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Friday’s Euro-file: Vuelta bound to be a battle; McEwen and Zabel meet in Hamburg and more

The Vuelta a Espana promises to be a highly competitive after the releaseof the official team start list this week. With the absence of Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, a dozen topriders will be looking to step up for a stab at victory in the final three-weekgrand tour of the 2002 season. Topping the list will be defending champion Angel Casero. Casero'sTeam Coast had hopes of earning an at-large bid to the Tour, but it never materialized, so the team has a lot riding on the Vuelta. Casero will be joined by two-time Vuelta winner Alex Zulle andperennial stage-hunter Fernando

By Andrew Hood

The Vuelta a Espana promises to be a highly competitive after the releaseof the official team start list this week.

With the absence of Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, a dozen topriders will be looking to step up for a stab at victory in the final three-weekgrand tour of the 2002 season.

Topping the list will be defending champion Angel Casero. Casero’sTeam Coast had hopes of earning an at-large bid to the Tour, but it never materialized, so the team has a lot riding on the Vuelta.

Casero will be joined by two-time Vuelta winner Alex Zulle andperennial stage-hunter Fernando Escartin. ONCE will desperatelywant to win following its strong but disappointing face-off against theU.S. Postal Service in the Tour de France.

Joseba Beloki, fresh off his second place at the Tour, will haveall the pressure on his shoulders. Kelme comes with an ambitious agendawith Santiago Botero and Oscar Sevilla battling for finalvictory. Saeco’s Gilberto Simoni — back from doping offenses thatwere recently overturned– will be looking to avenge his forced departure from the Giro d’Italia.

This year’s Giro champion Paolo Savoldelli could be the wild-card.DavidMillar, the British rider on Cofidis, says he wants to prove he canchallenge in a three-week stage race and hopes to finish in the top-10.

Even before his troubles at the Tour, Lampre’s Raimondas Rumsassaid he wasn’t coming to the Vuelta. Lampre will race with a motivatedteam, including Juan Manual Garate and Pavel Tonkov.

Finally, U.S. Postal Service will be looking to put 2000 Vuelta championRoberto Heras on the victor’s spot on the podium. Heras was injuredin his crash in the 2001 Tour and never had top form in last year’s Vueltaand was pipped for third place by former teammate Levi Leipheimer.

SPANISH TEAMS:
iBANESTO.COM
ONCE-EROSKI
KELME- COSTA BLANCA
EUSKALTEL-EUSKADI
COLCHON RELAX-FUENLABRADA
JAZZTEL-COSTA DE ALMERIA

ITALIAN TEAMS:
FASSA BORTOLO
MAPEI-QUICK STEP
LAMPRE-DAIKIN
TACCONI SPORT
SAECO MACCHINE PER CAFE-LONGONI SPORT
ALESSIO
ACQUA & SAPONE-CANTINA TOLLO
INDEX ALEXIA

FRENCH TEAMS:
COFIDIS, LE CREDIT PAR TELEPHONE
AG2R PREVOYANCE

GERMAN TEAMS:
TEAM TELEKOM
TEAM COAST

OTHERS:
US POSTAL SERVICE (USA)
DOMO-FARM FRITES (BEL)
PHONAK HEARING SYSTEMS (SUI)
MILANEZA-MSS (POR)

Armstrong to race Clasica
Lance Armstrong isn’t slowing down after his fourth consecutiveTour de France victory. Armstrong has confirmed he will race at the ClasicaSan Sebastian in the posh seaside resort in Spain’s Basque Country on Aug.10.

Armstrong, who is scheduled to race this weekend in New York City, isfamiliar with the Clasica, this year the seventh stop in the 10-round WorldCup. In 1992, Armstrong finished last in one of his first races as a proand vowed to come back and win the race.

He did just that in 1995.

This year’s 227-km course includes the climb up the Jaizkibel, a hugehump overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in the final section of the coursethrough the heart of Spain’s cycling hotbed in Basque Country. A startlist is expected sometime next week.

European mountain bike championships this weekend
Europe’s best fat tire racers converge this weekend in Zurich for the2002 European mountain bike championships. This is basically the worldchampionships without the Americans or the Canadians, and thus holds quitea bit of prestige for whoever wins.

There are more than 500 athletes from 27 nations competing in the cross-countryevents, all scheduled for Saturday on a 6.8-km loop course in Zurich. Thecourse starts with a sharp descent and a long climb dominates the courseuntil a short final flat to the finish. All of the Euro big guns will bepresent in what should be a good tip on who’s in form for the upcomingworld championships in Kaprun – when the Americans and Canadians and everybodyelse will be there. Headlining the women’s field are Marga Fullana,Laurent Leboucher and Annabella Stropparo while locals ThomasFrischknecht and Christophe Sauser play host to Jose AntonioHermida, Bart Brentjens, Filip Meirhaeghe and Roel Paulissen inthe men’s field.

McEwen, Zabel showdown highlights HEW start list
Cycling’s World Cup kicks in with the first of three rounds in Auguston Sunday with the HEW Cyclassics in Hamburg, Germany. The long, flat parcourspromises to be a repeat of the showdown between Robbie McEwen (Lotto)and Erik Zabel (Telekom), who went down to the wire in the battlefor the Tour de France green points jersey. McEwen ended Zabel’s six-yearrun in green so look for some sparks to fly between the two if they’reup for the challenge.

Michele Bartoli (Fassa Bortolo), winner of the Amstel Gold racein April, is back after injuries derailed his Giro d’Italia back in May.Rabobank’s Erik Dekker, the defending World Cup champion, will belooking to get his season back on track after breaking his hip in Milan-SanRemo back in March. Saeco’s Gilberto Simoni, cleared of doping allegationsthat saw his early departure from the Giro, will be making his first majorrace appearance. Salvatore Commesso leads Saeco’s red train. ONCEcomes with Tour second-place finisher Joseba Beloki and IgorGonzalez de Galdeano. Fred Rodriguez continues his season withDomo while U.S. Postal Service comes with a team featuring Tom Boonen,third at Paris Roubaix, and George Hincapie, fresh off his fourthconsecutive victory riding in support of Armstrong at the Tour. DylanCasey, David Clinger, David Zabriskie and Christian Vande Veldeare other Americans on the Postie’s lineup. Of course, all of this couldchange when the official start list is released this weekend.

Preliminary Start list – HEW CyclassicsTelekom
1 Zabel, Erik (G)
2 Fagnini, Gian Matteo (I)
3 Hondo, Danilo (G)
4 Aldag, Rolf (G)
5 Vinokourov, Alexandre (KZ)
6 Wesemann, Steffen (G)
7 Schaffrath, Jan (G)
8 Klier, Andreas (G)

Lampre-Daikin
11 Missaglia, Gabriele (I)
12 Dierckxsens, Ludo (B)
13 Belohvosciks, Raivis (LTV)
14 Spruch, Zbigniew (POL)
15 Piccoli, Mariano (I)
16 Cortinovis, Alessandro (I)
17 Pinotti, Marco (I)
18 Svorada, Jan (CZ)

Team Coast
21 Aebersold, Niki (SWI)
22 Korff, André (G)
23 Radochla, Steffen (G)
24 Hoj, Frank (DK)
25 Michaelsen, Lars (DK)
26 Wilhelms, Thorsten (G)
27 Schweda, Raphael (G)
28 Urban, Malte (G)

Domo-Farm Frites
31 Cassani, Enrico (I)
32 Knaven, Servais (NL)
33 Konecny, Tomas (CZ)
34 Museeuw, Johan (B)
35 Van Bon, Leon (NL)
36 Rodriguez, Fred (USA)
37 Cretskens, Wilfried (B)
38 Wadecki, Piotr (POL)

Mapei-Quick Step
41 Bettini, Paolo (I)
42 Bodrogi, Laszlo (HUN)
43 Freire, Gomez Oscar (SP)
44 Nardello, Daniele (I)
45 Paolini, Luca (I)
46 Horillo, Munoz Pedro (SP)
47 Tafi, Andrea (I)
48 Bramati, Davide (I)

Saeco Macchine per Caffé
51 Celestino, Mirko (I)
52 Commesso, Salvatore (I)
53 Astaloa, Igor (SP)
54 Ludewig, Jörg (G)
55 Sacchi, Fabio (I)
56 Di Luca, Danilo (I)
57 Simoni, Gilberto (I)
58 Wegmann, Christian (G)

Lotto-Adecco
61 McEwen, Robbie (AUS)
62 De Clercq, Hans (B)
63 Van Petegeem, Peter (B)
64 Eeckhout, Niko (B)
65 Marichal, Thierry (B)
66 Detilloux, Christophe (B)
67 Gardeyn, Gorik (B)
68 VanDijck, Stefan (NL)

Bonjour
71 Beneteau, Walter (F)
72 Bouyer, Franck (F)
73 Chavanel, Sylvain (F)
74 Magnien, Emmanuel (F)
75 Nazon, Damien (F)
76 Renier, Franck (F)
77 Salanson, Fabrice (F)
78 Simon, Francois (F)

Rabobank
81 Dekker, Erik (NL)
82 Kroon, Karsten (NL)
83 Pronk, Matthé (NL)
84 De Jongh, Steven (NL)
85 De Groot, Bram (NL)
86 Zberg, Marcus (SWI)
87 Boven, Jan (NL)
88 Haymann, Mathew (AUS)

Phonak Hearing Systems
91 Bergmann, Reto (SWI)
92 Buxhofer, Mathias (A)
93 Camenzind, Oscar (SWI)
94 Elmiger, Martin (SWI)
95 Grabsch, Bert (G)
96 Kupfernagel, Stefan (G)
97 Usov, Alexandre (BLR)
98 Teutenberg, Sven (G)

Tacconi Sport Vini Caldirola
101 Bortolami, Gianluca (I)
102 Balducci, Gabriele (I)
103 Bossoni, Paolo (I)
104 Gaynitdtnov, Dmitri (RUS)
105 Hauptman, Andrei (SLO)
106 Mazzoleni, Eddy (I)
107 Ferrari, Diego (I)
108 Minali, Nicola (I)

Team CSC Tiscali
111 Jalabert, Laurent (F)
112 Jalabert, Nicolas (F)
113 Van Bondt, Geert (B)
114 Dean, Julian (NZL)
115 Van Hyfte, Paul (B)
116 Madsen, Jimmi (DK)
117 Piziks, Arvis (LTV)
118 Hoffman, Tristan (NL)

Crédit Agricole
121 Voigt, Jens (G)
122 Hinault, Sébastien (F)
123 Hushovd, Thor (N)
124 Bessy, Frédéric (F)
125 Jenner, Christopher (F)
126 Langella, Anthony (F)
127 Moreau, Christpher (F)
128 Poilvet, Benoît (F)

Fassa Bortolo
131 Baldato, Fabio (I)
132 Bartoli, Michele (I)
133 Basso, Ivan (I)
134 Tosatto, Matteo (I)
135 Loda, Nicola (I)
136 Ivanov, Serguei (RUS)
137 Konychev, Dimitri (RUS)
138 Zanette, Denis (I)

Acqua & Sapone – Cantina Tollo
141 Giunti, Massimo (I)
142 Bennati, Daniele (I)
143 Derganc, martin (SLO)
144 Pospeyev, Kyril (UKR)
145 Giabbecuggi, Frederico (I)
146 Lonbardi, Giovanni (I)
147 Masciarelli, Simone (I)
148 Trenti, Guido (USA)

Cofidis
151 Farazijn, Peter (B)
152 Lelli, Massimiliano (I)
153 Kivilev, Andrei (KZ)
154 Tombak, Janek (EST)
155 Mattan, Nico (B)
156 Peers, Chris (B)
157 Planckaert, Jo (B)
158 Vasseur, Cederic (F)

Team Gerolsteiner
161 Haselbacher, René (A)
162 Ruskys, Saulius (LTU)
163 Schmidt, Torsten (G)
164 Lang, Sebastian (G)
165 Pollack, Olaf (G)
166 Rebellin, Davide (I)
167 Wegmann, Fabian (G)
168 Wrolich, Peter (A)

Team Alessio
171 Casagranda, Stefano (I)
172 Cauchioli, Pietro (I)
173 Brognara, Andrea (I)
174 Furlan, Angelo (I)
175 Ivanov, Ruslan (MDA)
176 Moreni, Cristian (I)
177 Casarotto, Davide (I)
178 Hvastija, Martin (SLO)

US Postal Service
181 Boonen, Tom (B)
182 Casey, Dylan (USA)
183 Clinger, David (USA)
184 Hincapie, George (USA)
185 Kjaergaard, Steffen (N)
186 Vandevelde, Christian (USA)
187 White, Matthew (AUS)
188 Zabriskie, David (USA)

Ibanesto.com
191 Arrieta, Jose Luis (SP)
192 Baranowski, Darius (POL)
193 Bruseghin, Marzio (I)
194 Flecha, Juan Antonio (SP)
194 Gutierrez, José Ivan (SP)
196 Latasa, Davis (SP)
197 Menchov, Denis (RUS)
198 Plaza, Ruben (SP)

ONCE
201 Beloki, Joseba (SP)
202 Diaz, Rafael (SP)
203 Florencio, Xavier (SP)
204 Gonzales de Galdeano, Igor (SP)
205 Jaksche, Jörg (G)
206 Nozal Vega, Isidro (SP)
207 Olano, Abraham (SP)
208 Pradera, Mikel (SP)

Team Cologne
211 Beikirch, Andy (G)
212 Balz, Marion (G)
213 Cox, Ryan (SA)
214 Glasner, Björn (G)
215 Klein, Frank (G)
216 Mutschler, Klaus (G)
217 Strauss, Jörg (SWI)
218 Szonn, Heiko (G)

Team Nürnberger
221 Liese, Thomas (G)
222 Förster, Robert (G)
223 Morscher, Harald (A)
224 Riebenbauer, Werner (A)
225 Werner, Christian (G)
226 Werner, Jürgen (G)
227 Sviben, Sasa (SLO)
228 Tesar, Lubor (CZ)


Tuesday’s Euro-File: BigMig on Big Tex; Big plans for Ullrich?
Wednesday’s Euro-file: Notraces for Rumsas; No Vuelta for Levi; No adidas for Jan
Thursday’s Euro-file: Spaniardsbullish on Armstrong; Botero and Simoni bullish on Vuelta