Latest Cycling News for September 2, 2004
Edited by Chris Henry
Cunego ready for Vuelta
Two weeks en route to 'home' World's
Damiano Cunego (Saeco)
Photo ©: Sirotti
Giro d'Italia sensation Damiano Cunego (Saeco) will line up for his second
grand tour of the season on Saturday when the Vuelta a España kicks
off in León, Spain. The young Cunego expects to play a protagonist's
role in the Vuelta, but makes no secret that an anticipated early exit
is planned as he prepares for the World Championships in Verona, Italy.
Cunego won the Junior World's in Verona in 1999 and is eager to go for
another rainbow jersey in his home region.
"I'm probably only going to ride the first two weeks of the Vuelta,"
Cunego explained. "It's a prestigious and important race but my big objective
for the end of the season is the World Championships in Verona close to
my home in Italy. A rider rarely gets a chance to race for a world title
on home roads and it's even on the same course where I won the junior
world title in 1999. That's too big of an opportunity to miss and so I
have to do everything I can to be at my best for then."
Nonetheless, Cunego feels his form is coming back to his best level and
hopes to fully test himself in the Vuelta, even if final victory in Madrid
is not necessarily in the cards.
"I'm going pretty well and I'm starting to find a good racing rhythm
after working hard on my climbing," he said. "I've also been working on
my stamina and I'm sure I'll soon be at the same level I was when I won
"I'm very curious to see how my rivals perform in the Vuelta," Cunego
added. "I'm sure they'll be very strong... Riders like Valverde and Beloki
didn't even ride the Tour and so will be determined to get a result this
Cunego will be supported by several riders who helped him in the Giro,
including Eddy Mazzoleni, Paolo Fornaciari, Alessandro Spezialetti, and
Sylvester Szmyd. Former Vuelta stage winner Danilo Di Luca will also be
on hand, having been kept out of the Tour de France.
Gorospe hopes for Vuelta redemption
After a disastrous Tour de France, the Euskaltel-Euskadi team is hoping
for some end of season redemption in the Vuelta a España. Euskaltel
and team leader Iban Mayo- who will not start the Vuelta due to lingering
illness- were present at all stages of the build-up to the Tour, but the
wheels fell off early in France. Directeur sportif Julian Gorospe hopes
to make amends in September.
"We hope to do in the Vuelta what we couldn't do in the Tour," Gorospe
told Marca. "Before then we had some big races, like our win in
the Dauphiné Libéré, and we were a reference point.
We went to the Tour with some big ideas, but things didn't go our way.
"Now we're in the final part of the season and we want to be present,"
Haimar Zubeldia, fifth overall in last year's Tour de France but forced
to abandon this year, will serve as the team leader for Euskaltel in the
Vuelta. Gorospe noted that he has recovered his morale after a disappointing
Tour, but Zubeldia's physical condition remains something of an unknown.
Other mainstays of the team will share the responsibility with Zubeldia,
including veteran Roberto Laiseka and early season stand-out Samuel Sanchez.
Pro Tour doubts for Euskaltel
As Euskaltel-Euskadi prepares to tackle the Vuelta a España in
September, without leader Iban Mayo, team management is facing an arguably
bigger concern that the team's entry into the UCI's Pro Tour for 2005
looks unlikely. Thirteen of the expected 18 teams have been granted provisional
entry to the Pro Tour, and the UCI announced seven more applications submitted
by the August 15 deadline for consideration.
According to a report in El Diario Vasco, the UCI has informed
Euskaltel management of problems with its application, notably in the
context of anti-doping policies and results of blood tests which prompted
the exclusion of team member Gorka Gonzalez on the eve of the Tour de
France. David Etxebarria was also kept from racing earlier in the season,
though neither his case nor that of Gonzalez was a question of doping,
according to team manager Miguel Madariaga, who was expected in Lausanne,
Switzerland Wednesday to meet with UCI officials.
"I am going to Lausanne (sic) to inquire on the criteria of team selection
and soon, or we will request explanations," Madariaga said earlier this
week, quoted in Todociclismo.com. Madariaga believes his team has
met the necessary financial requirements and notes that the title sponsor
is secured through 2006 and possibly through 2010.
Madariaga called the list of 13 teams provisionally accepted 'a joke',
saying "it includes some teams which have been around for only eight months.
We've been around 11 years, and Euskaltel is well known in the world of
Euskaltel faces competition for the final five berths awarded, and while
Madariaga evoked the possibility of the UCI accepting 20 teams instead
of 18, he insisted "our entry need not be conditional on the addition
of more teams."
Jean Floc'h goes pro
The renowned French amateur team Jean Floc'h has decided to join forces
with a new sponsor, the Bretagne region, to establish itself as a professional
team for 2005. The team will be called Bretagne-Jean Floc'h and will count
11 riders. It will rank as a Continental team in context of the UCI's
new reorganisation of the sport, competing in most major European events
just below the Pro Tour level.
Two to Cofidis
Two riders from Crédit Agricole will make the jump to Cofidis
for 2005: Stéphane Augé and Hervé Duclos-Lassalle.
Both men have signed two year contracts with Cofidis.
Frenchman Sébastien Hinault has opted to stay with Crédit
Agricole, extending his contract another two years.
Mainguenaud to Bouygues
French amateur Frédéric Mainguenaud will join the Bouygues
Telecom team of Jean-René Bernaudeau for 2005. The move marks a
return to the fold for Mainguenaud, who turned professional with Bernaudeau
at Bonjour in 2000, but left the team in 2003 in a drop back to the Elite
2 amateur ranks. Mainguenaud was expected to sign with Agritubel for 2005
but a last-minute invitation from Bernaudeau, and a chance to race at
the Pro Tour level, changed the plan.
Surgery for Totschnig
After initial examination, Georg Totschnig's injuries from a fall in
the GP Kanton Aargau/Gippingen were more serious than originally thought.
The Gerolsteiner rider, seventh overall in this year's Tour de France,
broke his collarbone in the fall. The bone splintered, however, and surgery
was required to insert a plate to stabilize Totschnig's shoulder. A date
for his return to training has not yet been set.
Encore for Zülle?
Swiss veteran Alex Zülle marked his retirement with a final race
appearance on home turf in Sunday's GP Kanton Aargau/Gippingen. With teammate
Alexandre Moos out of action with a broken collarbone after a fall in
training, Zülle is now scheduled to play an encore at the T-Mobile
International in San Francisco on September 12.
Brandt back to Lotto
Lotto-Domo has reinstated Christophe Brandt following his exoneration
by the Belgian cycling federation for charges of doping after a positive
test for methadone during the Tour de France. Brandt was sacked by Lotto-Domo,
per team rules, but has been accepted back in the fold now that his name
has been cleared.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)