Shorts: Jaan, Relax, BriochesClose
Jaan Kirsipuu makes a surprise move, Relax looks for support, Brioches shenanigans, plus an idiot atPICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE * Estonian sprinter Jaan Kirsipuu, who has been with Ag2r boss Vincent Lavenu since he turned pro way back in 1993, has agreed to join rival French team Crdit Agricole for the next two seasons. A stage winner at this year's Tour, Kirsipuu joins Pietro Caucchioli, Laszlo Bodrogi and Nicolas Vogondy as one of the Pro Tour-destined team's main signings. * The Spanish second division Relax team is on the look-out for new co-sponsors after losing its two biggest partners. It was always likely that this season's new co-sponsor Bodysol would not remain as that company is part of the Omega Pharma conglomerate that is joining up with Lotto in 2005. However, Relax are also saying goodbye to six-season-long sponsor Fuenlabrada, who confirmed their withdrawal after their investment of about £300,000 this season gained them hardly any profile within the team at all. Despite the loss of significant backing, Relax have confirmed that they are certain to continue into next season despite the almost guaranteed rejection of the team's application for a Pro Tour licence. They have six of their current roster already signed up for next season and are looking for 10 more, mainly Spanish, riders. * Meanwhile, there has been some falling-out at French team Brioches La Boulangre, where team boss Jean-Ren Bernaudeau has sacked two of his directeurs sportifs, Thierry Bricaud and Nicolas Guillet. According to this morning's L'Equipe, Bernaudeau discovered during the Tour de France that the pair were working on a project to create a new pro team with former Bernaudeau sidekick Philippe Raimbaud, who left the team in April. As Bernaudeau was himself looking for a sponsor to replace Brioches at this time, he was not exactly happy to find out that some of this staff weren't totally behind his project. "Since the end of June I felt that Thierry was hiding something from me," Bernaudeau told L'Equipe. In the midst of Brioches rider Thomas Voeckler's long stint in the yellow jersey, Bernaudeau found out what his two aides were up to. "It's their right to build their own team, but what I regret is that Thierry did not have the courage or honesty to tell me. He should have turned down his place on the Tour and let someone who believed in what we were doing take it. Since then I have had no faith in him," said Bernaudeau. In his defence, Bricaud told L'Equipe that relations between him and the rest of the management team had not been good for some time. "We didn't agree on the way the team should be run and communication between us was breaking down. It is easy to criticise now, but at that time no one was sure of their future at all." * If rain and strong winds were not enough for the riders to deal with on stage four of the Vuelta yesterday, news has been released by Spain's Guardia Civil that they briefly took into custody a British mountain biker who threw a five-kilo rock at the riders late in the stage. Fortunately, the rock fell short of its apparent target and the mountain biker was released without any charge being made.