News for January 5, 2001

US Postal samples to be analysed

The frozen urine samples of the US Postal cycling team that were taken during the Tour de France will be analysed for illegal substances, at the request of French judge Sophie Helene Château. This will take place as part of the legal investigation opened into the team last November for "infringement of the 1999 anti-doping law relating to the use and incentive to use toxic substances."

Three experts will examine the samples, which were part of the 91 TdF samples seized by French justice last November. The UCI were going to destroy the samples on November 15, because they had not yet been able to validate the EPO urine test. They have since decided to accept the 2000 Tour de France results a priori (without question), no matter what the outcome of the investigation is.

The date for the analyses to be completed is as yet unknown.

Roussel talks

Recently convicted former Festina team leader, Bruno Roussel, believes that he can help cycling emerge from its "black period", provided work is done at the ground level. In an interview with French newspaper Ouest France Roussel commented on the future of the sport, as well as the outcome of the trial (Roussel received one year suspended sentence and a fine).

He described the conclusions of the trial as "educative, throwing light on an area that has had defects for decades. I took the wrong turn on my parcours, but it wasn't me who invented doping!" he said.

"I found a letter from November 17, 1976. A morbihannais cyclist, Michel Hervo, had started a riders association 'to request controls and eradicate the problem of doping and Mafias.' In response to his initiative, the committee of Brittany gave him a one month suspension! A perfect example of the mentality of 25 years ago," added Roussel.

In order to clean up cycling, Roussel suggested that the responsibility for the fight against doping should be moved away from the federations to the Ministry of Health, "which appears to be more suitable than the Ministry of Youth and Sports."

Also to try and remove the idea that the sportsman is a victim of doping. "The cyclists who I knew were completely responsible for their acts," said Roussel. "It would also be necessary to join together, with a single aim, all the budgets assigned to search for doping products, perhaps within the World Anti-Doping agency," adding that race organisers should contribute to this fund.

"Finally, we would need a federal action plan to increase the awareness amongst our leaders that it is a myth that medical care is obligatory in cycling." Roussel believes that he can play a role in doing this, although probably not at the professional level.

Garzelli in the Giro, Beltran to support

The Giro d'Italia this year will see defending champion Stefano Garzelli riding in his new Mapei colours, aiming to hold off the likes of Marco Pantani, Francesco Casagrande and Gilberto Simoni. Being an Italian team, Mapei would dearly like to win this race and will utilise Spaniard Manuel Beltran in order to play a key support role.

Beltran finished 11th in the 2000 Tour de France, a feat he is not sure he will try and repeat. After riding for Garzelli in the Giro, he may well skip the Tour and ride the Vuelta a Espaņa, although his directeur sportif hinted that he may ride all three.

"It is certain that they will give me the freedom to race the Tour, Vuelta and Giro, but I have made a decision to participate in the latter two races and to try to help Garzelli to win the Giro d'Italia," said Beltran.

Queally goes for HPV land speed record

British Olympic gold and silver medallist, Jason Queally, will try to become the world's fastest man again - on a completely different type of bike. Queally is launching an attempt on the Human-Powered Vehicle (HPV) land speed record of 115 km/h (72.24 mp/h), currently held by Canadian (British Colombia) Sam Whittingham. He will try for the record in October this year (after the World Track Championships) at altitude in either Colorado or Nevada.

In HPV racing, the adage that "It's the engine that matters, not the bike" is no longer true. A streamlined, low to the ground machine is essential for reaching the high speeds that are usually recorded in the attempts. The HPV rules state that competitors have to hit their top speed on a flat stretch of road, starting under their own power. This is different to the paced speed record, where riders are towed to ~100 km/h to overcome the enormous gear ratio.

Queally will be sponsored by Blueyonder, an internet branch of Telewest Communications. The entire project is expected to cost $US 375,000 and will commence next week with the building of the HPV. Formula One car company, Reynard, will build the machine that is to be designed by Chris Field, the man behind Queally's Hotta bike that he used in Sydney.

Kuiper to KNWB

Former World and Olympic champion, Hennie Kuiper will start this coming season as the KNWB national espoirs coach, after he signed a one year contract. He replaces Herman Snoeijink, who will coach the national women's team for the next two years.

Freddy-watch - Moncassin loses time

Former French pro cyclist and ace sprinter, Frederic Moncassin (double stage winner in the Tour de France plus numerous other victories) is competing in the famous Paris-Dakar rally, where he is riding a KTM 400 motorcycle. After stage 3 he was lying in 14th position, although the race was still to hit the real dirt on the African continent.

Stage 4 - into the dirt

On January 4 the Rallye Paris-Dakar hit the African continent for the first time with a 602km stage from Nador to Er Rachidia in Morocco, of which 139km was a timed stage in the dirt - the remainder was spent on the bitumen in the transport stages called "liaison". Fred lost 15.24 in the timed stage and came in 27th out of the 130-odd riders in the rally. This put him at 21st overall, some 18.45 behind fellow KTM rider Richard Sainct (KTM), who is three minutes ahead of Fabrizio Meoni, also on a KTM.

Sainct hammered on stage 4 and in doing so won by a full 1'14 from fellow KTM rider and ex-Marathon specialist, the Chilean Carlos De Gavardo. Behind him Meoni rode 'cool' to finish third, with Alfie Cox, frustrated by the dust and unable to overtake, coming in 4th. First BMW in was that of Juan Roma in 6th place, 2.33 behind the winner and now in third place overall behind Sainct and Meoni.