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Vuelta News forSeptember 8, 2003

Edited by Chris Henry

Cipollini's swift departure

World champion Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze) did not take the start of stage 2 Sunday at the Vuelta a España, a decision which surprised and disappointed the Vuelta organisers. Cipollini had to be pushed by teammates during Saturday's opening team time trial, and clearly was in no form to race. Nonetheless, the Domina Vacanze team's invitation to the Vuelta was contingent upon Cipo's presence, and his late decision to travel to Spain provided the entry ticket his teammates needed.

"It's sad for cycling, for the fans, and for organisers, and I would say also for Cipollini, who won't come out of this affair any bigger," Vuelta director Victor Cordero told AFP. "We're not going to exclude Domina Vacanze now. But today, annoyed by what has happened, I'm inclined to say that we won't invite the team back."

Cipollini is not the only early departure to unsettle the race organisation. Saeco's sprinter Ivan Quaranta lasted only 3km into the team time trial Saturday. "His case is incredible," Unipublic's Enrique Franco said of Quaranta's withdrawal. "We'll take that into account for the next Vueltas."

Stage 2 results and report
Live report

Solid start for Sevilla

Oscar Sevilla
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image

Kelme-Costa Blanca leader Oscar Sevilla was satisfied with his first Vuelta road stage, finishing in 18th place and only 15" behind stage winner Luis Perez of Cofidis. Sevilla, short on form after missing most of the season's competition, is hoping to continue riding himself into shape in the opening stages of the Vuelta. The inclusion of Cat. 3, 2, and 1 climbs in only the second stage of the Vuelta gave the Spaniard an early test of his condition.

"I counted on something like this, because the Vuelta is different and all of the stages are complicated," Sevilla said after the stage. "The best thing for me was that I felt good, and was supported perfectly by the team. I'm optimistic, but I want to take it little by little and find my rhythm."

Sastre takes seconds

Team CSC's Carlos Sastre fired a warning shot to the competition with a fine performance in the Vuelta's first road stage, finishing second behind Luis Perez and taking 14 to 15 seconds out of the majority of the top riders for the general classification. However Sastre still has time to regain himself, sitting over a minute behind the ONCE armada after the Spanish team's winning team time trial on Saturday.

"I don't like to lose, but I am glad for Luis Perez," Sastre said of his compatriot's stage 2 victory. "He won because he was faster than me. The important thing is that I have taken a few seconds from my direct rivals for the final podium. I've seen that some of the favourites are not as good as they seemed."

Noval's Vuelta incentive

Benjamin Noval, frequently seen on the attack in recent editions of the Vuelta a España, has a new incentive to realise a successful race this year. Reportedly in talks with US Postal Service for an eventual transfer, Noval knows the time to perform is now.

"I have the opportunity," he said of the possibility of joining USPS. "First, I must demonstrate my ability to perform well during a three-week stage race. I have a double motivation in this year’s Vuelta: I want to respond to the confidence placed in me by Relax-Fuenlabrada during all these years and, at the same time, to do my best in order to show US Postal what I capable of doing."

Nonetheless, before any deal is signed, Noval remains focused and isn't getting ahead of himself. "It's too early yet to talk about a signing," he admitted.

Courtesy: lavuelta.com

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Recently on Cyclingnews.com

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