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By Andrew Hood
Toni Colom (Illes Balears-Banesto) sewed up the overall title of thefive-day Mallorca Challenge on Friday – too bad it won’t be in the officialrecord books.
The Mallorca Challenge is technically a series of one-day races, whenriders can pick and choose which races they want to start. Officially,there are no UCI points for the final GC, but that didn’t stop the Spanishriders from racing break-neck through the final five-climb stage.
Kelme – oops, Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme – tried to rattle Banesto –oops again, that’s Illes Balears-Banesto – but couldn’t over the challenging up-and-down profile on scenic Mallorca.
Euskaltel’s Unai Etxebarria went on a solo flyer two kilometers fromthe finish and held off the hard-working Rabobanks, which had to settlefor two-three. American Bobby Julich (CSC) is showing he does indeed havenew fire in his legs, going on the attack again late in the race only tobe gobbled up by the bunch.
Mallorca Challenge (UCI 1.3),
Stage 5, Magaluf to Palmanova, 149.3km
1. Unai Etxebarria, Euskaltel 3 hours, 44 minutes, 32 seconds
2. Bram de Groot, Rabobank +0:02
3. Oscar Freire, Rabobank
4. Alejandro Valverde, Kelme
5. Jens Voigt, Team CSC — all same timeFinal standings after five stages
1. Toni Colom, Illes Balears-Banesto 16 hours, 30 minutes, 31minutes
2. David Blanco, Kelme
3. Carlos Garcia, Kelme — all same time
4. Koldo Gil, Liberty Seguros +0:04
5. Ruben Plaza, Kelme +0:32
Kirsipuu keeps on winning
Veteran Estonian sprinter Jaan Kirsipuu (Ag2r) won Thursday’s secondstage of the l’Etoile de Besseges in France while first-day winner TomSteels (Landbouwkrediet) retained the overall lead.Kirsipuu remains one of cycling’s most durable racers, winning racesin all conditions throughout the racing calendar. He edged Angelo Furlan(Alessio) and Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) to score the early seasonvictory.l’Etoile de Besseges (UCI 2.3)
1. Jaan Kirsipuu (Est), Ag2r 3 hours, 27 minutes, 1 second
2. Angelo Furlan (I), Alessio
3. Thor Hushovd (N), Credit Agricole
4. Stefan Van Dijck (Ned), Lotto-Domo
5. Jo Planckaert (B), Mr Bookmakers all same time
Cancellara wins in Qatar
Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo) has already delivered on his promiseto win races other than ones against the clock. The young Swiss rider,known for his penchant to win prologues, held off Koos Moerenhout in amass gallop in Thursday’s 168.5km fourth stage of the Tour of Qatar.Robert Hunter (Rabobank) remains in the overall lead, but Robbie McEweninched within one second going into Friday’s fifth and final stage of thethird edition of the Qatar tour.3rd Tour of Qatar (UCI 2.3)
Stage 4, Al Wakra-Al Wakra
1. Fabian Cancellara, Fassa Bortolo 168.5km in 3:02:37 seconds
2. Koos Moerenhout, Lotto-Domo
3. Frank Høj, Team CSC
4. Tom Boonen, Quick Step
5. Alexandre Usov, Phonak — all same timeOverall standings after four stages
1. Robert Hunter, Rabobank 11:02:10
2. Robbie McEwen, Lotto-Domo +0:01
3. Jean-Patrick Nazon, Ag2r +0:03
4. Tom Boonen, Quick Step +0:07
5. Frank Høj, Team CSC +0:22
‘Chechu’ says LA looking okay
U.S Postal Service rider José Luis Rubiera told the Spanish wire service EFE that Lance Armstrong is as strong as ever and that he has “no doubt” Armstrong can win a record sixth Tour de France.
“Lance is looking as strong as any of his previous years and I have no doubt he can win the sixth Tour,” Rubiera said after returning to Spain following Postal’s training camp in California.
Rubiera said Armstrong is as fit and motivated as previous years and that Postal is particularly motivated to make history. Nicknamed “Chechu,” Rubiera said the departure of Roberto Heras will give him more freedom in other races, especially the Vuelta a España.
Rubiera is set to make his season debut at the Ruta del Sol later this month. Simoni scouts key Giro stage
Two-time Giro d’Italia champion Gilberto Simoni checked out the summit finish of what will be Stage 7 of this year’s Giro during a training camp this week in Terracina.
Simoni rode the last 60km of the stage to the Sanctuary of Monte Vergine (in the province of Avellino, east of Naples) with several teammates.
“This year’s Giro route means the favorites are going to have to show their cards early in the race. After just three days, there is the finish at Corno alle Scale which is very hard and then after a week, there is this finish at Monte Vergine. The overall classification is going be shaken out after just these two stages,” Simoni said in a team press release. “I remember that Di Luca won here three years ago but the weather was terrible and so I couldn’t remember what the climb was like. It’s actually not as hard as I thought but it’s definitely longer. Even if it’s not steep it’s not an easy climb because it goes up to 1,270 meters and lasts 17km. This will make a difference and be a real test.”
Simoni and several of Saeco teammates will make their season debut at Gran Premio degli Costa Etruschi on the Tuscany coast on Sunday. World’s course 2005 defined
The UCI and officials from Unipublic are putting the finishing touches on the 2005 world’s road course in Madrid.
The road races will finish on Madrid’s wide avenue, the Paseo de la Castellana, right in front of the Santiago Bernabéu soccer stadium in the heart of downtown Madrid. Unlike the Vuelta a few years ago, the race will not finish inside the stadium.
The time trials will start in the Casa de Campo, a sprawling park just west of downtown Madrid. It’s the same park where mountain bikers had to negotiate hookers, used condoms and needles during a World Cup race there a few years ago.