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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for October 6, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Secchiari testifies

In a Florence court on Tuesday, Francesco Secchiari (Domina Vacanze) gave his version of the events that happened during stage 18 of the last Tour de France involving his teammate Filippo Simeoni and race leader Lance Armstrong. After Simeoni and Armstrong bridged up to what was eventually the decisive breakaway, Simeoni was allegedly forced to drop back to the peloton because Armstrong didn't want him in the break. This was part of an ongoing feud between the pair that started when Simeoni testified in the Dr. Michele Ferrari trial, then Armstrong publicly accused him of lying, which in turn prompted Simeoni to start legal action against Armstrong for defamation of character.

Following the events in the Tour, an investigation was opened in Florence by public prosecutor Lucca Quattrocchi, who is trying to determine whether Armstrong threatened Simeoni, as the latter has claimed. If this is the case, Armstrong could be charged with sporting fraud, violence, and intimidation of a witness.

Secchiari explained to prosecutor Quattrocchi that upon returning to the peloton, Simeoni was insulted by some of the riders, and spent most of the rest of the stage at the back of the bunch. Paolo Bettini was one of the few riders who supported him, and he has already been questioned as part the investigation. Some of the other riders in the breakaway: Dimitry Fofonov, Juan Antonio Flecha and Marc Lotz have also been asked to testify, along with other riders from Domina Vacanze such as Mario Cipollini.

Boonen in doubt for Paris-Tours

After abandoning the World Championships due to stomach problems, Tom Boonen's start in this Sunday's Paris-Tours World Cup is in doubt. Although he would normally be considered a favourite for the sprinters' classic, Boonen has been ordered to rest for two days by his doctor, who suspects that Boonen may have a stomach virus. Boonen has been suffering from diarrhoea all week and has spent a lot of time in bed. If he feels well enough on Thursday, he will train for an hour.


An interview with Erik Zabel

Growing older, growing wiser

At 34 years old and after more than a decade in the peloton, Erik Zabel has seen, experienced and enjoyed just about everything cycling has to offer - that was until his encounter with Cyclingnews' Martin Hardie on the final day of this year's Vuelta a España.

Almost a gold gong in Verona
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image

During my three weeks of reporting at La Vuelta, I had the opportunity to make the acquaintance with a couple of riders that have always really made me feel good about cycling. One was my compatriot Matt White, the other was Erik Zabel - I had never met either before. Zabel was always thoughtful when I managed to greet him in the morning. His English is careful and well spoken, but you are never sure whether his Germanic dryness isn't at times being used in jest at either your or even his own expense.

Anyway, that first morning I introduced myself to Zabel and asked him if he spoke English, Spanish or German, all of which he replied, "Noh."

"Cyclingnews... that is only for Australian riders?". I asked him if he was pulling my leg and he said, "Oh noh".

I thought, I have to do something about this notion that he has about Cyclingnews - was he serious? "How about when it's quiet we sit down and have a chat," I asked. "Ja, that would be good," he told me.

Here's what happened...

Spain and France sign anti-doping accord

The Secretary of State for Spanish Sport, Jaime Lissavetzky, and the French Minister of Sport, Jean-Francois Lamour, have signed an agreement to assist each other in the fight against doping. The accord was signed in Paris on Wednesday, and is aimed at improving communication between anti-doping experts in both countries. Lissavetzky also hinted at signing a similar agreement with Italy.

Neither country has a national anti-doping agency at the moment, although in France there is one being debated in parliament before the end of the year. Lissavetzky hopes that a similar agency will be created in Spain, and this new agreement will allow each country to exchange information over the setting up of such agencies. Both countries agreed that the agencies should be independent bodies protected by the Government.

Barry extends

Canadian Michael Barry has signed a two year contract to ride for the new Discovery Channel team. Barry currently rides for US Postal-Berry Floor, which will essentially become Discovery Channel next year. During last Sunday's World Championships Road Race, Barry was reportedly feeling good until he crashed out of the race, thus was unable to repeat his seventh place in Hamilton from a year ago.

Thirionet to Roc d'Azur

Fresh off winning four medals in the Paralympic Games in Athens, disabled cyclist Laurent Thirionet (Cofidis) will compete in this Sunday's Roc d'Azur MTB race in France. Thirionet will start at 10:00am and will ride the testing 55 kilometre parcours along with all the able-bodied competitors.

Tooheys Criterium Series returns

One of Australia's biggest beer brands, Tooheys, will be sponsoring a criterium series in Tasmania towards the end of the year, entitled the Tooheys Extra Dry Tasmanian Criterium Series. Although there was a Tooheys Criterium Series run in NSW in the 80's and 90's as a precursor to the Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic, this is a new project.

The series was launched in Devonport on Wednesday, October 6 by Austral Wheelrace winner Craig Price, who will also act as the race series' director. Races are planned for Ulverstone on November 21, Devonport on November 27 and returning to Ulverstone on December 11. Open to male and female riders, the series will also include a masters category as well as races for Australian Veterans Cycling Council licence holders. There will also be a separate junior race series, which will be sponsored by McDonald's Family Restaurants in Ulverstone and Devonport. There will be a total prize pool of $5000.

Both Ulverstone events will be held on the same 900 m circuit which has been successfully used in recent years for the Ulverstone Christmas Fiesta celebrations, including Reiby, Victoria, Patrick and King Edward streets, whilst the Devonport race will encompass a 600 m hot dog circuit in the busy CBD section along Formby Rd, stretching from Steele St to the car park on the Northern side of the Post Office. The Devonport race will coincide with celebrations of the annual Devonport Show.

Craig Price said the series is sure to attract a huge amount of interest from riders. "Australian cycling is enjoying a resurgence at the moment, following on from success at both the Olympic Games in Greece and World Road Championships in Italy. That along with the success of the Launceston International Criterium over the last two years, should ensure that this race is well supported, not only by riders, but spectators alike. And another attractive facet of the series that for spectators, it is free admission."

The Tooheys Extra Dry Tasmanian Criterium series will be separate races carrying their own pool of prizemoney with a further bonus for the best performed rider/riders over all three events. The top 10 riders in each race finish will earn points to decide this year's Tasmanian Criterium Champion. Another feature of the series will be the Tooheys Sprint King and Tooheys Sprint Queen. Three intermediate sprints will be held in each race, carrying bonus points to determine the sprint leaders.

Velo Bella cyclo-cross team

The U.S. based women's cycling club Velo Bella has announced its 2004 elite cyclocross team. The six woman squad is the first all-female team to compete on the U.S. national circuit, and is preparing for domestic UCI events, such as the Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross, as well as U.S. Cross Nationals, and ultimately qualification for the U.S. World's team. Led by 2002 U.S. Cyclocross World's team member, Christine Vardaros (Mill Valley, CA), the girls in pink and blue are proud to represent what Velo Bella is known for: fun on the bike, grassroots development, a whole lot of pain, and an excuse to wear a skintight body suit in the mud.

The team has already had early season success with back to back UCI wins this past weekend. Christine Vardaros won both the Michael Rabe Cyclocross race in Michigan and the Whitmore's Landscaping Super Cross Cup in New York. Also, Barbara Howe and Sarah Kerlin finished first and second in the elite women's race in the Central Coast Cyclocross Series in California.

In addition to national racing, the team will be joined by dozens of local racers who will compete in the Bay Area Super Prestige Series, Sacramento Series, Georgia Cross Series, Verge Mid Atlantic Series and other events across the country. Velo Bella is also promoting the Spirit of Surf City Cyclocross Race on October 31 in Watsonville, CA as a fundraiser for the team and as an excuse to do something outrageously fun on Halloween.

The team will race on Rock Lobster cyclocross bikes custom designed by Santa Cruz, CA rock star, Paul Sadoff. The bikes will feature pink Chris King headsets. A portion of the proceeds from the sales of the headsets will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Other sponsors include Easton, Truvativ, Paul's Components, Crank Brothers, PedalSoft, A Bicycle Odyssey, and Sheila Moon.

Team roster

Christine "Peanut" Vardaros (Mill Valley, CA)
Sarah "Bella Loca" Kerlin (Santa Cruz, CA)
Barbara "Barbarella" Howe (Marin, CA)
Erin "Biscuit" Kassoy (Palo Alto, CA)
Melodie "Sweet Pea" Metzger (Berkeley, CA)
Sami "Freaky" Fournier (Washington, D.C.)

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