News for June 7, 2001

Recent results and new features

84th Giro d'Italia news

Today's rather picturesque 17th stage around San Remo produced some good quality racing on the final climb of Monte Bignone, with a daredevil attack by ONCE's Jose Azevedo succeeding in catching the lone Pietro Caucchioli (Alessio) with 10 kilometres to go. Cauccioli still won, with Azevedo second and - surprise - Jan Ullrich third after a late attack.

The whole stage was somewhat overshadowed by another positive EPO test, and a large hunt for drugs in team hotels by the Italian police.

Stage 17 comment

Gilberto Simoni (Lampre, 1st GC)

Click for larger image
Gilberto Simoni
Photo: © Sirotti

"Today, the team found it hard to control the stage. We had to let go some riders who were well placed on the GC. We had to work, it was rather a confused race, and even if the first 50 kilometres were not raced fast, there was some nervousness. It will be necessary for us to be more vigilant in the next stage. That should be decisive and there is always some concern."

"I cannot judge the positive cases. I have confidence in the work of the responsible authorities. It forms part of the change which is taking place. A lot of work was done for the good of our sport. "

Forconi positive

Of the three non-starters in today's 17th Giro d'Italia stage, only one of them was for sickness reasons. The other two (Alexia's Pascal Herve and Mercatone Uno's Riccardo Forconi) have returned rather dubiously named "non-negative" tests for drugs, in these cases EPO. Although in a mathematical sense, non-negative includes imaginary numbers and very likely zero, in cycling terms it means "positive". Note: "Positive definite" can not be applied until the B test results come back.

Forconi's result came after Herve's yesterday, and he too was pulled out of the Giro. The tests were taken after the prologue in Pescara, and this is the first Grand Tour that EPO tests have been applied to after the UCI introduced them in April this year. They are not solely urine based - a rider giving anomalous blood values may be subsequently urine tested; or the urine test may be applied randomly. The urine test can detect EPO use within 3 days of the last injection.

Riccardo Forconi is a teammate of Marco Pantani, and was with him in 1998 when they were both pulled out on the second last day due to having high hematocrits. Forconi has been professional since 1992, and started riding for Mercatone Uno in 1998. He has only won one race in his career - a stage of the Giro del Trentino in 1999.

In addition, Mercatone Uno's Fabiano Fontanelli was told told rest for two weeks after returning a high hematocrit before the Ronde van Vlaanderen this year, the first race in which the urine tests were applied (he did not test positive to EPO however).

So far this year, six riders are on the "non-negative" EPO list, awaiting confirmation of their B samples: Bo Hamburger (CSC), Roland Meier (Team Coast), Sergio Barbero (Lampre), Laurent Chotard (Mercury-Viatel), Pascal Hervé (Alexia) and Riccardo Forconi (Mercatone Uno)

Drug searches in hotels

Reminiscent of the 1998 Tour de France, a wide ranging search has been carried out by the Italian national drug squad on numerous team hotels in the Giro d'Italia (not that they'd have any reason to suspect anything). The search employed more than 200 men, who combed hotels in San Remo and surrounds. The drug squad were acting on orders from the court in Florence, who are carrying out a large sweep operation across the country.

The searches meant that hotel rooms had to be evacuated, much to the interest of journalists and TV crews who were also staying there. Entries and exits were monitored as well, although it was reported that several people tried to leave.

For example, the hotel where the Mobilvetta and Selle Italia teams were staying was raided by 20 police at 2100 CEST. All riders' rooms were visited as well as team officials. The riders were also searched individually.

This is the first operation of its kind in the Giro, and is bigger than the police searches conducted during the 1998 Tour. A smaller search was carried out on May 27 after stage 8 in Reggio Emillia, but there was no evidence of illegal drugs, only the usual syringes.

Gotti's father-in-law questioned

The "campervan affair" involving Ivan Gotti's father-in-law has resulted in him being placed under investigation by Italian police, according to Italian sources. Arcangelo Gamba (55) had his van searched last Friday by the finance police who were looking for illegal drugs. They reportedly found and seized asthma medication, which Ivan Gotti had been using to treat allergies.

Gotti has already said that he is not concerned, and that he has communicated the names of the substances to the UCI.

However, magistrates in the northern city of Trento said Gamba was being investigated for allegedly breaking Italy's new doping legislation.

Pantani may pull out of Giro

Click for larger image
Marco Pantani
Photo: © AFP

Marco Pantani is considering not starting tomorrow's tough stage 18 of the Giro due to the fact that he is suffering from influenza. He indicated this yesterday during the rest day, and did not feel better this morning. Today he finished 12 minutes behind the winner, despite being with the leaders at the base of the last climb.

His Mercatone Uno team said that "We'll see how he feels on Thursday morning but if his condition gets worse it's 99 percent sure he won't start. The team doctor will check his condition in the morning and then we will decide. It his condition gets worse it would be difficult for him to take on such a hard stage.

The Mercatone Uno team also had to bear the weight of Riccardo Forconi's positive EPO test earlier in the day. He failed a urine control after the prologue, with the results confirmed this morning.

Stage 18 - June 7: Imperia to Sant Anna Di Vinadio

Tomorrow's 230 kilometre stage 18 from Imperia to Sant Anna Di Vinadio should, one way or the other, decide who will wear the final Maglia Rosa in the Giro. The finish is atop a 15.9 km 2010 metre climb, near the French border, but before that the cyclists have to get over the 2511 metre Colle dello Fauniera, the highest point in the race.

This is a 21 kilometre climb on a narrow road, and should produce a fascinating battle. In 1999, Paolo Savoldelli won the stage that passed over this climb for the first time, courtesy of his amazing downhill skills.

First Union Classic - Trenton, NJ

Taking place on June 7 is the second event in the First Union series, the 147 km First Union Classic in Trenton, New Jersey. The Trenton course is 13 laps of a 11.3 km (7 mile) circuit that starts and ends every lap in front of the state capitol. The circuit is flat and, with the exception of one highly technical section just before the finish, very much built for speed; last year's winner, USPRO National Champion Fred Rodriguez, averaged 29.6 miles per hour, and says of the race that "year-in, year-out, it's one of the fastest races around."

This year's field is without question the deepest and most competitive to date. Included among the entries are former First Union race champions, Tour de France stage winners, 1996 and 2000 Olympians and current national champions from more than a half-dozen nations. They will be testing themselves in an event very different from Tuesday's First Union Cycling Series leadoff, the First Union Invitational. In that race, Dutch National Champion Leon Von Bon of Mercury-Viatel narrowly defeated George Hincapie of U.S. Postal Service and Trent Klasna of Saturn before an estimated crowd of 25,000.

Besides Rodriguez, there are three other former First Union Classic winners taking the line on Thursday: U.S. Postal Service's George Hincapie (1999), NetZero's Graeme Miller (1997) and DeFeet/LeMond's Roberto Gaggioli (1993). Two of them won the race in a group sprint. Over the last 12 years, the First Union Classic has ended in just that manner on eight occasions. It would surprise no one if this year's edition finished in similar fashion. Pre-race favorites include Rodriguez and Hincapie, as well as local hero and former Olympian Jonas Carney (Prime Alliance) and Mercury-Viatel's Baden Cooke.

However, squads such as Saturn and CSC-World Online, who don't have finishers quite in the same league as the other big teams, will force the pace all day, trying to split things up. And then there's the New Jersey-based Navigators Professional Cycling Team: with speed demons Vassili Davidenko, Todd Littlehales, and Franky Van Haesebroucke leading the way, Navigators are hoping to pull off their second win (after Matthew Koschara in 1995) in what Van Haesebroucke characterizes as "a very fast race, especially this year - I mean, look at the riders!"

Start list

*An additional note for those of you who can't be at the final races in Philly on Sunday. You can log on to Cyclingnews to get live updates of the women's Liberty Classic and men's USPRO Championship.

Lotto riders aiming for the Tour

While some of Lotto's Tour de France team are still suffering in the Giro, other hopefuls will be riding the Classique des Alpes this Saturday. Jef Braeckevelt will take Serge Baguet, Fabien De Waele, Thierry Marichal, Guennadi Mikhailov, Andrei Tchmil, Kurt Van De Wouwer, Paul Van Hyfte and Stive Vermaut to France for the classic, which is followed by the Dauphiné Libéré stage race that starts the next day. Van De Wouwer will ride for the GC.

Although Andre Tchmil almost certainly won't start in the Tour, according to Braeckevelt it seems as though (barring injury) Rik Verbrugghe, Kurt van de Wouwer, Jeroen Blijlevens, Mario Aerts, Guennadi Mikhailov, and Serge Baguet all have certain starts in Dunkirk on July 7.

"For the other start places, we will have to wait."

Commesso back

In case you missed it, Saeco's Salvatore "Toto" Commesso has been reinstated into the team after being suspended by for a recreational drug bust last year. He has been racing again for Saeco since the International Bayern Rundfahrt (May 22-27), and is now in the USA for the First Union series.

Riis' ambitions for next season

"Three or five - it's a question of whom I can get hold of," says Bjarne Riis to the Danish News paper Berlingske Tidende after speculations on CSC's new Italian profile with the new Italian co-sponsor Tiscali.

Riis doesn't want to have too much turbulence around the matter. For the next two years he will have nine million kroner (almost US$1 million) extra to spend annually than this year. The contract is not signed yet however.

At any rate, a good sprinter is high on the list, a sprinter that can gain UCI points. Riis himself mentions Mario Cipollini, Jaan Kirsipuu, Tom Steels and Ivan Quaranta as riders without a contract for next season. Riis also says that he wants a rider that can climb.

"I don't know yet if it's a rider for the general classifications. Laurent Jalabert is still my top priority on that for the next season," says Riis.

Sandstød out of CSC Tour team

Dane Michael Sandstød (CSC-Worldonline) who fell during yesterday's First Union Invitational in Lancaster, PA, will not be riding the Tour de France after fracturing his hip in the crash. He was operated on in Philadelphia, and will be out for approximately six weeks.

US Postal's selection problems for Luxembourg

US Postal directeur sportif, Dirk Demol is having some problems with selecting the team for the upcoming Tour of Luxembourg.

"With the best intentions in the world, I can only come up with seven names," said Demol to Belga newsagency. "Benoit Joachim, Levy Leipheimer, Antonio Cruz, Julian Dean, Jamie Burrow and David Zabriskie will certainly have a place. Stephane Barthe is recovering from an injury (he broke his arm in the 4 Days of Dunkirk) and he will not be substituted by the Norwegian Steffen Kjaergaard. Cedric Vasseur is looking to do another program. Vasseur is a good chance to start in the Tour. But it is not yet sure that Vasseur will be in Dunkirk. He will ride in the Classique des Alpes and the Tour de Suisse."

"Because of the concurrent circumstances, I can only find seven riders, with places for eight. If no others can, then we will start with seven."

Two Swedish teams for PostGirot Tour of Sweden

Swedish National Team

Magnus Albertsson, Falkenbergs CK
Mattias Carlsson, FK Trampen
Örjan Gustavsson, Skoghalls CK-Hammarö
Kristoffer Ingeby, Team Mälarenergi CK/CC Etupes
John Nilsson, Team Mälarenergi CK/CC Etupes
Henrik Sparr, CK Ceres

Team Postgirot (U 23)

Jocke Bernström, Motala AIF CK
Magnus Lömäng, Falu CK
Fredrik Modin, Team Mälarenergi CK
Johan Nyman, Åstorps CK
Viktor Sjöström, Upsala CK
Johan Svensson, Falkenbergs

Bollerud out of Sponsorservice

Ingunn Bollerud will leave the Norwegian women's pro squad Team Sponsorservice. Ingunn combines, or rather tried to, her cycling career with psychology studies but now she had to choose, according to news paper Østlendingen. Team manager Atle Pedersen is looking for a replacement.

Colombian cyclist nabbed for heroin trafficking

The Colombian air force police have stopped a racing cyclist, Gustavo Wilches, from leaving the country with 40 capsules of heroin concealed in his stomach. According to AFP, the 39 year old racer was intercepted whilst en route to Mexico City where he was probably going to sell the drug.

After admitting that he had the heroin in his stomach, Gustavo was taken to a nearby medical centre to have the capsules removed. He is a former winner of the Vuelta Colombia and the Classico RCN in 1990.

British 50 mile TT championships

Saturday sees the first of the year's national time trial championships take place, in the north-east of England at Yarm, Stockton-on-Tees. The defending champion Michael Hutchinson (Team MDT-Giant) is set for a repeat performance with the main opposition coming from Kevin Dawson (Pete Read Racing), Keith Murray (Steve Goff RT) and former champion Richard Prebble (Team Clean).

Hutchinson, the British Best All-Rounder and champion at 10, 50 and 100 miles and 12 hours last season, has only been beaten once this year and although he has not raced over 50 miles so far this year he is confident he can cope with the distance.

Prebble, who had 2000 away from serious racing, has won the title five times since 1994, sharing it with Ian Gilkes in 1998 when they tied with a time of 1:47:37. Hutchinson's winning time last year was 1:40:41.

The event record stands to former world hour record holder and world pursuit champion Graeme Obree who took the championship in 1993 with 1:39:01 for the 50 miles.

In the women's event the fight for the medals will be between Karen Steele (Pete Read Racing), silver medallist in 2000, Liz Milne (GS Strada-Rudy Project), Caroline Cook (Cleveley CC) and Theresa Coltman (Leicestershire RC).

The championship is run under the rules of the Road Time Trials Council, the body that governs the time trialling side of the sport in England. Riders start at minute intervals and must ride unpaced.

Courtesy of Dave Taylor/RTTC

Lehigh Valley velodrome news

Spirit of Women Ride for Cancer

By Liz Reap

A 69-year-old woman named Pat joined us tonight for our Ladies Night ride. She stopped by a few weeks ago and had since purchased a refurbished red schwinn cruiser (basket and all) at the bike shop in Emmaus so she could join us.

Nearly 20 years ago, during routine surgery, cancer was discovered near her bladder and ovaries. At the time, she was told she had a 5% chance at survival. She told me she thought those were shitty odds, and she wasn't about to just die without a fight.

Now, this cruiser isn't exactly built for speed--and nor is Pat, but she took to her new bike with the kind of grit and pride any woman who cheated death would. Despite an ill fit and uncomfortable seat, she rode 10 miles with the same determination and humor she must have used to beat her cancer. After walking up even the slightest incline, she'd zoom down the other side shouting something like "You'd better get moving gals . . . I'm about to pass you!"

Before I knew she was a cancer survivor, I asked her why she was doing the Spirit of Women ride. She said she didn't know. . . she hadn't been on a bike in years. . . somebody should probably lock her up. . . Finally, she settled on "It seemed like a good way to give back."

I've never seen someone smile so much.

I'm passing this along to anyone who may have time to lend a hand as a volunteer for the Spirit of Women ride for Cancer. It's this Saturday morning, leaving from the velodrome, and there will be a lot of women out there who would love the encouragement, support, and warm smiles.

Or as in Pat's case, someone to witness her amazing victory.

If you're not doing anything, think about coming out. Below is the information you need to know. The man to talk to is John O'Neil. We will also be doing on-site registration for women who want to ride with us. The cost is $30, proceeds go to Lehigh Valley Hospital's John and Dorothy Morgan Cancer Center, call 610-402-CARE for more info.

Commercial Color open, USA's richest women's track race

Top female riders from around the world will converge on Trexlertown this Friday night, June 8, when the Commercial Color US Women's Open comes to the Lehigh Valley Velodrome. The annual Open will pit world record holders, Olympians, and international racing stars against new up-and-coming cyclists.

In addition to competing for the championship title, riders will race for the largest U.S. women's purse of $3,000. Prize money will be awarded to the best overall rider, best young rider, fastest sprinter and most aggressive rider. In addition, the "Spirit of Nicole" award will grant over $3,000 in scholarship money and prizes to the rider who exemplifies the qualities Nicole Reinhart displayed in life and sport.

The "Spirit of Nicole" award honors the memory of rider Nicole Reinhart who was tragically killed in a racing accident last season. In addition to the prize money, a professional-quality bike frame made by nationally renowned frame builder Albert Eisentraut will be awarded to the best young up and comer. A custom, commemorative Marty Nothstein track bike will also be raffled to raise money for the Nicole Reinhart Memorial Fund.

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