By Andrew Hood
Fred Rodriguez (Aqua e Sapone) just missed victory in the third leg ofthe “Trittico Lombardo” in Thursday’s 199.8km Copa Bernocchi. The newlycrowned American champion was perhaps out to make a point after being overlookedfor a last-chance spot to fill Lance Armstrong’s vacancy in the SummerOlympic Games in Athens.Angelo Furlan (Alessio) won in a mass gallop to the line, winning in5 hours, 3 minutes, 36 seconds, finishing ahead of Rodriguez. Coming throughthird was Giosuè Bonomi (Saeco).Copa Bernocchi (ITA 1.3)
1. Angelo Furlan (Ita), Alessio, 199.8km in 5:03:36
2. Fred Rodriguez (USA), Aqua e Sapone
3. Giosuè Bonomi (Ita), Saeco
4. Matteo Tosatto (Ita), Fassa Bortolo
5. Stefano Zanini (Ita), Quick Step – all same timeRous, Fedrigo in charge at Limousin
French veteran Didier Rous (La Boulangère) won the third stageof the Tour du Limousin (FRA 2.3) Thursday on a 167km stage around Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche.Pierrick Fedrigo (Crédit Agricole), winner of Wednesday’s stage,held the overall race leader’s jersey going into Friday fourth and finalstage.
Julich to race GP Eddy Merckx
Bobby Julich, fresh off his impressive bronze medal performance Wednesdayin Athens, is scheduled to race with Team CSC teammate Jens Voigt in the25th annual GP Eddy Merckx in Belgium.
Other big names expected to race include the U.S. Postal Service duoof Viatcheslav Ekimov and George Hincapie, Ivan Basso and Andrea Peron(Team CSC), defending champion Uwe Peschel and Michael Rich (Gerolsteiner)and Bernhard Eisel and Bradley McGee (FDJeux.com). The two-man team timetrial race will also see the son of Eddy Merckx, Axel Merckx, join forceswith Peter Van Petegem (Lotto-Domo).
Omega Pharma continues to sign riders
New Belgian super-team Omega Pharma reportedly has 21 riders alreadyunder contract. According to a report in the Gazet Van Antwerpen, FrédéricAmorison (Quick Step ) and Australian Henk Vogels (Navigators) are justtwo of the latest to join the upstart team set to ride in next year’s ProTour. Veteran Belgian sprinter Tom Steels is expected to sign a contractSept. 1, the paper reported, as well as the imminent signings of Axel Merckxand Cadel Evans.
Paulinho attracts attention
Portuguese revelation Sergio Paulinho, fresh off his silver medal performancein last week’s men’s Olympic road race, is reportedly attracting attentionfrom some big-time teams interested in luring away the 24-year-old fromhis LA Pecol team where he’s under contract through 2005.Liberty Seguros and Discovery Channel are reportedly eyeing the rising,according to reports in the Spanish media. Paulinho, who won two stagesat the recent Tour of Portugal, told the Portuguese wires he’d like toride the Discovery Channel team.“U.S. Postal is the best team in the world,” Paulinho said. “I wouldbe happy enough to go work for the best cyclists in the world. I am goingto look at the offers and decide which one is best for me. My dream hasalways been to race for a foreign team and race in the Tour de France.Now I have this opportunity and I am not going to let it pass.”Heras headlines Vuelta start list
Defending champion Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) will start withthe No. 1 bib for the Vuelta a España, Sept. 4-26. Other big namesfrom 21 teams lining up in León for the start of the season’s thirdmajor stage race include Oscar Freire, Igor Astarloa, Alejandro Valverde,Joseba Beloki, Alexandre Vinokourov and Damiano Cunego.Starting numbers for Vuelta team leaders
1. Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros)
11. Alejandro Valverde (Kelme)
61. Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel)
71. Dario Frigo (Fassa Bortolo)
81. Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears)
82. Denis Menchov (Illes Balears)
91. Francesco Casagrande (Lampre)
92. Igor Astarloa (Lampre)
111. Oscar Sevilla (Phonak)
131. Oscar Freire (Rabobank)
151. Damiano Cunego (Saeco)
161. Joseba Beloki (Saunier Duval)