Second edition news for January 25, 2001
Linda McCartney Team update
All over bar the shouting
By John Stevenson
Over the last several hours Cyclingnews has been in touch with associates of the Linda McCartney team or their families, and a clearer picture has emerged of the situation. According to team PR manager John Deering,"Linda McCartney had only agreed to let us use the logo, name and signature to bring in other sponsors. They were not putting any cash in this year." When those sponsors failed to materialise, the team was unable to continue. Deering said it was not clear if the team had any financial backing at all but added, "Probably not."
Barring a miracle then or at least a new sponsor arriving from blue sky the Linda McCartney Team is dead, and its riders looking for places on other teams. However, Deering denied any wrongdoing on the part of his boss Julian Clark. Asked about the claims of missing money, Deering told Cyclingnews, " I don't think that anything's been stolen. It's a case of a man saying that things have been done when they haven't, deals signed when they're not, money available when it isn't."
Meanwhile, Clark is reported to have been taken to hospital suffering a heart condition while en route to London to meet with the sponsors. Deering said, "We have been told that Julian collapsed on the plane and was taken to hospital instead of meeting us," adding that the source of that information was Clark's father. "I hope it's a lie, cos he's still my friend, whatever he's done (not everybody would agree with me at this point!)"
Deering and other members of the team are pursuing money they are owed by Clark, who was always the team's paymaster. The amounts vary, "some [are] owed a bit, some loads, and not just staff." There has been no deposition of salary advances with the UCI, and therefore the team did not appear on the recently released division II trade team lists.
UCI president, Alain Rumpf pointed out that "I would like to clearly state that the Linda McCartney Racing Team has not been registered by the UCI for the 2001 season as important documents were missing from their file and the conditions for registration were therefore not respected."
It's not the first time riders have had trouble being paid by Team Linda McCartney. Australian rider David McKenzie was paid late on one occasion last year, and Tayeb Braikia was reliably rumoured to be about to sue the team because neither he nor any other team member had been paid for three months.
David McKenzie's wife Susan confirmed that he had been paid in full for the year and was planning to spend the next couple of days in London considering his options and looking for a new team. With a new baby to support, McKenzie is in a particularly unpleasant position, but his strong showing in the JCTDU should help.
Late Wednesday night, London time, Julian Clark issued this press release, obviously written in considerable haste and reproduced here unedited:
Big Mat hopes for a big one
The Big Mat-Auber 93 team, sponsored by a French building material company, was one of the French division II squads not named in the first 16 Tour de France teams yesterday. Six French teams were given berths, leaving space for just four teams when they are finalised in April. Big Mat will be competing with La Francaise des Jeux, Team Coast, CSC-World Online, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Lotto-Adecco, Liquigas, Mercatone Uno, Saeco, Tacconi Sport, and Mercury-Viatel for one of those positions, and it will be a tough battle against the likes of CSC (Jalabert), Mercatone Uno (Pantani), Saeco (Cipollini) and the others.
However, being a French team is important, and Jean-Marie Leblanc made no secret of that when the first 16 teams were announced. Big Mat is fairly well budgeted for a division II team, with approximately $US 3.1 million per year at its disposal. Team director, Stéphane Javalet admitted that "we had poor results in 2000, that stopped our progress. We knew the reasons, and decided to change things. 2001 is a new start."
In recent years (the team has been going for nine), the team has relied on the fast men: Christophe Capelle (French Champion), Jay Sweet and Jeremy Hunt. However, in other respects the team has been lacking, hence some new recruits this year.
Dutch-Australian Patrick Jonker is a key signing, after a less than memorable year at US Postal where he was dogged by injury. He has started the 2000 season on a good note by placing 7th overall in the JCTDU, and the 10 seconds he lost to O'Grady were just through time bonuses. He has ridden for some of the best teams in the world: ONCE, Rabobank and US Postal for example, and his strength and experience will be valuable for the team.
Another new signing is Stéphane Heulot, who along with Xavier Jan and Cyril Saugrain is transferring to the team from La Francaise des Jeux. 29 year old Heulot promised much as a younger rider, but is more recently famed for 'almost winning' the Sestrières-L'Alpe d'Huez Bastille Day stage in the 1999 Tour de France. Heulot's 2000 record is rather sparse, but he was at least a consistent finisher in the Classics, and placed 26th in the World Championships.
The team will obviously try and look for early season results, presumably part of their reason for racing in the JCTDU. Observers believe that 2001 could be a make or break year, and the balance could be tipped unfavourably if they miss out on a Tour de France spot.
General Manager: Stéphane Javalet.
Guillaume Auger (Fra)
Former Kelme rider, Carlos Alberto Contreras, has signed for Colombian-Italian division II team, Selle Italia Paciffic, managed by Gianni Savio. He joins 13 other Colombian cyclists who are employed in European professional squads, as shown below.
Victor Hugo Pea (US Postal)
05 Orbitel 2001
The Colombian 05 Orbitel team, which was highly successful in 2000 at the national level, has become a UCI division III team. Managed by Raul Mesa and directed by Carlos Mario Jaramillo, the team's first main goal will be the Ruta Mexico, from February 28-March 11.
Team Manager: Raul Mesa
Cuba to head Pan-American Federation
Cuba has been re-elected for the third consecutive time to preside over the Pan-American Confederation of Ciclismo (COPACI). Cuban federation president, Jose Manuel Pel‡ez, will have his assistants Benito Sobero (General Secretary) and Pedro Fr’as (Treasurer) as approved delegates to the COPACI Congress.
Jetsetting Dutch UCI president, Hein Verbruggen was present at the meeting, as well as USA Cycling's Mike Plant. Plant is also the director of the Goodwill Games, that will be held in Australia this year. 34 of the 42 federations in COPACI were represented at the meeting. Notable absentees included Surinam, Nicaragua, Granada and St Kitts.
Napa Valley MTB World Cup news
Napa Valley winery, Domaine Chandon, will for the second consecutive year host the opening round of the Tissot-UCI Mountain Bike World Cup on April 6-8, 2001. Along with Chandon and Tissot, the event will be sponsored by SoBe drinks, Volvo, and Shimano who return as flyover sponsor. For 2001 the flyover has gone psychedelic, and will be known (for want of a better term) as the 'Shimano Psychedelic flyover'.
JCTDU on British Eurosport
The hour-long British Eurosport coverage of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under will be shown this coming Friday, January 26 at 2030, after a cancellation in their programming. It will be repeated at a later date, yet to be determined, probably in March. Potential sponsors, please take note.