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Gossip Girl, Interrupted Edition.

There we were, having a typical day at the Gossip World Headquarters. Sipping an espresso at our favorite café, planning our training ride for the afternoon, perusing the tide book and the buoy readings. You know, all the daily essentials.

Then, we sat down to write a little Gossip. Because, what the world really needs now is a good round of Gossip. Alas, we were interrupted by the plans of one Lance Armstrong (Gratuitous Armstrong Google mention #1). So, we were forced to cut short our cozy little Gossip and head directly to the scene of the, erm, crime. But we hate to let good Gossip go to waste. So here, for your perusal, a wee bit of news for a Tuesday.

We begin today in France, where American Peter Stetina of VMG/Felt is currently the overall leader at the prestigious U23 race, Tour de l'Avenir. Stetina holds a time gap of 2.27 over the second placed rider, Jérôme Coppel of France. If Stetina can defend his lead, he will become the first American since Greg Lemond to win the race. Thursday's stage 6 is an individual time trial, which should well suit Stetina, who is the current U23 U.S. national champion in the crono. The Tour, in its 45th edition this year, will conclude Sunday, 14 September with a mountain stage in the Pyrenees. Over at the Team Slipstream site, Stetina lists his season goal as "not to crash." Surely, he wouldn't mind a prestigious race win, would he? Dutch rider Ricardo Van der Velde won Tuesday's stage 4, when he outsprinted Italian Matteo Busato and French rider Cyril Bessy. For more information, head over to the race website.

"I am a man, not a machine," says Fabian Cancellara. The 27 year old Swiss Talent, with a capital T, may not ride the World Championship races this year. He described the Olympics as a "heavenly week," and admitted that he was having trouble buckling down to the mundane work of day-to-day training. On the go since the Tour de France in early July, Cancellara said that he would not start Worlds, if he can not find his motivation. No word on when he will make his decision, but certainly his absence will open up the race for the Worlds crono.

That will certainly make Gustav Larsson smile. Larsson finished second to Cancellara in Beijing. No doubt Larsson would prefer to beat Cancellara outright at Varese. On the other hand, a rainbow jersey would be pretty swell, and would be a nice housewarming gift to bring to his new team. Larsson will ride for Caisse d'Épargne for the next two seasons. Presumably, he left CSC-Saxo Bank for a few more euros and to escape the large shadow cast by Cancellara. A Swede in Spain? Really, we don't know what to make of this. But we do wish Larsson all the best for next season. Because we're nice that way.

Backpedaling rapidly from their statements of Monday - Lance Who? - Astana now says that Lance Armstrong would be welcome to join the team, if he decided to return to racing. "If there is a possibility, we will study it obviously. He would be welcome," said Philippe Maertens, the suddenly busy spokeman for Team Astana. Added Maertens, Lance Armstrong would have to give up mountain bike racing, if he came to Astana. End, Gratuitous Lance Armstrong Comeback blurb. Hi Google :-)

Meanwhile, reports the following: According to a source close to the situation, but who asked to remain anonymous, Jan Ullrich will return to racing next year at the age of 35. He will join Team Columbia, the successor to his previous team T-Mobile. The information was confirmed in an exclusive interview in Super Picsou Géant, which will appear later this month. Jan Ullrich will join the team for free and will pay out his pocket to ride. He will post all his blood values on the internet and on the wall of his house in Switzerland. Questioned on the subject, Ullrich's manager refused to comment. The spokesman for High Road has denied the information. Made ya look! We so heart a little humor here at the Gossip.

On the subject of comeback rumors, we hear again the name, Mario Cipollini. According to largely unsubstantiated rumorage, Cipollini may return to racing with the new Italian-Ukrainian team ISD-Danieli, which we introduced in our last episode of the Gossip. Cipollini already tried the un-retiring thing with Rock Racing, but it didn't work out. Speculation abounds that Cipo might bring Specialized to the new team. Everyone's Specialized these days, it seems. In other ISD-Danieli news, the team's hiring wish list currently includes Paolo Bettini and Davide Rebellin, who reportedly has received a contract offer from the team for 900,000 euro. We are trying, and failing, to imagine a team with both Rebellin and Bettini. But strange things happen in the silly season. Andrej Grivko and Sergei Honchar have also reportedly received contract offers from the new team.

Remember me? Brian Bach Vandborg, who has spent this season with Team GLS, will reportedly join Liquigas next year. The 26 year old Vandborg rode for Discovery Channel, in 2007, but did not receive a new contract. The transfer comes at the request of Ivan Basso, who will lead Liguigas next season.

In other transfer news, Markus Zberg and Mattias Frank will reportedly join Team CSC-Saxo Bank next season. The two Swiss riders leave the now-defunct team Gerolsteiner.

Igor Astarloa will ride for the Italian team Nippo, after Milram fired him earlier this season. The DS at Nippo? Giuseppe Martinelli. Astarloa and Martinelli go way back. The ex-world champion turned professional in 200o with Mercatone Uno, then managed by Martinelli. Since then, their paths have diverged in the sport, but now, after five years they will reunite at Nippo. Martinelli has a theory that Astarloa's lack of results came from too much pressure laid on his shoulders after he won the World Championship, and that he will benefit from the lower profile and expectations at Nippo. Astarloa agrees. "I like to ride tranquil," he said.

The one that got away. Silence-Lotto has gone signing spree over the last week. Bernhard Kohl confirmed that he will ride for the Belgian team for 2 years. Sebastien Lang, lately of Gerolsteiner, will also join Silence-Lotto. Belgian crono specialist Dominique Cornu has other ideas. Cornu, currently 22 years old, has met with little but misfortune in his two seasons with Silence. Dominique Cornu will transfer to rival team QuickStep. Cornu finished third in the Belgian national crono championship this year. Said Cornu of the transfer, "I am content." Which, under no circumstances, should be confused with tranquil.

More Cervélo Test Team news. Thor Hushovd has signed for the new team for two seasons. On his website, he thanked Crédit Agricole for the memories and praised Legeay's leadership, especially on the anti-doping front. Thor says he is looking forward to collaborating with Cervélo in developing new products. In other news, the sponsorship agreement for the team runs four years. Though Sastre has signed on for two seasons so far, he is expected to remain with the team in a management position over the long term. Last, but not least, Cervélo Test Team will reportedly use the same internal anti-doping program as the existing Cervélo-Life Force womens' team.

That's all for today! Back soon with all the Gossip. In particular, we have a wee bit of news about Riccardo Riccò, that we think you will especially enjoy. But, for that we need illustrations. And fewer distractions. À Presto!