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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest News for February 27, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

Team Coast under the microscope

Following claims by a number of riders that Team Coast did not pay their full salaries in 2002, the UCI has been keeping tabs on Coast's financial activity this year. The UCI granted Team Coast entry to Division I on a 'controlled administration' status, meaning the Professional Cycling Council (PCC) has been checking the monthly payments by the team to its riders.

Already in February some issues have arisen. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports Thursday that some riders' salaries were paid by bank cheque rather than by wire transfer, as required under agreements with the UCI. The next check by the UCI is likely to come in the first week of March, and could determine whether Team Coast will be able to maintain its Division I status.

Ullrich's contract not yet registered

Another dynamic of the Team Coast situation is that the UCI has not yet received the team's contract with Jan Ullrich. Team Coast is reportedly awaiting the arrival of some new sponsors which will help cover Ullrich's salary, though those arrangements have not been finalised. This means that the potential exists for Ullrich's season to be further destabilized should his new team's finances come into serious question. If Coast is unable to meet its obligations, Ullrich could conceivably find himself back on the market, where other teams remain interested in his signature, notably Saeco and Mercatone Uno-Scanavino.

Rumsas doubts Lampre invite to Tour

Raimondas Rumsas expressed his doubts concerning an invitation for his Lampre team to race in this year's Tour de France. Rumsas, who finished third in the 2002 Tour, came under heavy suspicion for doping following his wife Edita's arrest at the French border on the last day of the Tour. Mrs. Rumsas was stopped by customs officials with a number of banned substances in her car, which both she and her husband denied were ever used by the cyclist. Raimondas Rumsas had not tested positive for any controlled substances during the Tour, but nor could he escape the suspicion of wrong-doing.

"My guess is that Jean-Marie Leblanc won't invite Lampre to the Tour de France, but that will be his doing and not mine," Rumsas commented in Vélo Magazine. The Lithuanian started his 2003 season with Lampre at the GP Costa degli Etruschi in Italy, and notes that he has no concerns about racing in France, although his current schedule does not include any French races. "For my part, I still have a job and I'm happy," he continued.

Rumsas may be happy, although Lampre directeur sportif Pietro Algeri is not thrilled with the situation, having openly declared that he does not believe Rumsas' story. "I don't accept that [my other riders] get mixed up in this, that their image, and mine too, get tarnished," Algeri said frankly. "I don't have the proof that he cheated, but I've told him all this because I think being frank, even if it hurts, is beneficial."

Algeri was not keen on keeping Rumsas in the team following the events of 2002, but team owner Mr. Galbusera sought to keep Rumsas in the fold. Rumsas continues to maintain his innocence, and remains proud of his podium place in the 2002 Tour. "I have nothing to hide, and I don't lie," he argued. "During the Tour de France I passed all of the controls; I was never positive. The products [in Edita's car] were not for me. I finished third in the Tour de France and it's the highlight of my career. I'm still third."

New complications for Savoldelli

Team Telekom's Paolo Savoldelli, injured in training February 15, will be on the sidelines for longer than originally suspected. Savoldelli suffered a broken nose and thumb in a head on collision with a motorbike, two injuries which were thought to only delay his season by a few weeks. However, while the nose and thumb are healing as expected, Savoldelli's latest MRI revealed that his 6th and 7th cervical vertebrae were broken in the accident as well. Consequently, Savoldelli will probably not return to racing for at least two months. He will be wearing a collar for three weeks, a new setback for the 2002 Giro d'Italia winner.

Cycling Australia suspends Kersten

Cycling Australia announced Thursday the imposition of a three month suspension on Woollongong cyclist Ben Kersten, 21, for misconduct. Cycling Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) conducted a joint investigation into a report submitted by the team management after the recent Track World Cup round in Moscow. The federation did not specify the nature of Kersten's misconduct.

"The investigation found that Ben's behaviour contravened the Cycling Australia athlete Code of Conduct and was unacceptable for a member of an Australian team," said Mike Victor, Cycling Australia President. "As a result, Cycling Australia has imposed a three month suspension which will end on May 27th."

Kersten and team officials were interviewed in the course of the investigation. The cyclist has the right to appeal the decision. As it stands, the suspension means that Kersten will not be able to compete in the Australian Track Cycling Championships in Sydney in April.

"Cycling Australia and the AIS have offered support and counseling for Ben during the period of his suspension," said Victor. "After the three months has elapsed Ben will be eligible to rejoin the Cycling Australia High Performance Program."

Kiwi cyclist Sarah Ulmer on track for Athens

By Alan Messenger

Kiwi Track Cyclist Sarah Ulmer has her sights fixed firmly on the Athens Olympics and her campaign virtually starts next week with the New Zealand National track Championships at Dunedin. "It's a concrete track so I'm not looking to do any fantastic times down there, it's all training really," Ulmer told cyclingnews.

The Commonwealth Games Pursuit Champion raised a few eyebrows when she rode the Tour of Wellington recently as a member of an invited women's team, but from now on her focus will be on the track. "I'll be riding the World Cup meeting at Mexico later in March and also the Sydney World Cup meeting in July," she said.

In the meantime, Ulmer took time out from her own training to be at Taupo this weekend as a member of the backup crew for partner Brendon Cameron in the New Zealand Ironman event. Cameron, a former member of the Kiwi track teams pursuit squad, is competing in the Ironman event for the second time. He recently set a record on the bike in the Te Awamutu Summer series but is looking forward to just finishing the Ironman.

Manfred Donike dead at 41

Manfred Donike, a high ranking commissaire for the German cycling federation, has died at the age of 41. Donike served as chief commissaire for the UCI at the Moscow Track World Cup events. Donike, who has also served as a jury member for the Tour de France, is said to have died of heart failure.


(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)