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By VeloNews Interactive wire services , Copyright AFP2002
Colombia’s world time trial champion Santiago Botero looks set to sign for the German Telekom team after his manager at current team Kelme said Tuesday he had resigned himself to his star rider’s departure.
Vincent Belda, whose team has endured a difficult year which led to some riders not being paid salaries, admitted the battle for Botero’s signature for next season was practically over.
“It seems that the negotiations have come to a halt. I don’t know too much about what’s happening, but I should tomorrow. What’s certain is that Botero’s advisers are doing everything they can to make us to agree to liberate him so he can sign for Telekom,” said Belda from Madrid.
Telekom, the former team of 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich, has recently recruited promising Australian Cadel Evans and Tour of Italy winner Paolo Savoldelli.
Evans is expected to challenge for major Tour honors in the near future and capturing Botero would give Telekom further possibilities in their bid to challenge the dominance of four-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong’s US Postal team.
Meanwhile Ullrich, who is banned until March 23 next year because of his recent controversy with recreational drugs, is on the verge of signing for Danish team CSC. Botero’s pedigree has soared since he won two stages in this year’s Tour de France and then won the time trial title at October’s world road race championships. The 29-year-old from Medellin, who has a contract with Kelme until December, was recently awarded a national Order of Merit by Colombian president Alvaro Uribe for his accomplishments this year.Copyright AFP2002