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News for June 10, 2001
84th Giro d'Italia news
Gilberto Simoni proved beyond doubt that he was the strongest rider in the Giro d'Italia after winning stage 20 in fine style. In wet conditions he attacked on the last climb with 50 kilometres to go, and was never seen again by the chasers until he stood on the podium in Arona. The victory was all the more important after Dario Frigo's dramatic exclusion yesterday, in order to give some credibility back to the race.
Stage winner's comment
Gilberto Simoni (Lampre, 1st stage/GC)
"It is a special victory. I wanted to pay homage, to give pleasure to the public who were frustrated at missing the great stage in the Alps. It is also a victory for those who want true cycling. I wanted very much to win for the team, that worked hard throughout the Giro."
"Frigo ? He was not there today but, fortunately, we had a duel before. But I also must point out that I have carried the Maglia Rosa for several days. I did not have much time to think of what happened. On this subject, I cannot comment."
"Banesto and ONCE accelerated on the first climb and I was afraid I would be isolated. When I attacked, it was like making a joke. Then, I managed the gradients well."
Dario Frigo: No comment yet
Sacked Fassa Bortolo rider, Dario Frigo, will hold off commenting on his situation until he recovers his composure, saying that he is "not in the right frame of mind to talk face to face at the moment."
Frigo was fired last night by his directeur sportif, Giancarlo Ferretti, after he admitted that banned substances were seized from his hotel room in San Remo during the police raids on Wednesday night. "I am sorry and now I must reflect before providing explanations as to what occurred," said Frigo today on Italian radio. "I don't usually run away from responsibility but I would like to be left in peace for a few days."
"I'll try and call a press conference soon to clear up my position and explain things. I hope everybody can understand my reasons."
At the time, he was lying second overall on the general classification, just 15 seconds behind Gilberto Simoni. His withdrawal was the third and last blow to Fassa Bortolo's GC hopes for the Giro, after Francesco Casagrande broke his wrist and Wladimir Belli was thrown out for punching a fan.
Rudy Pevenage comments
"This is a big blow for cycling. It isn't a small thing when the team management of Frigo send him home. That means there is no doubt about the facts. And then Frigo, one of the new signposts of Italian cycling. Frigo is, with his 27 years, not one of the 'lost' generation."
"But on the other hand I'm optimistic about the figures I just received. At the start, the hematocrit level of the peloton had an average between 44 and 45. After ten days it was 3 to 4 percent lower. That's a normal progression. That means we are going the right way."
The Frigo affair: how it started
The case started when Frigo's wife received a letter from the NAS (Italian national anti-drug squad) about the medicines which were found in his room. She didn't understand the report and called the team hotel in order to get some clarification. Ferretti heard about this phone call, but waited until after the stage on Friday before asking Frigo. That was the moment Frigo was removed from the Giro and his team.
Leblanc will not penalise Fassa Bortolo
Director of the Tour de France, Jean-Marie Leblanc, said that he would not penalise the Fassa Bortolo team after they fired Dario Frigo for being in possession of illegal drugs yesterday. "I do not see why the others should pay," he said today in Chambery.
He said that there was no similarity between this and the Sergey Gontchar affair in 1999, that saw Vini Caldirola excluded after Gontchar tested positive but was not fired by his team. At that time, Vini Caldirola only had a wild card entry which was withdrawn by Leblanc.
No names were mentioned by team manager Fabio Bordonali, the only thing he has said is that Davide Rebellin isn't one of the five suspected riders. Italian newspapers say the following riders are involved: Sergei Gontchar, Denis Zanette (winner of stage 10), Ellis Rastelli (winner of stage 1) and Gianni Faresin. A sports doctor is involved in the investigations too."The position of our team is clear: if the people in question are guilty in regard to doping, they will be sacked", said a team spokesman.
In the meantime, Ivan Gotti responded angrily however when questioned by journalists this morning. "I have not received an official notice," he said. "I still know nothing. In future there may be something, but for now, I repeat, there is nothing. I am upset and bitter about these rumours."
...And then there was one
French team Bonjour will finish the Giro (provided all goes well) with eight less riders than they started with, after Pascal Déramé and Frederic Mainguenaud abandoned during the 20th stage. That leaves neo-pro Thomas Voeckler to carry the team into Milan, and it has not been the easiest of tours for them.
Last night, the team lost 10 racing bikes and other equipment (added to the 5 bikes that were stolen 10 days ago), stolen from their team van, and the three remaining riders were forced to using borrowed bikes from the Giro equipment supplier. Both Déramé and Mainguenaud could not find a comfortable position on their new bikes, forcing them to stop racing.
USPRO Championships: Who will wear the Stars and Stripes?
By Jeff Jones
Strangely enough, the answer to that question is "Not necessarily the winner of the 250 km First Union USPRO Championship". In its 17th year in 2001, the race attracts teams from around the world to compete for UCI points and a big cash purse - US$130,000 this year. This has the benefit of raising the level of competition, and the first US rider to cross the line will certainly earn it.
The international field is the strongest ever this year, with the top two US teams Mercury Viatel and US Postal, along with other division one squads Domo-Farm Frites, Festina, CSC World On Line, Mapei Quick Step, and Saeco Macchine per Caffe, and several strong division two teams.
US Postal and Mercury-Viatel have won one each in the lead up races, the First Union Invitational (Leon Van Bon, Mercury) and the First Union Classic (Julian Dean, USPS). They will be highly motivated to take the race tomorrow, and will be pushed all the way by the "foreigners".
The race begins and ends on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and travels along Kelly drive before going through the Manayunk community, which includes the Manayunk wall to be completed 10 times. Cyclingnews will be providing live updates of the race from its 0900 start local time (1500 European time) to its anticipated finish at 1500 local time (2100 European time). Be sure to join us if you can't be there in person.
Vogels talks before Philly
Interview courtesy of Mercury-Viatel
Q: Henk, how do you feel coming back to
Q: How did you make it last year?
Q: What are the secrets of Philadelphia's
Q: Do you have a special relationship
with the American public now?
Q: How important is the USPRO championship
in your season? In your career?
Q: Who do you expect to be strong on
Q: What has been your preparation for
Q: Is it more important for your Mercury-Viatel
team to win the race in Philadelphia or to bring the Stars and Stripes
jersey back home?
The Mercury-Viatel team for the USPRO championship will be composed of 10 of the following 11: Baden Cooke, Gordon Fraser, Fabrizio Guidi, Chris Horner, Jans Koerts, Scott Moninger, Mike Sayers, Leon van Bon, Geert van Bondt, Henk Vogels and Chris Wherry.
Philadelphia Women's World Cup: Can Rossner make it six?
By Jeff Jones
Despite the presence of the steep 17% Manayunk Wall in tomorrow's First Union Liberty Classic in Philadelphia, Saturn's sprinting star Petra Rossner is still the main favourite for the 116 km, 5 lap race. She has, after all, won it four times in a rowand will be backed by star studded line up including world number one Anna Millward, Tour de l'Aude winner Lyne Bessette, fellow German sprinter Ina Teutenberg, and strong domestiques Suzanne Sonye and Kristy Scrymgeour. Will they be able to lead out Rossner for her "trademark" race, which is also round 6 of the women's World Cup.
Strong competition will come from the world's number one team, Acca Due O-HP-Lorena Camicie, with Dutch champion Mirjam Melchers supported by compatriot Arenda Grimberg, Vera Hohlfeld, Katia Longhin and the Polikeviciute twins. The British team with Ceris Gilfillan and Sara Symington may not quite have the speed to match Rossner (who does?) but could be dangerous if in a break.
Top Swedish rider Susanne Ljungskog has already won a round of the World Cup (La Primavera Rosa) and placed second last week in Montreal, and the Vlaanderen-T-Interim rider could produce another good ride in Philly tomorrow. Another team to watch is the interestingly named, and well performed Carpe Diem-Itera squad, with Russians Olga Sloussareva and Olga Zabelinskaja together with Lara Ruthven, Sigrid Corneo, Vera Carrara and Kerry Helmuth. The 'Olgas' recently cleaned up in several classifications in the Tour de l'Aude, and cannot be underestimated.
One rider who will not be participating in this race is last week's winner in Montreal, Geneviève Jeanson (Equipe Rona). This comes as a surprise to some, given the way she demolished the world class field in Montreal. In additon, she will not be riding the rich and prestigious HP Women's Challenge (June 13-24) - a race quite well suited to her climbing abilities.
Why is it so? When asked, she told Cyclingnews that "In Philly because I had a tough 2 weeks (before and after the World Cup) with the media and the preparation for the race. I'm smashed and the girls on the team too."
"The HP Women's Challenge because it's way too long! 12 days...I'm not ready for that and I don't know how well I will recuperate after 12 days of racing."
Viatcheslav Ekimov update
Ekimov made the most of his stay in his home city of St. Petersburg in May. First, he is back in touch with the rest of the world as his six-month long laptop saga entered a new, more optimistic chapter. A Russian computer genius helped him out with his notebook by force feeding it Russian language OS and programs, for which, strictly speaking, it was not devised, as the brand new model was meant to be used overseas. Yet while there is a will there is a way!
His departure to the States in the good company of Matt White was a bit of adventure too. The plane was ready for takeoff when a passenger felt so sick that, in Ekimov’s words, "turned absolutely green in his face" and seemingly was ready to pass out. It was something to do with his stomach.
In the end, it was decided to leave him behind for the next day’s flight, but as soon as the matter was settled, the poor creature quickly came back to life and declared he was ready to fly right away. No way, boy, the crew said, otherwise it won't be easy to justify our deeds to the superiors. "A small man held back a huge plane...what a contrast!" says Slava.
After the First Union Series, the USPS team is going back to Europe to take stock of the TTT route for this year's Tour. The crucial stage of getting ready for the Tour will be the Tour of Switzerland, which Slava will ride side by side with Lance. Then it will be the national championships in Moscow. At the moment Ekimov is going to start in the road race only .
Courtesy of Sergey Kurdukov, Russian Eurosport commentator
Vandenbroucke non-starter in the Tour of Austria
Frank Vandenbroucke (Lampre-Daikin) still has problems with his achilles tendon. He will not start in the Tour of Austria but hopes to be ready for the Tour of Luxemburg (June 14-17).
In De Standaard this morning, physiotherapist Lieven Maesschalck said "My advice to Frank Vandenbroucke is to stay at home during the Tour de France. He is not ready for the Tour. I speak as a therapist, not as sport director or even on behalf of the rider."
Maesschalck has worked on VDB's achilles tendon for the past few days.
Saeco in Austria
The Saeco Macchine per Caffè Team, directed by Guido Bontempi will take part in the Bank Austria Tour, from Monday June 11 to Sunday June 17.
Germans Christian Wegmann and Jörg Ludewig, both recent winners in their home country, will be the leaders of the team, with Australian Mountain Biker Cadel Evans, who showed with the Saeco jersey that he can compete at the top even in road races. The team will be completed by Oscar Cavagnis, Igor Pugaci and Saulius Sabaliasukas.
More health problems for Oscar Freire
Oscar Freire has been suffering from more health problems after recently making his comeback in the Tour of Germany, where he won a stage. The Mapei rider returned home to Italy with a high temperature along with intestinal problems. He was examined immediately at the Sierrallana di Torrelavega hospital and was diagnosed with gastro-enteritis infection. It seems to be a viral infection and this will be confirmed only when the results of more specific tests are available.
The good news is that it probably won't effect his plans to ride in the Tour De France.
Vuelta a Colombia to go ahead regardless
Colombian newspaper, El Espectador, reports that the country's national event, the Vuelta a Colombia, will go ahead " notwithstanding that it currently lacks financial sponsorship."
"The Vuelta a Colombia will go on or it will go on," said the president of the Colombian Cycling Federation, Ettore Sangiovanni. "We are completely convinced that the event will start on the 17th of June and conclude on the 2nd of July. The Vuelta is the most important cycling event in our country and it cannot be allowed to go off track",
Ettore Sangiovanni denied the reports last Friday that the event would be postponed until September.
"The September matter is impossible and the Federation has not contemplated it for the simple reason that the Vuelta, since it is an international event ranked by the UCI has to follow the schedule. If we had any difficulties, the start of the race would be put off for three or four days maximum," insisted Sangiovanni.
Courtesy of Haroldo Camacho
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