Tour shorts: Hushovd, Pozzato, Liquigas

Hushovd points confusion cleared up, Pozzato's contract uncertainty, Liquigas directeur sportif tell

Hushovd points confusion cleared up, Pozzato's contract uncertainty, Liquigas directeur sportif tell


Following confusion after the finish of Wednesday's fourth stage into Saint Quentin when Thor Hushovd was credited with points for the green jersey for fourth place despite being relegated to last place in the peloton for 'irregular sprinting', it has been confirmed that the Norwegian stayed on his previous score of 62 - against stage winner and green jersey holder Robbie McEwen's 100 after stage four. It leaves Hushovd in fifth place, behind Tom Boonen, Daniele Bennati and Oscar Freire. "I wasn't aggressive at all in my sprint," Hushovd complained. "I don't what I'm supposed to have done." Francaise des Jeux's Bernhard Eisel did, however: "He took some crazy risks," the Austrian said, referring to his claim that Hushovd came across him so violently that Eisel thought he was going to have to take the detour for the team cars 200 metres from the finish line. The battle for the green jersey certainly isn't over, but is Hushovd now out of the running from defending his title?

- Milan-San Remo winner Filippo Pozzato, currently second from last in the general classification having suffered from digestive problems since the start of the Tour, apparently faces an uncertain few weeks, with transfer talks between the rider and several top teams stalling over the Italian's astounding 1.4 million annual wage demands. Quick Step have tabled a bid which falls well short of this figure but are not yet resigned to losing their rider; a clause in Pozzato's contract states that the 24 year old will remain with the Belgian sponsor if they can match the offer of the highest bidder. T-Mobile were rumoured to be leading the hunt but apparently balked at Pozzato's price tag. Possible alternatives include Cofidis and Liquigas, though neither fulfils all of Pozzato's criteria; he would prefer to stay in Italy but knows that perhaps only the French team rate him as highly as he rates himself.

- Speaking at the Tour to procycling, Liquigas directeur sportif Stefano Zanatta has revealed that Dario Cioni will leave the team at the end of the season, with Davitamon-Lotto his destination. Zanatta said that the 31-year-old Italian had turned down an offer to stay with Liquigas in recent days. "He told us that he's joining a foreign's a shame, because we think that we've done a lot for Dario, but maybe he doesn't realize it," Zanatta said. One rider who will be staying with Liquigas is Britain's Charly Wegelius: he has signed a two-year contract extension.

- Alejandro Valverde has had his broken collar-bone successfully reset in an operation undertaken in his home town of Murcia on Wednesday.

- The transfer market is starting to hot up with Liquigas's Anglo-Italian Dario Cioni reported to be heading to Davitamon-Lotto. Alessandro Petacchi has asked for Panaria's Brett Lancaster to be added to his lead-out train at Milram, and the Aussie is set to join that team in 2007. Astana have also made a couple of signings, but on the management side. Thursday's L'Equipe reports that Tony Rominger is set to become their team manager assuming the link with Manolo Saiz is broken, while former Alessio pro Alexandre Shefer, who retired in 2003, is set to join them as a directeur sportif.

- Hungarian pro Laszlo Bodrogi will not now be attempting to break the world hour record later this summer. "We prefer him to concentrate on the second part of the season," Crdit Agricole team manager Roger Legeay said.

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