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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

News for September 1, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones and Chris Henry

US Postal Service for Vuelta a España

A scene from the 2001 Vuelta likely to be repeated this year, except Gilberto Simoni (Right) will be in Saeco red.
Photo: ©AFP
Click for larger image

The US Postal Service team has announced its roster for the upcoming Vuelta a España. Former Vuelta winner Roberto Heras will be Postal's designated leader, in search of his second victory in a grand tour. Heras showed a return to top form during this year's Tour de France, riding brilliantly in the mountains in support of Lance Armstrong.

For this year's Vuelta, Heras will have the support of the indefatigable Jose Rubiera, second in the recent Vuelta a Burgos, and Victor Hugo Pena, third in the Tour of Holland. The full Postal lineup is as follows:

Michael Barry, David Clinger, Antonio Cruz, Roberto Heras, Steffen Kjaergaard, Victor Hugo Pena, Jose Luis Rubiera, Christian Vandevelde and Matthew White.

Rebellin close but still searching

Gerolsteiner's Davide Rebellin has proven a consitent, if seldom victorious, campaigner in the one day races. In the past few weeks, Rebellin has finished on the second or third step of the podium in the Trofeo Melinda, Giro del Veneto, and Saturday's Giro del Friuli. Not to mention his 7th place in the leading group at the Zurich World Cup race.

Rebellin's recent successes come after a difficult spring battling a metabolic disease which had gone undetected. Gerolsteiner team director Rolf Gölz pondered the recent run of missed victories, noting "in the last two races he was third and then second. It wouldn't hurt to win." Citing finishing speed as the missing ingredient, Gölz did contend that "his sprinting at the end of a tough race has getting better."

Kroon at Rabobank for another two years

Karsten Kroon, winner of the eighth stage in this year's Tour de France, has signed with the Rabobank team for another two years. "I've received a good proposal. The organisation and the atmosphere within the team are really good, and I can ride a very nice program. Therefore we came to an agreement quickly," said Kroon.

A Trade Team for Japan

By Miwako Sasaki, Japanese Cyclesport

From September 1, Japan will have its first ever Trade Team. When Jaques Jolidon's Team Jura Suisse, a Trade Team 3 currently registered in Switzerland, merged with the Japanese Nippon Hodo Team in August, four Japanese riders joined the Swiss team. The team is now going to be registered in Japan, and will be called Nippon Hodo-Jura Suisse.

Nippon Hodo is a Japanese road construction company and is one of the big sponsors of Japanese cycling, sponsoring this Japanese team for the past 15 years. The company also sponsored the French Besson Chaussures (TT3) in 1999. Jura Suisse's team manager Jolidon knew Nippon Hodo's manager Hiroshi Daimon well, because they were together in the same team in Switzerland 10 years ago. They met again this year at the Tour of Japan in May.

Jolidon said, "The merger gives us the possibility to race in Asia, where some very good races are organised, as well as possibilities of contracts in Europe, where it is sometimes very difficult to get one. For example, an organiser in France just wants one Swiss team, so when Phonak goes, we have no chance any more. But with a Japanese team, we will be able to start almost everywhere we want."

Conversely, this merger will also give young Japanese riders a lot of experience in Europe.

Nippon Hodo-Jura Suisse's first race in Japan will be the Tour of Hokkaido (2.5), September 11-16. Italian Simone Mori, who won the Eagle Tour of Malaysia, will ride the race as a team leader. "He is very motivated to win the race, as he was very disappointed by losing the Tour of Japan in the last 15 km," said Jolidon. "He's also looking forward to meet his new Japanese riders there."

Tammy Thomas receives life ban

American cyclist Tammy Thomas has been banned from competition for life by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), following a positive drug test. Thomas tested positive for norbolethone, an anabolic agent, on March 14 of this year. She had denied use of the drug, and requested a hearing on the USADA's imposition of a life ban.

Thomas had already tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials, after which she was suspended from UCI and USA Cycling events for one year. According to UCI regulations, a second positive test for anabolic agents results in a lifetime ban from competition.

After testing positive for an elevated testosterone level at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials, Thomas received a one-year suspension from USA Cycling and UCI competitions. Under UCI rules, a second offense involving anabolic agents brings a lifetime suspension. USA Cycling's sanction of Thomas took effect Saturday.

Thomas, 32, was a silver medalist at the 2001 World Championships in the sprint competition, and prior to this suspension ranked 2nd in the UCI World Cup rankings (sprint).

USA Cycling reaction to Thomas ban

After being informed of the results of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's investigation of an anti-doping violation by cyclist Tammy Thomas, and subsequent imposition of a lifetime ban from competition, USA Cycling CEO Gerard Bisceglia issued a statement on Thomas's case.

"Obviously, a lifetime ban from the sport is a severe and unusual sanction. However, we support and will enforce the decision reached by USADA, believing it has carefully reviewed all of the presented evidence, and has made this decision in the best interest of athletics and sport. If USADA determined that a lifetime ban is warranted, we support that decision."

"USA Cycling is totally committed to a drug-free competitive environment for our athletes and the entire sport of cycling. Hopefully, the severity of this sanction will send a message that we are serious about fighting and winning the battle against the use of performance-enhancing substances in cycling."

Cross Country MTB World's preview

By Tim Maloney, European editor in Kaprun

True grit - Alison Dunlap rides with her wrist in a cast at the most recent NORBA
Photo: © Jeff Zelek
Click for larger image

The demanding Cross Country course at this years Worlds will produce real champions. It's a 6.9km circuit with 325m. of climbing every lap. According to Dean Golich, former Team GT Coach and currently coach of Womens World Champ Alison Dunlap, "this Cross County course has the extremes of both XC & downhill. It has really steep uphills and really steep downhills. It's very tough." With overnight rain predicted and possible showers Sunday, the weather could have a major impact on tomorrows Mens Elite & U23, Womens Elite Cross Country races. Kiwi Tim Vincent, who's been doing double duty as a Cyclingews correspondent this week at Worlds said "It's not a typical World Cup course at all. It's quite steep up and down. Usually look you look forward to the downhill so you can relax a bit, but not this one." (See full preview.)

Sunday's Cross Country schedule

Women - 4 laps: 8:30 - 10:30 (CEST)
U23 Men - 5 laps: 11:15 - 13:15
Elite Men - 5 laps: 14:05 - 17:00

Cyclingnews will be posting live updates of the races throughout the day.

Inside Volvo-Cannondale

Volvo-Cannondale's last supper?
Photo: © Tim Vincent
Click for larger image

"I don't know when I have to give my car back" said Kashi Leuchs to Tim Vincent, fellow Kiwi MTB contender and Cyclingnews correspondent in Kaprun . "I'm a bit afraid to ask!"

Volvo announced last week (see full story) that its ninth year of sponsoring the Volvo-Cannondale mountain bike team will be its last.

Leuchs' concern about how much longer he will have his team car typifies the uncertainty that the five riders and six staff now face. (Read the full story on the Volvo-Cannondale team at Kaprun.)

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