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Friday’s Euro-file: That time between tours

With all eyes are on Philadelphia this weekend, the Euros are buildingfor the season’s next big goal -- the 2002 Tour de France. Lance Armstrongreturns to racing action next weekend for the Dauphine Libere in France,his final race before trying to win a fourth consecutive Tour.The dust has settled (somewhat) following a wild and woolly Giro d’Italia.The Italians are licking their wounds and resting their legs after theGiro and, despite the expulsion of Saeco out of the Tour, the French raceis still very important to the Italian teams. Five Italian teams will beat the start in Luxembourg:

By Andrew Hood

With all eyes are on Philadelphia this weekend, the Euros are buildingfor the season’s next big goal — the 2002 Tour de France. Lance Armstrongreturns to racing action next weekend for the Dauphine Libere in France,his final race before trying to win a fourth consecutive Tour.The dust has settled (somewhat) following a wild and woolly Giro d’Italia.The Italians are licking their wounds and resting their legs after theGiro and, despite the expulsion of Saeco out of the Tour, the French raceis still very important to the Italian teams. Five Italian teams will beat the start in Luxembourg: Fassa Bortolo, Lampre, Mapei, Tacconi Sportand Alessio. Recent Giro winner Paolo Savoldelli’s Index Alexiais not among the invited teams.Two races headline the European racing scene this week; the Tour ofGermany and the Bicicleta Vasca. Both races end Sunday and each have drawnimpressive fields, with the Spanish teams gravitating toward the BicicletaVasca in Spain’s Basque Country.Bicicleta Vasca
The Bicicleta Vasca is similar to the Vuelta a Pais Vasco; hard climbingstages riddled with Spanish riders going on the attack. A time trial helpssort out the GC, but the climbs, especially the Urkiola climb at stage2 and the difficult climbs in Sunday´s stage decide the winner.Acqua & Sapone´s Miguel Angel Martín Perdiguerowon Friday´s third stage, edging David Etxebarria (Euskaltel-Euskadi),Martin Elminger (Phonak), who came across the line third. ONCE´sMikel Zarrabeitia retained the overall lead Friday.Mapei´s Pedro Horrillo, set-up man for world champion OscarFreire, won the opening stage in a field sprint. Freire was out ofposition and Horrillo went for it on his own to score the stage victory.Serguei Outschakov won the second stage, a hard climbing day through thesteep mountains of northern Spain. Zarrabeitia finished second in the stagebut took the overall lead.Tomorrow´s stage is a split stage, with an afternoon sector featuringa 21 km time trial. The race ends Sunday with three hard climbs, includinga summit finish.Overall after three stages:
1. Mikel Zarrabeitia (Sp), ONCE-Eroski, 13 hours, 14 minutes, 3 seconds;2. Kyryl Pospyeyev (Uk), Acqua & Sapone, at 0:04, 3. Jose Javier Gomez(Sp), Kelme, at 0:09Tour of Germany
Tour of Germany is now in its fourth year. Telekom´s JensHeppner (10 days in the pink jersey in the recent Giro) won the inauguraland the team won again last year with Alexander Vinokourov. Spain´sDavid Plaza on the now-defunct Festina team won in 2000.This year´s seven-stage race started Monday and has been likea replay of last year´s green jersey race, with Erik Zabeland Stuart O´Grady battling in the sprints. Zabel edged theAussie in the open two stages, winning bunch sprints and taking the racelead. Spain´s Aitor Garmendia (Coast) took over in Wednesday´shilly course, winning the stage and taking the race lead. In Thursday´s37-km time trial stage, Gerolsteiner´s Michael Rich won butONCE´s Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, who finished fifth, tookover the lead.Zabel won Friday´s fifth stage in a bunch sprint (O´Gradywas fourth) and Galdeano retained the overall lead. Saturday´s stageis the last tough day before Sunday´s finish.Overall after five stages:
1. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Sp), ONCE, 19:43:23, 2. Aitor Garmendia(Sp), Coast, at 0:13; 3. Tobias Steinhauser (G), Gerolsteiner, at 0:33