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News for March 9, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones
Bernard Sainz, the horse trainer at the centre of the Vandenbroucke affair, has been freed from custody by Belgian police. Sainz was placed under detention last week for possessing illegal products after his car was searched by police on the E17 motorway. Although it was initially reported that the substances were illegal (e.g. amphetamines and corticosteroids), it appears now that the police do not having anything to hold him for.
His lawyer, Jan Van Lantschoot, said that the results of the analyses of the products were all negative. Therefore he was free to go.
"I am delighted that all suspicion against me has been lifted," Sainz told VTM television upon his release in Termonde. "I am very satisfied that the investigation proceeded so quickly. The efficiency of this work impresses me."
"I only had homeopathic remedies or phytotherapeutics, which were completely legal," he added before heading home to France.
Sainz was stopped just over a week ago for speeding. Police searched his car and found a lot of syringes and ampoules of substances which they believed to be suspicious. He was taken in for questioning and told police that he had just come from Frank Vandenbroucke's house. Police searched VDB's residence and allegedly found quantities of EPO, clenbuterol and morphine - enough to take in VDB for questioning.
Vandenbroucke was questioned about why he possessed these products and he explained that the morphine was for when he broke his wrist last year, while the clenbuterol was for his dog. He was immediately sacked by the Domo-Farm Frites team in accordance with their strict anti-drug policy.
The results of VDB's blood and urine tests taken by police last week, are still not known.
Starting with a 5.2 kilometre individual time trial in Issy-les-Moulineaux, the 60th edition of Paris-Nice will get under way on Sunday, March 10. Traditionally the most important early season stage race, Paris-Nice was almost cancelled this year after organiser Laurent Fignon ran into financial problems. Some hasty negotiations followed with the Amaury Sport Organisation, owners of the Tour de France, and things were eventually settled with ASO purchasing the race.
That didn't leave a great deal of time to organise the race, but it was done and the route looks to be a challenging one this year. After the prologue, the race starts its journey south with a flat stage from Blois to Saint-Amand-Montrond (176 km) followed by a tougher leg from Moulins to Belleville (170 km).
Stage 3 starts and finishes in St Etienne, and contains six categorised climbs, including the Cat. 1 climbs of Col de l'Oeillon (1233 m) and the Col de la Croix-de-Charbouret (1201 m). This is followed by another hilly stage from Pertuis to Toulon, finishing with the climb of Mont Faron, á la Tour Méditerranéen.
If that's not enough, stages 5 and 6 also feature a few category 1 climbs, culminating in the Col d'Eze at the end of stage 6. At 500 metres this is not a climb of alpine proportions, but it will be more than enough to test the riders' legs at the end of the week.
Some relief to the sprinters is granted on the final stage, the traditional promenade around Nice - provided they get over the 963 metre Col de Vence in the early part of the stage.
Contenders for this year's race include Alex Zülle (Team Coast), Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo), Laurent Jalabert (CSC), Alexandre Botcharov (Ag2r), Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom), Cadel Evans (Mapei), Peter Van Petegem (Lotto), Richard Virenque (Domo), Laurent Brochard (Jean Delatour), and for the sprints, Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo), Robbie McEwen (Lotto) and Jaan Kirsipuu (Ag2r). And look out for last year's winner, Dario Frigo, who is making his return to racing with the Tacconi Sport team after serving a suspension for admitting to possession of illegal drugs.
Hamilton World Cup preview
Round 2 of the Women's World Cup will take place in Hamilton, New Zealand tomorrow (March 10). The race is 107.1 kilometres, and will again take place over 17 laps of a fast 6.3 kilometre circuit with a couple of small climbs. After her impressive performance last week in Thredbo, Saturn's Petra Rossner is on target to claim her second World Cup win in a row. She currently leads Australian Rochelle Gilmore and Mirjam Melchers in the standings, and will be difficult to beat in a bunch sprint tomorrow.
On the other hand, a small group could escape on the circuit with the strength of riders such as Susanne Ljungskog, Priska Doppmann and Mirjam Melchers. Look out for the Kiwis, who rode quite well during the Tour de Snowy last week: Rosalind Reekie-May, Melissa Holt and Kirsty Robb will be supported by Sarah Ulmer and Susy Pryde on Sunday.
Armstrong will start in San Remo
Lance Armstrong's return to European racing in 2002 will take place on March 23 in the first round of the World Cup, Milan-San Remo. The triple Tour de France winner was due to start racing in Murcia this week, but was KO'd by a stomach bug.
According to US Postal assistant director Dirk Demol, Armstrong will next race in the Criterium International (March 30-31), the Tour of Flanders (April 7) and Gent Wevelgem (April 10). He will then return to the USA for the Ride for the Roses in mid-April, travelling back to Europe for the Tour of Aragon and the Amstel Gold Race (April 28).
In May, Armstrong will start his normal Tour de France preparation, possibly including the GP Midi Libre (May 22-26) and the Dauphine Libére (June 9-16).
Tour de France teams selected on May 2
The final five (or six) teams for the Tour de France will be named on May 2, according to the Amaury Sport Organisation, who had its start of season meeting on Friday in Roissy-en-France. 16 teams of nine riders are already automatically qualified, and there will be a tight battle for the final spots. It's likely that the majority of the berths will go to French teams, as Cofidis is the only French team preselected. However, foreign teams such as Saeco and Team Coast have been making their mark early this season.
The total prize money for the Tour will rise to 2,439,184 euros, with the overall winner receiving 381,123 euros.
Time bonuses for stage wins will be 20, 12 and 8 seconds (excluding time trials), with 6, 4 and 2 seconds allowed for intermediate sprints.
The total distance is now 3276 kilometres, only a slight change from the original 3282 kilometres. The prologue has been lengthened to 7.3 kilometres, while the first time trial in Lorient has been reduced to 52 kilometres.
Four climbs, Col d'Aubisque, Plateau de Beille, Mont Ventoux, Col de la Madeleine will all be timed separately.
All stages, save for the prologue, will finish between 17:00 and 17:30.
More Tour de France information
Teams announced for First Union Cycling Series
The first 19 teams have been confirmed for the First Union Cycling series, which takes place from June 4-9 in the USA. Leading the way are the division I teams Mapei-Quick Step, Lotto-Adecco, US Postal Service, and Saeco-Longoni Sport, who should provide some serious competition for the remainder of the division II and III squads.
Mapei-Quick Step (Italy)
Eleven riders in Dutch national women's team
Eleven riders have been selected to form this year's Dutch national women's team. National coach Herman Snoeijink has selected: Minke van Dongen, Sharon van Essen, Josephine Groenveld, Areke Hassink, Esther van der Helm, Yvonne Hijgenaar, Vera Koedooder, Bertine Spijkerman, Adrie Visser, Jaccolien Wallaard and Frederika van der Wiel.
Eastside Cycles/Element Frame Co. team
The Eastside Cycles/Element Frame Co. team is based out of Petaluma, CA. They are in their first year, but are not short on experience. Team members include winners in the Tour of Ohio, Chris Thater Criterium, 2 Burlingame Criteriums, Davis 4th of July Crit, 5 District Track Championships, California State Police Olympics and the Canadian Ironman.
This year's Cat. III team will concentrate on Northern California races, Superweek and the Wildflower Triathlon.
John Muela (Track Cat. II)
Cédric Vasseur correction
An article in cyclingnews yesterday quoted former US Postal team member Cédric Vasseur as saying he had an "overall negative time racing with Lance Armstrong". That statement was incorrect according to Vasseur, who said that it was quite the opposite.