By Andrew Hood
Retired racing legend Johan Museeuw said he won’t challenge a two-year racing ban handed down by the Belgian cycling federation, according to reports on the Belgian wires.
Museeuw, who left competitive cycling in April, was banned along with Belgian racers Jo Planckaert and Chris Peers after being implicated in a police investigation last fall involving the distribution of banned substances involving a Belgian veterinarian.
Despite clearing doping tests, authorities felt they had enough on the classics legend to issue the controversial racing ban. Museeuw had already retired by the time the decision was handed down late this summer. His lawyer refused to explain why the ban wouldn’t be challenged to CAS (Court of Arbitration in Sport), but said other venues are being explored.
Ullrich still wants to beat LA
Jan Ullrich isn’t going to be had by Lance Armstrong yet again. Despite public doubts that six-time Tour de France winner might not start the 2005 edition, Ullrich doesn’t believe it. “I won’t believe that until he really doesn’t show up at the start,” Ullrich told Berlin’s Tageszeitung newspaper. “Armstrong always plays psychological games every winter to motivate himself.”
Ullrich, who has voiced disappointment that the 2005 Tour is short on time trials, said he’d still like to win another Tour, preferably with Armstrong at the start line.
“A victory against him would perhaps be more precious but in reality I couldn’t care about who shows up to race and who doesn’t,” said Ullrich, who has five second-place Tour finishes but was a disappointing fourth in 2004.
“If I want to win the race I’m going to have to be faster than everyone,” added Ullrich, who won in 1997. “I’m not worried about who won’t be there.”
Sassone gets two years
Robert Sassone, the former track cyclist who was a central figure in the Cofidis Affaire that rocked cycling in 2004, has been handed down with a two-year cycling ban, the French wires reported.
Sassone failed a doping test last December, which led investigators to take a closer look at the Cofidis team. Sweeping changes were made to team management and several riders, including former time trial champion David Millar, were fired.
Sassone tested positive for betametasona, a form of banned corticoids. He won’t be able to race again until July, 2006. Martinez signs with upstart French team
Spanish rider Alberto Martínez has signed a contract to join new French team Agritubel, a former amateur team which will race in the new continental series being introduced as part of the Pro Tour in 2005.
Martínez, who won the 2002 Criterium International with Euskaltel-Euskadi, raced with Relax-Bodysol in 2004. At Agritubel, he’ll be joined by Christophe Agnolutto, Florent Brard and Benoit Salmon.
Co-sponsor expands with CSC, Sunderland signs on as DS
There’s good news coming out of Team CSC as the Danish team announced Danish insurance and banking company Alm. Brand will expand and extend their sponsorship deal with the team run by 1996 Tour winner Bjarne Riis.
“Our logo is exposed in a nice and positive way, and we reach a broad spectrum of the Danish population,” says Henrik Nordam, Deputy Chief Executive at Alm. Brand. “The partnership is working very well – perhaps due to our very similar set of values, both focusing on the will to succeed and mutual respect.”
The news comes as CSC has struggled to find a co-sponsor to help the team underwrite its budget. The team didn’t say how much the sponsorship deal was worth or whether it will allow the team to sign new riders.
“It all started with an agreement to get their logo on our cycling shorts during last year’s Tour, but it has since developed into an agreement for a four-year period,” Riis said.
In other news, the team has signed recently retired Scott Sunderland to join the team as assistant sports director. He fills the spot left by Sean Yates, who will help direct Discovery Channel in 2005.