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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest News for September 30, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

French World's selection narrows

Ten of the twelve riders for France's World's team have been selected, and the final decision should be made by Charly Bérard and Patrick Cluzaud after Paris-Bourges. The team is shaping up with an even balance of experience and youthful enthusiasm, headed by former world champion Laurent Brochard (Ag2R-Prévoyance).

Neo-pro Maryan Hary (Brioches La Boulangère), third in the recent classic Paris-Brussels, was pleased with his selection to the national team. "For me this selection is a surprise," he told l'Equipe. "Not in light of my recent results, but because I'm in my first season as a professional. It's funny since I never participated in a world championships in the lower categories."

Among the riders on the list for the two remaining positions are Sandy Casar (, Laurent Lefèvre (Jean Delatour), and Christophe Agnolutto (Ag2R), to name a few.

On the women's side, the road race will be contested by six riders, headed by Sonia Huguet and Magali Le Floc'h. Jeannie Longo will focus only on the individual time trial.

Elite men:

Laurent Brochard and Andy Flickinger (Ag2R-Prévoyance), Sylvain Chavanel, Maryan Hary, Franck Renier (Brioches La Boulangère), David Moncoutié, Cédric Vasseur (Cofidis), Nicolas Fritsch (, Samuel Dumoulin, and Patrice Halgand (Jean Delatour).

Elite women:

Karine Dalmais, Magali Le Floc'h, Sonia Huguet, Sandrine Marcuz-Moreau, Virginie Moinard, Juliette Vandekerckhove

U23 men:

Geoffroy Lequatre, Kilian Patour (Crédit Agricole espoirs), Matthieu Sprick, Olivier Bonnaire, Cyril Lemoine

Junior men:

Thomas Brigaud, Mikaël Cherel, Rémy Di Gregorio, Nicolas Hartmann, Jonathan Hivert, Julien Loubet

Junior women:

Alna Burato, Emmanuelle Merlot, Eugénie Mermillod, Aude Pollet

Valverde confident for World's

Although Spain's designated leader for the world championships remains two-time winner Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Kelme-Costa Blanca's Vuelta revelation Alejandro Valverde is ready to open the door if opportunity should knock. "I will help Freire, but if he cannot win, I will be there," Valverde commented in Spanish daily Marca.

Valverde is seen as somewhat a protected rider for Spain, meaning he will be there to work for Freire, but in the later stages of the race, something which he looks forward to after a successful Vuelta which saw him win two stages and claim third place overall behind Roberto Heras and Isidro Nozal.

"That will allow me to keep some options for the victory," Valverde said of his late race work orders. "I know the course is hard, and it will be interesting to see how I respond. If I am with the best in the world championships, this would be a fantastic season."

Wary eye on Cipollini for Hamilton

After a somewhat forgettable year as world champion, Mario Cipollini continues to affirm that he will take part in this year's World's in Hamilton, Canada, in support of designated leader Paolo Bettini. National team selector Franco Ballerini is hoping to repeat his success of 2002, when a team devoted entirely to the chances of top sprinter Cipollini pulled off a flawless performance on the fast circuit in Zolder, Belgium.

This year Bettini is the man, and Ballerini and company appear wary of the outgoing world champion's intentions. Cipollini abandoned on day two of the Vuelta a España, clearly lacking form and interest in the race. His presence at the start in Gijón was merely a way to ensure that Vuelta organiser Unipublic upheld Domina Vacanze's invitation to the event.

"I hope he reconsiders his decision," Italian Francesco Moser said of Cipollini's plans for Hamilton. "I don't see what he has to gain by starting and pulling out after two laps."

Ballerini voiced a similar skepticism of Cipollini's plans and capabilities for the race, which will be run on a circuit far too hilly to suit even an in-form Cipo. The Italian team is expected in Salice Terme on Friday for blood tests.

"Cipollini best be present at the meeting," Ballerini commented. "If not, I'll consider that a withdrawal."

Cipollini, as reigning world champion, is automatically qualified for the national team and as defending champions, Italy is permitted to count the outgoing champion as its 13th rider.

Heras honoured at home

Vuelta a España winner Roberto Heras (US Postal Service-Berry Floor) was honoured in his hometown of Béjar, Spain. The city's mayor, Alejo Riñones presented Heras before the city council, then the Vuelta winner saluted a crowd of several thousand who assembled at the Plaza del Ayuntamiento to cheer his second victory in the national tour.

Pevenage and Godefroot talk

Although Jan Ullrich was not present, his directeur sportif Rudy Pevenage is reported to have met with Telekom manager Walter Godefroot in Brussels, Belgium to discuss the possibility of Ullrich's reintegration into the German team. After Pevenage followed Ullrich to Team Coast in 2002, he and Godefroot had a falling out, and thus the chances of Ullrich returning to Team Telekom appeared unlikely with Pevenage an unwelcome member of his entourage.

Nonetheless, according to German press agency DPA, Pevenage and Godefroot met for 'peace talks' in Brussels, even if Ullrich's decision on his 2004 team has not yet been reached. The Tour de France runner up has also been linked with the possible replacement for, Illes Balears.

Keeping tabs on VDB

Disappointed with Frank Vandenbroucke's 2003 season- and its premature end- Quick.Step-Davitamon manager Patrick Lefevere is hoping to keep his wayward rider on a tight leash for the coming year. Lefevere has engaged Luca Guercilena, who has also assisted as third directeur sportif, to act as personal coach for Vandenbroucke.

"It's a disappointment to see Frank end his season like this after it started so magnificently," Lefevere told La Dernière Heure. In order to avoid a repeat in 2004, the Quick.Step boss hopes that more direct coaching will keep VDB focused on the task at hand.

"Frank has received a training program that he will follow through the winter by telephone, email, and by sending results of his performances after training," Lefevere explained. "I have the feeling that Frank likes to be followed closely day to day, and I hope that things will work between [Vandenbroucke and Guercilena]."

Museeuw soldiers on

Out of the Belgian team for Hamilton and somewhat battered by his implication in the José Landuyt affair, Johan Museeuw continues to carry on with his racing. Museeuw plans to contest this weekend's ninth round of the World Cup, Paris-Tours. The Lion of Flanders has spoken few words on the subject of the Landuyt case, in which Museeuw's name has been mentioned in the context of use and/or trafficking of illegal supplements and growth hormones.

"I've done nothing wrong and I haven't hurt anyone," Museeuw said simply to journalists from Het Nieuwsblad. "You know, I was under a coma and in critical condition for twenty days (following his motorcycle accident in August 2000). So this problem compared to that..."

No formal charges have been filed against Museeuw, who raced last weekend at the Circuit Franco-Belge. Although he has the option, his decision whether or not to continue riding in 2004 with Quick.Step has not been made formal.

Rumsas counter attacks

Embattled Lithuanian cyclist Raimondas Rumsas has decided to hit back at the French judge who investigated Mrs. Rumsas after she was caught with a variety of banned substances in her car on the final day of the 2002 Tour de France. Edita Rumsas was held in prison in Bonneville, France for nearly 11 weeks, under suspicion of trafficking, possession, and administering of the substances.

The judge in question, Franck Guesdon, is accused by Rumsas and his lawyer Alexandre Varaut of having spoken openly to a Swiss newspaper about the likelihood of Mrs. Rumsas' guilt prior to the conclusion of the investigation.

Rumsas and Varaut are seeking a symbolic award of one euro for damages to Rumsas and his reputation stemming from his wife's detention.

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