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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest News for August 19, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

Somarriba to lead at Plouay

Joane Somarriba
Photo: © R. Standring

Grande Boucle Féminine winner Joane Somarriba (Bizkaia-Panda Software) will lead the Spanish charge at the next round of the women's World Cup. Somarriba will head to the GP Plouay in the Brétagne region of France on Saturday, August 23 to tackle the tough World Cup course, along with recently crowned U23 European champion Maribel Moreno, Rosa Bravo, Mercedes Cagigas, Eneritz Iturriaga, and Dori Ruano.

"Given Joane's form, and the fact that it's a race that she likes, we'll give her a chance for victory. Without forgetting Eneritz or Maribel, whose morale is sky high," commented national coach Juan Carlos Martin.

Somarriba made the decision to continue her career into 2004 after her Grande Boucle win in Paris on Sunday, but will focus primarily on the Olympic Games in Athens rather than the women's tour.

2004 Women's Tour via France

Grande Boucle Féminine organiser Pierre Boué, faced with the loss of primary sponsor Monoprix and a general lack of sponsorship interest in France, has indicated that the 2004 Grande Boucle will indeed become a more European-oriented race. Ostensibly the women's Tour de France, Boué has been legally restricted from using that name following a 1996 lawsuit by the Société du Tour de France. Dubbed since then the Grande Boucle Féminine, the women's tour has faced increasing difficulties both financial and logistical.

Next year's race is expected to begin in the principality of Andorra and finish in Germany, rendering the race a tour via France. The race will no longer finish on the Avenue Foch in Paris, in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe. "We're going where people like us," Boué bristled in l'Equipe, "since France has no interest in us."

Lampre confident

The Italian Lampre team is not diving head first into the late summer transfer season, preferring to evaluate its situation in September before shopping for new riders. Quoted in Tuesday's l'Equipe, team director Vittorio Algeri explained the he would "wait until September to see if we are still among the top 14 teams, and we'll consider our recruiting options accordingly."

Lampre's title sponsor is confirmed through the 2004 season, and although team leader Francesco Casagrande is at the end of his contract this year, Algeri considers his continuation with the team a strong possibility.

Zülle rethinks his future

Swiss veteran Alex Zülle, under contract with Phonak Hearing Systems through 2004, is rethinking his options for the coming season. Scheduled to race in the upcoming Vuelta a España, a race he has won twice before, Zülle has hinted that if his performance is not up to his own expectations he could call it a career at the end of 2003. The 35 year old Zülle, who joined Phonak this spring after jumping ship from the now defunct Team Coast, is unlikely to continue his career if he is no longer competitive.

New recruits for Rabobank Div. III

Three new riders will join the Rabobank Division III team, two of whom will fill spaces left by Pieter Weening and Hans Dekkers, who will move up to the professional ranks for 2004. Joining the espoirs team are 18 year old Tom Stamsnijder, 19 year old Marc de Maar, and 21 year old Mathieu Heyboer.

The team's director Nico Verhoeven is pleased with the new recruits. "De Maar, Heyboer, and Stamsnijder are the real Dutch talents right now, and we're happy to give them the chance to take a step forward," he said.

The final Rabobank Division III team roster will likely be decided following the Tour de l'Avenir.

More stagiaires for Ag2R-Prévoyance

The Ag2R-Prévoyance team has engaged two more stagiaires for the end of 2003. Staying loyal to to the locals, team director Vincent Lavenu has signed 21 year old Thomas Térétaz and 23 year old Maxime Armataffet, both from the Chambéry Cyclisme Formation. Térétaz is the current espoirs champion of the Rhône-Alpes region.

GP des Laurentides needs riders

This year's Grand Prix de Laurentides, an U23 stage race, has opened its doors to second year juniors. The three stage race features a 70km criterium, 14km individual time trial, and a 144km road race, scheduled for August 23-24. The racing is held at Mt. Tramblant in Québec, Canada.

Race organisers, however, are in need of more riders, and are encouraging additional registration by accepting composite teams. Without enough riders this year, the UCI event will face cancellation and would not return for 2004. Those interested in registering are encouraged to contact Luc Dubois at, or telephone (819) 425-8752.

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