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Euro-File: Rund um den Turm; Tour picks coming and more

Telekom's Erik Zabel won the Rund um den Henninger Turm in Frankfurt on Wednesday, nipping Jo Plankaert (Cofidis) and Serguei Ivanov (Fassa Bortolo) in a sprint finish.The Telekom squad pulled back a three-man break with 30 km to go andthe race came down to a bunch sprint, with the world No. 1 rider pushingPlankaert into another loss. The Belgian has been active throughout thespring without securing a victory. Ivanov, second at Amstel Gold, continuedon his fine form with third. World champion Oscar Freire (Mapei)crossed the line fourth.1. Erik Zabel (G), Telekom, 206 km in 5:00:17 (41.26

By Andrew Hood

Telekom’s Erik Zabel won the Rund um den Henninger Turm in Frankfurt on Wednesday, nipping Jo Plankaert (Cofidis) and Serguei Ivanov (Fassa Bortolo) in a sprint finish.The Telekom squad pulled back a three-man break with 30 km to go andthe race came down to a bunch sprint, with the world No. 1 rider pushingPlankaert into another loss. The Belgian has been active throughout thespring without securing a victory. Ivanov, second at Amstel Gold, continuedon his fine form with third. World champion Oscar Freire (Mapei)crossed the line fourth.1. Erik Zabel (G), Telekom, 206 km in 5:00:17 (41.26 kph)
2. Jo Planckaert (B), Cofidis
3. Serguei Ivanov (R), Fassa Bortolo
4 Oscar Freire (Sp), Mapei
5. Alessandro Petacchi (I), Fassa Bortolo
6. Davide Rebellin (I), Gerolsteiner
7. Kurt-Asle Arvesen (N), EDS-Fakta
8. Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe), EDS-Fakta
9. Dmitri Konyshev (R), Fassa Bortolo
10. Marc Lotz (Nl), Rabobank, all same time.In other racing Wednesday, Bonjour’s Sylvain Chavanel won theTrophee des Grimpeurs in France. Gian Paolo Cheula (Mapei) won theCircuit des Mines also in France.Pantani gets thumbs up for GiroTroubled Italian star Marco Pantani will be able to start theGiro d’Italia after all. Following testimony Monday before CONI’s anti-dopingcommission in Rome, the panel decided not to recommend a suspension, clearingthe way for the 1998 Giro and Tour champion to start the race May 11.“I’m sure that things they found in my room are not mine,” Pantani toldLaGazzetta this week. “I am at peace about this and I’ve given all mytestimony.”The case surrounds Pantani’s role in police raids during the final weekof last year’s Giro. Police found a syringe containing insulin in roomthat Pantani contends was not his. Last month, the panel cleared nearlyevery other rider also implicated in the raids.Whether Pantani can come back to the elite level is open to debate.Pantani, who was kicked out of the 1999 Giro after failing blood testslate in the race, has raced inconsistently since his troubles began.“I am trying to go to the Giro to win, even if someone tries to stopme. I am going to win the Giro. During these difficulties, I have lostsome sponsorships, but now it’s a matter of principle. I don’t want tostop racing the bike. I want to satisfy the fans that believe in me. I’vebeen behind for two years. Instead of training and racing, I’ve been fightingthis.”Tour bids tomorrowLance Armstrong will know the complete list of rivals Thursdayas the Societe du Tour de France will announce the final five “wild card”teams invited to compete with the 16 already selected teams.Despite public assurances that the selection will be based on sportingcriteria, French teams are expected to earn most of the bids. Leading thetop French teams are Credit Agricole, Bonjour and Francaise des Jeux. BigMat, Jean Delatour and AG2R are considered more of long-shots.Leading the non-French hopefuls are Saeco, with defending Giro championGilbertoSimoni, Team Coast, with defending Vuelta champion Angel Caseroand Mario Cipollini’s Acqua & Sapone. Cipollini, however, publiclycriticized the Tour for keeping his then-Saeco team out of last year’sTour. Marco Pantani’s Mercatone Uno, also left out last year, isn’texpected to earn a bid. Other long-shots include Phonak and Gerolsteiner.The 16 teams already selected include: U.S. Postal Service, Telekom,Domo, Lotto, CSC-Tiscali, Cofidis, Kelme, ibanesto.com, ONCE, Euskatel,Fassa Bortolo, Mapei, Lampre, Alessio, Tacconi and Rabobank.(Be sure to check with VeloNews.com at around 7:15 a.m. (Easterntime) for a complete list of teams, followed by analysis by VeloNewseditorialdirector John Wilcockson and Andy Hood’s wrap-up of reactions from aroundEurope — Editor)
 Americans rock in Spain:USA Cycling sent us this report from the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon Feminasin Spain last week.In only its first European campaign, Team T-Mobile-USA produced a smatteringof outstanding performances at Spain’s Vuelta Castilla y Leon.  Thefive-stage road race, April 23-27, was suited for the best of road racers,but it was mountain-biker-turned-roadie Amber Neben who put in thetop American performance for her T-Mobile squad.Her fourth-place finish in Spain marks the best international resultfor the new squad. The 445 km race tested the mettle of the women’s field,which faced high winds, mountain passes, grueling climbs, hot temperaturesand bumpy roads. The team got off to a solid start in the first stage,with 2000 Olympic medalist and World Champion Mari Holden, Nebenand Lara Ruthven  finishing in a large field five seconds offthe stage winners.The second stage brought a sprint finish on the relatively flat course.Holden once again proved to be the strongest American for the day, taking18th. Neben continued her climb up the general classification, just eightplaces behind Holden. Teammate Kim Anderson made her presence knownwhen she advanced to the overall lead in the mountains classification.Racers faced the mountains west of Madrid on the third day of racing.Like the day before, Holden was at the front of the American chargefor T-Mobile. The world champion finished with the lead pack of ridersat 18th, with Anderson on her heels at 30th. Ruthven lead the second packof racers across the finish just 16 seconds behind.Stage four proved to be the breakout stage for Neben. The former cross-countryand soccer star used her mental toughness to snag fourth place in easilythe grueling stage of the race. Rough, bumpy roads, switchbacks and difficultclimbs proved tough for all competitors. Neben, however, was able to hangwith a European trio and finish less than one minute behind the stage winner.Teammate Anderson also pulled out a top-10 finish at eighth. Swiss riderNicoleBrandli took over the leader’s jersey.The 2002 Vuelta Castilla Y Leon finished up in the historic and picturesquecity of Segovia. A European group lead things out to the finish, but thepace set by Vuelta leader Brandli was too much for her chasers, and withthe final stage win, she confirmed her place at the top of the podium.Neben, eager to keep her high standing the overall classification, rodewith fire, taking ninth, just nine seconds behind the winner. When raceofficials completed their math, T-Mobile came out second overall in teamstandings.Second Vuelta Ciclista Castilla y Leon FeminasFinal Individual General Classification1. Nicole Brändli (Swi) Acca Due O Pasta Zara 12:00:06
2. Judith Arndt (G) Saturn Cycling Team 1:05
3. Nicole Cooke (GBr) Deia-Pragma-Colnago 1:14
4. Amber Neben (USA) T-Mobile-USA 1:24
5. Edita Pucinskaite (Ltu) Figurella Dream Team 1:26
6. Priska Doppmann (Swi) Swiss National Team 2:11
7. Valentina Polkranova (Rus) Itera Team, 2:24
8. Kimberly Anderson (USA) T-Mobile-USA, 3:12
9. Luisa Tamanini (Ita) Italia National Team 3:31
10. Pia Sundstedt (Fin) Team Sponsor Service 3:45
21. Lara Ruthven (USA) T-Mobile-USA 5:51
47. Jessica Phillips (USA) Saturn Cycling Team 13:57
62. Patricia Choo (USA) T-Mobile-USA 21:05Team Classification
1. Acca Due O Pasta Zara Lorena C 36:09:38
2. T-Mobile-USA 1:07
3. Deia – Pragma – Colnago 1:44
4. Figurella Dream Team 6:05
5. Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung 6:51