By Andrew Hood
Cunego wins Due Giorni Marchiagiana-GP Fred Mengoni
Damiano Cunego (Saeco) was back to his winning ways on Tuesday, outsprinting Team Italia’s Daniele Nardello and Cristian Moreni to win the Due Giorni Marchigiana-GP Fred Mengoni in Castelfidordo, Italy.
It was the 11th win of the season for the young winner of the Giro d’Italia, who now is looking forward to the final part of the season, with his big objective the world championships in Verona.
“Even I didn’t think I’d get back to form and win so quickly, even if I rode well at Camaiore and San Sebastian,” said Cunego, who capped his victory with a visit to ill children in the oncology department of Ancona hospital. Botero withdraws from Olympic time trial
Former world champion Santiago Botero of Colombia withdrew from the Olympic individual time trial here Wednesday, saying he does not feel prepared to compete in the August 18 event.
The 31-year-old Botero still plans to compete in Saturday’s road race across the center of Athens.
Compatriot Victor Hugo Pena will replace Botero in the time trial.
Botero’s best performance at last month’s Tour de France was an eighth-place showing in the 14th stage. His form has slid since a fourth-place finish in the 2002 Tour and an individual time trial title at the 2002 world championships in Belgium. Agence France Presse
Camenzind retires after flunking dope test
Oscar Camenzind announced his retirement from the sport of cycling on Tuesday after his exclusion from Switzerland’s Olympic team after failing a drugs test.
The 1998 world champion tested positive for the banned endurance drug erythropoietin (EPO) during training on July 22, the Swiss Olympic committee said Monday. Under Swiss cycling federation rules, a rider is automatically suspended if a first anti-doping test is positive while awaiting the outcome of a second test.
The 32-year-old was also immediately fired by Zürich-based Phonak team.
-Agence France Presse
Cioni to lead Liquigas
Dario Cioni will be one of the new team leaders for the reappearance of Liquigas in 2005. The former mountain biker signed on with the new team to be one of their top GC riders following his breakthrough performance in the 2004 Giro d’Italia when he finished fourth overall. “I’ll be at the Giro next year, but maybe I can do the Tour as well,” Cioni told VeloNews before lining up for Saturday’s Clasica San Sebastian. “It’s hard to do two big grand tours back to back, but I’ve done it before, but not riding for the classification.” Cioni, 30, has made steady progress since crossing over to the road scene in 2000. He won four races in three years with Mapei and joined Fassa Bortolo in 2003, when he became just one of three team riders to finish the Tour that year. Up next for Cioni is the Vuelta a España and possibly a start in Verona for the road world championships, if things go well. “I’ll race the Vuelta, we’ll see how things go, but it could be a good race for me,” Cioni said. “If I can have a good performance, I’d like to try to go to the world’s. That would be a nice way to end the season, especially since they’re in Italy this year.” Rasmussen eyes Zürich
Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) said he’s hoping for a strong performance in the GP Zürich, which comes a week after he lines up for the Danish national team at the Olympic road race on Saturday in Athens. Rasmussen said he was pleased with his debut in the Tour de France despite coming up short in his efforts to win a stage. The 1999 world mountain bike champion was on the attack in the mountains, but his efforts invariably fell short. Rasmussen finished 14th overall at 27:16 back. “I think I could have finished higher, maybe even in the top 10, had I done like everyone else did and just stay on the wheel until you get dropped,” Rasmussen told VeloNews. “I wanted to try to win a stage, but I didn’t do myself any favors in the last week. That was hard.” Rasmussen said Lance Armstrong was unbeatable in the mountains and said Ivan Basso’s victory atop La Mongie was “a gift, otherwise he would have won all the mountain stages. There was nothing you could do against someone so superior.”
Valverde too busy for VIPs
Alejandro Valverde, one of the top Spanish hopes for the Olympic road race, was too busy preparing for his trip to Athens to visit local dignitaries.
According to reports in the Spanish media, Valverde went out on a training ride Monday morning and forgot an appointment he had with the leader of the local regional government. Valverde asked for forgiveness and promised to deliver something that would give “happiness to all those from Murcia and bring home a medal.” Pena tipped over Botero
Víctor Hugo Peña (U.S. Postal Service) will replace an out-of-shape Santiago Botero (T-Mobile) in the upcoming Olympic time trial race, according to the Colombian cycling federation.
Botero, 31, will still race in the road race along with Peña, Marlon Pérez and Luis Felipe Laverde, but admitted he wasn’t in strong enough condition to fight for a medal. Peña, 29, was overlooked this year by his U.S. Postal Service team for a spot on the Tour de France team. In 2000, he finished 24th at 3:30 slower than Sydney gold medalist Viatcheslav Ekimov.