By VeloNews Interactive, Copyright AFP2004
Polish rider Marek Rutkiewicz and Cofidis soigner Bogdan Madejak have been charged with illegally possessing and supplying toxic drugs.
Police said Thursday that Madejak, the Polish soigner on the Cofidis staff, was held on remand while Rutkiewicz, who left Cofidis last year, was released on police bail.
The 2001 world track champion Robert Sassone, who also left Cofidis last year, and Madejak’s wife and pharmacist daughter were due to be brought before an investigating magistrate.
The police investigation, which started eight months ago, centers on some elements of the Cofidis team. The squad now also includes Australian star Stuart O’Grady, world time-trial champion David Millar of Britain, Spanish world road race champion Igor Astarloa and world track sprint champion Laurent Gane, none of whom have been mentioned as being part of the investigation.
A stock of amphetamines, steroids, human growth hormone and the endurance enhancer EPO (erythropoietin) was found at the home of Sassone and police also seized medical files at the team’s headquarters.
Police sources claim up to 30 professional cyclists could end up before the investigating magistrate.
Jean-Jacques Menuet, the Cofidis team doctor, has also been quizzed.
Cofidis officials deny any involvement in doping and the French cycling federation has instituted its own legal proceedings into the case which some suggest resembles the Festina scandal which ripped apart the 1998 Tour de France.
Police seized large quantities of drugs when they raided the Festina team during the 1998 Tour de France which exposed systematic use of EPO.
Festina was thrown out of the Tour and Richard Virenque, their five-time King of the Mountains, was banned for four years.
Copyright AFP2004Airlines misplace Ullrich’s ride
German cycling star Jan Ullrich arrived in Mallorca for a pre-season training camp Thursday only to find one crucial part of his armory had failed to turn up – his bike.
The 1997 Tour de France winner, and perennial runner-up, is on the Balearic island for a two week pre-season work out with his new team, T-Mobile, which used to operate under the name Telekom. Airline officials told the team that they are conducting a search for the machine, but have yet to turn it up between his departure point in Berlin and Mallorca.
The 30-year-old, who joined his teammates late after shrugging off a bout of flu, hopped on a replacement machine for a two hour spin with Dutch teammate Bram Schmitz.
Ullrich ran five-time champion Lance Armstrong close in last year’s Tour de France and is once again rated the main obstacle standing between the Texan and a record sixth straight success in cycling’s blue ribbon event.
Breukink takes over at Rabobank
Erik Breukink, once a third-place finisher at the Tour de France, was unveiled as the new director of Dutch team Radobank at the team’s official 2004 presentation in Hilversum on Wednesday.
Breukink, who finished third in the 1990 Tour behind winner Greg LeMond, replaces Jan Raas, one of the team’s founders who quit Radobank last month after a disagreement with the sponsor.
Like last year, the team’s top rider will be Spanish sprinter Oscar Freire, the two-time world race champion, backed up by former US Postal rider Levi Leipheimer and Dutch riders Michael Boogerd and Erik Dekker.
Copyright AFP2004 Rogers eyes Tour run
There’s only one race that captures the imagination of Aussie up-and-comer Michael Rogers. That’s the Tour de France.
Rogers said he dreams of becoming the first Aussie to win the Tour, but says it won’t be happening this year.
“I’ll go back to the Tour this year to learn and to help Richard (Virenque) and our other riders,” Rogers told VeloNews this week. “I’d like to do well in some other races, perhaps Paris-Nice or the Dauphine.”
Rogers enjoyed a breakthrough 2003 season, winning the Tour of Belgium, the Tour of Germany and Route du Sud in an incredible run that lasted from May into June. He made his Tour debut for Quick Step and said the race will dominant his agenda in the coming years.
“If I can stay on my same trajectory, I’ll be happy with that,” Rogers said during a break at the Quick Step-Davitamon training camp in Cecina Mare, Italy.
Rogers – who took silver behind David Millar in the road time trial race in Hamilton — is also aiming for some hardware at the Olympic Games and the road world championships.
As for the Tour, he hopes to improve his climbing and be in position to make a run for the podium in the next few years.
“I realize it’s not easy to win the Tour. I hope to see myself in five years in that position, I hope to surprise myself and be in that position in two, three years,” “You never know. Cycling is a sport like that, full of surprises. He who works harder than the other guys takes the cake.”
Lombardi still without team
Expert set-up Giovanni Lombardi, who catapulted Mario Cipollini to the world title in 2003, is still without a team for the upcoming season.
Lombardi left Cipollini’s Domina Vacanze team with hopes of signing with another team to assume the role of lead sprinter, but efforts to join the on-again, off-again Stayer team have left him without a ride just weeks before the season begins.
“I’ll wait and see what happens (with Stayer), but if nothing is firm very soon perhaps I will return with Cipollini,” Lombardi told the Italian daily TuttoSport.
Domina Vacanze, which recently lost out in efforts to retain its first division status, is keeping the door open to bring back Lombardi even though ex-Telekom rider Gian-Mateo Fagnini is set to assume the role on the team.
Lombardi is also hopeful of earning a spot on the Italian track team and was racing in some Six Day races in Germany to hone his track skills.
“I won a medal on the track in Barcelona and I would like to try to win another one,” said the 34-year-old Lombardi.