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Monday’s Euro file

American Fred Rodriguez started his 2003 season off with a strong second-place finish in Sunday’s GP Costa del Etruschi in Italy, finishing just behind winner Jaan Kirsipuu. Several riders broke away in the opening Italian race of the 2003 season, but were brought back for a bunch sprint. Kirsipuu, who typically starts the season strong, edged Rodriguez. The news is good for Rodriguez, who joined Sidermec (formerly Tacconi Sport) in December. Rodriguez is hoping to move up one step this spring following his impressive performance last year when he finished second to Mario Cipollini in

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Freddy's season opener, Usov's island win, Bergmann fired, Freire on the move

By Andrew Hood

American Fred Rodriguez started his 2003 season off with a strong second-place finish in Sunday’s GP Costa del Etruschi in Italy, finishing just behind winner Jaan Kirsipuu. Several riders broke away in the opening Italian race of the 2003 season, but were brought back for a bunch sprint. Kirsipuu, who typically starts the season strong, edged Rodriguez. The news is good for Rodriguez, who joined Sidermec (formerly Tacconi Sport) in December. Rodriguez is hoping to move up one step this spring following his impressive performance last year when he finished second to Mario Cipollini in Milan-San Remo and Ghent-Wevelgem.

Results: GP Costa del Etruschi (1.3), Feb. 2, 2003, Italy:

1. Jaan Kirsipuu (Est), AG2R, 4 hours, 50 minutes; 2. Fred Rodriguez (USA), Sidermec; 3. Werner Riebenbauer (A) Fatka; 4. Paolo Bettini (I), Quick Step; 5. Uros Murn (Slo) Formaggi Pinzolo; 6. Massimiliano Mori (I), Formaggi Pinzolo; 7. Thierry Masschelein (B), IteamNova; 9. Giuseppe Palumbo (I), De Nardi-Colpack; 10. Yuri Metluschenko (Ukr), Landouwkrediet, all s.t.

Usov spoils Galvez fiesta

Sun welcomed 207 riders Monday for the second day of racing on Spain’s Balearic Islands for the 164.5-km Trofeo Cala Rajada. Portuguese rider Lizuarte Martins (Milaneza-MSS) made a move at 29 km and built up a lead of more than six minutes before the bunch started to accelerate. Alexandre Usov (Phonak) tried to escape coming into the finish, but the group kept it together for a mass sprint to the line. Usov had enough in the tank to snatch victory in what looked like a matchup between Erik Zabel (Telekom) and Oscar Freire (Rabobank). Finishing second was Isaac Galvez (Kelme), winner of Sunday’s Trofeo Mallorca. Racing continues Tuesday with the Trofeo Manacor.

Results: Trofeo Cala Rajada (1.3), Feb. 3, 2003, Spain

1. Alexandre Usov (Blr), Phonak, 164.5 km in 4 hours, 15 minutes, 24 seconds, 38.6 kph; 2. Isaac Galvez (Sp), Kelme; 3. Erik Zabel (G), Telekom; 4. Yon Bru (Sp), LA-Pecol; 5. Rudi Kemna (Nl), Bankgiroloterij; 6. Oscar Freire (Sp), Rabobank; 7. Alexei Markov (Rus), Lokomotiv; 8. Alejandro Valverde (Sp), Kelme; 9. Allan Davis (Aus), ONCE; 10. Roberto Hunter (SA), Rabobank, all s.t.

Phonak racer fired for possession

Swiss racer Reto Bergmann was fired by the Phonak team for possession of the banned product, Andriol, a form of testosterone. According to Datasport news service, the product was found during training in Spain and the team released Bergmann, 26, from his contract. Bergmann, who started racing in 2000, admitted he brought the products into Spain earlier this year for training.

Freire moves to Switzerland

Oscar Freire came up short in Monday’s bunch sprint in the Trofeo Cala Rajada, but the two-time world champion is hoping for big things in his inaugural season with Rabobank. Freire spent three years with Mapei, but joined Rabobank after the Italian team folded at the end of last season. He said he plans to build slowly going into the 2003 season, with goals set for later in the season.

Freire has also joined several other top pros such as Jan Ullrich, Richard Virenque, Laurent Jalabert and Stefano Garzelli by moving to Switzerland for tax reasons. “The life of a sportsman is short,” Freire told the Spanish sports daily AS on the eve of the 2003 season.