ilan-San Remo organiser RCS Sport has invited Unibet.com to its race, but France still remains clos
PIC © TIM DE WAELE Unibet invited to Milan-San Remo The Unibet.com team has been granted an invitation by organisers RCS Sport to race in Milan-San Remo on March 24th. The team had been refused entry to all RCS, ASO and Unipublic races up until now, but after last week’s ProTour standoff, the big organisers agreed to consider inviting Unibet again. It will also be allowed to compete in the RCS organised Giro di Lombardia in October, but other races such as the Giro d’Italia are unknowns. “It’s a shame that it was too short notice to start in Tirreno as well, but I’m satisfied with the right to start in the first big classic,” said team manager Koen Terryn to Sportwereld. “Hopefully the invitation to Milan-San Remo is the springboard for the Giro d’Italia.” Unibet doesn’t yet have permission to race in ASO-organised races in France, including Paris-Roubaix and the Tour de France. It’s also not certain of riding ASO’s Belgian classics, Flche Wallonne and Lige-Bastogne-Lige. In both countries, the state-owned national lotteries are protesting against Unibet being allowed to advertise its services, contravening an 1836 gambling law. On the other hand, Unibet believes this goes against European free-trading laws. The issue may be resolved in the European Court of Justice. Even if Unibet wins in the ECJ, it does not mean the team will be guaranteed starts in ASO races. “If you really want to be invited, you must be courteous,” said ASO boss Patrice Clerc. “The best way to do that is not to drag everyone through the courts.” Spanish minister likely to appeal Puerto decision Spanish sports minister Jaime Lissavetsky will probably appeal the decision of judge Antonio Serrano to drop the investigation into Operacion Puerto. Lissavetsky’s French counterpart, Jean-Franois Lamour, told AFP on Tuesday evening, “I have just spoken with Jaime Lissavetsky and I know that he is thinking of appealing this decision. We can take advantage of this appeal to study it together with the International Cycling Union, WADA, and the International Olympic Committee, who have the legal means to obtain not just the file, but also the bags of blood.” Lissavetsky said that his department was still studying the decision, and had not yet made a decision to appeal it. Judge Serrano dismissed the investigation against Dr Eufemiano Fuentes and co. on Monday because he did not have enough evidence to show that a crime against public health had been committed. If there is no appeal, the evidence can then be passed to the UCI and WADA, who can determine whether to start disciplinary proceedings against the riders and managers involved. Following Monday’s decision, there has been a strong reaction from the cycling world demanding blood. ASO director Christian Prudhomme told L’Equipe, “My first reaction, obviously, is ‘all of that for what?’ But I can’t imagine that the five will take their hands out of the jar. We will see them back in cycling. I hope that the file will be examined, as has been said, from the moment that the affair is legally closed.” Vandenbroucke acquitted Belgian cyclist Frank Vandenbroucke has been acquitted by the court of appeal in Brussels of possessing performance enhancing drugs. The court ruled that VDB had already served a sporting ban for the offence, and couldn’t be punished again for it. His lawyer, Luc Deleu, believes that the decision could have an effect on the outcome of the ongoing Museeuw/Landuyt case. Museeuw, together with Mario de Clerc, Chris Peers, and Jo Planckaert, were all given bans by the Belgian cycling federation for possession of doping products. But their case is still going to court in April. Ullrich rides Pick’n Pay The recently retired Jan Ullrich took part in the Cape Argus Pick’n Pay tour in South Africa last Sunday. The German did the 109 km cyclo-sportif in a time of 3:32:23, finishing in 6,576th place out of 28,706 starters. Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.