By Andrew Hood
Cruz one more year with Discovery
Tony Cruz will ride with Discovery Channel in 2005. Cruz is on the cusp of finishing the 2004 Vuelta a España and told VeloNews he’s already penned a contract to race next year as the team switches title sponsors from U.S. Postal Service to Discovery Channel.
“I got a better deal with the team and I’m ready just to start winning races,” Cruz told VeloNews after Thursday’s stage into Ávila. “I’m satisfied with this Vuelta and with how the season went. I will be more confident next year to win more races.”
Cruz enjoyed a banner year in 2004 which saw the 32-year-old Californian win his first race in Europe, taking a stage at the Tour de l’Ain in France in August. In the Vuelta, Cruz figured nicely in a winning breakaway in stage 16 with Spanish rider José Julia attacked from 3km to go to hold to win. Landis heading home
A weary Floyd Landis was scheduled to fly to the United States on Friday morning from Spain after abandoning the 59th Vuelta a España in Thursday’s stage, putting an end to his 2004 racing season.
Landis became the first American to wear the Vuelta’s leader’s jersey, taking it when U.S. Postal Service won the opening time trial and snatched it again after a time trial in stage 8.
Landis, however, struggled to hold the lead against the Spanish climbers, finally forfeiting the leader’s jersey at Calar Alto in stage 12 to former teammate Roberto Heras.
“I’ve been riding hard since training began in November, so I knew coming into the Vuelta it would be difficult against the Spanish riders,” Landis told VeloNews Thursday evening from the team hotel.
The long racing season started to catch up with Landis and he started to feel sick last Saturday. Landis suffered up the La Covatilla climb and decided to abandon Thursday when he was just too sick to carry on.
“This has been a positive experience,” said Landis, his voice showing the signs of a chest cold. ��The team did everything they could to help me and we tried to hold the jersey as long as we could.”
Thursday’s stage marked the last in a U.S. Postal Service jersey. Next year he will line up in the green and yellow jersey of Phonak. Mass exodus at Vuelta
With the five other abandons in Thursday’s stage, the 59th Vuelta a España is a shadow of what started with 187 starters in León on Sept. 4. Only 125 riders remain, meaning a good one-third of the bunch has gone home. With three stages to go, there could be a few more early departures but it’s still not even close to the record number of abandons in the Vuelta. In 1985, 91 of the starting 179 riders pulled up before arriving to Madrid. Still, the number of abandons at the Vuelta is higher compared to the other grand tours. At the 2004 Giro d’Italia, 29 of the 169 starters quit while the Tour de France saw 41 of the starting 188 say au revoir early. Ullrich wins in world’s warm-up
Big Jan Ullrich got a confidence boost after winning Thursday’s Coppa Sabatini in Italy. Three riders peeled away early, but Ullrich won a three-up sprint against Franco Pellizotti (Alessio-Bianchi) and Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) to take the win. Ullrich will race in both the men’s road race and time trial. Vino’ stops Vuelta for world run
Alexander Vinokourov didn’t start Thursday’s 17th stage of the Vuelta a España, becoming the sixth T-Mobile rider to quit the Spanish race. But Vino left early to prepare for the world championships.
“It was more or less pre-planned. He has been well down in the overall standings as a result of his earlier sickness,” said T-mobile director Frans van Looy. “It is a very tough race. Vino will take things easy for the next five days, then he will line out for his national squad at the worlds on Wednesday.”
The third-place finisher in the 2003 Tour went to his home in Nice, France, on Thursday, the team reported. On Monday, he will travel to Verona, where he will link up with T-Mobile-Team Sergej Yakovlev and the rest of the Kazakh national squad as they finalize their preparations for the last big race of the year, the team reported.