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International Road
Monday's EuroFile: Rous ready to retire; Moreau is not; VDB wants to ride again
By Andrew Hood, VeloNews European correspondent
This report filed June 11, 2007

French veteran Didier Rous already knew that the 2007 season would be his last, but a double herniated cervical disc pushed his retirement date up a few months earlier than he had hoped.

Rous, 36, told French journalists he's putting an end to his suffering and bringing an earlier than expected close to his 14-year career in the face of the debilitating injuries.

"This was my last season, I knew that, but I would have liked to have had another ending," Rous told L'Equipe. "All this is against my will. I have pain in the neck and shoulders. I cannot hold the handlebars correctly with my right hand."

The two-time French champion won a Tour de France stage in 1997, but was later one of the Festina riders kicked out of the 1998 Tour in the scandal that bears the team's name.

"It (the Festina scandal) was a personal revolution for me," Rous said. "The Festina Affaire made me grow. It hit us like a big disappointment, but I am proud that I survived."

Rous returned to race with Bon Jour in 1999 and stayed with the team as it changed sponsors from Brioche La Boulang�re in 2003 and Bouygues Telecom in 2005. Among his 25 career victories were the French titles in 2001 and 2003, the Dauphin� prologue in 2001 and a career-best 11th overall in the 2001 Tour.

Rous will likely return to the team next year as a sport director, team staff said.

Moreau: �Telekom confessions too late'
Christophe Moreau, winner of the 2001 Dauphin� Lib�r�, says he still loves the thrill of racing despite his advancing age of 36.

The French veteran is at the Dauphin� this week honing his form ahead of the Tour de France that he says he will "race like never before."

"I'd like to do my best in the Tour GC and play the opportunist to look for a beautiful stage win in the Alps or Pyr�n�es," Moreau told the Dauphin� Lib�r� newspaper. "If things go well, maybe I can try for the polka-dot jersey. I'd switch my eighth place last year for that. I'd like to be in the top 10 and maybe be the best French rider."

While ex-Festina teammate Didier Rous announced his retirement, Moreau says he has no intention of retiring, at least for another season.

"I haven't fixed a limit. At the same time, I don't want to be some sort of record-maker for the longest pro career. The objective is two seasons more," he continued. "I am active in the races and the legs still work when I attack."

Moreau was also implicated in the Festina Affaire and has since enjoyed a relatively successful career in the scandal's wake.

Along with his 2001 Dauphin� win, he won the opening prologue of the 2001 Tour, the overall at the 2003 Four Days of Dunkirk, the overall at the 2004 Tour du Languedoc Roussillon (former Midi Libre) and finished a career-best fourth in the 2000 Tour.

Like Rous, the Festina scandal marked Moreau's career and he's been watching with interest the recent wave of doping confessions coming out of the Telekom team from the mid-1990s, including 1996 winner Bjarne Riis and sprinter Erik Zabel.

"The confessions of Riis and the others arrive too late. What good does it serve? This only proves that those of us who were forced to (take the blame) in 1998 that the same thing was happening elsewhere," Moreau said. "To be honest, I'd prefer not to even know. For my part, I paid for what I did. All I know is that I came out of it stronger. It transformed my life."

UCI calls teams, docs for pre-Tour pow-wow
UCI president Pat McQuaid has called a meeting with ProTour team managers and doctors in Geneva on June 19 to discuss anti-doping measures ahead of next month's Tour de France, a spokesman confirmed Monday to the AFP.

"It's a very important meeting with the teams," UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani told AFP.

The UCI meeting with the 20 teams is scheduled to take place less than three weeks before the Tour gets under way July 7 in London.

It follows other meetings involving the UCI, team representatives and race organizers in recent months, and admissions of doping by past champions since then.

McQuaid, Tour de France chief Christian Prudhomme, and Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere, representing the teams, vowed a "sacred union" against doping last month.

They agreed to step up random drugs tests in the run-up to the flagship French race.
Agence France Press

VdB promises comeback - again
Tormented Belgian cyclist Frank Vandenbroucke, who is recovering in a Milan hospital after a suicide attempt last week, has vowed to return to cycling, AFP reported.

According to the Italian media, the 32-year-old, who had suffered with depression for several years, slashed his wrists, before over-dosing on sleeping pills.

A request from his wife Sarah - with whom he has a five-year-old daughter - for a divorce is understood to have triggered Vandenbroucke's attempt to end his life.

Asked why he tried to commit suicide, Vandenbroucke, who lives in Italy, told Italian television channel La7: "I did it out of desperation. My family is everything to me. I want to get back in the saddle as quickly as possible and show them, and everybody else, that I am a good person. I will come back, because at the end of the day, there's life and there's

hope."

Vandenbroucke made his professional debut in 1994 and recorded 51 victories, including the 1999 Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic, his career highlight.

The oft-troubled Belgian says he can return to be the winner that he once was.

"Cycling is and always will be my reason for living, and I will quickly put

things right," he said. "I want to be cured and start training again, and reach a level that is in line with my ability."

On Saturday, Sarah refuted claims that she was responsible for his decline into depression, saying that living with Vandenbroucke was hell and that he beat her up and used drugs regularly.

Vandenbrouke responded by insisting her comments were made in anger.

"She is an exceptional person and she only made those comments because she too was living a moment of desperation," he said. "It's difficult to separate, and it's true that there was a lot of acrimony. I must prove to her that I am not the person she said I was."

Vandenbroucke did not start this year's Tour of Italy after failing to recover quickly enough from a knee operation, and his lack of competition is believed to have accentuated his depression.

In 2002, Vandenbroucke was twice stopped by police and discovered to be under the influence of alcohol at the wheel of a car. In another incident that year, a police search at his home uncovered a large quantity of doping substances.

In 2003, when he rode for the Quick Step team, Vandenbroucke appeared on the way back after a second place finish in the prestigious Tour of Flanders classic.

However, despite a promising start to the 2004 season, hopes of a sustained comeback were cut short and he sunk further into depression.
Agence France Press