Shorts: Phonak, TDSuisse, Rik

an trying to blackmail Urs Freuler arrested, Tour of Switzerland route announced, Rik Verbrugghe fe

an trying to blackmail Urs Freuler arrested, Tour of Switzerland route announced, Rik Verbrugghe fe

PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE A former amateur rider has been arrested in Switzerland after allegedly attempting to blackmail Phonak team manager Urs Freuler. The alleged blackmailer is reported to have been demanding 25,000 Swiss francs (16,000 euros) to keep his silence about a doping incident. However, when arrested at Zurich airport, the blackmailer’s story changed radically, as he revealed that he was simply “playing a joke” on his old friend Freuler. The man has been detained and faces up to three years in prison. – Staying in Switzerland, the organisers of that country’s national tour, won this year by Jan Ullrich, have announced details of next year’s race, which will be a ProTour event and take place on June 11-19. The stages are: June 11, stage 1: Schaffhouse-Weinfelden, 170km June 12, stage 2: Weinfelden time trial, 36km June 13, stage 3: Abtswil-St Anton, 160km June 14, stage 4: Vaduz-Bad Zurzach, 205km June 15, stage 5: Bad Zurzach-Altdorf, 176km June 16, stage 6: Brglen-Arosa, 155.7km June 17, stage 7: Lac de Zurich region-Lenk, 182km June 18, stage 8: Lenk-Verbier, 165km June 19, stage 9: Ulrichen-Ulrichen, 100.4km – Three years ago Rik Verbrugghe had serious pretensions towards being a contender at the major tours. Winner of the Giro’s prologue, Flche Wallonne and a Tour de France stage in 2001, the Belgian climbed into the world‘s top 50, but after breaking his collar-bone in the first week of the following year’s Tour little has gone right for the Belgian since. Next season he is hoping for a change of fortune having swapped his long-term residence at Lotto for the colours of Patrick Lefvre’s Quick Step team. In an interview with La Dernire Heure, Verbrugghe reveals that after some decent results during the second half of this last season he feels he has regained the form he had in 2001, all that is now lacking is confidence. And he’s hoping that working with Lefvre will restore that. “I’m like a centre-forward who can’t score,” said the keen football fan. “When everything clicks into place, then there will be no stopping me. Two years ago I should have left Lotto. There wasn’t a good relationship between [team manager] Marc Sergeant and me. After the fusion with Domo I felt that he had his favourite riders. I also went through the worst period ever of my career, although I don’t feel that I was really supported. “In 2003, after I fell at the Giro, I should have taken some time to recover but I was put under pressure because I was made to understand that if I didn’t get back on the bike right away I would not go to the Tour. When I did compete again at the Tour of Luxembourg I had just two sessions on the rollers in my legs.” Verbrugghe felt there was a similar lack of sympathy earlier this season when he was struggling with tendinitis in his knee. Now with Quick Step, Verbrugghe feels he is already getting more support. “I’ve had more contact with Lefvre in three months than in two years with Sergeant. I feel that they believe in me at Quick Step, that they have confidence in me.” He hopes to repay that faith in March at Paris-Nice where, he said, “I want to be among the best.”