Shorts: TDU, Freire, Garzelli

Leblanc agrees to Tour Down Under, Freire beats four-legged challenger, Garzelli opts for one grand

Leblanc agrees to Tour Down Under, Freire beats four-legged challenger, Garzelli opts for one grand
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE The Tour Down Under, which take place on January 18-23, has revealed that Tour de France boss Jean-Marie Leblanc has accepted an invite to attend the race. Leblanc's presence is the Australian event's second major coup in recent weeks following Stuart O'Grady's announcement that he will be returning to compete in what is effectively his home event with his Cofidis team. The full stage listing for the event is: Stage 1, East End Adelaide Street Race, 50km Stage 2, Salisbury-Tanunda, 150km Stage 3, Glenelg-Victor Harbor, 139km Stage 4, Unley-Hahndorf, 152km Stage 5, Willunga-Willunga, 147km Stage 6, Adelaide City Council Circuit, 90km - 'Freire faster than a racehorse' was the verdict in yesterday's extraordinary match race between world road champion Oscar Freire and the trotter Duc du Rietor, which took place at the Valencia criterium. The Rabobank rider got the better of the horse over two laps of the criterium circuit, passing his four-legged rival on the final corner. Jockey Felipe Hernandez was quick to praise Freire, but also to point out that the sealed surface they were racing on was not ideal for the horse. Freire followed that success with two more in the criterium, finishing second to Ivan Basso in the points race and winning the latest elimination contest to take the overall prize. Former Kelme pro and Tour de France stage winner Javier Otxoa won a criterium for disabled riders, adding to his recent gold and bronze medal successes at the Athens Paralympics. There was also news of a further prize for Freire, who will be designated as honorary mayor of his hometown of Torrelavega this week. Road signs marking the boundaries of the town will be replaced with pictures of Freire carrying the words 'Welcome to his town'. - Stefano Garzelli has said that he will only ride one of the Giro or Tour next season for his new Liquigas team. "I have still got to work out my final programme with the new team, but it is certain that I won't ride the Tour and Giro," said the 2000 Giro winner, who is now 31. "This year I was sixth in the Giro and 11th at the Vuelta, and those results weren't satisfactory. The only upbeat note was being able to wear the Italian jersey at the Worlds in Verona for the first time, but in overall terms it wasn't a great season for me." Garzelli did not set too much store by Lance Armstrong's comments about missing the Tour de France to focus on other goals. "I think you've got to take them with a pinch of salt. It is too early to say that you will be missing the biggest stage race in the world in order to lower stress and take on new challenges like Paris-Roubaix. We will only know what his real intentions are if he is competitive at the start of the season. Only then will we know if he has modified his preparation."
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