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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest News for June 23, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry

Casagrande unsure about holding yellow

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Tour de Suisse race leader Francesco Casagrande is not at all sure that he'll be able to fend off nearest rival Alexandre Vinokourov in tomorrow's 33 kilometres stage 8 time trial in the Tour de Suisse. After winning the fifth stage on Saturday, Casagrande could not put any more time into Vinokourov in Sunday's stage, and the gap between the two on GC remained at 37 seconds.

"I tried on the Julierpass, the last big climb of this tour," Casagrande was quoted in Het Nieuwsblad as saying. "Without much chance of succeeding, because the wind was against us and furthermore the climb was not so difficult. It wasn't hard enough to separate the gruppetto."

Casagrande admitted that his lead "is not much" going into the time trial. "I noted that the parcours of the time trial is certainly not flat and therefore won't be to my disadvantage."

Ullrich stronger

A second place finish in yesterday's final mountain stage in the Tour de Suisse did wonders for Jan Ullrich's morale. He looked comfortable on the final climb, making it to the top in the lead group behind eventual stage winner Oscar Pereiro (Phonak). The German told L'Equipe today that "The Phonak riders, Casagrande and Vinokourov didn't offer any presents, and that was good for me. I felt like my cold had disappeared, so I was able to go faster than [Saturday]. I'm very satisfied with my second place."

McEwen hopes to be reinstated

Despite finishing outside the time limit in stage 6 of the Tour de Suisse, Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo) has a small hope that he can be reinstated for today's stage. According to team director Hendrik Redant, McEwen found the roads blocked when he came through. "Robbie had to take the footpath instead of the road," said Redant to Het Nieuwsblad. "Even the police who were with him couldn't get through."

Casar calls it quits

Photo: © Sirotti
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Just two days after winning Stage 4 in a thrilling finish,'s Sandy Casar abandoned the Tour de Suisse on the sixth stage. Casar was lying in 17th on GC, but decided to pull out in order to save his strength for the Tour de France in two weeks time. "From the first col I was at my limit," Casar told L'Equipe. "I was in the red, and after that I was suffering, even on the false flats after the second climb. I didn't have any good sensations, I was empty. So I thought it best to stop. There are a lot of races coming up."

Demol: Heras, Hincapie in good shape

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After finishing second overall in the Volta a Catalunya, Roberto Heras (US Postal-Berry Floor) is in excellent shape, according to team director Dirk Demol. "Roberto rode a great race," said Demol. "Even though he finished second, I feel he is in better shape right now than he was when we won Catalunya last year. We simply could not stop (Jose Antonio) Pecharroman."

Pecharroman won the race by a margin of 43 seconds, after storming to victory in the Stage 6 uphill time trial, where he beat Heras by 52 seconds. "After Saturday's time trial, Roberto got in the car with me and realized he had lost the race to Pecharroman," said Demol, who together with Heras was very impressed by Pecharroman. "For the first ten minutes, the only word he could say over and over again was 'unbelievable.' He could not believe he lost over 50 seconds to him in 13 kms. Roberto rode strong, beating world (time trial) champion (Santiago) Botero and the rest, but nobody could believe Pecharroman. I have seen races like this, but mainly from riders like Lance (Armstrong). I think there is no doubt we saw a future champion (today)."

"But overall, our team rode a super race. Roberto was second, we were second in the team time trial stage and George (Hincapie) was second in the last stage and second in the points competition," added Demol. "After a full week of racing, George rode strong again today and nearly won. He is really back and in great shape."

The team will announced its final Tour de France roster later this week.

Pantani checks into clinic

Despite Mercatone Uno team manager Davide Boifava's denials in the Italian press, Marco Pantani has evidently checked into a clinic in Teolo, Italy, reportedly because of depression. Pantani's manager Manuela Ronchi said only that "it's a a problem of a private nature."

Pantani confirmed it in comments to 'Il Gazzettino': "I won't lie. I am not here for a friend or a relative, I am here for myself and this is a place where I am being treated. For all the information concerning my health, you should speak with the doctors".

Van Petegem still not 100 percent

Peter Van Petegem is having a hard time getting enough racing kilometres in before the Belgian championships in Vilvoorde this Sunday. The Lotto-Domo captain pulled out of the Route du Sud during the second stage with stomach problems, having also suffered in the Tour of Germany with diarrhoea.

"What the exact problem is, we'll have to see on Monday after an examination," said team director Claude Criquielion to the Belgian papers. "It's annoying because Peter has worked hard in the last few weeks to be ready for the Belgian Championships. He is still in good condition, but is missing the racing kilometres."

Wauters extends with Rabobank

Belgian rider Marc Wauters has extended his contract with the Rabobank team for next season, which will mark his seventh with the Dutch team. "Marc has consistent value with our team, and is effective pretty well everywhere. An ideal colleague who can also win a few prizes," said team director Theo De Rooij.

Landbouwkrediet extends for two seasons

Belgian agricultural bank Landbouwkrediet will stay in cycling for at least another two years, having extended its contract with the Landbouwkrediet-Colnago team until the end of 2005. The team is in its first year as a Division I squad, and is ranked 25th. The management wants to keep the team together, with the hope of a Tour de France start next year.

Track stars head for Edinburgh

World champions Chris Hoy and Craig MacLean head a list of top class riders at this weekend's 'Classic Walls' Grand Prix of Edinburgh Sprint. The two Scots, who will be returning to their home track, will contest the main event before linking up with their fellow Commonwealth Games Team Sprint bronze medallist Marco Librizzi in the World Team Sprint challenge against an All Stars trio. MacLean, who is the defending champion and five times winner, is undefeated on the Meadowbank track and will start as favourite to retain his title.

Roberto Chiappa, the tough Italian ex-World champion who pushed Hoy all the way at Herne Hill on Good Friday, will be back for another go at the local favourites, while Pavel Buran of the Czech Republic - also a former World Champion - will be out to cause an upset. Garth Blackburn the USA Keirin and Team Sprint Champion should make the final six who race off for the top prize.

Others in contention include Commonwealth Games medallist Barry Forde (Barbados), South African champion Dean Edwards and rising Italian star Marco Brossa, while Scottish champion Librizzi is a hard man to beat on a track he knows better than anyone.

Ivan Vrba of the Czech Republic will be the one to watch in the 15 kilometres, while City of Edinburgh team captain and British Champion, James Taylor will face a stiff challenge from a British under 23 team in the distance events.

Among the women competitors, British number two Denise Hampson (Wales) and Commonwealth Games silver medallist Julie Paulding will need to be at their best against local girl Kate Cullen, who has broken two Scottish records already this season.

A six race children's Omnium featuring riders from the Welsh Flyers and Edinburgh Racers is spread throughout the two days.

Sponsors include Classic Walls, City of Edinburgh Council, British Cycling, DM Hall, Doyle& Co Solicitors, Bicycle Repair Man, The Mortgage Partnership, and Ristorante Librizzi.

The Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Lesley Hinds, will get the racing underway at 1pm on Saturday, and the programme resumes at 11am on Sunday when the schedule includes a five event Omnium for the international sprinters and several races for the distance riders.

Admission to the Meadowbank Velodrome and car park is free, and refreshments will be available at the track.

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