Happy Monday – and whatta weekend of tidbits and trash from the continental snog-piles! Mick Knapton got knee-deep to find the snoop scoops on Tour teams, Tour dope, who’s in and who’s out – it’s all here!
Wauters Extends With Rabobank
Belgian Marc Wauters extended his contract with the Rabobank team on Monday, the 34 year old from Hasselt signed for the 2004 season and expressed his pleasure at the deal saying, “I wanted to stay with Rabobank it’s a strong team and they always give me a good programme, what more do I want ?”. Team boss Theo de Rooij was also pleased, “Marc is important for our team, he is exceedingly strong and reliable, he is an ideal colleague for all our riders”. 2004 will be Wauters’ seventh season with the Dutch squad having previously ridden for Lotto. He will participate in this years Tour de France, he won the second stage in 2001 and wore the yellow jersey as the race passed through his home country.
More Dope Testing in Tour
There will be 148 urine test taken by the UCI throughout the course of this years Tour de France, that is an increase from last years total of 138. There will be between six and eight riders tested each day and the number of random unannounced tests will also be increased, all samples will be tested for EPO. All participating riders will be subject to the health and blood check on Thursday 3rd July, two days before the start of the race.
Van Petegem Unwell – Casar Rests
Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix winner Peter Van Petegem had to pull out of yesterdays (Sunday) second stage of the Route du Sud with stomach problems, this follows his withdrawal from the Deutchsland Tour earlier this month with a similar ailment. Team director sportif Claudy Criquielion said, “we have to find out what is wrong with Peter and he will undergo thorough tests, after that we will know if he can participate in the Belgian championships at Vilvoorde on Sunday”. Van Petegem is not riding the Tour de France but is keen to do well at the nationals on Sunday, if possible he will use Wednesday’s Brussels-Ingooigem race as preparation.
Meanwhile Fdj.com’s Sandy Casar pulled out of the Tour de Suisse on Sunday, but there is no problem for the Frenchman, he just wants to rest and prepare for the Tour de France. Casar is pleased with his current form after taking Friday’s fourth stage in Switzerland and earlier finishing 13th overall in the Giro d’Italia.
“Escape King” Out of Tour
Jacky Durand (Fdj.com) is out of the Tour de France as a result of injuries sustained in the Dauphine Libere. The 36 year old who has won three stages in the Tour in his long career suffered a broken hip as a result of a collision with a motor bike.
Ivanov Also Out
Fassa Bortolo.s Russian all rounder Serguei Ivanov fractured his collar bone during Friday’s fourth stage of the Tour de Suisse and will miss the Tour de France. It is a bitter blow for Ivanov who has been showing excellent form in recent weeks with a stage win at the Tour of Luxembourg and a third place at the GP Gippengen. The 28 year old Russian took a Tour de France stage victory in 1999 at Aix les Bains.
Young Tom On Road To Recovery
Tom Boonen (Quick Step-Davitamon) has resumed light training on the rollers after an operation on his right collar bone. Tom is hoping to return to competition at the Tour de la Rйgion Wallonne on July 28th to begin his build up for the latter stages of the season.
Gerolsteiner’s Tour Squad
Gerolsteiner have announced their nine man team for the Tour de France. Road captain will be veteran Udo Bolts, while the man for the overall will probably be Austrian Georg Totschnig who finished fifth overall at the Giro d’Italia. Davide Rebellin will make a rare appearance in the Tour and will be going for stage victories, he previously rode the TDF in 1997 for La Francaise des Jeux. Renй Haselbacher and Olaf Pollack will be mixing it in the sprint finishes while Peschel and Rich will be strong in the prologue and TT’s. The full team is Udo Bцlts, Renй Haselbacher, Uwe Peschel, Olaf Pollack, Davide Rebellin, Michael Rich, Torsten Schmidt, Georg Totschnig and Markus Zberg. Surprise omissions are perhaps strong Italian domestique Gianni Faresin who finished 17th overall in the Giro d’Italia and sprinter Ellis Rastelli who climbed well to finish 20th overall at Catalunya on Sunday.
Evans Targets Vuelta and Worlds
Cadel Evans (Telekom) is planning to return to racing at the Sachsen Tour International (UCI 2.3) on July 23rd. Evans fell and broke his left clavicle at the TEAG Hainleite in Erfurt on May 31st thus ending his hopes of riding the Tour de France. He will now set his sights on September’s Vuelta a Espana and the World championships in Hamilton, Canada in October.
Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport reported over the weekend that Marco Pantani is receiving treatment for “nervous disorders” at a specialist clinic at Teolo near Padua in the north east of Italy. The newspaper claims to have met Pantani but he refused to make any comments and when asked about his health he said, “For any information about my health you must talk to my doctors”. There has been no explanation from Pantani’s team Mercatone Uno as to why he has been admitted to the clinic. He is due to attend a hearing in Trento on September 19th over his expulsion from the 1999 Giro d’Italia for a high heomocrit level.
Mattan to Miss Tour And Fancies A Change
Belgian Nico Mattan (Cofidis) will not be at the Tour de France this year, the decision was made after he abandoned the Volta a Catalunya on last Thursday’s difficult stage between Andorra La Vella and Luvia. During the Tour of Belgium two weeks ago Mattan still harboured hopes of making the Tour start but over the weekend he commented, “I never really wanted to ride Catalunya, however it was on my programme and I am a professional so I did my best”. Four first category climbs proved too much for Mattan who suffers from breathing allergies during the high summer, nevertheless he is sad to miss the Tour, “I will certainly regret it in July when I am watch the race on television, you always want to ride the biggest race in the world”. Mattan will now spend July training at altitude after racing for more than 50 days already in a season that has seen him win the prologue at Paris-Nice and finish fifth at the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Next season will see Mattan probably change teams after five years at Cofidis and he says he is looking for a squad with plenty of fellow Belgians in it.
Mayo to Go for Stage Wins at Tour
Vuelta al Pais Vasco winner and Dauphine Libere runner up Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) says his principal objective at the Tour de France is stage victories, speaking to journalists in France he said, “two years ago Roberto Laiseka won a stage in the Pyrenees in front of our own supporters and I would like to repeat that”. However, Mayo confirmed that he would not be the only protected rider in the Euskaltel ranks stating that both Laiseka and David Etxebarria will also be out for stage victories. 25 year old Mayo who has had six victories this season will not be contesting the Spanish national RR championships on June 29 saying that he prefers to prepare for the TDF.
In other news concerning Mayo it seems that several big European teams including Quick Step, Phonak and Cofidis are prepared to offer the Spaniard an annual salary of 600,000 Euros to tempt him away from the Basque team for 2004. Euskaltel-Euskadi general manager Miguel Madariaga reacted by saying that he is not prepared to jeopardise the financial future of the team just to keep Mayo, he also stated that his hands are tied somewhat by the uncertainty regarding the continuing sponsorship of Euskaltel who are a mobile phone company in the Basque Country.
Pechorroman also attracting interest
Spanish sensation Jose Pechorroman (Paternina-Costa Almeria) who won the haute category ranked Volta a Catalunya over the weekend and two weeks ago was victorious in the Euskal Bizikleta is attracting interest from a number of teams for the 2004 season including Rabobank. There has been talk in Spain of Pechorroman switching to the Kelme-Costa Blanca team mid season in time to ride the Tour de France for Vicente Belda’s squad, however Pechorroman stated over the weekend that he had heard nothing from Kelme and will be riding for Paternina for the rest of the season. “When the time does come for me to ride the Tour de France I would like to know well in advance so I can plan my season’s programme”, stated the 25 year old from Caceres in the far western province of Extremadura.
Garcia Casas Finally Switches as Bianchi name 10 for Tour
Team Bianchi have finally confirmed the signing of 34 year old Spaniard Felix Garcia Casas from the French Big Mat-Auber 93 team. Rumours have been circulating for the past month that Garcia Casas would make the switch to the German team in time to ride the Tour de France. Bianchi director sportif Rudy Pevenage confirmed the transfer, saying, “we have reached an agreement with Garcia Casas and his team, we are hopeful that he can help us in the mountain stages during the Tour”. Garcia Casas who finished eighth during last years Vuelta a Espana failed to make a switch to a bigger team at the start of this season after Big Mat wanted to offload him due to budgetary cuts. However, his move to Bianchi will allow him to ride the Tour de France after the non selection of Big Mat.
Rudy Pevenage also took time out to name his nominated ten riders for Bianchi’s nine man Tour de France squad. Jan Ullrich is the obvious team leader but 2001Vuelta a Espana winner Angel Luis Casero will also be a protected rider. The other eight candidates are David Plaza, Felix Garcia Casas, Aitor Garmendia, Tobias Steinhauser, Thomas Liese, Rafael Schweda, Daniel Becke and Fabrizio Guidi. One of these will drop out of the final line up.
Caruso Case Influences ONCE Decision
Italian, Giampaolo Caruso (ONCE-Eroski), World U23 silver medallist in 2001 has still not been sanctioned by the UCI after testing positive for nandrolone on the 25th of January after winning the fifth stage of the Tour Down Under. Caruso has submitted himself to voluntary medical study by the UCI in it‘s Cologne and Lausanne laboratories to find out if the positive test could be the result of some contaminated product or if his body produces nandrolone naturally. Caruso who finished fourth overall at both the Tour Down Under and the Ruta del Sol this year has been suspended by the ONCE team as a result of the positive test. Rumours from Spain say that ONCE’s decision to pull out of cycling sponsorship one year earlier than planned are a result of Caruso’s positive test for nandrolone.