Latest: Mayo does Giro; Mancebo back; end for Lefbvre?; Punch-up in Zurich; life with VDBClose
Saunier Duval's Iban Mayo says he will ride the Giro d'Italia for the first time this year. Also, MaPIC BY TDWSPORT.COM New Saunier Duval recruit Iban Mayo has named the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France as his main goals for this season. Speaking at his team launch at the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao on Tuesday, Mayo said, "The news is that I will do the Giro, where I will debut, and the Tour, instead of the Tour and Vuelta like in other years." Mayo continued that the Giro is "the only one of the three grand tours that I haven't done. That always motivates you more." At the start of the season, Mayo will race in Mallorca, then do the Vuelta a Andaluc¡a, Paris-Nice and the Vuelta al Pa¡s Vasco. The latter will be one of his first main goals, and he hopes to be in good form by the Giro. Mayo explained that during winter, he hasn't felt as pressured as in previous years, when he was the great hope of the Euskaltel-Euskadi team. Saunier Duval has plenty of Basque riders in it, but being Basque is not the team's focus. "In other years, because of the way that the team was, there were always more things to do because it was the home team and was surrounded by more mass media," he said. On the bike, Mayo won't feel the same pressure as he did at Euskaltel either. Particularly in the Giro d'Italia: "As Simoni will be the team leader, it always makes it more relaxing for you. It will suit me that he is the visible leader and I am behind. It will be nice to race with him and to learn from him." Saunier's team director Joxean Fern ndez 'Matxin' has high hopes for Iban Mayo, who he said was "one of the top riders of this team, and also of international cycling." Matxin supported Mayo's desire to ride the Giro. "We wanted him to have motivation, so that he is supported by the team and knows that the team believes in him. When a rider dreams of doing a race, we should not deprive him of that." Mancebo ready for Relax Ex-Ag2r rider Francisco Mancebo is set to return to cycling with Spanish pro continental team Relax-Gam. Mancebo retired from the sport after being named in Operaci¢n Puerto, but reconsidered his options when it became apparent that no sanctions were going to be pursued by the Spanish cycling federation. He is joining Relax along with Jan Hruska, Angel Vicisio and Santi Prez. Hruska is making the move from the defunct 3 Molinos Resort. He was one of several riders from that team to fail a blood test this year - at the Volta a Catalunya - but returned to racing after a two week break. Vicioso and Prez were, like Mancebo, named in Operaci¢n Puerto, but were also not sanctioned. Prez of course has just completed a two year ban for blood doping. The Relax-Gam team is aiming for a budget of €3.6 million. This year, its main aim will be the Vuelta a Espa¤a, with the possibility of an invitation to the Giro d'Italia. It's managed by Augusto de Casta¤eda and has Jes£s Su rez Cueva and Germ n Nieto as sports directors. Lefbvre looking at life ban? French cyclo-crosser Maxime Lefbvre is facing a lengthy ban from the sport - possibly life - for missing a doping control at a race in Middelkerke on December 29. Lefbvre already served a one year ban in 2004 after testing positive for Heptaminol, which means his second offence could be a lifelong sanction. "We hadn't heard anything about a control," he told Belgian media after finishing second in Tuesday's 'cross in Sent Niklas, won by Sven Nys. "Now I expect another penalty. It's possible that this is the end of my career." Lefbvre was nevertheless satisfied with his second place, as he was able to stay with Nys and Richard Groenendaal until the last lap. Groenendaal finished third. Punch-up at Zurich Six The second last night (January 1st) of the 50th Six Days of Zurich saw a punch-up between local hero Bruno Risi and Dutchman Danny Stam. Risi, who was topping the standings with partner Franco Marvulli, was angry that Stam and his partner Jens Mouris (5th overall) were countering all the attacks of the Swiss duo in the 50 km Madison. Risi/Marvulli did the same to the Dutch, which enabled Robert Bartko and Iljo Keisse to win the race and take the lead at the end of the night. After the racing, Risi went over to the Dutch camp and abused Stam, emptying the contents of his waterbottle over his head and even throwing a punch. Soigneurs broke the pair up, and Risi and Stam were both given a mild penalty of a 50 Swiss francs fine for "improper behaviour". Risi and Stam later shook hands, and Risi could not explain why he lost his temper. Although he and Marvulli did lose the lead at the end of night 5, they regained it on the final night and won the Zurich Six ahead of Bartko/Keisse. Stam/Mouris finished fifth. VDB becomes part of the family Frank Vandenbroucke is alive and well in Sambuceto di San Giovanni Teatino, Italy. The wayward Walloon is living with his Acqua e Sapone team manager Palmiro Masciarelli. According to Masciarelli in Het Nieuwsblad, VDB was staying at a hotel nearby. "Until he stayed here the night. After that, he didn't leave. "Ach, our house is big enough. In the meantime, he have considered Frank as part of the family. It's also the best way to get to know his personality. For example, I've been told that Frank had an alcohol problem. I've never seen him drink more than a glass of wine with dinner. He doesn't even touch liqueur." Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.