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By Andrew Hood
While the rest of Spanish cycling is buckling under the imminent disappearance of ONCE and iBanesto.com, Kelme is poised to renew its contract with a key co-sponsor that will ensure the team’s presence in the peloton through 2006.
Kelme, a Spanish shoe-maker, has committed to staying with the team and the team’s co-sponsor, the Valencia provincial government, is expected to sign on for three more seasons.
Despite the assurance, Kelme hasn’t been in the market this spring and seems committed to staying with established team leader Oscar Sevilla and rising star Alejandro Valverde.
More talk of Ullrich-Telekom reunion
Telekom team boss Walter Godefroot has confirmed reports that negotiations are underway to bring Jan Ullrich back to the team he raced for from 1995-2002.
“Jan’s manager Wolfgang Strohband has given us his conditions and our sponsors have made an offer in return,” Godefroot told German sports news agency SID. “Talks are taking place.”
Ullrich had an acrimonious split from Telekom at the end of his dark 2002 season, when he underwent two knee operations, was arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol and had a racing ban for testing positive for the party drug Ecstasy.
Ullrich signed with Coast, which later morphed into Bianchi, and roared into the 2003 Tour de France and nearly derailed Lance Armstrong in the Texan’s quest for a record-tying fifth victory.
“I could imagine working with Jan again,” Godefroot said “Any team would love to have such a rider.”
Whether that invitation goes to Bianchi sport director and Ullrich confidante Rudi Pevenage remains to be seen. Pevenage and Godefroot exchanged barbs last year when Pevenage and Ullrich departed from Telekom.
Transfer news: Casagrande extends, White to Cofidis
Italian veteran Francesco Casagrande has signed a one-year contract extension with Lampre. The 33-year-old Tuscan will ride for the second time with the Lampre team. Reuters reported that U.S. Postal’s Matthew White has penned a deal to join the Cofidis team next year while another Postie, Steffen Kjaergaard, has announced his retirement.
New U23 Spanish team
FC Barcalona – one of Europe’s most successful soccer clubs – is getting into the bike racing business. The soccer team has reached an agreement with 1991 Vuelta a EspaÃ±a winner Melchor Mauri to create an Under-23 team for the 2004 season.
Bruylandts wins GP Wallonie
Belgian Dave Bruylandts (Marlux) won Wednesday’s GP Wallonie for the second year in a row, edging Marek Rutkiewicz (Cofidis) to grab the victory. Bruylandts’ victory will surely give him more support in the upcoming road world championships. Bruylandts won the “queen’s stage” at the summer’s Tour of Burgos in Spain and clearly has top form.
GP Wallonie(UCI 1.2)
1. Dave Bruylandts (B), Marlux 4 hours, 36 minutes, 56 seconds
2. Marek Rutkiewicz (Pol), Cofidis
3. Michael Pichon (F), Fdjeux.com – all same time
4. Frederic Bessy (F), Cofidis +0:10
5. Christophe Rinero (F), MBK-Oktos s.t.
Milaneza extends for three years
Despite a string of doping scandals, the principal sponsors of the Portuguese Milaneza-MSS team have agreed to extend its sponsorship for three more years. The team roared through the spring, wracking up wins at Paris-Nice and the Tour of Romandie and was on the short list to make the Tour de France. But since then, Milaneza rider David Bernabeu and Francisco Perez have both failed doping tests. Still, the team is hopeful of earning a bid to start the 2004 Tour.
Canadians name ITT worlds team
Roland Green of Victoria and Genevieve Jeanson of Lachine, Que., will join Eric Wohlberg of Levack, Ont., and Lyne Bessette of Knowlton, Que., on the Canadian time trial team that will compete at the world road cycling championships next month in Hamilton, the Associated Press reported.
Wohlberg and Bessette were automatically named to the team after winning the men’s and women’s national titles. Green, 29, is a two-time mountain bike world champion and the defending Commonwealth Games champion. He has represented Canada in each of the last two years at the road world championships in the time trial event, finishing 14th in Lisbon in 2001 and 20th in Zolder, Belgium in 2002.
Jeanson, 22, finished second to Bessette at the national championships earlier this year. She finished 14th in Zolder. The world championships begin Oct. 7 and run through Oct. 12 in Hamilton.