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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest News for August 28, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Cipo doubtful for Vuelta, but says yes to World's

Mario Cipollini
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

The chance that World Champion Mario Cipollini will ride in the Vuelta a España is fairly slim, according to a report in La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Mario has done no special preparation for a three week stage race," said his team manager Vincenzo Santoni.

If Cipollini doesn't start, then the Domina Vacanze team could be excluded by the Vuelta organisers. The team received a wild card invitation in July on the basis that they would bring the World Champion. "In the coming days, Mario Cipollini will look for a solution with the Vuelta organiser and UCI president Hein Verbruggen," said a team spokesman.

Cipollini hasn't raced for three months, after crashing out of the Giro d'Italia on Stage 11. In total, the World Champion has only raced 26 times this year, excluding criteriums. He has won just four races: two stages in the Giro and two in Tirreno Adriatico, a far cry from last year when he notched up 14 wins including the World Championship, Milan-San Remo, Gent-Wevelgem, six stages in the Giro and three stages in the Vuelta.

On the other hand, Cipollini has indicated that he will ride the World Championships in Hamilton (as outgoing World Champion, he can start as an optional 13th rider with the Italian squad). "I will put my experience in the service of Italy to recreate the ambiance of Zolder," Cipollini told L'Equipe.

"Mario has a personality and human qualities that are very important for uniting a team," Italian selector Franco Ballerini said. "Because of that, his presence is invaluable."

One of Cipollini's key helpers last year, Paolo Bettini, has his eyes on the rainbow jersey in Hamilton. "I would like to succeed Mario with his World Championship win," Bettini told L'Equipe. "His charisma and experience are precious."

Whatever happens, Mario Cipollini will probably ride in 2004 for Domina Vacanze-Elitron, although he has yet to sign on the dotted line for the team.

Quick.Step for the Vuelta

The Quick.Step-Davitamon team has been announced for the Vuelta España. Experienced riders Frank Vandenbroucke, Richard Virenque and Kurt Van de Wouwer will be joined by Spaniards David Cañada and Pedro Horrillo, German Patrik Sinkewitz, Dutchman Bram Tankink and Belgians Jurgen Van Goolen and Tom Boonen. The team has Aurelien Clerc and Kevin Hulsmans as reserve riders, with Luca Guercilena, Serge Parsani and Wilfried Peeters serving as sports directors.

Mattan chooses Bodysol-Brustor

Nico Mattan
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image

Belgian Nico Mattan will ride for Patrick Lefevere's Bodysol-Brustor team next season, confirming it in an interview with Het Laatste Nieuws today. The flamboyant Cofidis rider will thus transfer from a Division I Top Club to a Division II squad, but Mattan doesn't believe that it is a giant leap backwards.

"The most important reason why I'm choosing the new team of Patrick Lefevere is that I can work with the young riders," he was quoted as saying. "I can bring my ten years of professional experience to them. And also a little because I wanted a change of air, after five years with Cofidis. Naturally the money was important in my choice. I can say that I'm not earning any less than I did at Cofidis. And more importantly: I'm out of that 'idiot system' introduced by monsieur Migraine," Mattan said, referring to the UCI points based payment system at Cofidis.

"The only regrets I have are that I can not ride the Ronde van Vlaanderen or Paris-Roubaix any more. They are the only classics where I can finish in the top three. I've had enough of races such as the Tour of the Basque Country or the Dauphine Libéré. I've deliberated for a long time, but now I have given my word to Lefevere. I will not betray his trust."

Bianchi interested in Sevilla

Spanish climber Oscar Sevilla (Kelme) is in demand, with Team Bianchi interested in signing him next year, according to an AS report. Sevilla has an offer from Kelme to extend his current contract for another two years, however Team Bianchi is looking for someone like him to help Jan Ullrich in the mountains in the Tour.

"Bianchi is one of the teams that has contacted me, besides other foreign teams (such as Phonak), but I'm closer to Kelme now than the others," Sevilla was quoted as saying. "Three weeks ago I ignored my future in order to prepare for the Vuelta a España and I left it to my agent (Enrique Rodríguez) and my brother (Andrés). After such a long stop, all I want to do is race again."

Kelme boss Pepe Quiles believes that Sevilla will sign with them, although Sevilla would prefer a one year contract rather than one for two years.

Zanini to Quick.Step

Stefano Zanini (Saeco) will come back to the fold of Patrick Lefevere next season, as he is due to sign a contract with Quick.Step-Davitamon in the next few days. The Italian rode for Mapei-Quick.Step for four years under Lefevere, and will now be an important ally for Paolo Bettini in the sprints.

Zubeldia until 2006 with Euskaltel

The fifth placed finisher in the Tour de France this year, Haimar Zubeldia, has renewed his contract with the Euskaltel-Euskadi team for another three years. Zubeldia's contract is reportedly worth €480,000 per year, double that of young rider Samuel Sanchez, who also recently renewed with the team. Euskaltel is close but still hasn't secured the signature of Iban Mayo, who has a good offer from Saeco.

Thijs extends

Erwin Thijs has extended his contract with the Palmans-Collstrop team. The 33 year old Belgian has no results of note this year, although last year he won the Stadsprijs Geraardsbergen and Stage 4 in the Tour de la Region Wallonne.

Three stagiaires for Flanders

Flanders-iteamNova has contracted three riders as stagiaires for the rest of the season. Andrew Vancoillie, Tommy Van De Gehuchte and Steven Thys will race for the team from September 1.

Demeulenaere looks to Belgacom

Belgian mecenas Noël Demeulenaere is still seeking a big sponsor for his would be first division "Chocolat Jacques" team. Demeulenaere has approached telecommunications giant Belgacom for money, and there is a chance that they will come to the party.

"It is just one of the dossiers that lie in front of us," Belgacom spokesman Jan Margot told Gazet van Antwerpen. "As a big company, Belgacom is solicited by everyone for money to put into sporting activities. We are not far away from a decision."

Fund to help Scottish Cyclists

The Braveheart Cycling Fund has been created to raise money to help fund the development of Scottish Cyclists. The fund has been set up by four people, including former British road champion Brian Smith, together with Scott Couch, Alan Brown and Alan Miller. The group will be holding a fundraising dinner on November 14 at the North Beach Hotel, Prestwick. Tickets are priced at £25 and all proceeds will go directly to the fund.

For more information about the Braveheart Cycling Fund, visit

Mirko Lauria dies

Former Italian professional Mirko Lauria has died after being electrocuted. The 26 year old from Pistoia was helping his uncle Alirio Del Tongo fix a problem with an irrigation well, when the latter was knocked unconscious by an electric shock. When Lauria went to help him, he too received a shock which unfortunately turned out to be fatal.

Lauria was an Italian junior champion in 1994, and raced professionally for a short time before stopping in 2000.

Team Rubicon announces Polka Dot Essay Contest

Team Rubicon/United Finance has announced its "Polka Dot Essay Contest", which will help raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The essay competition is open to U.S. residents until September 8, and the team will award a prize to the author of the most compelling essay regarding their battle with cancer. "In particular, we are looking for a young adult or teenager whose life has been affected by cancer to write a short one page, 500 words or less, essay about why they should get this opportunity," read a statement from Team Rubicon.

The winner will receive the following Polka Dot prize package, courtesy of Team Rubicon and the Lance Armstrong Peloton Project:

Ride for the Roses Ride Weekend T-Shirt
PowerBar Health & Sports Expo
Post-Ride Party
Limited Edition Jacket
Limited Edition Jersey
Peloton Dinner Ticket
Jersey Group Photo
1 Entry to Private Ride w/ Lance
1 Entry to Autograph Session w/ Lance
2 Bike Transport Passes
2 Bike Transport Passes
2 Transport Passes
1 Airfare to Austin ( Continental U.S. )
4 Nights Accommodation for 2
2 Tickets to Wells Fargo Movie Premiere
Additional Dinner Ticket

In addition to the winner receiving the Polka Dot package, the top ten letters will be awarded with an honourable mention and a pair of custom Team Rubicon socks.

The entry deadline is September 8 and the winner will be announced by September 12. E-mail submissions to and be sure to include your name, mailing address, email address and phone number where you can be reached. Entrants under 18 years of age must include a parent's name and contact information also. All entrants must be US Residents, and the competition is limited to one letter per person.

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