What's Cool In Road Cycling

Monday’s Euro-Trash

Pull on the hip-waders – you’re gonna need them to get through the stuff Mick dug up this weekend – there’s more Tour Team News, clips from the National championships from yesterday, some dope news and a little dose of Lance…

Rumsas B Sample Positive
The Lithuanian Sports Federation confirmed on Monday that Lampre rider Raimondas Rumsas’ B sample of the failed drug test taken during the Giro d’Italia has also been found to be positive for EPO. Rima Berloviene, a Federation spokeswoman said, “The second sample which was tested in Lausanne proves Raimondas had taken erythropoietin, also known as EPO. This is very sad,”. The results of the test were faxed to Lithuania from Lausanne on Monday morning. Lampre had suspended the rider who finished sixth overall in the Giro pending the results of the B test. The Lithuanian Federation said it is now ready to impose a two year ban which could spell the end of the 31 year old’s pro career.

Saeco Name Ninth Man
The Saeco team on Monday announced the one missing name from their Tour de France squad. Jorg Ludewig got the final place after finishing fifth in Sunday’s German road championships. Ludewig beat Andrea Tonti and Ivan Quaranta for the final place with team manager Claudio Corti explaining that sprinter Quaranta has been left out in favour of Ludewig because the German can give team leader Gilberto Simoni extra help in the mountains. The full Saeco squad for the TDF is Gilberto Simoni, Danilo Di Luca, Paolo Fornaciari, Gerrit Glomser, Fabio Sacchi, Stefano Zanini, Salvatore Commesso, Alessandro Bertagnolli and Jorge Ludewig.

Johnny Dauwe Found Dead
The death of ex Belgian pro Johnny Dauwe has been announced. 37 year old Dauwe was found dead on Thursday at home near Antwerp, the cause of death is still unsure. Dauwe turned pro in 1989 with the Domex team before switching to the Tulip Computers squad in 1991 for two very successful years. He took the Belgian semi classic Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and the Fayt le Franc in 1991. After that he rode for a succession of smaller Belgian teams taking victories in the Grote 1 Mei-Prijs Hoboken in 1994 and the Grote Havenpijl in 1996. He retired from pro cycling in 1996. The staff of Pez Cycling sends it’s condolences.

Helmet Protest At French Championships
French riders spokesman Eddy Seigneur (Jean Delatour) said many riders are unhappy at the UCI decision to force riders to wear helmets. Speaking before the French championships on Sunday, Seigneur said that some riders suffer from dizziness when wearing helmets in the heat of Summer and the UCI had not consulted the professional riders union (UNCP) before making the decision. Yesterdays first lap of the French road championships was ridden at 28 kms per hour without helmets as a protest before riders stopped on the first passage of the finish line and put them on. The UCI made a decision to force compulsory use of helmets in it’s races after the death of Andrei Kivilev in the Paris-Nice.

Leblanc To Continue As Tour Director Beyond 2004
French sports paper L’Equipe reported Monday that Jean Marie Leblanc will remain as the Director of the Tour de France beyond 2004, a date at which it was thought Monsieur Leblanc would retire from the post and hand over to his deputy Daniel Baal. 59 year old Leblanc said that he will remain “some time” in the job without giving an exact retirement date.

National Road Championships
Sunday saw the national road championships all across Europe. Here is a short review of the main nations:

Italy: Quick Step’s Paolo Bettini showed he is back to his best just in time for the Tour de France by winning the Italian RR championships in Saltara. Bettini, the Milan-San Remo victor, who injured his shoulder in Ghent-Wevelgem and has been fighting for fitness ever since, beat Filippo Pozzato and Salvatore Commesso in a sprint finish at the end of the 241 kms course.

Spain: iBanesto.com‘s Ruben Plaza was the surprise winner of the Spanish title. 23 year old Plaza from Alicante who has no other significant results this season beat Rafael Casero (Paternina) and Benjamin Noval (Relax Fuenlabrada) in a three way sprint finish at Alcobendas just outside Madrid. Plaza was generous in praise of his two breakaway companions, especially Noval, saying, “I think much of my victory belongs to him he did a lot of work in the final kilometres and prevented the pack from catching us”

Germany: Telekom’s Erik Zabel will go to the Tour de France wearing the red, black and gold jersey of German RR champion after breaking away 40 kms from the end of the race and holding on for a fine victory. Zabel who last won the German title in 1998 came home 1 minute 49 seconds in front of Patrick Sinkewitz (Quick Step), Gerolsteiner’s Fabian Wegmann was a further 56 seconds back. Defending champion Danilo Hondo was absent from the race with an injured hand.

Belgium: Palmans-Collstrop’s Geert Omloop took the Belgian title in Vilvoorde on a course which the Belgian press slammed as far too easy. Omloop won from a group of 10 in a sprint finish beating Jurgen Van Goolen (Quick Step) who was the man of the race, making several attacks in the closing stages which were brought back. Sven Vanthourenhout (Quick Step) who is better known as a cyclo cross rider finished third. Omloop is one of the top kermesse riders in the country and the Belgian media while not slighting him said that Belgium has the champion it deserves on such an easy course. Omloop commented rather apologetically after the finish, “I know that I am not a rider of the magnitude of Museeuw or Van Petegem and I will never win the Tour of Flander, however I do well in races that suit me”

France: Brioche-Le Boulangerie’s Didier Rous took a solo victory in Plumelec after a 70 kms breakaway to take his second national title repeating his success of 2001. The Brioche-Le Boulangerie team controlled the race over 222 kms making a point to distinguish themselves in the race to honour the memory of deceased team mate Fabrice Salanson. Rous won the title from Richard Virenque (Quick Step) and Patrice Halgand (Jean Delatour). Didier Rous said at the finish, “This victory is for Fabrice, his memory helped me keep going”.

Switzerland: The 30 year old from Lucerne Daniel Schnider (Phonak) took his first ever Swiss RR title in Ruggell, coming home 51 seconds in front of team mate Roger Beuchat. In fact with Niki Aebersold 3rd and Oscar Camenzind 4th the Phonak team dominated the race. Defending champion Alexandre Moos finished a disappointing 14th almost nine minutes down after missing an early break.

Holland: The Dutch title was won in Rotterdam by Rudi Kemna (Bangiroloterij) in a massed sprint. Last years winner Stefan van Dijk (Lotto-Domo) was second with Max van Heeswijk third and Jeroen Blijlevens fourth.

Denmark: It was a first victory of the season for Nicki Sшrensen (CSC) as he won the Danish championships from Allan Johansen (Team Fakta) and Bo Hamburger (Formaggi Pinzolo).

Austria: It was a Gerolsteiner one-two in Judenberg, Austria with Georg Totschnig beating last years champion Rene Haselbacher. Totschnig who last won the title in 1997 will wear the Austrian champions jersey in the Tour de France. Third place in the championship went to Andreas Matzbacher who recently took third in the Tour of Slovenia, he becomes the Austrian U23 champion.

Russia: Elite 2 rider Alexandre Bajenov won the Russian title over 205 kms in a close sprint finish from Dmitri Dementiev in a time of 4 hours 46 minutes. Bajenov has been racing in Italy this season for the Cotto Ref Impruneta team with a fair amount of success, winning the Giro del Belvedere amongst other races. Looks as if the Russian championships were restricted to U23 and Espoir riders with no big names featuring in the results of the RR or TT.

Portugal: The Portuguese championships were taken by the relatively unknown Pedro Miranda of the Carvalhelhos-Boavista squad. Second was Nuno Ribeiro and third Paolo De Moura.

Poland: In form Piotr Przydzial of the CCC-Polsat team who last weekend finished the Tour de Suisse in 23rd place took the jersey in Poland from Zbigniew Piatek (Mrуz-Borek) in a race over 231 kms

Slovenia: Fassa Bortolo’s Slovenian star Tadej Valjevic continued his excellent form from the Tour de Suisse (5th overall) and won the national title from Perutnina Ptuj pairing of Valter Bonca and Bostjan Mrvar. The national title for Valjevic may be some consolation for his non selection for the Tour de France.

Czech Republic: Stage winner and 12th overall in the recently concluded GP Cycliste de Beauce, Lubor Tesar (eD‘ system-ZVVZ) took the Czech title from defending champion Ondrej Fadrn‡ of the De Nardi squad.

Sweden: Bianchi-Scandinavia’s Jonas Holmkvist continued his run of success this season by taking the Swedish championships in Sunne. Holmkvist, overall winner of the Ringerike GP and a double stage winner in the Irish Milk race beat Magnus Backstedt (Fakta) and team mate Thomas Lovkvist.

Norway: 27 year old Gabriel Rasch (Rinkerike) won the championships from Morten Hegreberg of the Belgian based Deschacht-Granville team. Defending champion Kurt Asle Arvesen (Fakta) was back in sixth place.

Great Britain: The British championships which were held at the Celtic Manor Resort complex near Newport in south Wales were a personal triumph for Roger Hammond (Palmans-Collstrop) who attacked a long way from the finish and won the race by over five minutes. Another continental based pro Jeremy Hunt (MBK-Oktos) took second place followed by Jamie Alberts (CC Etupes). Defending champion Julian Winn (Fakta) had to pull out of the race with cramp.

Ireland: Defending champion Mark Scanlon (AG2R) took the Irish title in his home town of Sligo. Scanlon broke away from a seven man group which had built up a substantial lead to win by 42 seconds from Denis Lynch and David O’Loughlin (Ofoto).

Bolts Will Stop in September
37 year old Udo Bolts (Gerolsteiner) who will start his twelfth Tour de France this coming Saturday (a German record) has announced over the weekend that 2003 will be his last season in pro cycling. In an interview with the Sunday newspaper Sonntag Aktuell Bolts said he would ideally like the International Rheinland-Pzalz Rundfahrt stage race between September 17th and 21st to be his farewell. He also added that he would like to remain with the Gerolsteiner team in some sort of team management capacity.

Lance Signs For Austrian Post Tour Crit
Lance Armstrong has signed a deal to participate in the Altstadt Kriterium in the southern Austrian city of Graz on July 29, just two days after the conclusion of the Tour de France. Gerald Pototschnig, a sports writer for the daily newspaper Kleine Zeitung, which is sponsoring the race commented, “We’ve already sealed the contract with him,” The event consists of a total distance of almost 60-kilometers and takes in 55 laps around the city’s historic old town.

Rotterdam Now Wants Tour
Yesterdays Dutch road championships in Rotterdam were the first of three consecutive years that the national titles will be contested in that city. But the real cycling dream of the city fathers is to host the start of the Tour de France in 2007. National selector and ex World champion Gerrie Knetemann has been brought in a consultant to help realise that goal, he commented over the weekend, “Rotterdam is an ambitious city with an ambitious organisation, the Tour is the most beautiful cycling event you can host and I am pleased to be an ambassador for the city”. However Rotterdam has some stiff competition for the 2007 Tour start with Utrecht, Den Haag and Valkenburg also declaring an interest.

Savoldelli Ill – Guerini Could Step In
Giuseppe Guerini, Telekom‘s Italian climber who was rather unfortunate to be left out of the German teams Tour de France squad after finishing runner up in the Tour de Suisse may still get a last minute call up due to the health problems of Paolo Savoldelli. The 2002 Giro d’Italia winner has a stomach ailment and was forced to pull out of the Route du Sud on last Tuesday’s stage that finished on the Pyrenean climb of the Port de Balиs.

Jan Spends Time With Gaby
Jan Ullrich decided to miss Sunday’s German national road race championships. Speaking on his website he said, “It is with some sadness that I have decided not to participate in the championships but I would like to spend a few days with my heavily pregnant girlfriend Gaby before I leave for the Tour de France on Wednesday, we have not seen each other for a few days”. Ullrich was German national champion in 2001 and 1997.

Four Italians Banned For Doping
The disciplinary commision of the Italian Cycling Federation on Friday handed out punishments for four riders who had tested positive for banned substances earlier in the season. 22 year old Vicenzo Di Falco of Mercatone Uno tested positive for NESP during the Settimana Ciclistica Lombarda in mid April and received a one year ban. Giampaolo Carusu (ONCE-Eroski) received a six month ban for a positive test for nandrolone during the Tour Down Under in January while 24 year old Lampre sprinter Alberto Loddo is banned for a month after being found over the limit for caffeine at the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal in February. Elite 2 rider Gianluca Cavalli of the Vezza Brunero Boeris team received a fourteen month ban after testing for norandrosterone on April 30, each of the four also received a 2,000 Swiss francs fine. The same disciplinary hearing upheld Vini Caldirola’s Gianluca Bortolami’s six month ban recently imposed for corticoid use in the 3 Days of De Panne in April.

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