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Thursday’s EuroFile: Beloki signs with La Boulangere: Kelme’s accounts frozen; Kelme’s Llorente banned

Joseba Beloki, has signed with the French La Boulangere team, his agent announced on Thursday. "Joseba has signed for two years, his brother Gorka has also signed a two year contract, and on Friday we'll see whether they'll be joined by a third cyclist, Mikel Pradera," Pablo Arregui told AFP. Beloki, a former ONCE rider, is considered one of the few cyclists capable of challenging five-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong in the mountains. He was forced to pull out of this year's race after a dramatic crash while Armstrong was on his heels. The 30-year-old's switch brings to an end his

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By VeloNews Interactive

Joseba Beloki, has signed with the French La Boulangere team, his agent announced on Thursday.

“Joseba has signed for two years, his brother Gorka has also signed a two year contract, and on Friday we’ll see whether they’ll be joined by a third cyclist, Mikel Pradera,” Pablo Arregui told AFP.

Beloki, a former ONCE rider, is considered one of the few cyclists capable of challenging five-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong in the mountains. He was forced to pull out of this year’s race after a dramatic crash while Armstrong was on his heels.

The 30-year-old’s switch brings to an end his three-year working relationship with Manolo Saiz, the ONCE team manager whose future in the sport – after ONCE’s decision to pull out – was saved when Liberty Seguros stepped in with a cycling team package.
Copyright AFP2003

Kelme’s accounts seized
Joan Mas, the manager of troubled cycling team, Kelme, said Thursday the team was looking for a solution after their bank accounts were frozen to settle unpaid taxes.

According to Spanish sports daily Marca, the team owes 750,000 euros ($878,000). However Mas said the team’s long-term survival was “not in danger.”

“It’s quite a complicated tax problem,” said Mas, who claimed that the team did not agree with the demand for the unpaid taxes. “Everything is in the hands of our lawyers. The long-term survival of the team is not under threat.”

Kelme’s continued participation in the professional peloton has been unsure – they owe two months wages to their riders, and their talented team leader Oscar Sevilla has left to join the Swiss Phonak team.
Copyright AFP2003

Llorente banned for EPO positive
Kelme’s Javier Pascual Llorente has been banned for 18 months after testing positive for the performance enhancer EPO in this year’s Tour de France.

Llorente, who plans to appeal the suspension, failed the control after the 12th stage, a time trial between Gaillac and Cap’ Decouverte won by Tour runner-up Jan Ullrich. The Kelme rider was the only competitor in July’s Tour to test positive for erythropoietin. Kelme manager Joan Mas said Llorente was told about the ban a fortnight ago, and that he planned to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“He’s working on his file with his lawyer,” he said. “They want to prove his innocence. I can’t tell you anymore. If his sanction is confirmed the team’s management will decide whether he stays or not.”

Llorente has enjoyed a decent season winning races in Andalucia and Murcie where he had the distinction of beating five-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong in a time trial.
Copyright AFP2003