Shorts: Plaza, Casar, De Clercq
New Europe Tour jersey makes Murcia debut, flu puts Casar out of Paris-Nice, De Clercq to appeal aga
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM As well as the 2005 stage racing debut of Damiano Cunego, the first stage of the Tour of Murcia also saw the first appearance of the UCI’s new white jersey for the rider leading the Europe Tour continental team rankings. The jersey carries both the UCI’s logo and that of the Europe Tour and will be worn until the next rankings are announced on March 25 by Comunitat Valenciana’s Ruben Plaza. The top 10 riders in the Europe Tour ranking on February 25 were : 1 Ruben Plaza (Spa) Comunitat Valenciana 112 2 Paco Cabello (Spa) Comunitat Valenciana 107 3 Hugo Sabido (Por) Paredes Rota do Moveis 98 4 Gorik Gardeyn (Bel) MrBookmaker.com 86 4 Ricardo Serrano (Spa) Kaiku 86 6 Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Acqua e Sapone 76 6 Aitor Perez (Spa) Spiuk 76 8 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 67 9 Enrico Degano (Ita) Tenax 60 10 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Relax 58 The current leaders of the other continental circuits are : Africa Tour : Sergey Tretyakov (Kaz) America Tour : Jos Rujano (Ven) Asia Tour : Graeme Brown (Aus) Oceania Tour : Robert MacLachlan (Aus) – 2002 Paris-Nice runner-up Sandy Casar has pulled out of next week’s race because of the effects off flu. The 25-year-old Frenchman may line up at Tirreno-Adriatico a few days later, but his place as Francaise des Jeux team leader at Paris-Nice will now be taken by the very on-form Belgian Philippe Gilbert. Procycling Fab 4 member Thomas Lovkvist should also be given the chance to test his current good form against some of the sport’s biggest names at the ‘race to the sun’. – Three-time world cyclo-cross champion Mario de Clercq is to appeal against a four-year suspension handed out to him earlier this week by the Belgian federation for his alleged involvement in the Landuyt case that has also landed recently retired Classics star Johan Museeuw with a lengthy ban. Although De Clercq retired at the end of last season, his lawyer, Peter Callebaut, said of the federation’s ruling: “This is a harsh punishment owing to the fact that my client has done nothing. It’s all based on [telephone] conversations. The Belgian federation can’t prove that he was using or even possessed doping products.” Belgian federation spokesman responded to Callebaut’s comments, saying: “I find what he has said a bit rich. People ought to know that details from the Landuyt case were sent by the Kortrijk prosecutor to the representative of the Flemish sports council, who sent them to the federation. There is a clear case to answer. Would a legal case be started if there weren’t solid elements to underpin it?” Veterinarian Jos Landuyt is on trial in Kortrijk for supplying and advising on the use of doping products.