News for April 28, 2000

Giro favourites start to show themselves

This week's Giro del Trentino has been an important part of many team's preparation for the Giro d'Italia, commencing on May 13 - just over two weeks. The four day, 2.2 category race was won by Mercatone Uno's Simone Borgheresi, from Panaria-Gaerne's Swedish signing, Niklass Axelsson and Paolo Savoldelli (Saeco, and last year's winner). The latter claimed that he was weak as well, which may or may not be a good sign for him in the Giro. 27 year old Savoldelli is something of a specialist in the Giro del Trentino - out of eight career wins, five of them have been gained in this race. He is an excellent descender, and should be one of the main favourites for the Giro d'Italia again (2nd last year).

Last year, Axelsson came 6th in the Giro d'Italia, and it is obvious that the Swede is targetting it again this year. He is 28 and this is his third season as a pro - a good climber and time triallist means he may make the podium this year.

Borgheresi will probably bear the weight of Mercatone Uno's expectations upon his shoulders, combined with teammate Stefano Garzelli. The lack of Pantani was a hard blow for the team, but they seem to have bounced back without the Pirate. The Giro is probably their biggest race of the year after all.

Liquigas has a strong team on paper, headed by Gontchar and Rebellin. The latter is currently taking a break from racing which will probably help him in the three week Giro. The former won the Settimana Lombarda and is always a favourite for the time trials. However, he probably lacks the extra mountain strength that is required to win this very hilly race.

Cantina Tollo's Danila Di Luca and Roberto Sgambelluri are looking good, as are Unai Osa and Leonardo Piepoli of (Banesto). The latter won the Tour of Aragon quite recently and has had some good results in the Trentino tour. Gilberto Simoni (Lampre) will be the team leader for Lampre in the absence of Camenzind. He has been quietly getting into form and is 100% motivated for this event.

Can Ivan Gotti do it? Yesterday, he reported that his current lack of form is due to training a lot in the past few weeks. Last year's winner will have to find some fairly quickly if he is to defend his title, but the Giro is a hard race to pick.

Rebellin: Can he find form?

Liquigas top rider, Davide Rebellin is still frustrated, not having had a win yet this year. He has placed second and third six times each, but has not been able to overcome the last man, whoever that may be, for victory. He recently pulled out of the Giro del Trentino, claiming tiredness from a hard early season and has gone home to Montecarlo to rest before the Giro d'Italia. No more racing for two weeks, according to his team.

He desparately wants a win, but is not letting his run of placings get him down. He remains positive and will keep his attacking style for stages of the Giro that suit him. "Sure, with a little more luck, I may have collected at least some victories," he said to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I will hope at least for a stage win, and even to wear the Maglia Rosa as I did in 1996. I will not say much, but I would have liked a victory..." he said. He has certainly been on the attack in the big races - in San Remo, Liege, and most recently, the Amstel Gold Race where he was caught with just 100 metres to go. He has also had second placings in stages of the Tour of the Med (to Jalabert), the G.P. di Chiasso (to Figueras), Tirreno-Adriatico (Jalabert), and 2 stages of the Cecchi Gori (won by Bettini and Cavagnis) and one of the Tour of the Basque country (behind Jalabert again). Fourth in the Fleche Wallonne, and third in Liege-Bastogne-Liege have capped off an impressive, if unsuccessful season by his standards so far.

The solution: avoid a certain L. Jalabert.

Francisco Mancebo in hospital

After he crashed in yesterday's Tour of Trentino stage 3, Banesto's Francisco Mancebo went to hosptal where it was found that he had concussion, broken his nose, and lost three teeth. Not good news for one of the Spanish team's top riders for the Giro, however he might be released later today.

He came third overall in Paris-Nice and the team are anxiously awaiting the results of tests to determine whether he can be discharged or not.

Other riders to suffer in Trentino include Uwe Peschel (Team Gerolsteiner) who broke his both hands. He is out of the peloton for at least a month. Laurent Roux was hit by the tour's ambulance and has several grazes.

Camenzind out of Gippingen

Lampre's Oscar Camenzind will not start in the Cat 1.1 GP Gippingen this coming Sunday, April 30 or the Tour of Romandie (May 2-7). He is still suffering from influenza that has plagued him for the past week, and is not able to ride with enough power to be competitive in these two races.

He plans to start in the Tour of Austria (June 5-11) and the Tour of Switzerland (June 13-22) if all goes well.

Spanish interest for Klöden

One of the two top Spanish teams, Banesto or ONCE, are negotiating to sign Telekom's promising Andreas Klöden, according to his (and Jan Ullrich's) manager Wolfgang Strohband. Earlier Mapei and Cofidis showed interest in him.

Klöden's contract with Telekom expires after this season but the young German has, through victories in Paris-Nice and Vuelta a Pais Vasca, put himself in a good negotiation position. Of course, talks with his current team Telekom are also going on, so bids from other teams might come in handy at this time. Klöden would rather go on with Telekom, but money talks.

Ullrich: May 31

When will Jan Ullrich start racing? The answer is, according to his manager Wolfgang Strohband, May 31. That is the day for the ITT stage of the Tour of Germany and this will be a real test, but Ullrich will not go for an overall victory. Before that he will ride along in the GP Midi Libre (mid-May) for training. After the German Tour it is time for Tour de Suisse and then the national championships before the Tour de France.

VDB back to Belgium

After training for a week in the United States (any spottings?), globetrotting Frank Vandenbroucke (still Cofidis) flew home to Belgium. However, next week he will leave again. This time, he wishes to do some training in the French Alps.

Vuelta a la Rioja

Tomorrow, the Spanish category 2.4 race, Vuelta a la Rioja begins. The 800 kilometre tour is only four days long but has gained an upgrade in category this year to 2.4 by the UCI. Sixteen teams, seven Spanish, will contest the event: Banesto (Jose Maria Jiménez), Vitalicio Seguros (Santi Blanco), Costa de Almeria, Euskaltel, Kelme, ONCE and Relax (all Spanish), Vlaanderen 2002 (Bel), Mercury (USA), ZVVZ-Wüstenrot (Cze), Slovenian Krka-Telekom, Benfica (Por), as well as several amateur teams (Banaka and Tegui) and the Spanish track team.