News for March 10, 2001

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68th Paris-Nice

The biggest race of the season so far starts this Sunday with a 6.2 kilometre prologue time trial in Nevers, France. 168 riders from 23 teams will start, many of course eager to take the prestige (and UCI points) that go with winning Paris-Nice.

One rider who is not amongst the favourites this year is Telekom's Andreas Klöden. The defending champion and Olympic bronze medallist has been sick and "does not have a chance for victory" according to Telekom team spokesman Olaf Ludwig. Instead, he will ride the eight day event in preparation for the Tour de France, where he is expected to be a key team member.

Telekom will rely on Alexander Vinokourov to carry the flag for them, but they will have their work cut out. Jean Delatour have last year's runner-up, Laurent Brochard, as well as Eddy Seigneur, and Patrice Halgand.

Bonjour's Didier Rouse will be the likely GC man for the team, with Damien Nazon for the sprints. Credit Agricole have a good team with O'Grady, Vaughters, Julich, Hushovd, Jenner, Bessy, Gougot and Finot, while CSC-World Online are looking a little lean without Laurent Jalabert.

Other names to look for include Vladimir Belli and Raimondas Rumsas (Fassa), Jaan Kirsipuu (Ag2r), Andrei Tchmil (Lotto), Michele Bartoli (Mapei), David Millar and David Moncoutie (Cofidis), Jimmy Casper (FdJ), Jörg Ludewig and Laurent Dufuax (Saeco), Patrick Jonker (Big Mat), Alex Zülle (Coast), Axel Merckx, Robbie McEwen and Dave Bruylandts (Domo), and Joseba Beloki (ONCE).

The Stages

  • Prologue - March 11: Nevers ITT, 6.2 km
  • Stage 1 - March 12: Saint-Amand-Montrond - Clermont-Ferrand, 189.2 km
  • Stage 2 - March 13: Clermont-Ferrand - Saint-Etienne, 195.4 km
  • Stage 3 - March 14: Saint-Etienne - Villeneuve-lez-Avignon, 217.9 km
  • Stage 4 - March 15: Tarascon - Sisteron, 195.6 km
  • Stage 5 - March 16: Berre l'Etang - Saint-Raphaël, 240 .3 km
  • Stage 6 - March 17: Nice - Col d'Eze ITT, 10.0 km
  • Stage 7 - March 18: Nice-Nice, 157.1 km

Tour de France announces bigger prize pool

The Societe du Tour de France has announced prize money and other details of the 2001 race at its traditional beginning-of-season meeting in Roissy-en-France. The winner will take home a cheque for 2.5 million Francs (US$355,000 or 381,000 euros) an increase from last year's 2.2 million Francs (US$312,000/335,400 euros) and the total prize pool is 16 million Francs ( US$2.27 million/2.44 million euros), a million Francs more than last year.

Team finishing bonuses, awarded to any team that gets to Paris on July 29 with at least seven riders, have been increased 15 per cent to 150,000 Francs (US$21,300/22,900 euros) per team.

27 teams were represented at the meeting, the group being made up of the 22 UCI Division 1 teams and five French Division II teams (AG2R, BigMat, Bonjour, Jean Delatour, La Française des Jeux). The meeting began with one minute's silence in memory of Ricardo Ochoa, the Spanish rider recently killed in a road accident.

Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc spoke in his opening address about the importance of the fight against doping and "the necessity for all the cycling family to be aware of it." The Société du Tour de France plans to announce new measures against doping no later than Paris-Roubaix, according to communication director Philippe Sudres

In order to improve safety, there will be a limitation on the number of team cars allowed on the race route. Three vehicles per team will be allowed, in addition to the event's own cars.

16 teams have already qualified for this year's race. The remaining four wildcards will be announced at the end of April.

Other details announced include:

Stage 13 from Foix to Saint-Lary-Soulan, the second stage in the Pyrenees, has been made less severe. Its distance has been reduced from 222 km to 198 km and it will now avoid the Col de Port, originally planned to be the stage's first major climb.

The president of the race jury will be Giovanni Meraviglia of Italy. He will be assisted by Roberto Ariznavreta (Spain), Didier Simon (France) and the Jean-Michel Voets (Belgium). Jan van Gestal of the Netherlands will be in charge of the anti-doping controls.

In the team time-trial, times will be taken from the fifth team member to cross the line. As last year, the maximum time a team will be able to lose on this stage will be seven minutes.

The first nine stages will have three intermediate sprints each; stages ten to twenty will have two sprints. All sprints will carry time bonuses of 6, 4 and 2 seconds.

Each daily finish will carry time bonuses of 20, 12 and 8 seconds for first, second and third place, except for the time trials.

Virenque decision on Monday

The outcome of Richard Virenque's appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland will be known on Monday, according to the court. Virenque was suspended last December for nine months after his doping confession in the Festina trial last year. He appealed, on the grounds that his suspension was too harsh in comparison with his teammates, who had served bans of between 6-8 months, including the "off season months" of November through January.

Gerard Rasquin, Olivier Carrard and Luc Argand, are the three people who will judge Virenque's appeal.

Injury update

Petrov breaks collarbone

Young Russian star, Evgueni Petrov (Mapei), has broken his collarbone after a training accident today in Italy. Petrov was near the côté d'Arona when he hit a van on the road. He will have an MRI scan on Monday, but is not likely to have surgery.

Traksel breaks 10 ribs

Rabobank's youngest pro, Bobbie Traksel (19) broke 10 ribs and suffered bleeding in his lung after falling during the GP de Fayt-le-Franc in Belgium on Wednesday. He had to stay in hospital in Mons (Belgium) for two days, before being transferred to the Eemland Hospital in Amersfoort (Netherlands). There are no further complications.

Traksel is the youngest ever rider in Dutch cycling history to turn professional, however he will be out of competition for several months.

Jock Wadley Memorial cancelled

An outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease at Wick Farm, Layer de la Haye has forced organisers to cancel the Jock Wadley Memorial Road Race. The finish of the race is just 300 metres from the farm, and the outbreak was reported on Friday morning.

Clarification: The Welsh Cycling Union (WCU) made the decision to cancel all Welsh races in March, not the BCF. Note, this is not the same thing as races in the Welsh Marches area!

The Scottish Cyclist's Union (SCU) has cancelled all Scottish Road, Time Trial and MTB events for the month of March.

The BCF have only cancelled MTB races, while advising organisers of road races to contact their local MAFF. A new addition to the cancellations list is the Crest Spring Road Race in Essex on Sunday 18th March.

Romford-Harlow on

Romford-Harlow, the first race of the 2001 Premier Calendar series, looks like it will be run. However, note the Jock Wadley example above! Race organiser Alan Sanders has made a couple of changes to the 160 km course, and has prepared posters which will be distributed around the course reminding competitors, officials and spectators of their responsibilities in keeping off farm property. The posters also spell out the fact that the race is going ahead with permission from both MAFF and the local police.

Earnest v. USA Cycling

USA Cycling has been notified that a Colorado appeals court has overturned a lower court decision in favor of USA Cycling in the Earnest v. USA Cycling, Inc. lawsuit.

The lawsuit involves a former USCF Board of Trustee member, Les Earnest, who challenged changes to USA Cycling bylaws passed in February 1999. The changes put into affect gave the Board of Directors the right to amend the USA Cycling bylaws and articles of incorporation, which could not be accomplished by a vote of the members due to the fact a quorum has never been achieved in the USA Cycling membership voting process.

USA Cycling has requested reconsideration by the Court of Appeals and if necessary, will appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court. The ruling of the Court of Appeals will not become effective until 45 days after it was entered on March 1, 2001.

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