By Andrew Hood
Two-time Vuelta a España champion Alex Zülle, former world champion Oscar Carmenzind and two other pros were intentionally driven into a guard-rail by an angry motorist Thursday in Spain.
Zülle, Carmenzind (both Phonak), compatriot Fabian Jeker (Saunier Duval) and Santos González (Phonak) were training near Alicante in southern Spain when an 84-year-old driver exchanged heated words with the pros and then forced them into a guard-rail with his vehicle, the EFE wire services reported.
Jeker suffered a three-inch cut in his left thigh while Zülle was taken away in an ambulance, received five stitches at a local hospital and was told he can’t train for 10 days.
“This time of year we’re training harder and harder. This forced stop is going to cut my preparation, but I have to give thanks,” Jeker said. “He could have killed us.”
According to reports, the riders were riding side-by-side on a climbing section of a secondary road near the Mediterranean Sea when the motorist became angry after cursing them for blocking the road.
Words were exchanged and one of the riders flipped the bird, to which the driver responded by forcing the racers into the guard-rail.
Police detained the driver and Jeker filed a complaint with local authorities. A new Spanish law allows cyclists to ride two abreast on all roads.
Azevedo doesn’t like Heras comparison, Beltrán adds Ruta
U.S. Postal newcomer José Azevedo said he doesn’t like comparisons to Roberto Herás and only wants to help team boss Lance Armstrong win a sixth Tour de France.
“I was signed to substitute Heras, but I cannot be compared to him, we are different types of riders,” Azevedo told Todociclismo. “What I desire is to maintain a competitive level that will allow me to help Armstrong.”
The Portuguese Azevedo was brought on to fill the spot vacated by Herás, who left to lead the start-up Liberty Seguros team.
Azevedo will travel later this month to California for the Postal training camp and then debut in Postal colors in the Tour of Algarve alongside Armstrong in February. Then he’ll race Paris-Nice and Bicicleta Vasca among other races to prepare for the Tour.
Another Postal rider, Manuel Beltrán, said he’s adding the Tour of Andalucia (Ruta del Sol, Feb. 15-19) to his schedule to be able to race in his hometown of Jaén.
“It’s going to be training with a race bib, because I’ve only just started my preparation recently,” he said, adding his top goal is to Armstrong win the record sixth Tour.
“It’s an objective I tackle with a lot of sentiment and it can be history-making because no rider’s ever won six Tours,” he said. “I want to arrive (at the Tour) 100 percent to work with Armstrong.”
Rebellin dreams of Liege, world’s
Italian star Davide Rebellin hopes for a return to form in 2004 after rolling through last season with only three wins and is eyeing Liege-Bastogne-Liege as his top goal for the early part of the season.
“I want to bring home a World Cup win, above all Liege,” Rebellin told La Gazzetta dello Sport. Rebellin has finished second and third, respectively, in recent editions of the La Dayonne.
Rebellin is in his last year of his contract with Gerolsteiner and will be hungry for some strong results, especially with the Summer Olympics on tap and the road world championships back in Italy.
“In 1999 (world’s also in Verona), I was forced to withdrawal because of a crash, but I had great legs,” Rebellin said. “This is the second and the one last chance, so I must take advantage of it.”