The Week That Was...
Confirmed to be on the move at the end of the season is American Levi Leipheimer. Interest has so far been shown by Discovery Channel, T-Mobile and now Gerolsteiner who see Leipheimer as a rider capable of supporting their tour leader, Georg Totschnig in the new UCI Pro Tour. Leipheimer had a career best Tour de France finish in 2002 when he completed the race in 8th place. The Dutch outfit are reported to be considering a move for Spain?s top rider of 2004, Alejandro Valverde (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme); although it is thought they are unable to afford the wage demands of the rider with 14 wins so far this season.
US Postal rider, Floyd Landis is also rumoured to be considering a move to join former Postie, Tyler Hamilton, at Team Phonak. The riders? contract is due for renewal at the end of this season and although his present employers said last week that they would match any offer from the Swiss team, team director Johan Bruyneel told Spanish daily Marca that he would not "force him to stay." Hamilton meanwhile is expected to line-up in Leon on 4th September for the Vuelta following his disappointing ride in this year?s Tour.
As we?ve previously reported, Australian Cadel Evans is reported to beheaded for the new Omega Pharma-Lotto team although he is still yet to sign any contract. Marc Sergeant said last week to Sparza that he hoped "to come to an agreement with the Australian within a week." The Belgian went on to add that, "Aart Vierhouten is staying, Nico Mattan will come on board along with all the young riders from [Relax-Bodysol] Brustor with a two-year contract. And McEwen is quite happy that Steels is coming. In the Pro Tour we will be busy on two fronts. Take, for example, Tirreno and Paris-Nice. In both races we'll have a top sprinter."
Speaking of Aussies, young Canberra rider Rory Sutherland has signed a two-year deal to step-up from the Rabobank Div III team to their Div I squad. Currently the National U23 champion, Sutherland is another on the production line from Australia and is certainly a rider to watch in future one-day classics ? and you heard it here first!
So while young Rory is one of my tips for the future, why don?t we listen to somebody who actually knows what they?re talking about, the recently retired Lion of Flanders, Johan Museeuw. Despite the successes of Quick Step-Davitamon rider Tom Boonen, Museeuw believes that it is actually FDJeux.com rider, Philippe Gilbert who could carry the Flandrian flag in the future. "Gilbert has the same talent as Boonen, but he's not as fast so he hasn't won as much," Museeuw said in La Derni?re Heure. "But he has other talents. He's a big rider, and I would like to work with him some day. We have a lot of good young riders, but they're not ready to win... except Boonen. His success in the Tour doesn't surprise me, but he's still too young to win the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix next year."
So that?s me--done for another week. As always, thoughts and opinions are always welcome. Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Till next week,