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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News for May 25, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry

No Tour for Vandenbroucke

After bailing out of the Giro d'Italia with a case of bronchitis just before the race began in Genova, Frank Vandenbroucke will not contest the Tour de France for Fassa Bortolo either. Instead, the Belgian will focus on the Olympic Games and the fall classics.

Team manager Giancarlo Ferretti will build a Tour team around Alessandro Petacchi for the sprints, and he also hopes that former Vuelta a España winner Aitor Gonzalez will return to form before July. In the meantime, questions continue over the fate of Vandenbroucke and when and where he will return to racing.

"I've been in cycling for 30 years and I've worked with riders like Argentin, Bartoli, Bugno and Van Lindens, but never before have I had to continually comment on the program of one rider," Ferretti said, quoted on sportwereld.be. "Anyway, we count on him for the classics. Does he necessarily need a grand tour to become a few percent better? I don't think so."

Belgian national coach José De Cauwer doesn't necessarily agree with Ferretti's assessment, calling Vandenbroucke's absence at the Tour 'a sin'. De Cauwer has his eye on VDB for Olympic selection, but insists that competition for the Belgian national team will be stiff.

"I want some positive indications," De Cauwer said. "I'll gladly take Vandenbroucke along, but I need to see something. I only want one thing: results."

Ullrich hits the Alps

T-Mobile's leader for the Tour de France, Jan Ullrich, has taken a page from the Lance Armstrong handbook and set up camp in the Alps for some tests on the major climbs of this year's race. In particular, Ullrich has been training on the slopes of Alpe d'Huez, scene of what should be a crucial individual time trial this year. Having finished second in the Tour on five occasions (three behind Armstrong), Ullrich is still in search of his second overall victory after 1997.

"If I would have won last year and not finished second, I probably would have stopped racing," Ullrich said in an interview with Bunte. "This summer I once again have a big goal."

It's been another lacklustre spring for the German, who has once more confounded the critics with a slow start to the year and apparent excess weight. Nonetheless, Ullrich continues to train and insists that his preparations for the Tour are on track.

"My hard training in the past few weeks has been done completely with the Tour de France in mind," he explained. "I've been working harder and harder, which I need to do in order to win the Tour, and I can feel that my form is coming."

Hamilton in the Pyrénées

After a short trip to the United States following his overall victory in the Tour de Romandie last month, Phonak captain Tyler Hamilton has begun his own Tour reconnaissance in the Pyrénées mountains. Hamilton will return to racing at the Dauphiné Libéré, where he will face the likes of Lance Armstrong and Iban Mayo, among others.

"I rode the last kilometres of the stage to la Mongie and I rode all the way to the Plateau de Beille," Hamilton said of his training outings. "I'll also check out the the climbs in the Alps and the Alpe d'Huez time trial at least three or four times."

Bäckstedt out of Giro

Alessio-Bianchi's Magnus Bäckstedt, winner of Paris-Roubaix in April, decided to abandon the Giro d'Italia on the race's longest stage Monday. Bäckstedt pulled out at the Montefacone feed zone, around the stage's halfway point, suffering from respiratory problems.

Search for Lotto cosponsor

Although the Belgian national lottery will remain a sponsor of what is currently the Lotto-Domo professional team, the lottery will take a step back and no longer manage the administration of the team, nor will it engage in the search for a replacement sponsor for Domo. Lotto's manager Christophe Sercu has kept his hat in the ring for a continued role in the team over the next few seasons, while two other suitors have joined in the fray.

Division I team Chocolade Jacques has emerged as a possible title sponsor for the team, with a plan to take on Lotto as a co-sponsor, according to a Gazet van Antwerpen report. Chocolade Jacques was created this year by team director Noël Demeulenare.

Patrick Lefevere, the team tycoon of Belgian cycling, has also indicated that he has been in talks with a potential new sponsor. Lefevere already manages the Quick.Step-Davitamon and Relax-Bodysol teams, but could play an additional role in the setup of a new team involving his new (but unnamed) sponsor and a possible joint venture with Lotto.

Saeco interested in Valverde

The Italian Saeco team has expressed interest in the eventual signature of Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, currently riding for the Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme team. While Kelme's current financial woes have prompted Valverde to speak openly of his possible move to another team, he has at least made his intentions to look elsewhere for 2005 clear, as Kelme is unlikely to gain entry into as one of the UCI's new Pro Tour teams next season.

Enter Saeco, which sees Valverde as a possible replacement for classics rider Danilo Di Luca, said to be considering a change of scene himself. After losing world champion Igor Astarloa to Cofidis (who subsequently lost the Spaniard to Lampre), Saeco is eager to find another top Spanish contender for marketing purposes on the Iberian peninsula, according to Spanish daily Marca.

Valverde commented this week that he is not yet free to make a decision about changing teams mid-season, yet he did confirm the importance of joining a Pro Tour team for 2005. Saeco, which has enjoyed tremendous success in the first two weeks of the Giro d'Italia, is a sure bet for the Pro Tour.

Holm back to work

T-Mobile's Brian Holm has taken up his job as assistant sports director with the team. In the last few months the Dane underwent surgery and chemotherapy for intestinal cancer. In February, he wrote, "I've never been more scared in my life." Now, he happily declares, "I feel like I have been born again."

His return was celebrated not only by his own team, but also by riders and management from various teams last Sunday at the Bayern International Rundfahrt, where he replaced Mario Kummer in the team car.

Holm didn't get much time off before his next assignment. He'll be leading the team in the Tour of Luxemburg this week. The tour also marks the return of T-Mobile's Giuseppe Guerini, who two weeks ago suffered severe facial injuries in a crash after colliding with a pedestrian during training. Santiago Botero will also be there, apparently still searching for his form.

T-Mobile for the Tour of Luxemburg: Mario Aerts, Santiago Botero, Giuseppe Guerini, Torsten Hiekmann, Serguei Ivanov, Daniele Nardello, Christian Werner, and Steffen Wesemann.

Courtesy: Susan Westermeyer

EPVA Charity auction

The East Point Velodrome Association's (EPVA) first eBay charity auction is still going strong, but check it out now as some items up for bidding have only two days left. Items include bicycles, frames, and collectibles such as autographed jerseys from Mario Cipollini, Team CSC, and Bobby Julich. Also for auction are unique items such as a fully restored Pedi-cab, a rare Lance Armstrong lunchbox, and a Lance Armstrong Sports Illustrated "Athlete of the Year" issue, autographed by the five-time Tour de France winner himself.

The auction is part of a continued effort by the EPVA to raise $150,000 needed for restoration of the Dick Lane Velodrome in East Point, Georgia. The auction can be located by visiting the new EPVA website (www.saveDLV.org), or the EPVA’s original website (www.dicklanevelodrome.com). Both sites have a link to the auction located prominently at the top of the page. Items are being added continuously, so check back frequently!

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