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2005 Tour de France stage-winner Marcos Serrano has set himself the target of emulating a feat achieved by his Liberty Seguros directeur sportif Marino Lejarreta by starting and finishing all three major tours this season. The 33-year-old Spaniard, now in his 14th pro season, has been discussing the idea with team boss Manolo Saiz for a couple of years and is now ready to put the extremely testing plan into action.
There is, however, plenty of method in what seems to be Serrano's madness given the challenge ahead. "It's really come from my characteristics as a rider, as I tend to feel my best at the end of major tours," Serrano, who has had top 10 finishes at all three major tours, told Marca. "I'm a rider with huge reserves." Serrano is adamant that simply starting the three three-weekers is not enough; he aims to finish all three.
- Brazilian ex-pro Wanderley Magalhaes, who rode for his country at the Seoul and Barcelona Olympics and spent two seasons with the Lotto team, has died at the age of 39 after being struck by cancer. Magalhaes started the 1994 Tour de France for Lotto, but did not finish the race.
- There are plenty of Tom Boonen headlines flying around just three days away from his defence of the Tour of Flanders. The major news is of his decision not to start Thursday's final split stage of the Three Days of De Panne due to poor weather. "We waited on the weather until the last minute before deciding whether Boonen would ride the last day or not. In view of the wind and rain, Tom didn't start to avoid taking any kind of risk," said Quick Step press officer Alessandro Tegner. Australia's Baden Cooke also decided against starting for the same reason.
Boonen will start Sunday's Tour of Flanders with a bike that Time director Alain Decroix estimates would cost about 20,000 euros to buy. Boonen uses Time's all-carbon VXR frameset for Flanders and other cobbled races, but with significant modifications. "The bike that Tom uses for a cobbled Classic shares only a few characteristics with the bike he might use on a mountain stage of the Tour de France," Decroix says in today's La Dernire Heure.
"The priority for Flanders is rigidity and dependability. Weight is not a determining factor. Carbon several notable advantages: it provides greater comfort because it absorbs a lot of the shock caused by the cobbles and does not transmit vibration; its lateral rigidity is also very good so that the power the rider transmits goes to where it is needed - we've worked specifically on Tom's bike to improve this factor, reinforcing the rear part of the frame because Tom is so strong. This makes the frame 200-300g heavier, but 30% more rigid than the standard frame, and Tom is the only rider to benefit from this."
Decroix adds that although Boonen's frame may appear to be too small, this is not the case. The world champion simply rides with quite a crouched style. Boonen's bike will be tweaked in other ways too by Quick Step's mechanics: he'll get a double layer of bar tape on his 46cm bars, slightly wider tyres with more grip than normal, and a 36-spoke rear wheel to increase rigidity. Other tweaks are kept under wraps, but just in case some misfortune does befall the 20,000-euro machine, Boonen will hardly need to worry as Time provide two more with the same specification.
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