ForceSud is also well on the way to this, having handed in a cheque on 12 January. Their affiliation now only awaits the formality of the cheque clearing through the bank. This leaves two teams in limbo. Most worrying is the status of Agrigel-La Creuse, which has high ambitions and several distinguished riders under contract. Despite promises that "the cheque was in the post" (as we English would ironically say) no "garantie bancaire" has yet been lodged with the FFC.
The team to be floated by Vincent Lavenu (the former Chazal directeur-sportif) always appeared to be the most tentative proposition. As yet nothing further has been heard about its sponsors or funding.
Elite 1. Emmanuel Magnien (Festina) 58.41 2. Jerome Chiotti (Festina) at 10 secs 3. Patrice Halgand (Festina) +1.15 4. Bonnand (Ile-de-France, CSM Persan) +1.40 5. Cailleau (Flandre-Artois, UV Fourmies) +1.53 6. Pagnier (CSM Persan-Bic) +2.32> 7. Arnould (CSM Persan-Bic -- pending ForceSuds paying its upfront cash to theFFC!) s.t. 8. Almensa (Midi-Pyrenees, GSC Blagnac) +3.01 9. Duval (Ile-de-France, CSM Persan) +3.33 10. Brochard (Festina) +3.52 11. Zoetemelk (Ile-de-France) +4.09 30 finishers Espoirs: 1st Miguel Martinez (Ile-de-France, CSM Persan) Juniors: 1st Gael Moreau (Champagne-Ardennes, VC Sedan) Cadets: 1st Romain Denhez (Picardie, VC-Amiens) And yes, Zoetemelk is Joop Zoetemelks son. Joop is married to a French woman and they own a hotel in France. His son must have taken French nationality.
The other team members, for their part, have been instructed to push him up steep hills, as he is not able to pull on the bars. "Last Saturday [6 January] at home, I rode four hours [with the tri-bars]. I had a really tough time." Suffering from back pains and pains in the calves, he has been forced to adopt a two-session training day -- three hours in the morning and then a shorter session in the afternoon -- totalling about 150km ... then a session on the home trainer before his stomach cries out that it's time for dinner.
Jalabert expects to ride the Tour of Majorca, 11-15 February -- "simply participating"; the Tour of Valencia, 28 Feb-March 3 -- "in principal I should be allowed to pull on the handlebars around 20 February"; Paris--Nice, 10-17 March -- "I hope to be in sufficiently good condition not to look ridiculous. To be in the sort of form I was in in 1995, that's another matter"; the April classics -- "As last year I won't ride the Flandrian races, I wouldn't have done even without the injury. The objective is to do well in the Ardennes races [Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege]".
Before this he was so twisted on his bike due to his back problems (the result of another old injury) that he was turning his seatpost round in training and even sheared it at the clamp until he fitted an reinforcing bolt. "My body was developing this incredible torque." says Yates, "It was turning me anti-clockwise and my hip kept going out.
In November it went out four times in one week. It was insane." Yates is looking forward to his final season: "You say you hate it but when you're not doing it you miss it a bit. It will be nice to get back in the swing of things, eat some nice Italian food and see all the guys, because they're good friends. When you've been away from home so much you lose touch with the people you grew up with -- the team replaces them and it's nice to get them together again."
Wife Pippa and two-year-old son Liam will no doubt miss Sean, but the grocery bills should be smaller. When Cycling Weekly visited soon after Christmas the talk was of Sean demolisihing a 10-person Christmas pudding before his wife and son could get near it. Nothing was sacred; when Sean slumped in his chair Liam discovered three tubes of Smarties (chocolate candies) had also disappeared. "Not fast you're last." reasoned Sean.