By Andrew Hood
Oscar Sevilla suffered in the Tour de France and abandonedin the Alps when he was expected to give Lance Armstrong a run forhis money. Instead, “El Nino” went back to Spain a frustrated and unhappyracer.
This week, the Kelme rider is racing in Italy and finished fourth inthe Copa Agostini, a result that gives the Manchego rider some animationcoming into the Vuelta a España.
“The most important this I have recovered the good sensationsI had in June,” Sevilla told the Spanish sports daily AS. “It givesme morale once again on the bike.”
He races again Sunday in the Clasica a los Puertos back in Spain andwill train there leading to the Sept. 7 start of the Vuelta.
“My abandon in the Tour and my fall in the Dauphine are things to forgetand now all I think about is the Vuelta. I’m going to give it all to win,”he said. “I am very happy because I feel once again at a good level.”
Earlier in August, he went on training rides to the difficult Vueltaclimbing stages to Covatilla (stage 18) and Angliru (stage 15) with formerteammate Jose Luis Rubiera, now with U.S. Postal Service. VicenteBelde, Kelme’s sport director, said he sees a difference in his young teamcaptain.
“Oscar needs some good form to be once again with the best in orderto forget his suffering at the Tour and to recover the confidence for theVuelta,” he said.
Peña grabs Dutch tour lead
U.S. Postal Service rider Victor Hugo Peña ripped theafternoon sector of Thursday’s third stage to jump into the overall leadof the Tour of Holland.
The Colombian, fresh off helping Lance Armstrong win a fourth consecutiveTour de France, won the 18.3-km individual time trial through the streetsof Almelo to take the lead from Telekom’s Erik Zabel, who held thelead since winning the first stage.
In the morning sector, Italian Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo)edged Zabel in a bunch sprint to win the 75-km stage. Peña is now5 seconds ahead of Telekom’s Robert Bartko going into the finaltwo stages of the Dutch race. Dylan Casey (USPS) finished eighthat 15 seconds slower and moved into eighth overall at 19 seconds back.CSC-Tiscali’s Tyler Hamilton finished ninth at 18 seconds back andsits in ninth overall at 22 seconds back. Christian Vande Velde(USPS) finished 33 seconds slower in 18th, Antonio Cruz (USPS) was30th at 50 seconds slower and Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) was 32ndat 52 seconds slower.
“It’s good to see that we have five riders in the overalltop 20,” said Dirk Demol, the USPS team’s assistant Director Sportif. “It leaves many doors open for us. Normally, being in the race leadwould cause the team to ride at the front for 200 kms to defend the lead,but this race is different; that would be too dangerous for us. Victor’s lead is only five seconds and there are many time bonuses lefton the road. And as always, this race is very important to Rabobankand they have brought there best team here, with Levi (Leipheimer), Wauters,(Erik) Dekker and (Michael) Boogerd, so we expect lots of attacks fromthem. It may be tough to keep the jersey, but with five in the top20, we can do something.” Tomorrow’s nearly 200 km stage from Arnhem to Sittardis relatively flat, but the final stage on Saturday, a 205.5 km race fromSittard to Landgraaf, is similar to the Amstel Gold World Cup event withmany challenging climbs. “We will see lots of attacks and need to have a riderin each breakaway over the next two days,” added Demol.STAGE FOUR, TOUR OF HOLLAND
1. Victor Hugo Pena, U.S. Postal Service; 18.3 kms in 21:23
2. Roberto Bartko, Telekom; at :01
3. Marc Wauters, Rabobank; at :02
4. Raivis Belohvosciks, Lampre-Daikin; at :04
5. Erik Dekker, Rabobank, at :06Others:
8. Dylan Casey, U.S. Postal Service; at :15
14. Benoit Joachim, U.S. Postal Service; at :25
18. Christian Vande Velde, U.S. Postal Service; at :33
19. Tom Boonen, U.S. Postal Service; at :34
30. Antonio Cruz, U.S. Postal Service; at :50
34. Pavel Padrnos, U.S. Postal Service; at :57
43. Matt White, U.S. Postal Service; at 1:14GC AFTER FOUR STAGES, TOUR OF HOLLAND
1. Pena; 10:45:49
2. Bartko; at :05
3. Wauters; at :06
4. Belohvosciks; at :08
5. Dekker; at :10Others
8. Casey; at :19
14. Joachim; at :29
16. Boonen; at :34
19. Vande Velde; at :37
31. Cruz; at :54
33. Padrnos; at 1:01
43. White; at 1:18
VDB won’t race worlds
Belgian racer Frank Vandenbroucke won’t be racing at the Zolderroad worlds despite having his doping suspension only applied to the Flandersregion of Belgium.
According to the Belgian cycling federation, Vandenbroucke was notifiedhe’s suspended from Sept. 1 to Feb. 28, 2003 for races in Flanders. Unfortunatelyfor Vandenbroucke, the site of the 2002 road worlds is in Flanders.
Earlier this month, the federation wanted to revoke the racing licenseof the former winner of Liege-Bastogne-Liege, but legal wrangling resultedin the suspension valid only within the Flanders region of Belgium. Vandenbroucke’stroubles began in February when authorities found EPO and other dopingproducts in his house.
Rumsas’ wife still in jail
Edita Rumsas, the wife of third-place Tour de France finisher RaimondasRumsas, will remain in a French jail at least until Aug. 28 while aFrench appellate court considers demands that she be released.
Edita Rumsas has been held by French authorities since late July aftershe was caught at the French-Italian border with doping products in hercar, a bust that has tainted her husband’s otherwise impressive ride atthe Tour. This is the second time Rumsas’ attorneys have tried to earnher release. French judges refused to allow her to leave the jail in Bonneville,France, in a ruling on Aug. 13. Meanwhile, Raimondas will reportedly givetestimony from Italy and refuses to return to France to be with his wifeor testify before French authorities.
Nardello takes first win of season
Mapei’s Daniele Nardello won the 84th Bernocchi Cup held Thursdayin Italy, giving the Italian his first victory since he won the Italianroad championships last season. Nardello finishing 199-km course northof Milan ahead of Gianluca Bortolami (Tacconi Sport) and Matteo Tosatto(Fassa Bortolo).
Sassone takes Limousine stage, Halgand still in lead
French rider Roberto Sassone (Cofidis) won the 191-km thirdstage of the Tour of Limousine from Saint Pantaleon de Larche to Rochechouart.A stage with several attacks, Sassone finished seven seconds ahead of FredericMainguenaud (Bon Jour) and nine seconds ahead of Martin Elmiger (Phonak).Meanwhile, Patrice Halgand (Jean Delatour) retained the overalllead he’s held since winning the first stage.