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Eurofile: Med Tour – No Cipo’ no invite

Mario Cipollini said he wasn't ready to race for the upcoming Tour deMediterranean (see preview below), so that was enough for the organizers to kick his Domina Vacanze team out of the race. Cipollini said during a press conference Saturday at the team presentation in Egypt he simply wasn't in form to commit to a stage-race so early in the season. Instead, the world champion will make his season debut at Luis Puig (Feb. 23 in Spain). When race organizers heard the word, they decided not to allow his Italian team to the start line. "Cipollini waited at the last minute to tell me

By Andrew Hood

Mario Cipollini said he wasn’t ready to race for the upcoming Tour deMediterranean (see preview below), so that was enough for the organizers to kick his Domina Vacanze team out of the race.

Cipollini said during a press conference Saturday at the team presentation in Egypt he simply wasn’t in form to commit to a stage-race so early in the season. Instead, the world champion will make his season debut at Luis Puig (Feb. 23 in Spain). When race organizers heard the word, they decided not to allow his Italian team to the start line.

“Cipollini waited at the last minute to tell me and we had a fixed price. I don’t like it when someone takes me for an imbecile,” race organizer Lucien Aimar told the French sports daily L’Equipe.

Baldato re-energized after Besseges victory
Italian sprinter Fabio Baldato said he feels new animation for the upcoming classics after his overall victory in the Etoile Besseges (Feb. 5-9, 2.3).

The victory was the first-ever overall stage-race win for the 34-year-old sprinter.

“The victory at Besseges confirms my decision not to retire and keep racing,” Baldato was quoted in the Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I have demonstrated to the world that I am still a winner.”

Baldato, winner of three stages in the Giro d’Italia, two in the Tour de France and two in the Vuelta a Espana, joined Alessio after leaving Fassa Bortolo last season and nearly retiring. Now he has his eyes set on the Milan-San Remo and the spring classics.

First UCI rankings of season
The UCI released its first UCI rankings of the 2003 season. With only a few races so far on the record books, things haven’t change much. Erik Zabel (G, Telekom) remains atop the rankings with 2,302 points.

Lance Armstrong remains in second at 2,110 points and Paolo Bettini in third at 2,027 points. The next rankings will be released Feb. 23 after the Trofeo Luis Puig. 1. Erik Zabel (G, Telekom), 2,302 points
2. Lance Armstrong (USA, USPS), 2,110
3. Paolo Bettini (I, Quick Step), 2,027
4. Mario Cipollini (I, Domina Vacanze), 1,749
5. Robbie McEwen (Aus, Lotto), 1,707
6. Dario Frigo (I, Fassa Bortolo), 1,702
7. Aitor Gonzalez (Sp), 1,556
8. Davide Rebellin (I, Gerolsteiner), 1,494
9. Francesco Casagrande (I, Lampre), 1,468
10. Roberto Heras (Sp, USPS), 1,455.Other North Americans:
32. George Hincapie (USPS), 760
36. Tyler Hamilton (CSC), 731
68. Fred Rodriguez (Sidermec), 553
113. Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank), 438
188. Floyd Landis (USPS), 306.

Vainstains finally signs with Sidermec
Former world champion Romans Vainsteins finally found a team for the 2003 season, penning a deal last week with Sidermec. Vainsteins, who shot to world fame after snagging the world title in 2000, was let go by his Domo Farm Frites team after last season.

He was holding out for more money, but finally settled on a contact to join Fred Rodriguez and Stefano Garzelli on the Division I Sidermec despite heavy courting by André Tchmil on the Division II Marlux team.

Quick Step injury update
Cycling’s newest super-team – Quick Step-Davitamon – has already suffered its share of early-season injuries. Here’s a team update on where the riders stand:

Doctors confirmed a fracture left pubic bone for Laszlo Bodrogi, the strong time trialist who fell during the Tour of Qatar on Feb. 2. One of the doctors tending to Bodrogi was his father. The Hungarian is expected to be out of action for one month.

Kevin Hulsmans, 25, fell during a training ride on Jan. 14 and fractured his femur. He is already training one hour a day on a spinner, but no return date has been set.

Spanish rider David Canada fell Jan. 31 near his home in Zaragoza and fractured his left arm. He’s also riding on the spin-trainer and is expected to return to the road for training within two weeks.

Tour de Mediterranean (2.3), Feb. 12-16
The 30th edition of the six-stage Tour de Mediterranean starting Wednesday in France sees more top riders making their season debut. Sprinters will have their chance as the course follow the Med and will take in the famed Poggio climb featured in Milan-San Remo.

The decisive stages will be during the climbing finish at Mont Faron and the team time trial in Marseille. Among the stars making the start include Paolo Bettini, Richard Virenque and Frank Vandenbroucke (Quick Step), Angel Casero (Coast), Robbie McEwen (Lotto), Baden Cooke (FDJeux.com), Oscar Carmenzind (Phonak) and David Millar (Cofidis). U.S. Postal Service makes its first major race start of the season, with Tony Cruz joining Viatcheslav Ekimov, Benoit Joachim, Steffan Kjaergaard, Guennadi Mikhailov, Pavel Padrnos, Max Van Heeswijk and Matthew White representing the Posties.The stages:
Stage 1, 130 km circuit course, Arma di Taggia
Stage 2, 120 km, Menton to Le Cannet
Stage 3-A, 60 km, Seillan to La Motte;
    3-B, 109 km, La Motte to Mont Faron
Stage 4, 120 km, La Garde-Berre to l’Etang
Stage 5, 42km team time trial, Gemenos to Marseille.

Here’s the latest start list from the race organizers:Ag2r Prévoyance (F)
Lauri Aus (EST)
Alexandre Botcharov (RUS)
Laurent Brochard (F)
Andy Flickinger (F)
Thierry Loder (F)
Christophe Oriol (F)
Nicolas Portal (F)
Mark Scanlon (IRL)BigMat-Auber 93 (F)
Guillaume Auger (F)
Ludovic Auger (F)
Félix Garcia-Casas (Sp)
Loïc Lamouller (F)
Cyril Saugrain (F)
Alexeï Sivakov (RUS)
Sébastien Talabardon (F)
Plamen Stoianov (BUL)Brioches La Boulangère (F)
Walter Bénéteau (F)
Frank Bouyer (F)
Sylvain Chavanel (F)
Anthony Geslin (F)
Emmanuel Magnien (F)
Damien Nazon (F)
Franck Renier (F)
Didier Rous (F)Cofidis (F)
Frédéric Bessy (F)
Bingen Fernandez (Sp)
Dimitri Fofonov (KAZ)
Andreï Kivilev (KAZ)
David Millar (GBR)
David Moncoutié (F)
Jo Planckaert (B)
Marek Rutkiewicz (POL)Crédit Agricole (F)
Cédric Fragnière (F)
Sébastien Hinault (F)
Thor Hushovd (N)
Mads Kaggestad (N)
Christophe Le Mével (F)
Marcus Ljungqvist (S)
Christophe Moreau (F)
Benoît Poilvet (F)CSC (Dk)
Michael Blaudzun (Dk)
Tristan Hoffman (Nl)
Nicolas Jalabert (F)
Lennie Kristensen (Dk)
Jimmy Madsen (Dk)
Lars Michaelsen (Dk)
Andrea Peron (I)
Geert Van Bondt (B)De Nardi-Colpack (I)
Matteo Carrara (I)
Graziano Gasparre (I)
Leonardo Giordani (I)
Serhiy Honchar (UKR)
Devis Miorin (I)
Rafael Nuritdinov (KAZ)
Andrea Rossi (I)
Leonardo Zanotti (I)Fassa Bortolo (I)
Fabian Cancellara (Swi)
Sergueï Ivanov (RUS)
Kim Kirchen (LUX)
Nicola Loda (I)
Roberto Petito (I)
Filippo Pozzato (I)
Guido Trenti (USA)
Marco Zanotti (I)FDJeux.com (F)
Sandy Casar (F)
Baden Cooke (AUS)
Carlos Da Cruz (F)
Frédéric Guesdon (F)
Christophe Mengin (F)
Jean-Cyril Robin (F)
Nicolas Vogondy (F)
Bradley Wiggins (GBR)Jean Delatour (F)
Gilles Bouvard (F)
Christophe Edaleine (F)
Stéphane Goubert (F)
Patrice Halgand (F)
Sébastien Joly (F)
Yuriy Krivtsov (UKR)
Laurent Lefèvre (F)
Eddy Seigneur (F)Lotto-Domo (B)
Christophe Brandt (B)
Christophe Detilloux (B)
Nico Eeckhout (B)
Nick Gates (AUS)
Robbie McEwen (AUS)
Koos Moerenhout (Nl)
Stefan Van Dijk (Nl)
Rik Verbrugghe (B)MBK-Oktos-Saint-Quentin (F)
Stéphane Barthe (F)
Frédéric Gabriel (F)
Ivaïlo Gabrovski (BUL)
Philippe Koelher (F)
Eddy Lembo (F)
Franck Pencolé (F)
Christophe Rinero (F)
Jay Sweet (AUS)Phonak (Swi)
Roger Beuchat (Swi)
Oscar Camenzind (Swi)
Cyril Dessel (F)
Fabrice Gougot (F)
Miguel Martinez (F)
Benoît Salmon (F)
Daniel Schnider (Swi)
Massimo Strazzer (I)Quick Step-Davitamon (B)
Paolo Bettini (I)
Davide Bramati (I)
Aurélien Clerc (Swi)
Andreï Kashechkin (KAZ)
Nick Nuyens (B)
Michael Rogers (AUS)
Frank Vandenbroucke (B)
Richard Virenque (F)Rabobank (Nl)
Michael Boogerd (Nl)
Bram De Groot (Nl)
Addy Engels (Nl)
Matthew Hayman (AUS)
Levi Leipheimer (USA)
Marc Lotz (Nl)
Grischa Niermann (G)
Thorwald Veneberg (Nl)Team Coast (G)
Sefan Adamsson (S)
Nicki Aebersold (Swi)
Daniel Becke (G)
Manuel Beltran (Sp)
Angel Casero (Sp)
Bekim Christensen (Dk)
Fabrizio Guidi (I)
Alex Zülle (Swi)Team Saeco (I)
Giosuè Bonomi (I)
Mirko Celestino (I)
Salvatore Commesso (I)
Paolo Fornaciari (I)
Jörg Ludewig (G)
Dario Pieri (I)
Ivan Quaranta (I)
Fabio Sacchi (I)US Postal-Berry Floor (USA)
Antonio Cruz (USA)
Viatcheslav Ekimov (RUS)
Benoît Joachim (LUX)
Steffen Kjaegaard (N)
Guennadi Mikhailov (RUS)
Pavel Padrnos (Cz)
Max Van Heeswijk (Nl)
Matthew White (AUS).