By Staff and wire reports
Giro d’Italia winner Paolo Savoldelli (Telekom) is recovering in hospital after being knocked over by a motorcycle during a pre-season training ride in Tenerife, Spain, Saturday.
The Italian, one of the new stars recruited by the German Telekom squad, was admitted to a local hospital with fractures to his nose and mouth. He was due to be transferred to the university clinic at Fribourg-en-Brisgau in Germany to undergo surgery.
Savoldelli had been expected to line up in the Telekom jersey for the first time in the Tour of Valencia in Spain on February 25.
Another new face in his German team, Belgium Maria Aerts, was also a victim in the same accident but escaped with minor injuries including scratches to his head.
After landing his first Giro win Savoldelli said he had already lived beyond his wildest expectations.
“At 16, I asked myself what I could expect later in my life. I could never imagine racing in the Giro and having the pink jersey. For an Italian racer that is a dream.”
— Copyright AFP2003
Bennati takes Stage 4 at Med
Italian Daniele Bennati (Domina Vacanze) won the fourth stage of the 30th Mediterranean Tour, Saturday, a 114km charge from La Garde (Var) to Berre-l’Etang.
Quick Step’s Paolo Bettini maintained his hold on the overall lead.
The stage was marked an early attack by BigMat’s Loc Lamouller at kilometer five. The 25-year-old Frenchman built his lead to more than four minutes before he was caught just 15km from the line.
With three kilometers to go Nicola Loda (Fassa Bortolo) and Paul Van Hyfte (CSC) tried to escape from the field, but the sprinters’ teams shut down their effort quickly.
Bennati, beat Australian Baden Cooke (fdjeux.com) at the head of a large field sprint into Berre-l’Etang.
Results – Stage 4
1. Daniele Bennati (I), Domina Vacanze, 114km in 2:51:25 (39.903kph)
2. Baden Cooke (Aus)
3. Thor Hushovd (Nor)
4. Marco Zanotti (I)
5. Fabio Sacchi (I)
6. Paolo Bettini (I)
7. Bram De Groot (Nl)
8. Roy Sentjens (Nl)
9. Christophe Detilloux (B)
10. Bobbie Traksel (Nl), all s.t.Overall, after 4 stages
1. Paolo Bettini (I), Quick Step 12:2:29
2. Laurent Brochard (F), at 0:10
3. Sylvain Chavanel (F), at 0:22
4. Thor Hushovd (Nor), at 0:33
5. Thomas Voeckler (F), at 1:03
6. Mirko Celestino (I), at 1:15
7. Bram De Groot (Nl), at 1:23
8. Miguel Martinez (F), at 1:33
9. Michael Boogerd (Nl), at 1:37
10. Beat Zberg (Swi), at 1:57
Ruta ready to shine
The first major race in the Spanish early-season calendar kicks off Sundayin sunny Andalucia. This year’s course heads through some of Spain’s culturalhighlights – Sevilla, Cordoba and Granada – in what’s the tradition seasonkick off for Spanish riders.
The course includes some difficult climbs as well flat finishing straightsfor the sprinters to provide a nice, late-winter challenge. It’s an idealweek in the sun for northern European riders looking to stretch their legsand to fine tune their form for the upcoming spring classics.
It’s no vacation in the sun, however. There are 18 rated climbs – two category-one,seven category-two and nine category-three – and the action starts off steepin stage one, with the peloton hitting the category-one Puerto de Trassierralate in the stage. Stage three features a summit finish at the category-oneAraceli and the final stage is tough, up-and-down stage with six category-twoand -three rated climbs.
Among the top riders expected to fight for the overall include defendingchampion Antonio Colom (Relax-Fuenlabrada), 1999 winner Javier Pascual (iBanesto.com),Kelme’s Francis Cabello, Spanish champion Juan Carlos Guillamon (Paternina)and Euskaltel’s David Etxebarria. Other top riders getting their season underwayinclude American Bobby Julich (Telekom), Paris-Roubaix favorites Johan Museeuwand Tom Boonen (both with Quick Step), Gerolsteiner’s Davide Rebellin andLotto’s Axel Merckx and Rik Verbrugghe.
The sprint stages should be quite heated, with two-time world champion OscarFreire (Rabobank) going up against Telekom’s Erik Zabel, AG2R’s Jaan Kirsipuu(winner of two races already this year) and Kelme’s Isaac Galvez (winnerof two stages at the Mallorca Challenge).
— Andrew Hood49th Ruta del Sol (UCI Ca. 2.3)
Feb. 16-20, 857 km total:
Stage 1, Feb. 16, 179 km, Cordoba-Cordoba
Stage 2, Feb. 17, 165 km, Sevilla (Cruzcampo) to Huelva
Stage 3, Feb. 18, 166 km, Sevilla to Alto Araceli
Stage 4, Feb. 19, 174 km, Cabra to Jaen
Stage 5, Feb. 20, 178 km, La General (Granada) to Benalmadena.
Paternina-Costa de Almeria
1998: Marcelino Garcia
1999: Javier Pascual
2000: Miguel Angel Pena
2001: Erik Dekker
2002: Antonio Colom
MSR to feature Turchino
Race officials announced Friday that the 94th edition of Milan-San Remo willreturn to the Passo del Turchino after using the Bric Berton for the lasttwo years. Officials said the 294-km race course will eliminate the BricBerton and instead feature the climb up Turchino, which was not used afteran avalanche blocked its descent.
Luis Puig, Valenciana races unveiled
Racing in Spain is getting serious. First off is this weekend’s Ruta delSol (Feb. 16-20) in Andalucia followed by Trofeo Luis Puig on Feb. 23 andthe 61st Vuelta Ciclista Comunidad Valenciana from Feb. 25 to March 1.
Luis Puig and/or Valencia will be the first major race for several riders,including world champion Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze), American LeviLeipheimer (Rabobank) as well as defending Giro champion Paolo Savoldelli(Telekom). Aitor Gonzalez – the 2002 Vuelta champion – is hoping to makehis season debut at Luis Puig if the UCI clears his contract dispute betweenFassa and Domina Vacanze.
The one-day Luis Puig starts in the vacation hot-spot Benidorm and ends inValencia along the Mediterranean Coast some 176 km later. The Tour of Valenciafeatures five stages and 17 teams covering 643 km. The race starts in SanVicente del Raspeig and ends in Valencia. The race features some tough daysin the saddle, including five category-one climbs, three category-two climbsand one category-three climb.
Trofeo Luis Puig,
Feb. 23, Benidorm to Valencia, 176.4 km
Vuelta Ciclista Comunidad Valenciana,
Stage 1, Feb. 25, San Vicente del Raispeig (individual time trial),9.6 km;
Stage 2, Feb. 26, Castalla to Villajoysa, 152 km;
Stage 3, Feb. 27, Onda to Puerto de Sagunto, 157 km;
Stage 4, Feb. 28, Sagunto to Vallada;
Stage 5, March 1, Valencia circuit course, 165.5 km.
Teams starting both races
Paternina-Costa del Almeria
Only Luis Puig