By Andrew Hood
Iban Mayo, the Basque rider on Euskaltel-Euskadi, is doubtful for the Vuelta a España with a virus that has sapped the strength of the lithe climber. Team manager Miguel Madariaga said they are awaiting results of blood analyses taken this week.
“Until I have the results I don’t want to say anything for certain,” Madariaga told the Spanish daily MARCA. “With the analysis that we have now, he can’t race, his hematocrit is no higher than 37, and that means he has a virus. I’m waiting for the doctor’s report but there a 90 percent chance that I believe he won’t be able to race the Vuelta.”
Mayo was hoping to use the Vuelta to make up for a disappointing Tour de France, when he abandoned the race after struggling through crashes and poor form in the Pyrénées. A winner this year of the Dauphiné Libéré and several races in Spain, Mayo could be seeing his season come to an end.
Wegmann wins Tre Valli
Italy and German rider Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) get along very well. After scoring the King of the Mountains jersey in the Giro d’Italia, the young prospect upset the local favorites to win the 84th Tres Valli Varesine.
Wegmann outsprinted the rest of a four-man breakaway group to win the 197km race in northern Italy. Local hero Danilo di Luca (Saeco) finished second ahead of the Ukrainian Vladimir Duma (Landbouwkrediet) and another Italian, Filippo Simeoni (Domina Vacanze). Christian Werner (T-Mobile) had been in the leading quintet but got dropped with two laps to go.
Before the race, two racers tested high for hematocrit levels and were not allowed to start. Thirty-two riders from four teams were tested, with Italian Renzo Mazzoleni (Tenax) and South African David George (Barloworld-Androni) earning a 15-day “resting period.”
84th Tres Valli Varesine (ITA 1.1), 197.9km
1. Fabian Wegmann (Ger), Gerolsteiner 5 hours, 2 minutes, 12 seconds (39.113kph)
2. Danilo Di Luca (Ita), Saeco, at 0:06
3. Vladimir Duma (Ukr), Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, at 0:16
4. Filippo Simeoni (Ita), Domina Vacanze, s.t.
5. Roberto Petito (Ita), Fassa Bortolo, at 0:21
Ruskys takes Limousin opener
Lithuanian rider Saulus Ruskys (Oktos-Saint Quentin) won the opening stage of the four-day 37th Tour du Limousin in central France.
Ruskys finished ahead of two Italians – Marco Zanotti and Mauro Zinetti – to win the stage and take the overall lead. The race continues Wednesday with the 179.9km second stage from La Souterraine to Magnac Bourg.
37th Tour du Limousin (FRA 2.3), Stage 1, Oradour sur Glane to La Souterrain, 178km
1. Saulius Ruskys (Ltu), Oktos-Saint Quentin
2. Marco Zanotti (Ita),Vini Caldirola
3. Mauro Zinetti (Ita), Vini Caldirola
Kopp wins Zottegem
German rider David Kopp (Lamonta) upstaged Belgian rider Kevin Van Impe (Lotto-Domo) to win the GP Stad Zottegem in Belgium.
69th GP Stad Zottegem (BEL 1.3), 183km
1. David Kopp (Ger), Lamonta
2. Kevin Van Impe (Bel), Lotto-Domo
3. Bjorn Leukemans (Bel), MrBookmaker
4. Gerben Löwik (Ned), Chocolade Jacques
5. Jeroen Boelen (Ned), Van Hemert
UCI confirms new candidates for Pro Tour
The UCI released Tuesday an additional seven candidates seeking a spot in the 2005 Pro Tour format for the coming racing season. Among the names are four Italian candidates, including the reappearance of the Liquigas team as well as Fassa Bortolo and Saeco, both of which said they were not interested in participating in the Pro Tour.
Team already approved for the Pro Tour include: Illes Balears, Saunier Duval and Liberty Seguros (Spain); Phonak (Switzerland); Cofidis, FDJeux.com and Credit Agricole (France); Gerolsteiner and T-Mobile (Germany); Team CSC (Denmark); Quick Step (Belgium); Rabobank (Holland); and U.S. Postal Service/Discovery Channel (United States).
The newest candidates are: Sportpromotie Asbl (Mr. Bookmaker.com – Palmans), Belgium; GS Elche Comunidad Valenciana (Kelme – Costa Blanca), Spain; Juvenes Limited (Saeco), Great Britain; Ciclosport Srl, Italy; Liquigas Sport Spa, Italy; Red Team Srl (Acqua & Sapone – Caffe Mokambo), Italy; Silver Team Srl (Fassa Bortolo), Italy.
Cruz set to sign for Discovery
Tony Cruz, fresh off his first European race victory in Stage 2 of the Tour de l’Ain last week in France, is likely to sign a contract to race next season with Discovery Channel.
Cruz, 32, told VeloNews that he expects to sign a contract for the 2005 season during the Tour of Holland next week.
“I’m going to sign a new contract, I got the go-ahead for next year,” said Cruz, who will race in Belgium today. “I like this team, I’m happy to stay here.”
Cruz is now in his fourth season racing primarily in Europe, though he often travels back to the United States to race. In fact, he’ll skip the Championship of Zurich on Sunday and instead travel to Chicago to race in the US Pro Criterium championships.
One key for Cruz is to bring his wife and three children back to Europe for the 2005 season. Since 2002, his family has remained in the United States while he’s raced in Europe, a situation he said he can’t bear for another season.
“I want to bring my family back over to live in Spain. Two months on, two months isn’t good. I just can’t race 100 percent like that,” Cruz said. “Without my family I start thinking about going home (at the end of the season) and lose focus.”
After Chicago, Cruz will return to Europe to race in the Tour of Holland (Aug. 24-28) before his third start at the Vuelta a España. With the world championships moved to the weekend following the Vuelta, he hasn’t ruled out a trip to Verona. Cruz said his breakthrough victory at l’Ain has him excited about the future.
“It gives me a lot more confidence that now I know I can do,” he said. “It was a long time coming. Now I’m more motivated to race and try to have my own opportunities when I can.”
Wesemann comes back for Italian
Tour of Flanders champion Steffan Wesemann (T-Mobile) will line up in Tuesday’s Tre Valli Varesine (ITA 1.1) in his return to competition from injury. The veteran German collided with a car during a training run in early July and broke the navicular bone in his left hand.
“Finally I am returning to action. After so many weeks spent training, I am delighted to be able to return to real race conditions,” Wesemann said on the team’s web page. “I am raring to go again after watching the lads at the Olympics.”
T-Mobile will bring a stacked team for trio of one-day races in northern Italy as a primer for Sunday’s GP Zurich, the eighth leg of the 10-round World Cup series.
Italians Daniele Nardello, Giuseppe Guerini and 2002 Giro winner Paolo Savoldelli will also race as well as Mario Aerts, Cadel Evans the Kazakh Sergei Jakovlev, the Czech Thomas Konecny and German rider Tobias Steinhauser.
No Boulangère for Vuelta
With Joseba Beloki no longer on its roster, French team Brioches La Boulangère has notified Vuelta a España organizers it no longer plans to race the season’s third grand tour (Sept. 4-26). Beloki left the French team in May after a short but tumultuous tenure when it became obvious the Spanish rider wouldn’t be in condition to race the Tour de France.
Race organizers are planning on starting the 59th Vuelta with just 21 teams despite petitions from Portuguese team Milaneza and Italian team Domina Vacanze to fill the vacancy. Bettini takes Olympic bounce to No. 1
Olympic champion Paolo Bettini bounced into the No. 1 spot in the latest world rankings thanks to his victory Sunday in Athens. Bettini was fourth before the Olympic road race in Athens, but skipped ahead of perennial No. 1 Erik Zabel (T-Mobile).
UCI rankings (Aug. 16, 2004):
1. Paolo Bettini (Ita), Quick Step – 2,347 points
2. Erik Zabel (Ger), T-Mobile- 2,327
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa), Kelme- 2,074
4. Davide Rebellin (Ita), Gerolsteiner- 1,960
5. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita), Fassa Bortolo- 1,863
6. Lance Armstrong (USA), Postal Service -1,726
7. Damiano Cunego (Ita), Saeco- 1,679
8. MA Angel Perdiguero (Spa), Saunier Duval – 1,591
9. Jens Voigt (Ger), Team CSC- 1,486
10. Tom Boonen (Bel), Quick Step -1,461Racing todayItaly’s big guns will be lining up for the first day of the “Trittico Lombardo,”a series of one-day races in northern Italy, with Tuesday’s Tre Valli Varesine(ITA 1.1) with Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) and Damiano Cunegoand Danilo Di Luca (Saeco) among the starters.
The GP Stad Zottegem (BEL 1.3) is on tap in Belgium.
The Tour du Limousin (FRA 2.3) in central France kicks off withthe 178km opening stage from Oradour sur Glane to La Souterraine.