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By Andrew Hood
Ivan Basso is on a tear in the Tour of Denmark, winning the opening three stages and controlling the race leader’s yellow jersey.
The Tour de France runner-up told VeloNews he’s likely to race the San Francisco Grand Prix on September 4 as part of his late-season racing schedule.
“It’s not sure, but it’s 90 percent sure I will race in San Francisco,” Basso said. “I will take a short break after the Tour of Denmark to finalize the schedule for the remainder of the season.”
Basso said he was “satisfied” with his recent Tour de France performance, adding that Lance Armstrong was “too strong to beat.”
Basso, 27, has been tipped as the favorite for overall Tour victory next year, but said it’s too soon to talk about his racing schedule for 2006 or whether he’ll race both the Giro d’Italia and Tour again.
“We haven’t decided which races I will start next year,” Basso said. “It’s too early to think about next season. I will finish this year, take a break and consider what races I will do next year.”
Tour of Denmark
Stage 3 results
1. Ivan Basso (I), Team CSC, 185km in 4:44:15
2. Rory Sutherland (Aus), Rabobank, at 1:09
3. Moises Aldape (Mex), Ceramica Panaria, s.t.,
4. Kurt Asle-Arvesen (Nor), Team CSC, at 1:10
5. Daniele Nardello (I), T-Mobile, s.t.
1. Ivan Basso (I), Team CSC, 14:10:02
2. Daniele Nardello (I), T-Mobile, at 1:45
3. Rory Sutherland (Aus), Rabobank, at 1:46
4. Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor), Team CSC, at 1:48
5. Roy Sentjiens (B), Rabobank, at 2:17
Pieri joins LPR
Dario Pieri, the once-promising Italian classics rider, will make his debut next week in LPR colors for remainder of the 2005 season.
Pieri, 29, agreed with Lampre-Caffita management to end his contract with the ProTour Italian team after a season-long struggle with injuries and weight problems. Second in the 2000 Tour of Flanders and in the 2003 Paris-Roubaix, Pieri has fought weight problems for the past two seasons.
He missed this year’s cobblestone classics due to injuries and being overweight. Lampre-Caffita management told Pieri to shape up or risk losing his contract.
Pieri is scheduled to race on August 9 with LPR and race during 2006 in the Italian continental team.
Ludewig signs two-year deal with T-Mobile
Jörg Ludewig will switch from the Italian Domina Vacanze team to T-Mobile after signing a two-year contract to join the German team in 2006-07.
Ludewig, 29, is the fourth new face for T-Mobile. The team has already signed Deutschland-Tour winner Patrik Sinkewitz, the two-time world time trial champion Michael Rogers (both Quick Step) as well as sprinter Thomas Ziegler (Gerolsteiner).
“We are rebuilding the team and the addition of Jörg is another piece in that jigsaw. Jörg is a great team worker, who also possesses an attacking streak,” said T-Mobile team manager Olaf Ludwig.
“In Jörg Ludewig we are signing a pro who can pass on his experience to the younger riders in the team. As well as that, he is a rider with the potential to ride his own race and go for it.”
Ludewig, who rode his third Tour de France this July and finished 38th on GC, turned pro in 1997 with the Bayer Worringen team. He joined Gerolsteiner in 1999 before switching to two-time Giro winner Gilberto Simoni’s Saeco team in 2000.
Ludewig sets two main goals for the 2006 season: “I want to help Steffen Wesemann in his bid to win Paris-Roubaix and I want to ride my fourth Tour de France. Through my effort and performances, I will strive to repay Olaf Ludwig for the trust he is placing in me.”
More for CA
Jimmy Engoulvent, a French rider on Cofidis, will join Crédit Agricole in 2006. He’s the third rider recently signed by Roger Legeay’s team after Anthony Charteau and Christophe Edaleine.
Mad Max happy with win
Discovery Channel’s Max Van Heeswijk was more than pleased with Thursday’s victory in the Tour of Benelux, his first of the 2005 season. After an off-season split from his wife, Van Heeswijk said he was a basket case in the early part of the season.
“At Ghent-Wevelgem, I just couldn’t take it any more, mentally,” Van Heeswijk said. “After 25 kilometers, I was crying on the bike. I had no choice but to quit the race. I went through a pretty black period. When your head’s not in the game, there’s no way your legs can do their job.”
This year’s troubles were a sharp contrast to his 13 wins in 2004. The victory on home roads Thursday is sure to lift his spirits.
“Max has struggled a bit to find his form this season but it’s good to see him back on the podium,” Discovery Channel team assistant sports manager Dirk Demol said. “I can tell you, I haven’t seen him as happy as he was today in a long time.”
Wrong-way peloton in Spain
Junior racers in the Vuelta Ciclista a Pamplona got turned around in the second stage of the race in northern Spain. The entire peloton, except the winner, got turned around and came into the finish line from the wrong direction.
The winner, who had pulled away in an early breakaway, followed the arrows to the finish line. The remainder of the peloton, however, missed the correct roads and came from the opposite direction to the finish line, much to the surprise of the spectators.
Fire disrupts Spanish race
The peloton was stopped short of the finish line in Thursday’s stage at the Vuelta a León in northern Spain on Thursday after fire threatened to engulf nearby roads.
A lead group of attacking riders came upon fire crews trying to control a blaze at the day’s first climb at Virgen del Valle. The riders endured a 20-minute forced stop until local authorities could secure the safety of the racers and the race entourage.
The race was eventually allowed to carry on, respecting the time differences between the break and the main pack.
Palermo wants Giro start
The Italian city of Palermo wants to host the start of the 2007 Giro d’Italia. Three other cities are also hoping to earn the right to host the opening stage of the Giro.
In 2006, the Giro will begin in Belgium and push south toward Italy’s boot.