By Andrew Hood
Bjarne Riis is close to signing a deal with Deutsche Post Bank to be a co-sponsor for his CSC team and open the door for the signing of 1997 Tour de France champion Jan Ullrich.
The sports cable channel Eurosport reported on Thursday that the announcement could come in “couple of days,” Tiscali, the team’s co-sponsor for the past two years, announced this week it would not be extending its deal with the team for 2003. If the deal comes through, Ullrich will be re-united with his former Telekom teammate Riis.
The pair reached glory together, first with Riis winning the 1996 Tour and then Ullrich winning the next season. CSC is also reportedly in negotiations with aging Swiss veteran Alex Zülle. Meanwhile, the German wires are reporting that Ullrich will leave his longtime base in Germany’s Black Forest and move to Tuscany in Italy. Riis lives there and the weather and training are much better than in Germany.
2003 Tour of Switzerland unveiled
The course for the 2003 Tour of Switzerland was revealed this week. The race will run from June 16-25 with a distance of about 1,400 km. Long considered cycling’s “fourth” grand tour, the Swiss tour typically attracts a strong international field. Lance Armstrong won the race before going on to win the 2001 Tour. For next year’s race, 17 teams of eight riders each are expected to start.
Prologue, June 16: Egerkingen, 6.5 km
Stage 1, June 17: Egerkingen – Le Locle, 173 km
Stage 2, June 18: Murten – Nyon, 173 km
Stage 3, June 19: Nyon – Saas Fee, 217 km
Stage 4, June 20: Viège – Losone, 163 km
Stage 5, June 21: Ascona – La Punt, 177 km
Stage 6, June 22: Silvaplana – Silvaplana, 135 km
Stage 7, June 23: Savognin – Oberstaufen (Germany), 218 km
Stage 8, June 24: Gossau – Gossau (ITT), 30 km
Stage 9, June 25: Stäfa – Aarau, 154 km
Somarriba still hopeful
Spanish racer Joane Somarriba says she’s more excited than ever to continue racing despite the collapse of her Deia-Pragma-Colnago team. The winner of two Giros and two Tours told the sports daily MARCA that she’s confident she’ll find a team for the 2003 season.
“I know I’ll find a team, likely with an Italian team. The offers are coming in, but I don’t want just any team. I’d like to bring my teammates with me and I can help them as much as I can,” she said. Somarriba is coming off an exceptional world’s, where she just missed a medal in the time trial and took the bronze medal in the road race. Both results came as a surprise for the slender climber on Zolder’s flat course.