor Eric Rijckaert (57) for the same infringements as Roussel, in addition to the administering of doping products.

Former soigneur, Jean-Marie Dalibot (48) for inciting the use of doping products and various other infringements to the customs and public health codes.

Former communications officer of Festina, Joel Chabiron (50) for complicity in inciting the use of doping products and various other infringements to the customs and public health codes.

Current doctor of the ONCE team, Nicolas Terrados (42) for importation without authorization of drugs.

Former Francaise des Jeux soigneur, Jeff D' Hont (58) for helping and inciting the use and administration of doping products and infringements to the public health code.

Pharmacists Christine and Eric Paranier (both 38) for helping the use of doping products and infringements to the public health code.

Lefevere on Van Petegem

Peter Van Petegem seems to be running out of options to join a top team for 2001. "He who plays with fire, has to sit on the blisters," said Patrick Lefevere (Domo) to Belgian daily, De Standaard. "I waited since the end of July for a phone call from Van Petegem regarding finishing an earlier talk about a contract with Domo. It's now the end of October and I couldn't sit and wait. I'm going to Italy tomorrow to pick up the documents about Romans Vainsteins. Then we can finish the transfer of the World Champion to Domo-Farm Frites, but for Van Petegem we don't have a place anymore."

In the meantime MemoryCard is out of the question, because Bjarne Riis prefers Laurent Jalabert. Van Petegem knew that Riis would talk with Jalabert on Thursday, but didn't know the result.

The situation is critical now for Van Petegem. He still says there is a new sponsor; but if he wants to start in a top team in the World Cup races next year, he has to hurry now.

Mauri signs for Maia/MSS

Melchior Mauri (Benfica) will ride for Portuguese Maia/MSS next season, a team that he considers to be "the best in Portuguese cycling". The time trial specialist will help fill the gap left by Jose Azevedo, who recently joined ONCE-Deutsche Bank. His main focus will be in national races, as well as some competitions in Spain.

Mauri described himself as happy with the move, as there was a very "negative atmosphere" in Benfica, which prevented riders from reaching their best.

Dutch World's team

Men

John den Braber (Team Pursuit)
Jens Mouris (Team Pursuit)
Peter Schep (Team Pursuit)
Wilco Zuijderwijk (Team Pursuit)
Robert Slippens (Madison/Individual Pursuit)
Danny Stam (Madison)
Teun Mulder (1 km/Keirin)
Matthé Pronk (Points Race)

Women

Anouska van der Zee (Individual Pursuit)
Debby Mansfeld (Points Race)

De Wilde and Gilmore for Gent?

Will Etienne De Wilde and Matthew Gilmore, silver medallists at the Olympics in Sydney, ride as a pair in the 6 days of Gent (November 21-26) or not? Gilmore has a contract with MemoryCard until the end of November. Remi de Moor, who with RDM is a co-sponsor of MemoryCard, wants Gilmore and Frank Corvers to be a pair. Etienne de Wilde will normally ride with Ronny Deschacht, but he too wants a maximum degree of publicity in Gent. The audience wants to see the silver duo.

Patrick Sercu, matchmaker of the Sportpaleis in Gent, plans to talk with all the parties after the track World Championships in Manchester. Gilmore-De Wilde will start there together, as well as in Gent on November 1 for the European championships. Both silver riders want to ride as duo during the Gent 6 Days as well. Frank Corvers, Gilmore's teammate, will ride in Manchester in the individual pursuit.

Track stars die

Two legends of track cycling, Antonio Maspes (Ita) and Gustav Kilian (Lux) have died, aged 68 and 92 years respectively. Antonio Maspes died in Milan on Thursday. He was a seven-time World Champion on the track and won a bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Helsinki in 1952. In July 1960, he rode 10.8 seconds for the World 200 metre record in Rome.

Dutch rider Jan Derksen (81) commented that "Maspes was a real sprinter. Arie van Vliet and I weren't the same type of sprinter. We needed a long sprint, but Maspes had a demarrage, he was explosive. After a sprint he was out, he needed real rest after a sprint."

"He was the generation after us. The last race I met him was in 1957, in the semi-final of the World Championships. I won and became World Champion. One year earlier, Maspes had his first World Title," added Derksen.

"In my opinion Poeske Scherens was the biggest sprinter ever, but Maspes, Arie van Vliet and I came just behind Poeske. In our time the World Champion of the sprint was the cyclist of the year. The sprint was the Queen race in cycling, like the 100 meters in athletics," he finished.

92 year old Gustav Kilian was one of the the best six day cyclists ever, and died in his house in Dortmund yesterday. He won 34 races between 1934 and 1951, and was also renowned for being one of the best track coaches. The German team won three Olympic Gold medals and five World Titles between 1962 and 1975 under his direction.

Kilian was born in Luxembourg on November 3, 1907 and migrated to Germany with his parents after the First World War. He fled Germany for America with his partner Heinz Vopel, after the Nazis stopped Six Day racing during the Second World War. There they were quite successful, winning races in New York, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, St Louis, Cleveland, Buffalo, Chicago, Indianapolis, Columbus and Montreal.

He stopped training at age 70, but still kept riding his bike up until a few months before his death. He never smoked or drank, and always went to bed early.

Casero compliments selection

Despite not being a part of the Spanish selection for the World's, Angel Casero (Festina) praised their performance in Plouay. In the road race, defending champion Oscar Freire gained a bronze medal and Casero said that "Freire was the strong man and all the team were working so that he could repeat his gold. He would have managed it if he had not become entangled with Bartoli in the end," according to European press.

He even defended Olano's fifth place in the time trial, saying that "There are good days and bad and Olano always gives everything that he has inside, but had a bad day. There were other riders who prepared exclusively for that race, and were faster."

Super Cup back on track

The recent news that the US Super Cup cyclocross series would not be held this season was greeted with dismay by many of the sport's followers in America. The series could be termed the "Super Prestige" of American 'cross racing, but sponsorship support was critical to its survival. It missed its scheduled start on October 14, however the good news is that enough sponsors were found for it to start on November 4.

The continued support of Selle Italia and Festina combined with the eleventh-hour arrival of Mongoose Bicycles meant that the Kiron Group (race organisers) could put the series back on. Also key to the salvation of the series was the U.S. Cycling Federation, which extended many of its sponsorship relationships to assist the series with travel and services.

"After we announced the cancellation of the series, there was a tremendous outpouring of support from racers, industry leaders, officials and the whole cycling community. I was really moved by what some people said and did during this period," said Lyle Fulkerson, president of the Kiron Group, which has promoted the series since 1998. "I want to particularly thank Evan Call and Tara Morris of the USCF. It's hard to get big organizations to respond sometimes. What they did was like turning a battleship around in a bathtub."

Mongoose bicycles, who sponsor 'cross national champion Marc Gullickson, were important for the series revival. When they heard the 2000 series had been cancelled, company officials immediately contacted Fulkerson to offer support. "We've always believed in racing and we saw this is an opportunity for us to support the premier US cyclocross series," said Mark Boufford, Director of Product Development at Mongoose Bicycles. "Plus, with Marc in the Stars & Stripes jersey, we had a vested interest in seeing the series continue."

The return of such sponsors as Festina Watches and Selle Italia Saddles and the additional support of Mongoose and the USCF enabled Kiron to revive the season with a reduced schedule. "What frustrated so many people on our crew was that we had met or exceeded every goal. Crowds were big, Americans were winning medals at worlds, and bike shops were selling a bunch of cyclocross bikes," said Fulkerson. "Given our sponsorship today and going forward, I'm confident we'll see continued growth with cyclocross in general and SuperCup in particular."

Revised SuperCup schedule:

Nov. 4 or 5 Boulder, Colorado
Nov. 18, Boston, Massachusetts
Dec. 9, Chicago, Illinois
Dec. 17, Overland Park, Kansas (held together with the US National Championships)

Fulkerson said that a fifth event might be added, with an announcement to be made in the coming days.