Shorts: VDB, Lance, Jan

Frank Vandenbroucke gets four weeks' probation from team, Lance enjoys California crit, Ullrich look

Frank Vandenbroucke gets four weeks' probation from team, Lance enjoys California crit, Ullrich look


Frank Vandenbroucke has been given four weeks to prove his commitment to his team. Following a meeting yesterday between the team's management and VDB's personal manager, Paul de Geyter, a statement was released saying: "Frank Vandenbroucke must show that he is a professional rider and wants to remain one. He has been given four weeks to show that he deserves the title 'pro rider'. After four weeks [ team manager] Hilaire van de Schueren will draw up an account of his performance. If it is good, he will stay in the team. If it is not, it will be the end of the collaboration between the two parties."

The 30-year-old Belgian was due to start both the Circuit of the Sarthe and Paris-Roubaix last week, but failed to turn up for either. The team subsequently announced that Vandenbroucke had been hospitalised to treat a bad bout of food poisoning.

- There was a very surprising late entry at the Lemire Memorial Grand Prix in Ventura, California on Sunday in the shape of six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. The Discovery team leader rode the event as part of his preparation for next week's Tour de Georgia.

"We tried to keep quiet about it, but it wasn't easy," said race organiser Bob Fisher. "It is very, very rare for Lance or anyone of his calibre to take part in this kind of race due to the risk of a crash or other injury." Armstrong finished 15th in the criterium event. "I've raced in these kind of events since I was a kid and I still get the same nervous feelings in my stomach," he said. "I really like that feeling and I'm happy to be here." Armstrong donated the $350 he won in prizes to a local charity.

- Jan Ullrich's search for form in the run-up to the Tour de France continues tomorrow at the start of the five-stage Tour of Aragon in north-east Spain. After finishing 10th in last week's Circuit of the Sarthe, Ullrich can expect a tougher examination of his form on Aragon's hilly roads.

"Jan's progress is right on track by now. He gave a good account of himself in France and now we want to see how he copes with more demanding parcours," said T-Mobile DS Valerio Piva. Ullrich will be backed by a number of other riders who are still feeling their way into competition this season including Beppe Guerini and Daniele Nardello.The key stage of the race is likely to be Saturday's 11.2km mountain time trial.

The stages:
April 13: Alcala de la Selva - Valderrobles, 167.7km
April 14: Alcaniz - Sabinanigo, 206.5km
April 15: Sabinanigo - Zaragoza, 173km
April 16: Herrara de los Navarros - Virgen de la Sierra de Herrera, 11.2km
April 17: Borja - Illueca, 139km

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