By Andrew Hood
Sprinting superstar Mario Cipollini will start Wednesday’s Tour Méditerranéendespite crashing hard in Sunday’ GP Costa degli Etruschi, team officialsreported Monday.
Cipollini wasn’t seriously injured in the spill about 2.5km from thefinish line along Italy’s coast, with his helmet evidently protecting the2002 world champion from serious injury.
“Despite the hard crash in the finish Sunday, Cipollini will be at theTour Méditerranéen,” said Domina Vacanze sport director AntonioSalutini. “This will be the first stage race of the season for Cipolliniand the team. Our goal is to win a stage.”
Julich jazzed for Med Tour
Team CSC’s Bobby Julich reports he’s expecting big things from his team in the five-day Tour Méditerranéen. In an interview on the team’s web page, Julich said CSC will be fighting for overall victory.
“Tour Med has always been an important race,” Julich said. “For manyriders it’s the first ‘real’ race of the year, and on a personal note,I’ve previously done well in the Tour Med. I think there’s a great chancewe could start off with a big result for the team, especially after wereally got our time-trial bikes together and practiced the technique atthe training camp in Lucca.”
Sunday’s finale team time trial up the steep roads to Mont Faron aboveToulon will prove decisive, but race organizers have thrown in a twist.Teams will ride together, but instead of taking the time of the fifth rideracross the line as is tradition in most team time trials, riders will stilltake individual times.
“Well, I guess the first 30 kilometers will be a team time-trial andthen it will be an individual time-trial for the last 5 kilometers,” Julichsaid. “It’s gonna be exciting. Usually when things like this come up, peopletend to think it’s no good. But who knows? Perhaps this is the future ofracing. One thing is for sure, it’s the same for everyone, and I believea very organized team will have the best chances in this particular discipline.”Barbosa holds Correos lead
Spanish rider José Angel Gomez (Almeria-Paternina) edged PedroCardoso (Milaneza) to win Monday’s second stage of the GP Correos Portugal.Candido Barbosa (LA Pecol) finished fourth but held onto the overall leadafter taking Sunday’s opener.GP Correos Portugal (UCI 2.3)
Stage 2, Sines to Beja
1. José Angel Gomez (Sp), Almeria-Paternina, 159km in 3:50:27
2. Pedro Cardoso (Por), Milaneza
3. Ricardo Serrano (Sp), Cafes Baque
4. Candido Barbosa (Por), LA Pecol
5. David Fernandez (Sp), Almeria-Paternina, all same timeSevilla happy with move
After an injury-plagued 2003, Oscar Sevilla says he has new motivationafter making the controversial decision to switch from his longtime homeat Kelme to join Tyler Hamilton at Phonak.
Since his breakthrough 2001 season, when he was seventh in his Tourdebut and second overall in the Vuelta, Sevilla has struggled with injuries.In an interview in the Spanish daily AS, Sevilla said it was time to makea change.
“After my crash in the Dauphiné Liberé in 2002, I haven’tbeen able to lift my head. I only felt like a racer again in the last weekof the Vuelta last year alongside Valverde,” Sevilla said. “It was hardto leave Kelme, but I needed a change of air. I feel good now to be atPhonak.”
Sevilla still believes he can shine at the Tour, though at least thisyear he’ll be working to help Hamilton and take on leadership at the Vuelta.Teams finalized for Paris-Nice
The 20 teams set to race the 62nd Paris-Nice were announced with onlyItalian team taking the March 7 start in Arc de Seine near Paris and endingMarch 14 in Nice on the French Riviera. The Italians prefer to race Tirreno-Adriatico in preparation for Milan-San Remo.
T-Mobile will return with defending champion Alexandre Vinokourov, who rode an inspired race last year to honor fallen Kazakh compatriot Andrei Kivilev, who died after a crash in stage two. Kivilev’s death prompted the UCI to require pros to wear hard-shell helmets except on summit finishes.
The French are always hungry for a win at Paris-Nice and CSC comes withmotivated line-up looking make its mark while ex-CSC rider Tyler Hamiltonwill make his season debut in Phonak colors.
Teams for Paris-Nice
Chocolade Jacques Wincor-Nixdorf (B)
Quick Step– Davitamon (B)
Team CSC (Dk)
Iles Baléares–Banesto (Sp)
Liberty Seguros (Sp)
AG2R Prévoyance (F)
Brioches La Boulangère (F)
Crédit Agricole (F)
RAGT Semences-MG Rover (F)
Fassa Bortolo (I)
Phonak Hearing Systems (Swi)
US Postal–Berry Floor (USA).
Rebellin extends to 2005
Italian classics work horse Davide Rebellin has extended his contractwith Gerolsteiner through the 2005 season, Datasport reported. Rebellinhopes for improved results in 2004 and will make his season debut Feb.15 at the Giro dello Liguria.