By Andrew Hood
French rider Franck Bouyer (La Boulangère) won the Paris-Camembert race in France on Tuesday, edging Thomas Lovkist (FDJeux.com) to take the French semi-classic.
Bouyer, a winner of a stage last week in the Circuit de la Sarthe, escaped with Lovkist and held off the Swede to take the victory. Johan Coenem (Mr Bookmaker) led the main bunch in at 20 seconds back.
Paris-Camembert was the sixth leg of the French Cup series and Bouyer moves into third overall behind series leader Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole).
65th Paris-Camembert Lepetit (FRA 1.2)
1. Franck Bouyer (F), La Boulangère, 4:29 :19
2. Thomas Lovkist (S), FDJeux.com, at 0:01
3. Johan Coenem (B), Mr Bookmaker, at 0:20
4. Sandy Casar (F), FDjeux.com
5. Sylvain Chavanel (F), La Boulangère, both s.t.
Zabel holds lead in UCI rankings
Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) continued his grasp in the latest rankings released Tuesday. There were no major changes in the top rankings as Fransesco Casagrande (Lampre) moved up from 15th to 11th and Oscar Freire (Rabobank) nudged up from 14th to 12th.
Leading world rankings issued by the International Cycling Union (UCI) on Tuesday (previous ranking in brackets):
1. (1) Erik Zabel (G), 2245.75 points
2. (2) Alessandro Petacchi (I), 2147.00
3. (3) Paolo Bettini (I), 2102.00
4. (4) Alejandro Valverde (Sp), 1793.00
5. (5) Lance Armstrong (USA), 1684.00
6. (6) Gilberto Simoni (I), 1640.00
7. (7) Davide Rebellin (I), 1562.00
8. (8) Alexander Vinokourov (Kz), 1428.50
9. (10) Michael Boogerd (Nl), 1327.00
10. (9) Iban Mayo (Sp), 1212.00
11. (15) Francesco Casagrande (I), 1199.00
12. (14) Oscar Freire (S), 1196.75
13. (12) Jan Ullrich (G), 1178.00
14. (13) Igor Astarloa (Sp), 1170.00
15. (16) Isidro Nozal (Sp), 1165.00
16. (22) Danilo Di Luca (I), 1126.00
17. (17) Francisco Mancebo (Sp), 1121.00
18. (18) Stefano Garzelli (I), 1107.00
19. (19) Jens Voigt (G), 1101.60
20. (11) Tyler Hamilton (USA), 1096.20
Vicente Belda, sport director of the beleaguered CV-Kelme team, and two other riders testified Monday before the Spanish cycling federation over allegations of alleged organized doping on the team made by former rider Jesus Manzano.
Belda vehemently denied Manzano’s allegations and insisted “generalized doping does not exist in cycling.”
Belda gave testimony for about one hour before the Spanish cycling federation, the Federación Española de Ciclismo, and offered evidence denying Manzano’s dramatic allegations, including medical documents from the 2003 Tour de France when Manzano said he was so doped up he almost died.
Belda said he had proof that Manzano’s heart rate and other indicators were normal and insisted the rider collapsed during the Tour due to heat stroke and dehydration. Belda also showed documents outlining Manzano’s dismissal from the team during the 2003 Vuelta a España.
“I don’t believe anything Manzano says at the moment,” Belda was quoted in a report by Europa Press. “Inside the sport, you have to believe the doctors and I believe they would never put their riders in danger.”
Former racer Dario Gadeo and current pro Pedro Diaz Lobato also appeared before the cycling federation panel. Both had recently been quoted in Spanish media about rampant doping within the peloton and clarified their comments before the federation.
Manzano is scheduled to appear before the panel Tuesday afternoon.
Museeuw’s last ride
An untimely puncture Sunday cost cycling legend Johan Museeuw (Quick Step) his last chance to win Paris-Roubaix. The Lion of Flanders suffered a flat just 6km from the finish line after leading the charge of a five-man breakaway.
Quick Step officials on Tuesday were still lamenting Museeuw’s bad luck.
“What a catastrophe,” said Quick Step’s manager Patrick Lefevere in the Belgian daily La Derniere Heure. “In all due respect to the other four riders in the break, I’m sure Museeuw would have won the sprint. He doesn’t deserve it. Johan is a champion, a correct man, a hard man with himself.”
Museeuw’s last race of his 18-year career will be Wednesday’s Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen in Belgium. Museeuw will move into the role of assistant sport director at Quick Step as well as work in the media and has hinted he’d like to become Belgium’s national coach.
Quick Step for Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen (BEL 1.1): Frederic Amorison, Tom Boonen, Wilfried Cretskens, Kevin Hulsmans, Servais Knaven, Johan Museeuw, Nick Nuyens and Stefano Zanini.
O’Bee third at Köln, Savoldelli not so lucky
Kirk O’Bee (Navigators Insurance) posted a strong third-place finish Monday in the 89th Rund um Köln semi-classic in Germany.
O’Bee followed a move by the major players from T-Mobile and Gerolsteiner that reeled in a breakaway and charged to the finish line for a sprint. O’Bee went first with 200 meters to go, but winner Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) and Danilo Hondo (Gerolsteiner) squeaked by for a photo finish.
Navigators race Wednesday in the Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen before heading back to the United States to race in the Dodge Tour of Georgia and the remainder of the North American racing calendar.
Meanwhile, bad luck continued Monday for Zabel’s temmate, 2002 Giro d’Italia winner Paolo Savoldelli, who crashed hard in the race and could miss this summer’s Tour de France.
Savoldelli suffered a broken collarbone and arm as well skull fractures after crashing hard early in the event.
Savoldelli went down with three other riders as the peloton sped through narrow streets just 30km into the race. The bloodied 30-year-old was taken to a local hospital.
Savoldelli – known for his daring descending abilities — missed last year’s Tour after crashing during a January training camp and then later succumbing to intestinal problems. But T-Mobile officials said they remain hopeful that the Italian can recover in time to race in July.
“At the moment anything is possible,” T-Mobile director Mario Kummer said.”I am optimistic that he will be ready for the start of the Tour.”
Savodelli is expected to be out of action for between four and six weeks after his accident.
89th Rund um Köln
1. Erik Zabel (G), T-Mobile, 201km in 4:46:13
2. Danilo Hondo (G), Gerolsteiner
3. Kirk O’Bee (USA) Navigators, s.t.
4. Bjorn Leukemans (B), Mr Bookmaker, at 0:01
5. Stefan Shumacher (G), Lamonta, s.t.
Ullrich to skip Amstel Gold
Tour de France runner-up Jan Ullrich will sit out the Amstel Gold Race in Holland this Sunday with the T-Mobile team feeling that World Cup event will not benefit his build-up for the 2004 Tour.
The Olympic road race champion has said he intends to dethrone five-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong this July.
“Starting in Holland would not make any sense,” T-Mobile boss Walter Godefroot said. The 30-year-old Ullrich failed to finish in the top-50 in Monday’s Rund um Köln and has been accused of carrying too much weight.
“He is too heavy and needs more races,” declared five-time Tour winner Eddy Merckx.
FDJeux responds to charges
FDJeux.com officials quickly came to the defense of star sprinter Baden Cooke, who was linked to amphetamines in 2001 in a report in the French daily Le Monde.
Sport director Marc Madiot and team doctor Dr. Guillaume were quoted in the French sports daily L’Equipe defending the Australian sprinter who took the green points jersey in last year’s Tour de France.
“Since he’s been with us, there’s never been a problem,” Madiot said. “The medical checks are reviewed and checked again. He’s never taken anything.”
On Tuesday, Le Monde included extracts from a telephone conversation recorded by the police in September 2001. In it, French cyclist Philippe Boyer, who was handed a one year prison sentence last year for drug trafficking, is claimed to be talking to a supposed friend of Cooke’s, a woman called Sandrine.
She tells Boyer that Cooke, who won the Tour de France green points jersey last year, had felt ill after injecting himself with amphetamines. Cooke refuted the allegations and threatened legal against the paper.
– AFP contributed to this report
Valverde ready for break
Alejandro Valverde (VC-Kelme) already has seven wins under his belt – the most by any racer so far in the 2004 season – but the rising Spanish star is ready to take a break.
Valverde will race in the Vuelta a Castilla y León in late April and then take a break from competition before gearing up for his next major goals later in the season.
“He still has to race Castilla y León, but without responsibilities or pressure. After that he will prepare for two or three weeks to comeback in the Tour of Cataluyna where he will begin his preparations for the Olympic Games,” Kelme sport director Vicente Belda told the Spanish sports daily MARCA. “He will race in the classics at the end of July, the Tour of Burgos and the Clasica San Sebastián to hone his form for the Olympics, which are his next major goal.”