News for November 9, 2001

Recent results and new features

Swedish rider tests positive

The International Cycling Federation (UCI) has announced that a Swedish rider has tested positive after the Worlds in Lisbon. The Swedish Cycling Federation has not revealed the name of the rider or the substance found in the test, but several Swedish TV channels later named 29 year old Alessio rider Niclas Axelsson.

Niclas Axelsson started the season with Mercury but later signed a contract with Alessio, aiming to ride the Vuelta with his new team. He showed good form in Giro di Lombardia where he was in the decisive break, and rounded of his season with an 18th placing at the Worlds road race.

Niclas Axelsson is reported to be on Tenerife, Spain, and he has not been reached for a comment. The Swedish Federation is now awaiting the analysis of the B-sample.

In comments to news agency TT, Swedish national coach Hans Falk said "I'm devastated and in shock. It seems that the only riders worth working with are the juniors and below."

Joint blood/urine test to be used in 2002 Winter Olympics

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has decided to use both the Australian developed blood test and French urine test for EPO detection at next year's Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. The decision came today after a meeting between the IOC medical committee and experts from various IOC accredited laboratories.

Two tests were used at the Sydney Olympics last year, with an athlete being declared positive only if both the blood and urine test were positive. However, according to the head of the IOC medical commission, Patrick Schamasch, "This is a significant advance compared to the Sydney Olympics from both a quantity and quality point of view. The urinary test alone is not sufficient to be able to determine a final result. We must keep in mind the legal questions," said Schamasch at the press conference.

The scale of EPO testing will be greatly increased, with all athletes competing in endurance sports (cross country skiing, biathlon, nordic combine, speed skating over long distances) having to undergo a blood test after the Olympic Village is opened on January 29, 2002. Some other athletes will also be tested randomly.

The initial blood screen will be a "lighter" version of the one used in Sydney 2000, allowing for faster processing of results.

If an athlete is under suspicion of taking EPO, they will then be given the urinary test and another complete blood test. To be declared positive, the blood test will have to show anomalous values and the urine test will have to show a percentage of basic isoforms greater than 80%.

This threshold means that the risk of a false positive is around 1 in 3000. Higher threshold values were discussed, but that would also make it harder to catch those who had taken artificial EPO. The average level of basic EPO isoforms in urine is only 28% in non-doped persons - 80% is seen as fairly generous, allowing for standard deviations.

The decision to include the blood test was not expected, but it is a way to lower the threshold as the blood test has a very low risk of showing a false positive. Unfortunately, the urine test still only has a detection limit of three days, while EPO can have effects lasting three weeks.

The IOC's decision will be closely examined in the next few days by the International Cycling Union (UCI), which uses a similar method to determine whether a cyclist is positive for EPO. The UCI is supportive of harmonisation of the fight against doping, which is hoped to be carried out by the World Anti-Doping Association in the future across all sports and all countries.

This year the UCI has conducted 271 urinary EPO tests, with 11 cyclists testing positive. In eight of these positive cases, the blood tests taken also showed anomalous values. In three of them (Bo Hamburger, Sergio Barbero and Juan Llaneras) there was no blood test carried out prior to the urine test.

Old mates Roussel, Chiotti, Bassons and Voet to engage in a debate

Two former Festina riders Jerome Chiotti and Christophe Bassons, and the two men most seriously implicated in the 1998 Festina Affair, Bruno Roussel (ex-manager) and Willy Voet (ex-soigneur), will debate about "The cycling of yesterday and tomorrow" on November 16 in Laval. The evening is organised by former Festina trainer Antoine Vayer, who is now quite active on the anti-doping front.

The debate will take place in the café/theatre "La coulée douce" in Laval and will be moderated by French journalist Pierre Ballester.

Dekker to ride Giro prologue parcours

To coincide with the presentation of the 2002 Giro d'Italia on November 17, top Dutch cyclist Erik Dekker will ride over the parcours of the prologue in Groningen. Dekker, who finished the season ranked number 2 on the UCI rankings, will be joined by ex-professional Erik Breukink and the talented Niels Scheuneman. The three will be followed by TV cameras and their progress will be shown live on Dutch television.

Tour of Germany 2002

Taking place from June 3-9, 2002, the fourth edition of the Tour of Germany (Deutschland Tour) is set to attract a strong field and a lot of spectators, if this year's event is anything to go by. Top German team Telekom produced a big display of strength to win the event with Alexandre Vinokourov taking the overall, and Erik Zabel winning three stages.

The 2002 race has received an upgrade to 2.2 from the UCI, meaning more points, more money and theoretically a better race. The 1170 kilometre parcours is designed to lure Jan Ullrich into competing in his national tour, something that he skipped this year in favour of the Giro. The Deutschland tour 2002 will feature two tough mountain stages and a 36 kilometre individual time trial. The toughest stage is the third, 200 kilometres from Bühlertal to Schonach via the Black Forest, where Ullrich loves to train.

The race will visit Tauberbischofsheim (stage 1), Pforzheim (stage 3), Schonach (stage 3), Bad Dürrheim (stage 4), Friedrichshafen (stage 5) and finish in Stuttgart (stage 6).

Lotto up to 25 for 2002

With the late addition of Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen, Christophe Sercu's Lotto-Adecco team is up to 25 riders for next season. As reported yesterday, McEwen will sign a one year contract with the team, filling the role of the team sprinter. That will fit well into Sercu's plans, after he let Jeroen Blijlevens go at the end of this season due to lack of results.

The only question mark now is whether Danish rider Tayeb Braikia will continue with professional cycling or not. Braikia was badly injured in the early part of the season, just after signing with Lotto and winning his first race for them. If he stays, the team will number 26 for 2002.

Team Roster

Mario Aerts (Bel)
Frederic Amorison (Bel)
Serge Baguet (Bel)
Christophe Brandt (Bel)
Hans De Clercq (Bel)
Christophe Detilloux (Bel)
Glenn D'Hollander (Bel)
Nico Eeckhout (Bel)
Gorik Gardeyn (Bel)
Thierry Marichal (Bel)
Robbie McEwen (Aus)
Guennadi Mikhailov (Rus)
Tom Stremersch (Bel)
Andrei Tchmil (Bel)
Kurt Van De Wouwer (Bel)
Stefan Van Dijk (Ned)
Fulco Van Gulik (Ned)
Kevin Van Impe (Bel)
Kurt Van Lancker (Bel)
Peter Van Petegem (Bel)
Wesley Van Speybroeck (Bel)
Ief Verbrugghe (Bel)
Rik Verbrugghe (Bel)
Stive Vermaut (Bel)
Aart Vierhouten (Ned)
Tayeb Braikia (Den)

Liquigas-De Nardi deal falls through

The proposed merger between the folding division I team Liquigas and division II squad De Nardi will not go ahead, according to a source close to the team. The collapse of the deal came after "an agreement on a key financial point [unspecified] was not found."

Nevertheless the ex-Liquigas Team will not close, but it will compete the 2002 season as Division 2 team, like De Nardi. The name of the new Team will be announced soon, together with the signing of the Colombian rider Buenahora. The "new-Liquigas" will keep riders such Raimondi, Frattini, Marini, Marchesin, Bianchi, Bono, Dotti, Salvato, Cattai.

De Nardi will have, amongst others, the already signed Ongarato, Miorin, Gobbi, Bulgarelli, Testi, Aug, Kohut, Kokorin, Brasi, Wielinga, and Palumbo.

Caesar Solaun to Euskaltel-Euskadi

Caesar Solaun ( will ride next season for the Basque team Euskaltel-Euskadi, becoming the final rider on the 25 man team roster. He signed for one year, and returns to the team that he started with in 1994. The 30 year old has only a few professional wins, but is hoping that his move back to Euskaltel will rekindle his ambition to win.

Other Euskaltel signings include neo-pro's Julen Fernández, Lander Euba, David Herrero, Egoi Martínez de Esteban, and Joseba Zubeldia.

Hillenga and Van Scheppingen to Ondernemers van Nature

Dutch national team riders Angela Hillenga and Mariëlle van Scheppingen will ride for a trade team next season, Ondernemers van Nature. The pair will join Martine Bras, Afke Sijm, Corrien van Haastert, Australian Kate Bates and Loes Gunnewijk in the team.

A number of women will be leaving: Edith Klep (retires), Areke Hassink and Jaccolien Wallaard (both to the national team), Sandra Rombouts and Tanja Schmidt-Hennes (both to Team Nürnberger).

Topcompetitie finishes

The biggest Dutch series for amateurs, the Topcompetitie, will no longer exist next year due to logistical reasons and a lack of sponsors. Although some attempts were made to keep it going, the chairman of the Dutch cycling union (KNWU) said that it would be impossible to guarantee a good quality competition at this late stage. The KNWU wants to re-launch the series in 2003 with a greater level of organisation.

Showdown set for Australian Criterium Championships

A field of over 70 top Australian and international cyclists will compete in this Sunday's Australian Criterium Championship at Brisbane's South Bank parkland on Saturday, November 10. After his win against a quality field last weekend at The Noosa Criterium, Robbie McEwen has already marked this race as his. The tight and technically challenging circuit will suit McEwen who was a National BMX Champion before turning to road racing.

However, McEwen will not have it all his own way as the event has been rated as attracting the best field of bike riders ever assembled for an Australian Criterium Championship. This field includes the likes of Olympic Bronze Medallist Brad McGee, Number two Australian in the world, Scott Sunderland and two times World Cup Mountain Bike Champion Cadel Evans.

Probably McEwen's biggest opposition will come from Dutch National Road Champion and powerhouse Jans Koerts. It is possible there is no love lost between these two as Koerts is set to take McEwen's spot in 2002 for the Belgian outfit, Domo-Farm Frites.

Meanwhile the Women's event is set to be a five way battle between Australian Team members Rochelle Gilmore, Sara Carrigan, Kim Shirley, Katie Mactier and Bridget Evans. Gilmore will be the hot favourite but with endurance riders like Mactier and Carrigan in the field the sprinters will have to be vigilant.

Bridget Evans will also be one to look out for. The girls will be well aware of her quick finish and will be determined to not have Evans there to contest the sprint at the end.

The racing will be extremely fast and close on the South Bank circuit with plenty of action guaranteed. Spectators will get a close look at the riders as they negotiate the tight roads and tussle for position. The Women's race will take approximately 40 minutes with the Men racing for over one hour ensuring a real test of endurance for these World Class cyclists.

Racing will commence at 3.00pm with the Women's event followed by the Men at 4.00pm. The Start- Finish is in Little Stanley Street, South Bank. Live music will entertain an expected capacity crowd from 2pm.

Bellville 3 day

Malcolm Lange will line up with Mario Nel in the Bellville 3 Day event in Cape Town, South Africa on Thursday evening (November 8). But they will face tough opposition in the form of Robert Hunter and Jean-Pierre van Zyl who return from France on Thursday morning. The Van Zyl/Hunter combination finished fifth overall in the Grenoble Six Day this week and topped the points' standings.

Other South African combinations in the event include Jacques Fullard and Tiaan Kannemeyer (both Minolta) as well as James Perry and Owen Hannie (both IBM/Lotus SuperCycling).

Hunter remains in Cape Town for the Burger Sanlam on Sunday and he and Lange will go head to head again after Lange beat him in the Pick 'n Pay AmaShovashova two weeks ago in Durban. This time round Lange's HSBC team won't be around and Hunter has the perfect opportunity to avenge his AmaShova defeat.

Racing starts at the Bellville velodrome at 6pm on Thursday and Friday and at 2:00pm on Saturday. Entry is free.

Recent results and new features on Cyclingnews

Major Races and Events
   September 7-29, 2002: Vuelta a España (GT) - Preview, stage list
   May 11-June 2, 2002: Giro d'Italia (GT) - Preview, stage list, photos
   July 6-28, 2002: Tour de France (GT) - Full preview & official route details
   December 8: Superprestige Rd 5 (Cat. 1) - Erwin Vervecken
   November 29-December 4: Six Days of Noumea (6D) - Sassone/Neuville victorious
   November 26-December 1: Six Days of Zurich (6D) - Day 6 - McGrory/Gilmore/Schnider win
   December 1: Melbourne Cup on Wheels (IM) - Scott Moller, Keirin, Sprint, Support races
   December 2: Cyclo-cross World Cup #2 (CDM) - Sven Nijs again
   November 24-December 3: Juegos Deportivos Centroamericanos (JR) - Final results
   December 8-9: Frankfurter Rad-Cross (Cat. 2) - Alex Mudroch, UK National Trophy Series #4 (Cat. 3) - Roger Hammond, Grote Prijs Industrie Bosduin - Kalmthout (Cat. 1) - Bart Wellens, Int. Radquer Obergösgen (Cat. 2) - Björn Rondelez, Trofeo Mamma e Papa Guerciotti (Cat. 3) - Enrico Franzoi, Premio Egondo (Cat 3) - David Seco, Irish cyclo-cross championships - Robin Seymour

Results: local racing
   Australia - CycleWest Promotions Omnium Series #2, Eastern Suburbs Summer Criterium Series, Carnegie Caulfield Tuesday criterium, Southern Cross Junior Track Open & Madison Cup, Manly Warringah CC, George Town Track Carnival, Carnegie Caulfield CC, Randwick Botany CC, Gold Coast CATS CC, Caesar's Illawarra CC, Caesar's Illawarra (track)
   Denmark - Danish cyclo-cross Post Cup #3   
   Italy - Gran Premio Città di Bassano
   Luxembourg - GP De Kopstal
   New Zealand - Cyco Criterium series
   Spain - Elorrio cyclo-cross
   USA - Georgia Cross Series Championship, Chimborazo Grand Prix cyclo-cross, Boulder Cross Rd 6, New Mexico State Cyclo-x Champs, Sorrento Cyclo-x & California State Champ's, Boulder Cross Rd 5, Verge New England series, Northampton CC Cyclo-cross Championships, Chris Cross International CycloCross

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