By Andrew Hood
Despite earlier reports that Lance Armstrong will race in the Tour de Georgia, the five-time Tour de France champion won’t decide on his domestic racing program until later this week.
“Armstrong will have a decision on his North American race calendar this week. Despite earlier news reports, no decision has been made regarding the Tour de Georgia,” said Bill Stapleton, chief executive officer of Tailwind Sports and Armstrong’s agent.
Stapleton was quoted on Armstrong’s official web page (www.LanceArmstrong.com). Armstrong has said he’d like to race and train more in the United States this spring, in part to be closer to his three children.
“We are pleased to hear that the Tour of Georgia has secured a renewal from Dodge as title sponsor,” Stapleton said. “Lance and Johan are at a team camp reviewing his training and race calendar. They will determine which race will help prepare Lance for the Tour de France.”
Cofidis leader calls for team sponsors to rally against doping
The chairman of Cofidis, the cycling team embroiled in a major doping investigation, has called on team sponsors to join the fight against the use of drugs in the sport.
“The sponsors are not strong enough,” Francois Migraine told the sports daily L’Equipe. “They must get more involved. We must sit together to discuss what we can do to stop what’s going on. I’m ready to make some proposals, not in my own interest but in the name of all the sponsors, because it really hurts to get smashed up by some small time guys. I know there are some black sheep in my flock but I don’t want honest people to pay for the wrongdoings of some dishonest guy.”
Cofidis is at the center of a police investigation instigated earlier this month. The Cofidis team headquarters and the office of one of their doctors were raided on Jan. 12. Last Tuesday, a team assistant and two riders, Cedric Vasseur and Philippe Gaumont, were detained for questioning about the alleged trafficking of banned substances.
Gaumont was released on Wednesday but placed under official investigation. Vasseur, who led the 1997 Tour de France for five days, was freed without charge on Thursday. The affair has been branded as the biggest judicial investigation into cycling since the Festina scandal that erupted during the 1998 Tour de France.
It has also prompted the French government to beef up their fight against the use of drugs in sport. Sports minister Jean-Francois Lamour said on Friday the target for the number of random tests this year would be increased from 8,500 to 9000.
Jonker already has new job
Fresh off his overall victory at the Tour Down Under, newly retired Patrick Jonker already had a job.
The Australian daily The Age is reporting Jonker has agreed to work as a tourism ambassador for South Australia.
“I caught up with Patrick during the Jacob’s Creek Tour Down Under and again after (Sunday’s) win and he is so passionate about South Australia,” said premier Mike Rann. “Patrick and his Dutch wife Natascha have two youngsters and they are keen to move back to South Australia fulltime in a couple of years so their children can go to school in Adelaide. In the meantime Patrick has agreed to be a tourism ambassador for South Australia in Europe.”
Landbouwkrediet spells out early season
Landbouwkrediet-Colnago will have an aggressive early season racing campaign with all eyes on preparation for a run at the 2004 Giro d’Italia. Third overall last year, team leader Yaroslav Popovych will be looking to give defending champion Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) a run for his money.
Here’s a quick look at the team’s early season racing schedule with the principal riders:
Feb. 3: GP de la Marseillaise
Feb. 4: Etoile de Bessèges: Durand, Steels, Dierckxsens,Van Bondt , Sijmens, Capelle, Bernucci, Duma
Feb. 4: Giro Degli Ettruschi: Verstrepen, Montfort
Feb. 12-15: Giro Liguria: Durand , Verstrepen,
Feb. 17: Trophée Lagueglia
Feb. 18-22: Turqie Riviera-Tour: Steels, Bracke, De Waele, Streel,Sijmens, Van Bondt ,Metlushenko, Lagutin
Feb. 22: Classic Haribo: Durand, Capelle
Feb. 28 Beverbeek Classic: Steels, Durand, Dierckxsens, VanBondt, Bracke, Capelle, Bernucci, Popovych
Feb. 29: Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne: Metlushenko, Sijmens, De Waele,Streel, Popovych, Verstrepen, Montfort, Capelle