By VeloNews Interactive
Rising French star Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches La Boulangère) delivered the goods in Saturday’s 180km Tour du Haut Var, nipping Spanish rider Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) to grab the victory.
A 10-rider rider break went away at the Cote de Tuilieres with about 20km to go. With 2km to go, Chavanel, Sanchez, Cofidis’ Andrei Kivilev and Stephane Goubert attacked off the group and came in for the sprint. Chavanel nipped Sanchez and Kivilev took third.
“There were a lot of breaks in the last 10km, but nobody wanted to arrive at a final sprint with me,” said Quick Step’s Paolo Bettini, winner of the Tour Mediterranean last week who finished fifth. Watch for the same protagonists in Sunday’s Classic Haribo.
Di Luca locks up Liguria, Balducci takes finale
Saeco’s Danilo Di Luca locked up overall victory in the Giro della Liguria on Saturday following his strong performance in Friday’s climbing time trial. Di Luca told La Gazzetta dello Sport he’s enthusiastic about his strong start to the season.
“I’ve made a lot of progress in how I handle races and I won here even though I am only in 80-percent of condition,” Di Luca said. Next, the Italian will travel to Spain to race in the Tour of Valencia that starts Tuesday for additional preparation for the spring classics. In the final 154km stage from Andora to Savona, Italian Gabriele Balducci (Sidermec) just nipped Austrian Bernard Eisel (FdJeux.com) to take the win.
1. Danilo Di Luca (I), Saeco, 13 hours, 26 minutes, 27 seconds
2. Giuseppe Palumbo (I), De Nardi-Colpack, at 10 seconds
3. Wladimir Belli (I), Fassa Bortolo, at 0:14
4. Jamie Burrow (GB), Amore e Vita, at 0:26
5. Peter Farazijn (B), Cofidis, at 0:27
Moller wins Algarve stage, takes over lead
Dane Klaus Moller (Milaneza-MSS) won the fourth stage of the Tour d’Algarve in Portugal on Saturday, winning the 10.5km time trial between Glula and Albufeira. U.S. Postal Service rider Victor Hugo Pena finished second at nine seconds back and moved into second overall. U.S. Postal Service has three riders in the top-10 and Pena will be looking to make up for lost time in the fifth and final stage Sunday.
Overall after four stages:
1. Klaus Moller (Dk), Milaneza-MSS, 13:11:51
2. Victor Hugo Pena (Col), USPS, at 0:09
3. Candido Barbosa (Por), Pecol, at 0:12
4. David Bernabeu (Sp), Milaneza-MSS, at 0:36
5. Michael Barry (Can), USPS, at 0:37
10. George Hincapie (USA), USPS, at 0:48.
Schmitz moves into lead at Tour of Rhodes
A day after becoming the first American to snag a European road victory this year, Fred Rodriguez sits in fourth-place overall at just two seconds behind race leader Bram Schmitz, a Dutch rider on the Bankgiroloterij team. Sidermec tried to move up Rodriguez into the overall lead but attacking with just 5km to go, but the break was brought back. CSC’s Thomas Bruun Eriksen won the 158km third stage and Schmitz bounced into the overall lead. Rodriguez will have one more chance in Sunday’s final stage.
Pantani trains in Madrid, takes in soccer game
Marco Pantani spent much of last week training in Madrid with teammate Daniel Clavero and longtime friend Giovanni Lombardi of Domina Vacanze as Il Piratacontinues to prepare his comeback.
Both Clavero and Lombardi live in Madrid and the trio put in some serious miles north of Spain’s capital despite inclement weather throughout the week. Lombardi and Pantani also went to see the Real Madrid soccer team played a Champions League game Wednesday in Bernabeu stadium.
Lombardi, who said he’s known Pantani since they raced the “Baby Giro,” said he’s impressed with Pantani’s form.
“He’s in very good shape and he has a lot of motivation to come back,” Lombardi said Friday, in an interview with VeloNews. “After all he’s been through; I’m impressed with his condition. He really wants to be on top if he can.”
Pantani trained for nearly three weeks in the Canary Islands last month before returning to Italy where he revealed his new sleek look (clipped ears and all) and his plans for the 2003 season. Depending on a pending doping suspension dating back to the 2001 Giro, Pantani could be back in the peloton as soon as the Clasica Almeria on March 2.
Lombardi predicts Cipo’ victory at Luis Puig
Giovanni Lombardi said he predicts Mario Cipollini will win Sunday’s Trofeo Luis Puig if the 183km race from Benidorm to Valencia where the world champion is making his season debut.
“If it comes down to a sprint, Mario will want to win his first race of the season wearing the rainbow jersey,” Lombardi said Friday in Madrid. “He’s been working very hard in the off-season. Just last week he went on two, 300km training rides. I know he is more motivated than ever.”
Cipollini has already won Luis Puig, so he knows its challenges well. The race features a major, category-two climb right off the bat, but the final closing two hours of the race are largely flat as the riders plow into Valencia.
Several riders are feeling up to the challenge of taking on Cipollini, especially two-time world champion Oscar Freire. The Spanish rider made a big splash at the Ruta del Sol this week for his new Rabobank team, winning the opening two stages in sprints against such heavyweights as Erik Zabel and Jaan Kirsipuu.
“I don’t think Freire has anything to envy Cipollini about,” Rabobank’s manager Theo de Rooy said after the Ruta del Sol. “With Oscar, our chances are good at Milan-San Remo and other races. He will be our only leader for the World Cup.”
Zabel has yet to win a race this year and will be on the hunt for the win. Also, Italians Ivan Quaranta, now with Cipollini’s former Saeco team, and Fassa Bortolo’s Alessandro Petacchi will be breathing down the Lion King’s neck..
One rider sure not to start Luis Puig is Aitor Gonzalez, whose fate was in the balance in a meeting scheduled Saturday in Switzerland. The UCI is trying to end a squabble between Fassa Bortolo and Domina Vacanze for the rights to the 2002 Vuelta a España winner. If a decision is released Monday, Gonzalez is still hopeful to start Tuesday’s Tour of Valencia, but for which team?
Team start list
Wellens tops in Superprestige final; Nijs takes overall
Bart Wellens (SpaarSelect) won the eighth and final round of the Superprestige cyclo-cross series in Vorselaar, Belgium Saturday.Despite the win, the series title remained about the only major cyclo-cross prize Wellens didn’t win this season as he wrapped up the overall World Cup title last week and won his first elite men’s world championship on February 2.Wellens joined fellow Belgians Sven Nijs and Erwin Vervecken on the podium. Nijs already had a lock on the overall Superprestige title going into Saturday’s race. The eight-race series is contested throughout the ‘cross season in Belgium, the Netherlands and France and is second only to the UCI World Cup in its stature in the sport.Stapleton, Voight on USOC fixup panel
A pair of figures familiar to cycling fans – Bill Stapleton, Lance Armstrong’s agent, and Lisa Voight, former CEO of USA Cycling – are members of a task force assembled to consider ways to reform the U.S. Olympic Committee.The panel met Friday in Santa Monica, California, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.Stapleton is co-chairman with Frank Marshall, a film producer whose credits include “The Sixth Sense.” Stapleton and Voight are both members of the 23-person USOC executive committee, a volunteer body that the task force discussed eliminating, according to the Gazette.Meanwhile, the Senate Commerce Committee is forming its own panel to revamp the troubled body, which has been plagued by top-level resignations, ethics squabbles and backbiting.The task force meets again March 15 in Denver and hopes to have its recommendations prepared for the USOC directors’ meeting April 11-13 in Fort Worth, Texas.Armstrongs agree to temporary separation
Lance Armstrong announced Saturday he was separating from his wife Kristin after four-and-a-half years of marriage.”We’re looking to sort out some delicate questions in the way that we’ve confronted other obstacles in our life – together and with determination and commitment,” the couple, who have three children, told Saturday’s edition of the Austin American-Stateman.”It’s possible that we’ll have a period of separation so as to reflect on our relationship and work to protect the interests of our family and our children.”
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