By Andrew Hood
The UCI’s ProTour Council shot down plans for a final split-stage proposed as part of the 2006 Giro d’Italia, saying rules don’t allow for more than one stage to be held a day in ProTour races.
On Saturday, Giro race organizers announced the route for the 2006 edition that included a final stage with a morning 11km time trial on the Ghisallo climb and a 116km road finale into Milan.
The decision came after sharp criticism from the Italian cycling riders federation as well as other riders, who insist the 2006 Giro finale was too demanding after such a long and challenging course.
Giro race organizer Angelo Zomegnan downplayed the snub, telling the Italian media it was a “suggestion, not a provocation,” but it seems the course will be likely changed.
The decision will also likely affect the Tour of the Basque Country, which has also traditionally ended its April race with a split stage.
Heras might not attend EPO test
Roberto Heras still hasn’t decided whether he’ll witness his follow-up doping test next week, but his attorney said that the four-time Vuelta a España champion’s presence isn’t necessarily required.
Heras is facing a two-year racing ban and the loss of the 2005 Vuelta title if a counter-analysis confirms the presence of the banned blood-booster EPO. The second “B” test is scheduled for November 21.
“We still haven’t decided,” attorney Andreu Garriga on whether Heras will attend the procedure told the Spanish daily AS. “Some riders like to be present, but it doesn’t serve for much.”
Garriga is one of Spain’s top sporting lawyers and has helped other Spanish riders tangled up in doping charges. In the past, he’s represented track rider Joan Llaneras and Javier Pascual Llorente.
Llaneras also tested positive for EPO, but the follow-up test came back negative and was cleared of any doping allegations. Pascual Llorente, despite challenging charges that he used EPO during the 2003 Tour de France, and served an 18-month racing ban and retired at the end of this season.
Zabel-Bartko win Munich Six Day
Erik Zabel and Robert Bartko took the honors Tuesday in the Munich Six Day after coming from behind to beat the Dutch team of Danny Stam and Robert Slippens.
More than 13,000 fans packed the track to watch the German duo erase a deficit to their Dutch rivals. The pair became the first all-German pairing to win the Munich event since 1976. The Dutchmen took second while Bruno Risi and Kurt Betschart took third.
For Zabel, who won in Dortmund two weeks ago with Rolf Aldag, it’s his third victory in Munich to go along with wins in 1995 and 2000.
Schaffrath to be DS at Milram
Jan Schaffrath, a hard-worker German domestique at T-Mobile for eight seasons, is set to become a sport director at new German-Italian squad Milram for the 2006 season.
Schaffrath, 34, was part of Erik Zabel’s set-up train and was set to join the German sprinter ace at Milram, but decided to switch the bike for the sport director’s car instead.
“It’s a great offer,” Schaffrath told T-Mobile’s web page, who added he’s set to take English lessons. “At 34 years old, I could still perform at the top, but the end of the career was in sight. With a team of 15 Italians, 10 Germans and five riders from other nations, English will be the team language. I want to be prepared for that.”