By VeloNews Interactive, Copyright AFP2004
Gerolsteiner’s Danilo Hondo won the first stage of the Three Days of De Panne on Tuesday, taking a sprint win at the end of 196km race from Middelkerke to Zottegem, Belgium.
Hondo charged to the line, beating Baden Cooke (fdjeux.com), U.S. Postal’s George Hincapie and Luca Paolini (Quick Step) and 20 others who had formed a strong breakaway group about 9km from the finish.
With time bonuses considered, Hondo now enjoys a four-second lead over Cooke on GC, with Hincapie rounding out the top three at six seconds. American David Clinger (Domina Vacanze) also made the break and finished the day in sixth place.
The day was marked by a series of falls early in the stage. Alessio’s Michael Skelde crashed at around the halfway mark and was later transported to a hospital in Zottegem, suffering from a skull fracture.
Wednesday’s flat 237km stage from Zottegem to Coxyde is expected to favor sprinters.1. Danilo Hondo (G), Gerolsteiner, 196km in 5:16:20 (37.176kph)
2. Baden Cooke (Aus), FDJeux.com
3. George Hincapie (USA), U.S. Postal
4. Luca Paolini (I), Quick Step-Davitamon
5. Leon van Bon (Nl), Lotto-Domo
6. David Clinger (USA), Domina Vacanze
7. Gerben Löwik (Nl), Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdorf
8. Marcus Ljungqvist (S), Alessio-Bianchi
9. Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa), Fassa Bortolo
10. Bert de Waele (B), Landbouwkrediet – Colnago
Manzano inks deal with Amore e Vita
Spanish cyclist Jesus Manzano, who alleged he was subjected to widespread doping at Kelme, has now been signed by Italy’s Amore e Vita and will join his new teammates for an audience with Pope John Paul II on Wednesday.
“The Spaniard has accepted a contract with the commitment to ride clean,” team boss Ivano Fanini said. “He won’t have a monthly salary but performance-based bonuses.”
“He shouldn’t worry about the results,” Fanini added. “It doesn’t matter to me if he finishes in the top ten or twenty. I’ll be satisfied if he finishes the race providing he has trained well. He will be given a bonus if he has given his all.”
Manzano, 25, who will sign a contract Wednesday, has agreed to live with his new teammates in a house provided by the team but will then be joined by his girlfriend.
Mazano told the Spanish Sports Council Monday that testers are regularly fooled by team doctors and claimed that professional cycling is awash with growth hormones and the banned blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO).
He supplied the names of doctors and team managers he claimed were involved in widespread doping.
Kelme, which had been aiming for a wild card spot in this year’s Tour de France, has been ruled out of the world’s biggest race.
Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc said last week that Kelme, one of the oldest teams in professional cycling with almost 25 years of Tour experience, will also be excluded from races organized by the Tour’s parent company, ASO.
Manzano was sacked by Kelme after last year’s Tour of Spain for allegedly having sex with a woman in his hotel room, a charge he has denied.
Manzano said he would get revenge by revealing details of organized doping within the team, a threat he has apparently carried out over the past week.