By Andrew Hood
Former Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich has split from the financially-troubled Team Coast, his manager said Wednesday.
“A Team Coast containing Jan Ullrich does not exist any longer,” Wolfgang Strohband told the SID sports news agency.
Ullrich signed a four-year contract with the German team in January, but the team was suspended by the UCI last week for non-payment of riders’ salaries in April.
Ullrich, winner of the Tour in 1997, left Telekom in September after a dismal season during which he was sidelined by a knee injury and tested positive for amphetamines.
Whether this means Coast will be re-born with a new title sponsor or Ullrich will join another established team remains to be seen. Ullrich’s sport director, Rudy Pevenage, is reportedly working on a deal to bring a new title sponsor to work with Bianchi, the Italian bike manufacturer, and says he will hire the entire Coast lineup, riders and support staff.
While Pevenage is trying to find a new sponsor to take over the troubled Team Coast, there’s another sponsor reportedly ready to step in, the German wires reported. Vitamehr, a Dutch vitamin company, is interested in taking over the team from Coast owner Guenther Dahms. Dahms has struggled to cover costs of running the Division One team, but cancelled a meeting earlier this week with Italian bike manufacturer Bianchi.
Asturias: Fagnini takes stage
Telekom’s Gian Matteo Fagnini (Telekom) won the bunch sprint to claim the second stage of the 47th Vuelta a Asturias in northern Spain on Wednesday. A breakaway was checked before coming into the finish line along the beach in Gijon. Milaneza-MSS rider Angel Edo broke first for the line, but Fagnini – Mario Cipollini’s former set-up man a few year’s back at Saeco – edged Carlos Torrent (Paternina) to snag his first victory since 2001.
Spanish rider Jose Manuel Maestre (Relax Fuenlabrada) finished safely in the bunch to retain the overall lead. The race continues Thursday with the 166km third stage from Gijon to Aviles, with a Category 1 climb midway through the stage before a flat run back to the coast at Aviles.
Vuelta a Asturias (UCI 2.2), Stage 2, Llanes to Gijon, 153km
1. Gian Matteo Fagnini (I), Telekom, 3 hours, 32 minutes, 58 seconds
2. Carlos Torrent (Sp), Paternina
3. Jose Luis Arrieta (Sp), iBanesto.com
4. Massimiliano Gentili (I), Domina Vacanze
5. Angel Edo (Sp), Milaneza-MSS – all same timeOverall standings after two stages
1. Jose Manuel Maestre (Sp), Relax-Fuenlabrada 7 hours, 28 minutes, 58 seconds
2. Alexandre Moos (Swi), Phonak at 3 seconds
3. Angel Edo (Sp), Milaneza-MSS + 0:06
4. Carlos Torrent (Sp), Paternina s.t.
5. Jose Arrieta (Sp), iBanesto.com +0:08
Peace Race: Moletta takes stage
Italian Andrea Moletta won Wednesday’s flat stage at the Peace Race after two hard days through the hills of Poland. The Mercatone Uno rider dashed ahead of Eric Baumann (Wiesenhof) and Rene Haselbacher (Gerolsteiner), who came across the line third.
Telekom’s Steffen Wesemann finished safely in the group to retain the overall lead ahead of defending champion Ondrej Sosenka (CCC-Polsat). The Peace Race rolls into Germany on Thursday for the longest stage of the nine-day race with 213km seventh stage.
Verbruggen says no Galdeano for Tour
Even though UCI president Hein Verbruggen doesn’t agree, Spanish rider Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano won’t be racing July’s Tour de France, he said in an interview in the Spanish daily AS.
“No, I’m afraid that he will not be starting since he’s been sanctioned by the CPLD (the French anti-doping agency) in France. We don’t agree and neither does the race, but that’s the law in France and that’s more important that the UCI rules,” he said. “A law of a nation always has more importance than that any federation.”
Galdeano was recently sanctioned with a six-month racing ban within France following high levels of salbutamol from tests taken during last year’s Tour de France. During last year’s Tour, Galdeano’s test came back with a reading of 1,369 nanograms of salbutamol, exceeding the limit of 1,000 nanograms. Both WADA and CPLD consider any levels higher than 1,000 nanograms would exceed therapeutic effects and instead consider it a positive test for anabolic steroids.
“There’s nothing we can do,” Verbruggen insisted. “WADA is the one that has the solution so that everything is harmonized.”
What’s become a bureaucratic turf battle means that Galdeano, who wore the yellow jersey for five days and finished fifth overall last year, likely won’t be starting the Tour.
For those of you interested in tossing a few questionsat OLN’s Giro crew — Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwen and Bob Roll — head on over to their chat session on OLNTV.com today (May 14) from 7 to 8 p.m.