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Friday’s Euro-file: Hincapie ready for Flanders; Spanish Giro boycott?

George Hincapie is ready for Sunday's Tour of Flanders after his strongshowing at Three Days of De Panne, where he finished third overall. A stomach virus forced Hincapie to skip Tirenno-Adriatico the week before the World Cup opener at Milan-San Remo on March 23, something that he said helpedin De Panne. "This was a good race for me. The first day I didn't feel super but the second day I felt better and today I felt much better.  I feel fresh having missed all of those races and now I'm here amped and excitedto race," "I think that has been the difference over the past years,"

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George Hincapie is ready for Sunday’s Tour of Flanders after his strongshowing at Three Days of De Panne, where he finished third overall. A stomach virus forced Hincapie to skip Tirenno-Adriatico the week before the World Cup opener at Milan-San Remo on March 23, something that he said helpedin De Panne.

“This was a good race for me. The first day I didn’t feel super but the second day I felt better and today I felt much better.  I feel fresh having missed all of those races and now I’m here amped and excitedto race,”

“I think that has been the difference over the past years,” Hincapie was quoted on the U.S. Postal Service web page.  “Usually, I enter these races with a lot of race days in my legs but this year it’s different and I think it’s paying off.”

At De Panne, a three-day, four-stage race in western Belgium, Hincapiefinished in the top-30 in the first two stages and fourth in Wednesday’sroad stage. In the afternoon time trial, Hincapie was second, a resultthat bumped him to third overall.

“This was definitely my best time trial ever,” Hincapie said.  “I have never placed second in a fairly long time trial, so for me it was a good result.  It seemed like I hadn’t raced in so long since Milan-San Remo.  I was real worried having missed Tirreno Adriatico, but I have been training super hard, the hardest I have trained in my life, and tried to simulate race conditions at my home.”

It all adds up to a confident Hincapie going into Tour of Flanders, the second stop in the 10-race World Cup.

“The team is very strong. Lance (Armstrong) is flying, and all theother guys like Tom, Christian (Vande Velde), (Gianpaolo) Mondini and (Pavel)Padrnos are super strong.  The whole team feels confident.  OnSunday, I will need to have good luck and have a couple of guys with meat the end, which I think I will have this year – I’m ready.”

ONCE, Banesto pull out of Giro over TV rights battle

Two of Spain’s top teams – ibanesto.com and ONCE – will skip the 2002 Giro d’Italia following a spat over broadcast fees that leaves Spain without live TV coverage of the first major stage-race of the season.

The Spanish teams have threatened to skip the Giro for years, but thisyear the teams followed through. Ibanesto.com wasn’t even on the tentativestart list of teams released by the Giro yesterday, and now that ONCE hasjoined the boycott, only Kelme is the only Spanish team set to start theGiro in Holland on May 11. Last year, the two teams finished with riderson the podium, with ONCE’s Abraham Olano second overall and ibanesto.com’sUnai Osa third.”Nevertheless, the race can’t be seen in Spain. It’s not worth it tous to race there. What’s the point to race if it can’t be seen on TV?”ibanesto.com’s director Eusebio Unzue told the Spanish wires.The Spanish television station, TVE, doesn’t want to pay 300,000 eurosto RAI, the Italian television station, for the rights to broadcast thethree-week Giro. Milan-San Remo wasn’t broadcast live in Spain, either.The fight has been brewing for months. In February, ONCE sent Giro raceorganizers a letter outlining their concern.”The sport directors are worried that we pulled out of a race this important,but we live by the publicity we can earn for our sponsors,” said PabloAnton, ONCE’s general director. “For us, it’s more worth it to race inthe Clasica de Alcobendas (a small Spanish race, with TV) than the Giro.For us, the Giro isn’t worth anything if no one can see it.”There’s no word yet on which team would be selected to replace ONCE.Here is the 22-team start list – with ONCE still in the fold — issuedby the Giro this week: Acqua&Sapone, Alessio, Fassa Bortolo, IndexAlexia, Lampre-Daikin, Mapei-Quick Step, Mercatone Uno, Saeco-Longoni Sport,Tacconi Sport, Ceramiche Panaria, Gerolsteiner, Team Coast, Telekom, Domo-FarmFrites,
Lotto-Adecco, Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, Kelme-Costa Blanca, Once-Eroski,Rabobank, Phonak, CSC-Tiscali and Colombia-Selle Italia.Jimenez still MIASpanish star Jose Maria Jimenez (ibanesto.com) has yet to race thisseason and, according to the Spanish sports daily AS, is suffering fromdepression. In a lengthy story published Thursday, the newspaper said Jimenezhas been receiving psychiatric treatments for more than a month.The popular racer, nicknamed “El Chava,” has been training only lightlyand the team has no idea when he might return to competition.”It’s ridiculous to speak about if Chava is going to race the Tour orthe Vuelta,” said Jose Miguel Echavarri, ibanesto.com’s manager. “Now wecan’t expect anything from him. The only thing we can do is help him andencourage him. The same thing happened with Pantani and Vandenbroucke.For these people there’s a lot of pressure knowing that the entire worldexpects so much from them.”Eusebio Unzue, ibanesto.com’s sport director, said Jimenez was havingdifficulty dealing with the pressure of being such a popular sports figure.”Jimenez has had personal problems and is trying to overcome them,”he said. “Lately, he is training a little better, but there is no datefor his return, but we hope it is soon.”Fassa Bortolo teams for Flanders, Pais VascoHere is the tentative start list for Fassa Bortolo for Sunday’s Tourof Flanders: Fabio Baldato, Michele Bartoli, Serguei Ivanov, Dmitri Konyshev,Nicola Loda, Alessandro Petacchi, Roberto Petito and Denis Zanette.And the team’s start list for VUelta a Pais Vasco April 8-12: Ivan Basso, Wladimir Belli, Francesco Casagrande , Kim Kirchen , Rinaldo Nocentini,Oscar Pozzi, Gorazd Stangelj and Marco Velo.