Triple Tour de France winner Greg LeMond has issued an apology to compatriot, and also three time Tour winner, Lance Armstrong, over statements LeMond made that seemed to doubt the legitimacy of Armstrong's performances. LeMond was quoted in the UK Guardian and US Sports Illustrated magazine several weeks ago, as Armstrong was on his way to winning his third Tour de France. In those articles, he questioned Armstrong's association with controversial Italian doctor Michele Ferrari.
"In the light of Lance's relationship with Ferrari, I just don't want to comment on this year's Tour. This is not sour grapes. I'm just disappointed in Lance," was one of LeMond's comments (see August 3 news).
Armstrong's response (quoted from the Jim Rome show): "That was harder for me to hear because I respect LeMond so much. What he did in 1989 and 1990 is the stuff that legends are made of. He did things that people thought were humanly impossible. The guy's an idol of mine."
In the past two weeks, LeMond has come in for a great deal of criticism from both his own and Armstrong's supporters. Some thought he was trying to defend his own place as America's premier Tour de France champion, others thought that his comments about the relationship were indefensible, and certainly did smack of sour grapes.
LeMond's statement said that his remarks had been taken out of context, and that he was not trying to undermine Armstrong's Tour de France wins.
"I sincerely regret that some of my remarks...seemed to question the veracity of Lance's performances. I want to be clear that I believe Lance to be a great champion and I do not believe, in any way, that he has ever used any performance enhancing substances. I believe his performances are the result of the same hard work, dedication and focus that were mine 10 years ago," said LeMond's statement.
Following the release of LeMond's statement, USA Today's cycling correspondent Sal Ruibal contacted Armstrong who told the reporter: "It is nice to hear there was a clarification. I've always had a lot of respect for Greg as a rider and for what he's done for our sport. I respect and appreciate him even more for going out of his way to say that. I didn't have hard feelings before he made the statement and don't have them now."
Further, Ruibal asked Armstrong if he thought the apology was brought on by commercial pressure from Trek, which produces the LeMond-brand bikes, as well as the bikes used by Armstrong and his USPS team. "If there was pressure, it was from cycling fans, his and mine, who were confused and felt the remarks were somewhat bitter," this year's Tour winner told Ruibal.
In fact, LeMond's own site has been the focus for much of the critiscism, with the unrestricted forum featuring many remarks concerning LeMond and his comments about Armstrong.
Richard Virenque made his return to competition at last in the Criterium de Quillan today, where he placed fourth behind Didier Rous, Florent Brard, and Stéphane Goubert in the 84 km event. Having not raced for 10 months due to serving a drug suspension, Virenque stated before the start that "The suspension was necessary so that the page was turned. I paid my price, and now I can take my place with the others."
"I am happy to be able to start my trade again, and to return to France. I am very excited to be able to pedal and race again," he said in front of a crowd of cameras and autograph hunters.
Virenque will ride the Vuelta a Burgos, the Championship of Zurich, and the Vuelta a España, hoping to find enough form to be selected for the World's in Lisbon in October.
"I have thought of the World Championships since I started riding," said Virenque. "I will do everything to be at the top for selection. I have forty days and the Vuelta a España to show that I am in form. At the moment, it is a big question mark, and we will see at the proper time how my physical recovery is."
Due to road works in Salamanca, the prologue time trial of the Vuelta a España scheduled for September 8 has been modified. The parcours has been reduced by a kilometre, meaning that the new distance is 12.3 kilometres. The start and finish line will not change.
According to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf Dutch champion Jans Koerts is free to negotiate a contract with another team, after a conversation with Mercury manager John Wordin yesterday. Due to financial problems after co-sponsor Viatel pulled out, riders haven't received salaries since the end of June, and the remaining season's program had to be altered.
Koerts is free to ride the Vuelta a España for another team, should he find one. Last year he won a stage in that race, and there are teams interested in signing him.
Koerts' teammate and compatriot Leon van Bon will probably stay with the team until the end of the season.
Telekom's Under 23 development team will be restructured next season, according to team management. Team spokesman Olaf Ludwig told newsagency SID that "concentrating on just one new generation team was not correct" and the U23 squad will therefore be dissolved. The team was coached by Peter Becker, who is also Jan Ullrich's personal coach. Next season, Becker will work solely with Ullrich.
This year, only Matthias Kessler had managed the jump to professional racing, and although he is regarded as a good talent, the team's DM1 million annual budget will probably be redirected into other areas. Ludwig added that "We will probably go into the area of 17 to 18 year olds. We will discuss with the German federation who is likely to receive the main benefit of the promotion."
It's probable that three riders will get contracts for 2002 with the main Telekom team.
Ronald Mutsaars Roy Sentjens will ride this coming season with the professionals in Rabobank, having come up through the espoirs development squad.
The Rabobank team has changed its program for September, and will not be riding any Italian races: No Giro dell'Emilia or Milano-Vignola this year. Due to the great interest from Italian teams, the organisers were forced to turn away Rabobank. Instead, the Dutch team will probably ride the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt in Germany (September 19-23) and the Giro della Provincia di Lucca in Italy in October.
A laboratory in Stockholm, Sweden, has been granted SK4.5 million (Euro 500,000) by the World Anti-Doping Agency for research into anti-doping methods. The lab is part of the Swedish university hospital in Huddinge, in the south of Stockholm.
Magnus Palmberg, Sandvikens CK
Philip Tavell, Kvänums IF
Anna Enocsson, Motala AIF CK
Maria Östergren, Södertälje CK
Daniel Eriksson, Trosa-Vagnhärad CK
Fredrik Kessiakoff, Team Crescent
Jens Westergren, Köpings CK
Jesper Ingevaldsson, Södertörns MTB-klubb
Olle Löthman, Upsala CK
Pierre Stjernman, CK Master
This weekend sees the staging of the 15th annual Sports Grand Prix in Downers Grove, Illinois, better known for its main event, the US National Criterium Championships. Criteriums, with their high speed, short distance, and aggressive nature, are the country's best patronised road events, and the National Criterium Championship carries no small amount of prestige.
The 1.6 km figure-eight course is in the heart of Downers Grove, 20 minutes west of downtown Chicago, and generally lends itself to a bunch sprint. The main events are on Sunday, August 19; the USCF Elite Men's Championships (80 km), USCF Elite Women's Championships (50 km), and the USPRO Men's Criterium Championship (100 km).
This year, the Saturn Corporation is the presenting sponsor and official vehicle of the Sports Grand Prix, and of course the Saturn team has designs on winning a few titles. Frank McCormack won the title in 1995 and 1996. Chann McRae was wearing Saturn colours in 1998 when he captured the national title. Former Saturn team member Antonio Cruz won in 1999 while riding for l'Equipe LeCheval, and subsequently signed for Saturn (he is now with US Postal). "We've got some very good sprinters on both our men's and women's teams, so we anticipate they will be in the final battles for the championship jerseys," said Tom Schuler, general manager of the Saturn Cycling Team.
Although the Saturn women's team is the No. 1 ranked squad in the world, with several top international athletes, USA Cycling regulations mean that only domestic riders will be able to compete on Sunday. This will limit the team to Kim Bruckner and Suzanne Sonye, and Tom Schuler admits that "They will have their hands full with the other top teams. But they were sorely outnumbered at the national road race in May and came away with first and third place."
In that event, Bruckner took the gold and Sonye the bronze, just two days after Bruckner won the national time trial championship. A victory on Sunday would give her a sweep of all three titles.
USA Cycling regulations allow foreign riders to compete in the men's pro event, although the USPRO Criterium Champion will still be the first US rider to cross the line. Last year, it was Mercury's Derek Bouchard-Hall, who will certainly be in the hunt for another title, or perhaps one of his teammates.
Saturn's Trent Klasna won the national time trial championship in late May, was second in the professional road race in mid-June and has led the men's NRC standings since March 19, and therefore is an obvious favourite. He will be part of a full 10 man Saturn squad, with its mix of Americans and foreign riders, including Ivan Dominguez, a Cuban expatriate who is back on top form after an early season injury and is one of the team's top sprinters.
Saturday, August 18
Sunday, August 19
By Gerry McManus
Irish riders add an international flavour in the 6 stage Revolutions 5 Day event, starting on Friday August 17 in the UK.
Richie Cahill, Paddy Moriarty and John Horgan will form part of a composite team lead by Milk Rás regular, Gethin Butler from Surrey. The final team member in this Gore Bike Wear team is Steve Bayliss, who has ridden in the prestigious Premier race series and finished 20th in the recent Havant GP.
Irish squad regulars, Corkman Timmy Barry and Carrick's Martin O'Louglin, ride for the relatively new club, the London Irish CC. Barry has some good form and was third in the Crotty Cup in Kilrush, last weekend. O'Loughlin was peaking nicely for the 5-day until he took a tumble in the Gene Moriarty event.
The main British challenge will come from local riders, John Ibbotson (cycleweb.com), Gary Dodd (Sigma Sport) and Steve Gowar (Festival RC).
The Prestige VC.com team are fielding a strong team of five, lead by GB squad rider, Danny Axford.
The event gets progressively harder until the final day on Tuesday in the Ashdown Forest, where riders complete a 71-mile course that has no flat sections and a climb described by riders in previous years as "the wall"
The Chevy Trucks NORBA National Mountain Bike Series rolls into Mount Snow this weekend for the final round of the five-race series. With so many national titles on the line, as well as national pride, Mount Snow once again promises to be the pivotal race in this five race series.
The series finale starts on Thursday, August 16 and continues through Sunday, August 19. The pro cross-country races will be held Friday, followed by the crowd-friendly "Super Saturday" which includes the NORBA Happy Hour where fans can meet the top pros in the expo area and the Shimano Youth Series races for kids of all ages.
The pro racing is white hot, with the short track cross country followed by the dual slalom. Sunday is reserved for downhill events, which includes the exciting "Mountain Cross" race getting its NORBA debut. This exciting concept was developed by Mongoose/Hyundai pro Eric Carter and unveiled earlier this season at the Mercury Sea Otter Classic Powered by SRAM. Described as Myles Rockwell meets James Bond, mountain cross is a four-up downhill race that combines the bravery of downhilling, the skill of dual slalom, and the tactics of criterium racing.
While American mountain bikers have lost their international edge in cross-country racing to Canadians, Europeans and Australians, they continue to ride well in both downhill and dual slalom. Mount Snow promises to be a star-studded affair drawing a world class field. For perhaps the first time all season, every big gun will be firing at one race. This event kicks of a string of North American mountain bike races that culminates with the World Championships next month in Vail, Colorado.
Going into the final men's cross country race, Canadians hold the top three places with Roland Green (Trek/Volkswagen) currently series leader and compatriots Ryder Hesjedal (Subaru/Gary Fisher) and Seamus McGrath (Haro/Lee Dungarees) following in second and third. Having lost the World Cup lead because of flat tires in two consecutive events, most observers consider Green to be the world's best mountain bike racer.
With the U.S. title on the line at Mount Snow, a handful of new contenders are peaking in their bid to wear the stars-and-stripes jersey. Top Americans in the competition include Kirk Molday (Sun Race/Santa Cruz), who won the opener in Snow Summit, Calif., and is in fifth place overall, the season's surprise Todd Wells (Broadway Bicycles) in seventh, and Under-23 star Jeremy Horgen-Kobelski (Boulder Bicycles) sitting in 10th. Past series champion (1999) Travis Brown (Trek/Volkswagen) lies just outside the top ten in 11th place with last year's national champion, Steve Larsen (LLBean/Mongoose/Stairmaster) currently in 24th.
In the men's short track cross country, the standings nearly mirror those of the cross country, with Canadians Green and Hesjedal holding the top two spots in this discipline. American Horgen-Kobelski currently lies in third, with Carl Swenson (RLX/Polo Sport) in sixth. The defending series champion is Russia's Pavel Cherkasov, who now resides in Vermont. He lurks in fourth position, the same place he holds in the cross country standings.
On the women's side, Mary Grigson (Gary Fisher/Subaru) has virtually sewn up the series title with three victories. Her teammate Chrissy Redden, who won at Mount Snow last year, is in second overall. Defending U.S. Champion Ruthie Matthes (Trek/Volkswagen) is currently in third. Two other Americans remain in striking distance of the stars-and-stripes jersey: Shonny Vanlandingham (SoBe/Headshok) is just 72 points behind Matthes while Vermont pro Audrey Augustin (GT/Zeal) is just 88 points down. In short, if Matthes suffers a mechanical or a crash, she would likely surrender the jersey to one of those two riders. For Augustin especially, the race could prove pivotal. She will be racing in front of a hometown crowd and at a lower altitude.
Defending champion Jimena Florit (RLX/Polo Sport) is currently in the lead in the women's short course standings, having won the Deer Valley event in Utah. American Susan Haywood (Trek/VW/JBL) in second. Haywood, still riding for a "regional" has become a phenom of sorts in this half-hour discipline. While Grigson controls the cross-country racing, her teammate Chrissy Redden is the short track expert. Redden won the event in Snowshoe, W. Va., and consistently reached the podium in the others to hold third overall.
American Shonny Vanlandingham (SoBe/Headshok) is currently in fourth and cross-country leader Mary Grigson stands in fifth. Mountain biking legend Ruthie Matthes, showing the never-say-die attitude that made her a four time national cross-country champion, is currently in sixth. Surprisingly the best short-track racer of the bunch is not near the top. Alison Dunlap (GT/Chevy Trucks) won the opener in Snow Summit and crushed the field to win at Mammoth. But a schedule conflict kept her out of Snowshoe. While leading the race at Deer Valley, she punctured. Despite winning every short track race she's finished this season, Dunlap remains in 10th overall.
On the gravity-assisted side of the events, the southern hemisphere is shining in the men's downhill with Australian Chris Kovarik (Intense) ahead of New Zealander John Kircaldie (Maxxis Tires) in second and Frenchman Fabien Barel (Team GT) in third. Kovarik's countryman, Nathan Rennie (Yeti/Pearl Izumi) and New Zealander Nathan Rankin (Foes/Azonic) are currently in fourth and fifth. Surprisingly, two young downhillers riding for Foes-Azonic Jared Rando and Todd Leduc are in sixth and seventh in the series. Defending U.S. champion Eric Carter (Mongoose/Hyundai) sits in 10th.
No other event will be as hotly contested as the pro men's dual slalom. Not only are two Americans poised to win the whole series and the national title, both are tied. Eric Carter (Mongoose/Hyundai) and Brian Lopes (GT/Fox) are one and two, both with 480 points. World Champion Wade Bootes (Trek/Volkswagen) is in third with 460 points. Although Bootes doesn't qualify to wear the stars and stripes, he'd love to go home with the series title under his belt.
Women's downhill standings read like an old school roster with none other than Missy "The Missile" Giove (Global Racing) leading the series, Leigh Donovan (Schwinn) in second and Marla Streb (Foes/Azonic) in third. Any one of these three would love to add another title to their long list of accomplishments. This is the one area that U.S. women have been dominant, holding nine of the top-ten spots. Donovan will be eager to post a solid result as she has announced her retirement at the end of the season.
American Women are holding court in dual slalom as well with Leigh Donovan leading the series and Tara Llanes (Yeti/Pearl Izumi) in second. Donovan has been nothing short of fantastic in this event, winning all but the last event, which went to Australia's Tai-Lee Muxlow (Dirt Works). Three-time dual Slalom Series Champion Katrina Miller(Jamis) is currently in third.
Major Races and Events
September 7-29, 2002: Vuelta a España (GT) - Preview, stage list
May 11-June 2, 2002: Giro d'Italia (GT) - Preview, stage list, photos
July 6-28, 2002: Tour de France (GT) - Full preview & official route details
December 8: Superprestige Rd 5 (Cat. 1) - Erwin Vervecken
November 29-December 4: Six Days of Noumea (6D) - Sassone/Neuville victorious
November 26-December 1: Six Days of Zurich (6D) - Day 6 - McGrory/Gilmore/Schnider win
December 1: Melbourne Cup on Wheels (IM) - Scott Moller, Keirin, Sprint, Support races
December 2: Cyclo-cross World Cup #2 (CDM) - Sven Nijs again
November 24-December 3: Juegos Deportivos Centroamericanos (JR) - Final results
December 8-9: Frankfurter Rad-Cross (Cat. 2) - Alex Mudroch, UK National Trophy Series #4 (Cat. 3) - Roger Hammond, Grote Prijs Industrie Bosduin - Kalmthout (Cat. 1) - Bart Wellens, Int. Radquer Obergösgen (Cat. 2) - Björn Rondelez, Trofeo Mamma e Papa Guerciotti (Cat. 3) - Enrico Franzoi, Premio Egondo (Cat 3) - David Seco, Irish cyclo-cross championships - Robin Seymour
Results: local racing
Australia - CycleWest Promotions Omnium Series #2, Eastern Suburbs Summer Criterium Series, Carnegie Caulfield Tuesday criterium, Southern Cross Junior Track Open & Madison Cup, Manly Warringah CC, George Town Track Carnival, Carnegie Caulfield CC, Randwick Botany CC, Gold Coast CATS CC, Caesar's Illawarra CC, Caesar's Illawarra (track)
Denmark - Danish cyclo-cross Post Cup #3
Italy - Gran Premio Città di Bassano
Luxembourg - GP De Kopstal
New Zealand - Cyco Criterium series
Spain - Elorrio cyclo-cross
USA - Georgia Cross Series Championship, Chimborazo Grand Prix cyclo-cross, Boulder Cross Rd 6, New Mexico State Cyclo-x Champs, Sorrento Cyclo-x & California State Champ's, Boulder Cross Rd 5, Verge New England series, Northampton CC Cyclo-cross Championships, Chris Cross International CycloCross
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