First Edition News for September 19, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
ONCE-Eroski still looking for sponsors
iBanesto replacement on the horizon
By Hernán Alvarez Macías
Even though team ONCE-Eroski, with Isidro Nozal and Igor González de
Galdeano, is holding down the first two positions on GC in the Vuelta
España, its riders still don't have a sponsor for the 2004 season. Both
companies ONCE and Eroski will leave professional cycling after sponsoring
one of the best squads of the Spanish peloton.
Team director Manolo Saiz told Spanish TV today, "Unfortunately we don't
have any news. We are having discussions with some companies, but nothing
is arranged or closed. I hope I have some good news in the future. Luckily,
Nozal is doing a great Vuelta and we also have a very good team with some
great riders. That's an excellent billboard."
On the other hand, the Kelme team will celebrate 25 years of professional
sponsorship. Its team director Vicente Belda is obviously happy with this
milestone. "It's so good to reach our 25th anniversary in a time so difficult
for Spanish cycling. I'm very pleased to celebrate 25 years of efforts
and some successes. It's not easy to build the history of a 25 year squad,
but we made it. We decided to improve the contract of Alejandro Valverde
and some others, showing his team is enjoying good financial times."
While no replacement sponsor has been named for the iBanesto.com team,
reports indicate that team manager José Miguel Echavarri is close
to reaching a deal with a new backer for 2004. Echavarri has only lost
two of his riders, Juan-Miguel Mercado and Juan-Antonio Flecha, and a
press conference is expected during the Vuelta to announce plans for the
Saeco and Bianchi talking
Ullrich and Gimondi
Photo: © Olympia
Speculation continues to swirl concerning Jan Ullrich's choice of team
for 2004, and the latest pairing puts the German with the Italian Saeco
squad. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport's Luca Gialanella, meetings
have been held within both the Saeco and Bianchi camps to discuss a possible
collaboration which could see Ullrich move to Saeco, taking with him Bianchi
as bicycle sponsor, as well as his entourage of directeur sportif Rudy
Pevenage, faithful teammate Tobias Steinhauser, and his brother Stefan,
In the midst of the EICMA bike show in Milan, Italy, Saeco's president
Sergio Zattella met with team manager Claudio Corti to discuss the possibility
of bringing Ullrich on board. Saeco enjoys a high sales volume for its
coffee machines in Germany, and clearly the addition of Ullrich to the
team would be an important marketing coup. On the Bianchi side, Tony Grimaldi,
Felice Gimondi, and other company executives met Tuesday with Ullrich
and his manager Wolfgang Strohband to discuss options for the coming season.
Bianchi directeur sportif Pevenage confirmed the contact with Saeco,
indicating that the talk in Milan could be well beyond the rumour stage.
"Indeed you shouldn't always look for extra sponsors if a merger is a
possibility," Pevenage told Het Nieuwsblad. "There have been talks for
a few months, within two weeks everything should be in order."
American bicycle manufacturer Cannondale is in the process of trying
to renew its sponsorship of the Saeco team, however the companies recent
financial difficulties may leave it with a bit less manoeuvring room than
Other unconfirmed rumours in Milan regarding sponsorship changes include
the possible arrival of Giant bicycles at Team Telekom for 2004, replacing
Pinarello, which may in turn team up with Bjarne Riis and Team CSC.
Disappointment for Fassa Bortolo
In the fierce crosswinds during the 12th stage of the Vuelta a España,
the Fassa Bortolo team was perhaps the biggest loser. The day was salvaged
by Alessandro Petacchi's third stage win of the tour, but the team's two
leaders for the general classification, defending champion Aitor Gonzalez
and Dario Frigo, were caught on the wrong end of an important split in
the field and tumbled down the leader board.
"This makes things more difficult than they already were," Gonzalez said
after the tough stage. Gonzalez had been improving steadily since the
opening of the Vuelta, but Thursday's setback was clearly a disappointment.
Frigo didn't enjoy his birthday, falling from fourth to seventh in the
@Home Cycling Team 2004
@Home for 2004
Photo: © Bert Geerts
The women's @Home Cycling Team was presented at the head offices of @Home
Thursday in Groningen, Netherlands. With the end of the Dutch national
team after this season, a number of riders were left looking for new sponsors,
and @Home was able to provide several with a ride for 2004.
New signings include Arenda Grimberg (from Farm Frites-Hartol) and Bertine
Spijkerman, both of whom have already claimed victories in both national
and international competition. Arenda Grimberg will represent the Netherlands
at the world championships in Hamilton and is already nominated for the
country's Olympic team for Athens. Several young riders have been recruited,
including juniors Marjon Spijkerman and Joan Boskamp, and U23 rider Areke
Hassink. With the added riders the team will be the 14th team in the UCI
rankings. The team still hopes to sign two more riders in the coming weeks.
@Home Cycling Team 2004:
Joan Boskamp (new)
Daphny van den Brand
Arenda Grimberg (new)
Areke Hassink (new)
Bertine Spijkerman (new)
Marjon Spijkerman (new)
Directeur sportif: Thijs Rondhuis
Lombardi to Fassa Bortolo
Mario Cipollini has lost another leadout man for 2004. Having never made
amends with the world champion after a falling out last season, Giovanni
Lombardi has decided to leave the Domina Vacanze roost and will join rival
Italian team Fassa Bortolo for the coming season. Lombardi, a fast finisher
and occasional winner in his own right, took offense to comments made
by Cipollini in the past that he did not devote himself entirely to Cipo's
success. In 2004 Lombardi will put his leadout services to work for the
peloton's current top sprinter Alessandro Petacchi.
Francesco Casagrande, 33, has signed for an additional year with the
Italian Lampre team. Casagrande's last victory came at the Coppa Agostoni
in August and he is currently ranked 9th in the UCI standings.
Lynn Gaggioli to T-Mobile
Despite suffering a broken collarbone in August, Lynn Gaggioli has been
rewarded for a successful 2003 season with a contract offer from the T-Mobile
women's team. Currently riding for Velo Bella, Gaggioli was leading the
NRC points standings before her crash in training, and this year has ridden
to numerous victories, including overall titles at Superweek and the Joe
Martin Memorial Stage Race.
Simoni still wants the Tour
Despite a disappointing Tour de France showing this year, after much
promise of a challenge to defending champion Lance Armstrong, Gilberto
Simoni is still eager to add the biggest bike race to his palmarès.
The winner of the Giro d'Italia in 2001 and 2003 said this week that the
Tour and the world championships remain high on his list of objectives,
and 2004 will be an important year for both, particularly with the world's
scheduled for Verona, Italy.
"With the Tour my account is still open, despite the disappointment of
last July," Simoni told Datasport. "At 33 years old I want to take advantage
of all of my capabilities to challenge Armstrong, and in the process get
ready for the Olympics in Athens. It's a race in which I could do well,
and Olympics always represent the greatest achievement for an athlete."
Simoni's decision on whether or not he will defend his Giro title in
2004 will be made following the route announcement in November.
Tafi back in action
Victim of a virus contracted at the Tour of Denmark, Team CSC's Andrea
Tafi looks ready to rejoin competition for the remaining fall classics.
Tafi is back in training and is expected to compete in the Giro della
Provincia di Lucca (September 30-October 3). The fall season has often
smiled on Tafi, a past winner of the Paris-Tours and Giro di Lombardia
World Cup events in October.
Moreau out of GP des Nations
Crédit Agricole leader Christophe Moreau has decided to forfeit
his place in the Grand Prix des Nations time trial this weekend in France
due to illness. Moreau has been in and out of competition recently, sick
before the Tour of Poland but back in action at the Grand Prix de Fourmies
and the GP Wallonie. Moreau is waiting for results of a recent medical
exam before making a decision about the remainder of his season, according
to a l'Equipe report. His place at the GP des Nations will be taken by
Ag2R-Prévoyance's Mikel Astarloza.
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