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Juan Miguel Mercado is reported in the French press to be on the verge of signing a two-year deal with the French continental team Agritubel. The Spanish climber is leaving Quick Step after two relatively disappointing seasons. CSC’s Manuel Calvente is also reported to be heading to Agritubel, who are aiming to get a ProTour place in 2007.
– Former world time trial champion Santiago Botero will be not taking part in next week’s Madrid championships. “I tested myself in the time trial at the Vuelta and realised I wasn’t going well,” the Colombian told reporters in Spain. His place in the time trial goes to Saunier Duval’s Juan Carlos Lopez, with Victor Hugo Pe¤a taking the other slot. This pair are joined by Mauricio Ardila, Leonardo Duque and Luis Felipe Laverde in the road race.
– The Tour de France’s most aggressive rider, Oscar Pereiro, has signed a two-year deal with Illes Balears-Caisse d’Epargne after being given permission by his Phonak team to consider other offers. Pereiro also received offers from T-Mobile and Quick Step, but opted to return to Spain after riding for the Swiss Phonak team and, before that, the Portuguese Ravessa outfit.
– After tasting victory for the first time in MrBookmaker.com colours yesterday in the GP Zwevegem ahead of Britain’s Hamish Haynes, Frank Vandenbroucke revealed that he is hoping to ride in some of the sport’s biggest events next season, including Paris-Nice and even the Tour de France. Although admitting he is happy with his current team, Vandenbroucke told the Belgian press he wanted to ride at the top level again and was listening to a number of offers, although “certainly not from any of the current Belgian ProTour teams”.