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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for May 5, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry

Vandenbroucke out of Giro

Suffering from bronchitis and a fever with the Giro d'Italia fast-approaching, Belgian Frank Vandenbroucke has opted not to take the start in the season's first grand tour. The Fassa Bortolo team confirmed Volodimir Gustov as Vandenbroucke's replacement Wednesday.

"Frank is sick, he's been sick since Sunday," team manager Giancarlo Ferretti commented, facing speculation from the Belgian press that Vandenbroucke might be feigning illness in order to avoid the Giro, given his initial preference to race the Tour de France this year instead.

"It makes no sense to take him to the Giro," Ferretti added. "With me, Frank is behaving correctly... If I had any doubts, I would throw him out."

The Fassa Bortolo team, to be headed by sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, includes the following nine riders:

Marzio Bruseghin, Dario David Cioni, Massimo Codol, Volodimir Gustov, Alberto Ongarato, Alessandro Petacchi, Fabio Sacchi, Matteo Tosatto, Marco Velo

Directors: Giancarlo Ferretti, Alberto Volpi, Alessandro Giannelli

Lampre for Giro

With the arrival of world champion Igor Astarloa, as well as some promising team performances in the recent Tour de Romandie, the Lampre team has tweaked its roster for the Giro d'Italia which begins May 8 in Genova. The team has added a second sprinter, Jan Svorada, after his stage win in Romandie. Astarloa, while not riding for the overall classification, will be the team leader and has declared himself ready to fight for stage wins. Astarloa was recruited primarily to fill the void left by Francesco Casagrande, who has been out all spring with a tendon injury.

"We wish Casagrande all the best and hope to see him back racing again soon," Lampre general manager Giuseppe Saronni commented. "Obviously Lampre cannot present itself at the start of the most important race for our sponsors without a real team leader, a captain who is able to guide his companions.

"With Astarloa we believe we have managed to find the right person to gel together all the various elements of the team," Saronni added. "His debut and satisfying result in Larciano leads us to hope for a possible stage victory and to see him well placed in the most important action."

Lampre for the Giro d'Italia:

Igor Astarloa, Wladimir Belli, Juan Manuel Garate, Andrei Hauptman, Luciano Pagliarini, Mariano Piccoli, Daniele Righi, Jan Svorada, Patxi Vila Errandonea

Directors: Maurizio Piovani, Brent Copeland

Muted FFC reaction to Cofidis re-entry

Jean Pitallier, president of the French cycling federation (FFC), offered a muted reaction Tuesday to Cofidis' decision to return to competition at this week's Four Days of Dunkirk, which begins Wednesday in northern France. Pitallier called the decision to return to racing "courageous", and a beneficial move for the team and for cycling. He wondered aloud at certain choices made by the team, including the removal of general manager Alain Bondue and team doctor Jean-Jacques Menuet, but not other members of the team direction.

"The departure of Bondue and Menuet seem logical to me," Pitallier told l'Equipe. "The fact that [directeur sportif] Alain Deloeuil is still there is, on the other hand, a bit surprising. It seemed to me he was also cited in dialogue of the investigation [of judge Richard Pallain]."

Pitallier also took a distant stance to the team's decision to keep Cédric Vasseur suspended from competition, despite recent hair analysis which once more discounted the presence of cocaine in the rider's system as originally suspected earlier in the year.

"As far as Vasseur's suspension is concerned, that's up to Cofidis as his employer," Pitallier explained. "[François] Migraine has tried in recent days to associate us with this decision, but our regulations don't permit it. He hasn't tested positive and he's admitted to nothing."

Migraine, CEO of Cofidis, said simply at a press conference Tuesday that his team was waiting for Vasseur to be removed from investigation by the French authorities. When he is no longer under investigation, he will be permitted to race.

More teams for Bicicleta-Vasca

Three Italian teams have joined the start list for the upcoming Bicicleta Vasca stage race (June 2-6). Italian teams Lampre (including Basque world champion Igor Astarloa), Acqua & Sapone, and Ceramiche Panaria-Margres have all confirmed their intentions to take part, bringing the total number of teams to 17.

Teams confirmed include: Acqua & Sapone, Brioches La Boulangère, Cafés Baque, Ceramiche Panaria-Margres, Cofidis, Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme, Costa de Almeria-Paternina, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Fassa Bortolo, Illes Balears-Banesto, Lampre, Liberty Seguros, Team LPR, Milaneza Maia, Relax-Bodysol, Saunier Duval-Prodir, and Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie.

Trophy to honour Jimenez

Organisers of the Vuelta a España have asked the late José Maria Jimenez's brother Juan Carlos, an artist trained in the United States, to design a special trophy to be awarded to the winner of the tenth stage of this year's race. The stage, which will run from Alcoi and the mountaintop finish on Xorret de Catí, will honour Jimenez, who won on the Vuelta's first trip to Xorret de Catí ahead of Roberto Heras and Laurent Jalabert.

Milk Ras tune ups

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

With or without Classic League status, the Noel Hammond Memorial will bring the heavy hitters to Ballyboughal, Ireland on Sunday. Coincidentally, the Hammond name will also feature as the star attraction for all bar the first and second category competitors when they race for the Kieran Hammond Memorial Trophy. Both events are scheduled to start at 11:30am and 11:45am.

With only two weeks before the FBD Milk Ras, it is imperative for all those who will contest the 8-day event that they will be fine tuning their fitness to take on the big hitters that Dermot Dignam as race organiser has lined up for the 51st edition of the "Ras." No doubt the 140-kilometre course around the North Co. Dublin venue will be a true test.

Beginning to come back into the picture after an indifferent April, where he was frequently on the deck with crashes, is Timmy Barry from the Carrick Cidona club. The Co. Tipperary club is the in-form team and they have a number of winners in the stable that can come to the fore when the need arises. Such was the case last weekend in the Tour of Ulster where Barry opened the proceedings with a stage win. He missed what turned out to be the winning move in on the second stage to Omagh, but the team still had Rory Wyley who kept the flag flying only to miss the overall prize by a mere three seconds.

Still getting into the frame is Philip Cassidy from the Cycleways-Lee Strand outfit that yet again confounded the formbook by clocking up yet another win in the Tour of Ulster. As a previous winner of the Noel Hammond, he has the ability to show a clean pair of wheels to his younger competitors.

The UCI listed Lincoln Grand Prix in Britain, also on Sunday, will be an opportunity for the likes of David O'Loughlin and Tommy Evans to try their luck for those valuable ranking points. They are of real significance this year, as according to Cycling Ireland, UCI points will have a bearing on who goes to Athens for the Olympics.

The Christy McManus sponsored event by Duffs of Bray takes place on Saturday. Originally scheduled for the 20th of March but cancelled because off adverse weather conditions will be run on a new course, as the original course is very popular with tourists at this time of the year.

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