ONCE Loses Vision
Rumours are coming out of Spain on Monday that that the largest cycling sponsor in the country, namely ONCE will terminate sponsorship of their cycling team at the end of 2004. ONCE are the organisers of the Spanish lottery for the blind and have been backing a team since 1990. The ONCE organisation have had a partnership with team manager Manolo Saiz for the past 14 years and have been one of the top teams in that time with riders such as Marino Lejarreta, Laurent Jalabert, Johan Bruyneel, Alex Zьlle, Abraham Olano and Joseba Beloki in their ranks. The team have won the Vuelta a Espana four times but have failed in it’s attempts to win the Tour de France despite having several podium finishes. The announcement gives Saiz 18 months to find a replacement sponsor to for ONCE.
Domina Boss Sends “Dear Jean-Marie” Letter
The exclusion of world champion Mario Cipollini from the Tour de France is still having repercussions in Italy and has forced the boss of the main sponsor of Domina Vacanze, Ernesto Preatoni into taking out full page advertisements in three Italian newspapers on Monday. Preatoni has addressed an open letter to the organiser of the Tour de France Jean Marie Leblanc in today’s editions of Gazzetta dello Sport, Corriere della Sera and Messaggero. In the letter he says that it a decision that does not make any sense, to exclude the world champion from the TDF is like excluding Lyon or Paris St. Germain from the French football league.
Oscar Needs 5% More
Oscar Sevilla (Kelme-Costa Blanca) is unsure of his participation in the Tour de France which starts on July 5th. Sevilla is striving to recover from an operation at the beginning of March and is struggling to reach peak condition, he had cardio vascular tests in Zaragoza last week which showed he had reached almost 95% of his fitness capacity. However Sevilla will only compete in the TDF if he is at 100%. He has had no results this season and will make a final decision after the Volta a Catalunya which concludes on the 22nd of June.
Leontien To Attempt Hour Record
Dutchwoman Leontien van Moorsel is planning an attack on the women’s world hour record in Mexico City in October, the record is currently held by Frenchwomen Jennie Longo at 45.094 kms. This will be van Moorsel’s second attempt on the record after an unsuccessful bid of 43.475 in September 2001. However her coach and husband Michael Zijlaard says that Leontien can benefit from a new lower position on the bike and improved aerodynamic clothing. The Dutchwomen has been conducting tests in the wind tunnel at Apeldoorn during the past week in preparation for the attempt.
Telekom Keep Vino & Kessler
Telekom’s Alexandre Vinokourov and Mathias Kessler have both extended their contracts with the German team until the end of the 2005 season. Team manager Walter Godefroot completed the deal for both riders during the Deutschland Tour which finished today (Monday). Vinokourov who took the silver medal in the 2000 Olympic RR in Sydney has been victorious in both Paris-Nice and the Amstel Gold race this season. 24 year old Kessler from Nuremburg is seen as one most exciting prospects in German cycling, he took his first pro win in the GP Miguel Indurain in April and finished 5th at Amstel Gold.
On The Mend
- Juan Manuel Garate (Lampre) has returned to training after losing the best part of this season to a knee injury. Garate who finished fourth overall in the 2002 edition of the Giro d’Italia should return to racing in mid July in Italy to begin his preparation for an assault on the Vuelta a Espana in September.
- Igor Gonzбlez de Galdeano (ONCE-Eroski) was injured during Sunday’s 41 kms time trial in the Deutschland Tour, Galdeano was in collision with one of the official race cars three kms from the finish and suffered a broken collar bone which will keep him out of the Tour de France.
- German sprinter Danilo Hondo (Telekom) was injured during Thursday’s third stage of the Deutschland Tour, Hondo from Cottbus collided with a guard rail after 53 kms and suffered injuries to his arms, legs and face but no breaks. He spent Thursday night in Hassfurt hospital and was discharged on Friday. He can resume training in one week.
- Meanwhile, the career of Quick Step’s 28 year old Spaniard Pedro Horrillo is under threat as a result of slipped discs in his back, he has consulted with specialists in Madrid and Bordeaux but they refused to carry out the delicate surgery required. It seems Pedro’s last chance to save his career lies with a Belgian specialist, if he can do nothing then Horrillo may be forced to stop riding.
- Dutch rider Erik Dekker (Rabobank) who won the World Cup in 2001 will not be riding the Tour de France in July because of an ongoing knee injury sustained at a Spanish pre season training camp at the start of the year . Dekker who looked to be on the road to recovery when he won the GP Erik Breukink in mid March told the Dutch ANP news agency last week “My knee still hurts a lot and I am unable to do the training kilometres needed as preparation for the Tour”. Rabobank team doctor Geert Leinders confirmed that the injury will take considerable time to heal.
The Mayor of London Ken Livingstone is keen to see the Tour de France visit the British capital. According to The Guardian newspaper, Livingstone has had preliminary negotiations for the hosting of the opening stages of the 2006 event. TDF director Jean Marie Leblanc confirmed this saying, “I know contacts have been started and the London authorities want to meet me”. Sources say that the Tour Prologue would take place in the streets of the City of London, the first stage would be contested in the countryside around London while Stage 2 would conclude close to the Channel Tunnel entrance in Kent.
Belgian Nats Course Ready
The course for the Belgium national road race championships has been presented. The championships will take place on June 29th in Vilvorde, 10 kms north of Brussells and will consist of 17 laps of 14.6 kms circuit giving a total race length of 248 kms. The course seems to favour the sprinters with few major difficulties and last years champion and three times winner Tom Steels (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) will start as one of the favourites. Landbouwkrediet team boss Gerard Bulens commented at the presentation, “Apart from Steels, we have Ludovic Capelle (2001 winner), Wesley Van Speybroeck and Ludo Dierckxsens and the other teams will be watching our riders closely, prior to the championships we will have a four day training camp in the Ardennes and be based at the Hotel Olympic in Spa”.