The Week That Was...
Ian comments on the happenings in the world of cycling.
Former leading fast-man of the professional peloton, Mario Cipollini, was last week interviewed at length by Italian police into the ?private violence? incident played out between Lance Armstrong and Filippo Simeoni in last year?s Tour de France. Vincenzo Santoni, Cipollini?s manager at Domina Vacanze, the team both he and Simeoni rode for last year, told police that Armstrong had requested that the Italian put pressure on his team to stop Simeoni from riding the race. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
"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 told Reuters.
The bad feelings between Armstrong and Simeoni stem from an Italian court case against Armstrong?s friend and former advisor, Dr Michele Ferrari. During that investigation, Simeoni testified that the Italian doctor had given him banned substances. Ferrari was initially found guilty of sporting fraud but is appealing against the ruling.
After seeing their star rider, Venezuelan Jose Rujano, racing to an unexpected third place overall finish at the recent Giro d?Italia, his team Selle Italia are faced with a dilemma: how can a UCI Continental squad prevent a rider like Rujano from being snapped up by a large ProTour team? Well aware of the attention that their star rider has now begun attracting, Selle Italia has announced that it has applied to the UCI for a ProTour license themselves. The team hope that Rujano will lead them in the major stage races while a leading Italian can be signed to spearhead the teams attack on the one-day races.
Marc Lotz of Quick.Step has officially resigned from the Belgian team after admitting use of EPO. "In the scope of a legal investigation, I have taken EPO with an eye on the Tour. The pressure not to let myself and my team down saw to it that I took refuge in EPO. I realise now that my behaviour is unacceptable,? he said to Belga. "I don't want to avoid my responsibility and therefore I have resigned from Quick.Step. I hope that in doing so, I don't damage the team."
Lotz now faces a possible two-year ban for doping offences and a four-year suspension from riding for any ProTour team.
Dutch ace, Erik Dekker last week announced his retirement from the sport. The Rabobank rider announced that he will finally hang-up his wheels after what will be 11 seasons with the team. Over the past seasons, Dekker has won an impressive array of events including the overall world cup in 2001 with victories at Clasica San Sebastian, Amstel Gold and Paris-Tours.
Unipublic, organisers of La Vuelta a Espana, have last week announced a new sponsor of the race: IFEMA, the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
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