Euskaltel ready to commit for two more years, Capelle given all-clear to race again, TDF to take to
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Basque telecommunications company Euskaltel have revealed that they are to continue their backing of their orange-clad pro team for another two seasons. The decision is expected to be approved by the company’s shareholders in June and will see Euskaltel pick up the tab for half of the team’s budget. The other half is covered by the Fundacion Ciclista Euskadi with the support of the Basque government, by two regional governments in Guip£zcoa and Bizkaia, and by the team’s own shareholders.
– Former Belgian champion Ludovic Capelle has been cleared to start racing again by the Flemish government’s disciplinary council after being given an 18-month ban for EPO use last June. Capelle’s legal team managed to show that mistakes were made in the testing procedure.
– The Tour de France organisation has announced that this year’s team presentation will be spectacularly different to those of previous editions as the teams will each cruise around Strasbourg on boats. Tour boss Jean-Marie Leblanc said this presentation will allow the maximum number of people to see the riders. It will take place at 6.30-8.30 on the Thursday before the race start, June 29.
– Damiano Cunego spent Thursday looking over the 17th stage of next month’s Giro, with particular emphasis on the concluding climb to the Plan de Corones. Although the ski season closes this weekend, Cunego and team-mates Marzio Bruseghin, Paolo Tiralongo and Morris Possoni were unable to complete the climb due to deep snow on the unmade road to the summit. They did complete the ascent though by jumping aboard two snow-cats. “It’s a very impressive climb,” said Cunego, “you’ll need to have luck on your side because if you have to stop [because of the incline] it will be all over for you.” Lampre are planning to fit their riders’ bikes with a bottom gear of 34×29 for the climb and are hoping that will be enough for them to cope.
– Former Russian international footballer Valeri Karpin has emerged as the surprise backer of a new Spanish team that will take to the roads next season. Based in the north-west province of Galicia and backed by the region’s government, the team will be known as Karpin-Galicia, will have a budget of 3.7 million euros and will be managed by former Kelme and Phonak director Alvaro Pino. It will have the same continentail status as Kaiku, Comunitat Valenciana and Relax. Karpin, who owns a real estate business with Real Madrid footballer Michel Salgado, is hoping to put together a roster with Spanish and Russian riders and headed by Marcos Serrano, whose contract with Liberty Seguros ends this season.