News for September 21, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones
Midi Libre cancelled
The organisers of the Grand Prix du Midi Libre, a traditional preparation race for the Tour de France, won this year by Lance Armstrong, have said that it won't go ahead next year and may disappear completely. They cited financial problems stemming from the continuing drug problem in cycling as the main reason for its collapse.
The race was first held in 1949, but increasing costs have pushed it to the brink of survival - Even this year's race was in doubt.
"Restoring cycling's image is proving to be a very, very slow process," said Midi Libre newspaper group president Noel-Jean Bergeroux, in an interview with Darren Tulett of Bloomberg News. "Sponsors tell us they are unsure about the future. I just hope the UCI is listening."
"We don't want the race to die," Bergeroux said. "But we need help."
Ever since the Festina affair in 1998, cycling has struggled to maintain its credibility, despite an increased effort by the world governing body to combat doping. The scandals in Italy in the past two years and the as yet unresolved Rumsas affair that followed this year's Tour de France have not helped increase sponsorship in the sport, which has undergone a fairly rapid development in the last 15 years.
This year the Paris-Nice race was almost called off, after organiser Laurent Fignon was faced with a financial crisis. At the last possible moment, the Amaury Sport Organisation, organisers of the Tour de France, took it over and it was given a reprieve.
Rumsas allowed to race according to UCI
The International Cycling Union has specified that Raimondas Rumsas can keep racing, despite the drug case involving him and his wife Edita. Rusmas' Lampre team suspended him as soon as the affair broke, and he has not raced since the Tour.
"There is no positive control, and no doping confession," said the UCI's Alain Rumpf to ANP. "There are no grounds to suspend him. We certainly understand that the image of Lampre is involved in this case, and therefore also the image of cycling."
Spanish team to be selected after Vuelta
Spanish selector Francisco Antequera has not yet selected the 13 riders to contest the World Championships for Spain. However he is following the Vuelta España with keen interest to see who's in form.
Defending champion Oscar Freire will be an automatic starter, provided he is injury free. Freire retired in stage 9 due to knee problems, but hopes to be OK again for the World's. He intends on riding Paris-Tours on October 6, which takes place a week before the Men's Road Race.
Other candidates for the road race include Oscar Sevilla, Pedro Horrillo, Rafael Diaz Justo, Mikel Pradera, José Enrique Gutiérrez, Alejandro Valverde, Pablo Lastras, José Vicente Garcia Acosta, Igor Astarloa, Iban Mayo, Haimar Zubeldia and Luis Pérez. For the time trial, two riders would be chosen from front runners Aitor Gonzalez, Igor González de Galdeano, Joseba Beloki and Toni Tauler.
Australian Team for World Track Championships
The Australian "Cyclones" are getting ready for the World Track Cycling Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark from September 25th to 29th. The 20 rider team consists of nine sprinters and 11 endurance cyclists, who will contest 15 events over the five days of racing.
West Australian, Ryan Bayley, will line up to defend his world crown in the men's keirin on the opening day of competition. "My form is really good," said Bayley. "I've got a lot of speed and my strength has improved since last year but I'll definitely be a marked man this year which will make it pretty hard."
"Last year was a big surprise for me to event make the final and I never thought my tactic of leading out would pay off," explained Bayley who last month claimed gold at the Manchester Commonwealth Games in the sprint and team sprint events.
The women's keirin will be contested for the first time at a World Titles with Australia represented by reigning national champion, Rosealee Hubbard (SA), 22, and Anna Meares (QLD), 19.
Also in action on the first day of racing will be, Brad McGee, who will line up as a strong contender in the 4km individual pursuit for which he has claimed three Commonwealth Games gold and two Olympic bronze medals.
"I had a really good break after the Commonwealth Games," said McGee who raced in Manchester less than 48 hours after completing the Tour de France, where he won a stage riding for FDJeux.com.
"At first I thought I'd taken too much time off but now I'm feeling awesome," explained McGee who recently spent two days with the Australian team at their pre-Worlds training base in Buttgen, Germany.
"I didn't do too much because 'Macka' (Endurance Coach Ian McKenzie) wasn't keen to see me on the track," laughed McGee. "He figures it worked last time to go straight from the road and he didn't want me to mess it up."
However the 26-year-old Sydney rider did get on his track bike in Buttgen and was pleased with his form.
It will be the first World Championships with Martin Barras at the helm as National Track Cycling Coach and he believes the team has a real chance of improving the 2001 results of one gold and two silver medals. "We came out Commonwealth Games needing some time to mend bodies and minds," said Barras. "But we've managed to do that and the team is going from strength to strength."
Kate Bates (NSW)
British team for World Road Championships
The British Team for the World Road Championships in Zolder (October 8-13) features several medal contenders, led by last year's Men's Time Trial silver medallist David Millar.
Commonwealth Road Race medallists Nicole Cooke and Rachel Heal head the women's challenge. Four-time junior World Champion Nicole Cooke will be riding in her first senior road World Championships, and it will be interesting to see her performance.
Note - additional selections for U23 and Junior TT places will announced
Under 23 Men
not selected until 30.9.02
Ireland gets a World's bonus
By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent
Irish fans attending this year's world cycling championships will have a bonus this year. In the last few years, Irish interest in the championships ended on Saturday afternoon. This time around they will focus their attention on the professional road race. David O'Loughlin the man from Cong, Co. Mayo will be on the start line rubbing shoulders with the world's elite professionals. Initially it was hoped that Ciaran Power from the Crystal City, Waterford would be participating but the impeding birth of his first child is anticipated at the time of the championships.
The Ofoto Lombardi professional, O'Loughlin, is just back from Japan where he finished second on the final stage. "Only in late July, I was sidelined with a broken collarbone and missed out going to Malaysia for the inaugural Gamuda Eagle Tour of Malaysia. Thankfully my doctor took the initiative and recommended that I get back on the bike after two weeks. Naturally I was dubious about prognostics of my GP, but you have to have confidence in his medical advice, which turned my season on its head. After the crash in the States, which put me out, I more or less had resigned myself to planning for next season."
"I have signed for Ofoto and I am going to University and this was a priority. In the space of a couple of weeks I was back competing with a Star Trophy Event in Mayo and then going to Japan which tilted the balance in favour of me," said David.
O'Loughlin may well also compete in the time trial, and no doubt the O'Loughlin fan club will swell the Irish supporters as they head for Belgium next month.
Nothstein's jersey auctioned for Nicole Reinhart Foundation
An autographed National Champion Jersey from 2000 Olympic Sprint Champion Marty Nothstein is being auctioned today on E-Bay to benefit the Nicole Reinhart Foundation, a charity that is dedicated to supporting young, developing cyclists. The Nicole Reinhart Foundation was created in the memory of Nicole, a champion cyclist from Pennsylvania who was tragically killed during a race on September 17, 2000.
Other items include an autographed National Champion Jersey from the 2001 Canadian National Champion and winner of the 2002 First Union Championship in Philadelphia, Mark Walters.
Ebay auction: www.stores.ebay.com/id=35033055
Nicole Reinhart Foundation: www.nicolesbench.com
Boonen to decide next week
Tom Boonen will make a decision on his future with US Postal sometime next week. After meeting and discussing things with USPS team management on Thursday, Boonen and manager Paul De Geyter received a proposal from them. Boonen has the opportunity to extend his contract with them, or to break it and go to another team, with Quick Step being the obvious choice.
Freire to decide soon
World Champion Oscar Freire will reportedly make his decision about which team to ride for next season very soon. Freire has strong offers from Cofidis, CSC-Tiscali and Quick Step.
Quick Step-Davitamon adds Knaven
Patrick Lefevere's Quick Step-Davitamon team has added another Dutchman to its line up: 2001 Paris-Roubaix winner Servais Knaven. He currently rides for Domo-Farm Frites and will be the second Dutch rider in the team after Bram Tankink.
Quick Step is also bidding for Kelme's Aitor Gonzalez, who would fill the role of GC rider for the team, and Juan Jose de los Angeles.
Robin prolongs with FDJ
Jean-Cyril Robin has extended his contract with the FDJeux.com team for another season. Robin has been a pro since 1991, winning a bronze medal in the World Road Championships in 1999. He has ridden for several teams, including Castorama, Festina, US Postal, Française des Jeux (twice) and Bonjour.
Verheyen won't go to Lotto
Rabobank's Gert Verheyen will not be riding for the Lotto-Domo team next season, despite earlier reports to the contrary, after Rik Verbrugghe had requested his presence in the team.
World Masters silver medalist's home raided in drug sweep
A U.S. nationwide drug sweep has hit the home of 36 year old Minnesota cyclist Doug Beck, as part of an operation to stop the sales of the 'date rape drug' Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) over the internet. Beck was not at his Lakeville home when the raid happened, as he is currently competing in the World Masters Track Championships in Manchester, where he won a silver medal in the individual pursuit.
The local press reported that more than 30 gallons (equivalent to 220,000 doses) of a chemical that converts quickly to GHB when it is ingested were seized in Wednesday's raid.
Beck, a former gymnastics coach, was also arrested in April 2000 on drug charges when the substances Gamma Butyrolactone (GBL) and 1,4 butanediol were found in his home. Both are readily convertible into GHB. However that case fell through when the prosecutors could not prove that they were intended for human use, as the substances are also found in cleaning solutions.
The crackdown on GHB sales has focused on web operators who advertise GHB as "industrial cleaning products" or "ink jet printing supplies". Under US law, people can be prosecuted if they sell GHB related drugs for human consumption.
GHB is a depressant that produces drunken like effects and can cause nausea and dizziness, or even seizures, coma and death. It has been blamed for 72 drug related deaths in the U.S. It comes as a white powder that is easily mixed with drinks.
Beck has been charged in the latest raids, but has not yet been arrested. He runs an online business selling, amongst other things, kits "for experimenting with various crystalline pro-hormone powders and other steroid type structures and their solubility in oil."
He notes on his website that "Everything you need to do the procedure is included in the kit(s) except the hormones you choose to put in them!" along with the disclaimer that "any information garnered from this site does not imply or suggest human or any use at all. Any replies via email or posting regarding your/my animal and using I/me/my/mine and you or yours refers to animals."
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2002)