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2002 Vuelta

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Vuelta News forAugust 28, 2003

Edited by John Stevenson

Cipo doubtful for Vuelta, but says yes to World's

Mario Cipollini
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The chance that World Champion Mario Cipollini will ride in the Vuelta a España is fairly slim, according to a report in La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Mario has done no special preparation for a three week stage race," said his team manager Vincenzo Santoni.

If Cipollini doesn't start, then the Domina Vacanze team could be excluded by the Vuelta organisers. The team received a wild card invitation in July on the basis that they would bring the World Champion. "In the coming days, Mario Cipollini will look for a solution with the Vuelta organiser and UCI president Hein Verbruggen," said a team spokesman.

Cipollini hasn't raced for three months, after crashing out of the Giro d'Italia on Stage 11. In total, the World Champion has only raced 26 times this year, excluding criteriums. He has won just four races: two stages in the Giro and two in Tirreno Adriatico, a far cry from last year when he notched up 14 wins including the World Championship, Milan-San Remo, Gent-Wevelgem, six stages in the Giro and three stages in the Vuelta.

On the other hand, Cipollini has indicated that he will ride the World Championships in Hamilton (as outgoing World Champion, he can start as an optional 13th rider with the Italian squad). "I will put my experience in the service of Italy to recreate the ambiance of Zolder," Cipollini told L'Equipe.

"Mario has a personality and human qualities that are very important for uniting a team," Italian selector Franco Ballerini said. "Because of that, his presence is invaluable."

One of Cipollini's key helpers last year, Paolo Bettini, has his eyes on the rainbow jersey in Hamilton. "I would like to succeed Mario with his World Championship win," Bettini told L'Equipe. "His charisma and experience are precious."

Whatever happens, Mario Cipollini will probably ride in 2004 for Domina Vacanze-Elitron, although he has yet to sign on the dotted line for the team.

Quick.Step for the Vuelta

The Quick.Step-Davitamon team has been announced for the Vuelta España. Experienced riders Frank Vandenbroucke, Richard Virenque and Kurt Van de Wouwer will be joined by Spaniards David Cañada and Pedro Horrillo, German Patrik Sinkewitz, Dutchman Bram Tankink and Belgians Jurgen Van Goolen and Tom Boonen. The team has Aurelien Clerc and Kevin Hulsmans as reserve riders, with Luca Guercilena, Serge Parsani and Wilfried Peeters serving as sports directors.

Vuelta adds 23rd team of former riders

Vuelta a España organizer Unipublic has announced a "23rd team" for this year's edition: ten former riders who will be involved with the Spanish Grand Tour providing "all their knowledge as reporters and collaborators".

The ten are: Abraham Olano, Melchor Mauri, Herminio Díaz Zabala, Neil Stephens, Jesús Rodríguez Magro, Miguel Angel Iglesias, Jesús Cruz "Pantera" Martín, Antonio Sánchez, Alberto Leanizbarrutia and José Enrique Cima.

The role of these former riders will be as ambassadors and intermediaries between the organizers, the teams and the event's sponsors and guests. Unipublic sources say the aim is for this "stars team to contribute to the organization of the event with all their experience and at the same time to come closer to the authorities, sponsors and guests. They will also reinforce the relationships of the organisers with the different teams so they don't have any problems in or out of the competition."

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

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