By Andrew Hood
Team Bianchi said Marco Pantani won’t be racing with them during July’s Tour de France.
The Pirate had hoped to join Bianchi to get into the Tour, but team officials shot down the notion this weekend.
“There was never a meeting between the directors of Bianchi and the directors of Mercatone Uno to plan for the next Tour,” Bianchi associate Felice Gimondi told Reuters. “There was only a meeting in view of a reunification in 2004-2005.”
The words come as a blow to Pantani, who desperately wants to get back to the Tour de France. Pantani’s Mercatone Uno team is buried deep in the Division II rankings and had no chance of earning four final at-large bids issued two weeks ago. Pantani has hinted at joining another team, but Bianchi said there’s no room for the 1998 Tour winner on their lineup.
“The regulations allow for the transfer of a contract to another team, so technically it could be done. But the team already has two leaders (Ullrich and Casero), and to introduce a third one is improbable,” Gimondi said.
While a Tour start looks very unlikely for Pantani, world champion Mario Cipollini is awaiting word from Tour organizers who’ve hinted a 23rd team might be invited to this year’s race to make room for the popular Italian sprinter. Word is expected to come Monday.
Luxembourg: Voeckler wraps it up
Russian Serguei Ivanov (Fassa Bortolo) won the final stage of the demanding five-stage, four-day Tour of Luxembourg on Sunday. Ivanov finished ahead of a 30-man break that included overall winner Thomas Voeckler (Brioches). Voeckler won two stages en route to claiming the overall title. American Bobby Julich (Telekom) rode a steady race to finish 12th overall at 1:04 back.
Tour of Luxembourg (UCI 2.2), Stage 5, Wiltz to Diekirch, 169km
1. Serguei Ivanov (Rus), Fassa Bortolo, 4 hours, 18 minutes, 10 seconds
2. Ruslan Ivanov (Mda), Alessio, at 1 second
3. David Canada (Sp), Quick Step
4. Richard Virenque (F), Quick Step
5. Mauro Facci (I), Fassa Bortolo — all same timeFinal overall standings
1. Thomas Voeckler (F), Brioches La Boulangère 16 hours, 10 minutes, 40 seconds
2. Piotr Wadecki (Pol), Quick Step, at 30 seconds
3. David Canada (Sp), Quick Step, at 0:45
4. Robert Bartko (G), Rabobank, at 0:47
5. Benoit Joachim (Lux), Luxembourg National Team, at 0:53OTHERS
12. Bobby Julich (USA), Telekom, at 1:04
Alentejo: Russian takes win
Russian Andrei Zintchenko (LA Pecol) won the overall title at the Tour d’Alentejo in Portugal on Sunday while Frenchman Jean-Patrick Nazon (Jean Delatour) won the final stage. Nazon finished ahead of Russian Alexei Markov and Pedro Soeiro to claim his second stage-win of the week while Zintchenko finished safely in the main bunch to wrap up the overall title.
Morbihan: Vogondy takes it
Fdjeux’s Nicolas Vogondy won Saturday’s A travers le Morbihan race in France, edging Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches) by just one second. Ag2r’s Andy Flickinger came across the line third at 14 seconds back. The race was the 11th round of the French Cup series and Vogondy remains solidly in second place behind series leader Jaan Kirsipuu (Ag2r).
14th Traverse le Morbihan (UCI 1.3), May 31, 181km
1. Nicolas Vogondy (F), FDJeux.com, 4 hours, 27 minutes, 26 seconds
2. Sylvain Chavanel (F), Brioches la Boulangere, at 1 second
3. Andy Flickinger (F), Ag2r, at 0:14
4. Fabrice Salanson (F), Brioches La Boulangère, at 1:21
5. Jerome Pineau (F), Brioches La Boulangère, at 2:42French Cup series (after 11 rounds)
1. Jaan Kirsipuu (Ag2r), 122 points
2. Nicolas Vogondy (Fdjeux.com), 104
3. Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches), 85
Franck Pineau (French national team), 85
5. Laurent Brochard (Ag2r), 75
Hainleite: Ullrich happy
Jan Ullrich finished safely in the main bunch in his first race in his new colors at Team Bianchi. Ullrich told the German wires he was satisfied with how he rode after four weeks out of competition following the collapse of his Team Coast under growing debt. Bianchi will be officially unveiled during a team ceremony Monday and start the Tour of Germany on Tuesday.
Compatriot Enrico Poitschke (Wiesenhof) won the race Saturday, winning in a three-up sprint against Rene Haselbacher (Gersolsteiner) and teammate Jens Heppner.
Tour of Hainleite, Germany (UCI 1.3), 188km
1. Enrico Poitschke (G), Wiesenhof, 4 hours, 22 minutes, 12 seconds
2. René Haselbacher (Aut), Gerolsteiner
3. Jens Heppner (G), Wiesenhof — same time
4. Erik Zabel (G), Telekom at 0:19
5. Richard Faltus (Cz), AC Sparta, s.t.
16. Jan Ullrich (G), Bianchi, s.t.