By Andrew Hood
Davide Rebellin hopes to turn back the tide in 2006, put his largely forgettable 2005 campaign behind him and return to his winning ways of 2004.
The 34-year-old believes it’s possible to return to form that saw him win the Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallone and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in one fabulous run nearly two years ago.
“I will start racing in February in Portugal at the Tour of Algarve to arrive in good condition for Milan-San Remo,” Rebellin told TuttoBici. “I’ll try to do something to prevent it from coming down to a bunch sprint.”
The Italian veteran, who won just one race in 2005, said his focus will be on the one-day classics and he’s not even sure he’ll start the Giro d’Italia. If he does, it will be to chase a stage-win or the maglia rosa early in the race. He’s already discounting a start in the Tour de France.
Rebellin still dreams of racing again in the world championships with Italy and has even decided to ditch efforts to gain Argentine citizenship. Two years ago, with the world championships in Verona near his hometown, a disappointed Rebellin was left off the Italian team despite holding the World Cup leader’s jersey. A late attempt to gain an Argentine passport failed and he was left on the sidelines.
Rebellin said he’d love nothing more than to race in the 2006 course in Salzburg, Austria, wearing the Italian national jersey.
“I’m open to a dialogue with Ballerini,” Rebellin said in reference to national team coach Franco Ballerini. “The Austrian course is well-suited for me and I would truly like to participate.”
He and his Gerolsteiner teammates are set to converge later this month on Mallorca for a pre-season training camp.
Milram ready for debut
The public gets its first official look at the new Milram team in a formal presentation Tuesday in Bremen, Germany.
The Italian-German team will enter the 2006 season with a full line-up of 30 riders, which includes 15 Italians, 10 Germans, two Ukrainians, one Kazakh, one Dutch and one Slovak rider.
With star sprinters Alessandro Petacchi and Erik Zabel sharing top-billing, the team is expected to rack up some impressive victories throughout the season.
“We have a team with a good structure,” said team manager Gianluigi Stanga to Datasport. “We’re expecting some good results, especially in the sprints. We also have a group of young riders from which we’re expecting a lot, especially this year.”
Stanga said he’s also expecting a strong year from Mirko Celestino, who struggled through the 2005 season.
Lara laments T-Mobile exit
Paco Lara was hoping to ride in the Tour de France this July, but instead he’ll be racing in the continental series after getting bumped from T-Mobile despite a strong 2005 season.
The veteran Spanish rider will ride with Paul Versan-Andalucia this season and isn’t expected to be anywhere close to France come July.
“It’s too bad. I was encouraged in 2005 and I expected to be named to the Tour team for this year, but after the Vuelta last September, the team told me they weren’t extending my contract,” Lara told EFE. “It’s too bad I won’t be there for Ullrich in the Tour. It’s my dream to race in the Tour, just like any rider.”
Lara, 28, rode alongside Ullrich at the former Bianchi-Coast team in 2003 and then signed on with T-Mobile along with compatriot Oscar Sevilla in 2005. The pair rode well in the Vuelta, but Lara was told there was no room for him this season.
“I’m not sure what my racing schedule will look like this year,” he said. “Now I have to change my perspective and use my experience to try to win some races.”
Pozzato starts in Mallorca
Riders are making their plans for the season debut and Filippo Pozzato, the Italian rider on Quick Step-Innergetic, will begin his season at the Mallorca Challenge in early February. Teams ready for TA
Race organizers for Tirreno-Adriatico released its list of 21 teams for the 2006 edition set for March 8-14:
Française des Jeux
Illes Balears-Caisse d’Epargne
Phonak Hearing Systems