Latest: Lefévre denies; Eisel to lead; Unibet in LangkawiClose
Patrick Lefévre continues his defence in the wake of Museeuw's confession to drug use. Also, EiselPIC BY TOURDOWNUNDER Lefvre denies telling Museeuw to keep quiet After Johan Museeuw's recent confession that he used illegal drugs during the last year of his career, Quick.Step team manager Patrick Lefvre denies that he ever told Museeuw to keep quiet about it. Museeuw was prepared to tell all in February 2005, as evidenced by an email he sent to his friend Wouter Vandenhaute and, as it turns out, politician Jean-Marie Dedecker. The email was published in Het Laatste Nieuws on Wednesday, along with a comment that at the time, Lefvre had instructed Museeuw not to say anything. Museeuw was working in a PR role at Quick.Step in 2005, but has now resigned from that position. "I don't know what Johan Museeuw has always done," Lefvre told Sporza. "Not I, not team doctor Yvan Vanmol, not soigneur Dirk Nachtergaele ... In 2005, he was suddenly in a panic and went too quickly to his good friends Wouter Vandenhaute and Jean-Marie Dedecker. Then we discussed that email that was published yesterday, which De Morgen journalist Hans Vandeweghe thought was 'forged'. [Cynically] And I didn't even pay the journalist to say that. The name Jean-Marie Dedecker has been erased with tippex. "The calculating Dedecker then abused his then friend Museeuw's panic situation. I said: Johan, you know that if you confess I can no longer use you on a freelance basis for the team's public relations. That you're also defenceless in front of the people. That won't annoy my sponsors. I never said that he shouldn't confess. I've never held him back. I find that I have not once broken the ethical code of January 1st, 2005." Lefvre didn't believe there was anything wrong with Museeuw working for the team while he was serving a two year suspension from cycling, handed to him by the Belgian cycling federation. "There were also no errors made: he wasn't a team director, not a rider, and also didn't hold a licence with the federation, but drove outside the races with guests." Last Friday, Lefvre and Museeuw spoke to each other about employment. "He asked me if he could work with the youth in the future. I said to him: Johan, you will soon be in court, so I can't do that. They will finish me. At Johan's request, I did not make this public. Only because Johan found that the prosecutor would perhaps extract a confession. I kept my word." Eisel leads T-Mobile in Qatar T-Mobile Team will kick off the 2007 season on Sunday at the six-day Tour of Qatar (January 28th to February 2nd). Austrian sprinter Bernhard Eisel will spearhead the squad in his first outing in magenta. "[Eisel] is our main man for the sprint finishes," said team manager Rolf Aldag. Last year, Eisel was the only rider to stop Tom Boonen winning every stage in Qatar. Greg Henderson, another newcomer, will be Eisel's principal lead-out man. The Kiwi sprinter has been sharpening his form on the track recently. "Depending on the race situation we may also ride for Greg." said team director Hoffman, who sees Eric Baumann and the experienced Andreas Klier as the other key riders in the sprint train. Another magenta debutant, Servais Knaven, will serve as captain in the race. The 35 year-old Dutchman will decide the team's tactics on the road. "Knaven is the boss," said Aldag. Rounding out the eight-man squad are classics specialist Marcus Burghardt, Luxembourg champion Kim Kirchen, and Bert Grabsch, the fourth rider to make his debut for the team this weekend. The 715.5km six-day race takes in much of the Qatar peninsula and is characterised by its flat terrain, with most stages taking the riders through the desert and battling the wind. It opens Sunday with a short team time trial over six kilometres, and finishes Friday with a coastal stage to Doha Corniche. Aldag predicted a strong start from the team: "This group won our intra-team time trial race in Mallorca - so it should be an interesting opening day." Stage list Stage 1 - January 28th: Doha Corniche, team time trial, 6 km Stage 2 - January 29th: Al Wakra - Qatar Olympic Committee, 135,5 km Stage 3 - January 30th: Dohat Salwa - Khalifa stadium, 140 km Stage 4 - January 31st: Camel Race Track - Doha Golf Club, 139,5 km Stage 5 - February 1st: Al Zubarah - Mesaieed, 160,5 km Stage 6 - February 2nd: Sealine Beach Resort - Doha Corniche, 134 km Unibet game for Langkawi Unibet, the newest ProTour team, is set to be one of the main contenders in the 12th Tour de Langkawi, which takes place between February 2nd-11th. The team has a very international flavour: it's based in Belgium, registered in Sweden, its main sponsor is based in Malta, and the riders come from three continents. The team is managed by Jacques Hanegraaf, who was also in charge of the Palmans-Collstrop and Mr.Bookmaker teams - both of which have competed in Langkawi. Unibet started its season successfully in the Tour Down Under in Australia last week, where Baden Cooke took a stage win. In Langkawi, they will be pinning their hopes on Venezuelan climber Jose Rujano. "We are coming to Malaysia with Jose Rujano as team leader," said Hanegraaf. "Rujano was in Europe already in our training camp in Belicasim, Spain on January 5 to 16. Rujano showed decent form during this training camp already. His main goal for this season will be the Giro d'Italia. But he has trained enough already to get a good classification in Le Tour de Langkawi. We still have to see what condition he is exactly before we can announce the goal for him at LTdL." Rujano is best remembered in Malaysia for his second place in the Genting stage to eventual overall winner Ryan Cox in 2005. He also finished second in the overall classification behind Cox that year, but rose in the Giro d'Italia two months later where he won the mountains classification as well as finishing a close third in the GC behind Paolo Savoldelli and Gilberto Simoni. "We also have our main prospect from Colombia in 21-year old Rigoberto Uran," continued Hanegraaf, who is putting big wraps on the youngster. "He is the most talented Colombian rider in the history of cycling, which includes Lucho Herrera, who won the king of the mountains in the Tour de France during Bernard Hinault's era in the '80s and Fabio Parra, who finished third in 1988. "We have given him a three-year contract because we believe that he is the future of cycling. We put a lot of confidence in him. He's one of the best young riders you can find all over the world. He's good not only in the climbs, but also on the flat roads and in time trials. "During the training camp in Spain, Uran was riding alone at 60 km/h with the rest of the team behind him, struggling on his wheel. He's physiological tests are extraordinary. So, for Le Tour de Langkawi we are sending a team of good climbers and guys who are good on the flat and sprinters. We have a balanced team, including Russian sprinters who will go for the stage wins." That Russian is Sergey Kolesnikov, winner of the Tour of Hainan in China in November. He comes into Le Tour de Langkawi on the back of a good performance in the UCI Track World Cup in Los Angeles, where he won the bronze medal in the points race. Unibet's line-up for Le Tour de Langkawi: Jose Rujano (Ven), Rigoberto Uran (Col), Sergey Kolesnikov (Rus), Alexandre Khatuntsev (Rus), Niels Scheuneman (Ned), Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel). ProTour council backs Unibet The UCI ProTour Council (UPTC) has given its support to Unibet.com, which was not invited to ProTour(?) race Paris-Nice by organisers ASO. The UCI has declared Paris-Nice to be part of the ProTour, while ASO says that it doesn't want any of its races to be part of the ProTour. That includes Paris-Nice, the Tour de France, Paris-Roubaix, Flche Wallonne, Lige-Bastogne-Lige, and Paris-Tours. among others. "The UPTC has reaffirmed that the setting of participation conditions for UCI ProTour calendar races is its exclusive responsibility, and cannot be decided by the organisers. The UPTC does not tolerate such an infringement to the rules," read a statement from the ProTour body. A March showdown between the UCI and ASO is looming. The UPTC also announced a few changes to its calendar for 2008. The Beijing Olympics, which take place in August next year, will force a few events to be shuffled around. The GP Ouest France-Plouay will be held on August 15th, the Deutschland Tour between August 30th and September 7th, and the Tour de Pologne between September 15th-21st. Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.