The Week That Was...
Ian comments on the happenings in the world of cycling.
In the midst of all the recent transfer activity between the world?s top ranking teams, two of cycling?s most respected veteran riders are finishing their careers at the end of 2004. 36 year old Swiss rider, Alex Z?lle pulled the curtain down at the UCI 1.1 GP Kanton Aargau/Gippingen on Sunday. A late comer to the sport, Z?lle began his career in 1992 with the Spanish ONCE squad. A few days after ?retiring? however, Team Phonak team-mate, Alexandre Moos crashed in training, breaking his collar bone. Z?lle is now expected to retire for the second time after the T-Mobile International in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
French rider Jean-Cyril Robin, in his second spell with the FDJeux.com team, bid farewell after the GP Ouest
American Levi Leipheimer confirmed last week his transfer to the German team, Gerolsteiner. The team hopes that the current Rabobank rider will provide them with another general classification rider in addition to Austrian Georg Totschnig. Contact between the two parties was only initiated during the recent Athens Olympic Games and the deal was agreed upon very quickly. Leipheimer explained, "Gerolsteiner is a team with a lot of potential. I didn't have to consider the different offers for very long, I wanted to be here. This team radiates an incredible fighting and team spirit during the races. I'm already happy to be able to attack in the Tour de France together with Georg." Team Manager, Hans-Michael Holczer explained that, "with the addition of Levi we immediately catch several flies with one blow. We have a big increase in strength for the grand tours; secondly we will have more authority with our captain Georg Totschnig; and thirdly, Levi will bring a big part of his experience in the multi-stage races to our young squad - especially since we have to start in the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espa?a next year as part of the Pro Tour."
After what has seemed like an eternity, the new collaboration between Omega-Pharma and Lotto, the Belgian national lottery, was officially launched last week. The new team will be known as Davitamon-Lotto. The team so far boasts a roster of 25 riders including several top sprinters including Robbie McEwen, Tom Steels and Fred Rodriguez. Peter Van Petegem will lead the team during the Classics campaign and Axel Merckx is expected to perform in other one-day races. The team will operate on a budget of approximately 8 million euros and will ride Ridley bikes - all except Axel that is who will ride one of his fathers own branded bikes.
As reported last week, Italian, Davide Rebellin is continuing his