News for January 25, 2001

Recent results and new features

Doubts over Linda McCartney

Future looks bleak as sponsors and money dry up.

In a terse press release this morning, the Linda McCartney team has announced it has parted company with its management OC Racing & Promotions. The full release continues: "Talks continue between Linda McCartney and the team's representatives, Max Sciandri and Sean Yates about forming a new management structure to continue operating the team."

However the background is rather less rosy. The team has been struggling to find sponsors for several months. Main sponsor vegetarian food company Linda McCartney is reportedly disenchanted with the European racing scene, and has not signed for 2001. Recently announced sponsor Jacob's Creek has not in fact signed either, but was listed on team jerseys on a 'try before you buy' basis, according to sources close to the team.

Without sponsors and funding the future of the team and its riders in severe doubt. A deposit of three month's salary for each rider should have been made with the UCI when the team was registered in December, but it seems this did not happen.

Things took a bizarre turn yesterday when team members, who are in London for a team launch scheduled for Friday, confronted Julian Clarke of OC Racing & Promotions, and Clarke suffered an apparent heart attack and was rushed to hospital. Max Sciandri and Sean Yates have taken on the role of team managers, but it's hard to see how they can find new sponsors with the season about to get underway.

Spanish rider Martin Perdiguero told the Spanish media, "There is no team and the money has disappeared. We have all been left with what we are wearing." According to Perdiguero the team managers have told the riders that they could stay until some money shows up, or they could try finding another team and go home.

Then there's the matter of the $3.4 million missing from the team's coffers. The Spanish media has speculated that the money has been stolen, but whether it has been filched or simply mis-spent, its absence puts the team in a deep financial hole.

The team launch has been unsurprisingly postponed while the squad's future hangs in the balance.

Another Pantani investigation

Marco Pantani is under investigation once again by Italian authorities for 'sporting fraud', this time in connection with his haematocrit (red blood) level in the 1999 Giro. Prosecutor Bruno Giardini said on Wednesday that a blood test was performed onPantani in June 1999 before the 20th stage of the Giro. Pantani was removed from the race under the UCI's health rules after returning a haematocrit level of 52 per cent.

Pantani is being investigated under anti-doping laws passed last year in Italy, according to Giardini. Pantani's Mercatone-Uno team is refusing to comment until officially notified of the investigation, but this cannot be the best situation for a team chasing a Tour de France wildcard entry.

Pantani recently received a three month suspended sentence on similar charges arising out of a 60 per cent haematocrit reading in the 1995 Milan-Turin race. He is appealing that sentence.

Beloki to lead ONCE into Paris-Nice

ONCE has confirmed it will compete in the Paris-Nice, which runs March 11-18, with Joseba Beloki as team leader. Beloki moved across from Festina during the off-season in a move involving much wrangling with his old team.

This year's edition of the Paris-Nice will be the second to be organised by former rider Laurent Fignon, famous for being beaten by eight seconds by Greg lemond in the 1989 Tour. The addition of ONCE means the race may involve 23 8-man teams for a total of 184 riders. That's more than the 180 in last year's Tour de France.

Kupfernagel contemplates track comeback

Multi-talented German cyclo-cross star Hanka Kupfernagel says she is thinking about returning to track racing this year. The reigning world cyclo-cross champion, and silver medallist in the Olympic road race has been enjoying training on the track with new Farm Frites team-mate Leontien van Moorsel-Zijlaard and says "I'd really like to try [track racing] again."

Van Moorsel-Zijlaard won three gold medals at Sydney on road and track, so it's hard to imagine a more inspiring training partner. In 1991 and 1992, Kupfernagel won world junior championships in the points race and individual pursuit, so she is no stranger to the boards.

Kupfernagel is currently concentrating on preparing for her cyclo-cross world championship defence in Tabor, Czech Republic on February 3. Kupfernagel is considered germany's only serious medal hope at the cross world's The road debut for the team is March's Milan-San Remo classic.

Niedersachsen Rundfahrt details

The 25 anniversary edition of Germany's 2.4 class Niedersachsen Rundfahrt (Tour of Lower Saxony) will involve 16 8-man teams and a larger budget than in previous years despite having been reduced from 10 stages to five, Rundfahrt director Alfred Mispagel said on Wednesday. The budgetary increase of 200,000 Marks to a record 850,000 Marks should make for a high-quality event, living up to its UCI rating.

Six Division 1 teams have been confirmed to start: Telekom, Mapei, Rabobank, Festina, Cofidis and Coast. It is still uncertain whether Telekom will send stars like Erik Zabel and Jan Ullrich. "The nomination of team members must happen two weeks before the start," said Mispagel.

Nothstein to attend USA Cycling Junior Conference

2000 Olympic gold medallist Marty Nothstein and his coach Gil Hatton will participate in USA Cycling's Youth Bicycle Racing Programs Conference at the United States Olympic Training Complex February 1-4. The conference is for coaches and managers of youth and junior programs and athletes.

Lectures and panel discussions will be held to target many of the important issues dealing with coaching junior cyclists and developing junior programs. Included in the seminars will be roundtable discussions and group sessions with leaders of top programs from around the country, weight-training programs, tips on recruitment, and information on junior development camps. Other tutorials will deal with teen sports psychology, liability and insurance issues, corporate tax status and program funding.

Coordinators are bringing in some of the best outside sources to assist junior coaches with the specific concerns of younger athletes. United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and other National Governing Body employees will also assist in the program.

Banesto becomes

The Banesto team will be known as this year, after a change in marketing emphasis by its sponsor, a Spanish bank.'s team launch is scheduled for Friday and there will be a change of team strip to go with the dotcom monicker.

Armstrong in web poll

Fans of Lance Armstrong should head on over to the US Sports Academy web site at where you can vote among the selections for 2000 Athlete of the Year.

Recent results and new features on cyclingnews