Road

Tuesday’s EuroFile: Troubles at Domina; BankGiroLoterij ends its run

No wonder Mario Cipollini and his Domina Vacanze teammates have beenunhappy this season. According to information released by the team earlierthis month, the title sponsor hasn't paid its riders since June. According to team officials, the team’s title sponsor – Domina Vacanzeheaded up by real estate magnate Ernest Preatoni – hasn’t met or has refusedto pay its obligations, in part due to co-sponsors who have soured overthe poor form of 2002 world champion Cipollini. Team manager Vincenzo Santoni – which owns the holding company for theItalian team called Blu Sea Services – insists he’s

By Andrew Hood

Show me the money

Show me the money

Photo: AFP (file photo)

No wonder Mario Cipollini and his Domina Vacanze teammates have beenunhappy this season. According to information released by the team earlierthis month, the title sponsor hasn’t paid its riders since June.

According to team officials, the team’s title sponsor – Domina Vacanzeheaded up by real estate magnate Ernest Preatoni – hasn’t met or has refusedto pay its obligations, in part due to co-sponsors who have soured overthe poor form of 2002 world champion Cipollini.

Team manager Vincenzo Santoni – which owns the holding company for theItalian team called Blu Sea Services – insists he’s been paying out ofhis own pocket to cover the rider’s salaries to keep the team afloat.

Santoni went public with the dispute earlier this month and is now takingcourt action to try to force Preatoni to pay up.

“Domina Vacanze has not respected its sponsorship contract, and salarieshave not been paid from the month of June, 2004,” read a team press releaseearlier this month.

Cipollini may be looking for a new ride

Cipollini may be looking for a new ride

Photo: AFP (file photo)

To make matters even messier, Preatoni is set to take the Domina Vacanzename and ride into the 2005 season with co-sponsor De Nardi headed up byGianluigi Stanga as one of 20 teams set to be awarded a Pro Tour license.Santoni, meanwhile, is still looking for a title sponsor.

“The UCI claims it strives to promote ethics in cycling,” Santoni toldL’Equipe. “But at the same time they award a license to a sponsor thatdoesn’t pay its riders. I don’t understand.”According to a report by Sporteconomy.it, Blue Sea Service is owed about1.45 million euros, more than half of the 2.5 million euro deal coveringabout half the team’s overall team budget.Preatoni, meanwhile, has joined forces with Stanga, leaving Santoniwondering what happened to sour relations with Domina Vacanze.“A doping case could have been the only one, but nothing like that happened,”Santoni told Sporteconomy.it “None of my athletes has ever been accusedof assuming illegal substances. For us as a team on the verge to be admittedto the Pro Tour, this is a substantial damage, especially on the economicpoint of view.”With all the money and legal hassles, it’s not sure where Cipolliniwill ride in 2005. The Lion King reportedly feels he still has somethingto prove following two lackluster seasons and wants to come back for onemore season to prove he can still beat the best.No more BankGiroLoterij for 2005
Holland will enter the 2005 season with only have one major team afterthe Division 1 team BankGiroLoterij announced it was not able to find anew sponsor for the coming season.According to reports in the Dutch press, team manager Arend Scheppinkfailed to find a sponsor to replace the Dutch lottery operator, which hasheadlined the team for the last five seasons.Team owners knew the sponsorship deal was set to expire at the end ofthis season, but were unable to line up a new sponsor to underwrite theexpenses of the team. The team boasted just 16 riders in its ranks andfinished the season ranked second-to-last in 29th position among the teamrankings released Monday.According to reports, only Matthé Pronk has been able to finda new team for next year, while others such as Remco van der Ven, AddyEngels and Rudie Kemna are still hoping to land a ride.Cunego, T-Mobile, Italy top dogs in rankings
What a year it’s been for Damiano Cunego.The 23-year-old jumped to the top spot in the cycling world rankingson Monday following his victory in Saturday’s Tour of Lombardy, the 10thand final round of the World Cup. Cunego was in third place a week ago,but jumped ahead of the two riders in front of him, Italy’s Paolo Bettiniand Germany’s Erik Zabel.Cunego claimed 13 wins on the season, including four stages and theoverall title in the Giro d’Italia. Bettini and Zabel had been duking itout all season long for the top spot in the season rankings, but Cunegoquietly made up ground on the veterans with a consistent season.There were six American among the top 100, with Lance Armstrong leadingthe way following his record sixth Tour de France victory in July. Olympictime trial champion Tyler Hamilton ends the season ranked 22nd while BobbyJulich enjoyed a revival to finish with his best ranking since 1998 with30th overall. George Hincapie, Floyd Landis and Levi Leipheimer also figuredin the top 100 for the Americans.T-Mobile took the team ranking, some 500 points ahead of second-placeTeam CSC among the Division 1 standings. U.S. Postal Service finished sixthin what will be its last year with current title sponsor before DiscoveryChannel takes over heading into 2005.Communidad Valenciana-Kelme and Domina Vacanze – two Division 1 teamswho were relegated for the 2004 season – led the Division 2 rankings withthe Navigators finishing the season ranked 10th.Italy, meanwhile, led the nation’s ranking with Spain in second placewhile the United States finished fifth.The current system of individual and team rankings is set to disappearheading into 2005 and the Pro Tour. Next year, riders and teams will havea Pro Tour rankings as well as individual rankings in each of the continentalrace schedules set to debut next year.UCI elite men’s rankings (Oct. 18, 2004)
1. Damiano Cunego (I), 2245 points
2. Paolo Bettini (I), 2239
3. Erik Zabel (G), 2121
4. Alejandro Valverde (Sp), 1892
5. Oscar Freire (Sp), 1818
6. Davide Rebellin (I), 1813
7. Lance Armstrong (USA), 1726
8. Stuart O’Grady (Aus), 1701
9. Alessandro Petacchi (I), 1464
10. Tom Boonen (B), 1449
 
Other Americans in top 100
22. Tyler Hamilton (Phonak), 1070
30. Bobby Julich (CSC) 1,070
48. George Hincapie (USPS) 706
62. Floyd Landis (USPS) 608
87. Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) 503Division 1 teams
1. T-Mobile 8718
2. Team CSC 8269
3. Gerolsteiner 7817
4. Saeco 7144
5. Rabobank 7044
6. U.S. Postal Service 6932
7. Quick Step 6812
8. Phonak 6594
9. Fassa Bortolo 6371
10. Cofidis 5528
11. Illes Balears 5325
12. Liberty Seguros 5288
13. Lotto-Domo 5129
14. Saunier Duval 4932
15. Euskaltel-Euskadi 4512
16. Brioches La Boulangere 4290
17. FDJeux.com 3863
18. Credit Agricole 3720
19. Lampre 3612
20. Alessio-Bianchi 3609
21. Ag2r 3469
22. Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 3459
23. Vini Caldirola 3420
24. Relax-Bodysol 2885
25. Chocoade Jacques 2793
26. Mr Bookmaker.com 2760
27. De Nardi 2113
28. Milaneza Maia 1819
29. BankGiroLoterij 1118
30. RAGT 765Division 2
1. Valenciana-Kelme 4,143
2. Domina Vacanze 3,252
3. Acqua e Sapone 2296
4. Panaria 2227
5. Costa de Almeria-Paternina 1960Other:
10. Navigators 865 Rank by nation
1. Italy 13,545
2. Spain 11,957
3. Germany 10,077
4. Australia 7090
5. United States 6600
6. France 6091
7. Netherlands 6057
8. Belgium 5914
9. Russia 4047
10. Switzerland 3957 

Photo Gallery