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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition News for June 10, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Gorospe believes Euskaltel will shine in Tour

By João Cravo

Iban Mayo
Photo: © CN
Click for larger image

The 43 year old director of the Euskaltel-Euskadi team, Julian Gorospe, is firm in his belief that his team deserved one of the final four wild card slots in this year's Tour de France. Euskaltel was the only foreign team selected, with Ag2r, Brioches la Boulangère and Jean Delatour gaining the remaining three spots. Among those missing out were the Phonak team (Zülle, Camenzind) and Domina Vacanze, with World Champion Mario Cipollini in its ranks.

"They [the Tour organisation] know that we'll be on the front line when the mountain selects its favourites," said Gorospe, who won a Tour stage in 1986, to El Correo. "We always believed we could be in the Tour, and our preparation targeted that. At the same time we knew we should obtain results, and thankfully we achieved what we needed to achieve."

Gorospe knows that to win a wild card spot in the Tour isn't the same as qualifying automatically through UCI rules. "Hoping every year to get a wild card to the Tour isn't healthy for anybody in the team," he says. "We're going to try hard to get an automatic qualification for the 2004 Tour, even though we know how difficult is to obtain that goal. But we have a good team, an interesting bunch of good riders and we'll follow our dreams."

Julian Gorospe doesn't know if the nine man team that will ride the Centenary Tour will be the best squad that Euskaltel has entered in the race, having first participated in 2001. "By the end of the race I will know if this is our best team ever. I hope so," he states. "Our leader Mayo has a better knowledge of his own capabilities and that gives him more confidence, while [Samuel] Sanchez is now a more mature rider."

Two years ago, Roberto Laiseka won the mountain stage to Luz Ardiden in the French Pyrénees. It was the first and only win by a Euskaltel rider in the Tour. Now the Tour is back to the same place, and for Julian Gorospe, July 21 could be another day to remember. "We know that thousands of Basque cycling supporters will be there to wave Basque flags and to cheer the Euskaltel riders like they did in 2001," he says proudly. "I'm sure that things will be harder for us this time, but we have our cards to play."

Luz Ardiden isn't the only objective for Euskaltel in the 2003 Tour. "Iban Mayo can not only win a stage," says Gorospe. "He can also ride for the GC. I know how far he can go, but I won't tell you - I didn't tell him either. We don't want to put pressure on him."

Julian Gorospe is aware of the importance of winning a Tour stage. "You win a stage and you're almost sure of a ride in the next Tour," he states. "Mayo and Sanchez can do it, as well as David Etxebarria - winner of two stages in 1999 while riding for ONCE - Unai Etxebarria or even Haimar Zubeldia."

Ullrich satisfied with Tour of Germany

Jan Ullrich
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image

After finishing his first race with the new Team Bianchi, Jan Ullrich described himself as "very satisfied" with his performance in the Tour of Germany, where he finished 5th overall and came second in the time trial. Although Ullrich will have to improve a lot in the next month to challenge for the podium in the Tour de France, the German has said all along that this year's Tour will be more of a test for him after such a long absence from competition last year.

"I'll need to do better than that in the Tour," he was quoted by Reuters as saying after the time trial. "But it was okay. I didn't push it to the limit in the first part because of the heat, but in the second part, I went for it and my legs felt great."

Ullrich's next race will be the GP Gippingen (June 15), followed by the Tour de Suisse (June 16-25) and then the German National Championships (June 29) before the Tour de France starts in Paris on July 5. "I need to get better but my form is definitely improving. I'm optimistic," he concluded.

In five participations in the Tour de France, Ullrich has finished second four times and first once, in 1997.

Gonzalez de Galdeano breaks collarbone

It has been confirmed that Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano has broke his collarbone, after crashing near the end of the time trial in the Tour of Germany on Sunday. The ONCE rider also needed stitches for a cut above his left eye, however he will be able to train later this week.

Gonzalez de Galdeano was earlier ruled out of the Centenary Tour de France due to a six month suspension inflicted on him by the French Council for Prevention and Fight against Doping (CPLD). The ban only applies in France, as the UCI did not consider his high level of salbutamol measured during last year's Tour a doping offence.

Petacchi takes part in the Tour de France

Fassa Bortolo has confirmed that Alessandro Petacchi will take part in the Centenary Tour de France. The Italian sprinter who won six stages of the Giro last month hopes to be able to prove himself on the roads of France, alongside the likes of Erik Zabel, Robbie McEwen, Jaan Kirsipuu and others.

Countdown to South African Road Championships

The 2003 South African Road Championships will take place this year in Welkom from June 12-15, some two weeks earlier than the European national championships. Defending champion in the Elite Road Race is Tiaan Kannemeyer, who won last year ahead of his now Barloworld teammate, Ryan Cox. Third place went to Microsoft's Morne Bester.

In the Time Trial, the HSBC team will be looking to Nicholas White, Jeremy Maartens, Cameron McLeod, Ian McLeod, Daniel Spence and Jamie Ball, hoping one of them will be able to take over from last year's winner James Perry. Nicholas White came a close second to Perry last year, and is sure to step up his performance in order to claim victory. The Microsoft team are confident that Simon Kessler could be victorious in the Time Trial, and look to Daryl Impey to take top honours in the U/23 event, in which he finished in 3rd place in 2002.

In the women's events last year, Anel Wasserman took top honours in the elite events (Road and Time Trial), but will be challenged by riders such as Ronel van Wyk, Anriette Schoeman and Samantha Serfontein, who finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively in 2002.

9th Dolomiti Superbike

This year marks the ninth edition of the Dolomiti Superbike, the biggest mountain bike marathon in Italy, taking place on Sunday, July 6. The race acquires a particular importance this year, as at the end of August the first official marathon MTB World Championship will take place in Lugano, Switzerland.

Riders can choose between three courses: "short distance" (25 km), "middle distance" (59 km) and "long distance" (111 km). The start will be on the main square of Niederdorf/Pustertal on Sunday, July 6 at 8:00am.

The event is part of the "Eurobike extreme" challenge, which combines the four biggest MTB events in Switzerland, Germany and Italy. Altogether, riders must cover 500 km and 15,000 m of altitude in these four events. In Italy alone, the Dolomiti Superbike is part of the "Shimano Challenge", a series of six of the most important MTB marathons in Italy. The Rampibike, Granfondo Costa degli Etruschi, Lessinia Legend, Bardonecchia M.C and Marathon Bike della Brianza are the other five events.

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