By Andrew Hood
Alejandro Valverde (CV-Kelme) is proving he’s a “todo terreno,” an all-roundrider capable of winning in any conditions.
The world champion runner-up shot ahead of veteran Rolf Aldag (T-Mobile)on a steep finishing approach to claim the rainy 148.5km second stage ofthe Vuelta a la Comunidad Valenciana on Tuesday for his second win of theseason.
“For me, this win is an injection of moral because this season couldbe my confirmation,” Valverde told Spanish television. “I haven’t set specialgoals. Every race I start that I feel good I want to go for the podium.”
Valverde, who lives in nearby Murcia, said he “knew perfectly” the finishapproach and says, “I am one of the favorites (for the overall) and inthe second stage I’ve gotten a little closer to the leader, but I’m stillbehind quite a bit and I prefer to live day-to-day to avoid disappointment.”
Toni Colom (Illes Baleares), winner of Tuesday’s opening stage, retainedthe overall lead by coming through fifth.
“I’m not surprised Valverde won. His team has been attacking since beforeLuis Puig (on Sunday) and they’ve spared no effort trying to get the win,”Colom said. “In my case, I’m happy and I believe we responded with confidenceto the attacks from our rivals.”
Rain and cool weather hit Spain’s Mediterranean Coast once again, butthat didn’t slow six riders from building up a 2:50 lead. Illes Balearswouldn’t let me them get much further away and the peloton broke apartcoming over the Cat. 1 Coll de Rates at 63km.
Fito Garcia Quesada (VC-Kelme) attacked the break coming over the Altode Benissa at 129km but the main bunch was within sight coming down a fastdescent into Calpe for the finish.
Sebastian Chavanel (Boulangere) attacked hard on the descent, but Kelmeand Illes Balears kept a lid on any escapes to set up a sprint of about30 leaders coming into a steep ramp in downtown Calpe.
Tour of Valencia (UCI 2.3)
Stage 2, Javea to Calpe
1. Alejandro Valverde (Sp), CV-Kelme, 148.5km in 3:36:28
2. Rolf Aldag (G), T-Mobile, at 0:01
3. Pedro Horrillo (Sp), Quick Step
4. Josu Silloniz (Sp), Euskaltel
5. Toni Colom (Sp), Illes Balears all same time74. Christian Vande Velde (USA), Liberty, at 4:58Overall after 2 stages
1. Colom, 7:02:05
2. David Blanco (Sp), CV-Kelme, at 0:01
3. Valverde, at 0:09
4. Grischa Niermann (G), Rabobank s.t.
5. Jose Antonio Martinez (Sp), Relax-Bodysol, at 0:1379. Vande Velde, at 12:33Petacchi makes it two in a row
Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) made it two in a row Wednesdayagainst archrival Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze) to score his secondsprint victory in as many days and retain the overall lead at the Girodi Lucca in Italy.In fact, it got one worse for the Lion King as Fabrizio Guidi (CSC)came through second to relegate the 2002 world champion to third.After a long escape featuring Andrea Tafi (Alessio-Bianchi) with toppedsix minutes, CSC and Fassa Bortolo collaborated to neutralize the moveon the final stretch of the Monte Pitoro climb some 20km from the finish.The group came in for a mass gallop and Petacchi got the better forCipollini and the rest of the field to retain his title as the “king ofthe sprints.”6th Giro della Provincia di Lucca (UCI 2.3), Stage2, Massarosa to Camaiore, 173km
1. Alessandro Petacchi, Fassa Bortolo, 173km in 4:1610
2. Fabrizio Guidi, CSC
3. Mario Cipollini, Domina Vacanze
4. Yuri Mitlushenko, Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
5. Mark Renshaw, FDJeux.com, all same timeOverall standings after two stages
1. Alessandro Petacchi, Fassa Bortolo 8:40:04
2. Mario Cipollini, Domina Vacanze, at 0:10
3. Fabrizio Guidi, CSC, at 0:15
4. Angelo Furlan, Alessio-Bianchi, at 0:17
5. Gabriele Balducci, Saeco, at 0:21
Landis “real happy” with season start
Floyd Landis said he’s very satisfied with his stage victory Sunday and overall title at last week’s Tour of the Algarve in Portugal, where U.S. Postal Service cleaned up with two stages, the overall and the team classification.
“It was good to win. When the team gives me a chance like that, I liketo take advantage of it. We had the best team there, so it made it easier,”Landis told VeloNews from his home in Girona, Spain. “I’ve been real happythe past few days.”
The victory is Landis’s first big win as a pro in Europe since joiningU.S. Postal Service. He narrowly missed winning Saturday’s 24km time trialwhen Lance Armstrong edged him by just one second.“I would have liked to have won the time trial, but Lance is one ofthe best in the world. When he decides to go fast, you can’t beat him,”Landis said.
Armstrong and the team decided to back Landis going into Sunday’s up-and-down stage that ended with a Category 2 summit finish. Postal’s George Hincapieand Benjamin Noval worked hard to reel in a breakaway and Landis took overon the final climb.
“The objectives in the morning were just to try to win the stage. Wecaught the break coming into the climb and I’d figured I try to win,” hesaid. “It started to rain, then hail, then the sun came out. It was justa miserable day, but it’s spring in Europe. That’s the way it can be.”
This time last year, Landis was nursing his broken hip and wonderingabout his cycling future. But Landis bounced back to earn his second tripto the Tour de France and helped Armstrong win a record-tying fifth Tour.
“Last year was a bit of a disaster,” he said. “This is the way I wantedto start my season last year, but it didn’t quite work out that way.”
Landis raced through the road worlds last fall, so he said he didn’t take that much of a break in the off-season. His next races are Paris-Nice,Criterium International, Paris-Roubaix, Amstel Gold and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.He won’t race in the Tour de Georgia and instead will stay in Europe toprepare for the 2004 Tour.
“I feel really good right now, but this race is not the Tour. I’ll findout how good of shape I’m in at Paris-Nice,” he said. “My head’s good rightnow. I’m ready to go.”
Simoni visits Pantani’s grave during Giro recon mission
Gilberto Simoni’s inspection of the route of the 2004 Giro d’Italiacontinued on Tuesday with a trip to the Emilia-Romagna region, the Saecoteam reported.
After seeing the important mountain stages of the first week (Cornoalle Scale and Mont Vergine) and the nervous second stage from Novi Ligureto Pontremoli, Simoni and directeur sportif Flavio Miozzo studied the finalpart of the eleventh stage from Porto Sant’ Elpidio to Cesena.
“Last year the stage to Faenza was very similar and was an importantday for the overall result of the Giro. It’s a nervous route and so knowingit in detail will be useful,” he said.
Simoni’s training ride lasted for 145km with 95km on the route of thestage from Longiano to Cesena. During the trip Simoni and his Saeco teammatesDamiano Cunego, Marius Sabaliauskas and Leonardo Bertagnolli had to ridethrough fog and snow in the hills near San Marino.
”As well as the difficult weather conditions, as I imagined the stageis definitely a tough one and so could cause a few surprises,” he said.
In the afternoon, Simoni and his team mates went to the Cesenatico cemeteryto pay their respects to Marco Pantani.
Pantani museum in the works
Fans of the fallen Italian hero are already talking about making amuseum dedicated to the memory of Marco Pantani. Members of Pantani’s fanclub are looking for space in his hometown of Cesenatico to try to getsomething started in the coming weeks, the wires service ANSA reported.
Botero eyes return to form
Colombian Santiago Botero said he’s hoping to forget his miserable2003 season and return to form with his goals set on performing well inthe Tour de France and the Summer Games.
“I’ve recharged the batteries and I’ve forgotten my bad season lastyear when injuries and illness forced to me renounce many of the objectivesI had set for the season,” Botero told the Spanish wire service EFE.
Botero suffered through a forgettable 2003 season in his first yearwith Telekom (now T-Mobile) and the 31-year-old believes he return to formthat saw him win stages in the Tour and the world time trial title in 2002.
“I’ve changed my preparation,” said Botero, who’s making his seasondebut this week at the Tour of Valencia. “I’ve moved closer to Madrid andI’ve been training more with my teammates.”
Track champion says he’s clean
2002 world and Commonwealth champion Chris Hoy told the Scottish mediahe has never taken drugs and claimed track cycling is clean.
Hoy hit out in the wake of a series of doping scandals and the deathlast week of former Tour de France winner Marco Pantani.
“Some people don’t just suspect we might be on drugs, they assume weare,” he said. “Road and track cycling are like two separate sports andwe don’t have the same problems. I can put my hand on my heart and sayI’ve never taken drugs.”
Teams for Tirreno-Adriatico
Race organizers Wednesday released for the following list of teamsto start Tirreno-Adriatico: Alessio
1. Alessio – Bianchi (I)
2. Brioches La Boulangere (F)
3. Ceramiche Panaria – Margres (I)
4. Chocolade Jacques Wincor – Nixdorf (B)
5. Cofidis (F)
6. Credit Agricole (F)
7. De Nardi (I)
8. Domina Vacanze (I)
9. Fassa Bortolo (I)
10. Gerolsteiner (G)
11. Lampre (I)
12. Landbouwkrediet – Colnago (B)
13. Lotto – Domo (B)
14. Phonak Hearing Systems (Swi)
15. Quick Step – Davitamon (B)
16. Rabobank (Nl)
17. Saeco (I)
18. Saunier Duval – Prodir (Sp)
19. T-Mobile Team (G)
20. Vini Caldirola – Nobili (I)