By Andrew Hood
Rogers sews up Route du Sud
Quick Step’s Michael Rogers held off challengers in Tuesday’s 156km climb-riddled finale to clinch the overall title of the 27th Route du Sud.
Cofidis’ David Moncoutie jumped ahead of Alessio’s Pietro Caucchioli to win the final stage, which included climbs up the Col de Peyresourde and finished on a steep climb up the on the Port de Balès summit.
“It has been a difficult day, but today my teammates were fantastic,” Rogers said, a winner of five races this season. “The last up hill section was really very hard. When Moncoutie and Caucchioli launched themselves at the beginning of the climb section, I preferred not to go chasing after them immediately and decided to carry on the climb at my own pace keeping an eye on the most dangerous classified rider Vogondy.”
Rogers crossed the finish line in fourth place to secure his third major race of the 2003 season. Rogers won the Tour of Belgium in May and the Tour of Germany in June in what’s been a spectacular season for the 23-year-old Aussie.
“Shortly I’ll be taking place in the Tour of France, where I hope to gain experience for the future and, why not, try to do well in the Paris prologue,” Rogers added.
27th Route du Sud, Stage 4, Montrejeau to Barousse (Port de Balès)
1. David Moncoutie, Cofidis 158km in 4 hours, 35 minutes, 52 seconds,(34.473 kph)
2. Pietro Caucchioli, Alessio, at 0:08
3. Nicolas Vogondy, Fdjeux.com, at 1:14
4. Michael Rogers, Quick Step, at 1:15
5. Alexandre Botcharov, Ag2r, at 2:19Final overall standings after four stages:
1. Michael Rogers, Quick Step, 13 hours, 38 minutes, 2 seconds, 38.954kph
2. Pietro Caucchioli, Alessio, at 1:03
3. Nicolas Vogondy, Fdjeux.com, at 1:46
4. David Moncoutie, Cofidis, at 2:04
5. Alexandre Botcharov, Ag2r, at 4:58
Julich passed over for Tour
For the first time since his 1997 debut, American Bobby Julich won’t be racing in July’s Tour de France.
The 1998 third-place Tour podium finisher was left off the Telekom team’s nine-man Tour roster announced Tuesday.
Telekom will be anchored by sprinting ace Erik Zabel and three riders with eyes on the final podium: Santiago Botero, Alexandre Vinokourov and Paolo Savoldelli. Rounding out the team are Rolf Aldag, Matthias Kessler and Andreas Klöden (G), Mario Aerts (B) and Daniele Nardello (I).
Telekom has rebuilt its lineup following the acrimonious departure of Jan Ullrich last winter and will come to the 2003 Tour with a potent lineup, but without a clear leader. It’s a new strategy for Telekom, which will be throwing everything it has trying to dethrone four-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong.
“We want to attack everywhere,” said sport director Mario Kummer on the team’s web page.
Kummer pointed out that the team has “enormous potential” to make an impact on GC with Botero, Vinokourov and Savoldelli. “We’ll attack everywhere we get the chance. We want to make Lance Armstrong’s life as difficult as possible,” Kummer added.
The decision is a blow for Julich, 31, who’s been working hard to overcome crashes throughout the first half of the 2003 season. Julich has had some good results, finishing with several top-10 results, but evidently it wasn’t enough to make the highly competitive selection for the Telekom team.
“We should be more competitive in all aspects this year. Sure, we will be a factor in the field sprints, but with Mario Aerts, Rolf Aldag, Matthias Kessler and Daniele Nardello we can be a factor in stages throughout, attacking and triggering key breaks,” said team manager Walter Godefroot.
Julich and the Tour de France have been synonymous since his dramatic 1997 debut, when he finished 17th. Julich become only the second American to finish on the Tour podium in 1998, when he finished third overall behind winner Marco Pantani and runner-up Jan Ullrich.
Julich crashed out of the 1999 Tour and moved from Cofidis to Credit Agricole to lead the French team in 2000-2001. After two rather anonymous seasons with Credit Agricole, Julich moved to Telekom in 2002 to help Ullrich in the mountains.
Also left off the Telekom team was Giuseppe Guerini and Australian Cadel Evans, who twice broke his collarbone since April.
Telekom for the Tour
Erik Zabel (G)
Mario Aerts (B)
Rolf Aldag (G)
Matthias Kessler (G)
Andreas Klöden (G)
Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz)
Santiago Botero (Col)
Daniele Nardello (I)
Paolo Salvodelli (I)
Mancebo to lead iBanesto.com
Spanish team ibanesto.com are pinning their hopes on Francisco Mancebo improving on his seventh-place finish last year when they line up for the centenary Tour de France next month.
The Spaniard is the star name in the lineup announced Monday, and will get support from Juan Miguel Mercado and Denis Menchov of Russia.
The team is hoping for a strong result from Mancebo, with eyes on a top-5 finish. Title sponsor Banesto, the Spanish bank that bankrolled Miguel Indurain to five consecutive Tours, is quitting at the end of the season. A strong Tour will be key on whether the team can rope in a new sponsor for the 2004 season.
iBanesto.com for the Tour
Juan Antonio Flecha (Sp)
Jose Vicente Garcia (Sp)
Pablo Lastras (Sp)
Juan Miguel Mercado (Sp)
Xavier Zandio (Sp)
Francisco Mancebo (Sp)
Vladimir Karpets (Rus)
Denis Menchov (Rus)
Evgueni Petrov (Rus)
Quick Step finalizes lineup
The Belgian Quick Step-Davitamon team has finalized its line up for the 2003 Tour de France. The team announced earlier it would be leading with Paolo Bettini and Richard Virenque. Now the team has rounded out its roster to include time trialists Laszlo Bodrogi and Michael Rogers, currently leading the Route du Sud.
Quick Step for the Tour
Paolo Bettini (I)
Luca Paolini (I)
Richard Virenque (F)
Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun)
Servais Knaven (Nl)
Kurt Van de Wouwer (B)
Michael Rogers (Aus)
David Cañada (Sp)
Piotr Wadecki (Pol)
Pantani wants to race Vuelta
Troubled Italian star Marco Pantani, currently in reclusion in a clinic, said he hopes to race in September’s Vuelta a España.
The 1998 Giro-Tour double winner was left out of the 2003 Tour, but said he wants to ride for the overall victory in the Spanish tour as he continues to rediscover his winning formula.
“I’m here because the inspectors are on my back, but I will soon start riding again,” Pantani was quoted in L’Equipe. “I want to participate in the Vuelta, and do not want to miss it.”
Pantani, however, is scheduled to appear in Italian court right in the middle of the Vuelta on Sept. 19 for the ongoing legal hassles dating back to his high hematocrit levels in the 1999 Giro. Pantani, however, already served a six-month suspension for the positive control, but continues to be dogged in the Italian courts.