By Andrew Hood
Iban Mayo will race the Vuelta a España (Sept. 4-26) after a meeting with team bosses Miguel Madariaga and Julián Gorospe on Wednesday. According to a report in the Diario Vasco, Mayo will be looking to make up for his disappointing performance in the 2004 Tour de France, which he abandoned during the Alps.
Haimar Zubeldia, Euskaltel-Euskadi’s other star rider, will also start the Vuelta. Gorospe said he believes there’s enough time for both riders to recover from their problems in the Tour in time to be competitive for the Vuelta.
McEwen discovers cause of back trouble
Lotto’s tenacious sprint ace Robbie McEwen, 32, revealed Thursday that he rode to victory in the sprint competition of the Tour de France with two cracked vertebrae.
McEwen, who claimed the green jersey, two stage wins and spent a day in the yellow leader’s jersey, suffered the injury in a nasty crash one kilometer from the finish of Stage 6 in the first week of racing in the Tour.
“I crashed within the last kilometer and landed on everything,” said McEwen, who also crashed on stage 5 and during a mountain stage in the Pyrénées. “I had skin off from head to toe and then something hit me in the back. I’m not sure if it was a bike or a rider but it left a couple of very nasty bruises and fractured my L1 and L2 lumbar vertebrae.”
McEwen is adamant the injury will not disrupt his bid for Olympic glory.
“Hey if I can ride the Pyrenees, the Alps and the Champs Élysées and win the green jersey with a broken back then one day in Athens is no problem,” he said. “I can ride and after a couple of easy days this weekend I’m going to keep riding and everything should just get better and better.”
McEwen went to a Dutch hospital today for an x-ray and CAT scan which revealed the fractures, known as transverse process.
“Today was the first chance I found time to go to the hospital and I have to say I was relieved to hear the diagnosis because it explains why I was in so much pain in agony for much of the Tour,” he explained.
“The two fractures are in the bones which are like little wings that come off your vertebrae,” he said. “The scan also showed that new bone is forming so the healing process has begun.”
The plucky sprinter battled on despite the injury adding victory in stage 9 to his win in stage 2 and amassing enough sprint points throughout the three weeks to claim the green jersey title for the second time in three years.
“The pain was bad and I was really suffering in the last days of the tour but I didn’t want to tell anyone because I didn’t want my rivals to get a sniff of it,” he said. “Victor Popov (Lotto’s soigneur) was able to work on everything around it to get me good enough to start each day but after one big sprint my back was stuffed again and for the last sprint in Paris I could hardly ride.”
Van Petegem signs for two years
Tour of Flanders-Paris Roubaix winner Peter Van Petegem has signed a two-year contract to race with the future team of Omega Pharma-Lotto, according to the team director Marc Sergeant. The Omega Pharma-Lotto will debut in 2005 and will be a fusion of the current teams of Lotto-Domo and Bodysol.
Sergeant said the team hopes to be part of the Pro Tour in 2005 and also counts on the likes of Serge Baguet, Gert Steegmans, Wim Vansevenant, Jan Kuyckx and Wim Van Huffel. VdB faked suicide attempt, father says
Jean-Jacques Vandenbroucke, father of troubled cycling star Frank Vandenbroucke said his son faked a suicide attempt when he shot a pistol during a phone conversation with his wife.
According to reports on the Belgian wires, the comments came following an incident at Vandenbroucke’s home on Monday when Belgian authorities responded to reports of gun fire from the cyclist’s home.
Once touted as the hope of Belgian cycling and a successor to Eddy Merckx, Vandenbroucke has been troubled with personal and professional problems and has not scored a major win since taking a stage in the 1999 Vuelta a España. Racing today
American Tim Johnson (Saunier Duval) lines up Thursday for the first stageof the 10-day 66th Volta a Portugal (POR 2.2). Pre-race favorites includeDavid Bernabeu (Milaneza), Wladimir Belli (Lampre) and Eladio Jimenez (Kelme)in the peloton dominated by Spanish and Portuguese teams. The opening stageruns 190.6km from Monfortinho to Castilla Branco.The Tour de la Region Wallone (BEL 2.3) continues with the 145.2km fourth stage from Jodoigne to Brussels. Frédéric Gabriel (Mr Bookmaker.com) holds the lead.The post-Tour criterium season continues with events in Austria and Holland.