By VeloNews interactive, With wire services
Overall ProTour leader Danilo Di Luca will return to the circuit on July 31 for the HEW-Cyclassics in Hamburg, Germany, his Liquigas team announced on Monday.
The 29-year-old Italian has not raced since the Giro d’Italia, which finished earlier this month when he finished fourth.
“I returned to training on Sunday because I wanted to rest after the Giro,” he said. “If it isn’t too hot I will train in the Appennine mountains.
“I will return at Hamburg in order to rediscover my rhythm and then I will race in San Sebastian, Spain, and the Tour of Germany so I can pick up more points,” added Di Luca, who had a great start to the season winning the Amstel Gold Race and the Fleche Wallone.
Di Luca said that he was also willing to race in the world championship road race in Madrid.
“The course isn’t really ideal for me, but I will do it if it can help Alessandro Petacchi (compatriot and sprint specialist),” said Di Luca, who presently leads Belgian Tom Boonen by 72 points in the rankings.
Current ProTour standings
(Following the completion of the Tour of Switzerland)
1. Danilo Di Luca (ITA), 184 points
2. Tom Boonen (BEL),112
3. Alessandro Petacchi (ITA), 111
4. Oscar Freire (ESP), 94
5. Santiago Botero (COL), 93
6. Paolo Savoldelli (ITA), 89
7. Davide Rebellin (ITA), 86
8. Michael Rogers (AUS), 80
9. Michael Boogerd (NED), 80
10. George Hincapie (USA), 77
11. Alexandre Vinokourov (KZK), 76
12. Bobby Julich (USA), 75
13. Jens Voigt (GER), 72
14. Gilberto Simoni (ITA), 70
15. Alberto Contador (ESP), 67
16. Juan Antonio Flecha (ESP), 65
17. Aitor Osa (ESP), 60
18. Damiano Cunego (ITA), 58
19. Thor Hushovd (NOR), 57
20. David Moncoutie (FRA), 56
21. Aitor Gonzalez (ESP), 51
22. Inigo Landaluze (ESP), 50
23. Yaroslav Popovych (UKR), 50
24. Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (ESP) 50
25. David Etxebarria (ESP), 45
34. Jan Ullrich (ALL),36
35. Paolo Bettini (ITA), 36
49. Lance Armstrong (USA), 30
80. Ivan Basso (ITA), 10
1. Phonak, 230 points
3. Rabobank, 222
4. CSC, 214
5. Saunier Duval, 188
6. Fassa Bortolo, 182
7. Credit Agricole, 177
8. Liberty, 173
9. Discovery Channel 161
10. T-Mobile, 158
11. Cofidis, 156
12. Gerolsteiner, 151
13. Liquigas, 143
14. Quick Step, 136
15. Baleares, 131
16. Lampre, 130
17. Bouygues Telecom,109
18. Domina Vacanze, 79
19. Francaise des Jeux 77
20. Euskaltel, 70
”TerminAitor” strikes back
Aitor González once again has a smile on his face.
After two frustrating seasons with Fassa Bortolo — when the 2002 Vuelta a España champion failed to deliver on his promise to take on Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France — González scored an emotional victory in the Tour de Suisse on Sunday.
“I was convinced I could win. I was mentally prepared for it and the previous day I tried,” González said following Sunday’s surprise finish. “I’m not a rider who likes to attack from far away, but I had no other option and I had to risk it all. Thankfully, everything went well even though I nearly fell on a turn.”
With victory in Sunday’s final stage and the overall, the man once called the “TerminAitor” is back in the spotlight, scoring his first major stage-race win since his breakthrough 2002 season.
“This win is very important in my career and even more so after the bad taste the past few seasons,” he said. “I’ve returned to the top spot and I feel like I did in the Vuelta in 2002.”
González’s win makes him just the second Spanish rider to claim the Swiss title (José Manuel Fuente won in 1973), but he won’t be racing in the Tour de France. González abandoned during the Giro d’Italia and will reload for the Vuelta later this season.
Liberty convenes with pre-Tour camp
Liberty Seguros-Würth is hoping a team training camp in northern Spain will help the team find its “mojo” ahead of the Tour de France.
After Roberto Heras failed to show much form at the recent Dauphiné Libéré, team boss Manolo Saiz hinted the team would hold a training camp to get everyone on track for the Tour.
Eleven riders on the team’s Tour short-list are convening at the Great Spa Hotel in Cantabria for the week-long camp. The Tour nine will be selected from the following: René Andrle, Joseba Beloki, Alberto Contador, Allan Davis, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, Roberto Heras, Jörg Jaksche, Luis León Sanchez, Marcos Serrano, Ángel Vicioso and Jan Hruska.
Leipheimer, Totschnig to lead Gerolsteiner Tour squad
American Levi Leipheimer and Austria’s Georg Totschnig will be the top riders for Gerolsteiner in next month’s Tour de France after the German team announced its line-up on Monday.
Leipheimer and Totschnig, who were ninth and seventh respectively in the 2004 Tour, will be challenging for the overall title.
The team also has specialist riders in German sprinter Robert Forster and veteran climber Beat Zberg of Switzerland for the July 2 to 24 event. Gerolsteiner for the Tour de France
Levi Leipheimer (USA)
Georg Totschnig (A)
Michael Rich (G)
Beat Zberg (Swi)
Peter Wrolich (A)