News for January 25, 2001

Recent results and new features

U.S. Postal Service presentation

The US Postal Service team of Lance Armstrong and Roberto Heras presented its team today in Altea, Spain, in conjunction with their European training camp. The team has signed several strong riders including Roberto Heras, Victor Hugo Peña, José Luis "Chechu" Rubiera and Matthew White with the clear aim to help Lance Armstrong win his third consecutive Tour de France.

Other new riders include Frenchman Stéphane Barthe, and Americans Antonio Cruz, Robbie Ventura and Dave Zabriskie. They join the returning members: Armstrong, Jamie Burrow, Dylan Casey, Julian Dean, Viatcheslav Ekimov, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Benoît Joachim, Steffen Kjaergaard, Kenny Labbé, Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vande Velde and Cédric Vasseur, giving the 21-rider team its strongest and most complete lineup to date.

In addition to Armstrong's defence of the Maillot Jaune, the team will also try and help Roberto Heras win the Vuelta again, as well as contesting the Spring Classics. With its improved lineup, Johan Bruyneel is hopeful that the team can win its first World Cup event.

The team also hopes to have a stronger presence on the US circuit, with with 2000 Olympian Antonio Cruz, U23 GP des Nations winner David Zabriskie, and the experienced Robbie Ventura to combine with Kenny Labbé on the domestic front.

Team Roster

Manager: Mark Gorski
Team Manager: Johan Bruyneel
Assistant: Dirk Demol
Administrator: Dan Osipow
Sponsor: United States Postal service
Bikes: Trek


Lance Armstrong (USA)
Stéphane Barthe (Fra)
Jamie Burrow (GBr)
Dylan Casey (USA)
Antonio Cruz (USA)
Julian Dean (NZl)
Viatcheslav Ekimov (RUS)
Tyler Hamilton (USA)
Roberto Heras (Spa)
George Hincapie (USA)
Benoît Joachim (Lux)
Steffen Kjaergaard (Nor)
Kenny Labbé (USA)
Levi Leipheimer (USA)
Victor Hugo Peña (Col)
Jose Luis Rubiera (Spa)
Christian Vande Velde (USA)
Cédric Vasseur (Fra)
Robbie Ventura (USA)
Matthew White (Aus)
Dave Zabriskie (USA)

Armstrong comments

The inevitable questions were put to Lance Armstrong at his team launch today, especially from the French angle. News agency AFP reported that Lance "did not reproach French justice for inquiring" in relation to the US Postal investigation that started late last year.

"I think that at this time, any suspicion of doping must be checked...the results will be known at the end of the month and we are 100% sure that they will be negative," he said.

"I like France and what is happening is affecting us a lot, but to win the Tour in 1999, 2000 and hopefully 2001 can affect the lives of tens or even hundreds of millions of people," he added. "There can be an investigation but it will not affect me, or somebody who is in hospital, or somebody who has a family member in hospital. I will influence their life as a successful athlete and a cancer survivor."

He also wished to clarify his comment that was made to USA Today over a week ago, that was unlikely to endear him to France: "It is unfortunate that the greatest bike race in the world is in France."

Armstrong said that the quote was taken out of context, and repeated "I like France, I like this country and I have lived there for a long time. I said that in the current climate, it was unfortunate to see what has occurred. The Tour de France could not be what it is if it were not run in France. It would not be as great."

He added that he did not sell his house in Nice, and will continue to visit there. "If not, my wife would kill me...Simply, I don't have any more teammates in France to associate with."

Ekimov in Moscow!

By Sergey Kurdukov

It was the top news of the day for the young riders taking part in Russian winter track championships. Viacheslav was rather an unexpected guest of the Krylatskoye Olympic velodrome, especially for mid-January. He came to the city where he won his first pursuit races almost 20 years ago to receive the very prestigious Russian Cyclist of the Century award. Yet his stay in the capital, was unusually protracted this time, as he also had planned to sort out some problems, which had little to do with cycling.

On the other hand, computers are an integral part of daily life of present day cyclists, aren't they? Slava had bought the notebook of his dreams a week before (please don't ask me the name of the producer). It was a nice toy of a laptop - small, light, but rather powerful - exactly what you need on the road and in the plane. The only fly in the ointment was that it flatly refused to read Russian names of files and e-mail. Eki's mailbox is never empty, so you can imagine the dubious pleasure of receiving God-knows-what and Heaven-knows-wherefrom.

I was privileged to join in the struggle with the notebook's operational system - not as a computer guru, but as a guide, as Slava is from Saint-Petersburgh, and it is said for a Peterian, Moscow is something of a new Vavilon. We criss-crossed half of the city, that's brimming over with computer stores and service centers, all to no end. After all, 20 minutes before the X-hour, when such shops close down, the job was done by one of them. It meant minus one problem! But not for long, unfortunately...

In the morning, when Ekimov came down to Krylatskoye to do some workouts, he told me that he'd tried to install the computer translation system the night before, after which the notebook stopped quite dead. So at the moment, while Slava trains hard with the whole of USPS in Spain, his laptop is being cured by his computer genius friend, Peter. The prognosis is optimistic, so we'll surely be getting the very latest from Eki.

Another problem that remained to be unsettled was to cut the red-tape to carry out some financial procedures. Somehow the functionaries failed to see a Russian citizen in him, although he keeps his Russian passport. "Stay here for at least half a year, than we'll see" they said. Unluckily for them, Ekimov was not prepared to say good-bye to the season, including the Tour.

He walked much more these days than pushed the pedals (of a borrowed machine with a pair of borrowed shoes on, as his brand new Trek was sent over to Saint-Petersburgh by mistake). There were just two things he could put into the training diary: an hour and a half of leg-stretching on the velodrome's "green" and, of course, "race-walking" around frost-stricken Moscow. Dead on time, considering that first actual race is less than a month away!

Surely, it was of some use to get re-familiarized with the city's subway, called metro here, yet on the last day of his visit Ekimov decided that enough is enough. Though it was far from that. A car sent over for him got stuck somewhere in one of the famous Moscow jams, and the Olympian had to long-arm to get to the track. Rather surprisingly, one of the President's administration limos gave him a lift. It was something - a huge black car with flashing lights on covered about 25 km in 15 minutes. Mind the traffic!

All's well that ends well. The award ceremony at the ITERA headquarters proved absolutely enjoyable, especially because Ekimov met many of his former friends-in-arms, including Dimitri Nelubin, with whom he took the team pursuit in Seoul.

*Sergey Kurdukov is a Russian Eurosport commentator

Lotto presentation

Lotto-Adecco have presented their new team in the Constant Van den Stock stadium in Antwerp. Once again, Andrei Tchmil (38) is the leader of the team and he has to be there in the Flemish classics. Three Palmans riders were contracted to help him in this role: Hendrik Van Dijck, Nico Eeckhout and Hans De Clercq.

With Rik Verbrugghe and Mario Aerts, Lotto has hope for the classics Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Waalse Pijl (Fleche Wallonne). But for these World Cups the Lotto team has lost some power after Sébastien Demarbaix and Geert Verheyen have left.

Assistant team manager, Claude Criquielion has other hopes: "But then I expect a lot of our young riders such as Sébastien Brandt."

For the first time in history, Lotto will start in the Giro d'Italia. They hope Jeroen Blijlevens (ex-Polti) can win one or more stages.

Team Roster

Manager: Christophe Sercu
Team Manager: Jos Braeckevelt
Assistant Team Managers: Claude Criquielion and Walter Walter Planckaert
Sponsors: Lotto: Belgian national lottery. Adecco: temporary work agency
Bikes: GT Bicycles


Mario Aerts (Bel)
Serge Baguet (Bel)
Jeroen Blijlevens (Ned) Polti
Christophe Brandt (Bel) Saeco
Glenn D'Hollander (Bel)
Hans De Clercq (Bel) Palmans
Fabian De Waele (Bel)
Nico Eeckhout (Bel) Palmans
Gorik Gardeyn (Bel) Neo
Thierry Marichal (Bel)
Guennadi Mikhailov (Rus) Farm Frites
Roel Paulissen (Bel) Neo
Andrei Tchmil (Bel)
Kurt Van de Wouwer (Bel)
Hendrik Van Dyck (Bel) Palmans
Fulco Van Gulik (Ned) Neo
Paul Van Hyfte (Bel)
Kurt Van Lancker (Bel)
Wesley Van Speybrock (Bel) Neo
Ief Verbrugghe (Bel) Neo
Rik Verbrugghe (Bel)
Steve Vermaut (Bel) USPS

Linda McCartney demise leaves many high and dry

By Jeff Jones

It was a sad and sudden end to the Linda McCartney racing team, which had started its 2001 season full of hope but little else. "Our unstoppable force halted, our incurable optimism chastened, our chili non carnes stuck in our began to become clear to us that we were all up Jacob's Creek without a paddle, and there would be no Sir Paul the Brave to arrive in shining armour," were some of the final parting words from press officer John Deering who was anything if not eloquent in his obituary.

He confirmed that the team has considerable debts and the 2000 running costs have not been met, although at least there was a UCI bank guarantee deposited at the beginning of last year. "Every member of staff is owed money by OC Racing [the team's management company]."

While it looks as though "everything has gone pear-shaped", there is hope that the team could continue. "All members of the team would like to continue to work together under the leadership of Max Sciandri and Sean Yates if a new sponsor can be found," said Deering.

"The team would like to thank our supporters for the unbelievable amount of support they have given over the past seasons. The greatest tragedy of this whole litany of sad stories, is that we were probably the best supported team in the sport, and we are all desperately sorry to let down those very fans that made the whole thing worthwhile. Heartfelt thanks and apologies to each and every person that ever cheered on a McCartney rider."

Given its publicity and exposure, the team is certainly an excellent vehicle for a potential sponsor. While a 2001 Tour de France start looks a little unlikely at this point, there is still a chance that the team can be resurrected, even in a reduced capacity.

Many riders are understandably now desperately looking for work, including Tayeb Braikia, Spaniards Juan Carlos Dominguez, Miguel Martin Perdiguero and Inigo Cuesta, and David McKenzie (who can be contacted via his brother Stuart on +61 3 96393511 (b) or +61 3 93840672 (h). Note: Australian time).

The team's youngest signing, Bradley Wiggins, had yet to turn a pedal in anger with them. He commented that "Shit happens, OK a stone has been put in my path but you expect these obstacles in life. I am only 20 and there are still other directions I can take for this season, but my long term aims remain exactly the same. I really feel for the other guys in the team, we all got on so well but a lot of them are older than me and probably haven't got the got the same opportunities. It is very sad."

Former team roster

Sean Yates (directeur sportif)
Neil Stephens (directeur sportif)
Chris Lillywhite (assistant director)
Max Sciandri
Tayeb Braikia
Inigo Cuesta
Juan Carlos Dominguez
Russell Downing
Ondrey Fadrny
Marcel Gono
Sergei Lelekin
David McKenzie
Miguel Martin Perdiguero
Marlon Perez
Ciaran Power
Mirko Puglioli
Pete Rogers
Mark Scanlon
Matt Stephens
John Tanner
Bjornar Vestol
Bradley Wiggins
Craig Geater (mechanic)
Arnaud Desoeuvre (mechanic)
Richard Wooles (soigneur)
Stephane Gicquel (soigneur)
Serge Lecointe (soigneur)
Ainhoa Etxegoien (soigneur)
Denis Lancaster (press officer)
John Deering (press officer)

Mapei and Saeco to present online

Two of Italy's biggest teams, Mapei-Quick Step and Saeco Macchine per Caffé will be holding their team presentations over the next few days. In conjunction with the 'real' presentations, each team will also be broadcasting the events via the web, on (Mapei) and or (Saeco).

Mapei's presentation is today, January 27 live from 10:00 CET, and there will be numerous recorded broadcasts all day long. Saeco Macchine per Caffè have scheduled its presentation for Tuesday, January 30, from 11:30 CET and it "will be possible to see Cipollini, Savoldelli and all the champions of the Saeco Macchine per Caffè Team in the opening act of their season" via the web site.

Vanderaerden happy with JCTDU

Eric Vanderaerden, leader of Mapei-Quick Step during the JCTDU, was satisfied with the race. In an interview with the Belgian newspaper De Standaard he said: "It was more a kind of a stage instead of a real race. It's difficult to be completely ready halfway through January. Two weeks of training and racing in around 40 Celsius, that is something else than the weather in Western Europe at the moment. None of our riders were ready for playing a big role, but that was what we expected. It was not problem that we lost a lot of time, especially the first few days which were very difficult for us."

"I'm satisfied with Tom Steels. His last race was in August and I was glad he could follow a group of 40 in one of the stages. We hoped to bring him to the finish line in a good position, but just before the finish was a short but hard climb. He couldn't follow on that part, but that is normal when you have been out of the peloton for five months," said Vanderaerden.

Tom Steels added that "I have the feeling it's going very well, faster than expected. If I can do a good Tour of Mallorca and Tour de Mediterrannee I can have ambitions for the early season in Belgium. I haven't had that feeling since the start of the last Tour de France."

JCTDU Eurosport coverage

Sources inform us that the one hour British Eurosport coverage of the JCTDU did not eventuate, after being scheduled for 20:30 GMT on Friday, January 26. However, it was on at 22:30 on British Eurosport (not European) and SKY at that time. Due to the somewhat hit and miss nature of broadcasting program times, cyclingnews will refrain from doing so in future.

Eric Rijckaert dies

Dr Eric Rijckaert has passed away in Ostwinkel, Belgium after a long battle with lung cancer. The former Festina team doctor was aged 57 when he died. He was implicated in the 1998 Tour de France scandal, however he did not face trial in France. Instead he was facing charges in Belgium, but was unable to present himself due to ill health.

Dr Rijckaert released a book last year called "De zaak-Festina" (The Festina affair), in which he discussed the doping problem from an insider's point of view. "I stand by my position that it's better if riders have the advice of a doctor, rather than experiment themselves," he said.

He did not believe that Festina was alone amongst the top teams in using EPO, and that they were unfairly singled out. Perhaps this is the case, but there needed to be a catalyst, albeit a slow one, if professional cycling is to become healthy again.

Vale Colin Shaw

Triple winner of the Melbourne-Warnambool race (1970, 1972, and 1974), Robert Colin Shaw died at the age of 76 in Adelaide one week ago. Shaw represented both South Australia and Australia in his long career and he also won several major South Australian races. The cause of his death was Parkinson's Disease, which he was diagnosed with in 1975, but he was able to continue racing until the mid '80's.

It was somewhat fitting that he passed away during South Australia's biggest ever bike race - the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under - with its strong international field of pro's mixed in with Australia's best. The Italian Saeco team was one such high profile team, and its leader (in theory at least) Salvatore Commesso paid a special tribute to Shaw whilst in Adelaide.

After his withdrawal from the race on January 19, Commesso visited Shaw in his hospital bed and presented him with a Saeco team jersey. "Seeing him was an emotional meeting and a moving experience for me, one I will never forget," said Commesso to the Adelaide Advertiser.

Shaw passed away the next day and "a great champion was lost to the sport".

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