Road

Wednesday’s EuroFile: Mayo is ready; Basso is, too; Crowd mourns Galletti

Iban Mayo has been champing at the bit all season long and now he's rearing to go. The Euskaltel-Euskadi rider has put everything on the Tour de France in the hopes of avoiding last year's disappointment, when the red-hot Mayo peaked too early and flamed out of contention by the time the Tour hit the Pyrénées. This year, Mayo has kept his aggressiveness in check, holding back, keeping everything pent up for one big run at the Tour. Everyone in Spain's Basque Country is anxiously waiting to see if the strategy will work. "This year we've changed the preparation, we've

By Andrew Hood

Iban Mayo has been champing at the bit all season long and now he’s rearing to go. The Euskaltel-Euskadi rider has put everything on the Tour de France in the hopes of avoiding last year’s disappointment, when the red-hot Mayo peaked too early and flamed out of contention by the time the Tour hit the Pyrénées. This year, Mayo has kept his aggressiveness in check, holding back, keeping everything pent up for one big run at the Tour. Everyone in Spain’s Basque Country is anxiously waiting to see if the strategy will work. “This year we’ve changed the preparation, we’ve sacrificed a lot of things, but I had to risk it and the important thing is to arrive in good form for the Tour,” Mayo told the Spanish daily AS. “Last year I was strong but when I began the Tour I wasn’t going so well.”

Mayo said it’s been hard to sit back and not try to win every race he starts, an instinct that’s pushed him to the top of the power charts in Spanish cycling. The team wanted less pressure on Mayo this spring to give its protégé a chance to regain his confidence. “I am more tranquil with less pressure because I know that my best moment still hasn’t arrived,” he said. “I like to win and be competitive, but this year I’ve put everything on the Tour.” He said he’s not particular worried about the Tour’s first week, somewhat of a surprise considering that’s when his hopes last year unraveled after crashing on the cobbles in stage three. Mayo knows he’ll lose time in the opening stage and the team time trial, adding that luck has a big part of what happens in the flat stages. For him, the idea is to stay out of trouble until his favorite hunting grounds. “I believe that I’m in good condition and now I only hope to hone my form,” he said “There are still two weeks before the Tour and three weeks before the important stages, which are the mountains. The intention is to try to be as strong as possible. To win is a whole other thing.” Basso promises to attack
Ivan Basso has been cycling’s nowhere man, all but disappearing after the Giro d’Italia. After recovering and quietly training in Italy, Basso didn’t race at all since the Giro as he ramps up for a run at the Tour de France. Last year’s third-place podium man said he’s feeling stronger than ever despite that hard effort in the Giro, when he won two stages but fizzled out of contention when a stomach bug sapped his strength over the fearsome Stelvio climb. The Italian CSC rider says the Tour will be the same as it ever was; Lance Armstrong will be the man to beat. “He is unbeatable,” Basso told sports daily L’Equipe on Wednesday. “I know I am stronger than last year, in the time trials and in the mountain. So you can be sure that this time, I will attack.” Basso also said he doesn’t believe Jan Ullrich will be strong enough to beat Armstrong, who will be looking to win a record seventh victory in his last Tour. “In the Tour of Switzerland, he (Ullrich) was not on top form,” said Basso, who finished third in last year’s Tour, more than six minutes behind Armstrong. Surgery for Freire
Three-time world champion Oscar Freire had a benign tumor removed from his buttock during an operation Tuesday in Amsterdam, the team announced. Rabobank team doctor Jean-Paul Mantgem said the Spanish sprinter should be back on the bike within two weeks. “It was superficial and not dangerous, and we expect he can return to training in two weeks,’ Mantgem said. “Oscar is happy with proceedings and will return to Spain on Wednesday.” Freire is hopeful he will be able to fully recover and make a run for a fourth world title on the streets of Madrid later this year. Freire was forced to skip the Tour following pain from the tumor. Big crowd mourns Galletti
Some of Italian cycling’s biggest names turned out to mourn Alessio Galletti in a funeral Tuesday. The 37-year-old Galletti died of a heart attack during the Subida a Naranco race last week in Spain when he collapsed and died on the side of the road. In attendance among the more than 600 mourners were Max Sciandri, Mario Cipollini, Michele Bartoli and Ivan Gotti along with his teammates on the Naturino-Sapore di Mare team. Horner gets noticed
Chris Horner’s dramatic stage victory and fifth place overall last week in the Tour de Suisse earned him special honors in America’s MacPaper, with USA Today naming him the “U.S. Olympic Athlete of the Week.” No (g)nats for the Cricket
Paolo Bettini will not be taking part in the Italian Championships on Sunday due ongoing healthy problems that recently forced him to pull out of the Tour de Suisse, Quick Step officials reported Wednesday. The Olympic Champion will be undergoing exams over the next few days to diagnosis what’s been keeping the kick out of the Cricket’s legs. “I am really sorry that I’ll not be able to take part in the ‘tricolore’ on Sunday,” Bettini said. “To be honest, my main objective is to resolve this problem that has been dragging me down for the last few months. There is still plenty of time left in the season and I’ve got lots of objectives to meet.” Aussie pair to head up Davitamon Tour effort
Australian spinter Robbie McEwen and compatriot Cadel Evans will bethe main men of the Davitamon team for next month’s Tour de France followingWednesday’s team announcement.The 33-year-old McEwen, who won three stages in this year’s Giro d’Italiawill be looking to win the green points jersey for the third time, while28-year-old Tour debutant Evans will be focusing more on the overall race.

Davitamon-Lotto for the Tour de France
Robbie McEwen(Aus)
Cadel Evans (Aus)
Mario Aerts (B)
Christophe Brandt (B)
Axel Merckx (B)
Wim Vansevenant (B)
Johan Vansummeren (B)
Leon Van Bon (Nl)
Fred Rodriguez (USA)

Liquigas-Bianchi goes 4×4
Liquigas-Bianchi is spreading its bets wide, coming to the Tour with four riders it hopes can make an impact on the race. The GC hopes will hang on Stefano Garzelli, Dario Cioni and Franco Pellizotti. Garzelli crashed out of the Giro while Cioni couldn’t deliver on his promising fourth-place in last year’s Giro. Pellizotti, meanwhile, skipped the Giro to save everything for a run at the Tour top 5. Magnus Backstedt will be on the hunt for a stage win. “I’m sure we will leave a mark on the Tour,” says General Manager Roberto Amadio.”Indeed, the group is well-balanced and is ready to fight for victory in all the stages. Moreover, Stefano Garzelli and Dario David Cioni are going to climb the overall ranking. The rider from Varese (Garzelli), who is back from an unlucky Giro d’Italia, is especially longing for revenge.”
Liquigas for the Tour de France
Stefano Garzelli (I)
Dario Cioni (I)
Mauro Gerosa (I)
Franco Pellizotti (I)
Michael Albasini (Swi)
Magnus Backstedt (S)
Marcus Ljungqvist (S)
Kjell Carlstroem (Fin)
Luciano Pagliarini (Bra)Reserve: Patrick Calcagni (Swi)