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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

News for October 30, 2002

Edited by Chris Henry

Aitor strikes a deal

Fassa Bortolo formally announced the signing of Aitor Gonzalez for the 2003 season. Gonzalez had been in discussions with the team, and within the last week indicated he and the team had a verbal agreement for the coming season. Gonzalez is the tenth new rider to join the team, which has done a bit of housekeeping during the busy transfer season.

Nine riders, Fabio Baldato, Wladimir Belli, Filippo and Francesco Casagrande, Serguei Gontchar, Dmitri Konychev, Rinaldo Nocentini, Oscar Pozzi and Paolo Tiralongo, will leave the team at the end of the year. Riders joining the team are Marzio Bruseghin, Fabian Cancellara, Dario Cioni, Juan Jose De Los Angeles, Dario Frigo, Filippo Pozzato, Guido Trenti, Mauro Facci and newly crowned U23 world champion Francesco Chicchi.

Gonzalez' transfer may not be as smooth as he and Fassa Bortolo hope, as shortly after he signed with Fassa Bortolo, Acqua e Sapone's manager Vincenzo Santoni issued a press release stating that "Gonzalez signed a contract with us [in November 2001] which is still valid."

Botero comments on transfer prospects

With an offer on the table from Team Telekom, Santiago Botero has spoken openly about his desire to move on from his current team, Kelme. "I already spoke with Pepe Quiles, the Kelme owner, and I told him I wanted to go to a different team," Botero told El Espectador. "I've never had problems there, but I want to improve and I would very much like to race with Telekom. I thank Kelme so much for the opportunity they gave me, but throughout seven seasons I believe I have given back to them many times over what they've done for me..."

The biggest obstacle between Botero and a deal with Telekom could be the hefty buy out clause with Kelme, reportedly close to a EUR750,000. "This will be defined for sure during the next few days," promised Botero. "I hope everything comes out the way I'd like and I can race next season with Germany's Telekom, since they have now given me a formal offer".

Botero has listed the Tour de France as his ultimate objective for 2003. "I think I need to work more on climbing and shed a few pounds. To be on the podium is a great dream and I need to get ready."

Courtesy of Haroldo Camacho

Escartin confirms retirement

After holding out for last minute negotiations through his manager Tony Rominger, Fernando Escartin has confirmed that he will retire from professional cycling. Escartin has 23 career stage wins to his credit, including a stage in the 1999 Tour de France, where he also finished third overall. Escartin was twice second in the Vuelta a España (1997, 1998), but curiously was never able to wear the leader's jersey in a major tour.

Kelme owner Pepe Quiles told Spanish daily Marca that "(Fernando) was the Spanish rider that best represented Kelme. Each rider knows when the time to retire has come. If Fernando thinks it is time, then he must do it. It's a decision that takes a long time to make."

"We wanted to have a strong team to challenge in the Tour and the Vuelta," Quiles continued. "While he was with us, Fernando had a very important presence. We saw that he had his limitations, but he made up for them by suffering. He was, and will be, respected by the fans."

Escartin's team history:

1990-1993 Clas-Cajastur
1994 Mapei-Clas
1995 Mapei GB
1996 Kelme-Artiach
1997-2000 Kelme-Costa Blanca
2001-2002 Team Coast

Tiscali to end team sponsorship

Italian Internet provider Tiscali has reportedly decided to end its sponsorship of the Danish CSC-Tiscali team of Bjarne Riis. Tiscali has been one of the team's primary sponsors, which means Riis will have to work quickly to find major financial support for the next season. The loss of sponsorship could also jeopardize efforts to sign Jan Ullrich, who appears willing to join the team, although the matter of finances remains unresolved.

Asle-Arvesen sticks with fakta

Despite holding contract negotiations with Cofidis, Kurt Asle Arvesen has decided to stay with Team fakta for 2003. "I have talked to Cofidis after my holiday but I have finally decided to stay with team fakta also for 2003," said Arvesen. "The main reason is Kim Andersen, and also Peter Sejer Nielsen and the others in the management plus the good spirit in the team."

"The only negative thing is that I won't be riding the Tour de France," Arvesen continued. "But after all this will not be my last year, there will be more opportunities for the Tour in years to come. I will also have more possibilities to achieve results for my own part in fakta than I would have in Cofidis. I'm looking forward to the next season with Team fakta."

RONA signs LaSasso

The RONA Cycling Team announced that Kristen LaSasso has signed with the team for 2003. LaSasso, 27, is an ex-triathlete who shifted her focus to road cycling in 2002. A member of the RLX Polo women's amateur team and New York's Century Road Club Association, Kristen moved from a category 4 racer to category 1 cycling in less than one season. Team RONA's directeur sportif André Aubut commented, "I saw Kristen's work at Fitchburg-Longsjo, at the International (Tour de 'Toona) and at the Green Mountain in Vermont. I liked her aggressive racing, the energy and determination she put in attacks or chases."

Tour du Faso preview

Today marks the start of the 16th Tour du Faso, which is now run with the support of the Société du Tour de France. The Société du Tour offered its support to the event in 2001, and will increase its efforts this year. The race is currently ranked UCI 2.5, and features 11 stages (plus one rest day), covering a total of 1,305km. Teams are comprised of six members, vying for 20.5 million CFA francs (approx. $650,000 US) in total prize money. The race concludes in Ouagadougou on November 10.

Stage list:

Stage 1 -  October 30  Ziniare - Koudougou  141.5km 
Stage 2 -  October 31  Ouagadougou - Po  142.5km
Stage 3 -  November 1  Po - Kombissiri  105.5km
Stage 4 -  November 2  Kokologo - Boromo  136km
Stage 5 -  November 3  Hounde - Bobo Dioulasso  121.5km
Stage 6 -  November 4  Bobo Dioulasso - Banfora  86.5km 
Rest day - November 5  Ouagadougou
Stage 7 -  November 6  Ouagadougou - Koupela  138.5km
Stage 8 -  November 7  Koupela - Fada N'Gourma  82km
Stage 9 -  November 8  Laye - Ouahigouya  152km
Stage 10 - November 9  Ouahigouya - Yako  72km
Stage 11 - November 10 Yako - Ouagadougou  127.5km

Previous winners:

2001 Joost Legtenberg (Ned)
2000 Mikhaylo Khalilov (Ukr)
1999 Saïd Mosry Sald (Egy)
1998 Jacques Castan (Fra)
1997 Ernest Zongo (Bfa)

Amphitheater of Pain Cyclocross Series

The Amphitheater of Pain Cyclocross Series, which began several years ago as a series of loosely organized training races in the hilly terrain around and through the Shelby Farms amphitheater, begins its second official year on Sunday, November 3. The seven race event in Memphis, Tennessee has evolved into a USA Cycling sanctioned series with a total purse over $3,500. Courses are redesigned for each weekend's race.

Race dates:

November 3, 10, and 17
December 1, 8, 15, and 22

More information is available at

Bartoli chats with fans

Michele Bartoli will hold an on-line chat with his supporters through his website,, on Wednesday, October 30th from 6:30-7:30pm, CEST. His fan clubs are also holding a party in Bartoli's honor to celebrate his successful season, which included two World Cup wins (Amstel Gold Race, Giro di Lombardia) and third place overall in the competition. The party will be on Sunday, November 24 in Cascina (Pisa), Italy.

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2002)