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The Gossip Page


Friday Edition

Could there be anything better than Gossip on a Friday?

Well, now that we think about it, yes there most definitely could. A clean Northwest swell on a low tide. A long, scenic bike ride with a tail wind both ways. Happy Hour. A trip to the beach. A brand-new Pinarello. Puppy dogs and ice cream.

Yes, my friends, there are many things better than Gossip on a Friday. But since Pinarellos aren't raining from the sky — at least, not here at the Gossip World Headquarters and really, how unfair is that? — we will have to settle for some Gossip. Come on in, it won't hurt a bit.

Team Cervélo Test Team announced Friday three additions to the team staff. Jean Paul van Poppel of the Netherlands and Jens Zemke will serve as sports directors for Cervélo, while Theo Maucher will take on the role of administrative director. Jean Paul van Poppel is a former professional, who during his career won nine stages of the Tour de France. He worked most recently as sports director for the women's team, Dutch Team Flexpoint. Zemke also comes from women's cycling, most recently directing Équipe Nürnberg Versicherungen. Theo Maucher, in charge of all things administrative, currently manages Gerolsteiner. End press release regurgitation.

Basso special! Eugene Capodacqua paid Ivan Basso a visit recently. Basso is currently preparing for his return to racing in October. Aldo Sassi of the Mapei Center is directing Basso's training, and has given the Italian rave reviews for his "extraordinary engine." Sassi also trains Cadel Evans. Warning: Numbers ahead. In recent tests, Basso held 430 watts for 28 minutes. After riding 130 kilometers averaging 220 watts, Basso did a series of short efforts: 20 seconds at 800 watts, followed by 30 seconds at 400. Capo did not say how many times he repeated this sequence. Suffice to say, more than once. In an ergo test, Basso recorded 6.3 watts/kg and a VO2 max of 88. (For reference, Lemond's VO2 was reportedly 92 at his peak.) Sassi also confirmed that Basso's blood values have remained stable and unsuspicious. Capodacqua remains a tad skeptical on this point.

In other revelations, Basso tells Capo that he had a dealio with CONI: that in exchange for his 29 page statement which he says included names and details, he would receive a discounted sanction of 18 months. As we know, that didn't come to pass, but Basso is irritated by critics of his not-so-forthcoming "confession" to the press. His main ambition for the coming season is to show that Basso of 2009 is equal to Basso of 2006. He confided to Capo that he was shocked by his suspension "like a fighter after a KO in the ring." He rode "furiously" at first from morning to night, returning "like a zombie," each evening. After the first disappointment, his wife came to his support, and helped him move forward. "The new Basso has two solid principals: credibility and transparency." The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Or the blood cells. Here at the Gossip, we share Capo's skepticism. We've been bit by Birillo before, you know.

Speaking of Italians, Riccardo Riccò has been keeping himself busy. Riccò's new gig? Spin class. Here at the Gossip we hear that spin class is great way to stay fit during the winter. And to meet hotty chicks. Could it be that Riccò is on the market? Sadly, we have been unable to confirm or deny this possibility. We are also working day and night to acquire photographic proof of Riccò in his new metier. So far to no avail. But fear not, we are hot on the trail.

CONI is not feeling generous these days. Today comes the news that the Procura has requested a 2 year ban for Marta Bastianelli, the soon-to-be former women's World Champion. Bastianelli tested positive for a banned stimulant on 5 July in Verbania at the U23 European Championships. She claimed that she unknowingly took a tainted supplement. CONI was not amused. Or convinced. See you in two years, Marta. Oh, and no, Bastinielli will not defend her title in Varese.

Gratuitous Lance Armstrong Comeback Mention: Credible sources have it that Bruyneel knew about the big Lance Armstrong Comeback for some six weeks before the story spilled out all over our interwebs earlier this week. That means, that Mr. Bruyneel lied to the nice people over at Cyclingnews when he dismissed the story as rumor and claimed he knew nothing about it. Liar, Liar, Lance on fire! Other speculation suggests that the Big Lie was intended to complicate any efforts by Alberto Contador to transfer. Want Ads: Former Tour Winner seeks stable team environment for fun and yellow jersey hunting. Salary negotiable. Serious inquries only.

In other Comeback news, Michael Boogerd told the press earlier this week that if a team called and was "serious," he would consider a return to racing. He has recently been training. "If I trained seriously, I could rapidly return to my best level," he said. But "I do not know if a return is possible," he admitted. He would first of all have to find a team. A tall order, that, given the large number of riders still looking for contracts this silly season.

Polemica! The Moustache Wars are heating up. Dave Zabriskie confided to the press this week that Filippo Pozzato repeatedly mocked the Z-stache. Hidley Ho neighbor! à la Ned Flanders, said Pippo when he saw the American. Pippo, a Simpsons fan? Who knew? Now, Pozzato plays copycat with a 'stache of his own. Plainly, some mocking is in order. Yo Pippo, is that a caterpillar on your lip, or are you just glad to see us? Hmm, maybe our mockage needs a little work.

Belgium has announced their team for Worlds in Varese. Tom Boonen, Stijn Devolder, Mario Aerts, Greg Van Avermaet, Jurgen Van Goolen, Kevin de Weert, Maxime Monfort, and Nick Nuyens will all ride. No word on who gets to be the leader. But we'll go out on a limb and predict that Devolder attacks randomly and often, and Boonen waits for the not-so-inevitable sprint. Bonne chance, kids!

Contrary to a previous report in this space, Olivier Zaugg has signed with Team Liquigas for two years. Rumor had connected Zaugg with CSC-Saxo Bank, but alas, Rumor Lied. Sylvester Szmyd (hello, I'd like to buy a vowel) of Lampre, Fabio Sabatini of Milram, and Brian Vandborg will also join the Green Team next season. Rumor also lied in the case of Francesco Caucchioli. Caucchioli will ride for Lampre next season, after being previously connected with Liquigas.

Alessandro Petacchi, now returned after his brief vacation, wants to win Paris-Tours again. Alas, he and his LPR team were not among the lucky teams invited to the upcoming French party. Petacchi has won two stages of the Tour of Britain, so far. But without Paris-Tours, the end of the season is looking sparse for the Sprinter from Spezia.

Lefevere responds. Paolo Bettini was less than pleased to hear that Lefevere had signed Stefan Schumacher to ride for Quickstep. Bettini told Gazzetta dello Sport that Lefevere had betrayed him, and claimed that they had a "gentleman's agreement" that guaranteed him a contract with QuickStep next season. Not so fast, says Lefevere. The QuickStep guru says that he told Bettini earlier this season that he would not have the budget to renew his contract and that he was negotiating with two new riders. Lefevere told Cyclingnews that compared to Bettini, Schumacher came cheap. Bettini will have to look elsewhere. No word just yet on just where the two-time World Champion might end up. ISD-Danieli wants him. But wanting, and getting, those really are two separate things, no? Here at the Gossip we want a Pinarello. But sadly, that doesn't mean we will get one.

Oscar Freire has taken his toys and gone home. He will not start Saturday's stage which climbs the Angliru. Smart man. Freire will prepare for Varese where he hopes to win a record fourth World Championship. At least, we think that's a record. But sometimes we get confused.

In addition to Saturday's Climber Fest in Spain, the sprinters will also get their chance at Paris-Bruxelles. Robbie McEwen is a favorite, if the race in fact comes down to a sprint. A classics rider like Luca Paolini or Nico Eechkout may have a shot, too. Tour de l'Avenir also concludes Saturday with a climbing stage. As if there weren't enough bike races going on.

Voilà, your Gossip for a Friday. Happy weekend to all. Don't do anything I wouldn't do.