Alberto Contador met with Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Wednesday in Madrid as part of his post-Tour de France victory celebrations. Contador said after the meting that he had discussed with Zapatero his hopes of forming a Spanish team in for 2010.
"I watched the final moments of several stages of the Tour and I have to say that you managed to get my pulse racing, as you did for many Spaniards," Zapatero told Contador, according AFP.
"He has no rival, even if that is hard to accept for some." Zapatero appeared to make reference to Contador and teammate Lance Armstrong's tense relationship during and after the Tour.
Contador and Armstrong will part ways next season. Armstrong announced the formation of new team RadioShack for next season during the Tour. The team will likely to draw a number of key riders from Astana, but Contador will likely move to another team.
"I am not only looking at the salary, but also the sporting aspect," said Contador.
"Staying with Astana is no longer likely. Creating a new Spanish team would be ideal and I have also spoken about this with Zapatero."
Contador won the Tour de France twice, 2009 and 2007. He missed the 2008 edition, but he raced and won the two other Grand Tours: the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España.
Fabio Fazio, 22, died from a suspected heart attack on Tuesday while competing in Italian one-day race, the GP Città di Vinci. Fazio was nearly 100 kilometres into the Under-23 category race near Florence when he collapsed.
Fazio lost contact with a group of riders on a light climb, with temperatures near 32°C. He radioed back to his Neri Sottoli team car, "I don't feel well," according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. He fell off his bike shortly after.
Medics worked to revive Fazio for 50 minutes at the scene before he was transported by ambulance to San Giuseppe hospital in Empoli, 10 kilometres from Vinci. Fazio's death was declared at 17:20.
The organiser of the GP Vinci annulled the race and the riders stopped in Vinci, without passing the finish line.
"Three years ago he was stopped [racing] for seven months because a control showed [heart] arrhythmias or something similar," said Luca Scinto. Scinto is a director of professional team ISD-Neri, the parent team of Neri Sottoli.
Fazio started racing again at the beginning of the season and, following health controls, Scinto asked him to join Neri Sottoli.
Doctors transported Fazio's body to Careggi's hospital on Wednesday for an autopsy. A report of the exact cause of death is expected on Thursday or Friday.
Fazio was born in Sicily and lived with a host family in Vignola (Modena). His funeral will be held later this week.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) denied lengthening Riccardo Riccò's suspension by four months on Thursday. The Italian is serving a suspension because of a failed doping test at the 2008 Tour de France.
Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport reported on its website today that Riccò's suspension was lengthened from March 17 to July 17, 2010.
"We don't know about this, the news did not come from us," UCI press officer Enrico Carpani said to Cyclingnews. Its president, Pat McQuaid, was also unaware of Riccò's suspension being lengthened.
Riccò tested positive for blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO) CERA on July 8, 2008. The French anti-doping agency (AFLD) announced the result on July 17, after he had won two stages.
The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) suspended him for two years. Riccò appealed the suspension's length to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and had the suspension reduced to 20 months.
Last month, he signed a contract through 2011 with Italian team Ceramica Flaminia.
German team selects climbers in anticipation of Jaizkibel
Linus Gerdemann will lead Milram in Spain's Clásica San Sebastián Saturday. The German ProTour team selected several strong climbers to tackle six categorised climbs spread over the 237-kilometre course.
Milram selected climbers Johannes Fröhlinger, Thomas Rohregger, and brothers Martin and Peter Velits to be in the eight-man squad. It expects the race's decisive moment to come on the category one Alto de Jaizkibel climb, located 37 kilometres from the finish.
"The Clásica San Sebastián is a very difficult race and it has especially outstanding field,“ said Milram Directeur Sportif Christian Henn. "We will try to stay in the picture and help lead the race. We will have to see what we can do to help the decisive move.“
Paul Voss, Christian Knees and Peter Wrolich complete the Milram team. Henn will be the team's director.
Milram will hope for a strong performance at San Sebastián after finishing the Tour de France without a win. Gerdemann had held hopes of a high general classification result, but finished the race in Paris Sunday 24th overall, 38:35 behind winner Alberto Contador.
The team have been encouraged recently, however, by its sponsor's decision to continue its support through 2010.
Milram's full team for the 2009 Clasica San Sebastian will be: Johannes Fröhlinger, Christian Knees, Linus Gerdemann, Thomas Rohregger, Martin Velits, Peter Velits, Paul Voss and Peter Wrolich.
The French Cycling Federation (FFC) announced its long list for the 2009 World championships, September 23 to 27, in Mendrisio, Switzerland. FFC sports director, Laurent Jalabert, selected 18 men from whom the final nine-man team will be formed.
France should have a strong team for the road race based on its riders strong performances in the Tour de France. Three stage winners from this year's race are included in the list: Agritubel's Brice Feillu, Bbox Bouygues Telecom's Pierrick Fédrigo and Thomas Voeckler.
Jalabert also selected French champion Dimitri Champion (Brittany-Schuller) and Quick Step riders Sylvain Chavanel and Jerome Pineau. The remaining riders are from French trade teams Cofidis, Française des Jeux and AG2R La Mondiale.
Julien El Fares (Cofidis) failed to make the selection even though he won the Tour of Wallonie Wednesday.
The World championship road race, September 27, is 262.2 kilometres. The 13.8-kilometre circuit, with two climbs, suits a versatile rider.
Jérôme Coppel and Jean-Christophe Péraud will represent France in the time trial, September 24.
Italy's Riccardo Riccò will return to cycling July 18, 2010, four months later than he had originally hoped. The International Cycling Union (UCI) decided yesterday that the CONI lacked jurisdiction when it issued a reduced suspension for Riccò in October 2008 based on his positive doping control at the 2008 Tour de France.
"Yesterday, the UCI sided with the AFLD's [French anti-doping agency] decision to give Riccò two years," UCI press officer Enrico Carpani told Cyclingnews. Carpani corrected an earlier statement to Cyclingnews, when he denied the Cycling Union lengthening Riccò's suspension.
Riccò tested positive for the blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO) CERA July 8, 2008. The French anti-doping agency announced the result on July 17, after he had won two stages.
The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) suspended Riccò in October 2008. He appealed in March to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to have the suspension's length reduced to 20 months.
"The problem is that CONI did not have jurisdiction to give a suspension to Riccò. They operated correctly, but it was useless," said Carpani.
He said Riccò's case is similar to Spaniard Alejandro Valverde at the 2008 Tour de France. Italy ruled on Valverde because it had collected blood from him when the race stoped inside its boarders. It will be the Cycling Union's decision whether to make Italy's two-year suspension global, said Carpani.
Carpani said Riccò can present to the Cycling Union the same evidence he presented to the CAS. It may decide to reduce its 24-month decision based on Riccò's evidence and cooperation.
Riccò signed a contract through 2011 with Italian team Ceramica Flaminia last month. He planned to return to racing March 18, 2010.
Spanish classic the scene for an immense battle in 2009
Defending champion Alejandro Valverde goes into this year's Clásica San Sebastián the favourite to join the likes of Francesco Casagrande and Laurent Jalabert as duel winners of this Basque Country favourite. A tough event that kicks life back into the racing calendar following the Tour de France, this 237km classic in the north of Spain is an event cherished by the locals and sought after by the outsiders.
While most of his contemporaries were riding the Tour de France, Valverde was forced to steer clear of France this July due to the sanction imposed on him by the Italian Olympic Committee. As the race spent part of a stage in Italy it meant Caisse d'Epargne had to leave him off its Tour roster and focus his efforts on the second half of 2009.
The simple equation: A motivated Valverde out to prove a point and take win number two in San Sebastián. It won't be that simple however, with the likes of Cadel Evans, Damiano Cunego, Filippo Pozzato and Oscar Freire coming out of July empty-handed and seeking some momentum to carry into the latter stages of this season.
Evans is a great hilly one-day racer, who has ridden well in the Ardennes over the past four seasons and in the Giro di Lombardia, which is effectively in his backyard. He may be targeting this race to help forget what was a generally forgettable Tour campaign.
Cunego is of the same ilk as Evans in this type of race; the two battling it out in Lombardia last year. No Tour for him, which means fresh legs and a clear head to ride well in northern Spain. Pozzato and Freire were eclipsed by the performances of Mark Cavendish and the breakaway renegades in France, their thunder when they expected more. They should be there in the finish given that they can get over the 'speed hump' about 40km from the finish - the Jaizkibel.
The Jaizkibel - a true test of form
Those riders who enjoyed a strong Tour de France may go into the...
With the announcement of Lance Armstrong's newly formed RadioShack team, speculation is running rampant on who will join the Texan on his squad next year. Levi Leipheimer, with his success in Grand Tours and major stage races, is clearly a desirable rider for any ProTour team. Will he be riding alongside Lance in 2010?
"There's not really anything I can say about that," said Leipheimer. "It isn't always up to me."
But, the winner of this year's Tour of California and Vuelta a Castilla y León adds that he would certainly consider being part of the RadioShack squad. "I have had a great time with Lance this year. As you know, I have been with Johan for three years and I have had the best years of my career. I am not saying that I would definitely not go there."
While Levi Leipheimer's premature exit from the Tour de France with a broken scaphoid bone in his wrist was a huge disappointment, the three-time winner of the Tour of California is trying his best to maintain his fitness and end the season on a high note. He got on the trainer right away, and even elevated the front wheel to reduce the pressure on his wrist. "Of course, you can't train like normal when you are inside. I am basically trying to relax and realize that I am going to lose some fitness," said Leipheimer.
Levi's doctor, Karen Heiden, wife of speed skating gold medalist and inaugural USPRO road champion Eric, is satisfied that the bone is healing normally. This type of injury usually takes six weeks to fully heal so a special clam shell cast was made to replace Levi's original cast. "Now I can train a little easier and can take it off to shower. That's going to make life a lot easier," said Leipheimer.