By Andrew Hood
Banesto’s Jose Ivan Gutierrez won Tuesday’s 172-km second stageof the Tour of Burgos in northern Spain while Fassa Bortolo’s MicheleBartoli moved into the overall lead.
The stage was marked by a crash in the final five kilometers that causedmajor splits in the peloton. Defending champion Juan Miguel Mercado(Banesto) lost 16 seconds while U.S. Postal’s Roberto Heraslost 1:48.
Two riders – Gerrit Glomser (Saeco) and Alessandro Bertolini(Alessio) – stayed away in a long break until 7 km to go and the bunchcame in together when a crash split the group. Wednesday’s stage featuresa team time trial and Thursday is a hard day in the Sierra de la Demanda.
Eki on verge of signing deal
Viatcheslav Ekimov, the rugged Russian who helped push LanceArmstrong to a fourth consecutive Tour de France victory, is on theverge of signing a one-year contract with U.S. Postal Service for nextseason.
“Nothing is signed yet, but we hope to get things in order by next week,”said Ekimov, 36, at Saturday’s Clasica San Sebastian. Ekimov walked awayfrom cycling at the end of the 2001 season and vowed never to race again.He quickly discovered that he missed the action of professional racingand worked hard to be in shape in time for the Tour.
Ekimov was key for the U.S. Postal Service team to earn bids to theTour in 1997-98. He left the Posties in 1999 but came back to race withArmstrong in 2000.
Vuelta teams finalized
The final team selection for the 2002 Vuelta a España was confirmedTuesday in Madrid. Five former Vuelta winners will be in the peloton, includingAlex Zülle (Coast), defending champion Angel Casero (Coast),Roberto Heras (USPS), Abraham Olano (ONCE) and MelchorMauri (Milaneza).
Here are the teams that will be starting Sept. 7 in Valencia:
Italy (7) Mapei, Fassa Bortolo, Lampre, Alessio, Tacconi, Acqua& Sapone and Saeco.
Spain (6) ONCE, Banesto, Kelme, Euskaltel, Jazztel and Relax
France(3) Cofidis, AG2R, Big Mat
Germany (2) Coast, Telekom
Belgium (1) Domo
United States (1) U.S. Postal Service
Portugal (1) Milaneza
Switzerland (1) Phonak
Ullrich fined in Germany
If things weren’t bad enough for 1997 Tour de France champion JanUllrich. Just back from his vacation in the United States, Ullrichwas fined $2000 by German authorities after he admitted to taking amphetamineson a wild night out on the town.
Ullrich, 28, was recently suspended for six months after he tested positiveduring an out-of-competition test for amphetamines in June after he tooktwo ecstacy pills after he was depressed that he wouldn’t be racing inthe 2002 Tour because of a knee injury.
Ullrich’s estimated salary of $1.3 million at Telekom, where he hasa contract through 2003, is also suspended until further notice followinghis legal hassles. Ullrich is currently serving a six-month ban from July23 to March 23, 2003.
Rumsas’ travails continue
Raimondas Rumsas finished third in the 2002 Tour de France butcontinues to be dogged by questions despite testing negative in all ofhis doping tests during the three-week race.
His wife, Edita, was arrested July 30 while transporting doping substancesfrom France to Italy. She remains in a French jail while Rumsas refusesto go to France for questioning.
Instead, he recently underwent doping tests conducted by the Lithuaniangovernment’s sports agency in an effort to prove his wife’s innocence.According to the AFP wire service, Rumsas took an independent doping testlast week in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius.
“The department received Tuesday information from the Latvian anti-dopingcommission with the information on results of Rumsas’ tests from Huddingelaboratory in Sweden and these results are negative,” the department saidin a statement. “The probability that results from Kreisa laboratory inGermany will be different is zero.”
Meanwhile, Edita lost her appeal Tuesday to be released from the Frenchprison where she has been detained since her arrest in possession of drugs.Edita has been held in custody at Bonneville women’s prison for two weeksafter the mother-of-three was picked up in the French Alps on July 30 withcorticoids, testosterone, EPO, growth hormones and anabolic steroids inher car.
Her husband claimed they were destined for his mother-in-law. Tuesday’sjudicial decision not to set her free came after a sustained campaign byher legal team to secure her release, AFP reported.