The week in cycling: Tour wizz on ice; Giro route announced

Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstong and Joseba Beloki celebrate on the Tour de France  podium  Credit: Doug Pensinger/Allsport
GENEVA, Switzerland (AP) The International Cycling Union says it will continue to store frozen urine samples taken from riders at the last Tour de France beyond the deadline set for the development of a reliable EPO doping test.

UCI said at the end of Wednesday's deadline that it would keep the samples even though a reliable test for the banned performance-enhancing hormone failed to get approval by the cutoff date.

The governing body of world cycling, based in Lausanne, had originally decided to dispose of the samples collected last summer unless a reliable EPO test was validated by Nov. 15. EPO, or erythropoetin, enhances endurance by boosting the production of oxygen-rich red blood cells in the body.

UCI said it had set the original policy in consultation with the French sports ministry. French Sports Minister Marie-George Buffet later insisted there was no need to destroy the frozen samples.

The urine was taken from Tour de France riders in July as well as those from the Vuelta and the Road and Track World Championships. It was frozen in anticipation of IOC approval for an EPO urine test developed by the Chatenay-Malabry laboratory in France.

UCI said the 91 samples would remain in storage and that information on possible further steps would be provided later. Some sports experts have expressed doubts on how long the urine can be kept and still yield meaningful results in a test.

Giro d'Italia announces its 2001 route
MILAN, Italy (AP) - A shorter but still tough Giro d'Italia, including 10 uphill stages, was unveiled by organizers on Saturday in front Marco Pantani, the would-be star of the 2001 edition of Italy's most prestigious cycling race.

Organizers could not immediately name the top entries in the 21-stage marathon, starting from Pescara on May 19 and ending in Milan on June 10.

The top 16 teams in the UCI standings by mid February will be invited, with four other teams named by Giro officials.

Pantani's Mercatone Uno commercial team was certain to be in the number.

Pantani claimed several mountain stages did not look really tough, and suggested "it's a Giro open to many potential winners.''

Felice Gimondi, the former cyclist who heads Pantani's team, said "it looks like shaped for Jan Ullrich.''

Ullrich, the Olympic road champion, is not a certain starter in the Giro.

Several leading cyclists, including two-time Tour of France winner Lance Armstrong, prefer to concentrate on the French race.

Stefano Garzelli, the surprise winner of last year's Giro with impressive performances in the uphill stages, said he was looking forward to an encore.

"I can do it again. I believe the top places will be split by seconds, rather than minutes, by the end of the race,'' he said.

In the frame of celebrations for Giuseppe Verdi's death centennial, the Giro will stop in Parma at the end of the 16th stage on June 4.

Verdi, Italy's most popular opera composer, was born in Busseto, in the Parma province.

The 84th edition of the Giro will cover a total distance of 3,572 kilometers (2,214 miles), compared with 3,696 (2,291 miles) last year and 3,757 (2,329) in 1999.

The toughest stages will be concentrated in the Alps and Dolomite mountains in the second half of the competition.

A single time trial, of 55 kilometers (34.1 miles) along Lake Garda, was scheduled on June 3.

Time bonuses will be awarded to the top three finishers in each stage, along with total money prizes of 2.6 billion lire (dlrs 1.2 million).

Pantani, a Giro and Tour of France winner in 1998, was among the VIP's and several Olympic champions from other disciplines who attended the Giro unveiling in a local theater.

Anti-doping tests, a major issue in international cycling, were not on the agenda.

Collinelli suspended for doping
Rome (dpa) The 1996 Olympic champion Andrea Collinelli was handed a 10-month suspension from racing after failing a doping test, the Italian Cycling Federation ruled on Saturday.

Collinelli tested positive for two banned substances a stimulant and a painkiller during the Italian Championships in July and was dropped from the team taking part in the Sydney games.

At the time, police also found vials believed to be containing banned substances in Collinelli's car during a search on the Italy-Switzerland border.

"They want to make me stop competing," Collinelli said after the ruling. "I was hoping for a lighter sentence, given that not taking part in the Sydney Olympics was like losing four years of my career."

Collinelli said he had been asked to say who had supplied him with the banned substances, but said he did not do so to avoid "making up names." Collinelli also said he would appeal the decision.

Another cyclist, Mauro Trentini, was banned for six months for holding banned substances

Longo fails to break her own hour record
Mexico City (dpa) Five time world cycling champion Jeannie Longo failed in two attempts in Mexico City on Wednesday to break her own 1-hour world record.

The Frenchwoman was attempting to break her Nov. 5 record, when she cycled 44.76743 kilometers in an hour.

In her first attempt she reached an average speed of 45,245 kilometers per hour in the nine kilometers cycled, when a puncture in her front tire ended the attempt.

In her second attempt she fell short of the record by 1,330 meters.

"Very sad and frustrating," she said before flying back to France.

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