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Zülle wants out
By Andrew Hood
Rabobank’s Beat Zberg sneaked into the overall lead of the 40th Setmana Catalana after finishing third in Wednesday’s third stage. Italian Marco Zanotti (Fassa Bortolo) delivered another loss to Erik Zabel in the bunch sprint into Parets del Valles while Gonzalo Bayarri (Phonak) finished behind Zberg to forfeit the leader’s jersey.
Thursday’s 144km “queen’s stage” from Parets to Alto de Pal will be the decisive stage. U.S. Postal’s Lance Armstrong could jump into contention for final victory if he continues to demonstrate the strong form he’s shown so far in his “home race.”
“Lance wants to try, but there are still four or five riders still stronger than he is,” said Postal’s director Johan Bruyneel. “Lance is feeling good, but he may not win because others are stronger at this point of the season now.”
Others tipped to go for the stage win include Kelme’s Javier Pascual Llorente, Fassaa Bortolo’s Dario Frigo and ONCE’s Joachim Rodriguez.
Setmana Catalana, Stage 3
Castello d’Empuries to Parets del Valles
1. Marco Zanotti (I-Fassa Bortolo) 175km in 4:26:43
2. Erik Zabel (G-Telekom)
3. Beat Zberg (Swi-Rabobank)
4. Isaac Galvez (Sp-Kelme)
5. Alexandre Usov (Blr-Phonak) – all same timeOverall standings after three stages
1. Beat Zberg (Ned-Rabobank), 11h36:56
2. Gonzalo Bayarri (Sp-Phonak), 7:10:13
3. Addy Engels (Ned-Rabobank)
4. Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus-USPS)
5. Inigo Landaluze (Sp-Euskaltel) – all same time
McEwen takes Waregem; Museeuw hurt
Australian Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo) scored a win in the GP Waregem classics warm-up race Wednesday in Belgium, but the big news was a spill by defending Paris-Roubaix champion Johan Museeuw.
The Quick Step-Davitamon rider, one of the top favorites for victory at the Tour of Flanders on April 6, went down hard in a spill involving about 30 riders. Museeuw suffered cuts to his left knee and left shoulder and scrapes to his right arm. Team officials said Museeuw, who won Het Volk in early March but suffered with the flu after pushing himself too hard, will undergo X-rays Thursday morning to determine his condition.
McEwen edged compatriot Baden Cooke coming into the finish line to score his second win this season while U.S. Postal’s Max Van Heeswijk scored his second podium this spring. Van Heeswijk finished second behind Museeuw at Het Volk earlier this month and will be the Posties’ leader in the upcoming classics, since George Hincapie’s spring campaign has been derailed by a lingering virus.
1. Robbie McEwen (AUS)200 km in 4:59:00 (40.134Kph)
2. Baden Cooke (Aus), Fdjeux.com
3. Max Van Heeswijk (Ned), USPS
4. Jo Planckaert (B), Cofidis
5. Dave Bruylandts (B), Marlux – all same time.
Svorada, Lampre winners at Coppi e Bartali opener
Czech sprinter Jan Svorada won the morning sector of the opening stage of the Coppi e Bartali on Wednesday in Italy. He later secured his hold on the overall lead as his Lampre team won the afternoon team time trial.
Svorada edged Alberto Loddo and Ivan Quaranta in the sprint into Riccione and Lampre was two seconds faster than Saeco in the team time trial. Navigators’ Vassili Davidenko was 10th in the morning stage and the team finished 13th at 24 seconds slower in the TTT. The race continues Thursday with the 233km second stage featuring some tough climbs in the second half of the stage with a downhill finish into Faenza. Marco Pantani made his first race appearance since he abandoned the 2002 Giro d’Italia and finished safely in the lead bunch.
Stage 1A, Riccione-Riccione
1. Jan Svorada (Cze), Lampre, 79km in 1:54
2. Alberto Loddo (I), Lampre
3. Ivan Quaranta (I), Saeco
4. Fabian Cancellara (Swi), Fassa Bortolo
5. Zoran Klemenic (Slo), Tenax
10. Vassili Davidenko (Rus), Navigators – all same timeStage 1B: team time trial
1. Lampre, 8.2km in 8:47
2. Saeco at 2 seconds
3. Landbouwkrediet-Colnago at 4 seconds
4. Fassa Bortolo at 6 seconds
5. Mercatone Uno at 8 seconds
6. Cofidis at 10 seconds
7. Alessio at 12 seconds
8. Domina Vacanze at 14 seconds
9. Panaria at 16 seconds
10. Formaggi Pinzolo at 18 seconds
13. Navigators at 24 seconds.Overall standings
1. Jan Svorada (Cze), Lampre, 2 hours, 2 minutes, 41 seconds
2. Loddo at 2 seconds
3. Quaranta at 6 seconds
4. Mariano Piccoli (I), Lampre, at 6 seconds
5. Raimondas Rumsas (Lat), Lampre, at 6 secondsZülle wants to fly Coast coop
Alex Zülle wants out of his contract with Team Coast and hopes to join the Swiss team Phonak Hearing Systems, according to a report by Radsport news agency.
Tony Rominger, Zülle’s agent, says the relationship between Team Coast and Zülle is beyond repair over past salary conflicts and the Swiss rider wants out in what he says will be his final season.
The UCI banned Team Coast from racing for two weeks and the team missed Paris-Nice, but started Saturday’s Milan-San Remo classic.
“I’m disappointed by Alex. He’s never spoken to me about this until today,” said Coast team manager Wolfram Lindner. “In 2001, he had a terrible season, but we believed in him and he came back last year to win the Tour de Suisse.”
Rominger is scheduled to meet with Lindner to discuss Zülle’s departure.
Although there was some interest from Team CSC in signing Zülle when it looked like Team Coast would implode, the Swiss rider wants to head to Phonak. Phonak’s outside chance of earning a wild-card bid to start the 2003 Tour de France would be bolstered by Zülle’s arrival.
Big Mig likes LA’s chances
Miguel Indurain knows a thing or two about winning five Tours de France. In an interview with the Spanish daily Marca, Indurain said he believes Armstrong will tie his record of five straight wins.
“I believe Armstrong will win the fifth Tour. I see him concentrated, and in the Tour of Murcia he was good. Also, he has a great team and this is very important,” Indurain said.
Indurain said Armstrong will likely feel the same pressure he felt in the months and weeks building to his fifth Tour attempt.
“By July, he’ll be very good, and later he’ll see days of tension, but in his career he’s demonstrated he has a strong mind. He knows how to stay focused,” Indurain said. Of Armstrong’s rivals, Indurain said, “Igor Gonzalez, Oscar Sevilla and Joseba Beloki could have options and the German Ullrich, depending on his form and if he’s resolved his problems.”
The teams for Liege-Bastogne-Liege
The 25 teams have been selected for Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the fifth stop on the World Cup circuit on April 27. Italy has the most teams with six, five with France and four with Belgium and three with Spain and Germany.Germany
Gerolsteiner, Telekom, Coast
Domo, Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, Palmans-Collstrop, Quick Step-Davitamon
U.S. Postal Service
iBanesto.com, ONCE, Euskaltel
Cofidis, Brioches la Boulangere, Credit Agricole, Fdjeux.com, Ag2r
Fassa Bortolo, Alessio, Domina Vacanze, Lampre, Saeco, Sidermec
Phonak Hearing Systems