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Saturday’s EuroFile: Cofidis future uncertain; Millar, Casper backs suspension of racing; Tour chief suggests new beginning

Cofidis, the sponsor of France's top cycling team, has made no decision on its future in the sport following its decision to pull the team out of all competitions. The credit company's president, Francois Migraine, said very little after an emergency meeting Saturday in Marcq-en-Baroeil, France, with his team managers and a select few riders. "It was a discussion between me and them," said Migraine. Team sprinter Jimmy Casper, meanwhile, said Cofidis simply wanted to put things right and expressed confidence that its future could be assured. "The boss told us we have to get back on the

By AFP

Cofidis, the sponsor of France’s top cycling team, has made no decision on its future in the sport following its decision to pull the team out of all competitions.

The credit company’s president, Francois Migraine, said very little after an emergency meeting Saturday in Marcq-en-Baroeil, France, with his team managers and a select few riders.

“It was a discussion between me and them,” said Migraine.

Team sprinter Jimmy Casper, meanwhile, said Cofidis simply wanted to put things right and expressed confidence that its future could be assured.

“The boss told us we have to get back on the right track, which is totally understandable,” said Casper, who moved to Cofidis in the off-season from Fdjeux.com.

“We’ll get over it. He (Migraine) has encouraged us to hang in there and said we will get the team going again. We’re very optimistic about the long term. If the team makes the right decisions, we’ll be around for a long time to come. In the future we’ll be at the forefront of clean cycling.”

Millar says team right to suspend racing
World time trial champion and Olympic hopeful David Millar is standing by his embattled Cofidis team’s decision to withdraw their cyclists from all competition amidst a doping investigation.

The 27-year-old Scot was prevented from making his international track debut in the team pursuit at a World Cup event in Manchester on Saturday after Cofidis announced late Friday the suspension of all racing while they clarified the situation.

“Despite being incredibly disappointed, I have a great deal of respect for my sponsor and I am 100 percent behind the necessity of this decision,” Millar told AFP. “In the meantime, my objectives and motivation for this year remain the same.”

Millar, the world time trial champion in the road event, hopes to race at the Athens Olympics both on the road and track – in the individual pursuit. He is expected to continue training in the United Kingdom this week and may return to France on Friday.

However the Cofidis team leader could be in for a chilly welcome on his return to his home of Biarritz. Friday’s revelations by L’Equipe implicated Millar, and he could be the next rider to be questioned by investigating magistrates in Paris.

Cofidis must begin anew, says Tour chief
The French Cofidis team will need to start afresh if they are to return to cycling, Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc said Saturday in Paris.

“If Cofidis want to come back, (chairman) Francois Migraine will have to start again with new men on a new basis,” Leblanc told French radio RTL.

Cofidis, rocked by a doping scandal over the last four months, decided on Friday to quit competition until further notice to give themselves “the time and means to clarify the situation.”

Leblanc applauded the team’s decision. “The situation was unbearable,” he said. “Francois Migraine had no choice, but his decision was courageous. And he’ll need some more courage.

Earlier this year, Cofidis sacked Philippe Gaumont and suspended two other riders, Cedric Vasseur and Mederic Clain, after they were questioned by police about doping substances.

“From today, and for the time that will be necessary, Cofidis will not enter teams at the start of races,” Cofidis said in a statement on Friday.

The decision came on the day French sports daily l’Equipe published official documents from the investigation accusing Cofidis riders and team staff of dealing in and taking doping substances.

The first impact of Friday’s decision will be seen on Sunday when Cofidis riders will be missing from the Paris-Roubaix World Cup classic.


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