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Liquigas are going into the Vuelta with a very strong team featuring no less than four potential leaders in the shape of Danilo Di Luca, Luca Paolini, Magnus Backstedt and Dario Cioni. "I'm ready to perform well. I've been training hard on home roads. I want to come out of the most important Spanish race in peak form and I hope that a stage win could give me the chance of taking part into the world championships," said Di Luca. "I like the Vuelta: I'll be taking part in it for the fifth time and I've already seen some stages that can suit me."
Paolini, too, has his focus set on a Worlds place. "I feel in very good form but I can get even better. I'm going to fight for a stage win in the first part of the race, but I have to pay attention not to overdo things on the stages that don't suit me very much. Before the world championships I'll have to lose about one more kilo," said the Italian. This quartet are joined by Dario Andriotto, Kjell Carlstrm, Francesco Failli, Alessandro Spezialetti and Britain's Charly Wegelius.
- Frank Vandenbroucke is back in hot water. Having recently fallen out with the management of his Unibet.com team because of his lack of racing appearances, the Belgian has been riding cyclosportif events in northern Italy, but not under his own name. Thursday's Gazzettta dello Sport reports Vandenbroucke has been registering for events using a licence carrying a picture of world champion Tom Boonen and in the name of Francesco del Ponte, which appears to be a vague translation into Italian of the Belgian's name. The team Vandenbroucke has been riding for, Team Olympus, does at least exist. In fact, according to Gazzetta, it is run by Davide Posca, a doctor in whose house the Belgian has been staying.
- Damiano Cunego has confirmed that the Giro del Veneto (August 26) and the Trofeo Melinda (August 31) will be his final appearances of the season. "My season will end with Giro del Veneto and Trofeo Melinda," the Tour de France's best young rider has confirmed, adding: "It's been a positive season, during which I obtained some important progress. I won't be racing these events with the aim of the victory, but I will be happy to help my team who have supported me all season."
- After spending several seasons riding in the service of Patrick Lefvre, currently at Quick Step, Dutchman Servais Knaven has announced a surprise move to T-Mobile for the coming two seasons. "I am very satisfied with my new team," said Knaven, 32. "I will be given a free hand during the races at the start of the season." Winner of Paris-Roubaix in 2001, Knaven thanked Lefvre for the last six years, and also commented: "Our paths are separating, but in a clean way, with mutual respect."
- Former sprint king Mario Cipollini is the latest big name to be associated with the Operacion Puerto investigation in Spain. According to Thursday's edition of Italian daily La Repubblica, investigators on the case suspect there were links between Cipollini and Eufemiano Fuentes, the Spanish doctor at the centre of the investigation, during 2002, the year Cipollini won the world title in Zolder. According to La Repubblica, the code name 'Pavarotti' in the Puerto dossier is believed to refer to Cipollini.
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