Shorts: Menchov, Magnus, FreireClose
ore transfer news, plus an uncomfortable problem for Oscar Freire and confirmation that the VueltaPICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Despite interest from both T-Mobile and Discovery Channel, Russian Denis Menchov has opted to sign a two-year deal with Rabobank after spending five seasons in Spain with Illes Balears-Banesto. Best young rider at the 2003 Tour de France, Menchov should get more freedom to ride for himself within the Dutch team than he would have with the other two teams. Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt has confirmed what was already well reported news that he will be riding in the colours of the re-emerging Liquigas team next season. Stage racing duties at Liquigas will be headed up by Stefano Garzelli. Double world champion Oscar Freire is in danger of missing out on the chance to compete in this year's world championships in Verona, where he won his first title in 1999, because of a troublesome saddle boil. According to a report in L'Equipe, the Spaniard has been affected by the boil since May and is unlikely to finish the Vuelta. Vuelta boss Enrique Franco has confirmed that the Unipublic company that organises many of Spain's leading races is up for sale. As well as the Vuelta, Unipublic also runs the Tour of Valencia and Murcia, and Semana Catalana, but Franco admits that he has had talks with parties interested in buying Unipublic, with the Recoletos media group that owns Spanish sports daily Marca apparently leading the queue of those interested. Franco has recently acknowledged that Unipublic makes a profit on the events it runs each season, but only a small one. However, even this could be threatened by a new television deal with Spanish broadcaster TVE, which has agreed to cover the Vuelta up to 2007, but has refused to commit to covering any of Unipublic's other events.