Road

Sunday’s news: Rutkiewicz claims innocence; No Davidenko in Oz; Wilson wins Aussie road title

Marek Rutkiewicz, the Polish rider who last week was reportedly caught by French police in possession of banned substances, has hit out at being made a scapegoat in an affair which he says has been blown out of proportion. As part of the investigation, Rutkiewicz’s former Cofidis team was under the spotlight last week as he was arrested along with Cofidis soigneur Bogdan Madejak. Madejak is accused of being part of a smuggling ring and has now been suspended by the team, who boast a string of top riders including world champions David Millar (time trial) and Igor Astarloa

By VeloNews Interactive, With wire services

Marek Rutkiewicz, the Polish rider who last week was reportedly caught by French police in possession of banned substances, has hit out at being made a scapegoat in an affair which he says has been blown out of proportion.

As part of the investigation, Rutkiewicz’s former Cofidis team was under the spotlight last week as he was arrested along with Cofidis soigneur Bogdan Madejak.

Madejak is accused of being part of a smuggling ring and has now been suspended by the team, who boast a string of top riders including world champions David Millar (time trial) and Igor Astarloa (road).

Rutkiewicz said however that accusations in the French press that he was in possession of doping substances, including human growth hormone, are well wide of the mark.

“I’ve been made a scapegoat,” he told Polish sports newspaper Przeglad Sportowy.

Referring to his arrest by police last Monday evening at Paris Roissy airport, Rutkiewicz told another paper, Gazeta Wyborcza that he “was in possession of vitamins, nutritional products and herbal infusions. I know nothing about human growth hormone. We’ll see what happens when the results of the analyses come out.”

French newspaper L’Equipe, however, reported last week that Rutkiewicz had admitted some degree of complicity with Madejak – and also the presence of human growth hormone in the luggage seized by the French police on Monday. But Rutkiewicz has now openly questioned the presumption of guilt by association with Madejak.

Both the rider and his compatriot are now under formal investigation by a French judge on suspicion of “offering, selling and inciting others to use doping products.”

Rutkiewicz added: “My telephone was bugged for six months. The police presented me with recordings of telephone conversations, including those with Bogdan Madejak.

“They tried to attach to them some sort of logic insinuating that we had a coded language to discuss the trafficking of banned substances. It’s a load of rubbish.”

Rutkiewicz has also accused the French press and cycling community of paranoia about doping.

“I think that this is all about a type of anti-doping hysteria in France,” he said. “They want results at any cost and they’re furious that this scandal that they’ve blown out of proportion isn’t yielding anything.”
Copyright AFP2004

Navigators give up on bringing Davidenko Down Under
The Navigators Insurance cycling team has apparently given up efforts to get star sprinter Vassili Davidenko to Adelaide, Australia, in time for Tuesday’s start of the Jacob’s Creek Tour Down Under. “In the end, Vassili will not make it to JCTDU after all,” Navigators director Ed Beamon told VeloNews. “Although we were able to get his visa and all his documents in hand by early Saturday morning, there was only one flight plan possible to get him to Adelaide in time for the start. Unfortunately, there was one leg of the flight that could not guarantee a seat.” With even the slightest measure of uncertainty, we had to elect to not take the risk of stranding Vassili, so we decided it was best to keep him home.”

Team and race officials were initially hopeful that the last-minute juggling act would work, but Beamon noted that “with even the slightest measure of uncertainty, we had to elect to not take the risk of stranding Vassili, so we decided it was best to keep him home.”

Davidenko will instead join his teammates in Italy at the beginning of next month, when the squad holds a training camp in Tuscany.

Wilson scores dream win at Aussie championship
In June 2000 Victorian Matthew Wilson, 26, was lying in a hospital bed undergoing radiotherapy treatment for cancer (Hodgkin’s disease) but today he was riding tall as he sailed solo across the finish line with his arms raised to claim the road race title at the BMC Software Australian Open Road Championships in Buninyong, near the Victorian city of Ballarat.

“It’s one of those things you always think about but I can’t really comprehend it’s actually happened,” said and overjoyed Wilson. “As soon as I came around the corner and saw the finish line (400 meters ahead) I began savoring the moment and celebrating.

“In 2001 the nationals was my first race back after I went into remission and I was away with two laps to go but I got caught in the final 500 meters and finished third,” explained Wilson. “It would have been perfect then so it’s taken a bit longer than I hoped but I’ve finally done it.”

Wilson made sure no-one could come round him today launching a strong attack on the final lap to open a decisive solo break. He finished the 180km course (18laps of a 10km circuit) in a time of 4:47:43, 1:10 clear of 1992 Barcelona Olympian Canberra’s Robert McLachlan, 32, with 1998 Australian champion, Victorian David McKenzie, 29, third 3:13 behind the winner. The race was contested in perfect conditions with sunny skies and cool temperatures throughout.

For Wilson It will be another year or so before his medical status is upgraded from ‘in remission’ to cured, but that was far from his thoughts today when he pulled on the Australian champion’s green and gold jersey. He will wear it with pride, firstly next week when he lines up in the Jacob’s Creek Tour Down Under, and then in Europe where he races with the French professional team FDJeux.com. His team mates include Australia’s Tour de France stars Brad McGee and Baden Cooke and the pair were ecstatic today to see their hard working friend score the dream win of his career so far.

“It was fantastic to have my team boss here as well (FDJeux.com Team Director – Marc Madiot) because it’s a contract year for me and now the pressure’s off already and I can have an exciting 2004,” said Wilson. “Also wearing the green and gold all year is a permanent reminder that I’m the national champion.

“We (FDJeux.com) were in the box seat all day so I knew they’d be blocking for me,” said Wilson who was in a chasing group of eight riders which set off after five laps in pursuit of another breakaway group of eight which had attacked on lap two. “I knew if it came back together we’d have Baden (Cooke) for the sprint but it didn’t matter in the end because I was feeling so strong.”

Wilson gave credit to McLachlan who made a comeback to cycling seven months ago after ten years in retirement.

“He is so strong,” said Wilson of McLachlan. “He needs to harness his strength ‘cause he’s almost too strong for his own good.”

The pair along with several others from the chasing group of eight had reeled in the lead attack on lap 13 with 45 kilometers remaining and it was then that tactics came into play.

South Australian Russell Van Hout surged away from the leaders on the climb up Mt Buninyong with 35 kilometres remaining and quickly rode clear to a one minute solo lead but the attack didn’t faze Wilson or McLachlan.

“I was still pretty confident as it was a long way to go but because he’s a really good rider and strong I didn’t want to give him too much of a buffer,” said Wilson. “Also I was conserving my strength a little bit and I knew I had one big attack in me.

“I gave Robbie (McLachlan) the heads up because he was the one I wanted to go with me and he did,” Wilson explained. “We just drove it and caught Russell (VAN HOUT) up the climb for the second last time and then it was just the two of us.

“On that climb I saw that Robbie (McLachlan) was in trouble but I kept him with me because I needed him driving on the downhill and I was confident I could drop him on the last hill…. Which I did.”

McLachlan was a stalwart of the Australian road team in the early 1990’s representing at world, Olympic and Commonwealth Games level. He is now a High School teacher in Canberra where he lives with his partner Briony and two children, six-year-old son Sam and two-week-old daughter Madeleine. He decided last year to make a return to cycling but only at a domestic Australian level. A fourth place on the Buninyong stage of last year’s Herald Sun Tour was the catalyst for his ride today.

“That gave me the confidence to think I should have a go and although I didn’t train over a lot of miles I did lots and lots of hills,” said McLachlan. “I was training behind a motorbike going up and down hills… I just didn’t stop climbing hills and it paid off.

“I surprised myself today so that’s made me happy.”

For third placed McKenzie it was his first race in the livery of his new professional team, the U.S. based Navigators Insurance and whilst happy to have a medal he was a little mad with himself.

“To be honest with ten laps to go if someone had said I’d finish third I would have been happy as I went through a really bad patch and was getting dropped,” McKenzie explained. “But now I’m disappointed because I trained my arse off for this and now to get, not so close, but a medal you think ‘what could have been’.

“But Matty’s a good guy and a good mate and if anyone else was going to win it’s good to see him do it.”

The U23 Australian crown went to Richard Moffatt (NSW).

Of the other big names Cooke finished seventh 3:44 behind Wilson; Alan Davis (QLD) finished tenth at 7min58sec, McGee placed 18th at 7:58 and Robbie McEwen was 21st at 10:27.

More than 200 cyclists have contested events over the four days of the Championships.
— Ginnie Sheer