By Andrew Hood
Two-time Giro d’Italia champion Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) said he wants anothershot at the Tour de France, but wouldn’t elaborate on reports that he’llskip the Giro to prepare solely for the Tour.“I still haven’t made my program for next season, but with a preparedteam I could be closer to winning the Tour de France,” Simoni said duringa press conference in Palermo. “It’s too early to say what I will racenext year because this season is still not over.”Simoni barnstormed to a dominate Giro victory last May, but sputteredagainst winner Lance Armstrong in the Tour. Simoni rebounded to win a mountainstage late in the Pyrenees, but Armstrong blasted Simoni in a press conferencewhen he said the Italian “under-estimated” the Tour. Simoni admitted he’s learned that the Tour is a complete racethat requires special attention.“It’s not that the climbs of the Tour are harder than the Giro,” Simoniwas quoted in the Italian wires. “The French race is won on the flat stages,the descents and the time trials and not only in the big mountains.”Longo just keeps on ticking
Jeannie Longo is like good a Swiss watch; she just keeps on ticking.Just weeks short of her 45th birthday, the veteran French racer finishedjust over a half minute from the podium in Wednesday’s elite women’s worldchampion time trial race.With 23 world championship titles to her name, including 13 world championgold medals and one Olympic gold medal, Longo will be trying again in Saturday’sroad race. “I have crossed many eras,” Longo told the French sports dailyL’Equipe. “I started racing with woolen jerseys. When I go to get my racebib, I’m like an adult, not a competitor.”Hamilton is Longo’s 23rd world championship appearance and earned herfirst world’s medal back in 1981. Longo spent two weeks at Big Bear, Calif.,honing her world’s form. She said the years have changed the way she races and prepares. “I used to train like Rambo. Now I train less, but I am stillready for the races. I have to admit there are many areas I have declined– my movement is one,” she said. “I know what my weaknesses are but I don’twant to discuss them. They are more psychological. I know now that it’sgoing to hurt. Sometimes I fear the pain.” Museeuw says he’s not retiring
Johan Museeuw (Quick Step) has been pressing the flesh this week inHamilton alongside Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefévèvreto squash rumors that last Sunday’s Paris-Tours was his last pro race. The Lion of Flanders has been caught in the middle of a Belgiandoping scandal and was questioned by Belgian authorities for five hourslast month. Belgian authorities also searched his home, but Museeuw hasnot faced any charges. Belgian authorities are investigating a doping ring that includesup to a dozen Belgian riders. Earlier this week, Museeuw, who turns 38later this year, denied reports that he’s quitting cycling.Banesto, Balearic talks on ice
Talks between Banesto boss Jose Miguel Echavarri and the Balearic Islandsregional government are off, according to reports in the Spanish pressThursday.The news comes on heels of Jan Ullrich’s return to Telekom last week,a blow to efforts to keep the Banesto team afloat. The Balearic Islandsregional government wanted to sign Ullrich in part to help attract Germantourists to the group of four islands off Spain’s Mediterranean Coast.Banesto, meanwhile, is pulling the plug on its sponsorship at the endof the year. The team rode the glory years of Miguel Indurain’s Tour deFrance reign and remained competitive with Abraham Olano and Alex Zulleas it tried to nurture a replacement for Big Mig.Two newspapers in Mallorca, the largest of the islands, reported inThursday’s editions that officials from the regional government calledEchavarri earlier this week to say they were no longer interested in backingthe team.Jean Delatour changes colors for 2004
The small French team Jean Delatour will roll on next year after anew title sponsor has steeped up to invest 1 million euros a year for threeyears. The team will be called RAGT, after the French seed company that’sreviving the team. Jean Delatour, meanwhile, has decided to stay on asa co-sponsor.Many of the team’s top stars, including Jean-Patrick Nazon, PatriceHalgand and Samuel Dumoulin, have already signed with new squads, but theteam hopes to keep its Division I status and earn a berth in next summer’sTour de France.Many of the unsigned team members will stay on, including FrédéricFinot, Jérôme Bernard and Eddy Seigneur. Other names expectedto sign on include Christophe Rinero (MBK), Marek Rutkiewicz (Cofidis)and Guillaume Auger (BigMat).Transfer news: Whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on
There are plenty of moves happening in Europe. Here are some of thelatest:
The Danish press reports that New Zealand sprinter Julian Dean ismoving from CSC to Credit Agricole.Ivan Quaranta (Saeco) and Mario Manzoni (Mercatone Uno)are joining Formaggi Pinzolo next year, according to reports in the Italianpress.Fabrizio Guidi (Bianchi) reportedly has two offers on the table,one from Fassa Bortolo and another from Domina Vacanze.Cristian Gasperoni (Mercatone Uno) is heading to Landbouwkredietnext year.