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Friday’s Euro-file: Drug probe nets two managers; Quaranta fastest in Germany: new UCI series

Two cycling team managers, one of whom works with the team of Yaroslav Popovych, third in this year's Giro d'Italia, were being held under house arrest Thursday as police continue a widespread doping investigation in Brescia, Italy. Olivano Locatelli and William Dazzani are suspected of buying and selling illicit substances for riders, according to Brescia magistrates at a press conference. Locatelli, 47, has resigned his position as manager with the Belgian outfit Landbouwkrediet, while Dazzani runs the women's squad Team 2002. The revelations will prove damaging for the Belgian team,

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By VeloNews Interactive wire services

Two cycling team managers, one of whom works with the team of Yaroslav Popovych, third in this year’s Giro d’Italia, were being held under house arrest Thursday as police continue a widespread doping investigation in Brescia, Italy.

Olivano Locatelli and William Dazzani are suspected of buying and selling illicit substances for riders, according to Brescia magistrates at a press conference. Locatelli, 47, has resigned his position as manager with the Belgian outfit Landbouwkrediet, while Dazzani runs the women’s squad Team 2002.

The revelations will prove damaging for the Belgian team, which was given plenty of coverage thanks to Popovych in this year’s Giro d’Italia. The 23-year-old Ukrainian, a former winner of the world under-23 title and considered a future star of the sport, proved one of the revelations of the race after finishing third behind Italian winner Gilberto Simoni and Stefano Garzelli.

There were no drug scandals in this year’s race after years of suspicion and controversy, and public prosecutor Giancarlo Tarquini said no riders from this year’s Giro were implicated in the investigation.

“But this investigation just shows how the scourge of doping is far from over,” he added.

Investigators have based their case against Locatelli and Dazzani on tapped telephone conversations, which led to the search of 22 premises on Thursday.–Copyright 2003/AFP

Quaranta outkicks speedsters in German tour
Italian Ivan Quaranta (Saeco) outfoxed a couple of the peloton’s big sprinters in Bad Wurzbach on Friday to win the fourth stage of the Tour of Germany.

Swiss Gregory Rast (Phonak) retained the overall lead after a 222km stage from Ansbach to this southwest city, the longest stage of the race. But the day belonged to the man known as “Ivan the terrible,” who powered past Dutchman Stefan van Dijck (Lotto), Estonian Jaan Kirsipuu (AG2R) and German sprint stars Erik Zabel (Telekom) and Olaf Pollack (Gerolsteiner) to claim his third victory of the season.

“I saw Pollack and Zabel were watching each other (before the sprint), so I just waited, then moved past them,” said the 28-year-old Quaranta, who despite seeming to have won easily described it as the “hardest victory of my career.”

“I really had to fight for it,” he added.

As for Zabel, he said he miscalculated. “I was too far ahead too early,” he said afterward. “And I underestimated the force of the head wind in the final straight.”

Meanwhile, Jan Ullrich, who is using the race to prepare for the Tour de France, continued to amble along with the peloton.

“My priority is just to have a good race here and to continue preparing for the Tour de France,” said Ullrich, the Bianchi team leader, after arriving with the main peloton at only a few seconds adrift.

Saturday’s fifth stage, 191km between Ravensbourg and Feldberg, could see a change in the overall standings. Although Ullrich is more than two minutes behind Rast, the 29-year-old former Tour de France winner is expected to come to the fore on a stage where the finish line sits at 1300 meters.

Sunday will feature a 40.7km time trial around Bretten before Monday’s final stage, 74.9 km between Bad Duerkheim and Sarrebrucken. –Copyright 2003/AFP

Results:
1. Ivan Quaranta (I), Saeco, 222km in 4:52:54
2. Stefan van Dijck (Ned), Lotto-Domo, same time
3. Jaan Kirsipuu (Est), Ag2R Prevoyance, s.t.
4. Olaf Pollack (G), Gerolsteiner, s.t.
5. Erik Zabel (G), Telekom, s.t.
6. Massimo Strazzer (I), Phonak, s.t.
7. Jaroslaw Zarebski (Pol), CCC Polsat, s.t.
8. Stuart O’Grady (Aus), Credit Agricole, s.t.
9. James Van Landschoot (B), Vlaanderen-T Interim, s.t.
10. Fabian Cancellara (Swi), Fassa Bortolo, s.t.

Overall:
1. Gregory Rast (Swi), Phonak , 19:06:44
2. Gerben Loewik (Ned), Bankgiroloterij, at 0:11
3. Zabel, at 1:45
4. Gerrit Glomser (A), Saeco, at 1:56
5. Steffen Wesemann (G), Telekom, at 1:58
6. Isidro Nozal Vega (Sp), ONCE-Eroski, s.t.
7. Michael Rogers (Aus), Quick Step-Davitamon, at 2:00
8. Patrik Sinkewitz (G), Quick Step-Davitamon, s.t.
9. Axel Merckx (B), Lotto-Domo, s.t.
10. Joerg Jaksche (G), ONCE-Eroski, s.t.

UCI plans new Euro series in 2005
The UCI plans to launch a new series of European races from 2005 in an effort to make the sport more attractive to sponsors.

The new series would comprise 30 to 50 races, which would be entered by 20 to 22 teams, UCI president Hein Verbruggen said on Thursday.

“We plan to call the new series the UCI Professional Competition and want to put it into place from 2005 to 2010,” Verbruggen told a news conference in the German city of Coburg, where Thursday’s third stage of the Tour of Germany started.

The teams not allowed to enter the series would have to concentrate on minor races.

Verbruggen said the reform was aimed at limiting the importance of the major races such as the Tour de France, the Giro and the Vuelta, and at encouraging sponsors to invest in the sport.

“At the moment the sport depends on some 60 professional teams, some of which only have one sponsor,” he said. “There are less and less sponsors who can afford to invest in cycling. They are reluctant to spend millions without knowing whether they will be allowed to enter the Tour de France.

“Under the new system every team in the series will have the right and the obligation to enter every single event.” –Reuters