By Andrew Hood
Injured Tour de France contender Joseba Beloki said he’ll wait one more week for ONCE sport director Manolo Saiz to find a new sponsor before signing with a foreign team.
Beloki, 30, told the Spanish daily AS that he wants to stay with Saiz if he can find a new sponsor to take over for the Spanish lottery ONCE, which is ending its long-running sponsorship at the end of this season.
“I’ll wait one more week for Saiz. If nothing happens, I’ll sign with a foreign team,” Beloki said. The three-time Tour podium finisher has been linked to such teams as Rabobank, CSC, Gerolsteiner and Phonak, but until now has vowed to wait for Saiz.
Beloki suffered a horrible crash July 14 in the final stage in the Alps, when he crashed hard on a curve with Lance Armstrong hot on his wheel. Beloki suffered a broken wrist, elbow and femur while Armstrong went on his famous “shortcut” across a recently cut hay field.
Beloki said his recovery is going well and he’ll be able to get back on the bike at the end of this week. He said he has full movement in his elbow and that the leg is healing well.
Rodriguez to race Vuelta
American Fred Rodriguez is penciled in to start the Vuelta, where he will be looking for the stage victory that eluded him in the 2003 Tour de France.
Rodriguez, who turns 30 on Wednesday, has enjoyed a solid season, with victories both in Europe and in the United States. Rodriguez pulled out of the Tour due to illness and will be among the top stage-hunters if he comes into the Vuelta on top of his form.
Oscar Mason will lead the Saunier Duval-Vini Caldirola team, as it will be called throughout the rest of the 2003 season.
Saunier Duval-Vini Caldirola for the Vuelta:
David de la Fuente (Sp), Oscar Mason (I), Fred Rodriguez (USA), Gian Paolo Cheula (I), Gian Luca Sirona (I), Patrick Calcagni (Swi), Pietro Zucconi (Swi), Massimo Apollonio (I) and Simone Masciarelli (I).
Sastre ready for Vuelta
Team CSC is getting ready for an assault on the Vuelta a España, with Tour stage-winner Carlos Sastre looking to ride into the Spanish race with hopes of bettering his ninth-place finish in the Tour.
Sastre won a stage and made headlines around the world when he popped a baby’s pacifier into his mouth when he crossed the finish line at the finish line atop Plateau de Bonascre. Sastre has been training quietly near his home in the mountains north of Madrid, and Team CSC’s sport director Johnny Weltz said the 28-year-old is ready.
“Carlos is motivated and wants to have a good Vuelta,” Weltz said. “He’s been quiet the month of August, recovering from the Tour and getting ready for the Vuelta. He wants to do well.”
While such riders as Tyler Hamilton and Andrea Peron are giving the Vuelta a miss, Team CSC will come with a strong team to support Sastre in his quest for a strong overall finish as well as stage wins. Austrian Peter Luttenberger will be a strong hand for the mountains and Kiwi sprinter Julian Dean will in the hunt to win a stage in the flats.
CSC for the Vuelta:
Carlos Sastre (Sp), Thomas Bruun Eriksen (Den), Manuel Calvente (Sp), Bekin Christensen (Den), Julian Dean (NZl), Peter Luttenberger (Aut), Frank Schleck (Den), Nicki Sorensen (Den) and Paul Van Hyfte (B)
Peace Race to start in Brussels
The 57th edition of the Peace Race will start next May in Brussels, race organizers announced last week in honor of expansion of the European Union into central and eastern Europe.
The Peace Race, once the biggest and most important event behind the Iron Curtain, has regained a solid footing in the UCI calendar after struggling in the early 1990s following the fall of the former communist bloc.
After the start in Brussels on May 4, the race will transfer by plane to Germany and continue to Poland and end in Prague on May 16. Poland and the Czech Republic are among 10 nations that will join the EU in May.Belgium will also play host to the start of the Tour de France in July, with the opening prologue and first stage set for Liège.
Cooke youngest winner of World Cup
With her fifth-place finish in Sunday’s eighth round of the World Cup, Britain’s Nicole Cooke clinched the overall title of the nine-round series to become the first Brit and the younger rider ever to win the title.
“It was a funny feeling crossing the line because I already knew I was going to win the World Cup series,” Cooke said on her official website. “Crossing the line last week in Plouay was more emotional because that’s where I really won it.”
The former junior world champion enjoyed a banner year, winning three World Cup races en route to clinching the title. She said she felt stronger Sunday than her fifth-place finish revealed and said she held back to let teammate Diana Ziliute take the win.
“Obviously, I’m really happy to have clinched it today, but I’m more delighted that Diana was able to win the sprint. I could probably have finished better than fifth but didn’t want to take away Diana’s chances,” she said. “My team (has) been fantastic, now I can concentrate on the world championship in Canada in October.”