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Tour News for June 29

Telekom's selection: operation yellow jersey

Telekom Team director Walter Godefoot presented his nine member Tour team today in Bonn. "The priority is the yellow jersey, and on that basis we selected our team," he said. As has been previously reported, sprinter Erik Zabel is the one who will suffer, as he will not have his special leadout man, Gian-Matteo Fagnini on hand to help him win his sixth green jersey. All the other team resources are centred on Jan Ullrich, and Zabel commented that it would be a "miracle if I could win my sixth green jersey in the Tour."

"My personal situation in the team is weakened," said Zabel who will be 31 on July 7. "I would be clearly lying if I said that I am lucky that Fagnini remains at home."

Other than Ullrich and Zabel, the rest of the team consists of Udo Bölts, Giuseppe Guerini, Jens Heppner, Andreas Klöden, Kevin Livingston, Steffen Wesemann, Alexandre Vinokourov, with Rolf Aldag being left at home as well.

Ullrich says that he feels "better prepared for the Tour than last year, I am fitter, I can attack, I have done everything for the Tour."

Regarding his part in the Giro investigation: "I only know everything about it from the media, I have not been cited," he said, adding that he hoped it would be a "calm Tour."

His directeur sportif Rudy Pevenage commented that "Jan is in optimal condition, he is properly motivated to win the Tour."

No Benoît Joachim in USPS team

After some less than brilliant performances recently, Luxembourg champion Benoît Joachim is not on the short list for the US Postal team. "On Sunday afternoon, we will select the whole Tour team. Not before," said directeur sportif Dirk Demol. "I can say that Benoît Joachim will not be in Dunkirk. We now have 11 riders, and we will name the two unlucky ones on Sunday. We are waiting for the results of the national championships."

The team so far: Lance Armstrong (USA), Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus), Tyler Hamilton (USA), Roberto Heras (Spa), George Hincapie (USA), José Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa). Plus 3 of the following 5: Steffen Kjaergaard (Nor), Victor Hugo Pena Grisales (Col), Christian Vandevelde (USA), Cédric Vasseur (Fra), Matthew White (Aus)

CSC-Worldonline

Bjarne Riis has named seven of his nine riders to contest the Tour, according to a team announcement. Laurent Jalabert, Nicolas Jalabert, Michael Blaudzun, Francisco Cerezo, Jakob Piil, Rolf Sřrensen and Nicki Sřrensen are all certainties, with Marcelino Garcia, Martin Rittsel and Nicolai Bo Larsen to be selected for the remaining two spots.

"Nicki Sřrensen has ridden a great Tour de Suisse. For this he shall be rewarded. Besides it's an investment in the future, because Nicki is a rider I believe in," Bjarne Riis explained on the CSC-Worldonline website.

"Garcia has broken a finger, but if he is able to ride we definitely will take him onto the team to TdF. But first on Sunday night after the national championships we will decide who gets the last two seats," added Riis.

"We have been dogged by accidents and bad luck throughout the season and have, among other things, had to let Arvis Piziks stay at home, but I still have confidence in the team. I'm sure we will perform well in the Tour and become very visible."

Courtesy of Andreas Boe Sjřholm

Lampre-Daikin selection

Pietro Algeri has named his team for the Tour: Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat), Rubens Bertogliati (Swi), Ludo Dierckxsens (Bel), Robert Hunter (RSA), Marco Pinotti (Ita), Marco Serpellini (Ita), Zbigniew Spruch (Pol), Jan Svorada (Cze) and Johan Verstrepen (Bel). Reserves: Matteo Frutti (Ita) and Gabriele Missaglia (Ita).

With no GC riders, the Lampre team is obviously aiming to take a few stages with sprinters Hunter, Svorada and Spruch, with Ludo Dierckxsens likely to play the role of designated suicide breakaway rider.

Kelme, iBanesto.com and ONCE

Winners of the team classification in last year's Tour, Kelme-Costa Blanca will be at it again, with hopefully the same level of combativity. Colombian 2000 mountains jersey winner, Santiago Botero, doesn't seem to be in top form yet this time around, but others such as Oscar Sevilla and Aitor Gonzalez may be able to fill the GC rider's role.

iBanesto.com will bring Santiago Blanco, Javier Pascual Rodríguez, Vincente García Acosta, Aitor Osa, Dariusz Baranowski, Tómás Brozyna and Francisco Mancebo, with Leonardo Piepoli and José Luis Arrieta likely for the last two spots. The omission of Unai Osa will weaken the team, but he did produce a big ride in the Giro. In addition, José María Jiménez has been left out.

Finally, ONCE have got a good team on paper, with recent top performers in the Volta a Catalunya: Joseba Beloki, Igor González de Galdeano, Marcos Serrano, Santos González and Jorg Jaschke likely to be accompanied by Iván Parra, Álvaro González de Galdeano, Miguel Ángel Peńa and Iván Gutiérrez.

Domo-Farm Frites: Museeuw as captain

Patrick Lefevre named his Domo-Farm Frites Tour team yesterday, which will be captained by the legendary Johan Museeuw. The nine man team is clearly going to be aimed at stage wins, with Axel Merckx assuming the responsibility of the GC rider, after Dave Bruylandts was left at home. The sprinters include World Champion Romans Vainsteins, US Champion Fred Rodriguez, and speedy Dutchman Max van Heeswijk. Vainsteins will have his two Italians, Enrico Cassani and Marco Milesi on hand to help in the lead outs, with Polish champion Piotr Wadecki and Paris-Roubaix winner Servais Knaven as extra firepower along with Museeuw himself.

The reserves list includes Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen, winner of the Champs Elysees stage in 1999, along with Koos Moerenhout and Steve De Wolf. McEwen, who had a good start to the year but faded from view between April and June, was reportedly very disappointed at his omission.

Leblanc warns Giro teams

This week, Tour boss Jean-Marie Leblanc has sent a letter out to the team leaders of Mapei, Fassa-Bortolo, Lampre, Telekom, Lotto, ONCE, Kelme, Banesto and Bonjour, warning them of possible action in relation to the Giro investigations. These teams are the nine that participated in the Giro and are also down for the Tour.

"If, during the Tour, it is proven that a rider, team leader, soigneur or team doctor is being pursued in relation to Italian doping law, then the whole team will immediately be sent home," Leblanc wrote.

If Italian justice makes any of the names known during the Tour, then Leblanc can refuse the implicated riders or teams. Also in an conversation with the American Mercury team, the Tour director said that if any teams are excluded, no other teams will be substituted.

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