By Andrew Hood
Lampre-Caffita sees the future and it includes Damiano Cunego, but not Gilberto Simoni.
According to a report in L’Equipe, the Italian team will extend Cunego’s contract for three more years while Simoni be allowed to leave the team despite finishing second in last month’s Giro d’Italia.
Simoni and Cunego have often clashed on Lampre and the former incarnation of the team, Saeco. Simoni, who was already rumored to be in negotiations with Domina Vacanze for the upcoming season, criticized the work of his team during the Giro, above all Cunego, who he said let him down.
Cunego responded to the charge by insisting the team fully supported Simoni.
“The team did everything we could to help Simoni. What else could we do? Push him?” Cunego said in La Gazzetta dello Sport. “For me, the Giro was very difficult, more so because of all the hard climbs, the difficulty of the stages and the psychological situation I found myself in. I carried a huge pressure and because of this it was hard to do well. When you’re 23 years old, that’s hard to carry.”
Cunego aims next for the Tour de France where he insists he’ll race simply to learn about the race.
Hondo out for a year
German sprinter Danilo Hondo was handed down a one-year racing ban by the Swiss cycling federation Thursday after testing positive for the banned stimulant Carphedon during the Vuelta a Murcia in March where he won two stages.
Hondo, who holds a Swiss racing license, will be able to return to racing in March, 2006, in what’s viewed as a fairly lenient sentence when he could have been banned for up to two years. He was also fined 50,000 Swiss francs.
The 31-year-old Hondo insisted on his innocence, basing his defense that the product was passed into his system as part of something he ate. Hondo’s lawyer pointed to the small levels of the doping product in his anti-doping samples as well as the fact he passed doping tests the previous day.
Gerolsteiner had fired Hondo once the news broke, but there was no comment from the team following the Thursday ruling. Hondo’s attorney was insisting his client would be cleared to race for a ProTour team despite the new ethics charter calling for the doubling of any doping ban. Dekker to retire 2006
Veteran Dutch rider Erik Dekker announced he will retire at the end of the 2006 season. According to a report on the Dutch wire service ANP, Dekker wants to race one more season in top health and then hang up the cleats for good.
A pro since 1992, Dekker won the 2001 World Cup and four stages in the 2000 Tour de France, but suffered with health problems since crashing in the 2002 Milan-San Remo. He came back last year to win Paris-Tours and will try to win a stage in this year’s Tour.
Big Mig says racing more dynamic
Five-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain said racing today is more dynamic and exciting during his career.
“For the spectator, I believe that it’s better, more exciting because the stages are shorter, more attacking,” Indurain said during an awards ceremony. “Now there are clear objectives, even though this year with the ProTour riders have to compete more, but the stages are shorter, more dynamic. Cycling is evolving little by little.” Bicicleta Vasca complains
Bicicleta Vasca organizers are complaining that without ProTour status, the UCI has “left us with nothing.” Like many Spanish races that didn’t earn ProTour designation, organizers are finding it hard to attract top teams and riders.
“We managed to get three Spanish teams and they’re doing us a favor,” said race director Julián Eraso. “The teams are all buried by the demands of racing the ProTour. They told us next year they’ll come back, but we’re not so sure. And we had a hard time getting teams from the other category, including offering them money. In the end we found 13 teams, it’s the best we could do.”
Eladio Jiménez (Comunidad Valenciana) won Thursday’s climbing stage in a long solo break to move nearly three minutes into the overall lead. It was the 11th win of the season for Comunidad Valenciana.