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Pantani abandons Settimana Lombarda

Mercatone Uno’s Marco Pantani pulled out of the Settimana Lombarda prior to the start of Saturday's 187km fourth stage from Roncadelle. The 31-year-old rider, winner of the 1998 Tour de France and Giro d'Italia double, also pulled out of the Tour of the Basque Country earlier this month, because of a recurring bronchitis problem. “There was no question that he would take any risk before the Giro. It's better for him to train on roads he knows and in more favourable climatic conditions," said Mercatone team manager Giuseppe Martinelli. After three stages of the five-day event, Liquigas’s

Otxoa moved out of intensve care

Spanish cyclist Javier Otxoa left intensive care on Saturday after being run over on February 15 in an accident that killed his twin brother, the Spanish sports daily Marca reported. The 26-year-old Otxoa has lost 44 pounds and is still unable to move his legs. He has been communicating with his family by writing notes and has apparently been asking for his brother Ricardo, disbelieving his family's assurances that Ricardo has been in another ward of the hospital. Javier Otxoa won the 10th stage of the 2000 Tour de France, after a long solo breakaway effort. The two brothers, members of

Saeco’s Commesso suspended

Former Italian cycling champion Salvatore Commesso has been suspended until mid-May after being caught in possession of banned substance, his Saeco team said on Saturday. The Saeco team, which has suspended the cyclist's salary, issued a statement noting that management has yet to make a decision over the 26-year-old Neopolitan's future. The Italian cycling federation imposed the ban after the 1999 Italian champion was stopped by police who stumbled upon the banned substances by chance almost a year ago. Reports say a vial of banned substances were found in the rider's

Getting ready for the assault on the Ardennes

It looks to be a fine day tomorrow for Liége-Bastogne-Liége. The weather reports call for mostly sunny skies with scattered rain and temperatures in the high 40s. Expect a strong ride from Fassa Bortolo, especially Raimondas Rumsas. His teammates Francesco Casagrande, Dario Frigo, Wladimir Belli and Ivan Basso, second Wednesday in the Fléche Wallonne after a day-long breakaway, will all be dangerous on this course too. Mapei’s Michele Bartoli and Paolo Bettini, last year’s winner, Rabobank’s Michaël Boogerd, and Liquigas-PATA’s Davide Rebellin are all be riders to watch as well. The

Petacchi edges Rodriguez at Settimana Lombarda

Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo)edged out Domo’s Fred Rodriguez at the end of the second stage of the Settimana Lombarda. Petacchi finished at the head of a mass sprint after a 174-kilometer race near the city of Alzate Brianza in Lombardy. Petacchi, recently injured in the Tour of the Mediterranean, also narrowly beat Serguei Yakovlev (Cantina Tollo) and Liquigas's Daniele Contrini. With three stages of the five-stage Italian tour remaining, Tacconi Sport’s Stefan Rutimann moved into the overall lead. Copyright AFP2001

Amstel Gold course altered by foot-and-mouth fears

Organizers of the classic Amstel Gold Race have been forced to alter the event's course due to fears of foot-and-mouth disease, the Dutch news agency said Tuesday. New sections had to be added as roads along the border between Belgium and the Netherlands have been closed. In particular, the Pietersberg climb, the final difficulty in the race, has been eliminated as the road is closed to traffic. All bicycles and accompanying vehicles will be disinfected before the race gets underway in Maastricht on April 28. The Amstel is the fifth event in the UCI World Cup and one of the

Luperini climbs to victory on the Fleche Wallone

On a day that started in the rain, passed through driving hail, and finished in bright sunshine, Fabiana Luperini confirmed that she is indeed on form this season with a dominating victory on the Mur de Huy in the women’s fourth World Cup of the season, Belgium’s Fleche Wallone, held April 18. The diminutive climber waited until the final climb to unleash a devastating attack that left her closest challengers, Anna Millward (neé Wilson) of Saturn and Trixi Worrack (German National) nine seconds back. Throughout the 93.5km race over six steep hills in the Ardennes region of Belgium, the

Verbrugghe is true to his word at the Fléche Wallonne

When Rik Verbrugghe won the Criterium International, he said he would improve on his placing in the Flèche Wallonne from last year, when he finished second to Francesco Casagrande. The lean Lotto rider kept his word, chasing down an early breakaway of eight riders alone, dropping all but three by the final climb, and finishing alone on the steep ascent of the Mur de Huy. The eight riders in the initial break were Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo), Grischa Niermann (Rabobank), Luca Paolini (Mapei), Koos Moerenhout (Domo), Jörg Jaksche (ONCE), Marcelino Garcia Alonso (CSC), Constantino Zaballa