News for May 1, 2001

Recent results and new features

UCI Rankings: Zabel drops, Casagrande tops

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Francesco Casagrande
Photo: © Sirotti

The final round of the spring World Cups has seen yet another updating of the UCI cycling rankings, with the latest figures being released yesterday. Still on top, and looking good is Fassa Bortolo's Francesco Casagrande, who showed he is in good form for the Giro d'Italia by winning stage one of the Giro del Trentino today in the pouring rain.

Unfortunately for Erik Zabel, not winning Amstel means that he has plummeted from 2nd to 8th place, and we won't see him right at the top probably for some time. Instead, Amstel runner up Lance Armstrong (USPS) has taken over second spot, closely followed by his vanquisher, Erik Dekker (Rabobank). Dekker's Amstel win moved him from 8th to 3rd, showing that his 2000 season was definitely not a fluke.

Rankings as of April 29, 2001


1 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Fassa Bortolo         2,488.00 pts
2 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service          2,060.00
3 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank                       1,907.00
4 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Liquigas-Pata              1,884.00
5 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) US Postal Service  1,852.00
6 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Domo-Farm Frites         1,742.00
7 Jan Ullrich (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom          1,676.75
8 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom           1,674.00
9 Raimondas Rumsas (Ltu) Fassa Bortolo             1,565.00
10 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step          1,555.35
11 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank                  1,432.25
12 Andrei Tchmil (Bel) Lotto-Adecco                1,356.00
13 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step            1,224.00
14 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Daikin             1,206.00
15 Dario Frigo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                 1,164.00
16 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step         1,081.00
17 Daniele Nardello (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step         1,036.35
18 Oscar Camenzind (Swi) Lampre-Daikin             1,028.00
19 Pavel Tonkov (Rus) Mercury-Viatel               1,004.00
20 Wladimir Belli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                975.00


Division I

1 Rabobank                                  3,722.00 pts
2 Lotto-Adecco                              2,786.00
3 Fassa Bortolo                             2,548.00
4 Mapei-Quick Step                          2,272.00
5 Domo-Farm Frites                          2,245.00
6 Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone          1,963.00
7 Team Deutsche Telekom                     1,844.00
8 O.N.C.E.                                  1,655.00
9 Liquigas-Pata                             1,606.00
10 US Postal Service                        1,566.00
11 Mercury-Viatel                           1,425.00
12 Euskaltel-Euskadi                        1,415.00
13 Tacconi Sport-Vini Caldirola             1,286.00
14 Saeco Macchine Per Caffe'                1,280.00
15 CSC-World Online                         1,212.00
16 Lampre-Daikin                            1,100.00
17                             1,051.00
18 Credit Agricole                            806.00
19 Festina                                    768.00
20 Kelme-Costa Blanca                         698.00
21 Team Coast                                 545.00
22 Mercatone Uno-Albacom                      414.00

Division II

1 Alessio                                   1,537.00 pts
2 Cantina Tollo Acqua & Sapone                936.00
3 Jean Delatour                               787.00
4 Ag2R Prevoyance                             680.00
5 Bankgiroloterij-Batavus                     585.00

De Cauwer steps down as Belgian coach

Belgian national cycling federation (RLVB) coach Jose De Cauwer has stepped down from his position as head coach of the national team, pending the outcome of an enquiry into his suspected involvement in a doping case, according to news agency Belga.

The RLVB issued a statement following a meeting between president Laurent de Backer and Jose de Cauwer, where they agreed "on a purely provisional basis" that De Cauwer should not be active as a coach while the investigation is going on. He was implicated in an affair involving six former amateur cyclists, a bottle containing traces of amphetamines, and a police car chase in Antwerp last October.

De Cauwer is suspected of being an intermediary in an amphetamine doping ring, after he admitted that he was responsible for the transmission of a preparation of amphetamines to Ronny Vansweevelt in 1995, a former amateur cyclist, who had paid him for it. De Cauwer has also denied that he has done anything wrong, and said that he had "made a serious mistake in listening to Vansweevelt."

Laurent De Backer emphasised that it "wasn't a suspension or a sacking. De Cauwer is currently in a state of shock and we have granted him a few weeks leave."

De Cauwer became coach of the RLVB towards the end of last decade. He was an assistant team leader with Daf in the 1980, and managed the ADR, Tulip and Espace Card teams. His biggest triumph was when Greg Lemond won the Tour de France and the World Cup for ADR.

More Tour de France selection

This coming Wednesday at 8 am, a meeting will start between Jean-Marie Leblanc, his adjunct Jean-Claude Herault, race leader Jean-Francois Pescheux, member of the board, John Lelangue and the assistants Laurent Bezault and (ex-Olympic champion) Jean-Michel Monin.

At one point in the meeting, they will decide on the final four starting permits for the 2001 Tour de France. A few years ago, Leblanc and co had to decide which "B team" e.g. the Italian Scrigno or Refin team, was to make the start. It was even possible to mix two teams into one Tour team (Telekom and ZG Mobile in 1995).

Now, there are still 9 of the 22 division I teams (Mercatone Uno, Lotto, Saeco, CSC-WorldOnline, Tacconi Sport, Mercury Viatel, Liquigas, Team Coast and Euskaltel-Euskadi) in the waiting room, plus two French teams: La Francaise Des Jeux and Big Mat-Abuer 93, not to mention Alessio.

"It was always difficult," says John Lelangue "We start on Wednesday Morning at 8 am. We know which teams are the candidates and every one gives his opinion and within two, two and a half hours we'll know. We have to, because the press conference is scheduled at 11 am."

"It's a open discussion. Of course we followed the pre season, but we'll listen to each other very well. And it isn't only the results of the pre season - we also are interested in which riders the teams will bring to the Tour de France, and what we can expect. How will they ride. Do they attack? Are they coming for the classement or only for one stage victory? A team which only comes for the first week has less chance than a team which comes for the classement."

It is already known that Leblanc is interested in French teams, and he has already given starts to second division Bonjour and Jean Delatour. It is possible that he will give a seventh TdF berth to Francaise des Jeux or Big Mat.

But the commercial aspect is important too. The Danes are gambling with CSC for a start permit because of the money of the TV stations in Denmark; the Americans are gambling for Mercury because of the sponsorship effects in the United States and the French want to buy a place via the sponsored tour in the Tour de France.

The 6 man selection committee is all French. The selection has nothing to do with power," says Lelangue. "We will make a fair choice. Of course teams want to lobby, but everybody knows it doesn't work. Last week I met Saeco manager Claudio Corti in a restaurant. We talked to each other, but not with a special emphasis on the Tour permit."

"Of course, financial effects are important. It's a kind of blackmail when a team manager says: "If we can't start it will be the end of our team. But what can you do when every team says this?"

Euskaltel-Euskadi didn't start in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, but it was a surprise when they came with their climbers team to the flat Paris-Roubaix, a race organized by the Societe du Tour de France.

"If they think they can score with this to us, you can't blame us. We don't force any team to come. Kelme came too, but they were selected already."

Hecktor Jansen, organiser of the GP Schelde, knows better. The Societe du Tour De France organise 21 races per season, including Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Waalse Pijl.

"Eight years ago, Leblanc tried to change our day because of the classics in the Ardennes. He asked me to come over to Paris. I said: come to me. We meet each other in Rijssel (Lille). I told him I didn't have a chance to get good teams in the GP Schelde if I scheduled the race just after Paris-Roubaix."

"'Don't worry about that,' Leblanc said. I agreed with a trial year and one week later all French teams signed up for starting in our race. There you have power."

The new pre-season program will be altered in 2002, and even more in 2003: Paris-Roubaix, GP Schelde, Amstel Gold Race, Waalse Pijl, Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

Harry Van Den Bremt of the Ronde Van Vlaanderen says that "Of course Leblanc has much power. But he organizes the best races and it's normal he is building and building his business. He wanted to change the date of the Ronde Van Vlaanderen, but we could give enough reasons for not changing that date."

UCI president Hein Verbruggen: "I've heard stories about the power of the Tour De France for 30 years. But when Leblanc refused a start permit to Virenque in 1999, he had to give him one after intervention by the UCI. So: who is the boss?"

Walter Planckaert (Lotto): "They call him the pope of the sport of cycling, but for me more people are allowed to play this role. Leblanc is always very clear and straight on and doesn't look for friends."

Lelangue again: "We have power, but we don't abuse that power, and because the teams asked for the final wildcards earlier than June, we changed that to the beginning of May."

Walter Godefroot: "The selection for the Tour De France is very complicated and there are a lot of open questions. Therefore there is only one good system for me: invite the top 20."

John Wordin (Mercury-Viatel): "I think every team has good reasons to start in the Tour De France. For us it's important to know we have a high ranking, a few victories in Paris-Nice, classement rider Tonkov and well known stage riders such as Van Bon, Koerts and Guidi. But some of our riders were ill in the last few weeks. We chose to take care of them for the Tour.

"Our biggest target isn't to get a start permit for the Tour De France, but to race well in the Tour De France. Axelsson had the role to prove our team, but unfortunately he became ill."

CSC knows what that means. Last year they did a lot of work to get a start permit, but the team was empty IN the Tour De France.

Coast boss, Wolfram Linder (with Zulle and Escartin): "We would be glad with a wild card, but if not: nothing happens. We wanted to start in a big tour this year and we know for sure we'll start in the Vuelta. I know that with a start permit in the Tour de France, Escartin will do a good Tour."

Who's in

Germany: Telekom
Belgium: Domo-Farm Frites
Spain:, Kelme, ONCE
USA: US Postal Service
France: AG2R, Bonjour, Cofidis, Crédit Agricole, Festina, Jean Delatour
Italy: Fassa Bortolo, Lampre, Mapei
Netherlands: Rabobank

Who's hoping

Germany: Team Coast
Belgium: Lotto-Adecco
Denmark: CSC-World Online
Spain: Euskaltel-Euskadi
USA: Mercury
France: BigMat, Française des Jeux
Italy: Alessio, Liquigas, Mercatone Uno, Saeco, Tacconi Sport

Re-entry of Zbigniew Spruch

Polish Lampre-Daikin rider Zbigniew Spruch will make his return to racing on May 8, in the Four Days of Dunkirk, according to his team. Spruch fell during a descent while warming up for the time trial stage of Tirreno-Adriatico mid-March, and has been out of action since.

"On Friday, I raced an open race in Poland where I rode for 180 kilometres. On Saturday I remained on the bike for 200 km."

USA Today puts the heat on US Postal

By John Stevenson

In yesterday's news we mentioned that American newspaper USA Today had reported the imminent announcement of a three-year extension of US Postal Service's sponsorship of its cycling team, securing the team's funding to the end of 2004. As expected that announcement happened late yesterday, with a statement from the team's owner, Tailwind Sports confirming the deal.

In the statement, Tailwind CEO Mark Gorski said, "this extension will enable us to continue to build an already successful program into a true dynasty in the sport. We are equally as proud of the marketing success of our program and what we have accomplished on behalf of our many long-time sponsors."

The USA today story went on to speculate about the value of the three-year deal. According to the report, Gorski would not put a dollar value on the deal, but said it amounted to 70 per cent of the team's budget. (Further enquiries to the team from were not answered, but instead a press release was issued, which is a familiar pattern.) Quoting unnamed "pro cycling experts", USA Today estimated the US Postal team's budget at US$12 million per year, and therefore claimed the deal was worth US$25 million over three years. The report then discussed the US Postal Service's recent troubles with revenue shortfalls and the increase in the price of stamps that occurred earlier this year. The report questioned the investment of US$25 million (the paper's estimated expenditure) on a cycling team, when it was a government instrumentality competing with public companies like Federal Express and United Parcel Service (UPS). It also quoted an employee of the Chicago city government criticising the USPS for supporting the team.

However, the estimate of US$25 million needs qualification: How accurate is that figure, and what does the US Postal Service get out of it? In racing circles it's long been accepted that two teams, Telekom and Mapei, have the biggest budgets. Telekom's budget for 2001 is 10.9 million Euro ($US 9.7 million) , Mapei's 9,500,000 Euro ($US 8.4million). Other teams comparable such as Rabobank and Mercury-Viatel run leaner on 4.5 million Euro (US$4 million) and US$5 million respectively. Even allowing for the substantial salary Lance Armstrong must command (as two-time winner of the Tour de France), the US$12 million per year estimate does seem a little high, even with the buyout of Roberto Heras (winner of last year's Vuleta) from Spanish team Kelme.

In 1998 the US Postal Service had revenues of US$62 billion, but it is not known how much the overseas parcel fulfillment area contributes to earnings, which is the main part of USPS which benefits from the branding and exposure on the global scale that the team provides.

According to Tailwind's statement, "the sponsorship of Armstrong and the team helped increase brand awareness on a global basis and has become a rallying point for the service's 800,000 employees." It further quotes Gail Sonnenberg, Senior Vice President and Director of Sales for the US Postal Service as adding, "The Postal Service's sponsorship of the cycling team has had a dramatic impact on many facets of our organization's business and culture. Through the sponsorship, the Postal Service has been able to convey its attributes to the world."

Reading between the PR lines, the main thing the USPS gets from Team USPS is brand awareness on a global scale and supporters claim this translates into business. USPS is competing against FedEx, UPS, DHL and others in the parcel-forwarding and delivery business. If the USPS is to reverse a revenue decline as its traditional main revenue source - letters - is reduced by email, then the e-commerce-fuelled boom in parcel forwarding would seem to be a logical place to expand. Should the government-owned USPS compete with public companies? That's one for the regulators and legislation, but as far as building brand awareness, the postal service has backed a winner.


Tafi and Bettini get a rest

Italians Andrea Tafi and Paolo Bettini will take short periods of rest before they return to competition, announced their Mapei team today. Both riders have been heavily involved in the spring classics season, but Bettini injured himself in a fall during the Amstel Gold Race last Saturday and will be off the bike for 4-5 days. The 2000 Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner will then start his preparation for the Tour de France, where he won a stage last year.

Andrea Tafi spent Monday morning getting his left leg examined for tendinitis and a small muscular hernia. He will be required to take a two to three week break before riding again, said the team.

World Press Photo winning photos

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Award winner
Photo: © Chris Keulen

The World Press Photo winning photos of The Tour Du Faso 2000 by Chris Keulen can be seen on Click on the photo at right to enlarge, and you can appreciate a sample of the beauty of this unique race, and how it was captured on film.

Warning: Do not download Cyanide's Cycling Manager demo

We have removed the link for the download of the demonstration version of Cycling Manager, after a couple of readers informed us of a virus in the download. It looks to be fairly harmless as the infected file (styles.vbs) doesn't actually run as part of the demo, so the damage done should be minimal. However, we have been assured that it will be fixed.

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