Botero “At Telekom, I Can Defeat Armstrong”
– Reported by Gazzetta.it –
MILANO, 13 November 2002 – The current world champion of the time trial, Colombian Santiago Botero has decided to join the ex-team of former Tour champion Jan Ullrich. The thirty year-old rider from Medellin is leaving Team Kelme after seven seasons with the Spanish squad, the team in which he learned how to be a professional cyclist. Kelme’s director sportif Vincente Belda and has been quoted in the Colombian newspaper El Pais saying, “We don’t want to keep a racer against his wishes. We will see next season if Santiago was right in his decision. But one needs to know that for him it won’t be easy, also because of his age you can’t wait much more to win a grand stage race. It’s clear that the transfer to Telekom represents for him the possibility of focusing on only the Tour, but if Armstrong will be as he is always there will be no new stories: for Botero, like all of the others, the outcome will be pre-ordained.”
Belda has confessed that the discussion between the team and its star rider had deteriorated in the last few months, after Botero had refused to sign a three year extension to his contract, with a salary increase, also because he has a valid contract for next year. The same Botero has clearly stated that he needs to find new motivation and Telekom gives him the ideal situation: “There I will be able to win the Tour – he repeats every time that he is given the occasion – “Armstrong is the strongest of everyone at the Tour. He is incredibly strong in the mountains and in the time trials and possesses a great ability to recover. But this year I beat him at the time trial in Lorient, and I won another stage of the Tour. And I say that I could have beaten him also at the Worlds, if he had been there: now I feel ready to take the Yellow Jersey”.