“Monday, Monday,” as the Mamas and the Papas sang a long time ago. The original version of the song has a second line going: “Seems like we got Euro-Trash today!” How fitting then that we dose you with the latest happenings in Euroland to start your working week. Today, Lance has a change of heart, Jaksche starts Paris-Nice where he left off in the Med, and other juicy morsels …..
Tough Tour Warm-up For Lance
In an about-face, USPS-Berry Floor’s head honcho Lance Armstrong has opted to head for the south-east of France to ride the Dauphinй Liberй in the second week of June. It seems that the inclusion of a time-trial up the monstrous slopes of Mont Ventoux have persuaded Lance to chance his arm at the race, although it remains to be seen whether he’ll go all out to win if he’s near the top of the classification.
With his focus on a 6th straight TdF win, smart money would suggest Lance blasts the TT and lets other younger, more impetuous riders go for the overall at the Dauphinй, such as Mayo, Zubeldia or even his team-mate Floyd Landis.
Rain Before The Sun As Paris-Nice Starts
CSC’s talented German Jorg Jaksche blasted the field to snare yellow on day 1 of Paris-Nice yesterday. Jaksche, who’s been around for so long he should be 47 but is only 27, thundered round the 13.2 kms in a gnat over 17 minutes to edge out Davide Rebellin (2nd … again!!) and a healthy-again Erik Dekker with TT World Champ David Millar in 4th. Many of the top riders opted to take things easy as rain showers left the roads slick, and no-one wants to break a collar-bone at this stage of the season.
Jaksche, who rode so well to win the Tour of the Mediterranean recently, is finally emerging from the shadows after years of service as a fine domestique with the likes of ONCE and Polti.
In the last hour or so, CSC have announced their intention to finish off the opposition as early as possible in the “Race to the Sun” by blasting everyone off their wheels on stage 2. They smashed the field to smithereens in the crosswinds between Chaville and Montargis, finishing all their men in the front group. The main challengers drifted in over 5 minutes back, although a third group containing a flu-hit Tyler Hamilton finished over 13 minutes back.
Pedro Horrillo noodled off the front in a last-ditch dash for the line and held off Miki Bartoli for the stage.
Jaksche stays in yellow just clear of Rebellin, Bobby Julich and (drum roll, please) Franky VDB in 4th.
Vasseur Denies Nose Candy Nonsense Rumour
Cedric Vasseur hasn’t had his problems to seek this season after having his name mentioned in connection with the Cofidis drug bust. Now, L’ Equipe has stated that he showed trace amounts of cocaine in a blood sample.
Cedric is baffled: “There’s no way that anyone could find anything like cocaine in my cells …. I don’t see how they could arrive at such a conclusion.” He then turned his wrath on the paper saying: “It is necessary to address L’ Equipe about this rumor as they started it … I’ve consulted my lawyer,” but claimed he’d wait before making any further moves. Cedric has been backed up by Tour de France boss Jean-Marie Leblanc who didn’t believe the story stating that Vasseur is an ‘estimable person’.
Bertagnoli Erupts in Trofeo dell’ Etna
A terrible headline I know, but one that marks the first ever pro win for Saeco’s Leonardo Bertagnoli. The 26-year old Trento native won today’s UCI 1.3 classified Trofeo dell’ Etna in Catania.
He finished ahead of Ukrainian fast man Kyrylo Pospyeyev (Acqua-Sapone) and Selle-Italia’s Columbian star Marlon Perez, who’s had good form since an impressive ride in January’s Tour de Langkawi.