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Gossip du Jour


Heart2heart edition.

Bettini hearts Quickstep. And maybe Cunego. Paolo Bettini may yet ride another year. He says that he will decide for certain during the month of July what he will do with his career. "I have spoken with Patrick Lefévère and I could remain with Quick Step and maybe not as a rider," Bettini said in a recent interview with Cycling Weekly. QuickStep, the sponsor, will leave at the end of the season. Lefévère is looking for a new sponsor and for someone to take over his role on the team. Perhaps Bettini will step in to lead the team he has spent the last ten years representing on the bikey? We cannot know for sure, but il Grillo has said he would like to continue as a mentor for young riders.

In other Bettini news, he has recently hinted that Cunego might receive a free hand at the Mondiali in Varese. Cunego will inherit Bettini's leading role among the Azurri, il Grillo said recently. Could it happen as soon as this year? Cunego and his tifosi in Varese will certainly hope so. Cunego, meanwhile, is in France doing la reconnaissance for this year's Tour, and today rode portions of the 15th stage finishing at Prato Nevoso. Next up, Tour de Suisse.

More Mondiali. Gilberto Simoni will not ride World Championships in the dirt after all. Though the course runs near his home in Trentino and he had a role in designing the course, the organizors have denied him a start, because he does not have enough international results as a mountain bike racer. This news also ends speculation that Simoni might ride the Olympics for the dirty azurri.

Contracts, more contracts! Danilo Diluca rides for LPR until 2011. LPR would also love to hire Davide Rebellin, Filippo Pozzato, Alexander Kolobnev, Sylvain Chavenel, Alessandro Petacchi, and Francesco Cicchi. Dear Santa Claus, Please bring us lots of talented bike racers. We've been very, very good this year. Love and kisses, Team LPR.

Stefano Garzelli is currently the leader of the European Continental Tour. He gets to wear a special jersey and everything. We're trying very hard to care. Nothing personal, Stefano, promise. Garzelli is currently riding the Euskal Bizikleta, and he would dearly love to ride Worlds. Franco Ballerini, cat herder extraordinaire, remains remarkably close-lipped on the question of the Azurri at Worlds, commenting, that yes, of course, everyone wants to ride for the Azurri.

Italian press is a-rumble with Rumors of a possible transfer. Apparently, Pellizotti is not so enthusiastic about working for his friend Ivan Basso. Despite having re-signed with Liquigas during the Giro, Pellizotti may in fact end up riding for Lampre next year instead, where he would ride il Giro, allowing Cunego to focus his attention on the Tour de France. Here at the Gossip, we feel green is a far better color for Save Ferris! than Pink. But nobody asked us.

Speaking of the Tour, Erik Dekker is confident that Rabobank rider Denis Menchov can finish on the podium, if not win the whole darn thing. Dekker praised Menchov's ride in the Giro, where he finished 5th while riding "only" to prepare for le Tour. Cadel of the injured knee had best watch out for the Quiet Russian.

Things look less certain for Mick Rogers, who will test his form during two stages of this week's Dauphiné Libéré. If things go well, he can hope for a roster spot on the stacked Team High Road. Otherwise? No Tour for you.

Meanwhile, in Luxembourg, Frank Schleck won two stages of the Tour of Luxembourg and looks to have excellent form for the upcoming Tour de Suisse. Brother Andy had stomach problems. Team mate Carlos Sastre has asked the CSC team to support his Tour ambitions. Together the brothers Schleck and Carlos could make for a formidable team. Official word is that Andy rides as gregario this season, and won't contest even the White Jersey at this year's Tour. Instead, he targets the Olympic games. But can the Spaniard hold the wheel of young Andy? If not, there could be tears.

Philippe Gilbert hearts Marc Madiot. As has been reported just about everywhere, Gilbert will next year ride for Silence! Lotto. Marc Sargeant, Gilbert's new DS, says that the signing is a "dream come true." The relationship between Gilbert and Madiot has steadily soured, especially over Madiot's outspoken positions on matters doping. Gilbert complained to the press that Madiot should leave the problem to the various commissions and whatsits, and that anti-doping was not Madiot's role. According to Gilbert, many riders will not cooperate in breaks with FDJ because of Madiot's public commments. To add to the ill-will, Madiot has always opposed the early announcement of transfers as unfair to the team sponsors. He can not be pleased with the release of Gilbert's future destination just weeks before le Tour de France, where Gilbert will ride for FDJ.

No rest for the weary, Madiot also faces the possible loss of up and coming French climber Remy di Gregorio. di Gregorio's contract will come up for renewal at the end of this season. According to Rumor, di Gregorio does not heart Gilbert, and Gilbert's departure might well help Madiot keep the talented French rider. We so heart the Drama.

June is the month for Tour teams. Who's in, who's out, who rides, who stays home. Over at Silence! Lotto, the team is all about Cadel Evans this time around. Not only will he have a body guard and a personal chef, but the team roster will reflect his ambitions to wear the Yellow Jersey in Paris. Robbie Mac will ride the Tour, but will have to freelance his way to the front in the final kilometer. Silence! will not be bringing the wee sprinter a lead-out. Look for flying elbows galore, as Robbie threads his way through traffic in search of the finish line.

At AG2R, they heart the mountains. The team will bring four climbers in search of stage wins: John Gadret, Vladimir Efimkin, Cyril Dessel, and Tadej Valjavec. Past stage winner Sylvain Calzati will not be joining the July party, as he has not shown good form this season. He also had best be looking for a new team, since AG2R is not feeling the love for his lack of recent results. Hey Sylvain, I hear Madiot has an opening on his roster. Just trying to help out.

At the Gossip, we generally avoid all things Bruyneel. If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all, that's what we always say. But how could we go wrong with a little interview gossip? In an interview with the Belgian press, Bruyneel says that he really, really wanted to win the Dauphiné with Contador. A win from Contador less than a month before the Tour start? Well, that would really have rubbed their noses in it. But the Giro changed the team's plans. One week before the start! Though Klodie and Levi were expected to ride for the win, after the first time trial it was clear that Bruny had a very hard choice to make. Should he win the Giro or the Dauphiné with Contador? Certainly, the RCS would prefer not to know that there was any question about the team's priorities. Oh, all right, we'll win the Giro rather than play silly high school games with the ASO, decided Bruyneel. As for the ASO, well, Bruny isn't going to "waste his health" any more over that. Instead, he will chill with Phil and Paul over at Vs. and plug his new book. Nice work, if you can get it. Besides, if Astana can avoid any troubles of the doping variety for the entire season, the ASO might well let them ride next year without any further damage to Bruny's fragile health. There, now that wasn't so bad, was it?

That's all for today from the Gossip World Headquarters. Off now to buy a copy of l'Équipe. Because we would not want to miss even a smidgeon of Drama. Also, a huge merci beaucoup to Veloki, for the sweet new graphics. The gossip, so very chic! Even better, we have more for le tour! Ooh, là là!