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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest News for May 29, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Giro d'Italia News

Petacchi's "incredible Giro"

Close finish, but Petacchi got it
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

With six stage wins and a week in the Maglia Rosa, Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) couldn't have hoped for a better Giro, even though he did have a nasty crash during the time trial on Sunday. That hasn't slowed him down at all though, as he's won two stages since then and yesterday equalled Mario Cipollini's performance at the 2002 Giro.

"I thank the team," said an exhausted Petacchi after the finish yesterday. "Today I suffered because of the terrible heat, however at the end I succeeded in doing another great sprint. Svorada was recovering, and I managed to beat him with the final thrust. I don't have any words, it's an incredible Giro."

Svorada improving

Czech fast man Jan Svorada (Lampre) lost the stage 17 sprint by just half a wheel to Alessandro Petacchi, who has been the dominant sprinter in this year's race. With just one more sprinter's stage to come on Saturday, Svorada is a good chance at pulling off a late stage win, as he did in the 2001 Tour de France. "I am getting into better form," he said. "I chose the wheel of a Francaise des Jeux rider, but I couldn't get by Petacchi."

Lombardi close

Domina Vacanze lead-out man Giovanni Lombardi was the team's main hope for stage 17, as it worked hard to set him up for the sprint. Coming into the final corner, there were two Domina riders followed by Petacchi and Lombardi, but Lombardi missed Petacchi's wheel around the corner and could only come back to finish third.

Lombardi was a little disappointed with his result. "The team put me in the pole position," he said. "Before the last corner I had the wheel of Petacchi, but Gasparre suddenly changed his line, risking a crash. I therefore lost the wheel of Petacchi, and I had to do a little sprint to get back. When the sprint started, unfortunately I didn't succeed in recovering."

With six wins to his credit, "Petacchi is the sprinter to beat. It would have been a nice battle if Mario had still been in the Giro."

Simoni likes the heat

Gilberto Simoni
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

With nearly two minutes lead on his nearest rival Stefano Garzelli, Gilberto Simoni is looking forward to the next four stages, which will determine once and for all who is the best rider in the Giro. "I love the heat, and the 33 degrees today was actually OK, but I'm only thinking of what will happen tomorrow," he said after yesterday's stage. "Now there will be three decisive stages, and I don't know which will be the most important, because in each one something different can happen. I hope to have the same condition that I've had up until now."

No easy run for Garzelli

Lying second on the general classification, Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola) found yesterday's 117 km stage from Salice Terme to Asti harder than expected, with more to come today. "Through the heat, the speed and the rest day of Tuesday, this wasn't an easy stage," he said. "If it stays this hot, Thursday will also be really tough. We have to climb 60 or 70 kilometres. After that we'll know if this Giro is fought out, or if things can still change."

Also see:

Stage 17 full results and report
Live report
Photos
Scott Sunderland's diary

Perez maintains innocence

Spanish cyclist Francisco Perez (Milaneza-MSS), who twice tested positive for EPO during the Tour de Romandie (subject to counter analyses) maintains that he is innocent of doping, and doesn't understand what happened.

"I have not taken anything. There must be an error," said Perez to AS in response to the question of how EPO had been found in his urine. Perez pointed out that he had undergone three doping tests: one before the prologue (which was clean) and the other two after the two stages that he won. "Besides that, the blood control I did on the eve of the race showed that my hematocrit as normal, between 46 and 47 percent."

"Just before going to the Tour of Romandie I passed five controls in the GP Mitsubishi in Portugal, since I was the leader from stage one to the finish," he added.

If Perez's counter evaluations are also found to be positive, and given the three day window of effectiveness of the EPO test, it means that EPO must have found its way into Perez during the Tour of Romandie. "There has to be an error," he said. "I can't test positive for something that I have not taken. Why would I be stupid enough to take EPO knowing that I was going to race in Switzerland? And if I did take it, why would I be so stupid as to win a stage, knowing that I was going to have to pass a doping control?"

Perez said that he is very worried about what will happen, as he faces a possible two year sanction if found guilty. Although still young enough to come back (24), he fears that it could damage his future career prospects. "If I am without competition for two years it's very difficult to come back, and more so if I am marked by this history of doping."

63rd Tour de Luxembourg

Although small in size, Luxembourg is still large enough to host a 2.2 classed national tour, which will take place over the four days between May 29 and June 1. Held over four days and five stages, the riders will cover a total distance of 643.8 kilometres, which is slightly less than twice round the perimeter of the country. The Tour de Luxembourg has a long tradition though, being in its 68th year after first being run in 1935. That year it was won by Mett Clemens, who went on to win it another four times. No-one has equalled that, although Charly Gaul and Edy Schutz both won it three times.

For the last two years, the race has been won by Scandinavian riders: Jørgen Bo Petersen (Den) in 2001 and Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe) in 2002, both of whom rode for Team fakta. This year, with most of its top riders in the Giro, fakta will feature young Swedish climber Fredrik Modin, as well as the more experienced Allan Johansen, Martin Rittsel and Björnar Vestöl.

But a strong field is still expected, with Paolo Bettini, Frank Vandenbroucke (1997 winner) and Richard Virenque (Quick.Step-Davitamon) on the start list, along with Andreas Klier and Bobby Julich (Telekom), Serguei Ivanov (Fassa Bortolo), Robert Bartko and Mathew Hayman (Rabobank), Lennie Kristensen (CSC), Laurent Dufaux (Alessio), Emmanuel Magnien and Damien Nazon (Brioches la Boulangère), Marco Pinotti (Lampre), Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto-Domo), Tom Steels (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago), Bert Roesems (Palmans-Collstrop), Ondrej Sosenka (CCC-Polsat), Bart Voskamp (BankGiroLoterij), Dave Bruylandts and Raivis Belohvosciks (Marlux), and a Luxembourg national team with Benoît Joachim.

The race suits riders who can time trial and can also comfortably ride over the numerous short but steep climbs that are a feature of the tour. Being only four days, typically the deciding stage is either the first or second.

The stages

Stage 1 - May 29: Luxembourg-Luxembourg, 163 km
Stage 2 - May 30: Wasserbillig-Leudelange, 204 km
Stage 3 - May 31: Mersch-Echternach, 98 km
Stage 4 - May 31: Bettembourg-Bettembourg ITT, 9.8 km
Stage 5 - June 1: Wiltz-Diekirch, 169km

Teams announced for GP de Beauce

The organisers of the 18th Grand Prix Cycliste de Beauce have announced the names of the 18 teams that will take part in the race, which will be held between June 17-22. Despite some international teams not wishing to travel to Canada due to fear of SARS, the organisers have managed to compose a field of 130 riders representing 15 countries.

Several foreign teams are returning such as EdSystems-ZVVZ, Mexico's Tecos-Mercurio, Flanders-IteamNova (Dominique Perras), Wiesenhof Leipzig, Shimano Racing Team and Maestro-Nella (Bruno Nella). In addition, the American squads Navigators, Prime Alliance, 7Up/Maxxis, and Health Net (Gordon Fraser) will all be taking part. Finally, Canadian teams Jet Fuel Coffee, Atlas Cold-Ital Pasta, Canadian National Team (Charles Dionne and Eric Wohlberg), Volkswagen-Trek, Team Québec and Espoirs de Laval will round out the field. There is still space for two more teams, and the organisers are in negotiations to fill these spots.

The GP de Beauce is a six day stage race, classified as UCI 2.3. The race is an important opportunity for Canadians to gain valuable UCI points, which will determine the number of riders that can start for the Canadian National Team at the Road World's in Hamilton. At the end of last season, Canada was ranked 31st in the UCI men's rankings, but has improved to 27th so far this season. Given that the UCI allows the host country to enter more riders in the World Championships, Canada will be allowed to enter eight riders for the World's, four of which will start in Hamilton.

The course is intended to be quite selective, stage one being a circuit race starting from the Saint-Laurent river's South shore, taking the riders nine times up Cote Gilmour, Quebec. Stage 2 on June 18 will depart from Charles Dionne's home town, Saint-Redempteur. The third stage totals 150 km, and will see the Lac Etchemin formula revisited. Stage 4 will start in Saint-Georges to reach Mont Megantic after covering 171 km, and is typically a crucial stage.

On Saturday, June 21, the riders will face a 15.5 km individual time trial in Saint-Jean-de-la-Lande. Later that day, a twilight criterium in downtown Saint-Georges will be held over 40 laps of a 1.5 km course. The final stage on June 22 will be a 165 km road circuit in downtown Saint-Georges, which consists of 15 laps of a spectator friendly 11 km course.

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