Tour shorts: Beloki, Thor, Devil
Norway loves Thor, Saiz wants Beloki back, the devil gets robbed, Manzano says he’s OK, journalists
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Still smarting from his Liberty Seguros team’s less than stellar performance in Wednesday’s team time trial, Manolo Saiz has confirmed that he would like to work with his former team leader at ONCE, Joseba Beloki, once again. “It’s a bad time to think about signings, but personally speaking I’d like him to come back and work with us,” Saiz told El Diario Vasco when asked about Beloki. “He’s a rider who still has a lot of things to do in cycling.” Saiz admitted the changes to the team time trial’s timings had helped his team stay in touch with US Postal, but is not happy with how Liberty’s race has gone so far. “Just as it was in the prologue, the results have been a fair bit worse than we were expecting,” said Saiz. And, for once, there was praise for Lance Armstrong’s US Postal team, which he described as “very good, they have kept moving forwards while the rest of us have taken a step back.” Thor: A king on a bike “This is a historic day for Norwegian cycling, actually it’s one of the biggest days in Norwegian sport,” said the thrilled president of the Norwegian Cycling Federation, Erik M. Aarethun, following Thor Hushovd’s successful quest for the Tour’s yellow jersey earlier this week, writes Susanne Horsdal. “Thor got the green jersey on Sunday and now the yellow. That makes you a king on a bike, but one shouldn’t forget the huge training effort that has gone into this triumph,” added Aarethun. He wasn’t the only one in Norwegian cycling to praise Hushovd. Svein Gaute Holestol, former pro rider and currently a manager at the federation, found himself almost moved to tears when he witnessed Hushovd’s success. “That a bloke from Norway can pull off something like this is fantastic. If Thor had had equally good helpers in the past two years I dare not think how far he could have taken it,” said Holestol. The only downside to Hushovd’s exploits is that it’ll probably spark the growing interest for cycling in Norway even more. Over the past two years the federation have had 4,000 new members, which Aarethun admits is simply more than it can handle at the moment. No respect for the devil One of the most famous cycling fans, the devil, who’s often seen running next to the riders ferociously swinging his trident, was robbed of TV equipment worth 15,000 euros after the finish of stage two, writes Susanne Horsdal. The devil, who is German and goes by the civilian name Didi Senft, was supposed to send home TV reports from the Tour for the German ‘MDR un zwolf’ programme. But in Lige thieves broke into the devil’s car and stole a camera, microphone and laptop, so for the rest of the week and until new equipment has reached the “spare time reporter,” the viewers will miss out on the devil’s view on the Tour de France. One can only wonder if the thieves knew who they were dealing with! Manzano says he’s OK Concern for the health and whereabouts of doping whistleblower Jesus Manzano has been eased after he contacted his Amore e Vita team and the Spanish media to let them know he is OK. Manzano revealed he had been suffering with depression, but has responded well to treatment in hospital. Manzano said in a statement that “due to the pressures of media demands, and especially of television, I decided to enjoy a period of tranquillity by getting away from the media completely.” Journalists searched by the police The first police raids of the Tour have taken place, but rather than riders or other team staff being put under the microscope, two members of the Tour’s huge corps found themselves the unsuspecting targets. Spanish radio station Cadena Ser correspondents Anselmo Fuerte and Juanma Castano were stopped and searched by police as they were driving from the finish of stage four towards the start of stage five. “They opened all of our bags and even asked us about a bottle of gin that had been given to us by the Tour de France itself in Lige,” said Fuerte. A suspicious bottle of aftershave was also given the once-over. “The strange thing was that there were three people from a French TV channel there to record it all. Who tipped them off?” wondered Castano. The Spanish media reckon the raid is partly the result of comments made by Jesus Manzano earlier this year in AS in which the former Kelme rider alleged doping products were moved around the continent by so called “carrier pigeons”, who were often not directly linked to teams. It seems that as well as Spanish riders and teams, even their media are now being watched closely.