Friday’s EuroFile: All-star cast for Clásica; Mancebo wants Vuelta; comings and goings; Vuelta lineup

An all-star cast will line up Saturday for the Clásica San Sebastian, the 227km ProTour race in the heart of Spain’s cycling hotbed of Basque Country. Olympic gold medalist Paolo Bettini (Quick Step), Iban Mayo (Euskaltel), Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears), Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros), Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo, Oscar Sevilla (T-Mobile), defending champion Miguel Angel Perdiguero (Phonak), Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel), ProTour leader Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi) and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) are among the top names starting Saturday. The 227km race starts and

By Andrew Hood

Perdiguero, riding for Saunier Duval, won last year’s Clásica

Photo: AFP (file photo)

An all-star cast will line up Saturday for the Clásica San Sebastian, the 227km ProTour race in the heart of Spain’s cycling hotbed of Basque Country.

Olympic gold medalist Paolo Bettini (Quick Step), Iban Mayo (Euskaltel), Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears), Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros), Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo, Oscar Sevilla (T-Mobile), defending champion Miguel Angel Perdiguero (Phonak), Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel), ProTour leader Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi) and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) are among the top names starting Saturday.

The 227km race starts and ends on the Boulevard, San Sebastian’s glamorous central avenue, lined with trees, bars and trendy shops. The Clásica is the traditional kick-off to San Sebastian’s summer fiestas – called Semana Grande, or the Big Week – so the mood is always festive.

There are no major changes in the bumpy course, which features six rated climbs, including three Category-2. climbs and one Category 3. in the first half of the course, ascents that invariably act as a springboard for early attacks. The centerpiece of the race is the spectacular Cat. 1 Alto de Jaizkibel, a jagged enscarpment towering above the Bay of Biscayne. The climb usually does a good job of splitting up the bunch, but in recent years as the strength of the peloton has increased, breakaways were often neutralized on the 36.5km run back into San Sebastian.

That prompted organizers to add the punchy Cat. 3. Alto de Gurutze with 13.5km to go, adding one more hurdle for chasing and attacking riders before the finish-line surge. The change seems to have worked – in the past few years relatively small groups have come in to dispute for the honors.

Mancebo wants Vuelta win
Francisco Mancebo, fourth at the 2005. Tour de France, is taking aim at the overall title at the Vuelta a España.

Mancebo finished third last year despite racing with an injured wrist. This year, the ambitious Madrileño wants nothing short of victory.

“My intention is to win,” he told the Spanish dailyMARCA. “After the Tour I had a quiet week, just training lightly, and now I will start to go a little harder. I hope to have the conditions to start on top of the podium for my daughter.”

Mancebo said the recent birth of his daughter, born during the heat of the Tour de France, will give him the extra motivation to win.

Despite Mancebo recently signing a high-dollar (or euro, in this case) contract to join Ag2r for the two coming seasons, he said he’s not going to relax in the final third of the 2005. season.

“Absolutely not. I am going to go at the maximum and, as always, give it my all,” he said. “Also, (Alejandro) Valverde won’t be racing.”

Comings and goings
After 11 years as a professional, including a racing ban for EPO, Spanish veteran Javier Pascual Llorente (Comunidad Valenciana) will retire at this weekend’s Clásica San Sebastian. … Nico Mattan, the controversial winner of this year’s Gent-Wevelgem, has prolonged his contract with Davitamon-Lotto for one year. … Ag2r continues on its buying spree. After signing Christophe Moreau, Francisco Mancebo and David Navas, team director Vincent Lavenu is hoping to persuade José Luis Arrieta and Leonardo Piepoli to join the team as well. … Francisco Perez, the Spanish rider who tested positive for EPO at the 2003. Tour de Romandie, has signed a two-year contract with Illes Balears. … Koldo Gil, a winner of a stage at the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of Murcia, is close to signing with Illes Balears as well, according to reports in the Spanish media. … 2002. world champion Igor Astarloa could return to Lampre for the upcoming season. According to a report inDario Vasco, the Barloworld rider will follow sponsor Valsir back to the Lampre camp. Co-habitation between Lampre and Caffita (formerly Saeco) appears to be ending unhappily after one season of experimentation. … Giuseppe Muraglia has extended his contract for one year with LPR, which also recently penned deals with Dario Pieri and Elia Aggiano.

Valverde won’t race Vuelta; Landis, Vande Velde, Danielson will
Floyd Landis (Phonak), Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel) and Christian Vande Velde (CSC) are the top Americans penciled in to start the 60th Vuelta a España later this month.

Alejandro Valverde, meanwhile, was missing from the provisional Vuelta start list released late Thursday afternoon, meaning the Spanish star is all but certain to miss the season’s final grand tour. Valverde has been battling a nagging knee injury, but still hopes to start the world championships in Madrid at the end of September.

Otherwise, the list of riders from 22 teams presented few surprises, as big names such as Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso, Damiano Cunego and Alexandre Vinokourov were never expected to start the Spanish tour.

Liberty Seguros returns with a strong team headlined by defending champion Roberto Heras, who will be aiming for a record fourth Vuelta crown.

Phonak delivers an ambitious team, with Landis, Oscar Pereiro, Santiago Botero and Víctor Hugo Peña lining up for the Swiss team. Francisco Mancebo will lead Illes Balears while José Azevedo, Tom Danielson along with Spanish riders Chechu Rubiera, Benjamín Noval and Manuel Beltrán will lead for Discovery Channel.

Iban Mayo and 2002. champion Aitor González will line up for Euskaltel. Carlos Sastre will get solid help from Vande Velde and a strong Team CSC while two-time Giro champ Gilberto Simoni will lead the charge for Lampre-Caffita.

Top sprinters will line up in Granada for the August 27. start to hone their form ahead of the road world’s in Madrid. Big names include Tom Boonen and Paolo Bettini (Quick Step); Erik Zabel (T-Mobile); Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole); Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo); and Tom Steels (Davitamon-Lotto). Although Oscar Freire (Rabobank) is listed, he’s not expected to take the start.

Vuelta a España (August 27-September18)Preliminary start list

Liberty Seguros (Sp): 1. Roberto Heras, 2. Dariusz Baranowski Pol), 3. Joseba Beloki, 4. Igor González de Galdeano, 5. Giampaolo Caruso (I), 6. Isidro Nozal, 7. Michele Scarponi (I), 8. Marcos Serrano, 9. Angel Vicioso. Reservas: Rene Andrle (Cze), Carlos Barrero, Jan Hruska (Cze) and Sergio Paulinho (Por).

Phonak (Swi): 11. Santiago Botero (Col), 12. Martin Elmiger, 13. Santos González (Sp), 14. Ignacio Gutiérrez (Sp), 15. José Ignacio Gutiérrez (Sp), 16. Floyd Landis (USA), 17. Martín Perdiguero (Sp), 18. Víctor Hugo Peña (Col), 19. Oscar Pereiro (Sp). Reserves: Aurellen Clerc, Uros Murn (Slo) and Tadej Valjavec (Slo).

Illes Balears (Sp): 21. Francisco Mancebo, 22. José Vicente Acosta, 23. José Iván Palacios, 24. Joan Horrach, 25. José Juliá Cayetano, 26. Pablo Lastras, 27. Mikel Pradera, 28. Aitor Osa and 29. Unai Osa. Reservas: David Arroyo, Toni Colom and Toni Tauler.

Bouygues Telecom (F): 31. Anthony Charteau, 32. Sebastien Chavanel, 33. Pierre Drancourt (F), 34. Pierrick Fedrigo, 35. Anthony Geslin, 36. Jerome Pineau, 37. Franck Renier, 38. Thomas Voeckler and 39. Unai Yus (Sp). Reserve: Yohan Gene, Frederic Mainguenaud, Alexandre Naulleau and Mickael Pichon

Comunidad Valenciana (Sp): 41. Angel Luis Casero, 42. David Bernabeu, 43. David Blanco, 44. Francisco Cabello, 45. Carlos García Quesada, 46. Eladio Jiménez, 47. David Latasa, 48. Javier Pascual Rodríguez and 49. Rubén Plaza. Reserve: Javier Cherro, Jose Luis Martínez, David Muñoz and Javier Pacual Llorente.

Cofidis (F): 51. Daniel Atienza (Sp), 52. Leonardo Bertagnolli (I), 53. Jimmy Casper, 54. Arnaud Coyot, 55. Bingen Fernández (Sp), 56. Dimitri Fofonov (Kaz), 57. Nicoladas Inaudi, 58. Luis Pérez (Sp) and 59. Staf Scheirlinckx (B). Reserve: Christophe Edaleine and Guido Trentin (I).

Crédit Agricole (F):
61. Francesco Bellotti (I), 62. Alexandre Botcharov (Rus), 63. Julián Dean (NZ), 64. Thor Hushovd (Nor), 65. Joly Sebastien, 66. Christophe Le Mevel, 67. Eric Leblacher, 68. Benoit Poilvet, 69. Nicolas Vogondy. Reserve: Geoffroy Lequatre.

Davitamon (B): 71. Mauricio Alberto Ardilla (Col), 72. Bart Dockx, 73. Nick Gates (Aus), 74. Jan Kuyckx, 75. Koos Moerenhout (Ned), 76. Gert Steegmans, 77. Tom Steels, 78. Leon van Bon (Ned) and 79. Preben van Hecke. Reservas: Mario Aerts and Aart Vierhouten (Ned).

Discovery Channel (USA): 81. José Azevedo (Por), 82. Manuel Beltran (Sp), 83. Tom Danielson, 84. Stijn Devolder (B), 85. Leif Hoste (B), 86. Benoit Joachim (Lux), 87. Benjamín Noval (Sp), 88. José Luis Rubiera (Sp) and 89. Max van Heeswijk (Ned). Reserve: Michael Barry (Can), Viacheslav Ekimov (Rus), Roger Hammond (GB) and Gennady Mikhaylov (Rus).

Domina Vacanze (I): 91. Simone Cadamuro, 92. Alessandro Cortinovis, 93. Marco Fertonani, 94, Angelo Furlan, 95. Sergio Ghisalberti, 96. Ruslan Ivanov (MDA), 97. Mirco Lorenzetto, 98. Rafael Nuritdinov (Uzb) and 99. Luca Solari. Reserve: Ruggero Borghi, Enrico Grigoli, Iván Quaranta and Paolo Valoti.

Euskaltel Euskadi (Sp): 101. Aitor González, 102. Koldo Fernández, 103. Gorka Gonzales, 104. Roberto Laiseka, 105. David López, 106, Egoi Martínez, 107. Iban Mayo, 108. Aketza Peña and 109. Samuel Sánchez. Reserve: Joseba Albizu.

Fassa Bortolo (I): 121. Fabio Baldato, 122. Massimo Codol, 123. Juan Antonio Flecha (Sp), 124. Alberto Ongarato, 125. Alessandro Petacchi, 126. Fabio Sacchi, 127. Julían Sánchez (Sp), 128. Matteo Tosato and 129. Marco Velo. Reserve: Andrus Aug (Est), Paolo Bossoni, Marzio Bruseghin, Lorenzo Bernucchi and Kanstantsin Siutsou (Bel).

Française des Jeux (F): 131. Ludovic Auger, 132. Christophe Detilloux, 133. Bernhard Eisel (A), 134. Frederic Finot, 135. Bradley McGee (Aus), 136. Ian Mcleod (RSA), 137. Jeremy Roy, 138. Benoit Vaugrenard and 139. Jussi Veikkanen (Fin). Reserve: Armand Gerara, Frederic Guesdon, Christophe Mengin, Fabien Sanchez and Matthew Wilson (Aus) .

Gerolsteiner (G): 141 Rene Haselbacher (A), 142. Heinrich Haussler, 143. Sven Montgomery (Swi), 144. Volker Ordowski, 145. Uwel Peschel, Matthias Ruus, 147. Torsten Schmidt, 148. Marcel Strauss (Swi) and 149. Thomas Ziegler. Reservas: Robert Forster, Sven Krauss and Marco Serpellini (I).

Lampre-Caffita (I): 151. Gilberto Simoni, 152. Daniele Bennati, 153. Giualiano Figueras, 154. Juan Fuentes (Sp), 155. Oleksandr Kvachuk (UCR), 156. Marco Marzano, 157. Andreas Matzbacher (A), 158. Sylvester Szmyd ( Pol) and 159. Andrea Tonti. Reserve: Javier Vila (Sp), Alessandro Spezialetti, Marius Sabaliauskas (Lit), Gerrit Glomser (A) and Giosue Bonomi.

Liquigas-Bianchi (I): 161. Magnus Bäckstedt (Swe), 162. Patrick Calcagni, 163. Mauro Gerosa, 164. Marcus Ljungvist (Swe), 165. Nicola Loda, 166. Oscar Mason, 167. Matej Mugerli (Slo), 168. Charles Wegelius (G) and 169. Marco Zanotti. Reserve: Dario Andriotto, Stefano Garzelli, Vladimir Miholjevic (CRO), Devis Miorin and Gianluca Sironi.

Quick Step (B) 171. Paolo Bettini (I), 172. Tom Boonen, 173. Kevin de Weert, 174, José Antonio Garrido (Sp), 175. Juan Miguel Mercado (Sp), 176. Luca Paolini (I), 177. José Antonio Pecharromán (Sp), 178. Guido Trenti (USA) and 179. Rik Verbrugghe. Reservas: Sebastian Rosseler and Jurgen Van Goolen.

Rabobank (Ned) 181. Denis Menchov (Rus), 182. Jan Boven, 183. Bram de Groot, 184. Oscar Freire (Sp), 185. Pedro Horrillo (Sp), 186. Alexandre Kolobnev (Rus), 187. Niels Scheuneman, 188. Jukka Vastaranta (Fin), 189. Thorwald Veneberg. Reserve: Michael Boogerd, Thomas Dekker, Maarten den Bakker, Mathew Hayman (Aus) and Ronald Mutsaars.

Relax Fuenlabrada (Sp) 191. Nacor Burgos, 192. Moisés Dueñas, 193, José Miguel Elias, 194, Xavier Florencio, 195, Jorge García, 196. Josep Jufre, 197. Oscar Laguna, 198. Luis Pasamontes and 199. Luis Pérez. Reservas: Javier Benitez, Fredy González (Col), Julio López and Daniel Moreno.

Saunier Duval-Prodir (Sp): 201 David Cañada, 202. Rubén Lobato, 203. Iñigo Cuesta, 204. David de la Fuente, 205. Gómez Marchante, 206, Leonardo Piepoli (I), 207. Joaquín Rodríguez, 208. Francisco José Ventoso and 209. Constantino Zaballa. Reserve: Rafael Casero, Angel Gómez and Oliver Zaugg (Swi).

Team CSC (Den) 211. Carlos Sastre (Sp), 212. Manuel Calvente (Sp), 213. Linus Gerdemann (G), 214. Vladimir Gusev (Rus), 215. Giovanni Lombardi (I), 216. Andrea Peron (I), 217. Jakob Piil, 218. Nicki Sorensen and 219. Christian Vandevelde (USA). Reserve: Lars Bak, Thomas Bruun, Allan Johansen, Bobby Julich (USA) and Luke Roberts (Aus).

T. Mobile (G): 221. Rolf Aldag, 222. Marcus Burghardt, 223, Serguei Ivanov (Rus), 224. Andrea Klier, 225. Bernhard Kohl (A), 226, Francisco José Lara (Sp),227. Daniele Nardello (I), 228. Oscar Sevilla (Sp) and 229. Erik Zabel (G). Reserve: Bas Gling (Ned), Torten Hiekmann (Ned), Andre Korff, Bran Schmitz and Christian Werner.