News for September 19, 2000

Nicole Reinhart

It is evident that the death of Nicole Reinhart has affected many of our readers who have sent in their best wishes in memory of her passing. We have devoted a special page for her, and will continue to add the tributes as they come in. If you would like to add your thoughts, then please email us.

In addition to BMC Software's $250,000 input into a young cyclists foundation, a memorial fund has been established in the Reinhart's name. Contributions can be sent to:

Nicole L. Reinhart Memorial Fund
c/o The Ludwick Funeral Home, Inc.
P.O. Box 25 Topton, PA, USA, 19562

Heras and Postal - rider says yes, manager says no

This year's Vuelta a Espańa winner Roberto Heras reportedly told Spanish radio today that he was going to join the US Postal Service team next year, despite having a contract for next year with Kelme. Apparently no contract has been signed and USPS will have to buy him out.

Earlier, Kelme manager, Joan Más, played down rumours that Heras will be going to US Postal next year. "Roberto has a contract for next season. Given that he has been very focussed on the Vuelta, he has not signalled to us his intention to leave. If there is something, he will directly inform us once the Vuelta finishes," said Más.

Despite having a contract for next year, Heras also has buyout clause - but he is not cheap. US Postal have been previously linked with the Kelme climber, however director Johan Bruyneel has said that he wouldn't go after a rider with a contract.

Kelme wish to retain their leader Heras, especially after losing Escartin and Rubiera. The team that won the Vuelta is built on pride and teamwork, and they have an abundance of talent in reserve.

Heras honoured

Heras returned to his home town of Béjar to a huge welcome and a big future. The 26 year old was received and applauded by about 7,000 Béjaran locals in the town's city hall. "This win was founded on the union between myself and the town of my countrymen," he told the gathered crowd.

He added that he would continue being the same, open person who was "more than happy to share a coffee in a bar...This win does not change my life and next year, what happens, happens, whether I stay in Spain or go to a foreign team."

Heras was later presented with the gold medal of the city by Mayor Alejo Rińones, along with various dignitaries, family, and team members.

World's for Casero

Despite coming second in the Vuelta, and finishing second in the final time trial, Angel Casero was left off the Spanish Olympic team. He had the consolation of being named in the 13 rider Spanish World Championship team, with the competitions to take place from October 10-15. Casero was disappointed at not making it to Sydney, but has tried to refocus for the World's.

It will not been easy, as there is a big gap in competition before the World Championships. Santos Gonzales, who was a late inclusion into the Olympic squad, will also ride in the World's. This did not please Casero who was told by the national selector that he was riding extremely well and that it was better that he rested. "Gonzalez also fought for the podium and he is going to the Olympic Games," said Casero.

Casero added that the Vuelta, with all its hilly stages and summit finishes, did not really suit him. In addition, the Festina team suffered several losses prior to the race with Beloki and Wust pulling out with injury, and Di Grande abandoning after a fall.

UCI intends on announcing EPO test results

IOC member and president of the UCI, Hein Verbruggen, has said that the results of the EPO tests conducted on urine samples taken during the Tour de France should be made public at the end of October. The announcement was made during a press conference at the Olympic track cycling in Sydney, however he noted that there would have to be "sufficient legal coverage" for them to do so.

A total of 96 frozen urine samples will be tested using the newly approved French method, which detects artificial EPO up to 72 hours after it was last injected.

Verbruggen added that of about 20 positive controls that were found before the Olympics, two cases were in cycling, although Verbruggen declined to comment about the identity of the two. He did affirm that there was no case surrounding Pantani. "I have a feeling that CONI is pointing at the sport of cycling again. It's highly unfair what's happening in Italy at the moment," said Verbruggen.

The UCI also wishes to make the anti-doping controls uniform across all countries/federations. "There exist contradictions between between the French legislation and the UCI regulations at the moment," said Verbruggen.

At the moment, the French Council for the Prevention and Fight against Doping (CPLD) may issue a punishment in addition to a UCI sanction, and Verbruggen does not agree with this. However, the French minister for Youth and Sports, Marie-George Buffet will have to be persuaded, and a meeting between the two is likely to be held a week after the Olympic Games conclude.

Former Festina doctors to be judged

Three Belgian doctors who were previously with the Festina team are to be tried for EPO trafficking. The case that started today in Gent, Belgium is against Eric Rijckaert (57), Kristiaan Vanderstichele (50), and Linda Baetsle (48). The three are accused of buying and selling the banned performance enhancing drug, erythropoetin.

Rijckaert is reported to be seriously ill, and was not able to be present at the hearing. He has always denied any involvement with drug trafficking however. Of the other two, Mr. Vanderstichele has already admitted (1998) that he conveyed various quantities of EPO to a Dutch pharmacist on behalf of Dr Rijckaert who was the head doctor of the Festina team at that time.

Vanderstichele was already implicated in December 1997 after he was investigated for health insurance fraud. Documents were found linking him and Rijckaert to the obtaining of EPO. In July 1998, the "Festina affair" broke when customs found that soigneur Willy Voet had a carload of EPO at the Franco-Belgian border.

If found guilty, the three may be sentenced for up to 6 months in prison, with judgment to take place on October 2. Three weeks later, the "Festina affair" will open up again in Lille, France where ten men (including Rijckaert, Voet, and Virenque) will have to appear in court.

Team News

Captain anyone?

Banesto is in trouble after loosing Alex Zülle to Team Coast and with a "Chaba" Jimenez who obviously is in trouble when under pressure. The team needs a captain badly if it is to keep its position in Spanish Cycling. There are two options, according to Spanish Sports magazine AS: Either Angel Casero who was carrying water for Olano when he was captain, or Haimar Zubeldia from Euskaltel. For the future there is Paco Mancebo who won the white youth jersey in the Tour and should be a man for the Grand Tours quite soon.

Pascal Richard has done his bit

The Olympic Champion who will not defend, Pascal Richard (Linda McCartney) rode his last race on Saturday in the Criterium de Luxembourg. The 36 year old Swiss was very disappointed when he wasn't picked for the Swiss Olympic team although he won the title in Atlanta 1996. In other sports the title defender gets a free spot but not so in cycling.

With 73 wins he is alongside Alex Zülle and Tony Rominger as the most successful Swiss rider in the past 20 years.

Fakta facts

Team Fakta's sports director, Kim Andersen has told Danish daily Politiken that it was rumours about financial troubles in the Linda McCartney team that made his rider Nicki Sřrensen cancel an agreement for next year with the Brits and ride for Memorycard instead.

"I would have loved to keep him but instead I have had inquiries from riders such as Patrick Jonker, Bart Grabsch, Stefan Adamsson (Swedish Champion), Bjarke Nielsen and Sřren Pedersen for the four spots that we have now that we have signed Kurt Asle Arvesen."

Doubs needs attraction

The organizers of the Tour des Doubs in France, raced last week end with only eight teams (five of them professionals) will apply for an upgrade from 2.5 to 2.4 in order to attract more pro teams nest year. The race have been run three times as a pro race.