By Andrew Hood
ONCE’s Joseba Beloki says he wants to be in position to win Saturday’sClassica San Sebastian. That means he has to be in the front over the punishingJaizkibel climb towering over the Atlantic Ocean just east of the finishline in San Sebastian.
“Maybe this is my year, at least to try to be at the front at the Jaizkibel,which is where everything is decided,” Beloki told the newspaper El Dario Vasco. “I really hope to be at the front over the climb and then we’ll see what happens.”
The Jaizkibel is a long, difficult climb up a lonely, windswept summitsome 20 kilometers from the finish line on the beaches of San Sebastian. The climbis often shrouded in clouds and is typically where the winning selectionis made for what will be the seventh round of the 2002 World Cup series.
“The key is to be situated at the front of the group on the last part,which is no easy thing,” Beloki continued. “All the favorites for one-day races will be here and they’re always the same, Rebellin, Casagrande, Museeuw and, depending on what will happen on the Jaizkibel, Jalabert. I come to the Classica with more motivation than the past years because I am fresher in the legs. I am not as tired as past years because I raced less this year and I notice it in the legs.”
Beloki is fresh off his third consecutive Tour de France podium in threestarts, finishing second this year to Armstrong. And what did the two talkabout during the podium presentation on the Champs Elysees?
“We talked about how good the flowers smelled,” he said. “Even thoughyou don’t want to believe it, that’s the truth. I congratulated him andwe talked about the flowers. What else are we going to say?”
Cipo’ to Vuelta?
The Italian wires are now reporting that Mario Cipollini will racein September’s Vuelta a Espana. The news comes less than a month afterthe veteran Italian shocked the cycling world with his surprise announcementthat he would retire from racing despite enjoying perhaps his best yearin 14 seasons as a pro.
The Lion King complained about being overlooked two years in a row forthe Tour de France selection. Meanwhile, Cipollini has raced in two criteriumslast week in Holland and Germany. He confirmed he will race at the Vueltato prepare for the October world champions in Zolder, Belgium, a coursewell-suited for sprinters.
Rebellin takes Camaiore
Italian racer David Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) won the 53rd GP de Camaiorein Tuscany, Italy, on Wednesday, finishing ahead of compatriots GabrielleMisaglia (Lampre) and Francesco Casagrande (Fassa Bortolo). Rebellin wona three-up sprint, two seconds ahead of Vladimir Belli (Fassa Bortolo)and Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo), winner of the best young rider’s jerseyin the 2002 Tour de France.
Italians dominated the 193-km race and took the first 10 places across the line as only 53 riders from the 164 starters made it to the finish.
Casagrande takes Regio stage
Italian Stefano Casagrande (Alessio) won the 192-km first stage ofthe 18th Regio Tour (Aug. 7-11) in Germany. Casagrande out-sprinted compatriotMatteo Tosatto (Fassa Bortolo) after the two escaped from the main bunch,which came across five seconds in arrears. Thursday’s second stage is splitinto two sectors; an 83-km stage in the morning and a 14.4-km individualtime trial in the afternoon. This year, 145 riders from 19 teams are competingin the race.
Heras ties knot
Lance Armstrong’s chief domestique, Roberto Heras, got downright domesticthis week in Spain. The Spanish rider was married Tuesday in a villagejust down the road from his hometown in Bejar in western Spain. Heras squeezedin his wedding between helping Armstrong win his fourth Tour de Franceand the Sept. 7 start of the Vuelta a Espana, where the 2000 champion willtry to score another victory.