Happy Labor Day and here’s to an enjoyable day of freedom from the desk and work and all other sorts of money-making ventures. In replace of hard work, how about some rank trash straight from the Continent. That smell, oh, how it wafts across the Atlantic…
The Whole Cycling Community Set To Sign For Phonak
The Phonak Team is set to have a Colombian flavor next year, as soon to be former USPS rider Victor Hugo Pena and former T-Mobile rider Santiago Botero are set to sign with the Swiss outfit. Definitely a worthy addition to Tyler Hamilton’s Tour de France hopes in 2005. Pena will look to bounce back after a rather lacklustre 2004, and Botero will hopefully bounce back after two very poor years and perhaps regain the form that saw him to an overall 4th place at the Tour de France in 2002 as well as World Champion in the time trial.
Those are just two of the additions though, the stand out addition has to be that of ace Postal domestique, Floyd Landis, who has shown his worth well and often this year with a number of standout performances. One wonders if we might see Landis leading the charge in either the Giro or Vuelta next year…
Oh, and Phonak added a few other riders as well… Robbie Hunter (Rabobank), double stage winner in the Tour de Suisse this year, will bring some needed speed to the team, as well as another English speaker. Three Swiss riders were also added: Steve Zampieri (Vini Caldirola), Sascha Urweider (Saeco – Romer’s – Wetzikon) and sprinter Aurйlien Clerc (Quick.Step-Davitamon). Wait there’s still more: Ignacio Gutierrez, the younger brother of Josй Enrique Gutierrez, Belorussian rider Viktor Rapinski (Navigators), Slovenian rider Tomasz Nose, and huge talent Miguel Angel Perdiguero (Saunier Duval).
Just a few additions to an already powerful team, nothing MAJOR.
Rebellin – The Argentinean Assassin
Who needs Italia when you can ride for that cycling juggernaut, Argentina? Davide Rebellin looks nearly certain to have the papers ready in time for the Worlds in order to ride for Argentina. The move might seem a bit controversial, but who can blame the man? On the form of his life, he gets left out of the Olympics because Franco Ballerini was not impressed with his Giro d’Italia ride or his Tour de France non-participation. Wonder what he thinks about his continuing leadership in the World Cup, or those three little wins in April – LBL, Fleche Wallone, and Amstel Gold, ho hum.
Frankie VDB Looking Up
VDB, who has seen more trouble than a 1920’s moonshine brewer, looks set to try yet another comeback next year. His personal problems are once again on the mend, and his body is responding well to training. Don’t be looking for him on any of the new Pro Tour teams though, as he has stated that he would like to ride for a smaller team with less pressure. That would probably be a good thing for arguably the greatest talent in cycling.
T-Mobile Loses A Few
A couple years back, T-Mobile signed a slew of riders, all touted to be the riders that would help the German team topple Lance Armstrong – namely Paolo Savoldelli, Santiago Botero, and Cadel Evans. Well, two years later, all three are gone, as well as the other 2003 signee – Mario Aerts. Savoldelli signed with Discovery, Botero is going to Phonak, Evans and Aerts are off to Lotto. There were a number of reasons for all four riders having arguably their worst two seasons of their careers, but one has to think that some riders just don’t fit into certain teams. That’s that.
Ullrich: “Two, Three More Years – Tops
In an interview with Eurosport, Jan Ullrich has said that he wishes to ride two, perhaps three more years, thus ending his career at 32-33 years old, which would be an early exit for a current professional rider.
Ullrich stated once again that his main goal is the Tour de France and still remains convinced that Armstrong can be defeated – with that, he hopes that Armstrong will do the Tour de France next year. “I believe that I can win the Tour de France every year, otherwise I wouldn’t go through the hard work that is required of a professional cyclist.”
Ullrich is still uncertain about the upcoming World Championships in Verona. He says that he is highly motivated, but not sure whether his form will correspond with his motivation.
Whatever you might think of Ulle, he does seem very reasonable, and very aware of what he can and can’t do.
The Doping Hammer
Chris Peers and Jo Planckaert are set to see their cycling careers ended with four year suspensions as a result of the findings of the Landuyt affair. Cyclingnews reports that Landuyt, “was the veterinarian who allegedly spoke about ‘wasps,’ ‘sliced bread,’ ‘beetles,’ and other strange things over the phone to these riders.”
Now, that might be suspicious, but am I not allowed to speak of the wasp that stung me, while I ate my breakfast that consisted of sliced bread this morning? Oh, did I mention that huge beetle I saw last week?
Interestingly enough, Peers didn’t even get the honor of being questioned. “I don’t even get the chance to defend myself against those accusations which are based on lies.” The best part is yet to come as the perennial conspiracy theory pops up: “Who wants to hang me? I can’t give you names, it wouldn’t be smart. I don’t want to end up even deeper than where I am now.”
Whatever the truth, the Landuyt affair doesn’t seem to be doing justice to anyone, guilty or not. Drugs are bad. There is no question of that, but taking out small riders due to circumstantial evidence seems a little iffy to me.
Tour de L’Avenir
Enough retirement and doping talk, how about a little space for the prospects, the future of cycling? The Tour de L’Avenir is THE race for the up and coming racer. A win at this race says volumes for a rider. A rider doesn’t HAVE to win l’Avenir by any means, but it sure doesn’t hurt, not one bit. Thus far, five stages into the ten stage race, American Tyler Farrar is sitting in a strong second spot with a string of high finishes, and sits only 4 seconds behind leader, Gustavo Cesar Veloso of Relax-Bodysol.