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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for December 12, 2003

Edited by John Stevenson

Police investigate Jiménez death

According to Spanish newspaper El Mundo, police are investigating the death of José María Jiménez as examination of Jiménez' room at the Clínica San Miguel, Madrid, where he died of an apparent heart attack on Saturday, has revealed a five gram quantity of a white powder police believe may be cocaine.

However, final conclusions have yet been released from the autopsy performed on Jiménez on Sunday at the Instituto Anatómico Forense.

Hospital staff found a plastic container of white powder in Jiménez' room and alerted police who requested the container be handed over for analysis. A blood sample from Jiménez' body is also being subjected to toxicological analysis.

USPS releases Heras

Tailwind Sports has commented on the departure of its star climber Roberto Heras, who will next year race for Liberty Seguros, the new team formed by former ONCE director sportif Manolo Saiz.

In a statement released on December 11, 2003, Tailwind Sports said, "Roberto Heras officially parted ways with the United States Postal Service Pro Cycling Team, which is presented by Berry Floor, and joined the Liberty Seguros cycling team."

According to Tailwind Sports, the owner of the USPS team, Heras used a clause in his existing contract with the USPS team, which extended through the 2004 season, to part ways amicably with the team he raced for since 2001.

In an effort to replace Heras, the team has signed Jose Azevedo for the 2004 season. The 30-year-old Portuguese rider, twenty-sixth overall at last year's Tour de France, had agreed to ride for the Portugal-based Milaneza-MSS team but team management allowed Azevedo to leave the team and sign with the USPS.

It has been a busy few weeks for USPS team director sportif Johan Bruyneel. "Two weeks ago I was contacted by Roberto's lawyer and was told about an offer Roberto received," said Bruyneel. "My first reaction was not in favour of it at all (Heras leaving), considering the time of year and especially because Roberto was an important rider for our team at the Tour and with him winning the Vuelta.

"When I found out Roberto's intentions (to leave) were pretty serious, I felt it was no use and we had to work out a deal. If someone's intentions are to ride for another team, what can you do. Ideally, I would have liked to have kept him on the team but if not, we needed to immediately find a replacement," he said.

Bruyneel said when he learned that bringing Azevedo to the team was possible, he jumped at the chance. "Azevedo is a great rider and will fill in Roberto's position well," said Bruyneel. "Roberto is a different type of rider, having won big stage races while Azevedo has not, but for the Tour, he will be one of our big riders."

Commenting on Heras' decision to leave the team, five-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong said he was not too surprised. "Roberto's a leader and had the opportunity to go and do that, plus get a longer term deal," Armstrong said on his official web site. "I wish him well."

Regarding the addition of Azevedo, Armstrong added, "The "Ace" does fit in well. He can climb, time trial, and is strong in the TTT (team time trial). He'll fit nicely." "It will be interesting to see him (Heras) as a leader of one of our rivals," said Bruyneel. "It will be strange at first but we are all professionals and definitely have no hard feelings."

Ullrich not worried

Jan Ullrich is not worried about divided loyalties within the T-Mobile team, he has told a local newspaper on the island of Majorca, where the team is currently training. Ullrich said that if he wanted to win the Tour de France again he had to be "the best rider in the world. If the case is clear, then I will also be the strongest rider in the T-Mobile team."

In particular, Ullrich isn't concerned about the podium goals of his team-mate and friend Alexandre Vinokourov. "Vinokourov has assured me that the team comes first," said Ullrich.

McEwen wants another Aussie title

Robbie McEwen
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

Top Australian rider and 2002 Tour de France green jersey Robbie McEwen is aiming to kick-start his 2004 season the same way his stellar 2002 started, with a win at the Australian Road Cycling Championships in Buninyong, Victoria, January 15-18.

McEwen won the title in 2002 and wore the Australian champion's jersey through a season that included victory in the Tour green jersey contest, a swathe of one-day race wins and second place in the world championships.

With 80 UCI points available, and a possible berth in the Australian team for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, McEwen believes the national championships will be hotly contested. He anticipates his main rivals in the 2004 men's road race, to be fellow Queenslander, Allan Davis - 12th at the recent World Championships, and Victorian Cadel Evans, who is returning to competition after suffering three broken collarbones during 2003.

The 180km men's road race will be the grand finale to the four-day cycling championships, which will be conducted on the outskirts of Ballarat. All races will start at 11am, near the corner of Warrenheip and Eyre Streets, Buninyong.

Australian Road Cycling Championships schedule

January 15: Women's Time Trial, 28km
January 16: Men's Time Trial, 39km
January 17: Women's Road Race, 100km
January 18: Men's Road Race, 180km

Spitz to ride track and MTB at Athens

Mountain bike world champion Sabine Spitz is considering an unusual double at the 2004 Olympics in Athens Greece. As well as a start in the mountain bike race, Spitz says she'd like to have a go at the individual pursuit, according to The 31-year-old rode the track for the first time a few weeks ago, but already has big goals: the semi-finals and perhaps a medal.

Spitz' manager and husband Ralf Schäuble said there was no conflict between the two events and that Spitz would remain "a thoroughbred mountain biker" for the foreseeable future. "This is an experiment which puts her under no pressure," said Schäuble. "The races are a week apart and the effects of the 3km pursuit are relatively short-term, so I can't see any negative effects on Sabine's MTB racing. That remains Sabine's main goal."

Schäuble said that Spitz had enjoyed her first outing on the track and with no other obvious strong German candidate for the pursuit, the German cycling federation was happy for Spitz to have a crack at the event.

Piepoli to lead Suanier-Duval

Leonardo Piepoli (32) will lead the Saunier-Duval cycling team in 2004, according to Datasport. Piepoli, a climbing specialist with around 20 victories in his nine-year professional career, chose Mauro Gianetti's team after also discussing a place with Davide Rebellin at Gerolsteiner

Saunier-Duval is based on the former Italian Division I Vini Caldirola team. Other confirmed personnel for the team - which is still awaiting confirmation from the UCI of its Division I status, - include Rubens Bertogliati, Joaquin Rodriguez and Juan Carlos Dominguez.

Bartoli breaks arm

New CSC signing Michele Bartoli has sustained a minor fracture of his left arm in a fall while training at the team's camp in Lanzarote. Bartoli fell while training in the gym and complained of discomfort when he set out for the day's training ride.

CSC team spokesman Brian Nygaard said x-rays revealed the break was not serious and Bartoli was still able to train.

Eating disorders in cycling - a Cyclingnews special report

A few weeks ago, French doctor Arnaud Mégret claimed that 30 percent of elite women and 10 percent of elite male cyclists in France showed some signs of disordered eating. With cycling being a sport where gravity is so often the main enemy, the pressure to lose weight in order to gain power, increase speed, and, ultimately win bike races, is enormous. Although problems such as anorexia, bulimia and osteoporosis are common to both men and women, it is females who have suffered most.

In the same week as Doctor Mégret made his claims on the prevalence of eating disorders within cycling, Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel, having suffered from anorexia earlier in her career, announced that she is opening a halfway house for eating disorder sufferers. The new facility will give people with eating disorders the opportunity to come in for company and education, teaching people how to cook properly, not eat too many snacks but not feel guilty about eating sweets or chocolate.

Just how widespread a problem is eating disorders in cycling, and how do riders deal with the pressure to be thin? In part one of this Cyclingnews special report Kristy Scrymgeour spoke to past and present top riders, including former eating disorder sufferers, to examine the issues around this important subject.

New Irish club on the drawing board

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

The reverberations from the collapse of the Life Repair Cycling Team in England earlier this month have certainly opened up Pandora's box. A number of high-ranking Irish personnel had been assured contracts including David O'Loughlin from Mayo. This latest twist has thrown their plans into complete disarray with the exception of O'Loughlin who is making alternative plans. Obviously for the remainder it is going to be difficult to renew acquaintances with their former clubs and invariably they are now in the departure lounge as to where their next move will bring them. Still for some of them there is a glimmer of light with the announcement that a new elite club is being formed here, but there are still a few I's to be dotted and T's to be crossed before it comes off the drawing board.

The new Irish cycling team is due to make its debut next season if everything falls into place concerning that word "sponsorship." All going well the elite squad will compete in the major Irish road races, plus British Premier Calendar events and selected continental road races, which the Life Repair team had pencilled in.

Two international cyclists who have a wealth of experience in top-class competition are behind the new squad. David O'Loughlin from Cong and a member of the USA-based team, Ofoto-Lombardia, is the driving force. He is the current reigning Irish time trial champion and one of the country's top roadmen. O'Loughlin had been earmarked for the British team, but the soundings he was receiving from across the water made him that bit edgy and by the time the announcement had been made, David was well down the road in his attempt to put a strong team together. David McQuaid is the second part of the jigsaw. He is making a comeback after taking time out of the sport for university studies.

Mayo-based O'Loughlin has won national titles at every level from under-16 to elite. In 2003 he scored 13 victories, including the Archer Grand Prix Premier Calendar race in Britain and a stage of the Circuit of Namur in Belgium. For the past two years he has ridden for a Division III trade team in the USA.

McQuaid represented Ireland at junior and under-23 world championships before taking a degree course in business and legal studies at UCD. Now he is training hard for the 2004 season. McQuaid and O'Loughlin rode together for a leading Italian under-23 team in .1999 and 2000.

"We are talking to various potential sponsors and expect to have the backing in place within the next three to four weeks. We can then start signing riders," said O'Loughlin.

"This is a very exciting project and we are looking forward to putting a competitive outfit together for the coming season," he added.

Jørgensen extends

The Glud and Marstrand Horsens has prolonged its contract with 21 year old Hans Henrik Jørgensen for one more year.

Stada sponsors German federation

Pharmaceutical company Stada is the new sponsor of German cycling governing body Bundes deutscher Radfahrer (BDR), according to The five-year deal is worth over a million Euros to the BDR; half of the money will fund rider development, while 30,000 Euros per year will be spent on the federation's anti-doping efforts. "For a medical company, there is nothing worse than being associated with performance drugs," said Stada chairman Hartmut Retzlaff.

Landis retracts

Subsequent to his comments in a recent interview with Cyclingnews, the UCI has disputed Floyd Landis' interpretation of the facts of the situation regarding the ongoing Mercury case.

In light of the UCI's work defending the riders' interests in the ongoing case, Floyd Landis has made the following statement: "I formally rescind all allegations regarding the UCI that I made in my interview with Tim Maloney that was published on on November 17, 2003." The UCI accepted the statement made by Landis and the matter is now closed.

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