News for April 4, 2001

Recent results and new features

Spaniards withdraw from Flanders

Spanish Division I teams ONCE, Banesto and Kelme have withdrawn from Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders). UCI chairman Hien Verbruggen is angry about this. 'It's devalues the quality of the race to give eight wildcards in 22 teams.' Division I teams must start in nine of the ten world cup races.

Rabobank team manager Theo de Rooy commented, "Now other teams can start. I don't know any Spanish rider who has a chance on Sunday. But maybe this is a signal the UCI has to give more points to the world cups. Then the Spanish teams would have to be here, and they would have to learn to ride on cobblestones. If an Italian can win in Vlaanderen, it's possible for a Spaniard too."

Domo admits poor strategy

Patrick Lefevere hasn't made a successful start to this season with his new Domo-Farm Frites team.

"We trained less intensively this winter. Our target was to become faster than the riders who won in February. But those riders still jump away, we can't follow them. We'll have an evaluation after the Amstel Gold Race. But I think we change our winter training next year."

About Max van Heeswijk: "His legs are good, but not super. I expect more character. An ambitious pro doesn't give his place away in Milan-San Remo. And after Dwars door Vlaanderen Max left without a massage. A good pro doesn't do that."

EPO test reactions

"Fight against EPO in cycling is won."

Doping expert Lon Schattenberg is enthusiastic about the UCI's new urine test, which will be used for the first time this weekend in RVV. "We'll always have riders who try to find a way to use forbidden stuff. But you can say the fight against EPO in stage races is won. With this urine test the UCI can give a penalty of maximum one year. This test shows or you used EPO in the last four days. Now the blood test before the race can show the hematocrit level. If that's high, you can ask for an urine test after the race. If that's too high you can disqualify the rider."

Schattenberg says the tests in Sydney during the Olympics were reliable, so it isn't a problem to start using this test in. As well as the lab in Châtenay-Malabry the UCI has three other labs that can conduct these tests and the organisation is looking for a fifth lab.

The successful fight against EPO means riders will use other methods to get a higher haematocrit, such as sleeping in hypoxic tents or spending more time at high altitude. "Therefore it's important to keep the rule: above 50 per cent you don't start." Schattenberg doesn't think this is the end for doping: "You can win a battle, but never the war. Another method of doping will be found."

Blijlevens for Amstel Gold

Jeroen Blijlevens has asked team manager Walter Planckaert for a place in the team for the Amstel Gold Race. Last year Blijlevens did a good World Cup in Limburg but punctured in the final. The sprinter knows he can survive the hills and so be in contention in the sprint.

Planckaert: "I know he is ready for the Driedaagse van de Panne, Scheldeprijs and GP de Dedain. I know for sure Blijlevens can do the Amstel Gold Race too."

Van der Berg signs

Johan Van der Berg (SAF, 25 years) has signed for Division II team Landbouwkrediet-Colnago. He rode some races last year for Collstrop-Federale Verzekeringen.

Landbouwkrediet-Colnago needed some fresh blood after a rash of early-season injuries that have sidelined Kurt Van Landeghem, Nicolay Coudray, Roesems and Jurgen Vermeersch, and Filip Meirhaeghe is now occupied riding the mountain bike circuit for Specialized. Van den Berg's first outing with his new team is the Driedaagse De Panne.

Tour de la Région Wallonne teams

It's not on until August 3-8 but most of the teams have been selected for the Tour de la Région Wallonne, which has a UCI rating of 2.3.

Selected teams

  • Domo-Farm Frites
  • Mapei-Quick Step
  • Lotto-Adecco
  • Cofidis
  • Mercury-Viatel
  • Crédit Agricole
  • Collstrop-Palmans
  • Vlaanderen-T-Interim
  • Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
  • Ville de Charleroi
  • Fortis-Eddy Merckx
  • Domo-Retie

The remaining four teams will be selected from Lampre-Daikin, US Postal, CSC-World Online, La Française des Jeux, Fakta, Phonak and Royale Pesant Luik.

UK event updates

The Totnes-Vire Twinning Stage Race scheduled for May 5 and 6 will go ahead, according to organiser Ken Robertson. MAFF has given permission for the race, and Robertson says there will be minor changes to keep competitors, officials, marshals and spectators on tarmac and other hard surfaces and off any mud or grass.

The Newport Phoenix Criterium Series (WCU), to be held on April 21 and 28 and May 12, is now definitely on. For further details, call the the new promoter, Mike Davies, 10 Glen-Usk View, Caerleon NP14 3FY Tel: 01633 420856

The Beaumont Trophy RR (North East), scheduled for April 8 has been postponed.

The Hantspol Daedalus Crits (Wessex) on May 19, is to be moved to the Thruxton circuit.

The Janus RC RR (Manchester) scheduled for June 15 has been cancelled.

Strong field for Tour of Germany

At least nine Division I teams are expected to start this year's Tour of Germany, which starts in Hamburg on May 29. As well as the two top German teams, Telekom and Coast, the roganisers are expecting Mapei, Saeco, Rabobank and Domo-Farm Frites.

Telekom has still not decided whether Ullrich will ride the Tour of Germany or the Giro d'Italia. "We will make a decision at the beginning of May," said team spokesman Olaf Ludwig. However, it's likely Ullrich will ride the Giro as preparation for the Tour.

Nevertheless, the race's German appeal will be strengthened by the presence of local Division II teams Gerolsteiner, Nürnberger and Cologne.

Selle Italia riders and staff accused

Three riders and several members of the Selle Italia team staff have been accused by Italian police of being in possession of doping products. Helping police with their inquiries are: riders José Jaime González-Pico, Freddy González-Martínez and Rubén Alveiro Marín; team coach Gianni Savio; both directeurs sportifs, Enzo Erluison and Fabio Becherini; and the doctor Nino Alberto Beltrán, who was driving the Selle Italia team car when it was stopped for a routine check on March 22.

This incident is the first test for Italy's new laws against drugs in sport.

Verona goes for worlds

The Italian city of Verona made its bid for the 2004 world road championships on Tuesday. Verona's bid committee is headed by two local businessmen, Teofilo Sanson and Giovanni Rana> the bid is supported by Italian cycling demi-god Francesco Moser, a former world champion, and hour record holder.

Three other Italian cities have also applied for the 2004 World's: Cuneo, Imola and Caneva, all in the north of the country. UCI vice-president Agostino Omini said "We will examine the submission and take into consideration the logistics of the circuit, provision for 4,000 people and access to highways and airports."

Verona hosted the 1999 World's in which Oscar Freire won the rainbow jersey.

Napa first outing for T-Mobile

This weekend's Napa Valley World Cup MTB race will be the first showing for Telekom's mountain bike outfit 'T-mobile'. Riders Lado Fumic, Carsten Bresser, Stefan Sahm and Marc Gölz have been in the napa valley area since March 27 to prepare for the race and the mountain bike season. The four riders report that they have encountered fantastic conditions, with summery temperatures and excellent accommodation overlooking a golf course.

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