By Andrew Hood
Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) unleashed a late-stage attack to surprise the bunch to steal home his first career victory in Friday’s second stage while Tom Boonen (Quick Step-Innergetic) finished safely in the main pack to retain the overall lead at the Eneco Tour.
The 26-year-old Italian jumped clear with just over 2km to go go and held off the main pack to snatch the victory while scores of riders finished more than a minute off the winning time after a crash late in the stage.
“When I saw there were just 40 riders on the last lap and that everyone was tired and no team was able to set the pace, I decided to attack,” Quinziato told Eurosport. “I really needed a victory because I’ve close so many times that I was worried I had forgotten how to win.”
The day was also marked by the disqualification of Spanish rider Luis Pasamontes (Unibet), who was away in a breakaway with a big gap but was DQ’d for passing through a red light at a railway crossing.
Three more riders tried their luck with about 60km to go, but they were reeled in with under 20km to go. A crash split the peloton with just under 15km to go and Boonen was zeroing in another stage win when Quinziato sprung his surprise. Compatriot Simone Cadamuro (Milram) won the sprint for second place and Belgium’s Wouter Weylandt (Quick Step) came through third.
The world champion retained his leader’s jersey, but Quinziato pulls within one second ahead of this weekend’s action.
The Eneco Tour continues Saturday with the 185km third stage that pushes into Belgium.
Hoffman to T-Mobile as director
Ex-pro Tristan Hoffman will leave Team CSC after seven years as both a racer and a sport director and join T-Mobile for the 2007 season.
T-Mobile officials contacted the Dutchman ahead of the Tour of Germany about coming on board as the team rebuilds in the wake of the firing of star rider Jan Ullrich for his alleged links to Spain’s Operación Puerto doping investigation.
“It was a very had decision to make because this team really gave me a chance to grow as an athlete and as a person, but it’s a new challenge at T-Mobile because the team is looking at taking a new direction,” Hoffman told VeloNews.
Hoffman is currently directing Team CSC at the Eneco Tour and said he will continue with the Danish team through the end of the 2006 season. He will work at the Tour of Britain as well as the Hessen tour later this season.
Team CSC boss Bjarne Riis said he’ll regret losing Hoffman, whose classics career ended with a painful crash in early 2005, but supported his decision to take on new challenges.
“I feel both proud and sad about having to let Tristan go. He’s been an important person on our team for so many years, but most of all I’m happy to have been able to educate a sports director who is now attractive for other teams,” Riis said on the team’s web page. “It tells me about the respect for the way we do things at Team CSC and that we have a very qualified group of people here.”
Official urges Ullrich to fess up
Peter Danckert, chairman of the German parliamentary sports commission, has called for Jan Ullrich to end his silence over the doping allegations that led to him being barred from this year’s Tour de France.
“He (Jan Ullrich) needs to put his cards on the table,” Danckert told television channel NTV. “I think it would be a huge release if he said: ‘It was me – I made a mistake and so and so happened.’ Otherwise I think he will never be free of this blemish.”
Former Olympic champion and Tour de France winner Ullrich is said to have been given EPO and other banned substances by a Madrid-based sports doctor, Eufemiano Fuentes, who is accused of running a blood-doping network.
The 32-year-old Ullrich has repeatedly denied all doping allegations and claims he does not know Fuentes.
The Swiss cycling federation has already announced proceedings against Ullrich as the German lives in Switzerland and has a Swiss cycling license. Ullrich was suspended by his T-Mobile team a day before the race’s prologue. The German outfit later sacked Ullrich after fresh evidence from a Spanish police investigation appeared to incriminate him further.
Italian Ivan Basso (CSC) and Francisco Mancebo (AG2R) – both of whom were also yellow jersey contenders for this year’s Tour de France – were also suspended by their teams prior to the Tour.
Agence France Presse
Pereiro ready to ride for Valverde
Spanish star Oscar Pereiro might be back to lieutenant duties with the return of teammate Alejandro Valverde for the upcoming Vuelta a España.
The man who may soon be declared the winner of the 2006 Tour de France admitted it might be tough living up to his remarkable July performance, when he finished second overall to Floyd Landis. Pereiro said he won’t be able to pull out his trademark sneak attacks, like the one he unleashed in the Tour to bounce into the yellow jersey and erase a nearly 30-minute gap on the stage to Montélimar.
“We have an all-star team, but I am going to be marked rider and I won’t be able to pull surprises as I like to,” Pereiro said during a team presentation Thursday. “When the other see me at the front, the alarm bells will start ring and that’s too bad, because I like to catch people by surprise.”
Pereiro will share headliner duties with Valverde, back from his broken collarbone that forced his early exit from July’s Tour. With overall Tour winner Landis facing doping charges, the 29-year-old Pereiro could be bounced up to victor if Landis fails in his efforts to prove his innocence.
“We were delighted with second place because it was an important triumph for the team, but right now we can’t celebrate second or first place,” Pereiro said during a news conference. “We are ready to savor the triumph but our celebrations are being put on hold by what is happening. It shouldn’t take much for everything to be confirmed and for victory to be ours.”
Pereiro admits he’s been distracted by the Landis scandal and said he’s unsure of his fitness going into the Aug. 26 start in Málaga. Valverde, meanwhile, will be looking to make up for lost time.
“I will arrive at the Vuelta in good form thanks to the hard work of the doctors,” Valverde said. “Illes Balears will start as the favorites and we will have to concentrate and keep our feet on the ground knowing that anyone can win an event like this.”
Official Vuelta prelim start list out
Vuelta a España officials released the official preliminary start list late Thursday for next weekend’s start in Málaga. With the earlier confirmation this week from Carlos Sastre (CSC), the 61st Vuelta will start with most of Spain’s top stars with the lone exception of last year’s third-place man, Francisco Mancebo (Ag2r), still under suspicion for his links to the Operación Puerto doping investigation.
Oscar Freire (Rabobank) is still expected to start despite dizzy spells that kept him out of the Clásica San Sebastián in Spain last weekend while Tour de France green jersey winner Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) has also confirmed he will start.
There should be a good sprinter contingent. Along with McEwen and Freire, Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole), Alessandro Petacchi and Erik Zabel (Milram)
Among the North Americans starting include Tom Danielson and Michael Barry (Discovery Channel) and Ryder Hesjedal (Phonak) while Chris Horner is in at Davitamon-Lotto with Fred Rodriguez moved to the substitute list. Aaron Olson is also on the substitute list for Saunier Duval-Prodir.
Cofidis extends Monier
Cofidis has signed a two-year contract extension with Damien Monier through the 2008 season. The 24-year-old turned pro in 2004 and won the French individual pursuit title in 2005.
Zampieri joins Cofidis
Swiss rider Steve Zampieri has signed on with Cofidis for next season, confirmed team manager Eric Boyer. The 29-year-old rode with Phonak this season and was quick to find a new job after the team announced its demise at the end of this season.