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Euro File: Bettini takes Med’; Freire wins Ruta opener; Wellens takes ‘cross cup

Fassa Bortolo powered the stage-win in the team time trial Sunday in the finalstage of the 30th Tour Mediterranean while Italian Paolo Bettini gave the new Quick Step super-team its first stage-race win of the season with the overall victory. French rider Laurent Brochard (AG2R) had narrowed Bettini's hold on the race lead in Saturday's stage, but Quick Step-Davimaton kept things under control Sunday, finishing third behind winner Fassa Bortolo and a strong ride by second-place Rabobank. The win is the first of the season for the 2002 overall World Cup champion after finishing seven

By Andrew Hood

Bettini

Bettini

Photo: Graham Watson

Fassa Bortolo powered the stage-win in the team time trial Sunday in the finalstage of the 30th Tour Mediterranean while Italian Paolo Bettini gave the new Quick Step super-team its first stage-race win of the season with the overall victory.

French rider Laurent Brochard (AG2R) had narrowed Bettini’s hold on the race lead in Saturday’s stage, but Quick Step-Davimaton kept things under control Sunday, finishing third behind winner Fassa Bortolo and a strong ride by second-place Rabobank.

The win is the first of the season for the 2002 overall World Cup champion after finishing seven times in the top-5 in nine races he’s started this year.

The fast Fassas

The fast Fassas

Photo:

“I won this race at yesterday’s arrival. This win is entirely that of the team, which supported me splendidly during the six days of racing,” said Bettini, 28, after notching his 31st career victory.

“I’m satisfied about this result. My condition is good and I hope to do well at Trofeo Laigueglia on Tuesday,” Bettini said.

Fassa Bortolo could be giving Quick Step a run for its money this year, at least in the super-team category. The Italian powerhouse chugged over the 42-km course between Gemenos and Marseille in southern France for the win.

Rabobank finished a strong second at 5 seconds back while Quick Step rode with control at 52 seconds back.

Brochard, the 1997 world champion, finished second overall at 16 seconds back for AG2R while French rider Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches La Boulanger) took third at 23 seconds back and Rabobank’s Bram De Groot, winner of the opening stage, finished fourth.

Stage six results, Sunday, Feb. 16, Gemenos to Marseille, team time trial
1. Fassa Bortolo, 42 km in 51:19
2. Rabobank, at 5 seconds
3. Quick Step, at 52 seconds
4. Brioches La Boulangere, at 53 seconds
5. AG2R, at 58 seconds
6. Credit Agricole, at 1 minute

Final results for the 30th Tour Mediterranean (2.3):
1. Paolo Bettini (I), Quick Step-Davitamon, 12:54:40
2. Laurent Brochard (F), AG2R, at 16 seconds
3. Sylvain Chavanel (F), Brioches La Boulanger, at 0:23
4. Bram De Groot (Ned), Rabobank, at 0:36
5. Thor Hushovd (N), Credit Agricole, at 0:41

Freire takes Ruta del Sol opener
Spanish racer Oscar Freire felt right at home in the opening stage of the 49th Ruta del Sol, taking the 179-km stage in Cordoba under sunny skies in Spain’s Andalucia region on Sunday.

Freire, who hails from Spain’s rainy north coast, relished his opportunity to go up against some of the game’s top sprinters so early in the season, easily besting Erik Zabel (Telekom) and Italian Luca Paolini (Quick Step). Mallorca Challenge winner Alejandro Valverde (Kelme) crossed the line fourth while last year’s Paris-Roubaix phenom Tom Boonen (Quick Step) came across fifth.

The win is the two-time world champion’s first in his new Rabobank colors.

“I was really motivated for this stage since I won a stage here in 2000 during the Vuelta (a Espana) and last year I had to quit the race when it came to Cordoba,” said Freire, who covered the hilly course in 4 hours, 46 minutes, 29 seconds. “This victory gives me more motivation for the upcoming classics and the World Cup, which are about to start. I believe I won fairly easily today, even though every race is different.”

Freire had no problem holding off Zabel, who has yet to win a race this year. ONCE and Kelme – both Spanish teams looking for overall victory – kept the action together over the rolling parcours that looped through the rolling hills outside of Cordoba. Xavier Tondo, a Spanish rider on Paternina-Costa de Almeria, attacked just 14 km into the stage. Tondo built up a lead as large as 13 minutes before being reeled in.

The final 20 km were rife with attacks as David Extebarria and Samuel Sanchez -Spanish riders on Euskaltel – tried to slip away. Paternina’s Gustavo Toledoand Jose Luis Martinez each gave it a run before Telekom and Rabobank took over the final hump into the finish.

The Ruta del Sol continues Monday with the 165-km second stage from Sevilla to Huelva along the Atlantic Ocean and hits the category-three Alto del Castilla de las Guardas, the day’s lone obstacle.

Results and overall standings after one stage, Ruta del Sol (2.3), Feb. 16-20:
1. Oscar Freire (Sp), Rabobank, 4 hours, 46 minutes, 29 seconds
2. Erik Zabel (G), Telekom, same time
3. Luca Paolini (I), Quick Step, s.t.
4. Alejandro Valverde (Sp), Kelme, s.t.
5. Tom Boonen (B), Quick Step, s.t.
6. Davide Rebellin (I), Gerolsteiner, s.t.
7. Josu Silloniz (Sp), Euskaltel, s.t.
8. Martin Elmiger (Swi), Phonak, s.t.
9. Josep Jufre (Sp), Relax Fuenlabrada, s.t.
10. Peter Van Petegem (B), Lotto, s.t.
Full results belowWellens takes UCI Cyclo Cross World Cup
Newly crowned world cyclo-cross champion Bart Wellens locked up the UCI World Cup title on Sunday in Hoogerheide in the Netherlands, by finishing second to countryman Sven Nijs.Wellens did precisely what he needed to do in Hoogerheide by taking second place and edging out Nijs by a scant five points in the race for the overall title. The fifth and final round was unique in that it was the first in the history of the World Cup to take place after the world championships and that it offered double points to, as UCI cyclo-cross World Cup director Adri Van der Poel put it, “add a bit of suspense to the final.”But Wellens, who has dominated the ‘cross scene all season, left little doubt who was in command as he escaped from an elite lead group of seven on the seventh of 10 2.9km laps.Only Nijs was able to stay with the world champion and when Wellens slipped and fell, Nijs was in prime position to take the final round of the World Cup, but by finishing in second, Wellens had enough to seal his hold on overall title.UCI World Cup – Round five – Hoogerheide, the Netherlands
1. NIJS Sven 1:01.25
2. WELLENS Bart, (B), at 0:04
3. BERDEN Ben, (B), at 0:33
4. DLASK Petr, (Cz), s.t.
5. VERVECKEN Erwin, (B), at 0:41
6. DE CLERCQ Mario, (B), s.t.
7. VERHAGEN Thijs, (Nl), at 0:47
8. GROENENDAAL Richard, (Nl), at 0:50
9. JEZEK Vaclav, (Cz), at 1:11
10. GIL Dariusz, (Pol), s.t.
11. PONTONI Daniele, (I)
12. GADRET John, (F)
13. LABBE Arnaud, (F)
14. SECO AMUNDARAIN David, (Sp)
15. NIJLAND Maarten, (Nl)
16. VANTHOURENHOUT Sven, (B)
17. FRANZOI Enrico, (I)
18. ARNOULD Dominique, (F)
19. DE KNEGT Gerben, (Nl)
20. BAUMGARTNER Michael, (Swi)
21. DEREPAS David, (F)
22. BINA Martin, (Cz)
23. POSPISIL Jiri, (Cz)
24. MOUREY Francis, (F)
25. HEULE Christian, (Swi)
26. GLAJZA Robert, (Svk)
27. SIMUNEK Radomir, (Cz)
28. FONTANA Alessandro, (I)
29. KORZENIEWSKI Tadeusz, (Pol)
30. METLICKA Vaclaf, (Svk)
31. RUSCH David, (Swi)
32. BERAUD Jean-Baptiste, (F)
33. CICHOSZ Marek, (Pol)
34. COLLINS David, (GB)
35. GIL Mariusz, (Pol)
36. RAMSAUER Jan, (Swi)
37. VAN DEN BERGH Camiel, (Nl)
38. CZAPLA Radoslaw, (Pol)
39. REUKER Jens, (G)
40. KLINKBY Anders, (Dk)
41. MULLER Maik, (G)
42. PARBO Joachim, (Dk)
43. CIERPIKOWSKI Pawel, (Pol)
44. KEIICHI Tsujira, (Jpn)
45. MÜLLER Michael, (Swi)
46. SCHÄFFER Carsten, (Dk)
47. MIFUNE Masahiko, (Jpn)
48. BOWERS Stuart, (GB)DNF BRAMATI Luca, (I)
DNF ELLIS Matthew, (GB)
DNF OLDHAM Paul, (GB)
DNF IKEMOTO Shinya, (Jpn)
DNF NIELSEN Tommy, (Dk)
DNF PAGE Jonathan, (USA)
DNF GAJDOSIK Stefan, (Svk)
DNF GLOVNIAK Lubomir, (Svk)
DNF HECL Marian, (Svk)
DNF PETROLL Jens, (G)Final World Cup Standings
1. WELLENS Bart, (B), 305 points
2. NIJS Sven, (B), 300
3. DE CLERCQ Mario, (B), 250
4. GROENENDAAL Richard, (Nl), 232
5. BERDEN Ben, (B), 215
6. VERVECKEN Erwin, (B), 168
7. DLASK Petr, (Cz), 151
8. JEZEK Vaclav, (Cz), 132
9. VANTHOURENHOUT Sven, (B), 132
10. GADRET John, (F), 119American
28. PAGE Jonathan, (USA), 26Pantani makes changes for 2003
Former Tour de France winner Marco Pantani has undergone cosmetic surgery to pin back the large earlobes that earned him the nickname “Dumbo” as he aims to make a comeback this year with his new team.Pantani, who is currently suspended, unveiled his new look while still wearing bandages on his right ear at the official presentation of his new Mercatone Uno-Scanavino team in Asti, near Milan, on Saturday.The 32-year-old Italian said he had overcome the psychological problems afflicting him since being disqualified from the 1999 Giro d’Italia when a blood test revealed he had a high haematocrit level and was confident about the year ahead.”After two years in the dark, I’m ready to make a comeback,” he told reporters. “I almost quit but there was something inside me which wouldn’t let me and which pushes me to carry on. I’ve realised you have to be positive in life. If you see everything in a negative aspect, there’s something wrong.”I’ve rediscovered the psychological determination I need to race and now think positively. In the past few years I was never angry about what was happening to me but now I am and want to get rid of my anger on my bike.”Pantani is suspended until May 19 after Italian police found a used insulin syringe in the room Pantani allegedly slept in during the 2001 Giro d’Italia. He has appealed against the ban and will know next week if the ban is to be reduced. If that happens Pantani said he would start racing again at the Clasica de Almeria in Spain on March 2.Pantani described his ear operation as “a minor act of physical violence which symbolises having the serenity to look at myself in the mirror and being ready to make changes in his life.”His ears had inspired American rival and four-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong to call him Dumbo after the Walt Disney cartoon elephant.
–Wire Service Reports


Results Stage 1 – Ruta Del Sol
Córdoba-Córdoba

1. FREIRE GÓMEZ, Óscar, RABOBANK, (Sp), 4h46:29
2. ZABEL, Erik, TEAM TELEKOM, (G), s.t.
3. PAOLINI, Luca, QUICK STEP-DAVITAMON, (I), s.t.
4. VALVERDE BELMONTE, Alejandro, KELME-COSTA BLANCA, (Sp), s.t.
5. BOONEN, Tom, QUICK STEP-DAVITAMON, (B), s.t.
6. REBELLIN, Davide, GEROLSTEINER, (I), s.t.
7. SILLONIZ ARESTI, Josu, EUSKATEL-EUSKADI, (Sp), s.t.
8. ELMIGER, Martin, PHONAK HEARING SYSTEMS, (Swi) s.t.
9. JUFRE POU, Josep, COLCHON RELAX-FUENLABRADA, (Sp), s.t.
10. VAN PETEGEM, Peter, LOTTO-DOMO, (B), s.t.
11. BAGUET, Serge, LOTTO-DOMO, (B), s.t.
12. GÁLVEZ LÓPEZ, Isaac, KELME-COSTA BLANCA, (Sp), s.t.
13. LUNGHI, Denis, ALESSIO, (I), s.t.
14. FLECHA GIANNONI, Juan A, IBANESTO.COM, (Sp), s.t.
15. RAST, Gregory, PHONAK HEARING SYSTEMS, (Swi) s.t.
16. PASAMONTES RODRÍGUEZ, Luis, COLCHON RELAX-FUENLABRADA, (Sp), s.t.
17. RODRÍGUEZ OLIVER, Joaquin, ONCE-EROSKI, (Sp), s.t.
18. TORRENT TARRES, Carlos, PATERNINA-COSTA DE ALMERÍA, (Sp), s.t.
19. PASCUAL RODRÍGUEZ, Javier, IBANESTO.COM, (Sp), s.t.
20. ETXEBARRIA ARANA, Unai, EUSKATEL-EUSKADI, (Vz), s.t.
21. GUTIÉRREZ PALACIOS, José Iván, IBANESTO.COM, (Sp), s.t.
22. NOE, Andrea, ALESSIO, (I), s.t.
23. PASCUAL LLORENTE, Javier, KELME-COSTA BLANCA, (Sp), s.t.
24. CABELLO LUQUE, Francisco, KELME-COSTA BLANCA, (Sp), s.t.
25. KLIER, Andreas, TEAM TELEKOM, (G), s.t.
26. VAN GOOLEN, Jurgen, QUICK STEP-DAVITAMON, (B), s.t.
27. TURPIN, Ludovic, AG2R PREVOYANCE, (F), s.t.
28. MUSEEUW, Johan, QUICK STEP-DAVITAMON, (B), s.t.
29. DOMÍNGUEZ DOMÍNGUEZ, Juan Carlos, PHONAK HEARING SYSTEMS, (Sp), s.t.
30. BÖLTS, Udo, GEROLSTEINER, (G), s.t.
31. PEREIRO SIO, Óscar, PHONAK HEARING SYSTEMS, (Sp), s.t.
32. HUNDERTMARCK, Kai, TEAM TELEKOM, (G), s.t.
33. CARUSO, Giampaolo, ONCE-EROSKI, (I), s.t.
34. NOVAL GONZÁLEZ, Benjamín, COLCHON RELAX-FUENLABRADA, (Sp), s.t.
35. SÁNCHEZ GONZÁLEZ, Samuel, EUSKATEL-EUSKADI, (Sp), s.t.
36. TOLEDO, Gustavo Mario, PATERNINA-COSTA DE ALMERÍA, (Arg), s.t.
37. PÉREZ FERNÁNDEZ, Santiago, PHONAK HEARING SYSTEMS, (Sp), s.t.
38. ASTARLOZA, Mikel, AG2R PREVOYANCE, (Sp), s.t.
39. REBOLLO AGUADO, José Luis, COLCHON RELAX-FUENLABRADA, (Sp), s.t.
40. OTERO GÓMEZ, Gustavo, LABARCA, 2 CAFÉ BAQUÉ, (Sp), s.t.
41. KNAVEN, Servais, QUICK STEP-DAVITAMON, (Nl), s.t.
42. ALDAG, Rolf, TEAM TELEKOM, (G), s.t.
43. ALBASINI, Michael, PHONAK HEARING SYSTEMS, (Swi) s.t.
44. SÁNCHEZ SEGADO, Domingo, PATERNINA-COSTA DE ALMERÍA, (Sp), s.t.
45. SCHAFFRATH, Jan, TEAM TELEKOM, (G), s.t.
46. FERRARA, Raffaele, ALESSIO, (I), s.t.
47. SINKEWITZ, Patrik, QUICK STEP-DAVITAMON, (G), s.t.
48. DE CLERCQ, Hans, LOTTO-DOMO, (B), s.t.
49. BELTRÁN MARTÍNEZ, Manuel, COAST, (G), s.t.
50. WIELINGA, Remmert, RABOBANK, (Nl), s.t.
51. IVANOV, Ruslan, ALESSIO, (Mda), s.t.
52. PARRA PINTO, Iván Ramiro, KELME-COSTA BLANCA, (Col), s.t.
53. DUFAUX, Laurent, ALESSIO, (Swi) s.t.
54. CASERO MORENO, Rafael, PATERNINA-COSTA DE ALMERÍA, (Sp), s.t.
55. ARROYO DURAN, David, ONCE-EROSKI, (Sp), s.t.
56. CHAURREAU BERNÁRDEZ, Iñigo, AG2R PREVOYANCE, (Sp), s.t.
57. LATASA LASA, David, KELME-COSTA BLANCA, (Sp), s.t.
58. FLORES GALARZA, Iker, EUSKATEL-EUSKADI, (Sp), s.t.
59. PLAZA ROMERO, David, COAST, (Sp), s.t.
60. BLANCO GIL, Santiago, COLCHON RELAX-FUENLABRADA, (Sp), s.t.
61. GUERRA, Héctor, COLCHON RELAX-FUENLABRADA, (Sp), s.t.
62. WAUTERS, Marc, RABOBANK, (B), s.t.
63. GIL PÉREZ, Koldo, ONCE-EROSKI, (Sp), s.t.
64. ZARRABEITIA URANGA, Mikel, ONCE-EROSKI, (Sp), s.t.
65. CUENCA MARTÍNEZ, Juan M, KELME-COSTA BLANCA, (Sp), s.t.
66. GARCÍA QUESADA, Carlos, KELME-COSTA BLANCA, (Sp), s.t.
67. BOVEN, Jan-, RABOBANK, (Nl), s.t.
68. OSA EIZAGUIRRE, Aitor, IBANESTO.COM, (Sp), s.t.
69. VERBRUGGHE, Rik-, LOTTO-DOMO, (B), s.t.
70. MARTÍNEZ JIMÉNEZ, José Luis, PATERNINA-COSTA DE ALMERÍA, (Sp), s.t.
71. KROON, Kaesten-RABOBANK, (Nl), s.t.
72. HUNTER, Robert-RABOBANK, (S.A.) at 17
73. FERNÁNDEZ BIJANDI, Julen, EUSKATEL-EUSKADI, (Sp), at 05:56
74. USOV, Alexandre, PHONAK HEARING SYSTEMS, (Blr), at 07:01
75. CRETSKENS, Wilfried, QUICK STEP-DAVITAMON, (B), at 07:01
76. DE JONGH, Steven, RABOBANK, (Nl), at 07:01
77. VAN BON, Leon, LOTTO-DOMO, (Nl), at 07:01
78. D’HOLLANDER, Glenn, LOTTO-DOMO, (B), at 07:01
79. PÉREZ RODRÍGUEZ, Luis, COAST, (Sp), at 07:01
80. GÓMEZ GOZALO, José Javier, LABARCA, 2 CAFÉ BAQUÉ, (Sp), at 07:01
81. LARA RUIZ, Francisco José, COAST, (Sp), at 07:01
82. KINTANA ZARATE, Aitor, LABARCA, 2 CAFÉ BAQUÉ, (Sp), at 07:01
83. BECKE, Daniel, COAST, (G), at 07:01
84. BAYARRI ESTEVE, Gonzalo, PHONAK HEARING SYSTEMS, (Sp), at 07:01
85. LÓPEZ GARCÍA, David, LABARCA, 2 CAFÉ BAQUÉ, (Sp), at 7:01
86. ZANDIO ECHAIDE, Xabier, IBANESTO.COM, (Sp), at 07:01
87. ARRIETA LUJAMBIO, José L -IBANESTO.COM, (Sp), at 07:01
88. JULICH, Bobby-, TEAM TELEKOM, (USA), at 07:01
89. WESEMANN, Steffen-, TEAM TELEKOM, (G), at 07:01
90. GUILLAMÓN RUIZ, Juan Carlos-, PATERNINA-COSTA DE ALMERÍA, (Sp), at 07:01
91. LAIDOUN, Julien-, AG2R PREVOYANCE, (F), at 07:01
92. HASELBACHER, Rene-, GEROLSTEINER, (G), at 07:01
93. ORDOWSKI, Volker, GEROLSTEINER, (G), at 07:01
94. GARCÍA ALONSO, Marcelino, LABARCA, 2 CAFÉ BAQUÉ, (Sp), at 11:01
95. NAVAS CHICA, David, COLCHON RELAX-FUENLABRADA, (Sp), at 11:01
96. POLLACK, Olaf, GEROLSTEINER, (G), at 11:01
97. ELORRIAGA ZUBIAUR, Unai, LABARCA, 2 CAFÉ BAQUÉ, (Sp), at 11:01
98. BERGES, Stéphane, AG2R PREVOYANCE, (F), at 11:01
99. EUBA ZIARRUSTA, Lander, EUSKATEL-EUSKADI, (Sp), at 11:01
100. TRASTOUR, Olivier, AG2R PREVOYANCE, (F), at 11:01
101. GOLBANO GARCÍA, Carlos Ramón, PATERNINA-COSTA DE ALMERÍA, (Sp), at 11:01
102. LÓPEZ GIL, José A, IBANESTO.COM, (Sp), at 11:01
103. FAGNINI, Gian Matteo, TEAM TELEKOM, (I), at 11:01
104. DAVIS, Allan, ONCE-EROSKI, (Aus), at 11:01
105. MERCKX, Axel, LOTTO-DOMO, (B), at 11:01
106. MORENI, Cristian, ALESSIO, (I), at 12:50
107. CAUCCHIOLI, Pietro, ALESSIO, (I), at 12:50
108. CONTRINI, Daniele, GEROLSTEINER, (I), at 12:50
109. GARCÍA CALVO, César, LABARCA, 2 CAFÉ BAQUÉ, (Sp), at 12:50
110. HORRILLO MUÑOZ, Pedro, QUICK STEP-DAVITAMON, (Sp), at 12:50
111. WROLICH, Peter, GEROLSTEINER, (A), at 12:50
112. MATEOS PÉREZ, Rafael, iBANESTO.COM, (Sp), at 12:50
113. SCHMIDT, Torsten, GEROLSTEINER, (G), at 12:50
114. BARTKO, Robert, RABOBANK, (G), at 12:50
115. VINALE, Alberto, ALESSIO, (I), at 12:50
116. CEREZO PERALES, Francisco, LABARCA, 2 CAFÉ BAQUÉ, (Sp), at 12:50
117. HERNÁNDEZ BERTRÁN, Jaime, COAST, (Sp), at 12:50
118. TONDO VOLPINI, Xavier, PATERNINA-COSTA DE ALMERÍA, (Sp), at 12:50
119. FERNÁNDEZ DOMINGO, David, COLCHON RELAX-FUENLABRADA, (Sp), at 12:50
120. CASTRESANA DEL VAL, Angel, ONCE-EROSKI, (Sp), at 12:50
121. MARICHAL, Thierry, LOTTO-DOMO, (B), at 12:50
122. KIRSIPUU, Jaan, AG2R PREVOYANCE, (Est), at 12:50
123. ETXEBARRIA ALKORTA, David, EUSKATEL-EUSKADI, (Sp), at 12:50
124. PÜTSEP, Erki, AG2R PREVOYANCE, (Est), at 12:50
125. BELOKI DORRONSORO, Gorka, ONCE-EROSKI, (Sp), at 12:50
126. CASERO MORENO, Ángel L., COAST, (Sp), at 18:36
127. TEUTENBERG, Sven, COAST, (G), at 18:36
DNF HERRERO LLORENTE, David, EUSKATEL-EUSKADI, (Sp),

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