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By Andrew Hood
French rider Pierrick Fedrigo (Credit Agricole) won the 136km sixth stage of the Tour of Avenir from Saint Flour to Mende on Tuesday. Spanish rider Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel) retained the overall lead.
Ullrich expected to sign with Bianchi
Despite threats to move to another team, Tour de France runner-up Jan Ullrich is expected to sign a three-year contract extension with Bianchi.
Ullrich, 29, has complained that he needs a stronger team if he wants to dethrone Lance Armstrong in next year’s Tour. His former Telekom team came out last week with public comments that he’s welcome back at the German team.
But according to report by the Associated Press, Bianchi is poised to sign a co-sponsor which will give the team more money to sign on some extra firepower. Ullrich is also said he wants to race the Giro d’Italia and defend his Olympic medal in Athens next summer.
CSC extends with Peron, Jalabert and Calvente
Team CSC extended contracts for three riders already on the team as team boss Bjarne Riis rebuilds the team for the 2004 season.
Spanish rider Manuel Calvente, Italian Andrea Peron and French rider Nicolas Jalabert all penned contract extensions to give the team 16 riders under contract.
Riis said he wanted to give Calvente piece of mind going into September’s Vuelta a España.
“Calvente has a very important Vuelta a España ahead of him as one of (Carlos) Sastre’s helpers and we have given him this new contract in order to allow him to concentrate fully on the job that lies in front of him,” Riis said. “He has worked hard for the team and has shown us that he belongs here.”
Peron gets a two-year extension while Calvente and Jalabert got one year each, the team reported.
“Peron has taken a lot of responsibility in many of the big races and he always does a good job with his impeccable effort and huge physical capacity and experience,” Riis said. “Nicolas Jalabert has grown out of his older brother’s shade. He now wins races and makes results throughout the season.”
Team CSC lost Tyler Hamilton to Phonak but has signed on Ivan Basso, Jorg Jaksche and Jens Voigt.
Gonzalez to stay with Euskaltel
Spanish rider Gorka Gonzalez has signed a two-year contract extension with Euskaltel-Euskadi. The 25-year-old had a breakout season, winning a stage at the Tour of Burgos, finishing second at the race’s queen’s stage and taking fifth at the Subida a Urkiola, a one-day race after the Clasica San Sebastian.