Monday brings a mixed of bag of dopers, non-dopers and arsonists lighting up (or burning down) the back pages around Europe. Sit back, relax and please remain calm…
Car Chaos for VDB
Sinister happenings afoot in Nieuwkerke on Saturday night after an arson attack on Frank Vandenbroucke’s Mercedes left it a burnt-out shell. Firemen were called and were able to stop the blaze spreading to the VDB household, and no one was hurt.
Franky’s insurance premiums will no doubt rise, even although the district attorney’s office in Ypern (West Flanders) said Sunday that the blaze was undoubtedly arson. Franky hasn’t had his problems to seek in recent years – is this latest incident a jealousy thing, or is someone trying to put the frighteners on him?
Franky kicks of his season this coming Saturday in the Doha GP. Hopefully the only things burning will be the legs of his opponents as they try to keep up with the born-again Fassa flyer.
Miki to Tour the Med
Michele ‘Miki’ Bartoli will debut in the colours of his new CSC team at the Tour of the Mediterranean running 11-15th February. Bartoli has just completed a training phase in the Lucca hills to build up for the early season. The double World Cup winner starts Paris-Roubaix in April for the first time in his career.
Bartoli’s fellow Fassa Bortolo esacapee Ivan Basso will join him at the Med, although his longer-term focus will be the TdF podium.
Vasseur, Gaumont, Cofidis– The plot thickens
Just as long as it’s not the blood thickening, eh? Cedric Vasseur has been defending himself after a couple of nights in the slammer last week. The Cofidis pro and former Tour de France yellow jersey wearer had one of his best ever years in 2003, winning 3 stage races. 2004, however, is shaping up to be a bad one as he becomes embroiled in the ongoing Cofidis fiasco.
“The police questioned me about my personal behaviour, about some (Cofidis) team members, and about the life of a cycling team. I don’t know what they have on other people, but they don’t have anything against me.”
What they have on Vasseur’s teammate Phillipe Gaumont – pause for a drum-roll, please – a two-time convicted doper – is a personal confession to EPO use. Rumours floating around France say ex-Cofidis boy Robert Sassone has pegged Gaumont as a user/dealer of EPO. It could be that Phillipe ends up spending much more than the 48 hours in the slammer he had to put up with last week.
It was no surprise when Francois Migraine, the chairman of Cofidis, laid down the law on Sunday: “If all this is true, then I’m surprised that the riders have been so stupid. If it turns out we have a team full of 25 riders who are all doped, then there will be no more team.” Will anyone listen to him before it’s too late?
Happier news: Museew Tests all clear
Johan Museew appeared at a press conference on Friday to confirm that all blood and urine analyses carried out on his samples given in the ‘Landuyt Affair” were negative for drugs.
Museew told Flemish TV: “I am happy that the results were all negative. Now I can concentrate 100 percent on my goal of winning a big classic again.” Museew bows out of the pro scene after the Spring Classics come to a close at the end of April.
Importantly, Johan has the backing of doctors in explaining the presence of the anti-inflammatory drug dexametasone in his home when it was raided back in September 2003. He was given the substance after his almost career-ending crash in the Arenburg Forest during the 1998 Paris-Roubaix race. Museew’s lawyer, and his QuickStep-Davitamon boss Patrick Lefevre pointed out that as the substance is permitted in Flemish law Museew had done nothing wrong.
Let’s just hope that the only headlines Johan makes between now and April are on the bike.