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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for October 9, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones & Hedwig Kröner

Planckaert and Peers say goodbye

No comment from Museeuw

Jo Planckaert and Chris Peers have said that they will not appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne to try to get their career-ending two year suspensions reduced. Together with Johan Museeuw, the pair were given identical suspensions and €6,500 fines for their involvement in the still ongoing Landuyt/Versele case. Museeuw has already retired, and will not be greatly affected by the suspension, but for Peers and Planckaert, both 34, it will mean the ends of their careers.

"There wouldn't be much point in taking it to the CAS," said Jo Planckaert to Belgian VRT television. "During the case I wouldn't be allowed to ride and that could go on for months. I have ridden my last race on Thursday in Zwevezele.

"I still ask myself how a court can sentence someone without proof. With Landuyt and Versele I have only spoken about vitamins and supplements. Never about doping." Planckaert then alluded to Filip Meirhaeghe's comparatively light suspension of 15 months, saying, "Someone who took EPO gets 15 months and can race again in 2006. Goddamn, I should have taken everything. And won the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Milan-San Remo. I'm an ignoramus again."

Chris Peers also declared himself disgusted with the way things have turned out. "My first reaction was: Adios, la Belgique. We live in a hypocritical country. This is the end of my successful career. But the finish is completely scandalous. It was based on telephone calls that I made. I've never been found positive. I will say: thanks, Mr Landuyt and Versele. This is a heavy blow. I lived for my sport, I had no enemies. To suspend someone on the basis of guesswork is an injustice."

Johan Museeuw has not yet made a statement, as according to his lawyers, he wishes to study the judgment more closely. The manager of Quick.Step, Patrick Lefevere, said that the affair doesn't concern the team. "I don't see why Johan couldn't become a PR man for us," said Lefevere. "As long as there is no concrete proof, I won't lie awake at night."

The hearing was held behind closed doors today, which meant that the reasons behind the sanctions were not made public. None of the riders tested positive, but all were found to have "deliberately used doping." The head of the disciplinary commission, Achiel Luyten, said that, "The dossiers prove their guilt. There is certainly reliable evidence that proves an infringement on the doping rules. But I do not have the authority to go into detail."

Luyten said that the recommended full 48 month suspensions were reduced in each rider's case "on the basis of their good cooperation and their records."

Meirhaeghe may be back

After receiving a relatively short suspension of 15 months, which will conclude on January 14, 2006, mountain biker Filip Meirhaeghe has not ruled out a comeback. Meirhaeghe tested positive for EPO at an out of competition control on June 25, just before the Mont St. Anne round of the MTB World Cup. When the news was announced in August, Meirhaeghe admitted his guilt and declared that he would retire immediately. But now he's not so sure.

I'm happy with the judgment because there is still an option to start again," Meirhaeghe was quoted by Sporza radio as saying. "I'm going to line everything up now. Together with my girlfriend I'll first look at how I want to move forward with my life. And I also have to be mentally strong enough to train for a year without one race.

"It would have been disappointing if my honesty was punished. But if I climb back on the bike, it will be without EPO. An ass doesn't stumble twice on the same stone. But now I'll go and celebrate with a bottle of champagne."

Amateur riders also suspended

Although professional riders involved in the Landuyt/Versele affair attracted the biggest headlines in Belgium today, there were also punishments handed out by the Belgian cycling federation to two of the three amateur riders implicated in the case. Olivier Penney received a 15 month suspension together with a €640 fine, while Nico Henderickx was handed a 28 month suspension and a fine of €1610. The third rider named, Birger Donie, did not receive any sanction.

Pay problems for Domina Vacanze

Members of the Domina Vacanze team, including Mario Cipollini, are still waiting for their June salaries and have ordered the team's management company, Blu Sea Services, to take legal action against Domina Vacanze.

"Domina Vacanze has not respected its sponsorship contract, and salaries have not been paid from the month of June, 2004," read a communique from the team. "Besides, although it had given plenty of assurances for the continuation of its sponsorship contract for the 2005 season, it has signed an agreement with another [Gianluigi Stanga's De Nardi team, which was recently announced as De Nardi-Domina Vacanze, one of the 20 Pro Tour teams]. The company intends to take the matter to the UCI, as well as the Italian Cycling Federation, because they have the authority to intervene in this case."

Excluded AG2R manager speaks out

AG2R manager Vincent Lavenu is not happy about his exclusion from the UCI's Pro Tour calendar next season. In French daily L'Equipe on Thursday, he expressed some bitterness, saying, "We, too, matched the UCI's selection criteria of sporting history, performance, ethics and financial background. We've been committed to cycling for 13 years, achieved 275 victories, 8 stage victories at the Tour de France in 7 years, we have a training centre and pay our taxes in France."

Lavenu linked the rejection of his candidacy to "a hand of steel, skilful enough to change the rules - but not in the interests of the sport," although he didn't give names. "I still have a valuable team," he added, "and that is what I will tell my riders. I can only hope that the race organisers recognise it, because I am now at their mercy."

Petacchi out too

The "Autumn Classic" Paris-Tours on Sunday, October 10 will be held for the 98th time, and although it is a sprinter's game on flat terrain, it must do without the top three of them this year. After Erik Zabel breaking a heel bone, Tom Boonen ill with gastroenteritis, it is now Alessandro Petacchi who will not be able to race on Sunday. For the same reason as Boonen - gastroenteritis - the Italian rider doesn't feel up to the challenge, according to But Belgian site reported the rider out with a simple flu, quoting manager Ferretti as saying, "This morning he had a fever. What a shame!"

With three of the main bunch sprint contenders out, a duel seems likely between the new World Champion Oscar Freire and Stuart O'Grady, that is if their Rabobank and Cofidis teammates can control the race. And then there are still strong sprinters like Jaan Kirsipuu (AG2R), Baden Cooke ( and Max Van Heeswijk (US Postal) in the game, too. But the race might also take another turn, as one should never count out riders like Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), eager to defend his world cup lead, and Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step), who very probably wants to make up for his lost World Championship chances. Other men to beat include Igor Astarloa (Lampre), Jörg Jaksche (CSC), Steffen Wesemann (T-Mobile) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo).

This year's Paris-Tours might also be a perfect opportunity for other talented finishers to step into the spotlight. Maybe somebody like Danilo Hondo (Gerolsteiner), Jean-Patrick Nazon (AG2R) or even Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros) - just recently praised by Erik Zabel himself - can do the trick.

Paris-Tours: Liberty roster, Evans in for T-Mobile

The following Liberty Seguros riders will compete at Paris-Tours this coming Sunday:

Rene Andrle, Dariusz Baranowski, Giampaolo Caruso, Allan Davis, Isidro Nozal, Jan Hruska, Javier Ramirez.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile has announced that Australian rider Cadel Evans will fill the gap in the team left by Erik Zabel, who cannot participate because of a heel fracture. Sports director Mario Kummer is not willing to comment on the resulting change of race strategy. "We have a number of options that we have to think about now," said Kummer.

Illes Balears for Milano-Torino

Spanish team Illes Balears has announced its team selection for the Italian one-day race Milano-Torino on October 13. The riders participating at the UCI 1.1 race are:

Chente García, Iván Gutiérrez, José Luis Arrieta, Unai Osa, Joan Horrach, Mikel Pradera, Pablo Lastras, José Antonio López.

Lanfranchi retires

Paolo Lanfranchi (Ceramiche Panaria-Margres) will retire at the end of this season, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The 36 year old Italian has won nine races in his career, which began in 1993 with Mercatone Uno. Among his wins are a stage in the Giro d'Italia in 2000 and two overall victories in the Tour de Langkawi (1999 and 2001). He also finished second in the Giro di Lombardia in 1997 and has had several top 20 overall placings in the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España.

Lara to T-Mobile

The T-Mobile team has announced the signing of Francisco Jose Lara from the division II Spanish team Costa de Almeria-Paternina. Lara is the second Spanish rider after Oscar Sevilla to sign with the top German team. "Both of them will certainly be good additions," said team spokesman Olaf Ludwig. "Lara is also strong in the mountains and fits into our plan."

Lara finished 14th in the Vuelta a España, and his performance convinced the T-Mobile team to sign him for a year. It's not the first German team he has ridden for either. After starting his career with Festina in 2001, he moved to the German registered Team Coast in 2002 and then Bianchi in 2003.

Johansson signs with Team Minolta-Konica

Swedish rider Fredrik Johansson, who rode successfully in the Luxembourg Elite team CCI Differdange, will be wearing a Team Minolta-Konica jersey next season. Within the Italian based continental team, Johansson will be one of key figures for the 2005 races, together with the Velits brothers, Peter and Martin. He has also been offered a stagiaire contract with Team Barloworld as of September 2005.

Volkswagen Iron Cross 2004

The Volkswagen Iron Cross race will take place in Michaux State Forest, PA, USA on October 17, 2004. The organisers are calling it America's longest Cyclocross race, covering a single 100 km lap through the autumn forest with over 6,500 feet of elevation gain. The course has been slightly changed compared to last year's.

More information on the event can be found at, including course maps and profiles, lodging information and prizes.

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