By Andrew Hood
Tour revelation Iban Mayo looks to be staying with Euskaltel-Euskadi after all despite a flurry of reports that he was prepared to join a foreign team after last-minute haggling over his contract became too much.
Mayo won the stage to Alpe d’Huez to become one of the hottest tickets in Spanish cycling. Last week, he was poised to sign a three-year contract extension to stay with the boys in orange from Spain’s Basque Country.
But late bickering over the final amount almost torpedoed the deal and Mayo was prepared to join a foreign team, with such squads at Rabobank, Saeco and Quick Step expressing interesting in the lithe climber.
The Spanish press reported Wednesday that team officials and Mayo’s representatives were set to meet to finalize the deal and secure Mayo’s signature before the week is out.
More changes at CSC
After the surprising news that team star Tyler Hamilton was leaving and Italian rising star Ivan Basso was joining, Team CSC announced more signings in what’s been a flurry of activity for the Danish team.
Kurt-Asle Arvesen, 28, has penned a two-year deal to join the team while steady hand Andrea Peron has signed a two-year contract extension. Team CSC is also finalizing a one-year contract extension for Tour de France stage-winner Carlos Sastre and signed on Germans Jens Voigt and Jorg Jaksche.
“Kurt is a fantastic rider. He wins races and he is constantly in the thick of the action. He is always eager to make results and I believe that he will be able to win many races for us,” said team manager Bjarne Riis.
Arvesen, a 1997 U23 world champion and winner of a Giro d’Italia stage this year, said he turned down offers from other teams to join Riis.
“I know the Danish mentality well and I know that I will be comfortable on this team. I am looking forward to my new cooperation with Bjarne Riis and the rest of the team and I am confident that their professional approach to the sport will be able to bring out the best in me”, Arvesen said.
Meanwhile, Belgian riders Paul Van Hyfte and Geert Van Bondt and Tristan Hoffman are not being offered contracts to stay with Team CSC in 2004, according to reports in the Belgian La Deniere Heure daily.
Pecharromán says he wants Tour, not Vuelta
Spanish revelation José Antonio Pecharromán said he won’t be in good enough shape to challenge for the Vuelta a España and instead is already thinking about the 2004 Tour de France.
“I’m sorry, but I am afraid I’m not going to arrive at the Vuelta in the best form,” Pecharromán told the Spanish daily AS. “In June I pushed it hard than I realized and ended the Tour of Cataluyna with pain in the right knee.”
Pecharromán beat Joseba Beloki in the Bicicleta Vasca in May and then derailed Roberto Heras in the Tour of Cataluyna in June to become Spain’s hottest new rider. But the 25-year-old said he wasn’t able to train until the end of July and said he hasn’t had enough time to arrive at Saturday’s start of the Vuelta in good enough shape to be a contender for the overall title.
“I’m afraid I cannot race the Vuelta thinking about the overall, but I will go little by little to get in shape and see if I can aspire to win a stage,” he said. “If I am not ready for the Vuelta, at least I can recuperate for something big next year. I want to prepare for the Tour.”
Pecharromán has joined Quick Step for the 2004 season and said he believes he can be a contender for the Tour in his rookie performance.
“I have experience and if I am good, the Tour is like other races,” he said. “Between the Bicicleta Vasca and the Tour of Cataluyna, I had more than three weeks of top form, because of this I know I can stay at this level.”
More Vuelta teams
Saeco comes with what it calls a “young team” looking for stage wins. The team’s best chances for that come with Igor Astarloa and Ivan Quaranta, both strong in the sprints and breakaways: Astarloa (Sp), Giosuè Bonomi, Antonio Bucciero, Juan Fuentes (Sp), Nicola Gavazzi, Gerrit Glomser (Aut), Cristian Pepoli, Igor Pugaci and Ivan Quaranta (all others Italian). … Banesto’s Leonardo Piepoli and Juan Miguel Mercado will be the strong men for the mountains, though the team leader for Banesto’s swansong Vuelta will be Francisco Mancebo: José Luis Arrieta, José Vincente Garcia Acosta, Eladio Jimenez, Francisco Mancebo, Juan Miguel Mercado, Aitor Osa, Unai Osa (all Spanish) and Leonardo Piepoli (I).
Doping: Lavarinhas suspended for six months
Milaneza-MSS just got handed down its second doping suspension in a week, with news that Rui Lavarinhas has been suspended for six months after doping products were found in a urine test.
Lavarinhas, who won the Portuguese national championships and led the Tour of Portugal, was sanctioned by the UCI after the Portuguese national cycling federation refused to take action.
Earlier this week, Spanish rider David Bernabeu was suspended for one year by the Spanish cycling federation for his positive test for coiticoids in Paris-Nice back in March.
The Milaneza-MSS rider, who won the final stage, will not be able to race until July 27. The team insists the positive tests came from an ointment to treat saddle sores.
Milaneza’s Francisco Perez also failed a doping test for the Portuguese team, testing positive for EPO in the Tour of Romandie in May. That case has yet to be finalized. Vuelta route
Itinerary for the 2003 Tour of Spain, which starts on Saturday in Gijon (* denotes mountain finish):Stage 1 – Saturday, Sept 6: team time trial, Gijon (28km)
Stage 2 – Sunday, Sept 7: Gijon – Cangas de Onis (140km)
Stage 3 – Monday, Sept 8: Cangas de Onis – Santander (160km)
Stage 4 – Tuesday, Sept 9: Santander – Burgos (158km)
Stage 5 – Wednesday, Sept 10: Soria – Zaragoza, (165km)
Stage 6 – Thursday, Sept 11: individual time trial Zaragoza(40km)
Stage 7 – Friday, Sept 12: Huesca – Cauterets, France (190km)*
Stage 8 – Saturday, Sept 13: Cauterets – Pla de Beret (166km)*
Stage 9 – Sunday, Sept 14: Vielha – Port d’Envalira, Andorra(176km) *
Stage 10 – Monday, Sept 15: Andorra – Sabadell (179km)
Tuesday, Sept 16: rest day
Stage 11 – Wednesday, Sept 17: Utiel – Cuenca (160km)
Stage 12 – Thursday, Sept 18: Cuenca – Albacete (167km)
Stage 13 – Friday, Sept 19: individual time trial, Albacete(53km)
Stage 14 – Saturday, Sept 20: Albacete – Valdepenas (160km)
Stage 15 – Sunday, Sept 21: Valdepenas – Sierra de la Pandera(181km) *
Monday, Sept 22: rest day
Stage 16 – Tuesday, Sept 23: Jaen – Sierra Nevada (162km) *
Stage 17 – Wednesday, Sept 24: Granada – Cordoba (180km)
Stage 18 – Thursday, Sept 25: Las Rozas – Las Rozas (150km)
Stage 19 – Friday, Sept 26: Alcobendas – Collado Villalba (166km)
Stage 20 – Saturday, Sept 27: individual mountain time trial,El Escorial – Alto de Abantos (12km) *
Stage 21 – Sunday, Sept 28: Madrid – Madrid (130km)
Total distance: 2925 kilometers.Vuelta winners since 1980
1980 – Faustino Ruperez (Spain)
1981 – Giovanni Battglin (Italy)
1982 – Marino Lejarreta (Spain)
1983 – Bernard Hinault (France)
1984 – Eric Caritoux (France)
1985 – Pedro Delgado (Spain)
1986 – Alvaro Pino (Spain)
1987 – Luis Herrera (Spain)
1988 – Sean Kelly (Ireland)
1989 – Delgado
1990 – Marco Giovanetti (Italy)
1991 – Melchor Mauri (Italy)
1992 – Toni Rominger (Switzerland)
1993 – Rominger
1994 – Rominger
1995 – Laurent Jalabert (France)
1996 – Alex Zülle (Switzerland)
1997 – Zülle
1998 – Abraham Olano (Spain)
1999 – Jan Ullrich (Germany)
2000 – Roberto Heras (Spain)
2001 – Angel Casero (Spain)
2002 – Aitor Gonzalez (Spain)Biggest winning margin: 30 minutes 8 seconds – Delio Rodriguez (Spain) over Julian Berrendero (Spain) 1945.Smallest winning margin: six seconds Eric Caritoux (France) over Albert Fernandez (Spain) 1984.