By Andrew Hood
Spain’s national team coach, Paco Antequera, said he’s already named three riders who will be part of the five-man Olympic road-race team to compete in Athens in August.
Antequera told the Spanish daily MARCA that world champion Igor Astarloa, runner-up Alejandro Valverde and two-time world champion Oscar Freire top the list.
“Freire, Valverde and Astarloa, even though he doesn’t like the heat, are the focus of my plans,” Antequera said. “The three are winners, they ride well in the hills and are quick, which is what you need in these kinds of races. The other two places will be the time trialists, because of the five riders you can have for the road race, two have to be in the time trial.”
Antequera said Angel Vicioso and Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero top his list as back-up choices for the road. The team won’t be finalized until in July during the Tour de France, he added.
Antequera conceded that the choice for the two time-trial spots isn’t as clear, with “Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, Aitor Gonzalez and Isidro Nozal all with good chances. I’ll also have to see how Casero and Beloki are going.”
Cassani signs with Vini Caldirola
Enrico Cassani, 31, is the latest addition to the Italian Vini Caldirola squad, according to the Italian wire service ANSA. Cassani, a winner of a stage in the 2000 Giro d’Italia, is serving a racing ban for prohibited substances, but will be allowed to start racing in July.
Somarriba tops Spanish poll
Basque cycling champion Joane Somarriba, winner of her third women’s Tour de France and the world time trial champion, was named top Spanish female athlete by the national media. Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso won the men’s award.