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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for November 13, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

Beloki to La Boulangère

Joseba Beloki, who yesterday announced that he had selected a team for 2004 but declined to give its name, will be heading to France for the coming season. Spanish newspaper Marca reports that Beloki will sign a two year deal with the Brioches La Boulangère team managed by Jean René Bernaudeau, and this has been confirmed by Beloki's agent Pablo Arregui. The arrival of the 30 year old Beloki will provide the team with a leader for the grand tours and seemingly assure an invitation to the Tour de France.

Several teams had shown interest in signing the ONCE leader, who three times has reached the podium in the Tour de France, however La Boulangère was not on most observers' lists. Gerolsteiner, Saeco, and Lampre were among the contenders, though Beloki himself denied any links to Saeco. Brioches La Boulangère is expected to give a press conference Friday morning, with Beloki and his lawyer Pablo Arregui likely in attendance. Beloki will bring his younger brother Gorka to the team, however a the addition of a larger entourage of ex-ONCE teammates, and Abraham Olano as directeur sportif, appears unlikely.

Beloki this week called off negotations with the Italian firm Stayer, which had tapped him as team leader for a new formation, along with Olano as team director.

More financial woes for Kelme

The Kelme-Costa Blanca team, which in recent years has experienced financial difficulties, appears once more to be in dire need of a cash infusion. According to a Marca report, the team owes an estiamted €750,000 in unpaid taxes, and manaer Joan Mas is on the hot seat to find a solution.

The team's bank accounts have been frozen, but Mas insists that the problem does not threaten the team's future in the sport. Kelme is also said to owe two months of wages to its riders, although with the bank deposit submitted each season to the UCI, the riders are not yet facing any great risk.

Sevilla confirms with Phonak

The Phonak Hearing Systems team has confirmed the arrival of Oscar Sevilla, who has been unofficially linked with the team after his announced departure from Kelme-Costa Blanca. Sevilla, 27, is the ninth new arrival to the team, alongside designated leader Tyler Hamilton who leaves Team CSC at the end of the year. Sevilla has signed a one year contract with Phonak, and brings José Enrique Gutierrez with him in the process.

"We are firmly convinced that our team has gained another really fine, and above all win-hungry rider in Oscar Sevilla," team manager Urs Freuler commented. The Phonak roster for 2004 has room for one more rider, although the position may or may not be filled.

"I am convinced that we have a good mixture of characters among the riders in the team," Freuler added. "If another interesting opportunity crops up, we will of course be ready to check it out."

After a modest year in 2003, Freuler is eager to put its new team leaders to the test for the coming season. With the addition of Hamilton, fourth in this year's Tour de France, and Sevilla, Phonak should expect better chances at receiving an invitation to the Tour.

"We quite clearly did not score enough wins to gain the necessary respect and the appropriate ranking," he said. "The Phonak Cycling Team intends to work its way up to rank among the ten best teams in the world in 2004."

Phonak for 2004:

Niki Aebersold
Michael Albasini
Gonzalo Bayarri
Daniele Bennati
Oscar Camenzind
Cyril Dessel
Martin Elmiger
Marco Fertonani
Santos Gonzales
José Enrique Gutierrez
Bert Grabsch
Tyler Hamilton
Nicolas Jalabert
Alexandre Moos
Uros Murn
Oscar Pereiro
Santiago Perez
Gregory Rast
Daniel Schnider
Oscar Sevilla
Johann Tschopp
Alexandre Usov
Tadej Valjavec
Alex Zülle

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