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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest News for June 20, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Wuyts' long day in the saddle

Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

A 184 kilometre breakaway by Belgian rider Peter Wuyts (Palmans-Collstrop) in the third stage of the Tour de Suisse saw him being caught with just 2.5 km to go on the climb of Saas Fee. At one point in the stage, Wuyts had over 20 minutes lead on the peloton, and hit the last climb with 13 minutes intact. But when the road went up, Wuyts really started to suffer. "I never believed in victory, not even for a second, and not even on the foot of the last climb to Saas Fee with a 13 minutes' start," he was quoted in Het Laatste Nieuws. "In the last few weeks I only rode a couple of kermesses due to an injury on my behind. You can't call that ideal preparation for a tough Tour of Switzerland."

"I was three minutes too short," he added. "If I had some race condition, I could have won: I'm not such a bad climber. I climbed well when I was younger. Now, it's a bit less. I'll suffer the next days." Wuyts' team director Hilaire Van Der Schueren was very satisfied however, as his rider was in front for the whole day. "Today Peter gained an option on a contract for 2004," said the Palmans director.

Botero hopes to be ready for Tour

Santiago Botero (Telekom) is still not in his best condition, with just over two weeks to go until the Tour de France. Botero is currently riding in the Volta a Catalunya, where he is 58th on GC at 38'45 down, having been active in several long breakaways without success.

"I hope be ready, that is the aim," he told AS. "But I don't yet have the sensations. I hope to find them and that's why I've come to Catalunya." Botero added that he has been suffering from a virus that has impeded his preparation.

Botero believes that Roberto Heras is strong enough to be on the podium in the Tour de France. "I have no doubt about that, he looks very good," said the Colombian, who also commented on the performances of Jose Antonio Pecharroman, the climbing revelation of the season. "He is impressive. He has already taken a great leap forward among the best riders in the peloton. I hope that it can be maintained for a number of years. It would be a great thing for cycling."

Aerts looking better

Mario Aerts (Telekom) is looking like a good candidate for Telekom's Tour de France team, after his performances in the Volta a Catalunya so far. Aerts is currently lying in 23rd position at 7'59, and finished in the leading group in yesterday's tough mountain stage.

Team director Frans Van Looy commented in Het Laatste Nieuws that "[Aerts] convinced me in yesterday's stage. I'm only giving advice, Godefroot is the boss, but for me he's going to the Tour."

More doping controls in Tour

This year's Tour de France will see more doping controls than ever, with an expected 148 tests to be carried out during the course of the race, in addition to surprise controls, which are usually done on the rest days. In up to 90 of the controls, EPO will be tested for.

At the pre race medical checkup on July 3, riders will undergo a full blood screen, including the usual haemoglobin and hematocrit tests. Haemoglobin and hematocrit will also be controlled for in any pre-stage health checks.

Between eight and nine UCI doctors will be present on the race, in addition to a delegation from the World Anti-Doping Agency. The latter will have to be permitted by French law, which doesn't allow for a third party to receive the results of the controls.

Gerolsteiner announces Tour team

The Gerolsteiner team, competing in its first Tour de France, has named its nine riders. Veteran Udo Bölts will be there of course, along with Italian Davide Rebellin, Austrian climber Georg Totschnig and sprinter René Haselbacher, Swiss Markus Zberg, and Germans Olaf Pollack, Torsten Schmidt, Uwe Peschel and Michael Rich.

Quick.Step Tour team getting close

According to Belgian sources, seven of the nine riders in the Quick.Step-Davitamon team have been selected for the Tour: Paolo Bettini, Laszlo Bodrogi, David Cañada, Kurt Van De Wouwer, Richard Virenque, Piotr Wadecki and Michael Rogers will all take part, with two more to be decided after the Tour de Suisse.

Seven certain for ONCE

The ONCE team for the Tour has seven of its nine riders in place as follows: Joseba Beloki, Angel Vicioso, Mikel Zarrabeitia, Jose Azevedo, Jan Hruska, Jörg Jaksche and Rene Andrle. The remaining two will be picked from Marcos Serrano, Mikel Pradera, Isidro Nozal, Angel Castresana and Rafael Diaz Justo.

Kelme have eight

The Kelme-Costa Blanca team has eight certainties at the moment for the Tour, with Javier Pascual Llorente, Toni Tauler, Ignacio Gutierrez, Jesus Manzano, Isaac Galvez, David Muñoz, David Latasa and Ivan Parra.

Boonen back home

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step-Davitamon) has returned home after undergoing an operation on his broken collarbone this week. Boonen fell on Tuesday during training, and shattered the end of the bone. He will miss the next four to five weeks of racing, but is expected to return in the Tour de la Région Wallonne in late July. Doctors have permitted him to start with light training on the home trainer as early as this Sunday.

Garcia Casas to Bianchi

Felix Garcia-Casas (BigMat) will ride the Tour de France with the Bianchi team, which has contracted him for the rest of the season according to the Spanish press. The 34 year old has not yet signed for Bianchi, but said that "the negotiations are very advanced." His current team BigMat will not ride any of the grand tours this year.

Dekker extends with Rabobank

33 year old Erik Dekker has extended his contract with the Rabobank team until the end of 2005, according to ANP. Although Dekker is not riding the Tour de France due to his knee injury, his team manager Jan Raas is confident that he'll be back to his best, but isn't sure when Dekker will return to competition.

"All the experts that our medical staff have asked to look at the knee are of the opinion that it is a restrictive injury but not the end," said Raas. "Dekker knows he will do everything to come back. None of us doubt that."

Dekker himself was happy with the contract signing, saying that it was the "best stimulus to come back to the top again."

Quick.Step Espoirs to go to Division II

The U23 Quick.Step team, directed by Herman Frison, will take a step up to Division II next season. The team will probably be called Quick.Step-Davitamon-Sweet Paradise, with the latter confirming itself as a sponsor of the U23's for next season. Sweet Paradise currently sponsors the Quick.Step junior team, and well keep that going as well.

The U23 squad will consist of 18 riders, all of whom will be in their first, second or third year as U23's. The aim of promoting the team to second division is to make the gap smaller between the U23's and the professionals.

Irish provincial championships and Drumm memorial preview

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

With the national road championship just over a week away in Sligo, attention this weekend is focussed on three of the Provincial Championships (Munster, Ulster and Connacht), and the other races on Sunday. With the exception of Leinster, the provinces will stage their respective championships on Saturday.

In Munster, it looks as though that Paul Griffin could land the spoils. Paul had a good FBD Milk Ras last month and was on duty last weekend in the Claude Criquielion Grand Prix in Belgium as a member of the Hibernian Team Ireland. Denis Easton looks the obvious choice in Ulster. Denis will be buoyed up for the provincial event and on the basis of his selection for the B World Championships in Switzerland in two weeks time, should be the man to watch. In Connacht, it will be a toss up between Mark Quigley and Simon Kelly, as both competitors look as though they are peaking for the latter half of the season.

On Sunday the action switches to Currow for the Drumm Memorial, which is run over a testing 100km. Vincent Gleeson from the West Clare CC outfit said that "the roads are pretty hard in that area of Co. Kerry. I am well rested after my stint in the Irish jersey in the FBD Milk Ras and hopefully, I can succeed with a number of wins in the second part of the season."

The Tour of the Sperrin in Cookstown on paper looks the more formidable, with a number of climbs to be negotiated over the 100 km, and realistically a double could be on the cards for Denis Easton.

Last weekend's Sean Nolan Meath Grand Prix, which was won by David Peelo of the Usher Irish Road Club was by all accounts a deserved success. David was returning to the winner's enclosure after an absence of several years. He last won back in 2001 where he was successful in the Elliott Memorial, which is now sponsored by Swiftpost since its elevation to UCI status. David along with his team will be in Kildare for the Paddy Flanagan event. This race is limited to 60 participants and will be held over a tight circuit for 50 minutes and is being promoted by the Newbridge Cutlery CC in conjunction with the upcoming Derby Festival of Horse racing. A former teammate of Peelo's, Paul Healion (now with the North Kildare CC, which has the backing of Stephen Roche), is regarded as a 'racing cert' in horse racing parlance.

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