News for December 25, 1997

Dutch riders go to court

The Association of Professional Cyclists ( VVBW) in the Netherlands has issued a lawsuit against the KNWU (Dutch Cycling Federation) to force them to give racing licences to Dutch riders who live in Belgium.

This is the reaction of the VVBW to a decision by the UCI that from January 1 riders riders are obliged to get a licence from the body in the land in which they are living. In other words, if you are Dutch and living in Belgium, under the new rules you would have to get a licence through the BWB not the KNWU. Previously, riders could also apply to have a licence issued in the country of their birth.

Of the 10 Dutch professional riders, Leon van Bon, Jeroen Blijlevens and Adri van der Poel live in Belgium.

MTB rider goes positive

MTB rider Paola Pezzo has been trapped with a positive drug test. At the beginning of September, the Italian was tested in Annecy, France and was found to have taken the strength-building hormone, Nandrolon. The World and Olympic champion from Atlanta is now facing a penalty of between 6 months to a year.

According to her manager, Paolo Rosola, the situation is a misunderstanding: "It is strange that on August 30, Paula tested negative and then a week late in Anncy was positive. And a week later again, in Switzerland, the World Champions tested negative. That is a very strange thing indeed."

The Italian athlete was caught at the control following the penultimate World Cup Race at Annecy, a race dominated by Pezzo. The test however, has one aspect of controversy: the week before and two weeks after, Pezzo underwent anti-doping controls and came out negative.

Pezzo denies the use of banned substances. "I have never used that stuff (nandrolone). I'm innocent. I'm a victim of the politics of the sport. Since I have won everything, I have atracted some antipathy from some people. Before and after that race (September 6th at Annecy) I have come out negative at the controls that I have done. Imagine me risking to compromise the conquest of the World Cup and my reputation on the penuyltimate race".

After the champion's defense, her trainer's turn, Paolo Rosola has come: "Paola is destroyed by the spread of the news". The trainer has added that Pezzo could decide to abandon cycling, if she doesn't succeed in proving her innocence. "The news about the positive result should have remained confidential until January 2nd", says Paolo Rosola.

Rosola adds: "Paola went through controls on August 30th at Hoffalizen, in Belgium, at the World Cup. The results were negative. Then, at Annecy she only needed a placement to win the World Cup: if she was dirty, it would have been crazy to win, because it meant an automatic control. She has won and has come out positive: then she has won the Worlds in Switzerland and she came out negative. It is an absurd circumstance".

Paola Pezzo was born in Boscochiesanuova (Verona) on January 8th, 1969. She's 1.75 meters tall and weighs 62 kilos. In Mountain Biking she has won the Worlds in '93, the Olympic title in Atlanta '96, the European '96; this year the World Cup and the World Championships.

Corti extends his hand to Gotti

Yesterday, I reported that Ivan Gotti was having troubles with his Team Saeco manager Claudio Corti. Today, it seems to be resolving itself.

The statements by Ivan Gotti seems to have jolted Claudio Corti and the pther directors of Team Saeco. The winner of the Giro d'Italia '97 felt like he wasn't being considered and was upset about their refusal to talk about renewing his contract. "We didn't treat Gotti like anybody else. Ivan is an important rider for us and we want him to remain with Saeco in the coming years".

After winning the Giro d'Italia, Gotti expected some recognition for his role as a team leader and to have his contract re-touched, which will end at the end of 1998. "We had made a proposal, but Ivan and his agent didn't like it - says the team manager -. Since Gotti had a contract ending in 1998, I wanted to finish up first with the new contract and wanted to propose a new offer when he was available to talk".

Gotti said that it wasn't a matter of money, but of asking his consideration in the signing of new riders. "Ivan asked me to sign a rider who by now is at the end of his career, in fact he has decided to end his career - said Corti -. Instead I have signed valuable riders like Savoldelli and Piepoli who will be very useful for the team".

Corti: "I'm sorry that Gotti has been upset. I have felt him nervous for a few months now. I will call him, speak with him and professionally face the coming season. He says that he won't deal with me anymore, but I don't think that he will achieve anything by raising a wall".

Hoogstraten, Belgium, Cyclo Cross, December 23, 1997

 1. Peter Willemsens (Bel) elite w/o contract
 2. Richard Groenendaal (Ned) Rabobank
 3. Adri Van der Poel (Ned) Rabobank
 4. Danny De Bie (Bel) Rollini
 5. Sven Nijs (Bel) elite w/o contract
 7. Daniele Pontoni (Ita)
 9. Paul Herijgers (Bel) Tonissteiner

Scottish Commonwealth Games Team

I received this from Scottish Cycling's Jim Riach.

Scottish Cycling have announced the first of their Commonwealth Games nominations which will be forwarded to the Games Council for selection in July of next year. Scottish Cycling have made the four early nominations in a bid to allow those riders who have already met very strict selection criteria, the opportunity to focus on their preparation for the Games without the distraction of selection pressures.

Chris Hoy from Edinburgh and Craig Maclean from Grantown on Spey were members of Britain's victorious World Cup Olympic Sprint team earlier this year in Athens. Both are British Champions in the 3 man Olympic Sprint discipline and Maclean is a the current British Champion in a further 3 individual disciplines. With no Olympic Sprint at the Games in Kualah Lumpur both riders are likely to compete in the Kilometre Time Trial and the Individual Sprint.

Graeme Obree from Irvine has become almost a legend in world cycling, making the headlines across the world. His feats in winning the World Pursuit Championship, picking up the world record on the way and breaking the blue riband of all cycling records, the World One Hour record, were all the more newsworthy because of the very individual way in which he achieved them. He had a quiet 1997 by his own standards, he "only" won the British Time Trial Championship. Graeme is passionate in the extreme about his desire to do the business for Scotland in Kualah Lumpur. He will be pencilled in for the Pursuit and the Time Trial.

After selection criteria was published at the beginning of 1997 Jim Gladwell rose to the demands and contested the season long British Time Trial Series for the first time. He led the Series for a number of weeks before finally running out 2nd. He gets nominated for the Time Trial.

Whilst Maclean, Hoy, Obree and Gladwell will form the nucleus of the squad, the remaining nominations will be made in the early summer of 1998. A short list of riders consists of Brian Smith, James Millar, Zoe Anderson, Richard Moore, Gary Paterson and Jason McIntyre. Selection events will be announced shortly for the remaining team members. Performances from riders outwith the short list will also be considered. The team size will be up to eight places, but the eight places will only be available for riders who have demonstrated their ability to meet the selection criteria.

Team manager for the Games will be accountant David Menzies from Edinburgh. He currently manages the Scottish Womens’ Squad and is experienced in both road and track disciplines. He will be assisted by coaches Graeme Herd from Paisley and Angus McLafferty from Glasgow.