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Rest Day II

Frankieís Diary: A new sponsor, and a not-too-restful rest day 

                   This report filed July 19, 1999

                   By Frankie Andreu
                   U.S. Postal Service rider

                   I need to inform everyone of our new sponsor: peanut butter. The same day our soigneurs finally found some in the store we started getting gifts of peanut butter. The last few visitors who came from the States brought some, and today t our hotel we received a Fed- Ex package with about six huge cans. 

                   The shippers thought there would only be about a 40-percent chance of us getting it, but the Dynapost mail delivery came through with flying colors. We have enough peanut butter for the rest of the Tour -- and for the Vuelta. Everyone says thanks. At lunch I was talking with the riders and we couldn't believe how we couldn't get a hold of any Rolex's -- hint, hint. 

                   Today is our rest day and as usual it's hectic.  There is always something going on; I couldn't even get a nap in with all the banging going on.  We left for our ride around eleven; it was late on purpose, so we could keep the feeling of a race schedule. We went out in the drizzle for a couple hours and found one small climb. It's amazing how after riding everyday for five and six hours how fast two hours goes by. It seemed like I was done even before I got started. The ESPN guys started off with us for some filming, but started is the key word here. After a half-hour they went up the road to pull off so they could film us coming at them. As we passed the van we noticed they pulled off right into a ditch. They were not going anywhere for a while. Afterwards we asked them how they got out. They said they tried getting the neighbors to help them ,but all the neighbors were like antiques. They were too old to walk, much less drive. 

                   Today was the ceremony at Fabio's memorial.  They held a small mass in his memory. I saw Jim Ochowicz afterwards and he said it was nice, and that the memorial actually looks better now that it has aged a bit. 

                   Lance held his press conference today. I went because I was curious; I had never been to one before. It was held in an auditorium and there were probably a hundred journalists. There were lots of dumb questions and normal questions.  Ironically the first two doping questions came from two American journalists. Lance asserted his innocence and told all the journalists that his racing life, personal life, and health were open to questions. Not one of the journalists that had previously bad-mouthed him in the papers asked one question. They always print what they want. Lance also talked about how hard it is having the jersey: all the extra obligations with the press, fans, and the Tour have made it more difficult for him to get his rest. He said he is not used to this much attention. I believe him. 

                   I've talked about our staff before and about how key they are to helping us. The mechanics and soigneurs are in charge of different guys on the team. Julian, the head mechanic, is in charge of Lance and Kevin's bikes. Juan is in charge of my bike and George's, and Jeff is in charge of Tyler's and Christian's and Pascal's. This way if there is a problem we know who to talk with about changing something or fixing something.  In the past we would tell whichever mechanic we saw, but things would never get done. 

                   The same division of the riders is with our soigneurs. Lance and Kevin are with Emma, George and I with Richard, Tyler and Pascal are with Ronnie, and Christian is with Peter (an ex-rider from Belgium). 

                   In addition to the mechanics and soigneurs, we have many helpers. J.P. Hendricxs (who used to ride for Collstrop) drives one of the campers and also helps the mechanics. We have Stephan (Julian's son), who you might have seen on television providing the blocking for Lance going to and from the podium. Stephan loves plowing down people. 

                   Of course, we have Mark Gorski and also Dan Osipow, who is in charge of handling all the press requests to get at Lance. Thereís also Margo, who is from the U.S. Postal Service, to help Dan handle all the press stuff and all the invitees we have here. We have Louis who is in charge of getting credentials for everyone and driving and picking up the invitees. Lastly but most important, which I've mentioned before, is our Swiss chef, Willy. 

Dierckxsens out of Tour 

                   This report filed July 19, 1999

                   By Charles Pelkey
                   VeloNews Technical Editor

                   Belgian national champion Ludo Dierckxsens has been pulled out of the Tour de France on this, the raceís second rest day, by his team after it was revealed that the Lampre-Daikin rider had used Synactin a corticoid, banned under Union Cycliste Internationale rules. 

                   Dierckxsens had past mandatory doping controls following his win last Thursday of the Tourís 11th stage from Le Bourg díOisans to Saint Etienne, but at the time of the test confirmed that he had used Synactin for an ongoing knee problem. The 34-year-old Belgian rider then produced a doctorís prescription for the drug dated last month. However, UCI rules require riders who receive a prescription for a drug with potential performance enhancing qualities to receive a medical waiver from the sportís governing body as well. 

                   Citing article 131 of the UCI regulations, UCI officials suggested that Dierckxsens was officially considered to be positive for drugs from the moment of his admission. 

                   The UCI issued a statement today noting that Lampreís Director Sportif Pietro Algeri Aware of the circumstances pulled Dierckxsens from the Tour rather than wait for the appeals process to work its way through the system. 

                   Tour de France race director Jean-Marie Leblanc, said that the race organization would have forced Alegriís hand had the team not done what it did in Dierckxsensís case. 

                   "There was no other choice," said Leblanc. "It was no longer acceptable for him to participate in the Tour de France." 

Tuesday 20 July 1999

Tour de France: Dierckxsens is sent home after drug confession 
                        By Phil Liggett in St Gaudens

                        BELGIAN champion Ludo Dierckxsens, stage winner at St Etienne last Thursday, was thrown off the race by his Italian Lampre team yesterday after admitting using a banned drug. 

                        Although he tested negative after his stage 11 victory, Dierckxsens confided in his team doctor that he had accepted a banned product, Synacthene, for a knee injury. The doctor informed the team management and Dierckxsens was sacked and sent home.

                        It was almost unprecedented for a team to take such action until this year, and it highlights the sensitivity being felt among the teams, who face constant medical checks after a year of drugs allegations.

                        Dierckxsens, who was a popular figure and a relatively inexperienced rider, may have acted naively, but his team had no hesitation in getting rid of him. 

                        Pietro Algeri, Lampre's sports director, said that the team took the "preventative measure" because Dierckxsens used the drug without their knowledge. 

                        Lance Armstrong, the Tour leader, spent the rest day answering claims in the French press that he could be winning only by using artificial stimulants.

                        Armstrong, who called a conference near his Tarbes hotel, said: "After what happened in the Tour last year, I think the winner this year, and probably the next, will always be suspected of taking dope.

                        "I ask only to be treated fairly and not exposed to rumour and innuendo. I will be absolutely open about everything, as I have been with myself and my family, and my racing."

                        The American, who leads the Tour by almost eight minutes, now faces two tough days in the Pyrenees. It is the last chance for the climbers to attack him before the finish in Paris on Sunday and he still fears the Swiss rider, Alex Zülle.

                        "Zülle lost six minutes when he crashed at the start of the Tour, but he still makes me nervous. If he had not crashed then he would only be 90 seconds behind me and this would have been a different race."

                        The Texan, who was the youngest post-War world champion in 1993, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996. Although his doctor gave him a 20 per cent chance of recovery, the real chances were accepted as nil.

                        "My leading the Tour is a miracle," said Armstrong. "Two years ago I wasn't going to be around by this time. I've lived a different life to most people and have visited my death bed, that is why the [drug-taking] accusations are so disturbing.

                        "All I ask is that you treat me fairly. France has been very strict in its fight against drugs, and I would remind you that I live here, train here, run my camps here. If I had something to hide, I would stay away from France."