Tour shorts: Cipo, Popo, Bortolo

Highs and lows at the Tour as Cipo bows out, Loosli laps it up, Fassa Bortolo complain and transfer

Highs and lows at the Tour as Cipo bows out, Loosli laps it up, Fassa Bortolo complain and transfer
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE * Mario Cipollini echoed his Italian compatriot and rival Alessandro Petacchi's regret at pulling out of the Tour de France through injury in Bonneval on Friday morning. Cipollini packed his bags early for the eighth time in as many Tour de France appearances when a wound sustained to his left shin on Tuesday became infected. "It feel like I'm leaving the Tour win with unfinished business," said the airport-bound Lion King this morning. "I was desperate to win a stage. I showed at Wasquehal on Tuesday that my form was improving. There's no doubt that I would have continued to progress if I had stayed in the race. Abandoning the Tour always hurts: I have a strong emotional bond with this race." * Fassa Bortolo directeur sportif Alberto Volpi has added his voice to criticism of the Socit du Tour de France's uncompromising law enforcement in Wednesday's team time trial. Volpi told procycling on Thursday that he and team manager Giancarlo Ferretti had protested to the race jury for an over an hour on Wednesday evening after Fassa incurred two one-minute penalties: one for pushes between team members and another for unauthorised shelter behind a team car. "It was all to no avail," Volpi said. "The first infraction was caused by Fabian Cancellara: he has a habit of lightly patting riders on the back as he calls them through for their turn. We warned him, but you can't get angry with him: he's inexperienced. Then they penalised us for sheltering a rider, Kim Kirchen, as he came back from a puncture after 17km. The way the team time trial works, with two team cars, you can hardly avoid that." * The Tour de France rumour mill is gathering pace nicely as the race nears the end of its first week. After speculation linking Yarosalw Popovych with the nascent Discovery Channel team, Lance Armstrong told American journalists on Thursday evening that he had already sounded out several, unnamed, riders in the Tour de France peloton about joining him at the Discovery Channel. Floyd Lanids, meanwhile, is apparently keen to leave the Postal clan: Phonak are keen on Landis, but the American would rather be the big fish in a smaller pool. * If Gilberto Simoni made it clear that there was no love lost between him and the Tour de France on Thursday, one Saeco rider who was savouring every minute in France was David Loosli. This time last year the 24-year-old Swiss was taking home 1,000 euros a month, working four hours a day in a bike shop near his home in Bern. Dedicating afternoons to training, Loosli's performances in local events were sufficiently eye-catching for him to be invited for work experience with the Saeco's pro team last autumn. They liked what the saw and offered Loosli a two-year contract. He hadn't, though, expected to ride the Tour de France until he received a phone call from Saeco directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli last Thursday. The Socit du Tour de France had added Danilo di Luca to their black list. Martinelli told Loosli that he was in as a last-minute substitute. * After fdjeux.com rider Jean-Cyril Robin's shock revelation that - but for a last-minute Tour call-up - he would have spent July working in his recently-opened dry cleaner's shop in La Baule, Tour leader Thomas Voeckler has admitted that, as a child, he always dreamed of doing the Tour. as a journalist. If Voeckler may yet fulfil his ambition later in life, Maxime Monfort of Crdit Agricole may complete the unusual double much sooner: the young Belgian already boasts a degree in journalism, is covering the Tour for Belgian newspaper Le Soir. and one day hopes to participate in the Grande Boucle as a rider.
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