Thursday, January 6, 2011

Not until the fat lady sings

Latest news: 
UCI issued a press release at 3PM European time (a few hours before the start) stating that Keisse cannot start, and if he does start, his result and that of his team mate won't count. 

The latest news is that Keisse did indeed start. Follow the races here.

It appears the suspense in cycling is shifting from the actual race to pre-race legal contests about who can start when, to be followed by lab tests that reshuffle results weeks, months or even years later.

The Keisse ping-pong match keeps going. First Rotterdam invited him to their Zesdaagse (six day races),  spurning the Manchester rejection. Then all was quiet on the Western front, and Patrick Sercu went ahead and paired Keisse with De Ketele for the upcoming event. WADA made some noise about "setting a bad example" and the "purity of the sport," but that was largely ignored and nothing much happened.

Then, a few days before the start, UCI sent a rather ambiguous letter to organizer Frank Boelé asking that he not allow Keisse to race. Boelé immediately responded saying he had a contract and that, unless UCI were more specific, he was going to let Iljo race. This was apparently followed by another UCI letter stating that Keisse was only allowed to race in Belgium, and since Belgium and Holland are no longer one -that happened in the Belgian revolution of 1830 by the way- he would have to be booted. For a while it looked as if UCI was going to win, but Keisse decided not to sit still and go American in Holland. He went to court and to everyone's surprise, he won.

"UCI got a taste of their own medicine," he was quoted as saying.

Speaking of legal challenges, Italian Franco Pellizotti wants UCI to pay him EUR200,000 ($260,000) in damages for barring him from competition after they discovered "disturbing values" in his biological passport. The rider was later cleared by CONI. The Italian also claims UCI is dissuading teams from hiring him.


In other news, the Schlecks announced that their new team will indeed be called Leopard. They had earlier denied the rumor, but maybe that was because they knew the real name is Leopard Trek. As you can imagine the great American bicycle company is supplying the bikes. The other American bicycle company apparently lost out the new dream team and presumably the next Tour winner.

Schleck ready for action

Dutch squad Vacansoleil announced that they had a good chat with ASO and are now 100% assured of a slot in the 2011 Tour de France. Whether that will include Riccardo Ricco is not clear yet. Apparently that decision will be made in May. ASO is upset with Ricco after he was found guilty of using CERA in 2008.

There is also some sad news. Raymond Impanis, aka "the little baker from Berg" was buried today in Berg-Kampenhout. Impanis, who won both Paris-Roubaix and the Ronde van Vlaanderen in 1954, died last week at age 85. Even though he was a fantastic rider, he never managed to acquire the legendary status of his contemporaries Rik van Steenbergen and Rik van Looy.

Raymond Impanis

Another Belgian, Emile Masson Jr., the oldest living winner of Paris-Roubaix (1939) died last weekend at age 95. Masson Jr. followed in the footsteps of his father, Masson Sr., who won a stage in the 1922 Tour de France.

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