A memorial race for Stive Vermaut in North Carolina, O'Grady confirms Down Under, Tour time trial inPICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE We're still a few days short of the end of this season, but already negotiations and rumour about 2005 are well under way. For some lucky pros next season will start in the warmth of Adelaide at the Tour Down Under, and among them after missing out on his home race this year will be Stuart O'Grady. Currently ranked seventh in the world, O'Grady, who won the TDU in 2001, said on his return home to Adelaide yesterday: "I was bitterly disappointed I could not contest the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under this year. But when I joined my new team, Cofidis, the event wasn't in its plans for 2004. However, during the recent European season Cofidis could see the importance of the Tour Down Under as a major key to my 2005 world campaign." Race director Mike Turtur is elated at the confirmation of O'Grady's presence at his race in January. "The fact that we have not only secured Stuart O'Grady but the Cofidis team is testament to the confidence the international cycling world has in our event," he said. * The 2005 Tour de France looks certain to pass through Germany, and there is even the possibility of a time trial taking place between the cities of Karlsruhe and Pforzheim. Representatives of both south-western German cities have been invited to the Tour launch in Paris on October 28. The Tour last went into Germany early in the 2002 edition, when there was a stage finish in Saarbrucken, where Oscar Freire won a bunch sprint. * A memorial race for former US Postal and Lotto rider Stive Vermaut, who died in June due to complications resulting from a heart abnormality, will be held in High Point, North Carolina on Saturday, October 23, which would have his 29th birthday. Proceeds from the ride will benefit Vermaut's widow and two young children as well as a local heart-related charity that Vermaut had supported. Further details on the event can be found at www.active.com/event_detail.cfm?event_id=1170065 * Negotiations between Illes Balears and CV-Kelme over Alejandro Valverde broke up yesterday without any agreement being reached, although both sides are set to meet again. Payment of the two million euro buy-out clause remains the fundamental issue separating the two sides, with Illes Balears admitting that they cannot afford this sum. On the other side, Comunitat Valenciana president Jos Luis Aznar has repeated his insistence on the buy-out clause being met in full. "I have been made aware today that Valverde wants to leave, that he has an agent who is inciting him to do so, and in those conditions there is no room for negotiation," an angry Aznar told L'Equipe. "This agent has never wanted to sit down at the negotiating table with us. For us, Valverde provides the assurance of being invited to the big races next year and there is no question of us selling him off cheaply. His agent is doing all he can to enable him to leave, but you pay for conduct like that."