At an awards ceremony in Madrid on Saturday, five-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain criticized race organizers for not keeping Italian climber Marco Pantani in the 2001 race.
Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc a week ago named five wild-card teams, but did not include Pantani's Italian outfit, Mercatone Uno.
"As a supporter, it upsets me that such great riders as Pantani are not going to the Tour de France," Indurain said. "The organizers have followed the rules, taking the top 15 teams and invitations are their affair. It all depends on their sponsors. (The organizers)
Italy's Gilberto Simoni riding for Lampre won a sprint finish in the fourth stage of the Tour of Romandie, a 171.5km run between Saint-Aubin and Nendaz, Switzerland on Saturday. The 29-year-old produced a blistering sprint to beat Spain's Manuel Beltran into second and Switzerland's Sven Montgomery into third while Italy's Dario Frigo of Fassa Bortolo held onto the overall lead.
Simoni's finishing flourish was testament to his fitness as he builds up to his main objective the Giro d'Italia in which he has finished third the past two years. But Frigo, who finished sixth 14 seconds adrift, on
French rider Didier Rous grabbed the overall lead in the Four Days of Dunkirk cycling race after Saturday's fifth stage, a 170.5km run from Outreau to Boulogne-sur-Mer.
Rous, one of the Festina riders expelled from the 1998 Tour de France, now riding for Bonjour, finished in 4:10:35, narrowly beating out Dutchman Jeroen Blijlevens and Frenchman Stephane Heulot, while French veteran Laurent Jalabert finished fourth.
Former world No. 1 Jalabert, still recovering form after an injury earlier this year, took on the race with 45km remaining after young Frenchman and Rous's teammate Sylvain
Estonia's Jaan Kirsipuu of the AG2R team won a sprint finish that saw 12 riders fall to take the fourth of seven stages of the Four Days of Dunkirk cycling race in Saint-Vanant, France on Friday. Sprint specialists Jo Planckaert and Jeroen Blijlevens fell in the mass tumble in which US Postal's Stephen Barthe broke his wrist and Irishman Ciaran Power suffered a concussion.
In the first stage of the race, fellow Postal rider Dylan Casey crashed into a TV soundman, and broke his pelvis and collarbone. Casey's agent has said the rider may file suit against the TV station the soundman works
Festina's Spanish rider David Plaza won a sprint finish to take the third stage of the Tour of Romandie in Payerne, Switzerland on Friday.
The 30-year-old Plaza completed the 25.5km time-trial course in 31:20, outsprinting Italy's Dario Frigo of the Fassa Bortolo team by 0.72. Third place finisher Andrei Teteriouk of Kazakhstan was 16 seconds back.
Paris-Nice champion Frigo, 27, took the overall lead with a 21 second advantage on compatriot Paolo Savoldelli. Plaza is in third position, at :26.
Copyright AFP 2001
Barthe is the second Postal rider to break bones at the Four Days of Dunkirk