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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

News for July 5, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

Ullrich: "One word would be too many"

Jan Ullrich's "non-negative" test for amphetamines has prompted a number of reactions from within the cycling world, but very few from Ullrich himself. German sports news agency SID quoted him as saying "I cannot say anything on the matter as each word could be one too many."

As is normal practice, Ullrich has been suspended by his Telekom team until the results of the B sample are known, and these are expected to take another four weeks, should Ullrich ask for it to be analysed. If these results are also positive, then he could be suspended for a period of six months, and quite possibly be fired by his team.

Team manager Rudy Pevenage commented in Luxembourg, "There are as you know clauses in the riders' contracts, that allow them to be fired if there is proof of doping, but now we must first wait and clarify all the circumstances."

Manager Walter Godefroot said that he had phoned Ullrich: "He cannot explain himself, how this could have happened," said Godefroot, who added that Telekom would give its official statement on the affair on Friday, July 5.

Ullrich's own manager Wolfgang Strohband said that he had informed the sponsors, but they have "not yet given a reaction as far as a contract dissolution is concerned."

Lance Armstrong, speaking at a press conference today in Luxembourg, said that the news was "clearly unfortunate for Jan and for his team. The process is still under way, we have to wait for the B sample and I prefer not to say too much."

If the amphetamine positive is confirmed, the question of why he was taking them will have to be addressed. As he clearly wasn't using them to boost his performance in a race, and wasn't even riding his bike on the road, then other possibilities have to be looked at.

It is unlikely that he was given them by a doctor in the rehabilitation clinic in Bad Wiessee. The clinic's medical director Dr. Hubert Hörterer was quoted by DPA as saying, "There are no stimulants given to the patient in this type of therapy. That would be counterproductive. A connection between our methods and the doping case is completely out of the question."

Another possibility, that Ullrich's doctor Karlheinz Birnesser did not rule out, was that he took Ecstasy or something similar at a party or disco. However, for an athlete with as high a profile as Jan Ullrich, this is extremely risky, no matter if he was racing or not.

Finally, amphetamines are often used as "diet pills" because of their appetite suppression and metabolism increasing properties. Athletes have to keep their bodies as lean as possible, and Ullrich knows this only too well. He may have been concerned that he was putting on too much weight while in rehab.

Flemish government suspends Vandenbroucke for 6 months

The disciplinary commission of the Flemish government has suspended Frank Vandenbroucke for 6 months, with a further 12 months of good behaviour, after he was found in possession of banned drugs in February of this year. The decision came shortly after the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne overturned a similar sanction by the Belgian Cycling Federation, saying that only a sporting disciplinary commission and not a national federation had the right to suspend Vandenbroucke.

The news came as a surprise to VDB and his lawyer, who earlier this week were confident that they would get off on technical grounds. It also means that Vandenbroucke will not be signing a contract on Friday with Domo-Farm Frites to race until the end of the season, as he thought.

Saeco interested in Mapei riders

With the withdrawal of Mapei as a cycling sponsor at the end of the season, it's been reported that Saeco are interested in taking up some of the slack. Saeco is looking at buying the entire World Cycling structure, which would include the contracts of 14 riders who had signed with Mapei through 2003. That would also presumably mean a big restructuring of the current Saeco team.

Wauters extends with Rabobank

Belgian Marc Wauters has extended his contract with Rabobank for another year. The 33 year old has ridden with the Dutch team since 1998, and next year will be his sixth with the team. Theo de Rooij called him a strong, unselfish worker for the team, talented enough to win races by himself.

Itera for Giro d'Italia

Itera team director Walter Zini has announced the team that will take part in the upcoming Giro d'Italia femminile: Vera Carrara, Barbara Cazzaniga, Barbara Lancioni, Silvia Valsecchi, Joulia Martissova, Olga Slioussareva, Elena Tchalich and Olga Zabelinskaia. The race starts on Friday, July 5 with a prologue in Pontedera.

Ras Connachta preview

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

Hot on the heels of the National Cycling Championships held in Stamullen last Sunday that was a qualified success from every aspect comes Ras Connachta. Sheer professionalism for the championships was the order of the day and everybody associated with the race went away very happy and no doubt the return of the championships to East Meath is a foregone conclusion.

On Friday evening in the village of Cong, Co. Mayo the first stage of the three-day with four stages rolls out of the historic village, which has more than a passing interest in the film world. It was here over a half century ago that Quiet Man was filmed.

Under the guidance of Martin Quigley and Brian O’Loughlin and members of the Mayo Wheelers Cycling Club they will put on an event equal to the best anywhere in the world. Already the tally of entries is fast approaching the magical 100. Teams and supporters from afar as Holland and Belgium have this event penciled in their diaries since last season.

Defending his win last year will be Paul Griffin who on the evidence of the last fortnight looks to be coming back to the form that he demonstrated early in the season. This time he will have the support of the Earl of Desmond/Tralee Bicycle Club, which should help him in his quest for victory. There have never been back-to-back winners, so maybe Paul can write his own piece of history over the three days of competition, which includes three road stages and the inevitable time trial, which the majority of competitors dislike.

Also last weekend it was noticeable that the Cycleways-Lee Strand team saw new names come to the fore. It was indeed a bonus that the likes of Timothy Cassidy came through to help bolster the hopes of the team prize, which was very much in abeyance for a time. Tim had a superb season last year, which culminated in him finish a very distinguished 15th place in the Junior Worlds. It would be no surprise if he goes close this weekend.

It is not known if the local favourite David O’Loughlin will be on duty for the promoting club, but if he so chooses then the destination of the overall prize might well stay in Co Mayo.

With the tourism figures below par for the year as has been echoed all week on Morning Ireland (RTE Radio One 7-9am), the local hotels and B&B's will surely be gracious for Mayo Wheelers bringing such great numbers to the village which will also have a knock on effect to bolster the local traders.

Intending participants from any part of the country should be aware that they should give themselves ample time for traveling. In recent years the organizers have shown exemplary patience when it came to closing the sign-on.

Also this weekend, the under-age championships are being held in Bray. The promoters of this competition are the Bray Wheelers. The Wheelers have a pedigree for organizing events but this is the first occasion that the club will have been directly involved in a championship at this level.

According to all reports the numbers in this bracket particularly this season, have seen a significant increase, which hopefully will permeate in the numbers participating in the championships in the town. So hopefully this will ensue as this is the area of a sport which needs bolstering if the future is to be assured.

It is noticeable particularly this year that every sport is taking cognizance of its position in relation to development and Cycling Ireland is no different. So hopefully we will be in a position to see for ourselves this weekend if indeed the position is rosy in the garden.

Ras Connachta, Cong, Co. Mayo

  • Stage 1 - July 5: Road Race, 52 miles, start 6:00 pm
  • Stage 2 - July 6: Road Race, 52 miles, start 10:30am
  • Stage 3 - July 6: Time Trial, 7 miles, start 5:30pm
  • Stage 4 - July 7: Road Race, 70 miles, start 10:00 am.

Underage Championships, Sat 5th & Sun 6th July. Sign on (race headquarters St.Thomas School) Friday 5th July at 7pm and again on Saturday morning 8.30am. Contact Urban Monks mobile-087-2416959

Saturday Morning 10am start, Time Trial, Sea Front Bray Saturday afternoon Criterium , 2pm on Sea front Sunday Morning road race, 10am start at Roundwood. Prizes and presentation 2pm St. Thomas School Bray (Race HQ)

USACDF Awards Travel Training Grants

The USA Cycling Development Foundation awarded 35 junior cyclists $9,700 in Travel/Training grants today. Grants were awarded primarily to riders who qualified to attend athlete development camps based upon spring competition results. The amount of each grant was based on financial need with riders receiving anywhere from $100 - $500 each. The athletes range in age from 14-18, hail from 19 different states and represent all disciplines of cycling: Road, Track and Mountain bike.

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2002)