By Andrew Hood
Beloki scores win in season finale
Joseba Beloki had one more good race in his legs for the 2002 season. The ONCE rider who finished on two grand-tour podiums this year (2nd at Tour, 3rd at Vuelta) won Sunday’s Escalada Montjuic in Barcelona, the final big race on the Spanish road calendar. The race opened with climb up the Montjuic mountain in the morning sector and ended with afternoon time trial. Beloki won the morning sector and only Kelme’s Oscar Sevilla could beat him in the climbing time trial at Montjuic. The race featured an all-star starting lineup, including 2002 Vuelta champion Aitor Gonzalez and Melchor Mauri, competing in his last race before retiring.Results: 1. Joseba Beloki (Sp), ONCE- Eroski, 1:01:59; 2. Felix García (Sp), BigMat, at 0:10; 3. Manuel Beltran (Sp), Coast, at 0:22; 4. Oscar Sevilla (Sp), Kelme-Costa Blanca, at 0:32; 5. Aitor González (Sp), Kelme-Costa Blanca, at 0:49 6. Angel Casero (Sp), Coast, at 1:09; 7. Igor González de Galdeano (Sp), ONCE, at 1:14; 8. J. Enrique Gutierrez (Sp), Kelme-Costa Blanca, at 1:22; 9. Juan A. Flecha (Sp), iBanesto.com, at 1:34; 10. Luís Pérez (Sp), Coast, at 1:52Petrov to Banesto, Kelme looking
Despite news of its imminent demise after the 2003 season, the legendary Spanish team, iBanesto.com, has signed Eugeni Petrov, the 24-year-old Russian and winner of the Tour d’Avenir. Petrov raced this year with Mapei, but will join the Spanish team for next year. Banesto has also signed Rafael Mateos, formerly of Colpack. Meanwhile, Banesto is letting many of riders go unsigned, which plays into the interests of Spanish rival Kelme. The team has signed former Banesto’s Fito Garcia and David Latasa and looks to be in negotiations with Santi Blanco, winner of an emotional stage victory at La Covatilla at this year’s Vuelta a Espana.Gerolsteiner signs Bolts, Zberg, Rabobank cuts six
The German Gerolsteiner team has veteran Udo Bolts and Swiss rider Markus Zberg in an effort to bolster its UCI ranking to get an automatic bid to the 2003 Tour de France. Bolts, 36, has been one of the key support riders for Telekom and winner of the 1997 Criterium Dauphine Libere, but his contract wasn’t extended after this season. Bolts brings a steady hand and solid experience for long tours. Zberg, second at the 1999 world’s, brings equal depth of experience after leaving Rabobank. The team has also signed Torsten Nitsche, 25, formerly of Saeco, and Robert Foerster, 24. Meanwhile, Zberg is among six riders cut loose by Rabobank, which recently signed two-time world champion Oscar Freire. In addition to Zberg, Geert Verheyen, Coen Boerman, Marcel Duijn, Matthé Pronk and cyclo-cross rider Richard Groenendaal are also left without a contract for 2003.