By Andrew Hood
Aussie Brad McGee said he wants to win the Tour de France – next year.
The 28-year-old has made steady progress the past few years and is feeling more confident after his breakthrough eighth-place performance in the 2004 Giro d’Italia.
“Going for overall victory next year is the goal, and a very realistic one at that,” McGee said in an interview with BBC Sport. “This has been the first year I’ve gone for the general classification in major races, so I’m a lot leaner to make life easier up the climbs. I’m probably two kilos short of where I need to be for the prologue, but I’m steadily getting there.”
McGee won last week’s Route du Sud in France and said his primary goal for this year’s Tour is to defend his win in the prologue and show himself in the mountains.
“I’m looking to having a crack at the Alpe d’Huez time trial and possibly winning that. I also want to test myself against the best climbers when it comes to the mountains,” he said. “There’s a lot more for me to do, but I’m getting there.”
Longo wins 48th national title
Jeannie Longo just keeps on truckin’. The 45-year-old legend claimed her 48th national women’s title Saturday after taking the French national road championships in Pont-de-Fossé.
Longo is cycling’s most successful racer, with more than 600 career victories. On Saturday’s 112km course, Longo finished more than a minute ahead of silver medalist Elisabeth Chevanne-Brunel, while Sandrine Marcuz came through third to take the bronze.
Cunego: ‘I still have my Giro form’
Giro d’Italia champion Damiano Cunego (Saeco) will make a run for the Italian national championship Sunday and said he still feel strong despite a hectic schedule following his Giro victory in May.
“I’m feeling good even if I’ve had little time for myself since finishing the Giro,’ Cunego said on the team’s web page. “First I was busy riding a string of after Giro criteriums and then I’ve been busy doing promotional work. Fortunately I’ve been able to train all the time and keep my weight under control, something very important for every rider. So I think I’m in the same form as I was at the Giro d’Italia.”
After the Italian championships Cunego will finally get a well-earned break before coming back for the end of season races.
“I’m really looking forward to switching off for a week,” he said. After his break Cunego will make his racing comeback at the Brixia Tour in northern Italy at the end of July.
“I want to be in form for the world championships in Verona. Getting a place in the Italian team and riding on my home roads for a world title will be a special objective,” he said.
No Tour for Paolini
Luca Paolini (Quick Step) won’t race in this weekend’s Italian championships or the Tour de France after suffering with intestinal problems that forced his early departure from the Tour du Suisse. Paolini was unable to train effectively but will return to racing sometime in July.
Di Luca: If I’m out, is Armstrong, too?
Italian cyclist Danilo di Luca (Saeco) has added to pre-Tour de France doping controversies by asking race organizers why he should be barred from next week’s race if American Lance Armstrong — the target of drug charges leveled in a recently published book — is allowed to compete.
Di Luca is one of three Italian riders being investigated by police who claim that phone taps uncovered evidence that he has been doping. Tour organizers, under pressure from minister for sport Jean-Francois Lamour, have in recent days reiterated that any rider implicated in a doping inquiry will not be welcome in this year’s race. Scot David Millar (Cofidis) was barred on Friday after reportedly admitting to police that he had taken the banned blood booster erythropoietin (EPO).
Di Luca, who will line up for the Italian championships on Sunday, said it was “unbelievable” that he might be barred from the Tour.
“My house has been searched and nothing has been found,” he told reporters. “I’ve never tested positive and the phone taps which claim to involve myself reveal nothing. I just happen to be the subject of an investigation by the Italian law because that’s the way it is here.”
He added: “I also wonder if Armstrong will be at the start line after the revelations in this book, which alleges that he has used illicit substances, and which was allowed to be published in France by French judges.”
The book by two investigative journalists entitled “LA Confidentiel – les secrets de Lance Armstrong,” published in France two weeks ago, contains charges by a former U.S. Postal team employee and a former Motorola teammate that the 32-year-old American has taken EPO.
The five-time Tour winner has vigorously denied the allegations and brought legal actions against the authors, the publisher and a magazine that published excerpts.—Agence France Press