What's Cool In Road Cycling

Friday’s Euro-Trash

The stories keep coming thick and fast even though the season’s over. This week, more chaos in the turbulent life of VDB; problems for Cookie and Kaiser Jan; Lance not in love with Sandra Bullock …

VDB’s Crazy Life: Chapter 397, Page 261

Mutually divorced from Quick-Step after a less than productive season, Frank Vandenbroucke has suffered another calamity to add to his quite ‘frankly’ (sorry, couldn’t resist) unbelievable list of career threatening incidents.

It seems that a fair weather training stint in Mauritius came to an abrupt end after an altercation between Franky’s collarbone and some unforgiving tarmac, setting back both his quest for top-end fitness and a new team.

Rumours circulating at the moment have linked VDB with both Giancarlo Ferretti’s Fassa Bortolo team, and the newly set up Chocolat Jacques squad from Belgium. With an Italian wife, and speaking Italian at home, VDB could be swayed to go to Fassa, but only if he knuckles down to Ferron’s iron discipline. As one of the sport’s most fascinating characters, here’s hoping that wherever he ends up, Frank continues to keep us entertained.

Frequent Flyer Cookie’s Pain: We Hear You, Buddy

An awkward cyst and an unfortunate chain of ticketing blunders has left Tour de France Green Jersey winner has left Baden Cooke short on kilometres and comfort, but most definitely not short on hassle and worry.

Flying back down under for the Aussie summer, Cooke shelled out a considerable portion of his 2003 winnings to guarantee himself a first-class trip with maximum reclining seat action to help ease the discomfort of an operation on a groin cyst (ouch). Unfortunately, both Qantas and British Airways cocked-up their bookings leaving Cookie in a world of pain in the peasant-class seating section. The upshot? Burst stitches, a gaping wound that the specialists are a bit worried about, and a risk of scar tissue that could hamper the sprinter’s 2004 season. Hopefully, some decent recovery time and well-deserved Australian barbeque or two will get Cookie sorted out. Get well soon, Baden.

Lance And Sandra: Methinks The Gentleman Doth Protest Too Much, Maybe

Lance Armstrong and ‘Hollywood Sweetheart’ Sandra Bullock are not involved in a relationship, OK? Despite reports that the ‘couple’ have enjoyed a few cosy dinners just lately, the man himself has scotched rumours of a romance in comments to newspapers in Austin, Texas.

Gossip columnists put 2 + 2 together and got … well, who knows whether they were anywhere near getting the sum right, but according to Lance they’re just friends who coincidentally attended the same party in New York a few weeks back. But Sandra has moved into a new home in Austin, so watch this space, because the paparazzi will, too.

Jan Ullrich To Raid His Piggy Bank?

Problems just seem to follow Jan around, don’t they? First, he comes up against some American guy at the Tour, then he has a knee problem, then he gets busted after a wild night out, then his team goes bust, then …….

Now it looks like Team Bianchi are going to leave ‘Kaiser Jan’ around $600,000 out of pocket after his defection back to his spiritual home at the Telekom/Team Mobile camp. Bianchi boss Jacques Hannegraf has hinted that it’s really a point of principle, and suggested that payments stopped shortly after the Tour de France because Ullrich was in breach of contract.

Although they’d like him back, threats of legal action aren’t going to bring a grateful Jan tearfully back to the team. And it also leaves a huge cloud over his erstwhile colleagues who are still looking for work.

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