The Week That Was...
Ian comments on the happenings in the world of cycling.
No sooner had this year?s Giro finished before incoming race director, Angelo Zomegnan, began speculation as to whether reigning Tour de France champion, Lance Armstrong would line up for the start of next year?s race. ?I think a champion like him can?t consider retiring without having raced the Giro d?Italia. Next year there will also be a sentimental reason to have Armstrong at the Giro. We?ll be commemorating the death of Fabio Casartelli. The Giro is waiting for Armstrong.? But is Armstrong waiting for the Giro? <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
Just over the border in France, Jean-Francois Pescheux, competition director at the Societe du Tour de <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
Having spent the previous weeks finalising preparations for his assault on this year?s Tour de France in the French Alps, German hopeful Jan Ullrich raced to a promising second place in the 1st stage time trial of the Tour of Germany. ?My form is getting better. The bad weight has gone, the good weight has stayed,? commented the T-Mobile rider. ?This went better than I expected. I am on the right track.? It turns out that not everybody was equally impressed. Ex-team mate and CSC Director Sportif, Bjarne Riis commented that, ?Of course Jan surprised me also with a strong time trial performance? But by the Tour, he has to lose another five kilos.? ouch! Easy on the black forest gateaux for you then Jan!
Another rider busy preparing for this July is Spaniard Joseba Beloki (Brioches La Boulangerie). Beloki and his French team are presently battling it out in the Spanish stage race, Euskal Bizikleta. After a lengthy lay-off and stop-start to his 2004 campaign, Beloki said, ?I?m glad to be back in competition so I can see where I am. This race is excellent preparation for the Tour. I?m optimistic but I don?t have any illusions. If I?m not back for the Tour, I will be for the Vuelta. Of that I have no doubt,? reported Marca. Unfortunately for the Spaniard, no sooner has his season taken a turn for the better before his team?s sponsor, Brioches La Boulangerie, announced that it would no longer be backing the Division one team after the end of this year. The company claim that entry into the new UCI Pro Tour would involve approximately a 40% increase in budget.
Meanwhile, Belgian sponsor Quick-Step have this week announced that it will be continuing its sponsorship of the Patrick Lefevere managed team that carries its name. Lefevere said, "We are very pleased to have come to an agreement. Quick Step has guaranteed its support for four more seasons. The budget put at our disposal by Quick-Step will permit us to build a top-quality team and plan for the long term. In accordance with the