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Preview: First Union Week opens in Lancaster

The most prestigious week of road cycling in the United States kicks off Tuesday afternoon with the First Union Invitational in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, west of Philadelphia. The 91-mile race takes place on a demanding 7-mile circuit through the streets of Lancaster and through Rockford Park along the Conestoga River. The challenging and technical circuit features rolling hills and several short, sharp climbs, giving it the reputation as a tough-man’s course, ideally suited for last year’s winner and 2001’s hottest rider, Trent Klasna of Saturn. Klasna and Saturn will have their hands full

French rider Herve tests positive

French veteran rider Pascal Herve has been pulled out of the Giro d'Italia by his team after he tested positive for a controlled substance on Tuesday, Alexia team officials announced. "Herve has been pulled out while we wait for a second analysis to show that he knows nothing about this whole affair," his team announced. The 37-year-old Herve, a former Festina rider, is no stranger to doping. He was suspended at the start of this year after he finally admitted during last October's Festina court trial that he had systematically taken EPO while a member of Festina. Herve was thought

Pantani blames flu for poor form

Former Giro winner and mountains specialist Marco Pantani on Tuesday blamed flu for his lack of progress in the mountains stages of the Giro d'Italia where he has unceremoniously dropped out podium contention. Pantani also opened his heart on his team's exclusion from this year's Tour de France, saying he would love to return to the showpiece event of international cycling next year, but he first explained why this year he failed to come into his own in the Italian mountains where he dropped to 17th place overall. "I had flu," the 1998 Giro d'Italia and Tour de France winner

Van Bon takes First Union Invitational in Lancaster

Mercury-Viatel fired the opening salvo at the First Union Cycling Series, with Leon Van Bon taking the win at the 91-mile First Union Invitational in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. With two men in a five-man break, Mercury faked out its competition, launching Van Bon to the win with less than a half mile to go through the streets of downtown Lancaster. The Dutch champion soloed across the line, three seconds ahead of breakaway companions George Hincapie (U.S. Postal Service), Trent Klasna (Saturn), Jakob Piil (CSC-World Online) and Baden Cooke (Mercury-Viatel). The five leaders escaped on the 12th