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Eurotrash – Midweek Snack !

All the latest news (big and small) from Europe in the Midweek Snack. Stories include: Armstrong Receives “Legend” Award: Vasseur proves Innocence: Moreau Returns From Injury: Amstel Gold Names Wild Cards: Milan-San Remo Team News: Stars For Setmana Catalana: Museeuw Honoured: Zabel: Garcia-Casas And some smaller bites.

Armstrong Receives “Legend” Award
Lance Armstrong has been in Madrid on Wednesday to receive the “Leyenda” or Legends award from the Marca newspaper. Armstrong who rarely gives interviews or attends official engagements during the racing season made an exception to receive the prestigious award from the Spanish newspaper. The “Leyenda” has only been awarded to 26 of the greatest ever sportsmen, these include Michael Jordan, Carl Lewis, Diego Maradona, Pelй, Michael Doohan, Pete Sampras, Alberto Tomba, Magic Johnson and Mark Spitz. The five times Tour de France champion joins this very select band of sportsmen.

Vasseur Proves His Innocence
Cofidis rider Cedric Vasseur who was accused by French daily L’Equipe of having traces of cocaine in his body in a test at the end of January has managed to clear his name. Vasseur underwent tests on hair samples at the Laboratory of Forensic Medicine in Strasbourg on Tuesday. The tests showed no traces of cocaine for the past five month, Vasseur’s solicitor Bertrand Wambecke said, “Five centimetres of hair was tested, that is equivalent to five months growth of hair, therefore the insinuations that there were traces of cocaine at the end of January are untrue”. Wambeke says that Vasseur plans legal action against L‘Equipe.

Moreau To Return This Friday
Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole), eighth overall in last years Tour de France is to make a belated start to his season at this Friday’s Classic Loire Atlantique ((UCI 1.5). Moreau suffered ligament damage at a pre season training camp in mid January and has been forced to push back his season debut.

Amstel Gold Announce Seven Wild Cards
Amstel Gold organiser Leo Van Vliet announced Wednesday morning the 25 teams which will participate in the race on April 18th. 18 teams received an automatic invite leaving seven wild cards to be announced, these went to Chocolade Jacques, Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, MrBookmaker.com, Vlaanderen-T-Interim, BankGiroloterij, De Nardi and Relax-Bodysol. These seven were added to the 18 pre selected team which are: Rabobank, T-Mobile, Gerolsteiner; AG2R, Cofidis, FDJeux.com, Alessio, Domina Vacanze, Fassa Bortolo, Lampre, Saeco, Quick Step, Lotto, Liberty Seguros, Illes Balears, Phonak, CSC and US Postal.

Milan-San Remo Team News
The countdown to the first World Cup race of the season, Milan-San Remo is on and many of the squads have finalised their line ups. Here is some of the team news:
Rabobank Team bosses Erik Breukink and Frans Maassen have named the following eight riders: Erik Dekker, Jan Boven, Maarten den Bakker, Bram de Groot, Oscar Freire, Mathew Hayman, Robert Hunter and Marc Wauters. Reserves will be Marc Lotz and Karsten Kroon. Surprise omission is Michael Boogerd.
Quick Step named their MSR team on Monday and manager Patrick Lefevre decided to leave Johan Museeuw out of the starting line up. Musseeuw has been suffering with back problems over the past week even though he has been competing in Tirreno-Adriatico. Richard Virenque is out with tendonitis. The Quick Step team will be Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen, Davide Bramati, Pedro Horrillo, Nick Nuyens, Luca Paolini, Michael Rogers and Stefano Zanini.
Euskaltel-Euskadi announced their team on Tuesday, Samuel Sanchez who finished third at the Ruta del Sol and 18th at Paris-Nice will lead the orange squad which also comprises Dioni Galparsoro, Gorka Gonzбlez, Iсaki Isasi, Iсigo Landaluze, Josu Silloniz, Gorka Verdugo and Joseba Zubeldia.
Landbouwkrediet-Colnago will be led by Yaroslav Popovych at MSR, Popovych who has had a very quiet start to the season will be backed up by Lorenzo Bernucci, Volodomir Bileka, Volodomir Duma, Jacky Durand, Ludo Dierckxsens, Cristian Gasperoni, Geert Van Bondt. While Sergey Lagutin and Johan Verstrepen are named as reserves.
US Postal DS Johan Bruyneel has named nine riders with one name to be dropped later in the week. The nine are: Lance Armstrong, Antonio Cruz, Viatcheslav Ekimov, George Hincapie, Benoоt Joachim, Victor Hugo Peсa, Benjamin Noval, Pavel Padrnos and Max van Heeswijk. George Hincapie could be team leader after his excellent fifth overall at Paris-Nice.
Saeco who were disappointed at their performance at Tirreno-Adriatico have still named seven of the riders who competed in that race and added Leonardo Bertagnolli. Team manager Claudio Corti commented, “we have added Bertagnolli because he has shown excellent condition in the first part of the season finishing second at the GP Chiasso and winning the Trofeo dell’Etna“. The full squad is: Danilo Di Luca, Mirko Celestino, Leonardo Bertagnolli, Gabriel Balducci, Paul Fornaciari, Evgueni Petrov, Dario Pieri and Alexander Spezialetti. Mirko Celestino -second last year, and Danilo Di Luca will be the leaders of the team but the team has strong riders for every possible outcome.
CSC are relying on Michele Bartoli for MSR victory on Saturday, however the Italian suffered some leg pain in Paris-Nice but has returned to training after just one day off the bike. Paris-Nice victor Jorg Jaksche will not be taking part in MSR, he is being saved for the Critйrium International (March 27-28). The full squad is: Michele Bartoli, Fabrizio Guidi, Michael Blaudzun, Franc Hoj, Jakob Piil, Bobby Julich (USA), Maximilian Sciandri and Jens Voigt.
Gerolsteiner Director sportif Christian Henn announced his squad on Tuesday evening. Paris-Nice runner up Davide Rebellin will be team leader and one of the favourites, Rebellin has plans to attack on the Cipressa or Poggio to shake off the sprinters. Danilo Hondo is there for any sprint finish. The full squad is: Davide Rebellin, Danilo Hondo, Sebstian Lang, Markus Zberg, Marco Serpellini, Fabian Wegmann, Peter Wrolich and Thomas Ziegler.
AG2R Have named a squad led by Etoile de Bessиges winner Laurent Brochard. He will be backed by Samuel Dumoulin, Andy Flickinger, Stйphane Goubert, Jean-Patrick Nazon, Christophe Oriol, Nicolas Portal and Mark Scanlon
Phonak Will have Martin Elmiger (11th overall in Tirreno-Adriatico) and Oskar Camenzind as leaders at MSR. The full squad is: Niki Aebersold, Oscar Camenzind, Martin Elmiger, Marco Fertonani, Bert Grabsch, Uros Murn, Oscar Perreiro and Gregory Rast.
Cofidis will not have a single Frenchman in their team. They will be relying on World Champion Igor Astarloa to shine at MSR. Full squad is Igor Astarloa , Bingen Fernandez, Peter Farazijn, David Millar, Stuart O’Grady, Matthew White, Janek Tombak, Guido Trentin.

High Quality Line Up For Setmana Catalana
An all star line up is expected for next weeks (March 22-26) Setmana Catalana de Ciclisme (UCI 2.1). Dario Frigo (Fassa Bortolo), Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola), Paolo Savoldelli (T Mobile), Ivan Basso (CSC), Iban Mayo (Euskaltel), Уscar Sevilla (Phonak), Aitor Gonzбlez (Fassa Bortolo) and David Bernabeu (Milaneza-MSS) are all expected to start the Spanish stage race.

Museeuw Honoured By His Home Town
Gistel, in western Flanders, the home town of Johan Museeuw will hold a criterium on May 2nd to honour the Belgian stars retirement. Museeuw is to end his competitive career on April 14th at the Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen (UCI 1.1) after riding the Spring Classics. Many stars are expected to turn out to honour Museeuw at the Gistel Criterium including Mario Cipollini and Erik Zabel.

Zabel Always The Bridesmaid It Seems
T-Mobile’s Erik Zabel seems to have got an unfortunate knack this season of almost but not quite winning stages, Erik’s second place in yesterdays (Tuesday) 7th stage of Tirreno-Adriatico was his sixth runners up spot this year. The German has also had five third place finishes in 2004 (including the overall at Tirreno-Adriatico), leaving him with just one victory, that being stage 5 in the Ruta del Sol. Just for the record here are the five riders who have pipped Erik to the post on those six occasions, they are: Alessandro Petacchi (twice) Oscar Freire, Max Van Heeswijk, Luciano Pagliarini and Allan Davis. However, Zabel’s near misses this season will be more than compensated if he lifts the Milan-San Remo crown on Saturday.

Garcia Casas Still Searching
Spanish climber Felix Garcia Casas is still looking for a team for 2004. The rider who finished eighth overall in last years Vuelta a Espana, found himself without a squad for this season when the Bianchi team folded at the end of 2003. Reports of him moving to a Portuguese team seem slightly premature and the rider is still searching for a team to match his ability.

Horror Start For RAGT Semences-MG Rover
New French division one team RAGT Semences-MG Rover which was built on the ashes of the defunct Jean Delatour set up has had a terrible start to the 2004 season. The French squad which has received a wild card to the Tour de France has yet to notch up a single UCI point this season. The team even failed to register in Paris-Nice where they might have been expected to try and impress the Tour de France organisers, Yoann Le Boulanger’s 65th overall being the teams best effort. Needless to say the team finished last in the team classification. Some people may say they have been slightly fortunate to have been given a wild card to the Tour this early.

Saunier Duval Look To The Future
Josean Fernбndez Matxin, sporting director of the newly formed Spanish division one team Saunier Duval-Prodir has been setting out the teams objectives to the Spanish media. He said the team turned down any opportunity to ride the Tour de France this year because they believe that at present they are not good enough. “This team is not just for one year, it is for six years, this first year we want to lay down foundations and invest for the future, we were honest with the Tour organisers and told them we did not want to participate. We really do not have a rider good enough to win the Giro either but I have a lot of faith in David Caсada and in the Vuelta a Espana I think that Joaquin Rodriguez can stand on the podium this year he has the ability and he is mentally prepared, this years Vuelta suits him”.

New UCI Rankings
The new UCI rankings for elite men were released on Monday with Paris-Nice victor Jorg Jaksche (CSC) climbing 54 places from 104 to 50th as a result of his win in the “Race to the Sun”. Illes Balears’ Denis Menchov is another significant mover gaining 37 places as a result of his stage win and 12th overall in the same race. Alexandre Vinokourov lost the points he gained by winning the 2003 Paris-Nice and dropped two places from sixth to eighth. The rankings are:

1. Erik Zabel (Germany) 2134 pts
2. Paolo Bettini (Italy) 2077
3. Alessandro Petacchi (Italy) 1899
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spain) 1807
5. Gilberto Simoni (Italy) 1643
6. Davide Rebellin (Italy) 1601
7. Lance Armstrong (USA) 1591
8. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazhakstan) 1445
9. Iban Mayo (Spain) 1425
10. Michael Boogerd (Holland) 1421

Brabantse Pijl To Start In Zaventem
This years Brabantse Pijl (UCI 1.2) race will start for the first time in the Brussels suburb of Zaventem, near to Brussels Nationaal airport. The race will take place on March 28th, the route was announced on Monday with organisers saying that they have had fantastic cooperation from Zaventem municipal authourities. From Zaventem the race takes a large 109 kms loop through the towns of Kampenhout, Haacht, Leuven and Oud-Heverlee before finishing with six laps of 18.2 kms taking in the climb of the Alsemberg.

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