Shorts: Valverde, Peta, Unibet, T-Mobile

Valverde set to take a holiday before returning to racing, Petacchi's next race to be in February, U

Valverde set to take a holiday before returning to racing, Petacchi's next race to be in February, U

PIC BY LAVUELTA.COM

Depending on which newspaper you read, Alejandro Valverde may or may not be riding the end-of-season Classics. While sources in France suggest the Spaniard who leads the ProTour standings by a massive 123 points will be riding this weekend's Championship of Zurich, probably more reliable sources in his native Spain are claiming Valverde is unlikely to appear again before the Tour of Lombardy on October 14. According to Spanish daily AS, Valverde says he's about to go on holiday towards the end of a long season. Valverde tells them "I'm going to train quietly now, without any pressure, so that I can ride the Tour of Lombardy and enjoy the ProTour party", at which he is almost certain to be crowned rider of the season.

- One rider who definitely won't be seen again this season is Milram sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, who has been out of action since September 10 after breaking his hand punching the door of the Milram team bus at the end of a frustrating Vuelta stage. The Italian was due to return to racing at the Circuit Franco-Belge in preparation for Paris-Tours, but Milram directeur sportif Vittorio Algeri has revealed Petacchi's state of health makes this an unviable proposition, "so we have decided to end his season. He will return to competition at the Ruta del Sol next season," Algeri explained.

- Unibet team manager Jacques Hanegraaf has appointed former Farm Frites team-mate Michael Lafis as directeur sportif of the Belgian team that is set to move into the ProTour next season. Lafis, a 39-year-old Swede, retired from racing in 2000, and has since set up the magazine Cykelnytt in his home country, and worked with the organisation of the Tour of Sweden. "I've got enough experience as a pro rider to be able to achieve good results," Lafis told the Sport.be website in Belgium.

- T-Mobile are set to unveil their 2007 roster in Bonn on Wednesday, and rumours abound that Axel Merckx is set to rejoin the team he spent his first full season with back in 1994 when it was still known as Telekom. Merckx is also reported to have received offers from CSC and Unibet for what is almost certainly set to be his final pro season.

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