By Andrew Hood
Discovery Channel officials are still unsure how long 2002 Giro d’Italia champion Paolo Savoldelli will be sidelined after breaking his collar bone in three places during a training ride in California over the weekend.
Savoldelli was scheduled for surgery on Sunday in a Santa Barbara hospital and officials are still waiting to find out how long the Italian will be set back. Savoldelli crashed in a training ride Saturday during the team’s annual training camp near Solvang when his front tire exploded after hitting a pothole. He was initially seen by team doctors on the scene and then transferred to a hospital in nearby Santa Barbara. Roads in the area have been damaged by especially strong rains earlier this month.
“It happened suddenly while we were climbing up a short hill at about 20kph,” Discovery’s Michael Barry said. “He went down immediately and never had a chance to react. His collar bone took the entire blow of the fall and it was noticeably broken as soon as he stood up.”
“It’s very unfortunate when any rider goes down,” said team spokesman Dan Osipow. “But here’s a guy whose last two seasons have been marred by injury and illness. Since he has joined the Discovery Channel Team he has been rejuvenated and is very optimistic about the 2005 season. The only ‘good’ news is the timing – it is only January and he has time to heal.”
After winning the 2002 Giro ahead of American Tyler Hamilton, Savoldelli was picked up by T-Mobile to lead the team in the major tours. But Savoldelli never made it to the Tour de France. He fractured two vertebrae in a training ride in February 2003 and then was sidelined by stomach problems as well as injuries suffered in an early season race last year. White eyes Tour debut – finally
Matthew White hopes to make his Tour de France debut this summer at long last. The veteran Australian was the victim of a freak crash just hours before last year’s prologue, when his bike was tripped up by television cables and sent the Aussie toppling to the ground with a broken clavicle.
Until the Tour, White is back home this week to ride for teammate Stuart O’Grady in the Tour Down Under which starts Tuesday.
“I’m here to work for Stu. The team’s goal is to work for him to get the yellow jersey and to help keep it on his back and defend it until we cross the finish line next Sunday,”White said in an interview with The Australian newspaper.
Konecny on the mend
Czech rider Tomas Konecny is finally walking without crutches after breaking his femur eight weeks ago in an off-season ice hockey accident, his T-Mobile team reported. The 31-year-old is joining his teammates at the Robinson Club complex on Majorca and going on short training rides, but is still a long way from racing his bike after losing muscle mass and fitness from the long recovery.
Team doctor Lothar Heinrich said Czech doctors used complex fixation surgery techniques, with plates and screws to immobilize the leg for healing. It is unusual for a fit strong athlete to break the femur bone, so Konecny must have hit the ground with massive force, says Heinrich.
Group training with the rest of his team mates is out of the question for now, the team reported. While the rest of the T-Mobile cyclists spend up to five hours on the roads of Majorca each day preparing for the coming season, Konecny is hitting the gym to build up his strength and stamina, under the supervision of physiotherapist Hagen Bernutz.
“I feel that it is getting better each day,” Konecny said. “It is perfect here in Majorca for continuing with my rehab training.” Modest French team dreams of Tour bid
New French team Agritubel is hoping it can earn a bid to race in this year’s Tour de France despite its modest lineup. The team just moved into the elite ranks after eight years as the amateur team VC Loudun in the Vienne region of France and has a fairly large budget of 2.7 million euro for its first season.
Former Tour de Suisse winner Christophe Agnolutto, 2002 Criterium International winner Alberto Martinez and French pros Benoît Salmon and Florent Brard lead the charge. The team will focus on the French Cup series as well as other regional races in the hopes of attracting the attention of Tour officials.
Agritubel for 2005
Christophe Agnolutto, (F)
Linas Balciunas (Lit)
Stéphane Bergès, (F)
Florent Brard, (F)
Michaël Buffaz, (F)
Gilles Canouet, (F)
Cédric Coutouly, (F)
Nicolas Crosbie, (F)
Alexandre Girout, (F)
Christophe Laurent, (F)
Lenaic Olivier, (F)
Alberto Martinez (Spa)
Denis Robin, (F)
Saulius Ruskys (Lit)
Benoît Salmon (F)
Marc Staelen (F)
Quick Step riding short-handed in TDU
Quick Step’s Wouter Weylandt will not start Tuesday’s Tour Down Under, leaving the Belgium team with only seven riders instead of eight for the big Aussie race. The 20-year-old neo-pro was diagnosed with mononucleosis and will return to Belgium for additional tests, the team reported.