News for January 25, 2001
Linda McCartney: the shouting continues
By Jeff Jones
"We met all this evening to find a solution but it seems finally that the team must disappear." Those were the words of Linda McCartney team director, Neil Stephens in London last night. Stephens put the blame squarely on the shoulders of Julian Clark who "misled us" through promises and deals that never eventuated.
"He told us that he was going to make a great team, and that he had the money but in the end, he did not have anything," added Stephens.
In a subsequent statement, Clark admitted to this, but said that the team is not in as great a debt as has been reported. "The figure of £800,000 is grossly overstated. Whilst correct that riders are owed, it is 30% of this figure," he said. He added that he and his wife are personally in debt by over £300,000, "all the time living on false promises." According to recent reports in British newspapers, Clark is actually facing charges for "sporting fraud" early next month.
However, he is certainly at odds with Neil Stephens: "With the negativity surrounding the sport at this time I also made an error in judgment from the sponsors point of view taking on a new Directeur Sportif, who unfortunately came to the team with historic specific allegations," said Clark.
Team manager Sean Yates said that he felt "let down" by Linda McCartney foods, who were the team's 'title sponsors'. "Paul McCartney was not willing to help any further," said Yates, who didn't totally blame Clark: "I think he had the best of intentions. There was no money to embezzle."
Sources say that Heinz (UK distributors of Linda McCartney food products) were meant to be the big new sponsor for 2001. They were supposed to take the title of main sponsor from Linda McCartney, who were to downgrade their financial commitment. The name of Paul McCartney was therefore to be used as PR to attract other companies, and was probably about as useful as a verbal agreement (not very).
Then there was the mystery of Jacob's Creek, who had offered to co-sponsor the team this year. The team competed in the JCTDU with success and good exposure - but apparently Jacob's Creek and Jaguar were unaware of any signed contracts. The two combined may have carried the team through, but it seems as though this was largely a constructed facade of hype.
The UCI weren't fooled however, as CCP co-ordinator Alain Rumpf pointed out that the team weren't officially registered for 2001 (why were they racing at all then?). "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."
The hard task now is for the 35 employees of the team to find jobs, particularly the younger riders. The more experienced cyclists such as Miguel Martin Perdiguero, Inigo Cuesta, Juan Carlos Dominguez, Tayeb Braikia, Max Sciandri and David McKenzie should find last minute places in teams, although it may mean a wage cut. However, the other younger riders may find themselves in difficulty and will have to return to the amateur ranks for another year.
U.S. Postal train in Altea
The US Postal Service team is holding its final pre-season training camp in Altea, Spain from January 25 to February 4, when they will commence racing. Directeur sportif, Johan Bruyneel, has chosen the Costa Blanca as the location for the camp, as he is very familiar with it from his days at ONCE.
Apart from training, the riders will also meet with the directors in order to determine their program for the year, and to coordinate the relationship between riders and team personnel. Coupled with this is the team's European presentation, to take place on the afternoon of Friday, January 26.
Pantani investigation: more news
Strong candidate for the leadership of the Italian Cycling Federation, Francesco Moser, has spoken out about the latest accusation against Marco Pantani. Pantani is under investigation once again for "sporting fraud" - this time as a result of his 52 percent hematocrit that caused his expulsion from the penultimate stage of the 1999 Giro.
"Any athlete who returns a positive test would have to endure the same treatment," said Moser. "However, in a sport that demands so much hard work, he does not deserve this." Moser added that he would do his best to finish this situation.
Mercatone Uno comment
Pantani's team, Mercatone Uno had its team presentation today without the presence of the Pirate. His agent, Manuela Ronchi reported that he had been delayed due to an incident on the freeway and couldn't make it. However, his friend Fabiano Fontanelli said that he "wanted to be here, but he may arrive tomorrow morning."
Fontanelli continued by saying that the Mercatone Uno team would be right behind Pantani, and that "we would all be ready to work for him with a single objective: to bring him back up."
Pantani's new lawyer, Federico Cecconi is still waiting for the official notification from the court in Trento regarding the latest sporting fraud accusation. If and after he receives it, he will formalise his nomination as Pantani's defender and then will speak with magistrate Bruno Giardina.
Vandenbroucke off track
Frank Vandenbroucke will be a non-starter in this weekend's "Omnium van de snelste Pedalen" to be held on Antwerp's Sportpaleis velodrome. Lampre manager, Pietro Algeri, wanted him to ride as part of his preparation for the upcoming road season. However, sinusitis problems have prevented him from training effectively so far this year. VDB's main aim is the early season classics this year.
Italian squads to Malaysia
Although the Tour de Langkawi (February 6-18) clashes this year with the first European races, several teams are still using it for early season race preparation. Italian teams Mapei, Saeco, Mobilvetta, Ceramica Panaria, Cantina Tollo, Selle Italia, and Alexia Aluminio are some of the 24 teams that will take part, and the latter has recently finalised its lineup. Triple stage winner in the 2000 edition, Ivan Quaranta will be aiming to repeat that success, along with Pascal Hervè, Andrea Brognara, Cristian Auriemma, Mario Manzoni, Sergei Ouchakov and Corrado Serina. Hervè will go for the GC while Quaranta will target stage wins.
Mapei will bring an almost entirely different squad to the one they used for the Tour Down Under, with Dario Cioni the only one being retained. Mapei will be led by Andrea Tafi, who has been a regular visitor race since it started, and the team will also contain Paolo Bettini, Davide Bramati, Rinaldo Nocentini, Elio Aggiano, and Pedro Horrilo Munoz.
Saeco Macchine per Caffe has named seven riders: Giuseppe Calcaterra, Oscar Cavagnis, Alessio Galletti, Jorg Ludewig, Massimiliano Mori, Francesso Secchiari, and Christian Wegmann.
Cantina Tollo: Claudio Astolfi, Cesare Dicintio, Christian Gasperoni, Simone Masciarelli, Kail Pospeyev, Emanuele Negrini, Federico Colonna
Selle Italia-Pacific: Fortunato Baliani , Gianluca Tonetti, Leonardo Scarselli, Andris Nauduzs, Csaba Szekeres, Russel Van Hout, Kam Po Wong
Mobilvetta Design: Massimo Strazzer, Alessandro Brendolin , Daniele Castella, Domenico Gualdi, Timothy David Jones, Daniele Gadenz, Uros Murn
Ceramica Panaria-Fiordo: Julio Alberto Perez , Enrico Degano, Antonio Varriale, Tom Leaper, Nathan O'Neill, Cristiano Parrinello, Stefano Guerrini
The complete list of teams to compete in Malaysia is as follows:
Eurosport sponsor Colpack
The world's largest sports TV channel, Eurosport, with an audience reach of 200 million homes, will add its name to a professional cycling team this season. The Italian second division Colpack-Astro team will now feature various Eurosport logos on team and staff jerseys. The TV channel - which obviously has a lot to gain by sponsoring sport - is intending to tie in its marketing strategy with sports sponsorship, and the developing Italian team offers a place to do so.
Colpack-Astro is managed by Gianluigi Stanga, who last year managed the now defunct Polti team as well.
Mirabella joins jane
By John Alsedek
The Jane Cosmetics Cycling Team has officially announced the addition of 2000 US Olympian Erin Mirabella to its lineup. Mirabella, 22, is a seven-time US national champion on the track, and she also won two gold medals at the 1999 Pan-American Games. She rode for the Timex squad last year, but did not make it to Saturn-Timex, after the two sponsors decided to merge their efforts.
Mirabella has just moved to San Diego, and will be spending considerable time racing there. "With everything that's happened at USA Cycling, I was a little worried about the 2001 season," said Mirabella. "But this is just great - I rode with Odessa Gunn on Timex last year, and I know Julie Hanson and Jane Quigley really well. I'm just really excited about racing as part of the Jane Cosmetics team!"
She will be focusing on the track, with goals including the Pan-American Games and the World Championships; however, she will also compete on the road regionally and in select National Racing Calendar events.
The Jane Cosmetics Cycling Team also added two new sponsors: the All Terrain Company, who will be supplying the team with several products, including TerraSport Sunblock, Lip Armor Lip Balm, and Prepair (a dietary supplement); and Cytosport will be the official energy supplement sponsor of the Jane Cosmetics team. Also, Dynamite Gloves of Kirksville, Missouri, manufacturer of velcro-free gloves, returns as the team's glove sponsor.