By Andrew Hood
Another major European race is pulling the plug ahead of the 2005 Pro Tour. The French newspaper Dauphiné Libéré reported that the Classique des Alpes won’t be held next season ahead of complaints from teams, according to officials at ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation).
The race debuted in 1991 and was held a few days before the start of the Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré and held on a mountainous course between Chambéry and Aix-les-Bains in the French Alps. Race officials said the event might continue as an amateur race.
Classique des Alpes winners
1991: Charly Mottet (Fra)
1992: Gilles Delion (Fra)
1993: Eddy Bouwmans (Ned)
1994: Oliverio Rincon (Col)
1995: Ramon Gonzalez-Arrieta (Spa)
1996: Laurent Jalabert (Fra)
1997: Laurent Roux (Fra)
1998: Laurent Jalabert (Fra)
1999: Unai Osa (Spa)
2000: José Maria Jiménez (Spa)
2001: Iban Mayo (Spa)
2002: Santiago Botero (Col)
2003: Francisco Mancebo (Spa)
2004: Oscar Pereiro (Spa)
Valverde set to jump, sources say
Alejandro Valverde could join Illes Balears as soon as this week, according to reports in the Spanish media.
The Spanish daily AS reported that Valverde has confirmed that talks with Illes Balears are nearing a conclusion and quoted José Luis Aznar, director of Valverde’s current team Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme, that an agreement between the teams exists. The only apparent snag is Valverde’s 2 million euro buy-out clause, which Illes Balears would like to see reduced. Blijlevens tries assault on record
Former pro Jeroen Blijlevens has announced he will make an attempt on the world land speed record for bikes. Currently held by Blijlevens’ fellow Dutchman Fred Rompelberg at 268.6kph (167.9mph), the record involves drafting an air dam mounted on a high-powered car across the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.
Blijlevens, perhaps best known for his Tour de France tussle with Bobby Julich in 2000, retired earlier this year and is slated to become assistant directeur sportif with Van Hemert-Eurogifts next season. But said he is looking for other challenges as well.
“To reach that speed on a bicycle fascinates me,” Blijlevens told the Dutch news agency ANP.
Blijlevens noted in a press release issued Wednesday that he plans to make his record attempt in September of next year, but will start his preparations in the coming weeks.
Two more for Bouygues Telecom
New French team Bouygues Telecom has signed two more riders. L’Equipe reported that Pierre Drancourt and Yohann Gène, both of Vendée U, will be brought on in the 2005 season. Three other young French riders from Vendée U — Mathieu Claude, Anthony Ravard and Olivier Bonnaire – will join the new team, which takes over from Brioches La Boulangère going into the Pro Tour in 2005. Absalon to race some road
Olympic mountain bike champion Julian Absalon will race on the road early in 2005 with Liquigas, according to reports in the French media. Absalon will continue racing mountain bikes, but is reportedly interested in racing some of the road to test the waters. At Liquigas he’ll line up alongside ex-mountain biker Dario Cioni, fourth overall in the 2004 Giro d’Italia.
Italian federation suspends five
The Italian cycling federation suspended five riders this week following a series of doping controls. Under-23 rider Manuel Quiriconi has been suspended for two years while U-23 rider Andriy Pryshchepa was handed a ban of two months. Sebastiano Leone won’t race for eight months while Alessandro Pasta and Danilo Sbaraglia received bans of four months each. Reports did not specify which products were revealed in anti-doping tests.