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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition News for September 12, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry & Jeff Jones

Of wasps and inner tubes

In Belgium at the moment, the José Landuyt case is still making headlines in the country's newspapers. In the latest development, the public prosecutor in Kortrijk is trying to determine whether there is a link between certain "code words" used by Landuyt and his clients, and banned substances. The prosecutor said on Wednesday that Landuyt had told them the real meaning of the words, however did not explain further.

According to the VRT-journaal, the investigators are especially interested in the code word "wesp" [wasp], which according Landuyt meant the super-EPO product Aranesp (Darbepoetin Alpha). This drug is also known as Nesp, and it has a distinct advantage over EPO in that it has a much longer lasting effect and needs to be taken less often. On the other hand it is easier to detect as it stays in the body for longer, and some riders have already been caught using this drug.

It's alleged that Landuyt advised riders "dat de wesp in de binnenband steekt" [that the wasp in the inner tube stings], which is supposed to mean that the drug is to be taken intravenously.

To be continued...

Museeuw and Planckaert questioned again

Johan Museeuw and Jo Planckaert were both questioned again by Belgian police over possible involvement in the drug scandal surrounding José Landuyt. Both riders were questioned last week as the investigation opened and implicated a number of professional cyclists. Police raided the homes of the cyclists and seized items ranging from mobile phones and computers to medical products. Results of tests on these products are not expected until next week at the earliest.

Museeuw and Planckaert were once again released today and permitted to leave on their own. Neither has been charged in the investigation. Concerning the alleged code words used by Landuyt and his clients, Museeuw told the Belgian press simply that he "knew nothing" about the code.

First stage of Toscana cancelled due to accident

The first stage of the 13th Giro della Toscana was cancelled following a serious accident involving German Christoph Meschenmoser, who crashed into a car stopped on the left hand side of the road while riding with a group of 10 riders off the back of the bunch. The 20 year old from the Hofbrau Radler club in Stuttgart was taken to a hospital in Pistoia and placed in intensive care. He suffered a broken spine and a fractured skull, and is in a pharmacologically induced coma, but is in a stable condition.


Scanlon recovering well

By Shane Stokes, 

Although he broke his nose in the bunch sprint which decided the second stage of the Tour of Poland and was forced to withdraw from the race, first year professional Mark Scanlon confirmed that there would be no further disruption to his racing program. The 22 year old Sligoman suffered the injury when he fell during the final gallop and was hit in the face by a competitor's bike. However he did not have to undergo an operation on his nose and says that the injury is healing without complication.

"My nose is not too bad, it doesn't need surgery or anything," he said Thursday. "I was up near the front toward the end of the stage, trying to stay out of trouble. There was a crash in front of me, and I went down but was okay. As I was getting up, though, a bike went into me and did the damage. My nose wasn't too bad but rather than take a chance with it, the team thought it was best not to continue the race. If I had fallen again and banged it there could have been a real problem."

Scanlon was lying fourth overall in the Tour of Poland after a strong performance on the opening stage. The 1998 junior world champion was involved in a long breakaway and took several bonus sprints and mountain points, opening a lead in the latter competition and also heading the combined classification.

"It was a pity as I was going well," he added. "I had been very tired a few days before the race but just took some time off, only going out on a short spin the day before. That did the trick as I felt good in Poland."

Despite some fear that the crash would put a halt to his recent run of impressive form, Scanlon confirmed that he would return to racing in the Grand Prix d'Isbergues next Sunday. He will ride a number of top pro events after that, and is the rider most likely to represent Ireland in the world road race championships in Hamilton, Canada in early October.

Peers breaks collarbone

Belgian Chris Peers (Cofidis) has had to prematurely end his season after breaking his collarbone and two ribs in the Memorial Van Steenbergen on Wednesday. The accident happened in the final kilometres of a very wet and windy race.

Nothstein extends with Navigators

Stick with a good thing
Photo ©: Jon Devich

Marty Nothstein, 2000 Sydney Olympic gold medallist and 2003 New York City Cycling Championships winner, has extended his contract with the Navigators Professional Cycling Team. "Going into an Olympic year, I am particularly excited to show what America's strongest team can do both domestically and internationally," Nothstein said.

Navigators directeur sportif Ed Beamon was equally pleased to secure Nothstein's signature for another year. "We are very happy to have Marty back for next year," Beamon told Cyclingnews. "We put a lot of stock in him a couple of years ago when others didn't think he could make the transition from the track to the road. People now know what he can do and he is a hot commodity so we are happy to have him back. Our plan was always to facilitate his transition and now we want to help him in his venture to make it to Athens."

Saugrain considers retirement

BigMat-Auber 93 rider Cyril Saugrain is considering retirement at the end of this season, lacking motivation to continue after suffering a broken clavicle in training in August. Hoping for some results at the close of the season, the injury has prompted Saugrain to re-evaluate his future.

"I wasn't thinking about stopping, but during my recovery I did a lot of thinking," he told l'Equipe. "I no longer have any interest in riding, and I hope to start, as early as November, a sports marketing venture."

Saugrain's biggest career result was a stage victory in the 1996 Tour de France.

Fragnière ends early

Another rider ending his career is Crédit Agricole's Cédric Fragnière. The young Swiss, just 27, has decided to move on from cycling. Also a victim of a broken clavicle in training, Fragnière will not end this season, and thus has put an end to his four year career.

Sponsor found for Go Pass-ABX

The Belgian U23 team Go Pass-ABX has been rescued, after the main sponsor pulled out suddenly last week. The team will now be known as Deschacht-Merckx, with Dirk De Wolf remaining as team manager. The team will keep seven of its existing lineup, and add another six riders from the current Deschacht team.

Houston radio station tries to change tune

By Ted Arnold

After a Holiday weekend in which two riders were lost the last thing Houston area cyclists need to hear was a local radio station re-airing an anti-cycling bit on morning radio last week. But that's just what they got. The unnamed station (by our choice), which is owned by media giant Clear Channel Communications aired a bit in which characters talked of their distaste of cyclists and ultimately went on to joke about using automobiles to knock riders off the road.

Houston area cycling advocates pounced on Clear Channel, which operates eight Houston area radio stations as well as a variety of other media outlets including print and television. As news spread, advocacy groups pointed out that Clear Channel had come under fire for similar anti-cycling sentiments in Cleveland, Ohio. In an odd twist, Clear Channel's Television division is responsible for producing and distributing the 2003 Pro Cycling Tour (PCT) events in the United States.

In an apology issued via e-mail to Cyclingnews and the public, station General Manager Mark Kopelman stated the show producer responsible for the mistake was fired. He also stated that the comments do not represent the views of the station or the parent company as a whole.

According to the Kopelman, the segment that re-aired on September 1, 2003, was to be destroyed after the first incident, following a flood of e-mail and phone complaints to the station and parent company. The re-broadcast occurred on a "Best of" show while the on-air personalities were on vacation. An apology was made by on-air personalities after the first incident.

In the same e-mail to Cyclingnews, Clear Channel Regional Vice-President of Programming Ken Charles added that the company has also responded to the situation by presenting proposal for bicycle safety PSA campaign. The proposed campaign will run as a part of the Houston Police Department's (HPD) cycling education efforts and will be aired on all Houston Clear Channel radio stations.

HPD Central Bicycle Administration officer Jack Hanagriff hopes that the opportunity will allow the HPD to establish and "a new working partner," and "deliver safety education effort to the motorists". In the Cleveland incident, Clear Channel agreed to pay a local advocacy group $10,000 (USD), apologize on air, and partner in other cycling advocacy programs.

Cycling Ireland Classic League finale

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

The final event in Cycling Ireland's Classic League (Matt Corcoran Memorial) takes place on Sunday in Naas, Co. Kildare with a start up time of one o'clock.

"I know we are up the against the All Ireland Hurling Final, but so are a lot of other sporting events," said organiser Matt Corcoran. "From a safety point of view there will be less traffic on the road, but this will not allow us a false sense of security. The fact that all our sponsors (9) are supporting the event makes it all the more pleasing from an organisational point."

The course on paper looks to be simple, but on closer scrutiny, the 80 miles is a tough test at this time of the season. It includes five laps of a 16-mile course, which covers territory better known to the horse racing fraternity who would not realise that it harbours the best test for a racing cyclist. The course starts from the Naas Town Hall for five laps through Punchestown, Ballymore Eustace, Blessington, Beggers End, Punchestown.

Having opted out to race in the Tour of Hokkaido in Japan, David O'Loughlin would be the preferred choice. He won the penultimate counter in the league in the Atlantic Coast Hotel sponsored Sheeffry Grand Prix.

The current leader in the league, Joe Fenlon from the Carrick Cidona Club in Carrick-on-Suir, may not share the same conclusion. Joe has been consistent in the seven-league event, notching up enough points to put him clear of David Peelo, who now represents Usher IRC. Unfortunately Joe slipped up in the Sheeffry last month when he failed to get any points. Peelo finished in the top six, which gives him a window of opportunity to make Sunday's encounter the more interesting.

For some unknown reason the leader of the league is not clearly identified by the general public who come to view the races. In previous Classic Leagues, the leader was identified by a special jersey.

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