By Andrew Hood
Unipublic, the organizer of the Vuelta a España, on Monday releasedthe list of teams participating in this year’s event.
The race is slated to start in Leon on September 4 and finish on September 26 in Madrid.
Teams selected by world ranking
1. Fassa Bortolo (I)
2. Quick Step (B)
3. T-Mobile (G)
4. Saeco (I)
5. Iles Balears-Banesto (Sp)
6. Cofidis (F)
7. Rabobank (Nl)
8. Liberty Seguros (Sp)
9. U.S. Postal Service (USA)
10. CSC (Dk)
11. Alessio-Bianchi (I)
12. Euskaltel-Euskadi (Sp)
13. AG2R Prevoyance (F)
14. Phonak (Swi)Invited
15. Brioches La Boulangere (F)
16. Cafe Baque (Sp)
17. Colchon (Sp)
18. Kelme (Sp)
19. Lampre (I)
20. Paternina (Sp)
21. Saunier Duval (Sp)
22. Vini Caldirola (I)
Millar doesn’t like the rain
Reigning world time trial champion David Millar kicked off his 2004 seasonlast week in the Tour of Valencia. The cool and dapper Brit (Scot, Maltan,Hong Kongite?) didn’t like race conditions in the opening stages.
“The race has been pretty shitty so far because of the rain. It’s annoyingbecause it is only raining when we race, as soon as we get back to thehotel the weather is fine,” Millar said on his web page. “I lost time overthe first couple of stages but I’m not too worried, I need to improve myform and the best way for me is to ride in some early races.”
Up next for Millar is Paris-Nice, followed by Milan-San Remo and CriteriumInternational. Millar’s top goals for the season are to win the openingprologue at the 2004 Tour de France, and the yellow jersey that goes withit, and the Olympic time trial gold medal.
Here’s a look at his racing schedule: Paris-Nice, Milan-San Remo, CriteriumInternational, Tour of Romandie, 4 Days of Dunkirk, Critérium duDauphiné Libéré, Tour de France, Olympic RR and ITT,Vuelta a España and road world championships.
The 62nd Paris-Nice kicks off Sunday for the season’s first seriousdate on the calendar. Since ASO took over the race two years ago, Paris-Nicehas only increased in stature and importance, especially among French riders.
Although the Tour de France wild-card bids are already out, teams arestill highly motivated to shine in the season’s first hors categorie (HC)rated race of the season.
Here’s a list of the teams and top riders set to take the start Sunday:Gerolsteiner: Davide Rebellin, Marco Serpellini, Beat Zberg
T-Mobile: Alexandre Vinokourov, Mario Aerts, Santiago Botero
Chocolade Jacques Wincor – Nixdorf: Florent Brard, Dave Bruylandts,Chris Peers
Lotto-Domo: Axel Merckx, Robbie Mc Ewen, Rik Verbrugghe
Quick Step – Davitamon: Richard Virenque, Tom Boonen, LazloBodrogi, Johan Museeuw
Team CSC: Jens Voigt, Jorg Jaksche, Ivan Basso
Euskaltel – Euskadi: Gorka Arrizabalaga, Unaï Extebarria,Samuel Sanchez
Iles Baléares – Banesto: Denis Menchov, Pablo Lastras
Liberty Seguros: Dariusz Baranowski, Isidro Nozal, Marcos AntonioSerrano
U.S. Postal – Berry Floor: Vlatcheslav Ekimov, George Hincapie,Max Heeswijk
Ag2r Prevoyance: Laurent Brochard, Samuel Dumoulin, StéphaneGoubert, Jean-Patrick Nazon
Brioches La Boulangère: Sylvain Chavanel, JérômePineau, Thomas Voeckler, Didier Rous
Cofidis: David Millar, David Moncoutié, Stuart O’Grady
Crédit Agricole: Thor Hushovd, Patrice Halgand, Pierrick Fédrigo
FDJeux.com: Sandy Casar, Baden Cooke, Nicolas Vogondy
R.A.G.T. Semences – MG Rover: Frédéric Finot,Christophe Rinero
Alessio-Bianchi: Pietro Caucchioli, Franco Pellizotti, Andrea Tafi
Fassa Bortolo: Dario Frigo, Fabian Cancellara, Kim Kirchen
Rabobank: Levi Leipheimer, Erik Dekker, Robert Hunter
Phonak: Tyler Hamilton, Alex Zülle
Ullrich just wants the kilometers
Tour de France runner-up Jan Ullrich is playing down the significance of his meeting with Lance Armstrong in the Tour of Murcia, which starts on Wednesday, insisting he is not concerned about trying to upstage the U.S. Postal Rider.
Ullrich, now back riding with his old Telekom team (now T-Mobile), will race against Armstrong for the first time since their epic duel at the 2003 Tour.“It is not significant that Lance (Armstrong) and I are going up against each other this week,” stated Ullrich. “Where we finish the race will not have a bearing on the rest of the season.”
Ullrich, 30, has set his sights on dethroning five-time Tour winner when the world’s most prestigious cycling race starts on July 3, adding that he is not worried about early season results.
“I do not intend to put myself in the spotlight by winning the race,” added Ullrich. “I am just concentrating on clocking up the kilometers which I need if I want to win (the Tour) in July.”
Sastre wants more of same
Team CSC’s Carlos Sastre hopes he can use that pacifier even morethis season. The 28-year-old Spanish rider made headlines with his finish-linecelebration after winning a mountain stage in the Tour de France last year.
Sastre will ride alongside Ivan Basso as co-captain following the departureof Tyler Hamilton for Phonak.
“Tour de France is the most important race,” Carlos Sastre said on theteam’s web page. ”Last year Tyler Hamilton and I worked together very well,and I’m sure, it will be the same with Basso this year.”
Tenth in the 2002 Tour and ninth last year with the stage win, Sastrewants even more this year.
”It’s getting better all the time and I believe we are very strong thisseason. Last year Basso was seventh and I won a stage and finished ninth.For me the entire race schedule is more or less preparation for the Tourde France,” Sastre said.
The Spaniard had a tumultuous winter break, first with the death ofhis brother-in-law, the former pro rider José Maria Jimenez, andthen a back injury.
“My family and I obviously had a tough time,” Sastre said. “I thinkthere’s a connection between Jimenez’ death and my injury, cause when Istarted training hard, my body wasn’t ready for it, and that probably ledto the inflammation in the lower part of my back.”
Sastre will make his season debut at the Setmana Catalana on March22-26.
McGee lashes out
Last year’s Tour de France prologue winner Bradley McGee vented hisfrustration last week on the swirling doping scandals and the media’s subsequent take on such matters. In an entry on his personal web page (bradleymcgee.com),McGee didn’t hold back. Some excerpts:“I believe that given the right training, team working creation, recovery and mental approach that anything is possible in my profession. I have not, do not, and never will take performance enhancing drugs or procedures to make this belief come true. Why would I?”“And yet, given recent estimates and accusations in the media by cyclists,journalists, government officials and even a member of the World Anti DopingAuthority (WADA) I fall into a category of ‘must be’ doped riders.””F*** You.””Come and live with me. Sit in a car and watch me train. Sit up all night stressing over upcoming races and map out game plans. Share the pain through injury and feel the torment when for unknown reasons the form is just not there. Analyze and ponder Polar/SRM results and map out a suitable training program to combine with a given race program equally given deep thoughtful consideration to obtain maximum results throughout a 10-month season.”“I invite you, these people who doubt me and those like me, to come and watch and at the end of a given time you will see what is possible.”“It disturbs me having to pen these words as for anyone to think I am anything but honest truly vexes me. But I understand where this comes from given the media attention on those few who continue to bring disrepute to my sport. I remain forever solid on my words: ‘I would rather the sport of cycling to not exist than to exist with doping.’”“Now is a time to be strong, to believe in what is real and for all pretenders to royally f*** off back to the hole you deserve to live in.”
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