By Andrew Hood
Olympic bronze medalist Bobby Julich could be joining compatriot Fred Rodriguez at the new Belgian super-team Davitamon-Lotto in 2005.
The Belgian newspaper Het Niewsblad reported that Julich is close to inking a deal with the team and the 32-year-old Coloradan’s name was linked to the team in a press release by new bike sponsor Ridley Damocles. Julich did not reply to an e-mail query Tuesday from VeloNews but his current team, Team CSC, said there was no contract yet for Julich to stay with the Danish team.
In 2004, Julich enjoyed his finest season since finishing third in the 1998 Tour de France after signing a one-year contract with the Bjarne Riis to join Team CSC. Julich won a stage in the Tour of the Basque Country in April and finished third overall in Paris-Nice. He finished his sixth Tour de France in July despite breaking his wrist in a fall in the Pyrénées, but carried strong form and determination into the Summer Olympic Games where he won a bronze medal in the time trial.
Other names already signed with the new Belgian team are Cadel Evans, American pro champion Rodriguez and veteran sprinter Tom Steels.
Garzelli wants Vuelta win
Most people are talking up the chances of Damiano Cunego in the Vuelta a España, but it’s Stefano Garzelli that will likely be the Italian people are noticing in two weeks’ time.
Garzelli started the Vuelta as a dark horse for final victory and his Vini Caldirola team didn’t help matters when it finished a dismal fourth-from-last in Saturday’s team time trial at 2:12 back. But Garzelli was one of only 11 riders to make it across the line with winner Alejandro Valverde (Valenciana-Kelme) in Monday’s deceptively steep climbing finish.
“I feel very good, I hope to make a nice Vuelta, I come here not just to race, but I also come to the Vuelta with ambitions of winning,” Garzelli told VeloNews. “After my disappointment at the Giro, I want to make something nice here at this race. I like the Vuelta and the course favors me this year.”
Winner of the 2000 Giro, Garzelli bounced back from his doping ban from the 2002 Giro to finish as runner-up in 2003 and win a stage in 2004 despite not having the form to challenge eventual winner Cunego.
“After the Giro, I made a small break. I didn’t make anything special training for the Vuelta, but prepared for it like I would any grand tour,” Garzelli said. “We’ll see how things are soon enough. There are a lot of good riders here and once we get to the mountains we’ll see who’s going to win the Vuelta.”
Wednesday’s rollercoaster course will give Garzelli and the other favorites their first glimpse of who’s in condition to challenge for the victory. Garzelli also said he’s not sure which team he’ll ride for in 2005, but told VeloNews he’s been talking to several teams.
Farrar slips back in Avenir
Tyler Farrar’s chance of snatching the race leader’s jersey in the Tour de l’Avenir ended Tuesday in the hilly 142km sixth stage to Metz. Farrar, who started the race sitting four seconds back of Spanish leader Gustavo Cesar Veloso (Relax-Bodysol), couldn’t follow the leaders in the four-climb stage and finished 2:16 back of French winner Christophe Kern.
Swedish rider Lövkvist (FDJeux.com) finished sixth to nudge into the overall lead, 4 seconds ahead of Veloso. Farrar slipped to 37th in the GC at 1:04 back while Saul Raisin finished the stage 56th at 1:19 slower and sits 39th overall at 1:05 back. The race continues Wednesday with the 146km seventh stage from Metz to Rambervilliers.
Brit faces charges in Vuelta incident
A British citizen is due to be charged under Spanish security law after flinging a 10-pound rock into the peloton during stage three of the Vuelta a España from Burgos to Soria on Monday, Reuters reported.
The rock struck the bike of Kazakh rider Alexandre Vinokourov, reportedly destroying one of his wheels. Vinokourov was unharmed and resumed the race. The man was identified later by Spanish police as British and was due to fly back to the United Kingdom on Wednesday. They have so far failed to discover a motive for the attack. Kirsipuu signs with Crédit Agricole
Estonian sprinter ace Jaan Kirsipuu (Ag2r), who has more than 100 victories among his palmares, has signed a two-year deal to race with the French squad Crédit Agricole.
Kirsipuu has always raced with French director Vincent Lavenu since turning pro in 1992, but decided to switch to rival Crédit Agricole to assure a spot in the ProTour for next season. Kirsipuu indicated he’ll race the Giro d’Italia for the first time.
The veteran sprinter is the 10th signing by the French squad, which has bolstered its lineup with such names as Italian Pietro Caucchioli, Hungarian time trial specialist Laszlo Bodrogi and French hope Nicolas Vogondy. UCI meeting on additional Pro Tour teams
The UCI is expected to release its list of additional teams for the 2005 Pro Tour and there’s much anticipation among more than a dozen teams hoping to earn one of five remaining spots in cycling’s new super-league.
Thirteen teams have already been named for the major reorganization of cycling’s calendar and only five spots remain open, though there is some speculation the UCI will expand the list from 18 to 20 teams to accommodate new interest.
Teams with good chances include Euskaltel-Euskadi, Saeco, Fassa Bortolo, the reborn Liquigas, the new Belgian super-team Davitamon-Lotto and the new sponsor for La Boulangère. Such teams as Vini Caldirola, Lampre, Ag2r, Valenciana-Kelme and Landbouwkrediet-Colnago could be overlooked.
Teams already approved for the Pro Tour include: Illes Balears, Saunier Duval and Liberty Seguros (Spain), Phonak (Switzerland), Cofidis, FDJeux.com and Crédit Agricole (France), Gerolsteiner and T-Mobile (Germany), Team CSC (Denmark), Quick Step (Belgium), Rabobank (Holland) and U.S. Postal Service/Discovery Channel (United States).
González won’t stay with Fassa Bortolo
The “Aitornator” won’t ride for Giancarlo Ferreti in 2005. According to a story in the Spanish daily MARCA, 2002 Vuelta winner Aitor González has lost the trust of the Fassa Bortolo team boss.
“González must show something that until now he’s hasn’t with us for two years, so it’s sure that he will not continue with the team,” Ferreti said. “His contract has not been worth it for us.”
González reportedly complained that Fassa Bortolo is more interested in winning one-day classics or stage victories rather than build a team to challenge for three-week stage races. Ferreti denied those charges and instead said González has not delivered.
“We have done everything possible to be at the highest level and he hasn’t taken advantage of the opportunities given him,” the veteran sport director insisted. Petacchi tired
Star sprinter Alessandro Petacchi says he’s more fatigued than last year and hinted he might not be able to finish the mountainous Vuelta. Moments after scoring his ninth career Vuelta victory in Tuesday’s sprint victory into Zaragoza, the Italian insisted he’s not at the same level as last year when he barnstormed to five Vuelta stage victories.
“I am a little bit tired and I don’t feel the same as I did last year, but I am getting my rhythm back day by day and I hope to arrive in Madrid,” Petacchi said. “The stage (Tuesday) was hard with all the head wind and this delayed my team not to begin pulling really hard until the final three kilometers.”
Petacchi said he’s not interested in the world championships, a course that doesn’t favor him, and instead said he’ll end his season at Paris-Tours on Oct. 10.