Sarah Ulmer, 3000m pursuit world record holder and 2004 Olympic champion, announced her retirement from cycling on Saturday. Since her Olympic triumph Ulmer has struggled to regain her best form because of a sciatic nerve injury. When her doctors were unable to offer her a good chance of improvement, Ulmer decided to call it a day.
Speaking to New Zealand’s TV3, Ulmer said, “I’ve been toying with retirement for longer than I actually expected. It’s been a pretty frustrating year from the cycling side of things. I’ve been in and out of doctors and medical specialist and MRI machines.
“The crunch with the actual decision was a trip to a surgeon in Christchurch who didn’t give me a greater than 50 per cent chance that he could improve me.”
Arguably New Zealand’s best ever cyclist, Ulmer is hugely popular in her home country, as much for her irrepressibly cheerful attitude as for her ability on the bike. That ability took her to New Zealand’s first cycling gold medal when she won the 3000m pursuit at Athens in 2004, setting a new world record of 3:24.537.
Predictor-Lotto changes name
The Belgian-based Predictor-Lotto team – currently home to ProTour champion Cadel Evans and sprint star Robbie McEwen – will be known as Silence-Lotto in 2008. The team’s principal sponsor, Omega Pharma, is changing its promotional emphasis from a pregnancy test product to an anti-snoring remedy.
Sinkewitz accuses; Lefevere lawyers up
German cyclist Patrik Sinkewitz, who was earlier this month given a one-year ban for a failed drugs test, admitted on Saturday he used doping products in the build up to the 2000 World Championships. Sinkewitz also claimed that doping was also widely practised at Quick Step, formerly known as Mapei, where he raced between 2001 and 2005.
Sinkewitz was supposed to ride the 2000 world’s as an espoir, but was sent home due to an “illness” that he has now confessed was an elevated haematocrit caused by the use of EPO.
When Sinkewitz turned pro for Mapei-Quick.Step in 2001, he continued doping. “At Quick.Step everything was taken care of and everyone knew who, what and how. That was systematic doping,” Sinkewitz told German daily the Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
When asked if team manager Patrick Lefevere also was aware of what was going on, Sinkewitz replied, “Lefevere is a bit naive in a certain way, but that he didn’t know what was going on? He must have known what was happening. He’s been involved for 30 years, let’s not fool ourselves.”
Lefevere was reluctant to respond to Sinkewitz’ claims. “I am tired of having to react to all the gossip,” he told sportwereld.be. “It is always the same sources playing around. They never supply proof. So I have nothing to say to Sinkewitz’s statements or any other gossip in a newspaper or on the internet. I have turned the matter over to my lawyers. They will react at the proper time.”
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