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By Andrew Hood
Defending Giro d’Italia champion Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) didn’tstart Wednesday’s stage of the 39th Setmana Catalana following his spillin the morning stage of Tuesday’s two-part stage. Simoni crashed hard onhis right knee in the first sector and his knee didn’t respond well toanti-inflammatories overnight.Saeco officials said it was better that Simoni not start than risk furtherinjury to the knee … With Simoni out, the Setmana
Catalana is with one less star in a race that many top riders choseto avoid, something that grates Vuelta a Espana director Enrique Franco.Franco’s company, Unipublic, runs the Vuelta a Espana and helps organizethe Setmana Catalana as well as the Vuelta a Valencia and Tour of Aragon.Speaking with the Spanish sports daily AS, Franco criticized theSociete du Tour de France
as being a drain on smaller races throughout the racing season.”They require certain teams to race at their races. If they play thisgame, we can, too,” Franco said.Vuelta a Espana champion Angel Casero bowed out of Setmana Catalanaat the last minute, complaining of the flu, but the Team Coast captainwill race at the Societe-sponsored Criterium International this weekendin France to court favor with hopes of earning a bid to race in the Tourde France.”If the Tour sneezes, all of cycling gets sick. It shouldn’t be likethis. It’s bad for everybody if a three-week race dominates the
entire schedule all season long. All I can say is that it’s my turnto play.”Kelme’s Oscar Sevilla will make his season debut at GP de Primaverain Spain on April 14. El Nino – second overall at the 2001 Vuelta — haskept a low profile so far this season, with his top goals set for the Tourde France and the Vuelta a Espana.Laurent Jalabert (CSC-Tiscali), slowed by a virus, has been toldto rest for 10 days by team doctors. “I have a viral infection, but it’snothing serious. I just need to rest without medicine,” Jalabert told L’Equipe.Jalabert, third overall at Paris-Nice, pulled out of Milan-San Remoon Saturday and likely will not start at Criterium International this weekendor the Vuelta Pais Vasco. His participation at Fleche-Wallone and Liege-Bastogne-Liegeis also in doubt. “It’s obvious, it’s finished for the Classics, but forthe Tour, nothing is lost,” said the best climber in the 2001 Tour. “Ihaven’t been able to train good for at least a week and this explains it.”Coppi-Bartli: Petacchi on a tearAlessandro Petacchi won again, taking the second stage of theCoppi-Bartali in a sprint to preserve his overall lead. The Fassa Bortolorider is on a tear, winning the opening two stages at Coppi-Bartali tomake it eight so far this year.Coppi-Bartali, stage two, 197 kms, Riccione-Faenza:
1. Alessandro Petacchi (I), Fassa Bortolo, 5:06:13;
2. Daniele Bennati (I), Acqua & Sapone, same time;
3. Jan Bratkowski (G), Cage Maglierie s.t.;
4. Peter Luttenberger (Aut), Tacconi Sport, s.t.;
5. Elio Aggiano (I), Mapei, s.t.Overall standings after two stages:
1. Alessandro Petacchi (I), Fassa Bortolo, in 7:42:31;
2. Elio Aggiano (I), Mapei, at 8 seconds;
3. Gerhard Trampusch (Aut), Mapei, s.t.;
4. Dario Cioni (I), Mapei, s.t;
5. Luca Scinto (I), s.t.