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Except for at the Tour of Flanders, there hasn't been much spring in the air over Belgium and France during the spring Classics period. Instead the riders have been treated to cool winds and plenty of rain. Defending Lige champion Davide Rebellin dislikes it intensely. "Last year we could ride without leggings, today it was rather cold and in the final we even had rain. I don't like that. Give me the sun, then I'll be at 100 per cent," promised the Gerolsteiner star after Flche Wallonne. So far this year he's taken two third places in the Amstel Gold Race and Flche, but unfortunately for him the weather forecast for Sunday's Lige-Bastogne-Lige predicts showers during the day.
- Rolf Aldag and Michele Gobbi were both victims of the bad weather that set in during the final stages of Flche Wallonne. Both were involved in crashes on the slippery roads and went down hard. T-Mobile veteran Aldag broke a bone in his forearm, while Gobbi broke his hip. The Domina Vacanze rider underwent surgery
in Huy hospital shortly after the race.
- Yesterday's agreement between he ProTour teams and the Giro over costs paid by the latter to the former during next month's Tour of Italy covers the next two editions of the race. According to Spanish daily AS, the exact figure that will be paid to each team has not been revealed, but is believed to be around 50,000 euros, an increase of around 50% on what they received last season. The money is used by the teams to cover their costs during the race, and comes from the money Giro organisers RCS receive from TV rights, sponsors and host towns.
Although not directly linked to one of the key issues that provoked splits between the major tour organisers and the International Cycling Union during the establishment of the ProTour, this latest dispute does once again touch on the issue of who owns the rights to races and how the money earned from those rights should be divided up. The race organisers believe they take the biggest risks in terms of putting on a huge event, but the teams feel they should have a bigger slice of the pie because their riders put on the show itself.
With the organisers of the three major tours still not officially part of the ProTour, this issue is almost certain to resurface when negotiations for next year's series recommence on May 2 in Paris.
- Liberty Seguros' leader Joseba Beloki has been confirmed as a starter in the Tour of Romandy (Apr 26-May 1). The event will serve as the illness-hit Basque's only pre-race preparation for the Giro, which starts six days after Romandy. A strong Liberty team also comprises David Etxebarria, Roberto Heras, Jrg Jaksche, Sergio Paulinho, Marcos Serrano and Angel Vicioso.
- An exasperated Bernard Hinault has called on Danilo Di Luca's rivals to try something different in an attempt to get the better of the Italian at Lige on Sunday. "Di Luca is the strongest rider around now, we saw that at Amstel Gold and at Flche Wallonne. His rivals know that. So why do they wait to the last hill to attack him?" said Hinault in an interview with news agency AFP. "Faced with Di Luca and Rebellin, the rest should not simply sit in the pack. They should be attacking from further out, there is no other solution."