Michael Rasmussen is heading back to a European-based team. That’s according to Rasmussen, 35, who confirmed to the Danish newspaper Politiken that he’s poised to announce his return to a European team. “I won’t say which team it is until everything is settled. I expect it to be before the Oct. 31 deadline set by the UCI,” Rasmussen told the Danish daily. “By February, I hope to line up for the Ruta del Sol.”
Only Saturday’s 72-mile (118 km) stage at the Vuelta a Chihuahua stands in the way of Oscar Sevilla (Rock Racing) delivering a victory. “I’m feeling relaxed, with no pressure,” Sevilla said. “I have very talented teammates around me who know what to do to make sure I maintain my lead through to the end.”
Caisse d’Epargne’s Daniel Moreno won the fourth stage at Mexico’s Vuelta a Chihuahua Thursday, as Oscar Sevilla (Rock Racing) increased his lead in the overall standings with a third-place finish on the day. Sevilla finished 19 seconds behind Moreno in the 192km stage from Guachochi to Parral. Michael Rasmussen (Tecos Trek), who held the overall lead earlier in the race, was second, two seconds behind Moreno.
Although his team didn’t walk away with a stars-and-stripes jersey for its efforts, Kelly Benefit Strategies director Jonas Carney feels his squad was collectively the strongest across August’s national criterium, time trial and road championships. It’s an biased opinion, to be sure, but results sheets don’t lie.
Rock Racing has added a wealth of European and domestic talent to its 2009 team roster, signing several top riders in recent days. In a release issued over the weekend the team announced that it had reached deals with former ProTour riders Baden Cooke, Francisco Mancebo, and José Enrique Gutiérrez, as well as top domestic talents Ivan Dominquez, Glen Chadwick, Chris Baldwin and Caleb Manion.
The final moments of the 2008 Vuelta Chihuahua were a virtual to-do list for Spaniard Javier Benitez. Fix collar: check. Straighten jersey: done. Blow kisses to crowd: got it. Toss arms in the air and win stage: mission accomplished for the third time in seven days.
The sixth stage of the Vuelta Chihuahua delivered a fitting winner, as the third-year race returned to the state capitol following a five-day clockwise journey around the largest of Mexico’s 31 states. Following a long eight-rider breakaway that survived to the finish, reigning Mexican national road champion Luis Macias (Tecos-Trek) out-kicked Italian Diego Noscotti (NGC Medical), grabbing a razor thin triumph at the end of the 126.3km ride from Cuauhtémoc to Chihuahua. Mexican Marco Rios (Orven) was third on a day that lasted 2:34:23 for the front group.
Javier Benitez is certainly not lacking for confidence. For the second time in five days at Mexico’s Vuelta Chihuahua, the Spaniard started his victory celebration long before crossing the finish line. But just like the end of stage 1 on Monday, the Benfica rider was fastest finisher at the close of stage 5’s 152.8km ride from Creel to Cuauhtémoc. Benitez stopped the clock in 3:36:52, with German Steffen Radochla (Elk Haus-Simplon) and Mexico’s Juan Magallanes (Tecos-Trek) completing the podium. The top 3 was identical to stage 1’s podium.
Francisco Mancebo is the new overall leader of the Vuelta Chihuahua, and if things work out the way the Spaniard hopes, the soon-to-be newest member of Rock Racing. On Thursday, Mancebo (Fercase-Rota dos Moveis) took a big step toward defending his 2007 title in this UCI 2.2 America Tour race, finishing third in the rolling 18.9km time trial from Pitoreal to Divisadero, and jumping from second to first in the overall standings.