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Off-Season Slack Edition.

Here at the Gossip World Headquarters, we've been enjoying the off-season. We've been tidying up the joint. We even found the purple marker that we thought was lost forever. We've been sleeping in, ignoring the siren call of the European time zone where all the good Gossip goes down.

But we have not forgotten our responsibilities entirely. Though the news oozes slowly through the wires, we have collected a selection for your enlightenment. We would not want our dear readers to go unenlightened.

Read on, for all the news you didn't know you needed.

Johan Bruyneel is bored. In a recent interview published in the Belgian press, he said that he was not especially excited by Alberto Contador's recent win at the Vuelta a España. "What is the thing that excites me about this job? Winning races? No, that does not excite me any more!" Instead, Bruyneel prefers controversy. He is looking forward to Armstrong's return. Bruyneel said he spent the Armstrong years in "stress and controversy." "That is what I miss today," he said. "With Armstrong, it is all there again." If you like the heat, head for the kitchen, that's what I always say.

Still looking... Young Italian sprinter Oscar Gatto still needs a contract for next year. The 23 year old rode for Gerolsteiner this past season and was left without a chair when the music stopped. From the same prestigious Zalf amateur team as Ivan Basso and Damiano Cunego, Gatto won 80 victories as a junior and was the most winningest Italian in the U23 ranks in 2006, before turning professional at the age of 21. Though Gatto had discussions with ISD and Gianetti's new team, no contract offer arrived. No doubt the withdrawal of Danieli from the Ukrainian-Italian team hurt Gatto's chances, as the team's hiring ground to a halt after reaching 15 riders. Gatto said he continues to train, but his morale is sinking and he is badly frustrated by his inability to find a team.

On the subject of ISD, the team officially presented its roster last week. Fifteen riders comprise the ISD team for next year. Mario Cipollini will serve on the technical staff of the new team, after rumor had suggested that the Italian sprinter might yet again un-retire. Gazzetta dello Sport described Cipollini as a "Technical and Image Consultant," for the team. No doubt ISD hopes that Cipollini will usher the team into the high profile Italian races, including the Giro d'Italia. A team can hope, after all. Luca Scinto, a former gregario to Cipollini, is the sports director. ISD has invested 4 million euro in the project, and has made a three year commitment. The team does not appear to have a website just yet, but the full roster can be found at tuttobiciweb.

CONI recommended a one year sanction for Emmanuele Sella, who tested positive for CERA in an out of compettion test this summer. You didn't actually expect us to believe that tendonitis story, did you? The final decision on Sella's sanction is due on 1 December, and the Italian climber has confessed that he is nervous about the outcome. Though CONI sought an 18 month ban for Riccò, when all was said and done, Riccò received a two year ban, which he is now appealing. Sella did provide the name of his dealer, team-mate Matteo Priamo, and he is hoping that will be enough to allow him an early return to the sport. Here at the Gossip World Headquarters, we wish Sella luck, but we can't help but think that a one year sanction is a tad short. We shall know soon enough if the Italian authorities agree.

Former sports director for Crédit Agricole, Roger Legeay will work as a technical advisor for the British Cycling Federation, beginning next season. The long-rumored transfer was confirmed this week.

How about another new team? In Italy, Giuseppe Martinelli, ex-DS of Marco Pantani and architect of Damiano Cunego's first and only Giro d'Italia win, will lead a new team beginning next season. The team management announced Thursday that Amica Chips will take on the role of title sponsor. A hi-tech firm, you say? No, nothing so glamorous. Amica Chips makes potato chips. Fabrizio Fabbri and Guido Bontempi will also serve on the management staff. Among the riders signed is former World Champion Igor Astarloa and Leonardo Bertagnoli. (Check here for the full roster.) Said the team management, "They are a prestigious brand that we will seek to honor with results, while privileging honesty and transparency among the athletes." Rightio. Rumor suggests that Danilo Napolitano, who currently has one year left on his contract with Lampre, may yet join Amica.

Max Radoni officially presented his new H2O-TelTek team to the press recently, complete with a modelling of the new team jersey, always our favorite part. The team has a budget of 7 million euro, will likely field a roster of 25 riders, and will also include a mountain bike team directed by Luca Bramati and a women's team. Talk about bang for the buck. The Mapei Sport Center will direct the team's training, and Francesco Frattini and Frederic Moncassin have signed on to manage the team. Among the riders are French neo-pro Aurelien Passeron, Belgian Jan Kuyckx, Patrice Halgand, Rubens Bertogliati, and Wim Van Huffel. (See this incomplete list.) Rumors had suggested Filippo Simeoni would sign on with Radoni, but as is sometimes the case, Rumor was wrong.

Meanwhile in France, the new team directed by Stéphane Heulot has signed twelve French riders to its roster, many of them formerly of Crédit Agricole. It boasts two sponsors: Besson Chaussures and Sojasun. Besson Chaussures is a shoe store which currently counts 80 stores throughout France and sells more than 8 million pairs of shoes each year. Sojasun sells Soy products, including deserts, beverages and frozen foods, made from French-grown soy. Besson Chaussures-Sojasun is registered as a Continental team in France.

Alvaro Pino would like an invitation to the Tour de France. How does it feel to want, Señor? If the ASO chooses not to smile upon Xacobeo Galicia, Pino said that the Giro d'Italia would present an acceptable alternative, and that he has had some discussions with the RCS. The Giro oganizers would like a Spanish team for the race, he said, and Xacobeo is hoping to be that team. Pino's GC rider, Ezequiel Mosquera, has twice finished in the top five at the Vuelta a España, and Pino is hoping that those results will attract the eye of the French or Italian grand tours.

Following the example of Ivan Basso, Patrik Sinkewitz will post his training information and blood values on line. Sinking Joke recently signed with the Czech team, PSK Whirlpool and will return to racing at the Tour of Majorca. For those who may have forgotten in the blur of doping scandals past, Sinkewitz tested positive for testosterone during the 2007 Tour de France, prompting the withdrawal of team sponsor T-Mobile from the sport. The German served a one year ban, after providing significant information to the authorities. The ban ended in July 2008, but Sinkewitz could not find a new team until just this month. His current contract runs one year, and he is excited about the new opportunity. Interestingly, Sinkewitz told BikeRadar recently that Linus Gerdemann, who is known for his out-spoken anti-doping views, was among the few pros who has kept in touch with Sinkewitz during his ban. The German also claims that he has gained a better sense of perspective as a consequence of his mistakes: "I realize that money's less important than having goals, relationships and feeling good about who you are and what you do. It's not all money, money, money," he said. We can't help but wish that Sinkewitz had figured this out sooner, but better late than never.

The Tour de France will start in Rotterdam in 2010. Do we care about this? Not at the moment, thanks.

Davide Rebellin, who will ride for Diquigiovanni-Androni next season, wants to win the World Championship in Mendrisio. This year, Rebellin came close enough to taste the jersey, after making the winning break in the final lap. But he will have to contend with the ambitions of Damiano Cunego, who came closer to still to winning and who will find the hilly course of Mendrisio much to his liking. To complicate matters, Danilo Diluca would also like to win Worlds. Good thing there's still plenty of time for Franco Ballerini to sort that whole mess out. Rebellin said that he was disappointed not to win the Olympic gold medal, but the silver medal made a very nice birthday present. Though currently 37 years old, Rebellin hopes to ride two more seasons. His contract with Diqui..eh, I'm not typing that again, runs one year. Rebellin's first main objective for next season is the Ardennes classics, but he hopes to have good form for the Centenary Giro, which will pass near his home roads in Venezia. A stage win or a brief stint in the pink jersey would make for a nice kind of homecoming.

Team Columbia's Kim Kirchen has decided upon his program for next season, which looks much like his program for this past season. Kirchen will begin the season in the sun at Majorca. Rough, eh? Then he will ride the Tour of Cali. All the cool people will be there, so why not? He then returns to Europe for Tirreno-Adriatico and Milano-San Remo. His major objectives for the spring will be the Ronde van Vlaanderen, Amstel Gold Race, Flèche-Wallone, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Kirchen won Flèche-Wallone last year, and no doubt would like to add another Ardennes classic to his palmarès. After a brief break, Kirchen will turn his attention to the Tour de France. For the first time in his career, he will ride the Dauphiné Libéré as preparation. Kirchen has twice finished in the top ten in the general classification at the Tour. Bonne chance!

After a confusing round of rumorage, Michael Ball of Rock Racing has confirmed that Rudy Pavenage will join the team as a sports director. In an interview yesterday, Pavenage said he missed the cycling world and badly wanted to return to professional cycling. Well, it appears he will get his chance. We can't help but hope that he no longer has Dr. Fuentes on speed dial. After all, he will join four former clients of the gynecologist to the stars: Tyler Hamilton, Francisco Mancebo, José Enrique Gutiérrez, and Oscar Sevilla. Said Ball of Pavenage, "He is probably the greatest DS in the last 20 years, his resume speaks volumes of accomplishments, those Belgian directors are unbelievable." We hope that Mr. Ball will not be disappointed. The Belgian press has also reported that Lorenzo Lapage, formerly of US Postal, Discovery, and Astana, will also join the team next year. No confirmation - press release, phone call, or message in a bottle - has appeared just yet.

Amore&Vita-MacDonalds, the team directed by Christian Fanini is coming to America. Amore&Vita is currently in negotiations with between five and six American riders, whose names will be confirmed soon. Fanini explained that the team hopes to be "protagonists" in the American races. With this goal in mind, Fanini has signed on Roberto Gaggioli as sports director.

Gaggioli and Fanini go way back: Gaggioli began his career with Pepsi and Seven-Up, both managed by Fanini. Rumor at the time claimed that pay checks were haphazard in the Pepsi days, a rumor that has followed Gaggioli's own career in management. During his professional career, Gaggioli won a total of 207 races, and several of the most prestigious came while on Fanini's teams: Coppa Bernocchi, a stage of the Giro del Trentino, and US Pro, which he won in 1988. He came to the United States in the mid-1980s, because the prize money was good and American-style crits suited him. As a rider, Gaggioli was famous for his attacking style and his temper, a temper that more than once has gotten him into trouble. In 2004, Gaggioli received a suspension from USA Cycling after a post-race altercation with Jonny Sundt, then riding for Jittery Joes. According to stories circulating at the time, Gaggioli came after Sundt with a 2x4, which Sundt blocked with his bike. Plainly, Amore&Vita will not be adding Sundt to their roster of Americans. No word as yet on who Amore&Vita does plan to sign, but many of the riders from both Rite Aid and Jittery Joes have yet to find contracts. For those who would like to speculate at home, check out this handy-dandy chart. In the meantime, Amore&Vita is also currently in negotiations with German Philipp Mamos, Australian Richard England, and German Christian Mueller.

Always in the off-season, there are the bizarre injuries. Sylvain Chavanel and Marta Bastianelli recently joined the off-season injury list. Former world champion, Bastianelli crashed her mountain bike last week, breaking her jaw. Il Faceplanto. Rubber-side down, girly. Meanwhile in France, Chavanel had an altercation with an oyster. The former French national champion, who will ride for QuickStep next season, sliced a deep cut into his left hand while opening the shell. Chavanel cut a tendon and received 13 stitches. Despite the injury, Chavanel should not miss too much training. Apparently, one must suffer to be gourmet.

Et Voilà, this is all the news we could scrounge up for this week. More soon, promise!