By Andrew Hood
Tyler Hamilton didn’t start at the Tour of Romandie this week because oflingering problems with allergies, but CSC-Tiscali team officials say hisGiro d’Italia preparations remain on schedule.Team boss Bjarne Riis told Danish journalists Friday at pressconference for this weekend’s CSC Classic in Denmark that the team didn’twant to take any chances before the May 11 start of the Giro, where theteam hopes he can finish in the top-5.“His training program has been perfect except for these problems,” Riissaid. “We didn’t want to risk anything for the Giro and our ambitions arestill the same.”According to team spokesman Ole Egeblad, Hamilton traveled to Switzerlandfor Romandie, but the team made the call to pull him out of the race togive him a chance to recover without complications. Hamilton, who returnedto his European base in Girona, Spain, could not be reached for comment.Hamilton said his allergies, which cause him to be congested, have beenpestering him all spring. He pulled out of Setmana Catalana in late March,but finished the Vuelta al Pais Vasco in early April on a strong note,attacking early in the final climbing stage.Hamilton starts his first-ever Giro as the anointed team captain andsaid in an interview with VeloNews last month said he expects big thingsat the three-week Italian race.“I’ve never been in this role before, so they definitely don’t knowmy limits. We think top-5 is possible,” Hamilton told VeloNews.“But to be honest, if I get to the start of the Giro in the kind of shapeI know I can be in, I think I can do even better.”Repo calls it quitsFinnish downhiller Katja Repo has announced her decision to retirefrom professional mountain bike racing after she couldn’t find anothersponsor following the collapse of the GT team.Repo, 29, had a solid career after breaking into the pro ranks in themid-1990s despite coming from Finland, a country more known for reindeerthan steep mountains. Repo finished second in the world championships in1999 and 2000 and third in 1997. Last year, she won a World Cup race atLeysin, her final victory as a pro.Heras getting ready for TourU.S. Postal’s Roberto Heras is building his form for the Tour de Franceand later a run at the Vuelta a España in September. He recentlyfinished the Vuelta a La Rioja in Spain, his first race in three weeks.“This race was a test for the important part of the season and I believethat I accomplished it well,” said the 2000 Vuelta champion. “My main priorityis to be in top shape for the Tour. After that, we will see what happens,but I also believe I will look to win at the Vuelta as well.”On his current schedule, Heras expects to arrive at the Tour with 35days of competition in his legs. “It’s important that I trained hard athome and I’ve done that so far,” Heras told the Spanish wires. “I believeI will be ready.Armstrong wins German press awardUnlike cycling photographers, who awarded Lance Armstrong the“sour-puss award” at the end of last year’s Tour de France, German sportshacks love the Texan.The German Sportswriter’s Association awarded him the “2001 FairplayTrophy” for his good sportsman conduct when he waited for Jan Ullrich afterhe crashed on the descent coming off the 5210-foot Col de Val-Louron-Azetduring the 13th stage in last year’s Tour.The association invited Armstrong to attend an award’s ceremony Mondayin Germany, but the Tour star was unable to attend.No rest for the wicked…but Hincapie gets a breakGeorge Hincapie was glad Amstel Gold was over Sunday. The U.S.Postal Service rider said his stomach was “tied in knots and I felt awful”all the way through the race.Hincapie joked that whenever Armstrong gets sick in the stomach, hedoes, too. Armstrong was having problems Friday night before Amstel Gold,but felt fine for the race. Evidently, he passed along the bug to Hincapie.The same thing happened in March, when Armstrong got sick and pulledout of an early Spanish race and later Hincapie came down with a flu bugand couldn’t start at Tirreno-Adriatico.Hincapie — who came through the Classics’ season with a third-placeat Ghent-Wevelgem – said he would take a break before gearing up for theTour de France in July.Museeuw uncertain about World Cup runBelgian Johan Museeuw, who joked just weeks ago about walkingaway from cycling after finishing second at Tour of Flanders, is now theoverall World Cup leader midway through the series.Museeuw says he’s undecided whether or not he’ll try to win the overalltitle. “I will make a decision after the German World Cup, but it’s a longseason for me. I will go to the German race and then we will see how thingsstand,” Museeuw said.The Lion of Flanders finished out of the points at Amstel Gold, butretained the overall leader’s jersey he won after his impressive win atParis-Roubaix.