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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest News for February 7, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry

Vainsteins comes home

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

In a press conference in Missaglia, Italy, at the office of team general manager Enrico Maggioni, Sidermec-Saunier Duval announced the signing of 2000 World Champ Roman Vainsteins and his faithful lieutenant Marco Milesi. After two disappointing years at Domo, a happy Vainsteins sees this new chance at Sidermec-Saunier Duval as practically a homecoming.

"This is really a return to ride for people who know me well, who were with me in the most important year in my career when I won the world championship," Vainsteins told the assembled media. "I'm looking to have a good year in the World Cup and even improve on my third place in 2001."

The talented 29 year old Vainsteins will join stage race leader Stefano Garzelli and ambitious 2 time USPRO champ Fred Rodriguez at Sidermec-Saunier Duval, who are expected to announce a title sponsor later this month.

(Editor's note: the sporting group that manages the Sidermec-Saunier Duval squad was named Tacconi Sport-Sidermec in 2002, Tacconi Sport-Vini Caldirola in 2001, Vini Caldirola in 2000)

Fassa Bortolo changes early program

By João Cravo

Fassa Bortolo will no longer ride in the Vuelta a Andalucia-Ruta del Sol (February 16-20), after changing its program for the first month of competition this season. After the Tour Méditerranéen (February 12-16), the first test for Fassa Bortolo will be the Trofeo Laigueglia held in Italy two days later.

Fassa Bortolo's team roster for the Tour Méditerranéen, which the team completely dominated last year, is as follows: Fabian Cancellara, Serguei Ivanov, Kim Kirchen, Nicola Loda, Roberto Petito, Filippo Pozzato, Guido Trenti and Marco Zanotti. Unfortunately for the team, defending champion Michele Bartoli won't be back in time from his injury to lead them, but the squad as a whole looks to be quite strong.

The team will be back in Spain for the Trofeo Luis Puig (February 23). The leader for that race will be Alessandro Petacchi and Fassa Bortolo plans to have Aitor Gonzalez at the start if the UCI accepts his registration. From February 25, Dario Frigo will lead Fassa Bortolo in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, a UCI 2.3 race that will end on March 1.

Meanwhile, Fassa Bortolo has already appointed the key names for each of the major tours and spring classics:

Giro d'Italia: Dario Frigo and Aitor Gonzalez will be the men for the overall classification, while Alessandro Petacchi and Matteo Tosatto will try stage wins.

Tour de France: The best young rider of the last edition, Ivan Basso, will lead the team in 2003. Serguei Ivanov will be his lieutenant. Sven Montgomery also has a strong chance to start the Tour provided he is fully recovered from his health problems.

Vuelta a España: If the UCI allows Aitor Gonzalez to ride for Fassa Bortolo, he will ride for the win. Alessandro Petacchi is expected to go for stage wins.

Classics season: Ivanov, Petacchi and Tosatto will be team leaders for the first half. Basso, Michele Bartoli and Frigo will take over in the second half.

Pantani's team for 2003

Marco Pantani's new team Mercatone Uno-Scanavino appears now to be complete for 2003, and will take its place alongside the other teams in Division II. Although unlikely to be invited to the Tour de France, Mercatone Uno-Scanavino does have ambitions for the Giro d'Italia, where it hopes to present Pantani as its top man for the corsa rosa.

Much will depend on the outcome of the UCI's appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in relation to Pantani's eight month ban for possession of insulin that was lifted last July 13 by the CAF (Commissione d'Appello Federale). If the UCI's appeal is successful, then Pantani won't be able to race until May 18, and that means he'll be out of the Giro d'Italia and possibly out of cycling.

Either way, it would take a miracle to convince the organisers of the Tour de France to accept Pantani when they announce the final wildcards on May 19, halfway through the Giro. Pantani's main hope is that he can race the early season Italian calendar and therefore be fit enough in time for the Giro, a race that practically ended his career in 1999.

Unofficial team roster (source: L'Equipe/UCI)

Marco Pantani (Ita)
Fabiano Fontanelli (Ita)
Roberto Conti (Ita)
Daniel Clavero (Spa)
Massimo Cigana (Ita)
Massimo Codol (Ita)
Joseba Albizu (Spa)
Cristian Gasperoni (Ita) (lent by Domina Vacanza-Elitron for one year)
Francesco Bellotti (Ita)
Ruggero Borghi (Ita)
Enrico Degano (Ita)
Vicenzo Di Falco (Ita)
Mario Manzoni (Ita)
Andrea Moletta (Ita)
Ivan Ravaioli (Ita)
Eddy Serri (Ita)
Luca Solari (Ita)
Fabio Testi (Ita)

Team manager: Davide Boifava
Director sportif: Marino Amadori

Two crash out of Bessèges

A high speed crash on the descent of the Cap Canaille claimed two victims during Thursday's stage 2 of the Etoile de Bessèges, to the frustration of some who felt the accident could have been avoided. Frenchmen Pierrick Fédrigo (Crédit Agricole) and Fabrice Salanson (Brioches La Boulangère) hit the floor following a puncture by Régis Lhuillier of on the steepest part of the descent, which according to Crédit Agricole director Michel Laurent should have been highlighted by the race organisers.

"Just before the turn where they fell there was a sign that indicated (a gradient) of 30%!" Laurent told l'Equipe. "But it was too late to warn the riders, they were going too fast. Why wasn't there a yellow flag high enough up to signal the hazard? There was already a crash there last year."

Both riders were taken to hospital following the crash. Fédrigo suffered three fractures in his right hand, while Salanson was treated for a separated shoulder.

Kolding to Michela Fanini

The highest ranking Danish female cyclist, Vibe Janne Kolding, will be riding as a neo-pro for the Italian Team S.C. Michela Fanini Record Rox this season. She is currently ranked 78th in the world, which is notable since she has only raced one season as an amateur, collecting most of her UCI points in three stage races with the Danish national team. In addition in her first start in the Danish championships in 2002 she took the silver in both the TT and the road race.

AKI-Prato Marathon Bike

Rosa Lapomarda
Photo: © AKI
Click for larger image

The AKI-Prato Marathon Bike team is set to make its mark in the women's professional peloton. The team, which will be presented officially in Prato, Italy on February 15, will be directed by Andrea Carlesi, Roberta Bonanomi, Gabriella Pregnolato and Felice Puttini. The team features a number of national and world champions, including Zoulfia Zabirova (World TT champion in Zolder), Nicole Brandli (Swiss national champion), and Rosa Lisa Lapomarda (Italian national champion), as well as 2002 Giro d'Italia winner Svetlana Boubnenkova. Following the team presentation, riders will head to Cecina for a training camp, with the first racing scheduled for March 9 at the GP Citta' di Castenaso.

Team roster

Svetlana Boubnenkova
Nicole Brandli
Francesca Castrucci
Serena Cavicchi
Irina Chuzynova
Silvia Farina
Rosa Lisa Lapomarda
Julia Martissova
Silvia Parietti
Irene Puccioni
Alessandra Rosta
Dori Ruano Sanchez
Elena Shalaieva
Fernandes Silva
Zoulfia Zabirova
Nadia Zuccherelli

Chmielewski to CCC-Polsat

According to Polish sources, Piotr Chmielewski (ex-Mróz) has signed a contract with CCC-Polsat. The contract is for one year.

Andorra start for 2004 Grande Boucle

The 2004 Grande Boucle Féminine (women's Tour de France) is slated to begin with a prologue in Encamp, Andorra, according to the Comú city council. With additional funding of at least 100,000 euros from the municipality, the first road stage may also begin in Andorra. This year's Grande Boucle is scheduled to start on the French island Corsica, although full route details have yet to be presented.

Wielinga misses flight

Remmert Wielinga
Photo: © Challenge Illes Balears
Click for larger image

Rabobank's Remmert Wielinga, winner of the final stage of the Challenge Illes Balears in Mallorca, missed his flight home to the Netherlands after being delayed by the extensive podium presentations. Wielinga, 24, won the stage into Palmanova ahead of Euskaltel-Euskadi's Gorka Gonzalez, after the two managed a successful 17km break.

The overall winner of the event was Kelme's Alejandro Valverde, who finished fifth on the stage to clinch the classification ahead of Joaquin Rodriguez (ONCE) and last year's winner Francisco Cabello (Kelme). The young Dutchman Wielinga was, however, able to book another flight (along with two other riders) and make it home after a long but successful day in Mallorca.




(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)