News for May 5, 2001

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TdF wildcards: Verbruggen wants rules change

Hein Verbruggen (UCI) wants to change the rules for the allocation of wildcards in major tours. "Jingoism and national importance are now higher than the sporting elements," Verburggen said in Lausanne. The Tour organisation didn't follow the rules of sportivity, which are used for international races like the Tour de France. And it's a bad case for the sport in the longer term. New sponsors have to count that a team will be selected for big events on sporting grounds. Otherwise the sponsors will leave this sport."

Angry team managers and riders have contacted Verbruggen during the few last days. "I share their disappointment. The only thing I can do is to promise improvement for next year. That means we have to change the regulations. The sporting element has to be number one."

"I do not understand why they gave the priority to a French team of division two when a team like Mercury, that has had some fine performances was not selected."

The proposal for the change of the rules will be scheduled for the board of the professional section of the UCI in October.

Pantani hopes to get the solidarity of Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich in his campaign to be included in this year's Tour: "I will contact both riders. If they demand that I start otherwise they won't start...This affair isn't finished."

Top riders implicated in Italian doping investigation

France had the Festina affair, Belgium has the De Cauwer investigation and now it's Italy's turn (again) as the court in Brescia prepares to accuse several stars of Italian cycling of sporting fraud and involvement in doping.

The case will begin November 14 and among the 18 people summonsed by judge Paolo Guidi are riders Gianni Bugno, Franco Ballerini, Wladimir Belli, and Pavel Tonkov, who stand accused of sporting fraud for actions in the period 1996-9.

Other defendants, accused of involvement in 'abuse of medicine', include former Italian selector Antonio Fusi and former Brescialat directeur sportif Fabio Bordonali. Two pharmacists are accused of supplying doping agents: Davide Posca of Como and Guido Nigrelli of Verona. Nigrelli is accused of supplying Emagel, a masking agent for EPO, to Lampre riders Mariano Piccoli, Gabriele Missaglia and Marco Serpellini. Lampre bosses Pietro Algeri and Beppe Saronni will also be called to give evidence.

The case was instigated after a complaint from an amateur rider identified as 'Pietro S' who alleges that his team Ok Baby Gaverina put him under pressure to dope. Subsequent searches of the residences of several riders uncovered anabolic steroids, testosterone, EPO and Oxandrone, a steroid.

De Bie takes Belgian MTB reins

Rudy De Bie has stepped in as Belgian mountain bike coach for the time being, after José De Cauwer stepped down on Monday following allegations of his involvement in supplying drugs.

The KBWB said on Friday that they still have not received any official news about the investigation into De Cauwer. "The newspapers have written about several affairs. Like Vansweevelt's lawyer, who says it wasn't one time, but De Cauwer supplied for six months. It's one word against the other word. We only listen to the official source: the court."

Ullrich Al Dente: Telekom Ready For Giro

By Tim Maloney, correspondent

Jan Ullrich and Team Telekom will be at the start of this year's Giro and the German rider told La Gazzetta dello Sport that "In Italy, I'm not going as a tourist..." In fact, Ullrich will look to focus his preparation for the upcoming Tour De France battle with Lance Armstrong on the roads of the Italian peninsula. "I'll try to see where I stand in my preparation in the first week, and then as the 2nd and above all in the 3rd week, I hope to be able to race with the best and maybe even make the podium. "

Ullrich is confident of his form as he approaches the Giro, wth GP Gippingen and Tour Of Romandie as his build-up. After a respectable Tour de France in 2000 and his gold-medal winning performance at Sydney, Ullrich seems ready to come back to his top level form of 1997.

The '01 Giro will be an important proving ground for the core of Telekom's Tour De France team; Jan Ullrich will have experienced Italian lieutenants Giuseppe Guerini and Alberto Elli to show him the ropes, with American Kevin Livingston getting his first Grand Tour experience on Telekom in this years Giro. Talented Roberto Sgambelluri will also have a crack at GC, with speedsters Giovanni Lombardi and Danilo Honda for the sprints and powerful tempo riders Jens Heppner and Mathias Kessler also ready to race.

With a new contract in hand from Telekom, his new web site and ever increasing form and confidence, this years Giro D'Italia may provide the appropriate springboard for Ullrich to finally put two time Tour De France champion Armstrong to the test on the roads of France come this July.

Nothstein injured

Marty Nothstein arrived in Dallas last night unsure if he would be able to race in this weekend's National Track Cup or the World Cup held later this month, according to a release from his Mercury-Viatel team.

Nothstein crashed in a criterium in Athens, GA last Saturday injuring his shoulder and back. The injury prevents Nothstein from properly pulling on the handlebars.

The release quotes Nothstein as telling the story: "Some riders crashed in front of me and I had nowhere to go. It happened so quick that I didn't have time to put the brakes on. I landed right on my shoulder and back. However, it could have been a lot worse."

Nothstein finished the race and did not realise how serious his injury was until he got back to his hotel. "I had so much adrenaline after I crashed, I didn't feel anything," he stated. "There were so many people screaming my name, I just got up and went without thinking." He soon found that he "couldn't even take my jersey off without having excruciating pain."

Nothstein was examined by two doctors and they both confirmed that he had a slight dislocation of the shoulder and partially torn rotator cuff. Both of these injuries might jeopardize his entry into this weekend's track races.

Saturn to Sponsor Housatonic Valley Classic

Car maker and bike team sponsor Saturn has signed up as 'presenting sponsor' of May 20's Housatonic Valley Classic in Fairfield County, Connecticut.

Saturn team at the Housatonic Valley Classic will be Matt DeCanio, Ivan Dominguez, Erin Hartwell, Trent Klasna, Tim Johnson, and Eric Wohlberg for the men. On the women’s side, Kimberly Bruckner, Kimberly Davidge, Kristy Scrymgeour, Suzanne Sonye, Ina Teutenberg and Ashley Kimmet will be competing.

UK News

Twickers kicks off U-23 series

Twickenham CC promote the first round of the National Under-23 Road Race Series at Oakley, near Thame in Bucks this Sunday. The 155km race is the first of a six event series which will be contested by some of the most exciting young road racing talent in the country. With the focus of both Lottery funding and the Rayner Fund on riders in the under-23 category, this is now arguably the UK's most significant men's series. Underlining this is the fact that the majority of last year's leading contenders are now plying their trade on the continent.

Big entry for Fort William opener

The first downhill of this year's National Points Series has attracted a massive entry of 322 riders, who will be travelling north of the border to Fort William. The event on May 12 and 13 will feature a cracking line-up of stars, including the entire men's top ten from last year: Steve Peat, Rob Warner, Crawford Carrick-Anderson, Tim Ponting, Ed Moseley, Matt Farmer, Nigel Page, Rob Jarman, Neil Donoghue and Stu Hughes. Top women entered include Tracey Moseley, Fionn Griffiths, Helen Gaskell, Adele Croxon and Helen Mortimer. It's good to see the season getting underway at last.

NAMBS lines up cross-country races

More good news for mountain bikers is that NAMBS organiser Brian Whitfield and his crew are offering something for frustrated cross-country riders in the North - namely three Cross-Country races at Leverhulme park, (Bolton) on 27th May, 17th June and 15th July They are also currently working on getting the DH races back on their feet as well as arranging a new date for the regional championships. All the details will shortly be on their website as well as entry forms.

Milk Ras team

Five of the successful GB Circuit Des Mines team will be contesting the Irish Milk Ras (May20-27). The full team is Chris Newton, Phil West, Steve Cummings, Paul Manning and Bryan Steel. John Herety will again be behind the wheel of the team car.

Brits at Sarentino and Houffalize

The GB team for the second round of the Cross-Country MTB World Cup, Sarentino May 12-13, is Victoria Wilkinson, Sue Thomas, Ian Wilkinson, Tim Morley, Phil Dixon, Liam Killeen and Jody Crawforth. Various national squad and trade team riders have entered for the following week's round at Houffalize, Belgium: Jody Crawforth, Ian Wilkinson, Liam Killeen, Tim Morley, Victoria Wilkinson, Phil Dixon, Sue Thomas, Caroline Alexander and Nigel Parkinson.

Edinburgh track points

The Edinburgh Festival Track Meeting, September 1-2 at Meadowbank will now include a round of the NCF National Points Race League.

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