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By Andrew Hood
Discovery Channel veteran Manuel Beltrán could miss the upcoming Vuelta a España after he was injured when he was hit by a motorcycle in a training accident in southern Spain on Sunday.
According to reports on the Spanish wires, Beltrán and three other riders were injured when a motorcycle ran into a group of cyclists training on a national highway early Sunday morning near Beltrán’s hometown of Jaén.
Beltrán, 34, wasn’t seriously injured but suffered cuts and scrapes to his elbow, lower leg and thigh. He was transferred to a local hospital, but was later released without suffering any serious injuries.
“Right now I am just trying to take in what happened,” Beltrán told the Spanish daily MARCA. “I was just starting my preparation for the Vuelta, but it’s logical that an accident can delay my preparation.”
Beltrán pulled out of the 2005 Tour de France after crashing hard on his head during the Tour’s second week.
Fracture for Petacchi
Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) suffered a broken right finger when he crashed on the descent off the Waseberg climb 15km from the finish line in Sunday’s HEW Cyclassics.
The Milan-San Remo winner was scheduled to undergo surgery Monday morning, but that was canceled after his finger was placed into a special cast that will allow him to continue racing.
He’s scheduled to start the Tour of Benelux on Wednesday, and the injury shouldn’t have a major impact on the world championships, still nearly two months from now.
Zabel: ‘Different points of view’
Erik Zabel will leave T-Mobile after negotiations broke down between the veteran sprinter and the German squad.
Zabel, 34, said the differences weren’t over money, but rather his future role on the team, with which he has spent 13 seasons. The German ace reportedly has other options in the works and announcement could come as soon as this week. Many are linking Zabel to Domina Vacanze, but Gerolsteiner could be a likely home for the Berliner as well.
In an interview on T-Mobile’s web page, Zabel said the break came after “different points of view.”
“I don’t want to go into the finer details, as we have agreed to keep them confidential. But I can say one thing: The differences were not financially based. I have decided to take another attractive option,” he said. “I have been in the magenta jersey for my entire pro career. Thirteen years is a long time.”
Zabel, who is scheduled to race the Vuelta and world championships, wants to race for three more seasons before possibly turning to race announcing for German television.
Zabel was left off T-Mobile’s 2005 Tour de France team, something that infuriated the veteran sprinter.
“I regret the outcome of the negotiations,” said T-Mobile’s future team manager Olaf Ludwig. “Erik was the subject of other offers, which gave him a new sporting challenge.”
Armstrong back in USA
After a week of retirement on France’s Cote d’Azur, seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong is set for a string of high-profile media appearances back in the United States.
Armstrong’s upcoming media appearances include: “Late Show with David Letterman” (August 1); “The Charlie Rose Show” (August 1); and OLN (August 2) with “Lance Armstrong: The Ride of a Lifetime”
Konyshev keeps on tickin’
Dmitri Konyshev, the veteran Russian pro on LPR, will ride for one more season next year with the modest Italian team. He will be 40 years old.
While the likes of Lance Armstrong and Mario Cipollini recently retired, Konyshev just keeps on truckin’. One of the last of his breed, Konyshev won a stage in the 1986 Coors Classic an amateur as part of the once-feared Russian national team.
He turned pro in 1989, finishing second in the world championships and winning two races in Italy that year. A winner of stages in all three grand tours, his last major victory came with a stage win in the 2000 Giro d’Italia with Fassa Bortolo.
He joined LPR-Piacenza in 2004 and won a stage this year in the Vuelta a Asturias in Spain. That was enough for everyone to agree he should stick around one more season.
“When Dmitri asked us to extend his contract, there wasn’t one moment of hesitation,” said team manager Omar Piscina. “Even this year, with his victory in Asturias, he’s demonstrated to be a serious and an extraordinary long-lasting athlete.”
Update on Aussie cycling tragedy
Sydney’s Kate Nichols has returned to Australia after being discharged from the University Clinic in Jena, Germany.
The 20-year-old required surgery to repair tendon damage to her right hand and fingers and sustained numerous cuts and abrasions when a teenage female driver lost control of her vehicle and struck the six-member Australian women’s team last week as the riders trained for the Thuringen Rundfahrt.
Champion cyclist and Olympic rower Amy Gillett, 29, was killed instantly and the other five riders hospitalized. Nichols is the first of the five cyclists injured to leave the hospital.
Meanwhile, University Clinic doctors believe South Australian cyclist Alexis Rhodes, 20, and teammate Tasmanian Louise Yaxley, 23, will be out of intensive care within a week. Australian Institute of Sport director Peter Fricker spoke with both riders by telephone over the weekend and says they are progressing well.
Queenslander Lorian Graham, 27, has been shopping with her parents in the local village and is continuing with physiotherapy and rehabiliation. Sydney’s Katie Brown, 21, has started getting around on crutches in preparation for her return home.
Meanwhile, Gillett’s funeral and memorial service was held last Friday in Ballarat. A public memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. Friday at Adelaide’s Super-Drome.
Her family and Cycling Australia have established the Amy Gillett-Safe Cycling Foundation to assist with her teammates’ recovery, fund a sporting and academic scholarship program for promising female cyclists, and promote road-safety awareness among cyclists and motorists.
The organizers of the Thuringen Rundfahrt have contributed $24,000 to the foundation, prize money that sponsors, riders and team management agreed to donate in Gillett’s memory. The event organizers also opened an account in Germany to accept donations.
To donate, see the Cycling Australia website at www.cycling.org.au and follow the links. – This report courtesy of the Australian cycling federation