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Wednesday’s news briefs: Fast Freddy, Zülle and Rumsas

Fred Rodriguez is one of seven riders on the now defunct Domo-Farm Fritesteam who have yet to sign a contract for 2003. That doesn’t mean that thetwo-time U.S. pro champion, who had an outstanding classics campaign thisyear, is on the dole.Speaking from his Emeryville, California, home this week, Rodrigueztold VeloNews, “I’m still in negotiations with a lot of teamsthat are interested, but they’re all trying to figure out their budgets… or a lot of teams don’t have their financing all together. So at thispoint, I’m still in a holding pattern, waiting, like a lot of other riders[but] I’m still

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By VeloNews Interactive wire services, Copyright AFP2002

Fred Rodriguez is one of seven riders on the now defunct Domo-Farm Fritesteam who have yet to sign a contract for 2003. That doesn’t mean that thetwo-time U.S. pro champion, who had an outstanding classics campaign thisyear, is on the dole.Speaking from his Emeryville, California, home this week, Rodrigueztold VeloNews, “I’m still in negotiations with a lot of teamsthat are interested, but they’re all trying to figure out their budgets… or a lot of teams don’t have their financing all together. So at thispoint, I’m still in a holding pattern, waiting, like a lot of other riders[but] I’m still pretty optimistic that something will come through.”One of those “other riders” is Domo teammate Romans Vainsteins, the2000 world road champion, along with Dutch sprinter Jeroen Blijlevens andBelgium all-rounder Dave Bruylandts. Another former Domo colleague, MaxVan Heeswijk, signed Tuesday with the U.S. Postal Service.“I think I had a really good year,” said Rodriguez, “but of course itwas at the beginning of the year (when he took second at both Milan-SanRemo and Ghent-Wevelgem behind Mario Cipollini). And after getting sickat Philadelphia [in June], my summer and early fall suffered.”VeloNews will bring you an update as soon as Rodriguezfirms up his plans for 2003.
— John WilcocksonZülle stays with Coast
Veteran Swiss cyclist Alex Zülle was rewarded for his win in theTour of Switzerland this year by having his contract extended
for another season, Team Coast officials announced Wednesday.The 34-year-old two-time Vuelta a España champion is set to signthe extension in the coming days with the German team for whom he has riddenfor the past two seasons.”We have reached agreement with Alex and the contract will be signedin the next few days,” Coast director Wolfram Lindner said.Zülle has had limited success since admitting to taking drugs duringhis time at then number one team Festina which was kicked out of the 1998Tour de France afte a carload of banned substances were discovered on theBelgium/France border.He finished second in the Tour the following yearand scored an overall win at this year’s Tour of Switzerland, often calledthe “fourth grand tour,” behind only the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia andVuelta a España in presitige.Rumsas honored at home
Raimondas Rumsas, whose wife was jailed in France after being caught with large quantities of performance-enhancing drugs and masking agents, was named Wednesday as Lithuania’s athlete of the year.

Arturas Poviliunas, head of Lithuanian Olympic Committee, handed Rumsas an Olympic star for his third place in the prestigious Tour de France race.

“It is not every day we have such achievements,” Poviliunas said.

Rumsas thanked the Lithuanian people and officials for the support and care for his wife.

“It was all a misunderstanding. Thank you for believing that my performance was achieved fairly,” Rumsas said.

Rumsas wife Edita Rumsas was imprisoned in July, immediately after the Tour de France, after being caught with a large amount of growth hormones and the endurance-boosting drug EPO in her car.

She was released from jail on October 11 on 20,000 euros bail.

Copyright AFP2002