The Week That Was...
Ian comments on the happenings in the world of cycling.
As the curtain falls on the 2004 road season, the latest UCI rankings show that Italian Alessandro Petacchi is once again the rider with the greatest number of victories. The Fassa Bortolo fast-man crossed the line first 21 times this year including 9 wins in the Giro and 4 in the recent Vuelta. <?xml:namespace prefix = o /?>
Two wins behind was up and coming Belgian, Tom Boonen while a further 4 wins behind was Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme rider, Alejandro Valverde. Giro d?Italia and recent Giro di Lombardia winner, Damiano Cunego, finished fourth with 12 victories.
Italian Paolo Bettini secured his third, and record-breaking, victory in the UCI World Cup after finishing 29th at last weekends Giro di Lombardia. Second place overall and winner of three spring Classics, Italian Davide Rebellin finished just 13 points behind the Quick.Step-Davitamon rider and commented that, ?the strongest rider won today. Congratulations to Paolo."
After overcoming his initial disappointment at being unable to defend the World Cup lead, Rebellin?s Gerolsteiner Director Sportif, Christian Henn, added that, ?We really have no reason at all to be downcast.? New World Champion, Oscar Freire, finished in third place.
Despite the best wishes of his Saeco team, this year?s Giro d?Italia winner, Damiano Cunego looks set to push for a start in next years Tour de France. Originally agreeing with his manager, Claudio Corti that he?d delay his Tour debut until 2006, Cunego is now apparently keen to challenge for honors alongside Gilberto Simoni in the Giro and Tour in the new Saeco-Lampre team.
Team CSC rider, Frank H?j, will line up next year for the German Gerolsteiner team. The Dane signed a two year deal with CSC still looking to confirm their sponsorship for next year. "I have improved tremendously during this season with the team, and I'll definitely take a lot of the things, I have learned here with me," said H?j. CSC Director, Bjarne Riis, said, "Obviously it's a shame that we're not able to keep Frank. He has been a good rider for us and has developed a lot this season. It has been a pleasure working with Frank, and on behalf of Team CSC I would like to wish him the best of luck with his new team next season. We still haven't landed a co-sponsor, and this makes us incapable of matching Gerolsteiner's offer, and we just have to accept this fact. I am still very optimistic and confident, that we will soon be able to complete all our contracts for next season very soon."
Spaniard Aitor Gonzalez this week confirmed his transfer from the Italian Fassa Bortolo team to the Basque Euskaltel-Euskadi team. Gonzalez ended weeks of speculation following harsh words in the press from his current Director, Giancarlo Ferretti. "Gonzalez really needs to show us now what he can do. He hasn't done this since 2002." Winner of the 14th stage of the Tour de France this year, Gonzalez countered these claims by lashing out at the Italian team?s focus on sprinter, Alessandro Petacchi.
First it was Rabobank,