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Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest News for June 27, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

CSC finalises line up

Tyler Hamilton
Photo: © Jeff Tse
Click for larger image

The CSC team has named its nine riders for the Tour, with new signing Bekim Christensen getting the final spot. The team will be led by Tyler Hamilton and Carlos Sastre for the GC, with one day specialist Jakob Piil a good chance of a stage victory. However the main job of the team is to protect Hamilton and Sastre as much as possible, thus there was no sprinter chosen. The remaining members are Nicki Soerensen, Michael Blaudzun, Bekim Christensen, Nicolas Jalabert, Andrea Peron, and Peter Luttenberger.

"This year, our strategy for the Tour will be for Tyler Hamilton and Carlos Sastre to finish as far up in the general classification as possible and the selection reflects that goal," team director Bjarne Riis said. "We must do a good team time trial and make sure that Tyler and Carlos are protected in the mountains for as long as possible. I believe that our team is complete both when it comes to the general classification and when it comes to stage victories - should the opportunity arise. I predict that we can be one of the most important teams in this year's Tour."

On Christensen's addition, Riis commented that "Bekim's performance in the Tour de Suisse has impressed us so much that he deserves the final place. He has lived up to our expectations in every way. I believe that he can become an important helper in the mountains and when we have to set a high pace on the flat stages. As for the other eight riders, I have had confidence in their abilities for a long time."

Bianchi's nine

Jan Ullrich will go to the Tour with a solid team, after Bianchi announced its final line up. In addition to Ullrich, the team contains three Germans: Tobias Steinhauser, Daniel Becke and Thomas Leise. Four Spanish riders will bolster the team in the mountains: Angel Casero, Aitor Garmendia, David Plaza and Felix Garcia Casas. The final spot is for Italian sprinter/breakaway specialist Fabrizio Guidi.

More Tour teams.

Vierhouten has to stay home

Dutchman Aart Vierhouten will not be going to the Tour with Lotto-Domo, after learning the news from the team management this week. "Unbelievable," he was quoted by ANP as saying. "I didn't consider this. In Switzerland it was always going better. I thought that I was clear for the Tour."

Vierhouten's abandonment at the halfway point of the Giro didn't help his chances however. "There I wasn't riding wel, but that wasn't a condition problem. A week previously a friend of mine died in a traffic accident. I had not got over that and was still down about it."

Lotto's director Marc Sergeant said that Vierhouten's colleagues are "better at the moment". The full team is as follows: Rik Verbrugghe, Axel Merckx, Serge Baguet, Christophe Brandt, Hans de Clercq, Leon van Bon, Koos Moerenhout, Rob McEwen and Nick Gates.

Skier to kick off Tour de France

Austrian skier Hermann Maier, a former Olympic and World Champion, will open the centenary Tour de France when it sets off from the Eiffel Tower on July 5. Maier, who nearly lost his right leg in a motorcycle accident in 2001, will start the 6.5 kilometre prologue three minutes before the first rider goes off, calling it a dream come true in his highly successful sporting career.

"I ride thousands of miles in training on Austrian and Italian roads and I spend many afternoons in the summer watching the Tour," Maier was quoted by Reuters. "I've achieved superb goals in my career but to open the 2003 Tour will be another climax for me. I'm proud to take part this way in the big anniversary of the Tour."

Bruylandts ready for Belgian championships

Dave Bruylandts (Marlux) is one rider who will ensure that the Belgian Championships in Vilvoorde this Sunday will not be a boring affair. Although the parcours is flat, there is only one team (Landbouwkrediet) with a clear mission to keep the bunch together for a sprint for Tom Steels. The rest of the riders will have to take their chances in breakaways.

Bruylandts is one of the few Belgians in good form, finishing second in the GP Industria e Commercio Artigianato Carnaghese and winning the Giro d'Oro last weekend. "Indeed, I would like to be Belgian Champion," the 26 year old told Het Laatste Nieuws. "It's only a pity the parcours isn't a bit more selective. But ok, we'll make the race. I've been training for this and I'm ready for it: look at my results of last weekend."

Having only a few top riders in Vilvoorde will be to Bruylandts' advantage. "If an international peloton raced on a parcours like this, with a couple of strong teams working for their sprinter, it would surely end in a mass sprint. But not now, I expect. Attackers like me will have more chances. It will be a tactical game. You have to be very concentrated not only at the end, but from the start. How many times has the championship already been decided on the first lap? If you're not in the first breakaway, you can forget it."

For Bruylandts, his main rivals are "Jurgen Van Goolen, because he did very well in the Tour of Switzerland. And then maybe a surprising name: Philippe Gilbert. He can slip away inconspicuously and finish it in a sprint."

Italy and the National Championships of Cycling: Part I

By Robert Piorno at the Italian National Championships, translated by Martin Hardie

Salvatore Commesso
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

The Italian National Championship, solely interrupted in 1943, is a unique race, with its own personality even within the general context of the national championships of other nations. The test has been elevated to the official jewel in the crown, a showcase and premier of 20th century Italian cycling culture, a race that is alive like few others, a permanent tribute to one of the most fruitful heritages of the world in a way that one day races speak.

Click here for the first of an in depth three part preview of the Italian championships, and what it means for Italian cycling. Part II will detail Saltara and Cycling in the Marche and Part III the candidates for this year's race.

No sanctions for high haematocrits in South African championships

The South African Cycling Federation has declared that no riders will be sanctioned as a result of having hematocrit levels over 50 percent at the South African Championships in Welkom (June 12-15). After several riders had hematocrit levels greater than the UCI limit, the SACF opened an investigation into the matter. The tribunal's report pointed to faults in the testing protocol, namely that the tests were taken after, rather than before the races.

The report issued by the tribunal was critical of Dr P.H. Du Toit, who was responsible for administering the tests. The full text is as follows:

"The blood tests conducted in Welkom were to evaluate Haematocrit Levels in athletes. These tests are related only in evaluating the health of athletes and are not a direct doping test as on the urine where certain drugs can be detected.

For urine and blood testing, different protocols exist.

2 The Tribunal was not aware or instructed that blood tests would be done and sees the effort of the Doctor who has no admin relation to the SACF and obviously no knowledge of the protocol for blood testing as one of ill consideration and opportunism.

3 The protocol to be used is adopted from those of the UCI. Specific request forms with relevant rider’s information, dividing blood specimens, countersigning presence of medical inspector. It is clear that the amateuristic way in which the tests were done did not conform with the strict protocol of the UCI/SACF.

Above all blood was taken after racing which is in direct contrast to collecting specimens in fasting conditions as after race dehydration can falsely increase the Haematocrit Level leading to false "Positive Tests".

The Tribunal therefore concludes that no health, disciplinary measures can flow from these tests in Welkom and sees it as a valueless effort. Future tests may only be done under the rules in the protocol including correct procedures and standardised equipment.

It is the medical opinion of the Tribunal that the levels over 50, which were reported, would be of no harm to these particular riders health as it is borderline levels and was done in dehydration conducive circumstances."

The SACF also issued a statement defending itself from allegations regarding the screening procedures. "Messrs Hansen [SACF president Gotty Hansen], SACF Road commission chairman Bart Harmse & chief official Craig Hawtrey acted in good faith when Dr P H Du Toit was introduced to them by the Organizers of the National Road Championships.

"They agreed that Blood Samples could be taken as long as it was within the Rules of the UCI and that the tests were done at the Laboratory of the University of Bloemfontein. Blood samples were only taken to test the Haematocrit Level in the blood. All testing was immediately stopped when it was found that the samples had not been sent to the approved Laboratory nor conformed to UCI Rules on Safety in Sport.

"The SACF Anti-doping Commission convened on Tuesday 24th June 2003...Normal Urine Samples were taken by the SA Institute for Drug Free Sport on Sunday 15th June. The results of these tests have not yet been received."

UPMC in Herald Sun Tour

The UPMC cycling team has been invited to compete in Australia's Herald Sun Tour, which takes place between October 16-26 in Victoria. UPMC will be one of the few amateur teams competing in this 2.3 classed stage race, after having a successful season so far which included the overall win and two stages in the Vuelta a Cuba.

The UPMC squad is formed from the America's Cycling Team program, which is dedicated to providing racing opportunities for riders of all ages and abilities. ACT's top riders may belong to a variety of affiliate clubs, but all compete under the program's trade name: UPMC.

Doherty Hotels offer Tassie incentive

By Matthew Conn

The Promoters of the Launceston International Classic (LIC) are offering a trip to Europe as part of an incentive scheme for Tasmanian riders in the upcoming Tattersall's Cup series. With the backing of Doherty Hotels, Tasmanian cyclists who win any one of the Tattersall's races while meeting some simple criteria, will find themselves with an airfare to Europe to pursue their cycling career.

To help encourage cyclists who are "doing it hard", the incentive scheme is open to riders who are not currently part of the Tasmanian or Australian Institutes of Sport. To be eligible for the rewards, cyclists will have to pre-register and be willing to wear LIC race kit throughout the series.

With the understanding that a win is difficult to come by, there are also rewards of $400 cash for a top ten finish in any round or $200 for finishing in 11-20th place.

Launceston neurologist Dr Stan Siejka and former European professional Tom Sawyer, are behind the promotion, hoping it will give local riders an added incentive to perform.

"We hope that this incentive makes it worthwhile for Tasmanian riders to train through the harsh winter conditions and to help them gain that extra hunger to perform at their absolute peak in these races." Sawyer said at the launch yesterday.

Another aim of the program is to take the LIC and Doherty Hotels name to Victoria and encourage more of Australia's top riders to come to Tasmania for the December race.

The future of this sponsorship/incentive will depend on the ongoing success of the LIC. In its inaugural year in 2002, 10,000 people lined the circuit to witness Australia's top professional cyclists competing together in a race led home by Hilton Clarke, Robbie McEwen and Stuart O'Grady.

Dr Siejka sees this ongoing support of the race as a vital part of ensuring the support and promotion of cycling in Tasmania.

Registration details are available by contacting Tom Sawyer on 0418 135 280.

A Giant prize for the Cyclingnews 2003 Tour de France Fantasy Game

Joseba Beloki
Photo: ©
Click for larger image and Giant have combined to offer a Grand Prize for the 2003 Tour de France Fantasy Game that will have all those directors sportif out there sharpening their pencils in anticipation of the final teams for the Grand Boucle being announced this weekend.

The Major Prize is a limited-edition, TCR 100 composite beauty with full Campagnolo Record groupset, 2003 Campagnolo Bora wheels, Nokon cables and a host of lighweight goodies that will result in a machine coming in well under the 7kg in weight and worth 10,000 euros.

Photo: © Giant
Click for larger image

In addition, there's an autographed ONCE jersey from the TdF team, as well as a Giro helmet.

We're also offering great supplementary prizes, such as a full Veloce groupset from Campagnolo, team issue helmets from Giro and Bell, as well as the latest Arione saddle from fi'zi:k, with more to come.

For your chance to win and for full details on all the prizes on offer in the 2003 Tour de France Fantasy Game, please visit the Fantasy Game section and register to enter your dream team.

All teams already entered into the 2003 TdF Fantasy Game are automatically eligible for the prizes.

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