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Photo ©: Swift

Latest News for May 14, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones & Tim Maloney

86th Giro d'Italia news

McEwen wants another

Robbie McEwen
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

Stage 4 winner Robbie McEwen is looking for a win today too. "This is like last year," he was quoted in La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I had to wait until the fourth stage to win. Last year I beat Cipo. Now I beat Maglia Rosa Petacchi."

According to the paper, Robbie went up to the president of the jury yesterday and said to him in French, 'Oh, are you going to relegate me again today? Try it.'

Despite this, McEwen's having a good time in Italy. "I like the pasta with the cold tea in the race, and a little glass of red wine at dinner. The sun is nice and there's beautiful women here too."

Petacchi's family prognostic

Alessandro Petacchi's father Lucio is picking Mario Cipollini to win today's fifth stage. Why? Because he doesn't want to bring bad luck to his son. But Petacchi disagrees. "I really want to win with the Maglia Rosa. That's my dream," he said.

Petacchi was really surprised by Robbie McEwen's speed in the finale yesterday. "He just blew by me," said the Maglia Rosa wearer, who lost the stage in the last 30 metres.

Belda on Gonzalez

Aitor Gonzalez's former team director Vicente Belda believes that the Spaniard is the "best all round rider in the Giro." However he thinks that Gonzalez's chances of winning are not great. "This Giro will be decided in the mountains, and Simoni, Casagrande and Garzelli are better climbers than him."

Look for Conte today

A rider to watch in today's fifth stage is Biagio Conte, from the Formaggi Pinzolo team. He's from Palermo, Sicily and he obviously wants to do well for the home crowd. But he's also lived in Northern Italy in Sacile for many years, and his best friend and training partner was Denis Zanette, who died of a heart attack earlier this year. A great motivation for Conte is to dedicate a win to his departed friend. Conte has already won this year in the Giro dell'Etna, and hopes for more success in the Giro d'Italia.

Two other local riders are Giuseppe Palumbo (De Nardi-Colpack) and climber Paolo Tiralongo (Panaria), who will certainly be looking to get Sicilian GPM points on the climb today.

Stage 5 - May 14: Messina - Catania, 176km

Across the straights of Messina to Sicily for a sunny, hot sprinters stage that skirts Europe's only active volcano, Mt.Etna. Halfway through the stage is the long, easy 25 km climb up the Peloritani Mountains to the GPM at Portella Mandrazzi. From the top, there is a long, winding descent past Taormina and down to the coast to the Gulf of Catania into the chaotic Sicilian port city for a likely group finish in Piazza Nettuno. Thursday, 15 May is a rest day so after Stage 5 in Sicily, the teams will make an air transfer from Catania to Naples.

Join us for our live coverage of the fifth stage, commencing at 14:30 CEST (08:30 EDT/05:30 PDT/22:30 AEST).

Ullrich and Pevenage to go Dutch

Belgian Rudy Pevenage and Dutch Jacques Hanegraaf have submitted a request to the UCI to take over the financially embattled Coast team, which has been suspended due to difficulties in paying its riders. The team will see Bianchi assume the role of head sponsor, and will keep its riders and staff largely intact. However, it will have no further dealings with Gunther Dahms and the Coast sponsorship, due to the problems encountered so far this season.

"The team will ride under a Dutch licence," said Hanegraaf, who was for a brief time a manager of the Farm Frites team, to ANP today. The Professional Cycling Council will make a decision in a few days time about the manoeuvre.

Two weeks out for Verbrugghe

After leaving the Giro d'Italia on Tuesday morning, Rik Verbrugghe arrived in Zaventem airport, Brussels, nursing a large hematoma above his left knee, a result of a crash during stage 3 on Monday. After having it examined by team doctors later that day, the verdict was that Verbrugghe had a 4 cm muscular tear in his thigh, which means that he will have to take two weeks rest from competition. He also dislocated his left shoulder in the crash, which happened when he ran into a pole on a very technical descent.

Verbrugghe will definitely not ride in the Tour of Belgium, but may return for the Tour of Luxembourg on May 29. His preparation for the Tour de France has indeed been compromised, and he will probably have to lower his objectives for that race.

Bettini back in a week

Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Davitamon) will return to racing in the Bayern Rundfahrt (Tour of Bavaria), which starts on May 21 next week. Bettini severely injured his shoulder in a crash in Gent-Wevelgem in early April, and has not been able to race since. Bettini also intends on racing the Tour of Luxembourg (May 29-June 1).

Van der Kooij's career in doubt

The cycling career of Vincent Van der Kooij is in doubt after the BankGiroLoterij rider had a serious accident last Saturday when he hit a truck. Van der Kooij broke his elbow and suffered a deep wound to his left upper arm, including severing a nerve. The latter is the most concerning to doctors, as Van der Kooij cannot extend the fingers in his left arm at the moment. If it doesn't recover sufficiently, then he will not be able to race again.

"According to doctors, it can easily take two months before there is any improvement," Van der Kooij's father told ANP. "This season is for 80, 90 percent over. But Vincent isn't too discouraged. He has often had setbacks."

Verbruggen says Igor Gonzalez won't do the Tour

UCI president Hein Verbruggen has reiterated his stance on the suspension of ONCE's Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano by the French anti-doping organisation CPLD. In an interview with AS, Verbruggen said "I'm afraid that he will not be able to participate in the race since he has been sanctioned by the CPLD in France. We don't agree and neither does the rider. But, OK, this is the law in France, it's the one that counts and it's more important than the UCI regulations....The law of a country is always more important than the regulations of any international federation."

Verbruggen again pointed to the World Anti-Doping Agency Code, that will unite anti-doping regulations in all sports and in all countries. "We expect that this code will resolve our problems," said Verbruggen who added that the UCI had approved the code a month ago.

English Kiwi out of Sydney World Cup

By Alan Messenger

Former England sprinter Neil Campbell is out of the New Zealand team for the Sydney World Cup Track meeting. Campbell has lived in New Zealand for the past two years and he represented the country at the recent World Cup meeting in South Africa, but the UCI has just ruled that he was not eligible to compete there. New Zealand will forfeit the four points it gained for seventh place in the team sprint in South Africa. Before moving to New Zealand Campbell failed a drug test in his native England.

Vuelta 2004 to start in Leon

The 2004 edition of the Vuelta España will commence in the city of Leon with a team time trial, after an agreement was signed by the Mayor of Leon, Mario Amilivia and the general director of Unipublic, Felipe Sáinz de Trápaga. The opening stage will cost the city nearly €900,000, including the organisation, police, promotion and the presentation.

Leon has hosted stages of the Vuelta on a number of occasions, and hopes that the 2004 start will put it on the international cycling map for a week.

Rest for Roesems and Vanhaecke

Palmans riders Bert Roesems and Michel Van Haecke have earned some rest after their efforts in the early part of the season. "It's certainly not a punishment," team director Hilaire Van der Schueren said. "I want both riders back in top form. Perhaps they can strike a blow again in the Tour of Belgium."

A scare for the Devil

German eccentric Dieter Senft, better known as the Devil, had a scare while following the Peace Race. Senft was staying overnight Jawor in Poland, and his camper was attacked by five drunks. They were trying to break into his car to get the key to the chain that hooked up his giant bicycle (7.8m x 3.7m), for purposes unknown. However the drunks didn't get in and ended up stumbling into the night. But that didn't scare the Devil, who will continue to follow the Peace Race until the finish on Sunday in Erfurt.

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