By Andrew Hood
Bettini already has Madrid on his mind
Olympic champion Paolo Bettini is already putting the 2005 world championships at the top of his list of goals for the upcoming season. The “Cricket” was a disappointing DNF in last fall’s worlds on the Verona course, but hopes to earn the rainbow jersey that’s so far eluded him.
“The worlds are always one of my objectives, but after my win at the Olympics, I’m more tranquil than the other favorites,” Bettini said during a break at the Quick Step training camp in Italy. “Petacchi has already gone to see the course and he says it’s a course that’s well-suited for Freire and Zabel.”
Bettini said he will eventually travel to Madrid to scout the course, but he doesn’t know when it will fit into his schedule. For his immediate goals, Bettini wants to shine at Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders among other Belgian spring classics.
Quick Step, meanwhile, wraps up its Italy pre-season camp later this week. Van Petegem crashes in training
Classics strongman Peter Van Petegem crashed during a training ride this week in Mallorca where his Davitamon-Lotto team is honing its form for the upcoming season. Van Petegem wasn’t seriously injured in the spill and the Belgian veteran is on target to hit peak form in time for his favored spring classics. More teams for Langkawi
The Tour of Langkawi is looking to host an impressive field as the February stage race is becoming an early season favorite for racers to build fitness for major goals later in the season. Former winner Tom Danielson, Tony Cruz, Mike Creed, Patrick McCarthy and new pro Saul Raisin are among the Americans expected to start. Joseba Beloki will make his debut with Liberty Seguros.
Here are more lineups for the race:
Colombia Selle Italia Marlon Perez Arango, Daniele Di Biase, Raffaela Illiano, Jose Rujano, Leonardo Scarselli, Rusell Van Hout and Trent Wilson
Credit Agricole Julian Dean, Eric Leblacher, Cristophe Le Mevel, Geoffroy Lequatre, Saul Raisin, Yannick Talabardon and Nicolas Vogondy.
Discovery Channel José Azevedo, Fumiyuki Beppu, Michael Creed, Antonio Cruz, Tom Danielson, Patrick McCarthy and Hayden Roulston.
Liberty Seguros Joseba Beloki, Rene Andrle, Dariuz Baranowski, Koen de Kort, Jesus Hernandez, Jorg Jaskche and Nuno Ribeiro
Panaria-Navigare Mirko Allegrini, Fortunato Baliani, Guillermo Bongiorno, Graeme Brown, Brett Lencaster, Sergiy Matveyev and Julio Perez Cuapio
Action ATI Bogdan Bondariew, Thomas Brozyna, Piotr Chmielewski, Dennis Kraft, Zbigniew Piatek, Kazimierz Stafiej and Adam Wadecki.
Unzué believes LA will race Tour, outlines season
Illes Balears sport director Eusebio Unzué believes six-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong will be back for another run at the maillot jaune this summer. Armstrong says he won’t reveal his Tour plans until spring, but Unzué cannot imagine the Texan skipping the Tour.
“A cyclist who’s won six times the most important race in the world will find it difficult to be satisfied with four classics,” Unzué said in an interview with the sports daily AS. “If you’re accustomed to hunting elephants, there’s nothing exciting about shooting partridges.”
Unzué went on to say that he believes the ProTour will help grow professionalism in cycling in the long-term, but admitted there will be problems for some teams making the transition to the ProTour calendar.
Illes Balears will likely race all the major races on the Spanish domestic calendar, except the Vuelta al Castilla y León and perhaps the Bicicleta Vasca and the Vuelta a Asturias for scheduling conflicts.
For Illes Balears at the grand tours, Unai Osa will captain the team for the Giro d’Italia while Francisco Mancebo will focus on the Tour and the Vuelta a España.
“He hasn’t stopped progressing in his 28 years and after his success last year in the Vuelta (third overall), I think he’s capable of shooting for the podium once again in one of the grand tours,” Unzué said of Mancebo. “So why not something higher?”
Alejandro Valverde will attack the classics and make his debut at the Tour without pressure.
“Valverde could become a classics specialists,” Unzué said. “At the Tour, the most important thing is he gets to know the Tour. We’re not going to stop at anything, but knowing his level of competition will be important. We might have to stop him and convince him that a stage victory and the experience of racing for the first time would be enough.”
Tonkov signs with LPR
Former Giro d’Italia champion Pavel Tonkov has signed with the Italian LPR team for the 2005 season, the Italian wires reported. The Russian veteran won the 1996 Giro and twice finished as runner-up, but suffered through the past few seasons with back injuries. Last year, Tonkov won a Giro stage and gave his infamous “up yours” arm gesture as he crossed the line.