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Euro Trash – Tour Countdown Is On!

With just two days before the big day all teams have named their line ups for the Tour de France. Today we’ve got the latest news from Paris, who’s on and who’s done, the French Team seeing red, Papa Jan and the rest of Europe.

Tour Team News
All teams have announced their final line ups for the Tour de France, however team managers have until Friday the 4th July to make any last minute changes. Today (Thursday) all the participating riders are in the French capital for the pre race health and blood checks done by a team of physicians under the supervision of Tour doctor Gerard Porte. The results of the rider’s health check will be known on Friday afternoon. Here are the team changes and news made in the last few days:

Manolo Saiz, manager of ONCE-Eroski declared his final two riders for the team’s Tour de France squad earlier this week. The final two places went to Angel Vicioso, stage victor and winner of the points competition in the Volta a Catalunya and Czech rider Rene Andrle. This left Koldo Gil and Jan Hruska as the unlucky riders to be left out. The final ONCE TDF squad is: Joseba Beloki, Бlvaro Gonzбlez de Galdeano, Marcos Serrano, Isidro Nozal, Mikel Pradera, Jose Azevedo, Jorg Jaksche and Vicioso and Andrle.

US Postal announced it’s final team on Tuesday. Mid season signing from Team Bianchi Manuel Beltran makes the final line up, while Benoit Joachim who won the Luxembourg national road champs on Sunday misses out. This is the only change from the 2002 US Postal team. The final line up is: Lance Armstrong, Manuel Beltran, Viatcheslav Ekimov, Roberto Heras Hernandez, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Pavel Padrnos, Victor Peсa and Josй Luis Rubiera.

Telekom have been forced to make a last minute change after announcing their team last week. 2002 Giro d’Italia winner Paolo Savoldelli has had to withdraw from the Tour because of stomach problems and is to be replaced by Tour de Suisse runner up Giuseppe Guerini.

Wadecki Also Unlucky
Piotr Wadecki (Quick Step) has had to withdraw from the Tour after contracting a bad chest infection, the Pole has been on a course of anti-biotics but to no avail. He will be replaced by Davide Bramati.

Garzelli and Pascual Llorente to start
Giro d’Italia runner up Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola) is suffering from a sore throat but will start his third Tour de France on Saturday. Javier Pascual Llorente (Kelme-Costa Blanca) the early season winner of the Ruta del Sol and the Vuelta a Murcia fell during the Spanish national championships and was taken to hospital, however he will start the Tour.

Euskaltel Fans See Orange
The Euskaltel-Euskadi team have brought out a new official fans T shirt just in time for the Tour de France. The shirt was designed by Basque design studio Kukuxumusu and was officially presented in Bilbao on Tuesday. Not surprisingly the shirt is primarily in the teams traditional colours of orange, look for the new shirts on the slopes of Luz Ardiden on July 21st.

Brioche Le Boulangerie Sees Red
The Brioche Le Boulangerie team have made a change to their red strip which is easily confused with that of the Saeco squad. The jersey will have white bands around the shoulders to distinguish it from the Italian team.

There will be plenty of quotes throughout the duration of the Tour: Heres a few for starters:

Jean Marie Leblanc (Tour director): “Armstrong has many potential rivals who are individually less strong than him but who could collectively defeat him. I see his main rivals as Joseba Beloki, Iban Mayo, Santiago Botero, Alexander Vinokourov, Gilberto Simoni and Christophe Moreau.

Lance Armstrong (US Postal): “For me, like for the other riders at the start, it’s just another Tour, I know I have a chance to emulate Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault andMiguel Indurain, but we’ll think about the legend in due course. When I saw the itinerary in October, I told myself it would be more difficult to make a difference because there are fewer finishes at the top of a mountain and also shorter time trials,”

Aitor Gonzalez (Fassa Bortolo): “My form is very good I have been training in the Sierra Nevada with team mate Marzio Bruseghin. I finished the Giro d’Italia in good form although a little tired, my preparation has been similar to last years Vuelta a Espana. If Armstrong rides at the level of the last four years he will be very difficult to beat, however with riders such as Mayo, Mercado, Mancebo and Rogers there will be a change at some time, whether it will be this year who knows”

Danilo Di Luca (Saeco): “I am going to the Tour to win at least one stage, it would give me confidence for the three World Cup races in August. I am still not in good form after my broken collar bone in May, I have not completed many races, I need to ride myself into form, my Tour does not begin until stage 10”.

Roberto Heras (US Postal): “The most important thing in my Tour de France is helping Lance take the final victory but I would like to win a stage if possible. The Tour de France is the priority of the team but I would like to win the Vuelta a Espana in September, for me that is more important than winning a stage in the Tour”.

Julien Gorospe (Euskaltel director sportif): “We go to the Tour with the same goals as the last two years, however we have more experienced and better riders, I think we will win a stage in the Pyrenees, the fact that the Pyrenees come after the Alps will help us, as riders will be more tired by then. I don’t want to put too much pressure on Iban Mayo because it is because of his great performances that we have a place in the Tour, I do not demand a podium place from him but just hope that he attacks on one day and see if he can get a stage win for us”.

Miguel Madariaga (Euskaltel team manager): “How we perform in the Tour is very important for us, we are in negotiations with Euskaltel to extend their sponsorship beyond 2004 and a good performance in the Tour will help a lot”.

Igor Begins Recovery
Igor Gonzбlez de Galdeano (ONCE-Eroski) who suffered a broken collar bone in the Deutchsland Tour began riding back on the road on Tuesday. After training for several days on the rollers at home he completed 80 kms on Tuesday with no adverse effects, he is hoping to return to full fitness in time for the Vuelta a Espana in September.

Postal Interested in Van Den Broeck
20 year old Belgian Jurgen Van den Broeck of the Quick Step-Davitamon Espoirs team is attracting the attention of US Postal for the 2004 season. Van den Broeck has had an outstanding season in Elite 2 and U23 racing in Europe taking races such as the Zellik-Galmaarden, he also finished runner up in the U23 version of Liege-Bastogne-Liege and is clearly seen as one of the outstanding prospects for the future. Quick Step assistant team manager Herman Frison is unhappy, saying “he has not given us any assurance that he will remain with us next year, we have invested a lot of time, effort and money in him and it looks as if we will get nothing back, he is too young to sign for a big team”. If Van den Broeck does sign for US Postal he will follow compatriot Stijn Devolder (Vlaaneren-T Interim) to the American team for 2004.

Gaby Pops For Proud Papa Jan
Jan Ullrich’s partner Gaby gave birth to a baby daughter Sarah Maria at 3.08 PM on Tuesday afternoon at Freiburg University hospital. Gaby went into labour on Monday morning and eventually gave birth by Caesarean. Both mother and baby are doing well and will remain in hospital for seven days. Jan seemed quite elated at becoming a father saying, “I could dance on the clouds and I will never forget this moment”. Jan left Germany for home in Switzerland early Wednesday morning to pack his things for the Tour de France and caught a flight to Paris at noon.

Brixia Tour Presented
Francesco Casagrande (Lampre) and Yaroslav Popovych (Lanbouwkrediet) will both be riding the Brixia Tour (UCI 2.3) between July 25th and 27th as they prepare to find top form for the August World Cup races. Other star riders due to compete in the race are Giuliano Figueras (Panaria), Juan Garate (Lampre) and Saeco’s Igor Astarloa. Participating teams are: Alessio, Amore&Vita, Colombia Selle Italia, De Nardi-Colpack, Domina Vacanze-Elitron, Formaggi Pinzolo-Fiavи, Lampre, Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, Mercatone Uno-Scanavino, Miche-Berneschi-Ladapaper, MBK-Oktos (Fra), Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo, Saeco, Tenax-Gardacalze, Vini Caldirola-SO.DI. , Volksbank-Ideal (Aut) , Marlux-Ville de Charleroi.

Spruch To Retire
Polish rider Zbigniew Spruch (Lampre) has announced his retirement. The 37 year old turned pro in 1992 and has had two spells with the Lampre team and in between was with the Mapei squad. His best results in a twelve year career have been have been 2nd in the 2000 World championship RR, 2nd in the 1999 Ghent-Wevelgem and 3rd in the 1999 Milan-San Remo. Spruch wants to devote his retirement to help develop Polish cycling in some capacity.

Ljungskog to Powerplate-Bik
Sweden’s Womens world road champion Susanne Ljungskog will be riding for the rest of the season for the Dutch team Powerplate-Bik. Ljungskog has been riding this season for the Spanish team Catalunya Aliverti but they are having financial troubles and can no longer pay her wages.

Roulston Injured While Training
Cofidis’ New Zealand neo pro Hayden Roulston injured himself in a fall whilst out training in Belgium earlier this week. The fall aggravated an old knee injury and upset the plans of Roulston who is preparing for the World track championships in Stuttgart at the beginning of August. In an attempt to get the knee injury fixed quickly he is flying back to New Zealand to see a specialist and hopes to join the New Zealand track team for it’s three week prepatory training camp next week in Belgium.

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