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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

News for June 25, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

US Postal announces Tour de France team

The nine members of the US Postal Service Tour de France team were named by manager Johan Bruyneel today. Eight of them will have the job of helping Lance Armstrong try and win his fourth consecutive Tour, a feat only achieved by three riders in history.

Bruyneel had a hard choice, but it wasn't due to the lack of talent. The team has won three of the important lead up races to the Tour: GP Midi Libre (Armstrong), Criterium du Dauphine Libéré (Armstrong) and the Volta a Catalunya (Heras). In all three races, the Posties could hone their form in working for a leader.

Joining Armstrong at the start line in Luxembourg on July 6 will be fellow Americans George Hincapie and Floyd Landis, Spain's Roberto Heras and Jose Luis Rubiera, Colombia's Victor Hugo Pena, Russia's Viatcheslav Ekimov, Czech Pavel Padrnos and Luxembourg's Benoit Joachim. The depth of this team is impressive when you consider that Christian Vandevelde, Steffen Kjaergaard, Michael Barry, Chann McRae, Tony Cruz and Matthew White were all left on the bench.

"It was a tough decision to select the nine riders because we have 12 riders that are ready to ride the Tour," said Bruyneel. "However, this is without any doubt the strongest team we've put together over the last four years. Everybody is in good shape, well prepared and extremely motivated."

"I'm really confident in this team," added Bruyneel. "I've tried to select the type of riders that we will need over the three weeks, which will be a balance between flat stages, a team time trial, middle mountain stages and high mountain stages. This, together with the experience of each one, has been the main factors in the composition of the team."

Armstrong agreed, saying that "I have never been so excited about the team prior to the Tour and I've never seen such results in June," said Armstrong. "It was a great month for the team. The team's well-rounded, motivated, and experienced."

"My impression is that Lance is in the same physical condition as last year," said Bruyneel, "but that the rest of the team is better than in the past. Roberto is back on the level that we had expected him to reach. Chechu (Rubiera) will be as solid as always; we know that we can always count on him. Floyd just finished an impressive second in the Dauphine and I have a feeling that we have not seen the best of him yet."

"George, Pavel and Eki will be the motors of the team," continued Bruyneel. "They are strong all around riders and they all have great experience. Benoit will be the most motivated rider of the whole peloton at the start in Luxembourg. And Victor is back, as he was very strong in the Dauphine."

"While we are pleased with where we are as a team, we will not forget that other teams and riders have prepared for this race very well, too," finished Bruyneel. "The Tour de France is the hardest bike race in the world and we approach it with one thing always present in the back of our minds: Le Tour c'est Le Tour (The Tour is the Tour)."

More Tour teams: Fassa Bortolo, Alessio and Tacconi

With the start of the Tour in Luxembourg on July 6 fast approaching, more teams are naming their final selections, subject to last minute changes of course.

Fassa Bortolo will take Fabio Baldato, Ivan Basso, Wladimir Belli, Serguei Gontchar, Serguei Ivanov, Nicola Loda, Oscar Pozzi, Marco Velo and Marco Zanotti. A couple of good time trialists in there with Fabio Baldato always a chance in a small group sprint, and Belli and Basso as GC men.

Tacconi Sport will take a team built around Dario Frigo, with Gianluca Bortolami, Paolo Bossoni, Massimo Donati, Andrej Hauptman, Peter Luttenberger and Eddy Mazzoleni as confirmed riders, with two more to come. It's an impressive team, with a good balance.

In its first attempt at the Tour de France, Alessio will take Davide Casarotto, Daniele De Paoli, Laurent Dufaux, Ivan Gotti, Martin Hvastija, Ruslan Ivanov, Cristian Moreni and Aleksandr Shefer. The team has several good climbers and guys for the rolling stages, with Dufaux likely to be the key man for GC.

Vinokourov abandons Tour de Suisse

Alexandre Vinokourov
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

Telekom's Alexandre Vinokourov chose not to start the sixth stage of the Tour de Suisse. The winner of Paris-Nice fell heavily in yesterday's fifth stage on the descent of the Sustenpass, ending up with numerous bruises and abrasions. He lost 19 minutes on the stage and slipped to 30th overall.

Despite his injuries, Vinokourov is expected to take part in the Tour de France for Telekom in 11 days time.

Groin inflammation for Jalabert

Laurent Jalabert (CSC-Tiscali) was unable to start in the Route du Sud on Saturday due to a groin inflammation.

"Unfortunately, Jalabert was unable to start," said DS Johnny Weltz. "He is now undergoing treatment with penicillin and, hopefully, he will be able to resume training at the beginning of next week. I do not think that there is no any reason to panic in relation to his participation in the Tour de France."

Dekker awarded

Erik Dekker, on the comeback trail after breaking his leg in Milan-San Remo, has been awarded a special prize by the Dutch Sport Press (NSP) for his good relationship with the media. The award is made annually and covers the entire Dutch sporting world. Dekker beat footballer Pierre van Hooijdonk and UCI president Hein Verbruggen to win.

Previous winners of the NSP prize include the football brothers De Boer, speed skating coach Henk Gemser, tennis pair Eltingh/Haarhuis, cyclist Erik Breukink and volleyball coach Joop Alberda.

Nicolaj Bo Larsen to retire

Gerolsteiner's 31 year old Dane Nicolaj Bo Larsen announced last week that he will retire from cycling immediately due to "personal problems". Now Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet has revealed that Larsen missed a doping control after the criterium Grand Prix Ringsted, May 31.

Larsen told Ekstra Bladet that he was never contacted by the anti-doping agency Anti Doping Danmark after the race, and that he has nothing to hide. He says that he has not received any notice from Anti Doping Danmark, or the national sports federation after the race.

Nicolaj Bo Larsen has two Danish Championships on the road as well as a stage win in the Giro d'Italia in his palmares.

EDS managing director fired

Asger Jensby has been fired from his position as managing director for the IT company EDS, one of Team EDS-fakta's main sponsors. it is uncertain whether this will have any effect on the team.

Asger Jensby was the mastermind behind the sponsorship deal closed earlier this season. Before he came to EDS he was managing director of the CSC company, a position he left when Bjarne Riis took a stronger hold on the CSC-Tiscali team.

"This is really a surprise for me and as late as last Thursday I had a meeting with EDS' marketing people, and Tuesday there will be a meeting about our common future in Stockholm," said EDS-fakta's managing director Peter Sejr Nielsen.

Trofeo dello Scalatore cancelled

The 16th edition of the "Trofeo dello Scalatore", scheduled for August 27-29, has been cancelled. The three race series is organised by RCS Sport, who also run the Giro d'Italia. In the wake of the events of the Giro, they had problems guaranteeing sponsorship of the races and decided to cancel them. The next race to be organised by RCS Sport will be the Giro del Lazio on September 21.

Dutch cyclist dies in race

A 31 year old Dutch cyclist from IJseelstein has died as a result of a fall in a race in Ridderkerk. According to police, he was travelling at 50 km/h when he struck a light pole, falling and hitting his head on the footpath. He was taken to hospital in Rotterdam but was dead on arrival.