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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest News for August 21, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Preliminary starters for Vuelta España

By Jeff Jones

Aitor Gonzalez
Photo: © Sirotti

Organisers Unipublic have released a preliminary list of enrolled riders for the upcoming Vuelta España, which takes place between September 6-28. In total there are 22 nine rider teams registered for a total of 198 riders. With the start still two and a half weeks away, there will presumably be some changes to the roster.

In any case, the number one dossard will be worn by Aitor Gonzalez, who won the Vuelta in the final time trial last year and will lead a strong Fassa Bortolo team this year. In principle the squad contains Dario Frigo and Alessandro Petacchi, and looks to be well balanced for the flats and mountain stages.

Challenging them will be US Postal-Berry Floor, which will try to put Roberto Heras in a winning position again. Heras won the Vuelta in 2000 riding for Kelme, and finished second last year behind Gonzalez. He will be supported by Manuel Beltran, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Benoît Joachim, Michael Barry, Jose Luis Rubiera and Victor Peña, with Max van Heeswijk in there for stage wins.

ONCE's top riders include Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, Jose Azevedo and Jörg Jaksche, with Gonzalez de Galdeano the nominal captain. Kelme-Costa Blanca will see the return of Oscar Sevilla, who has suffered for most of the season from a cyst. Sevilla has never won the Vuelta, but finished as runner up in 2001 and was fourth in 2002.

Team Telekom looks to be a strong team on paper for the Vuelta. Erik Zabel will head the team in the sprint stages, while Cadel Evans, who missed the Tour due to a broken collarbone, will probably feature as the team's GC rider. Mario Aerts, Torsten Hiekmann, Bobby Julich and Steffen Wesemann are the backbone of the team, with Gian Matteo Fagnini there to lead out Zabel.

Domina Vacanze has entered World Champion Mario Cipollini, who will have a strong team behind him including Giovanni Lombardi and Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero. It's a team that has the strength to control the race and carry Mario to the line, preferably in front.

Cofidis will start with David Millar, who is certainly a chance in the time trials and can climb well enough to finish in the top 10. Euskaltel will not feature Tour de France stars Haimar Zubeldia and Iban Mayo, however Roberto Laiseka should be able to perform well in the mountains, along with riders like Gorka Arrizabalaga and Gorka Gonzalez.

iBanesto will front up for its last Vuelta with climbers Francisco Mancebo and Leonardo Piepoli, as well as strong man Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta and Aitor and Unai Osa. Labarca 2-Café Baqué has a couple of recently signed Colombians in its ranks, with Hernan Buenahora and Felix Cardenas (ex-05 Orbitel), who should be able to make an impression in the mountains.

Francesco Casagrande will lead the Lampre team, with Wladimir Belli and Juan Manuel Garate in support and Jan Svorada for the sprints. Portuguese Milaneza-MSS will have Claus Möller, Txema Del Olmo, Joan Horrach and Fabian Jeker as GC riders, with Angel Edo for the sprints.

Paternina-Costa de Almeria's Jose Antonio Pecharroman is a dark horse, having won the Volta a Catalunya and Bicicleta Vasca this year. He showed then he could both climb and time trial, but it remains to be seen what he can do in a major tour.

Phonak's Alex Zülle could well be in his last Vuelta this year, as he has hinted at retiring at the end of the season. Zülle won the race on two occasions in 1996 and 1997, but it's likely that Phonak's younger riders such as Oscar Pereiro Sio will be the ones to watch.

Quick.Step-Davitamon will be taking a fairly young team, with Tom Boonen, Aurélien Clerc and Patrik Sinkewitz likely to play a support role for Frank Vandenbroucke, Kurt Van de Wouwer and Richard Virenque. Rabobank will start with high hopes for Levi Leipheimer, who finished third in the 2001 Vuelta but crashed out of the Tour de France this year in stage 1. This race will be important for Leipheimer, who will have Danish climber Michael Rasmussen as a helper in the mountains.

Saeco looks to be going with a team aimed at stage wins, with the likes of Igor Astarloa, Ivan Quaranta and Juan Fuentes. Team Bianchi will feature 2001 winner Angel Casero, along with Felix Garcia Casas and Aitor Garmendia.

Team CSC has Spaniard Carlos Sastre and Austrian Peter Luttenberger for the GC, with Julian Dean in there for the sprints. Finally Vini-Caldirola-So.Di will be looking to do something with Fred Rodriguez, Oscar Mason, and Gabriele Balducci.

Ullrich's late season plans

Co-sponsor found for Bianchi

By Günter Krause-Friebertshäuser

Right after his impressive performance at the Züri Metzgete World Cup race it became clear that Jan Ullrich's Team Bianchi will have to race through the Vuelta without its German star. Now it's up to Angel Casero to prove he's still a top rider for the first time this year.

Whether Ullrich will start at the World Championships in October in Hamilton, Canada depends on his form and recovery after his recent exhausting post Tour appearances in Hamburg and Zürich. His participation at Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt on August 31 will show what is to be expected of him for autumn.

Bianchi's team director Rudy Pevenage told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, "Everything depends on how Jan feels after two weeks of rest with his family and the race in Nürnberg." Instead of the Vuelta he will likely ride the German stage races Rheinland-Pfalz-Rundfahrt and Hessen-Rundfahrt in September to prepare for the World's.

According to Pevenage the second of this year's Tour de France would only ride the road race. "He has already been Time Trial World Champ twice. That's sufficient!", explains Pevenage.

Meanwhile Team Bianchi seems to have found a second sponsor for 2004, which will not be named before the end of October. Ullrich of course will know earlier. "I've got an appointment with the team directors at the end August," he says. "I will be informed about the new sponsor and the whole budget, and I assume everything will be straightened out."

So the alleged "secret plan" of Team Telekom to call back its prodigal son will come to nothing. "All these rumours don't disturb me," says Ullrich.

At the same time it is clear that Jan, who is ranked 12th on the UCI rankings, expects more than riding in a low budget team again next year. Jacques Hanegraaf, CEO of the dutch enterprise Cycle B.V., who manages the team, says, "Jan has demonstrated that he is about to win the Tour in the next few years. Now it's up to us to form a team around him, namely in the big gear."

To achieve this, nearly 12 million Euros will be needed. Hanegraaf explains, "We have a sponsoring partner for next year. A good company that guarantees financial safety. But it would not be fair to Bianchi to bring the name into the headlines that early."

Now Bianchi, which helped the team out of the Coast crisis in spring, is supposed to get the big pieces of the publicity cake following Ullrich's fantastic comeback which was connected to their own. Rudy Pevenage confirms it: "This week the contracts with the big enterprise will be settled."

Then the Pevenage can start signing contracts with riders he is sure will strengthen the team. And he knows what he wants. "Two or three riders for the Tour, among whom one will stay with Jan until the last climb. Someone like Heras or Beltran for Armstrong. But there aren't too many of those."

On the other hand, many riders are asking for a job with Bianchi. Taking into account that ONCE and Ibanesto.com will quit at the end of 2003 season, almost a hundred riders could lose their jobs. "We won't get stressed finding new pros," Pevenage stated happily directly after Ullrich's great finale in Zürich.

Casagrande hopes for World's spot

Casagrande and Ballerini
Photo: © Sirotti

Francesco Casagrande, winner of the Coppa Agostoni yesterday, is hoping that his ride will help his selection chances for the Italian team for the World Championships in Hamilton, Canada. "Canada is a hard circuit, and it might be one of my last World's, so I hope to be selected", explained the 33 year old. Casagrande hopes to have a role as one of the team leaders, "otherwise I'll be in the service of the group and work."

Totschnig and Pfannberger crash out

Austrian riders are not having a good time of it in terms of crashes. After Bernhard Eisel, Rene Haselbacher, Gerrit Glomser and Harald Starzengruber, Austrian champion Georg Totschnig and Christian Pfannberger have both had bad crashes.

Austrian champion Totschnig crashed in the 83rd Tre Valli Varesine after 110 kilometres when Gorazd Stangelj hit a road sign, taking three others including Totschnig with him. The 32 year old Gerolsteiner rider was taken to hospital and had a deep wound on his left elbow, a broken rib in his left side, and a muscle injury to his left leg, as well as numerous abrasions.

Totschnig will need four to six weeks to recover, and has decided to end his very long 2003 season where he finished fifth overall in the Giro d'Italia and 12th overall in the Tour de France. He will come back next year, concentrating on the Tour de France.

Christian Pfannberger (Volksbank Ideal) has a broken thigh bone after he crashed on Wednesday while crossing over some train tracks. Pfannberger was taken to hospital in Vienna for an operation, and will probably be out for the rest of the season.

Courtesy of Norbert Niederbacher

Dominican Republic rider positive in Pan-Am Games

A rider from the Dominican Republic has tested positive to ephedrine in the recent Pan-American Games, which were held in Santo Domingo last week. The rider was Charles Fabian (Antigua), who finished 19th out of a field of 20 in the men's individual time trial. Other athletes to test positive during the games include Argentinean rower Ulf Lienhard (cocaine), U.S. track & field athlete and 100m winner Mickey Grimes (ephedrine) and Suriname's 800m winner Letitia Vriesde (caffeine).

Australian Paralympic team for Prague

The Australian Paralympic Cycling Team are departing for Italy on Monday, August 25. They will be heading for a training camp in Avezzano, Italy from August 26 to September 9 before flying to Prague, Czech Republic for the European Paralympic Committee Open European Championships for the Disabled. Competition is from September 11-21, incorporating both track and road racing.

Team Roster

Tandem: Lynette Lepore, Janet Shaw, Kerry Cohen, Leeanne Manderson, Darren Harry.

LC1: Joy White, Claire McLean.

CP: Mark LeFlohic.

Staff: Elsa Lepore (team manager), Darryl Benson and Andrew Budge (coaches) and Paul Lamond (mechanic)

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