December 14, 2005
Armstrong legal watch: Simeoni trial advances
Filippo Simeoni's defamation case against 7-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong is moving forward.
An Italian judge ruled Wednesday that the case could go forward, with the trial beginning March 7 in Latina, Simeoni's hometown.
Armstrong's lawyers argued that Armstrong's accusation that Simeoni was an “absolute liar,” made to Le Monde in France, should have no standing in Italy, but the judge disagreed.
"The judge decided that even though Armstrong's comments were published in France the act of defamation against Simeoni occurred when Simeoni read the newspaper via the internet," the Italian rider's lawyer Giuseppe Napoleone told Reuters.
If convicted, Armstrong could face a jail sentence of 1 to 6 years.
It appears there's still a case pending in France over substantially the same facts. Another case, claiming Armstrong had acted improperly in chasing Simeoni down during Stage 18 of the 2004 Tour, was dropped this year.
December 09, 2005
Grand Tours to ProTour: Drop dead!
The Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, and Vuelta a España are splitsville with the UCI's ProTour. After more than a year of negotiations turned to squabbling, the big 3 can see no reason to stick with the newish ProTour, which the UCI hoped would become as well-known as other season-long sports tours, like the PGA tour.
In a joint statement released Friday, the Grand Tour sponsors say the ProTour was fundamentally unfair because all events were worth the same points, and because race-winning teams who weren't part of the ProTour, including Comunidad Valenciana and Panaria, earned no points.
This removes not only the three-week tours, but their sponsored events, including Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Milan-San Remo, Paris-Nice, Paris-Tours, the Tour of Lombardy, Flèche Wallonne, and Tirreno-Adriatico from the ProTour.
The big 3 will still allow all ProTour teams entry in 2006, if they desire, but in 2007, they plan to take the 14 highest-scoring teams on a new points system, plus up to 8 wildcards for each tour.
Patrice Clerc, the president of Tour de France organisers, said: "Maintaining for 2006 the agreement we had for 2005, in other words a status quo, makes no sense because the situation was only a transition aimed at reaching a global agreement on the Pro-Tour, which the UCI are now saying they will not come up with."
To encourage squads to ride all three Grand Tours, which the ProTour rules required, organizers will pay a 100,000 euro bonus to teams participating in the Vuelta, Giro, and Tour, and will bring back the Trophee des Grands Tours, with a 2 million euro total split among the 7 teams with the best combined performance in the national tours.