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News for June 9, 2001
Race director Carmine Castellano has responded to the ejection of Frigo.
"I feel myself, in turn, disappointed, and made bitter. The fact is unpleasant. The worst thing is to me that Frigo seemed to be the new face, the clean face of cycling. Instead not."
"It will not be the first case, are others implicated? That is sad, I hoped that amongst the riders there was a greater sense of responsibility. Now I hope that the public, starting tomorrow, is not made bitter towards me and does not react violently."
"I do not agree with federal president Ceruti, when he says that this is the price to pay in the fight against doping. I say that certainly have controls, unfortunately we would have to introduce them during the amateur and U23 races."
Liquigas, Gotti under investigation too
After the Frigo affair, further investigations are being carried out into teams and riders suspected of having illegal substances in their hotel rooms.
Five men from the Liquigas team, with Gonchar, Zanette and Rastelli being amongst the names mentioned, as well as Ivan Gotti (Alessio) and his campervan.
The prosecutor in Florence has already inititated proceedings against Frigo, informing his wife that, "We have begun a judicial procedure involving the luggage and possessions of your husband."
Frigo knew (as he told Ferretti today) that he had doping substances in his room when it was raided on Wednesday night, however he still started the stage today (Friday) where he placed 22nd.
Frigo out of Giro for drug possession
Dario Frigo (2nd overall) has been withdrawn from the Giro d'Italia by his Fassa Bortolo team, after it was revealed that he was in possession of illegal drugs. Frigo, one of the most promising riders this season with his wins in Paris-Nice and the Tour de Romandie and 9 days in the Maglia Rosa, was lying just 15 seconds behind Gilberto Simoni on GC, and was the only rider who could challenge him tomorrow.
His team confirmed that prohibited products were found in his hotel room by drug police during the raids on Wednesday night in San Remo. Giancarlo Ferretti decided to take him out of the race according to team regulations. Later, he announced that he would fire Frigo from the team,
"Dario admitted this and so, as under the rules of the team, he was immediately sacked," said Ferretti, who did not specify which drugs had been found. In addition to sacking Dario Frigo, the Fassa Bortolo team issued a statement saying that they were completely unaware that he was in possession of illegal substances.
"The team, which has always been against doping declares that it was in no way involved in what has happened and that the behaviour of the rider is completely unacceptable, " it read. "Notwithstanding any justification that the athlete may offer investigators, Fassa Bortolo has decided to break off its relationship with the athlete, effective immediately."
However, according to ANSA newsagency, "Anabolic steriods, testosterone, caffeine and other doping products" were found in his room.
It was shattering news, coming just a few hours after Mario Cipollini regained some credibility in this race by winning the 19th stage, his third in the Giro 2001 and his 33rd of all time. He commented that the public seemed to have forgiven the riders for their "strike" yesterday.
Giro stage 19: Gruppo compatto
Despite the storms that have shaken the Giro d'Italia in the past couple of days, the entire peloton - save for Rik Verbrugghe and Marco Pantani who pulled out due to illness - took the start in Alba without protest. In fact, the 163 kilometre stage was raced at over 45 km/h, finishing in a bunch sprint won by Mario Cipollini.
Race leader Gilberto Simoni told reporters before the start that "We decided to start to save the future our sport...I would have been sadder if we hadn't started today."
"There is bitterness," said second placed Dario Frigo (who was later expelled and sacked). "I feel sorry for the public which turned out en masse for the great stage."
"The public was cordial, and showed its understanding for the riders and this is very significant," commented stage winner Cipollini afterwards.
However, the storms haven't quietened yet, as the results of the laboratory tests on the seized substances are awaited. A report in this morning's edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport (who run the Giro) said that four teams had banned substances in their possession. However, this has yet to be confirmed by the authorities.
According to reports on Belgian TV, one of the teams in the Giro was visited by the anti drug squad ten days ago, but nothing was found. The name of the name is still unknown.
Hincapie signs with USPS through 2004
Quelling all doubts that he is the least bit dissatisfied with his role in US Postal, George Hincapie has signed for an extra three years with the team. A press release from the team today informed the cycling world that it had re-signed the veteran to wear the "red, white and blue U.S. Postal Service team uniform through the 2004 cycling season."
"Hincapie, who has been one of America's top cyclists over past few years, will lead the USPS team in Sunday's USPRO Championship in Philadelphia. He is a former USPRO Champion and earlier this season became the first American to win the one day Classic event, Gent-Wevelgem. He has also served as a key support rider over the last two years in teammate Lance Armstrong's victories at the Tour de France. At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Hincapie led the U.S. team with an eighth place finish in the road race."
"His physical potential is still improving and he can count on all the support of the team in his attempt to win what we consider "his" race, Paris-Roubaix," said Johan Bruyneel, the USPS team's Director Sportif.
Hincapie has placed fourth, sixth and fourth in the last three editions of Paris-Roubaix, the World Cup event considered by many as the sport's most challenging one day event. The fourth place finish equaled the highest ever placing by an American at the "Hell of the North."
"George will be a protected rider at the USPRO Championship on Sunday and I hope he can bring the stars and stripes jersey to the Tour de France this summer," added Bruyneel.
Roland Meier's B sample positive
The Swiss Cycling Federation (SRB) has just confirmed that the B sample of Swiss cyclist Roland Meier (Team Coast) has "confirmed the first analysis", which was positive for EPO.
"The counter-evaulation was carried out this week by the IUML (University Institute of Forensic medicine) in Lausanne. It appeared positive and thus confirmed the first analysis," read an official statement from the SRB. 33 year old Meier was controlled at the end of la Flèche Wallonne on April 18, and this control had revealed the traces of EPO.
"According to the criteria of the detection method developed in France, there are no doubts. In acordance with procedure, the rider and his lawyer will now be heard by the person responsible for doping in Swiss Cycling. Then, the dossier will be submitted to the penal commission which independently treats cases of doping in Swiss Cycling."
The statement continued with the news that Stefan Rütimann (Tacconi Sport-Vini Caldirola) tested positive for norandrosterone in the GP Frankfurt (Rund um den Henninger Turm) on May 1. He has 5 days to ask for a counter evaluation of his B sample, and he has already requested this.
For a first infringment (neither of these riders has tested positive before), a rider may be disqualified for 6 months to 1 year, and fined between SFR2000 and 4000.
Jean-Marie's new helper
The Sociètè du Tour de France have announced a new and important addition to the team which runs the biggest cycling race in the world. Former French Cycling Federation president, Daniel Baal (43), is to be Jean-Marie Leblanc's right hand man, according to information obtained by Cyclingnews.
Baal left his position as head of the Federation earlier this year, in part due to the Festina affair that started during the Tour in 1998 and shook cycling to its roots, especially in France. The trial that concluded the affair in October-November 2000 was the final straw for him, when he claimed that the sporting federations had been "dragged through the mud" by the case.
"I am deeply wounded by the the way in which I am being treated by the defense that wants to portray me as the worst of brigands, of criminals," he angrily said last year. "Soon they will say that Baal was the head of the system, that he filled their pockets."
Shortly afterwards, he announced his desire to quit, effective as of March 3, 2001. He also cited time constraints as head accountant of the Crédit Mutuel d'Alsace in Mulhouse as an important reason, and said that his "decision was already made before Lille."
However, he has kept a position as a vince president within the UCI and in the meantime has had a chance to consider an offer from Jean-Marie Leblanc to be Assistant General Manager of the Tour de France. Leblanc has had a close relationship with Baal over the years, and this is not a new job offer. However, Baal's position as head of the FFC prevented him from taking it up.
The Amaury Sport Organisation, which owns the Tour de France, is expanding its interests to new events (not only cycling) in the next few years, and Baal will provide assistance in running these. In addition, Leblanc is 58 and may retire after the Centenary Tour in 2003. In which case he would hand over his leadership to someone strong and reliable like Baal, providing things work out.
Baal's two year contract is due to start in October this year, one week from leaving his UCI post.
11th Classique des Alpes
This weekend will see the staging of two of the most important French races before the Tour de France. On Saturday, the 11th edition of the 175 km Classique des Alpes will be held, starting in Chambery (Savoy) and finishing in Aix-les-Bains. The race crosses the Chartreuse mountain range and involves 7 climbs, including the Cols du Granier and Cucheron.
Past winners of the event include Charly Mottet, Laurent Jalabert, Unai Osa and Jose-Maria Jimenez, winner last year. This year, there will be 22 teams at the start, including Lotto-Adecco, ONCE, Euskaltel, Kelme, CSC, Rabobank, Festina, Credit Agricole, US Postal, and Mercury-Viatel. And, contrary to his previous schedule, Lance Armstrong (USPS) will be present at the start. Armstrong placed third last year and will certainly be a top 5 contender on Saturday.
Other riders to watch include dual winner Jalabert (CSC), Benoit Salmon (Ag2r) and Christophe Moreau (Festina)
2000 Jose-Maria Jimenez (Spa)
53rd Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré
Starting the very next day after the Classique des Alpes is the 53rd edition of the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré. A 4 kilometre time trial starting in Morzine and travelling towards Avoriaz will provide the starting point for the eight day event that finishes in Chambéry on June 17.
The race is considered quite important in assessing rider form for the Tour, which is now only four weeks away. The climbs of Mont Ventoux, Chamrousse, Croix-de-Fer, Télégraphe and the Galibier are all on the 1097 kilometre program.
The aforementioned Laurent Jalabert (CSC), Benoit Salmon (Ag2r) and Christophe Moreau (Festina) are considered favourites, as well as Pavel Tonkov (Mercury), Patrice Halgand (Jean Delatour). The US Postal team will miss this in favour of the Tour de Suisse (June 19-28).
2000 Tyler Hamilton (USA)
The French Conseil de prévention et de Lutte Contre le Dopage (CPLD) has launched its new website, www.cpld.fr. The site is designed to report on the activities of the CPLD as well as containing an "ensemble of authenticated information and validated analyses."
The CPLD was set up in 1999 to defend sporting ethics and to protect athletes' health.
British U23 Championships
This Sunday sees the first major UK Road title of 2001 settled at the Five Valleys National Under 23 Road Race Championship in South Wales. The event has attracted an impressive entry of almost 100 riders, many of them familiar names, reflecting the growing importance of the under 23 category.
All six of the World Class Performance Programme's Lottery funded Road riders have returned from their continental clubs to compete in the race. Representing Nantes 44 will be defending champion Neil Swithenbank, Robin Sharman, Tom Southam and Jamie Alberts, whilst Andrew Jackson and Kristian House will be riding in Chamalierois and Lombardian/Lombarfijde colours respectively. Other riders returning from continental clubs include Yanto Barker (V.C. Roubaix), Mark Baker (V.C. Cholet) and Iain Armstrong.
Leading the domestic-based challenge will be Daniel Lloyd, leader of the national under-23 series and national Junior champion, Keiran Page, who has been in tremendous form this season. Britain's leading male mountain biker this year, Liam Killeen, must also be a contender, riding for the Trek sponsored Team Y2K.
The action starts at 10.30am at Cwmarvon Community Centre, 2 miles North East of Port Talbot. The race describes an anti-clockwise loop through the hills to the north East of Port Talbot. For those looking to spectate, some approximate timings include Bwlch Mountain (10.58), Treorchy (11.11am), Aberdare (11.40), Hirwaun (11.49), Resolven (12.13) and Pontrhydyfen (12.38), before the race joins a 4.9 mile finishing circuit between Pontrhydyfen and Cwmafan, which is to be ridden six times. The finish is 100m before the Rolling Mill public house in Cwmavon - approximate time of finish being 13.52.
Major Races and Events
Results: local racing
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