Clean Laundry Edition
Well, mine is. But the cycling world? Maybe not so much. Pull up a chair, my friends, and just look at all that Gossip sloshing and spinning, mixing and matching. Wash, rinse, fluff, fold. Anyone missing a sock?
We begin today in Spain where Carlos Sastre has announced that he will not ride Worlds in Varese. Tired after the long season, Sastre said that he did not have good enough form to contest the race. He preferred that his spot go to someone young and enthusiastic.
Not so enthusiastic is Bob Stapleton, DS of Team Columbia. About the Lance Armstrong Comeback, that is. Speculation had made the rounds that Armstrong might ride for Team Columbia next season when he returns to racing. Not so fast, says Stapleton. Wednesday, Stapleton said that the team did not intend to sign the seven-time Tour winner. Keep lookin' Lance. Oh, and should you need a Kazakh phrase book, feel free to get in touch. We have one around here somewhere at the Gossip World Headquarters.
Katyusha does not share Stapleton's reluctance. The Russian team reportedly offered Armstrong a contract. Sadly, we do not know the terms of the deal, but we'll go out on a limb here and say that it involved buckets and buckets of euros. The reply? Thanks, but no thanks. Well, he did say it wasn't about the money.
Denial, not just a river in Egypt anymore. According to an email released to the press, [REDACTED] has not offered a contract to [REDACTED]. The gramatically-impaired press release (Yes, we are happy in our glass house, thank you very much) declared an unwillingness to react to rumor. But nonetheless, [REDACTED] felt the need to react to rumor. [REDACTED] also denied any contact with two other cyclists, [REDACTED] and [REDACTED], and wished these two gentlemen all the best for the future. Do we dare mention that Wednesday's press reports that Simon Gerrans, who won a stage of the Tour de France for Crédit Agricole this year, has signed with TTTMNBN?
The Australian worlds team is now official, with Michael Rogers and Robbie McEwen named as team leaders. The full team: Robbie McEwen, Michael Rogers, Allan Davis, Stuart O’Grady, Simon Gerrans, Matthew Goss, Matt Lloyd, Trent Lowe, and Adam Hansen. The Aussies have not decided who will ride the crono. Perhaps they will draw straws.
The Swiss Federation released its team for Worlds on Wednesday, and put an end to doubts about the participation of Fabian Cancellara. Cancellara is most definitely headed to Varese. The full team includes Albasini, Elmiger, Loosli, Rast, Wyss, Zaugg, Zberg, Bertogliati, and Cancellara. Cance will decide after the conclusion of the Tour of Poland whether he will ride the road race. For now, he's a definite maybe on the road race, and a definite definite for the crono. Claro.
Still undecided is Linus Gerdemann, who will make the call this weekend about his participation in Worlds. Suffering from a stiff kneck, Gerdemann has headed to the warmer weather of Majorca in the hope that it will ease his training. Gerdemann confessed that the problem has bothered him since the third stage of the D-Tour, and he has worked with a physical therapist ever since. And what about the transfer to Milram? Still unconfirmed. But Team Milram would love to work with Gerdemann. Yes, well, here at the Gossip World Headquarters we'd love world peace and Pinarellos for all. But that doesn't mean that we'll get them, now does it.
After 13 years as a profession, Rik Verbrugghe of Belgium will retire after this year's Giro di Lombardia. Verbrugghe ends his career in the Cofidis colors. He has also ridden for QuickStep and Lotto during his career, and he counts victories at Flèche-Wallone and Critérium International, 2 Giro stages, a Giro prologue and a stage of the Tour de France among his sucesses. Vent à Dos, Rik!
The French Federation has sorted out the paperwork in the case of Jimmy Casper. You will recall the mix-up in his TUE that led him to test positive. The TUE listed one medication, while he took another. The Disciplinary Commission of the French Federation has absolved Casper of wrong-doing, and he is free to return to racing. This Friday, he will ride the Grand Prix de la Somme with his team, Agritubel.
Alberto Contador provoked a wee polemica earlier this week when he declared his presence at Worlds in Varese to be pointless. "Bettini will win the World Championship for the third time in a row," said Contador. The Spanish Tour champion believes that Bettini is currently on good form, he will be close to home, and "he will win again." Valverde, retreating to the Dog House. Controversy followed, as Contador appeared to dismiss the chances of his Spanish team mates. It was a rare media mis-step for Contador, and he quickly retreated and expressed his undying enthusiasm to ride for the Spanish team in Varese. Right after he finishes winning this Vuelta, that is. Valverde, slowly crawling out of the doghouse.
To Protest or not to protest? Spanish riders have denied the story circulating about the press that the slow pace of Tuesday's stage resulted from a protest. No, said Sastre among others, the bunch is simply tired after a long race and season. Not so in Poland. During Wednesday's finishing circuits at the Tour of Poland, the field stopped after two of the three trips through the finish. The riders considered the finish too dangerous. Poor weather had already shortened the stage by 40 kilometers (It was originally 243 km of joyous, rainy day fun.) The officials declared no winner for the stage, and Allan Davis retains the jersey of race leader. Murilo Fischer of Liquigas is in second at 4 seconds down, Lars Ytting Bak of CSC-Saxo Bank is third at seven seconds.
On Wednesday, Erik Zabel and Marzio Bruseghin received special prizes from Vuelta a España Race Director Abraham Olano. The Reason? Both riders have ridden all three grand tours this season. Voilà, a trivia answer for you.
Race Results! Stefano Garzelli won the GP Wallonie in Belgium on Wednesday. He beat out Giovanni Visconti and Jerome Pineau in a 12-up sprint. Garzelli's win marks the first non-Belgian victory in this race since the year 2000, when Alberto Elli of Italy won it. The race finished at the Citadel in Namur. Marco Marcato attacked with 500 meters to go, but he was quickly brought back by the leading group. Marco Marcato. Now that, my friends, is a fabulous name.
Less fabulous, at least for those involved, a French court in Albertville has sentenced Dario Frigo to six months in prison and imposed a fine of 8,000 euros on Frigo and his wife Susanna. The court found the couple guilty of possession and transport of illegal substances, specifically ten packets of EPO during the 2005 Tour de France. He will serve a suspended sentence. Here at the Gossip, we could not locate our Big Book of French Law, and consequently we are unclear on this "suspended sentence." We will conjecture that Signor Frigo will not go to directly to jail. But we can't be sure. Do feel free to mock, then correct, our ignorance in this matter.
Young Danish talent Alex Rasmussen has signed with CSC-Saxo Bank, ending speculation that he might ride for Team Garmin next season. He currently rides for Team Designa Kokken, whose kits made an impression at the Tour of Denmark, and not exactly in a good way. Frank Hoj will also ride for CSC-Saxo Bank next season, after a brief trip abroad to ride for Cofidis. This is Hoj's second round with CSC. If at first you don't succeed and all. The manager for Thomas Dekker claims also to be in negoatiations with Riis. Stop me, if you think you've heard this one before. This story, my friends, we believe when we see young Thomas in the kit of CSC. Until then? As if.
Last, but not least, the ASO has changed its mind. A race organizer's prerogative, and all. Alessandro Petacchi and his LPR team can now ride Paris-Tours, which has often in its long history come down to a sprint. Petacchi has won the race before, though the exact year of this victory is escaping our seive-like mind at the moment, and the Official Statistician of the Gossip World Headquarters called in sick. Sheesh, so unreliable these statistics people.
Voilà, all the Gossip for your Wednesday entertainment. How the days fly by. So Fall-ish it feels already. And so quickly the season draws nearer to its end. Surely, the Gossip could not end with the racing, could it? We're thinking... no.