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Tour de France News for June 1, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

Cadel Evans breaks collarbone again

Australian Cadel Evans (Telekom) will undergo surgery in Europe on Monday on his left shoulder after he crashed and broke his collarbone for the second time in six weeks. Evans was racing in the "Rund um die Hainleite" in Erfurt, Germany on Saturday when he crashed heavily, landing on his left side.

"It was about ten kilometres from the finish and I came off the wheel (in front) and hit a traffic island at around 60km/h," said Evans. "I hit the road hard and fell on my shoulder and head and fractured the bone in the same place as last time."

The injury puts in serious doubt his chances of making his Tour de France debut next month. "The chances of riding the Tour now are pretty slim because it took me five weeks to get back to race fitness after the last break and this time the fracture is worse," said a disappointed Evans. "Right now I've got a brace on it and whilst it's not agonisingly painful it's pretty uncomfortable."

Tomorrow's surgery will involve doctors putting a plate into his left shoulder to ensure the collar bone heals in the correct position. "It was all going well and my whole year had been planned around being good in July so of course it's disappointing and I had a few unkind words to say about the situation at the time," said Evans. "But what can I do?"

"I still might be on the start line in Paris but I just don't know yet," said Evans, whose team director Walter Godefroot has been very supportive of him. "He said that's life as a cyclist and these things happen, but that the important thing is to get back on the bike and keep racing.

"It's not like it is my last chance ever to go to the Tour and if I can't start then another year of development is not such a bad thing," said Evans looking on the bright side. "If it turns out I can't start then maybe I'll focus on races later in the year and the World Championships (in Hamilton, Canada in October). I'll take it one step at the time and wait until after the surgery to see if I need to make another plan and set new goals."

Evans previously suffered the same injury when he crashed on April 20th during the Amstel Gold World Cup race which saw him miss the remaining Spring Classics, including Liege-Bastogne-Liege, where he had been tipped as a rider to watch.

No room for Pantani in Bianchi

Marco Pantani's dreams of a ride in the Centenary Tour this year will likely remain exactly that, after the possibility of riding with the new Team Bianchi was knocked on the head by the sponsors. "There was never a meeting between the directors of Bianchi and the directors of Mercatone Uno to plan for the next Tour," said long time Bianchi associate Felice Gimondi. "There was only a meeting in view of a reunification in 2004-2005."

Gimondi added, "The regulations allow for the transfer of a contract to another team, so technically it could be done. But the team already has two leaders (Ullrich and Casero), and to introduce a third one is improbable."

No more legal hurdles for Team Bianchi

A legal dispute between former Coast boss Günther Dahms and the new Bianchi team has been quickly resolved, meaning that Ullrich and his teammates now have the green light to race until the end of the season. Lothar Venn, the administrator of the Rad Sport Marketing company that is managing the bankrupt Team Coast, announced this today but would not go into details.

"Mr. Günther Dahms is happy that through this, the sporting success of his work of the last few years will continue, and wishes the athletes of Team Bianchi every success for the future," said Venn in a statement. "Team Coast will not put any more sticks in the wheels of its members who are joining Bianchi."

Bianchi has signed 19 of the 22 riders who were part of Team Coast, and some of the staff. However team director Marcel Wüst did not get an offer to join Bianchi. "The new team direction has a business policy that I am not in agreement with," said Wüst to DPA. One of the Spanish team leaders was offered such a low salary that he would have trouble filling his fridge once a month. A lot of riders had to agree to big pay cuts."

Team Bianchi participated in its first race today: the Rund um die Hainleite-Erfurt, where Jan Ullrich finished 16th, despite suffering from a stomach bug that has kept him off the bike for the last six days. Ullrich said before the race that he was angry at his former employer Günther Dahms. "It is he who deliberately screwed us up," said Ullrich to DPA.

However Ullrich feels that he'll now have a smooth run. "I can approach the Tour without stress," he said, adding that "a stage win would be great."

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

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