Vuelta News forSeptember 8, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
Cipollini's swift departure
World champion Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze) did not take the start
of stage 2 Sunday at the Vuelta a España, a decision which surprised
and disappointed the Vuelta organisers. Cipollini had to be pushed by
teammates during Saturday's opening team time trial, and clearly was in
no form to race. Nonetheless, the Domina Vacanze team's invitation to
the Vuelta was contingent upon Cipo's presence, and his late decision
to travel to Spain provided the entry ticket his teammates needed.
"It's sad for cycling, for the fans, and for organisers, and I would
say also for Cipollini, who won't come out of this affair any bigger,"
Vuelta director Victor Cordero told AFP. "We're not going to exclude Domina
Vacanze now. But today, annoyed by what has happened, I'm inclined to
say that we won't invite the team back."
Cipollini is not the only early departure to unsettle the race organisation.
Saeco's sprinter Ivan Quaranta lasted only 3km into the team time trial
Saturday. "His case is incredible," Unipublic's Enrique Franco said of
Quaranta's withdrawal. "We'll take that into account for the next Vueltas."
2 results and report
Solid start for Sevilla
Photo: © AFP
Kelme-Costa Blanca leader Oscar Sevilla was satisfied with his first
Vuelta road stage, finishing in 18th place and only 15" behind stage winner
Luis Perez of Cofidis. Sevilla, short on form after missing most of the
season's competition, is hoping to continue riding himself into shape
in the opening stages of the Vuelta. The inclusion of Cat. 3, 2, and 1
climbs in only the second stage of the Vuelta gave the Spaniard an early
test of his condition.
"I counted on something like this, because the Vuelta is different and
all of the stages are complicated," Sevilla said after the stage. "The
best thing for me was that I felt good, and was supported perfectly by
the team. I'm optimistic, but I want to take it little by little and find
Sastre takes seconds
Team CSC's Carlos Sastre fired a warning shot to the competition with
a fine performance in the Vuelta's first road stage, finishing second
behind Luis Perez and taking 14 to 15 seconds out of the majority of the
top riders for the general classification. However Sastre still has time
to regain himself, sitting over a minute behind the ONCE armada after
the Spanish team's winning team time trial on Saturday.
"I don't like to lose, but I am glad for Luis Perez," Sastre said of
his compatriot's stage 2 victory. "He won because he was faster than me.
The important thing is that I have taken a few seconds from my direct
rivals for the final podium. I've seen that some of the favourites are
not as good as they seemed."
Noval's Vuelta incentive
Benjamin Noval, frequently seen on the attack in recent editions of the
Vuelta a España, has a new incentive to realise a successful race
this year. Reportedly in talks with US Postal Service for an eventual
transfer, Noval knows the time to perform is now.
"I have the opportunity," he said of the possibility of joining USPS.
"First, I must demonstrate my ability to perform well during a three-week
stage race. I have a double motivation in this year’s Vuelta: I want to
respond to the confidence placed in me by Relax-Fuenlabrada during all
these years and, at the same time, to do my best in order to show US Postal
what I capable of doing."
Nonetheless, before any deal is signed, Noval remains focused and isn't
getting ahead of himself. "It's too early yet to talk about a signing,"
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