By Andrew Hood
Dutchman Marc Lotz has been sacked by his QuickStep team for taking blood-boosting drug EPO, the ProTour cycling outfit said on Wednesday.
The 31-year-old Lotz admitted in a judicial inquiry that he had taken EPO recently.
Later on Wednesday, police announced that an unnamed Dutchman was being held for questioning for suspected sale of doping products, including to Lotz.
Agence France Presse
Zabriskie on track for Tour?
Dave Zabriskie’s impressive Giro d’Italia performance could get him a ticket to the Tour de France.
The 26-year-old Utahan won a time trial and finished third in another as well as provided strong support in the mountains before Team CSC captain Ivan Basso succumbed to a bad stomach and fell out of contention.
“Dave rode very strong in the Giro and he’s one of the riders we’re considering for the Tour team,” said Team CSC boss Bjarne Riis. “He would be very strong for the team time trial and his climbing is strong. He could be among the favorites for the time trial stages as well.”
Riis said the following riders are confirmed for Team CSC’s Tour lineup: Basso, Carlos Sastre, Bobby Julich, Jens Voigt and Kurt-Asle Arvesen. The remaining four spots will be decided between Jakob Piil, Nicki Sorensen, Vladimir Gusev, Andrea Peron, Giovanni Lombardi and Zabriskie.
Riis said he wants to be a strong enough team to challenge Discovery Channel’s stranglehold on the Tour and put six-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong under pressure.
“I think we’ll have a strong team and I think everyone knows that,” Riis said. “It’s not going to be a secret, just look at the names. Look at the guys who’ve been there all year. Ivan, Carlos, Bobby, Jens, Arvesen, Piil will come on strong again”
Concerning Zabriskie, Riis said he believes the quiet American could have a big future if he continues to grow and mature as a racer.
“He’s got a great future, he learns a lot and he’s progressing very well. He can become a great rider,” Riis said. “Dave surprised me a little bit (in the Giro TT victory) and when he’s riding like that, he’s difficult to beat. No one came close except Ivan.”
Already a winner of a stage in the Vuelta a España and the Giro, Zabriskie would love to make a run at the Tour. Riis has already told him not to plan on returning to the United States to defend his U.S. time trial jersey later this month.
“It’s always a good possibility (to go the Tour), but the team is full of strong riders,” Zabriskie said. “If I go, it’s cool, if not; there are a lot of other races.”
Zabriskie seems to be taking all this talk in stride. Fully recovered from two seasons marred with injuries and crashes, Zabriskie said he hopes to build on the success of the 2005 campaign.
“It’s great that people are taking notice here and there. It’s just a good feeling to get stronger and stronger, that comes with the results and you get noticed,” he said. “It’s not a re-birth; I’m just feeling good again. I’d like to build on every year, some years I had some rebuilding experience, so it’s hard to come out of those years. Hopefully I can come out of this year and get better and better.”
What about his long-term future? Already a proven time trialist and a fast-improving climber, Zabriskie seems to have the characteristics to challenge in three-week tours. For now, Zabriskie said he’s happy to keep a low profile.
“I’m still in my support role for Ivan and keep on learning for those guys,” he said. “Until the time comes — if the time comes — until then, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. I haven’t thought about it, right now I just want to keep having fun.”
Vande Velde matches history
After finishing 114th in the 2005 Giro d’Italia, Christian Vande Velde joined an elite club of American riders who’ve finished all three grand tours.
Vande Velde becomes just the third American to finish the Tour, Giro and Vuelta during their racing careers. The other two are Fred Rodriguez and Kevin Livingston.
According to VeloNews’ editorial director John Wilcockson, that number is relatively low because, until this year, U.S. Postal Service/Discovery never raced the Giro while the 7-Eleven/Motorola team never raced the Vuelta (that’s when the Vuelta was in April-May and often clashed with the Giro).
Wilcockson writes: “LeMond rode only one Vuelta (1983), but DNF two days from the end in a snowstorm when several others stopped including Saronni and Ocaña.”
Cipollini questioned over Simeoni-Armstrong flap
Former world champion Mario Cipollini was questioned by Italian police Tuesday as part of an investigation concerning six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, Reuters reported. Cipollini was summoned because his former team manager, Vincenzo Santoni, told police that Armstrong had put pressure on the Italian to stop his compatriot Filippo Simeoni from riding in his team in the 2004 Tour. “Cipollini was questioned for an hour, but I cannot reveal details of what was said or anything regarding Cipollini’s position in the investigation,” police officer Pierluigi Lambardi said.Armstrong was placed under formal investigation last August for ‘private violence’ against Simeoni after he chased the Italian down during stage 18 of the 2004 Tour de France.
Simeoni began defamation proceedings against Armstrong in 2003 after the American called him a liar in an interview with a French newspaper in April that year. The Italian had given evidence in 2002 during the trial of Armstrong’s personal coach, Michele Ferrari, and claimed Ferrari had given him doping substances.
Ferrari was found guilty of sporting fraud and illegally acting as a pharmacist Oct. 1, 2004 but has appealed against the verdict.
Armstrong traveled to Italy on March 30 to face police questioning in the Tuscan town of Lucca.
“I explained in detail what happened that day and what I really said. I told them the truth,” the Texan told Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport at the time.
Armstrong is preparing for this year’s Tour de France and has announced he will retire from the sport when the race ends in Paris on July 24.
— By Reuters
Bicicleta Vasca only draws three ProTour teams
Like many Spanish races left without ProTour status, the Bicicleta Vasca starts this week without many of the major teams in the start list. Only Liberty Seguros, Euskaltel-Euskadi and Saunier Duval will be among the 13 teams for the five-day march across Spain’s Basque Country.
Without defending champion Roberto Heras, riders such as Félix Cárdenas, David Plaza and ex-world champion Igor Astarloa (all Barloworld) could be the big winners. Other big names include Pavel Tonkov (LPR), Aitor González (Euskaltel), Eladio Jiménez and Angel Casero (Comunidad Valenciana) and Angel Vicioso and Luis León Sánchez (Liberty Seguros).
The race (June 1-5) covers 739km with 22 rated climbs, including two summit finishes and the traditional finale at the Alto de Arrate in a decisive day that includes seven climbs.