Shorts: Landis, Backstedt, Belgian scandal, Rousse

Landis decides to miss Giro and ride Dauphine, Backstedt forced out of Classics, Moncoutie also out

Landis decides to miss Giro and ride Dauphine, Backstedt forced out of Classics, Moncoutie also out


Already victorious in the Tour of California and Paris-Nice in recent weeks, American Floyd Landis has decided against taking part in May's Giro d'Italia. Landis and the management of his Phonak team feel that the American's preparation for the Tour de France will be better suited by a trip to June's Dauphin Libr and some reconnaissance of the Tour's major climbs during the intervening period.

"It's a reasonable decision. Floyd has made a good start to the season and is now going to take his Tour preparation calmly," said Phonak team boss John Lelangue, who added that Phonak will still send a "competitive" team to the Giro.

- Swede Magnus Backstedt has had his Classics season ruined by injury for the second consecutive season. The Liquigas rider has been ruled out of action for a month with an injury to his left Achilles tendon. Backstedt injured the tendon when he crashed at the Majorca Challenge in February, but was advised by doctors that the injury would clear up. Having ridden Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo, Backstedt has now been advised that only total rest will rectify his growing discomfort, totally ruling him out of the northern Classics, his main objective of the season.

- Frenchman David Moncouti is another rider sidelined by crash-related injuries after he fell on Sunday morning's road stage at the Criterium International. The Cofidis climber was taken away in an ambulance and had wounds in his right knee cleaned in hospital. Also affected with injuries to his left elbow and hip, Moncouti is expected to miss next week's Tour of the Basque Country, where he was a stage winner last year, and the Ardennes Classics.

- have suspended Geert Omloop and suspended contract negotiations with Dave Bruylandts after the pair were implicated in a doping scandal that blew up in Belgium over the weekend. Belgian police are reported to have found a number of medical products during raids carried out on the homes of as many as a dozen riders last Thursday, although they have refused to reveal the identity of those concerned.

Omloop and Bruylandts, who is attempting to get a contract after being banned for the 18 months after testing positive for use of the blood-booster EPO, have both denied being involved in the incident. Unibet have said they are assuming both riders are innocent, but will not allow Omloop to compete or Bruylandts to negotiate until the matter is cleared up. The Gazet van Antwerpen paper has already reported that Bruylandts' home was one of those raided.

Police did reveal that doping products had been found in 10 of 15 homes searched, and that 13 people had been questioned. A Belgian government spokesman, Inge Delissen, announced that among products found during the raids were "EPO, clenbuterol, nandrolone and a dangerous mixture of human growth hormone and insulin".

- Bruno Roussel, manager of the Festina team involved in the infamous doping scandal at the 1998 Tour de France, has been given a year-long suspended prison sentence and a 12,000 euro fine after being found guilty of tax fraud. The charge stemmed from Roussel's period with the Prosport organisation that ran the Festina-Lotus team and was based in Andorra. A court in Lyon ruled that the company should have been paying tax in France because it had a permanent office based there. Prosport boss Josep Sanchez I Palou received a two-year suspended sentence and a 25,000-euro fine on similar charges.

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