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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition News for October 22, 2003

Edited by John Stevenson

Health Net expands for 2004

By Kristy Scrymgeour & Jeff Jones

Mike Sayers, currently riding the Herald-Sun Tour, will be returning to a strengthened Health Net in 2004
Photo: © Shane Goss
Click for larger image

U.S. Division III team Health Net has bigger plans for next season, which should see it becoming one of the top domestic teams in the country. In its debut year, the team finished sixth in the US National racing Calendar (NRC) team rankings, and with the demise of the 7UP-Maxxis team, the opportunity is there to climb further up the ladder. In fact, the exit of 7UP-Maxxis may help the in more ways than one, as Health Net will be incorporating some of the team's existing staff and riders.

Health Net team owner Greg Raifman confirmed to Cyclingnews that, "Jeff Corbett of 7UP-Maxxis will be the director and he'll be bringing his staff and infrastructure with him. We have hired a number of riders from the 7UP team and the former Mercury team."

Health Net's riders include a good chunk of the former Mercury train: Scott Moninger, Chris Wherry, Mike Sayers and Gord Fraser, plus John Lieswyn (7UP), Walker Ferguson and Jason Lokkesmoe, among others. "We've got a combination of very successful senior guys mixed with some young aspiring guys," said Raifman. "Some are hoping to sign with us to finish up their careers whilst the young talent will get their chance to move forward with their careers."

On the sponsorship side, Raifman said that Health Net will remain as the top sponsor, while St. Louis, Missouri-based THF Realty and Keenan and Associates will provide their support. The team will be riding Giant bikes, equipped with Speedplay, Reynolds, Ritchey bars and stems, Fi'zi:k saddles, Bell, Cytomax, Shimano and clothed by Descente who will give them a whole new look. Maxxis will provide tyres and the team will be called "Health Net Cycling Team presented by Maxxis."

"I think we've got a great group of both riders, equipment sponsors and the 7UP-Maxxis management so we are very excited about 2004," said Raifman. "While things stack up well on paper it is unfair to put to much pressure on the team until they hit the road. I think there will be a lot of other good teams out there. Navigators will have a stronger team and I'm sure Tom Schuler will put something good together."

As for the team's program next year, there is a possibility of it doing some international racing. "We have applied to do Tour of Langkawi after our training camp in either Tucson or San Diego in January," concluded Raifman.

No release for Landuyt and Versele

David Windels speaks out again

Belgian veterinarian José Landuyt and soigneur Herman Versele have been ordered to remain in jail, accused of supplying illegal drugs to cyclists and members of the horse and pigeon racing world. The pair have been kept behind bars for well over the month now, as the investigating judge is reluctant to release them until all the results are known of the analyses carried out on the drugs seized from Landuyt and others. The judge is concerned that Landuyt and Versele would contact their former clients if they were released.

One man who holds Landuyt and Versele partly responsible for his own doping habits is David Windels, a former professional rider who was convicted of amphetamine dealing in 1997 after retiring from cycling. In an interview with Belgian weekly Humo, Windels explained how he got around the doping controls.

"I had many friends in the peloton," he explained, adding that he knew an insider in the Gent doping lab. "I could get all the products I wanted and I knew where the controls were."

As for Versele and Landuyt, Windels said that, "Versele was a good masseur but he also gave syringes now and then. Landuyt supplied the stuff and Versele injected it."

Windels became addicted to the infamous 'Pot Belge', a cocktail of amphetamines, cocaine and heroin, which is used as a party drug as much as a sports performance enhancer. "If you've tried Pot Belge once you can't stay off it," he explained. "After 14 days it has you in its grip... My career as a rider was over after a year. In the beginning I only took Pot Belge for racing, but after some time I couldn't even train without it. At the end of my first year with the professionals I couldn't have breakfast without a shot: I was a wreck. I injected myself, yes. I was like many riders, half a doctor."

"You must inject it during the race. If you do it beforehand and you don't make it into the right break, you go crazy. You can't ride, you can't get rid of your energy."

Court of Arbitration of Sport criticizes USA Cycling

The North American Court of Arbitration in Sport has issued its full decision in the case of T-Mobile rider Amber Neben, who was suspended for six months after testing positive for anabolic steroid metabolite 19-norandrosterone. Neben's suspension was reduced from the possible two years because the Court's hearing panel found she had not doped deliberately but was likely the victim of a contaminated supplement. The decision is severely critical of USA Cycling's attitude to supplement use by athletes.

Referring to testimony from several USA Cycling officials, the Court's decision reads, "the Panel is disturbed by the testimony from the USA Cycling witnesses and officials. It is obvious that the organization has acted in complete disregard of its athletes, in particular those below the elite level. There appears to be little or no attempt at communicating the dangers of contaminated supplements to the thousands of USA Cycling athletes."

Testimony heard by the panel came from USA Cycling officials including CEO Gerard Bisceglia, who said he "was not aware of the risks or dangers involved in taking supplements" and "was not aware that any USA Cycling officials had been handing out supplements."

Neben controlled positive in a test conducted on May 31 this year at the Montreal World Cup. In her defence, Neben said she had also been tested nine days before her positive control and three and four days after. All three of those tests were negative. Neben claimed her positive test was probably a result of a contaminated supplement, but was unable to provide samples any supplements that showed contamination. In particular, supplements supplied to USA Cycling riders by sponsor Hammer Nutrition all tested negative.

The panel hearing the case concluded that Neben had not been guilty of intentional doping, but that some sanction had to be applied under the 'strict liability' rules which cover doping offences. As well as a six-month suspension starting July 13, 2003 Neben's sanction includes a requirement to perform educational work with USA Cycling, to teach other athletes about the dangers of contaminated supplements.

The full text of the decsion (a 978kB PDF document) is available here.

Previous stories on the Amber Neben case
Six months suspension for Neben
Neben announces voluntary suspension

Rastelli to Alessio

Italian rider Ellis Rastelli, a member of the German-based Gerolsteiner team in 2003, will ride for Alessio in 2004.

Big Stampede Expo & Swap meet

On Saturday November 1 the Charlotte, North Carolina Merchandise Mart will play host to the first annual Big Stampede Southeast Bike Expo and Swap. Organisers claim the Big Stampede will be the largest bike expo to ever hit the southeast US. It will feature exhibits and merchandise from several bicycle industry manufacturers, southeastern retailers, pro cycling teams such as Navigators, 7UP/Maxxis, and Jittery Joe's, as well as the typical array of folks just clearing out all the bike stuff in their garage. Admission is free to the public and booth space is still available, but limited.

The Big Stampede is the brainchild of Spencer Lueders and Jeff Corbett. Lueders is a Charlotte-based patent attorney and founder of the 24 Hours of Booty, one of the few 24-hour road cycling events in the country and a major fundraising ride for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Corbett is the director of the 7UP/Maxxis Pro Cycling Team and the Diet Rite Women's Cycling Team.

For full details see 'cross series to Marysville

The second weekend in November means it's time for the Mid-Atlantic Cyclo-Cross Championship to visit Marysville, PA for the fifth running of the Rockville Bridge 'Cross Classic, the seventh stop in the MAC Championship.

The course at Rockville features a smooth, fast surface, with more than three quarters of the course visible from one location, so spectators have lots to see and can watch the racing unfold. The RedBull Wall is sure to be a spectator and photographer favourite, a short steep pitch just a few feet from the best spectator spot and a case of red Bull as reward for the first rider in each race to crest the hill.

Back this year is the team relay. Teams of four riders will take on a slightly shortened lap of the course one at a time. Teams may consist of riders from different trade teams, but must include at least one woman or Category C man and no more than one Elite man.

With support from the Harrisburg City Islanders Soccer Team organisers have been able to match the Elite Men's and Master's prize purses to those of the UCI Saturn Classic the day before Rockville, and Bushey's Cycling in Lemoyne, PA is providing some nice merchandise for the prize table for the non-elite category podium finishers.

See for more details

JaJo Sport seeks riders

JaJo Sport, a new UCI Division III team, is looking for up-and-coming riders from North and South America and Australia. The team's program will include North and South American UCI races and a three month stint in Europe.

Interested riders should contact team manager Laura Torres at

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