By Andrew Hood
Juan Miguel Mercado just keeps winning races. The 23-year-old Spanish phenom clinched the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon on Monday to add to his Setmana Catalana victory in March. Mercado’s victory is the fifth stage-race win of the season for ibanesto.com. Too bad the Spanish team won’t be going to the Giro d’Italia, where Unai Osa finished third overall last year. Joining Mercado on the final podium were Joan Horrach (Milaneza) and Leonardo Piepoli (ibanesto.com), second and third respectively. Mercado won Sunday’s climbing stage to take the overall lead. Angel Edo won the final stage, 148km from Bembibre to Benavente in northern Spain. Final overall: 1. Juan Miguel Mercado (Sp), ibanesto.com, 20 hours, 37 minutes, 33 seconds; 2. Joan Horrach (Sp), Milaneza, at 26 seconds; 3. Leonardo Piepoli (I), ibanesto.com, at 36; 4. Isidro Nozal (Sp), ONCE, at 1:11; 5. Francisco Mancebo (Sp), ibanesto.com, at 1:22; 6. Oscar Sevilla (Sp), Kelme, at 1:28; 7. David Bernabeu (Sp), Carvalhelhos, at 1:34; 8. Vladimir Karpets (Rus), Itera, at 1:36; 9. Pedro Cardoso (Por), Milaneza, at 1:59; 10. Josep Jufre (Sp), Carvalhelhos, at 2:24
American Watch: Rabobank’s Levi Leipheimer wrapped up a wet Tour de Romandie on Sunday, finishing seventh in the final time trial and 54th overall at 9:17 behind winner Dario Frigo. Third in last year’s Vuelta a Espana, Leipheimer is building his form for his first run at the Tour de France and is not starting at the Giro. In June, Leipheimer will compete at either the Tour of Switzerland or the Dauphiné Libéré in France. Kevin Livingston (Telekom) also raced at Romandie, finishing 101st at 28:49 back, while CSC-Tiscali’s Tyler Hamilton was a late scratch at the Tour of Romandie when nagging allergies prompted his team to call off his start. Hamilton will arrive in Holland on Wednesday as the team leader for his Giro debut.Thanks to USA Cycling for this report on the USA Cycling Espoir National Team: Patrick McCarty (Plano, Texas) chalked up another significant result with a ninth-place finish at the under-23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege on May 1. Walker Ferguson (Norwood, Colo.) and Will Frischkorn (Charlottesville, Va.) took 19th and 29th places, respectively. The 20-year-old McCarty secured 12th place at La Côte Picardie on April 24 and a 48th-place finish at Paris-Mantes on April 28. Riders are racing this week at Thuringen-Rundfhart in Germany, May 3-9.
The week ahead: Saturday’s start of the Giro d’Italia dominates the European scene this week. The race starts Saturday in the Netherlands, so watch VeloNews.com all week for pre-race news. Four Days of Dunkirk (2.1, May 8-12) will draw many top teams not going to the Giro. The Spanish teams that decided not to race at the Giro because there won’t be coverage of the Italian race on Spanish TV – ibanesto.com and ONCE – will race instead at the Clasica International a Alcobendas (2.3, May 11-12) in Spain. Unlike the Giro, that race will be broadcast live throughout Spain. Tour of Slovenia (2.5, May 7-12), GP de Wallonie in Belgium (1.2, May 9) and the Fleche du Sud in Luxembourg (2.6, May 9-12) round out the calendar.
Rabobank for Giro: Rabobank has announced its lineup for the 2002 Giro d’Italia: Michael Boogerd, Jan Boven, Marc Lotz, Addy Engels, Steven de Jongh, Thorwald Veneberg, Geert Verheyen (B), Mathew Hayman (Aus) and Grischa Niermann (Aut).
Kelme at Giro: Kelme-Costa Blance is the only Spanish team racing in the Giro. Oscar Sevilla won’t start and instead will continue his preparations for the Tour de France and later the Vuelta a España. The team includes: Jose Cayetano Julia, Aitor Gonzalez, Angel Vicioso, Isaac Galvez, Jesus Manzano, Juan Jose de los Angeles, Francisco Leon and Santiago Perez, fourth at the Romandie.
Ullrich Update: Jan Ullrich will not be sanctioned by his Telekom team following his run-in with police last week, said Walter Goodefroot over the weekend in German dailies. “I will not impose a fine. We will have a meeting with Jan on Monday or Tuesday,” Telekom’s directeur sportif was quoted. Ullrich plowed his Porsche 911 into a bike rack last week in Fribourg and was later tested by police, which revealed he had a blood alchohol level of 1.5 milligrams per liter. German police also pulled the 1997 Tour de France champion’s driver’s license. Wolfgang Strohband, Ullrich’s manager, said the incident hasn’t caused any damage to Ullrich’s image in Germany, where he is one of sport’s biggest stars. “The sponsors continue supporting him and we will continue with the TV commercials as planned,” he said, adding that Ullrich drank “a couple of glasses of wine” because of continuing problems with his knee that has kept him out of competition since the Tour of Qatar in January. Team officials say Ullrich will make a test on some steep climbs this week to see if he’s able to return to a full training regimen and be ready to start the Tour de France in July.
Other weekend race results:Giro de Toscana, Sunday, May 5, 20021. Alexandre Shefer (Kaz), Alessio, 194 km in 4:44:58; 2. Paolo Bettini (I), Mapei, at 0:12; 3. Giuseppe Palumbo (I), De Nardi; 4. Ruggero Marzoli (I), Mobilvetta; 5. Rinaldo Nocentini (I), Fassa Bortolo; 6. Mirko Celestino (I), Saeco; 7. Felix Cardenas (Col), Magliere Cage; 8. Ruslan Ivanov (Mol), Alessio; 9. Sergio Barbero (I), Lampre; 10. Ruggero Borghi (I), Tacconi, all s.t.
GP Aarhus, Sunday, May 05, 20021. Laurent Jalabert (F), CSC-Tiscali, 195 km in 4:40:11; 2. Allan Johansen (Dk), EDS-Fakta; 3. Rik Reinerink (Nl), Bankgiroloterij-Batavus, both s.t.; 4. Michael Sandstod (Dk) CSC-Tiscali, at 0:16; 5. Michael Skelde (Dk) EDS-Fakta, at 0:17; 6. Renè Jorgensen (Dk) EDS-Fakta, at 0:45; 7. Alexandre Usov (Blr); 8. Jorgen Bo Petersen (Dk), EDS-Fakta, both s.t.; 9. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Mapei Espoirs, at 0:46; 10. Michael Blaudzun (Dk), CSC-Tiscali, s.t.