What's Cool In Road Cycling

Euro Trash – Monday

Latest news from Europe: ONCE leaves cycling after 15 years of sponsorship: Hushovd extends with CA: Saeco for Regio Tour: New UCI Rankings: Volta a Portugal: Bettini closes in on Van Petegem: Mercado deal confirmed: Zabelinskaia leads Grand Boucle: Kintana tests for EPO: Melbourne ready for 2004.

It’s Official: ONCE To Leave Cycling Sponsorship At The End of 2003
ONCE: the National Spanish Blind Organization has confirmed today (Monday) through an official press release that they will stop sponsorship of their cycling team at the end of 2003. ONCE has been involved in backing it’s own team since 1989 and this year sees the end of 15 years in cycling sponsorship. The decision to leave cycling seems to have been accelerated by the election of a new head of the organisation Miguel Carballeda Piсeiro who is not as friendly towards cycling as his predecessor Josй Maria Arroyo. Over it’s 15 years in cycling sponsorship the ONCE team has become a model for others to emulate and has received much international recognition. The decision does not affect the rest of the 2003 season, the team will participate in the Vuelta a Espana and all other races that are on it’s programme.

Team manager Manolo Saiz commented after the announcement, “I’m grateful to ONCE as they gave us 15 years at the top level of international cycling. Now, sadly, we have to get out and find a new partner as quickly as possible. August is a holiday month in Spain and it won’t be easy. However, ONCE has contacts with other possible sponsors and that will help us”. The team have won the Vuelta a Espana on four occasions with Melchor Mauri (1991, Laurent Jalbert (1995) and Alex Zulle (1996 & 1997). Other riders who have made a name with the squad have been Abraham Olano, Marino Lejarreta, Johan Bruyneel and Joseba Beloki.

Following todays announcement Joseba Beloki has confirmed that he has already had contacts with other team regarding the 2004 season, he commented “In my case my contract with ONCE-Eroski is up at the end of this season anyway and with the uncertainty I have maintained contact with other teams”

Hushovd Two More Years With Credit Agricole
Thor Husovd has announced today (Monday) at a press conference in Oslo that he has extended his contract with the Credit Agricole team until the end of 2005. There had been some talk that Hushovd was set to leave the French team and there was some contact with Rabobank during the Tour de France. However, Hushovd has got certain guarantees from Credit Agricole team boss Roger Legeay which include him being able to ride the Spring classics such as the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and Milan-San Remo.

Saeco Team for the Regio Tour International
Press Release from the Saeco team on Monday: A new appointment for the Saeco Team who will be in Germany to ride, from next Wednesday 6th to Sunday 10th , the Regio Tour International. Directeur sportif Flavio Miozzo will count on the Saeco sprinter Ivan Quaranta, who recently won the fourth stage of the Tour of Germany, and Dario Pieri, looking for his best form. The rest of the Saeco Team will be Giosuи Bonomi, Antonio Bucciero, Nicola Gavazzi, Jorg Ludewig and Stefano Zanini.

Bettini Closes In On Van Petegem
After his victory in Sunday’s Hew Cyclassic World Cup race in Germany Paolo Bettini must be now the favourite to lift the season long World Cup crown. The Quick Step rider is just three points behind series leader Peter Van Petegem with the four remaining rounds: Clasica San Sebastian, Championship of Zurich, Paris-Tours and the Giro di Lombardia seeming to favour the Italians style of riding rather than the Belgians. Bettini commented after his Hamburg victory, “I am happy – I wanted so much to win this competition. I remembered how Johan Museeuw had won last year, so I did the same thing and I started the sprint at 250 meters from the finish. Thanks to this victory I’m again in race for the World Cup General Classification that remain one of my seasonal objectives with the World Championship.”

World Cup Classification After Hamburg
1 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Domo 203 pts
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 200
3 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank 140
4 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Team Saeco 127
5 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 123
6 Dario Pieri (Ita) Team Saeco 117
7 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Telekom 100
8 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 92
9 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom 86
10 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Alessio 83

New UCI Rankings
There was very little change in the new UCI rankings which came out on Monday, Paolo Bettini strengthened his hold on the number 1 position following his victory in Sunday’s Hamburg world cup race.

UCI Rankings: 4/8/2003
1. (1) Paolo Bettini (Ita) 2,188.75 punti
2. (2) Gilberto Simoni (Ita) 2,077.00
3. (3) Erik Zabel (Ger) 2,020.75
4. (4) Davide Rebellin (Ita) 1,917.00
5. (5) Iban Mayo (Spa) 1,730.00
6. (6) Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) 1,721.00
7. (8) Lance Armstrong (Usa) 1,683.00
8. (7) Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) 1,682.00
9. (9) Dario Frigo (Ita) 1,541.00
10. (10) Tyler Hamilton (Usa) 1,474.20

Team
1. (1) Fassa Bortolo 6,241.75
2. (2) Saeco 5,994.00
3. (3) Quick Step 5,852.75

Nations
1. (1) Italy 15,141.45
2. (2) Spain 9,872.25
3. (3) Germany 7,182.60

Volta a Portugal (UCI 2.2)
The Volta a Portugal (UCI 2.2) starts this coming Wednesday (6th August) and runs until Sunday the 17th of August. The Milaneza-MSS team send a strong squad as usual, last year they took all three places on the final podium. 2002 overall winner and double stage winner Claus Michael Moller (Denmark) will be on the start line as will runner up Joan Horrach, Switzerland’s Fabian Jeker who has won the mountainous Vuelta a Asturias this year is also in the Milaneza line up.

The Italian Lampre team have Juan Garate as their team leader he has had this season wrecked by injury but he will be looking to do well in the race in preparation for the Vuelta a Espana. Garate finished 4th overall in the 2002 edition of the Giro d’Italia. The Kelme-Costa Blanca team have Francisco Cabello as their man for the GC. The French MBK-Oktos team have former Tour de France polka dot jersey winner Christophe Rinero in their squad. Paternina-Costa Almeria are led by 2002 Spanish RR champion Juan Guillamon.

Teams
Portugal: Antarte-Rota dos Moveis, ASC-Vila do Conde, Barbot-Torrie, Cantanhede-Marques de Marialva, Carvalhelhos-Boavista, LA-Pecol, Milaneza-MSS, Pepolim & Irmaos-Ovarense, Porta da Ravessa-Tavira,
Foreign: Lampre, Kelme-Costa Blanca, Lokomotiv, MBK-Oktos, Flanders-Iteamnova, Paternina-Costa Almeria, Relax-Fuenlanbrada.

Stages
Stage 1: 6th Aug: Albufeira – Tavira 176.6 kms
Stage 2: 7th Aug: Loule – Beja 148.7 kms
Stage 3: 8th Aug: Cafes Delta – Castelo Branco 150.9 kms
Stage 4: 9th Aug: Castelo Branco – Coimbra 154.6 kms
Stage 5 10th Aug: Figueira da Foz – Covilha 208.3 kms
Stage 6: 11th Aug: Covilha – Gouveia 155.5 kms
August 12th: Rest Day
Stage 7: 13th Aug: Gouveia – San Joao Madeira 166.6 kms
Stage 8: 14th Aug: Santa Maria da Feira – Fafe 188.6 kms
Stage 9: 15th Aug: Fafe – Mondim de Basto 153.6 kms
Stage 10: 16th Aug: Mondim – Favaios 130 kms
Stage 11: Viseu – Viseu: 36.7 kms Individual Time Trial

Mercado Deal Confirmed
Although it was reported some weeks ago that iBanesto.com’s Juan Miguel Mercado was in negotiations with the Quick Step-Davitamon team, the team web site confirmed on Monday morning that the transfer had been finalised with the Spaniard signing a two year deal with Patrick Lefevre’s team.

Zabelinskaia Holds Yellow In Grand Boucle
The Russian Olga Zabelinskaia holds the yellow jersey in the Grand Boucle Feminine, the Russian won the first mountainous stage on the island of Corsica between Sartиne and Ajaccio over105 kilometers. The Velodames Colgano rider won in a time of 3h 02m 53s over four minutes in front of Australian Sara Carrigan (Bik.Powerplate) and 5 minutes 34 seconds over Dane Lisbeth Simper (S.C. Michela Fanni). One of the race favourites Hanka Kupfernagel (Nurnberger) was forced to abandon the race after 50 kms of Sunday’s stage with a knee injury.

Tour EPO B Sample Also Positive
The B sample of the rider who tested positive for EPO during the Tour de France also shows signs of the drug. This was announced by UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani in Stuttgart on Sunday at the World track championships. The name of the rider concerned has been kept secret, however the rider is not one of the big stars or a stage winner in the Tour.

Kintana Also Tests For EPO
It has been announced over the weekend that Aitor Kintana of the Spanish second division team Labarca 2-Cafe Baque tested positive for EPO during the Volta a Catalunya on the 21st of June. Kintana and three other riders were subject to a surprise doping test on that day. Kintana denies that he has taken the substance and it seems strange that the rider had passed a doping test three days previously with no problem when he won stage 3 of the Volta. The Spanish Cycling Federation confirmed the positive test and will take no action until the result of the B sample is known. Kintana’s stage victory in the Volta a Catalunya is the Labarca teams only victory this season.

Melbourne Ready For World Track Champs
As the World Track Championships came to a close in Stuttgart on Sunday, next years event in the Australian city of Melbourne was officially presented. The 2004 championships will take place earlier in the year, between the 26th and 30th of May, as the UCI advances the track calendar to make it a autumn – winter – spring sport. The venue will be the Vodafone velodrome, a 250 metre track made of Baltic pine with a retractable roof, the 2004 championships will be important because they will finalise the invitations to the Athens Olympics later in the same year.

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