Tour say no to Quebec, Baqué call an end to pro team, Nuettli fails with Hour bid, Phonak agree cont
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE The Tour de France has confirmed that the 2008 race will not start in the French Canadian city of Quebec, which will be celebrating its 400th anniversary that year. Not too surprisingly, the decision to turn down Quebec’s application to host the Tour’s start has been taken because of the numerous logistical problems involved, notably time differences that could lead to riders having physical difficulties as a result of jet lag. Next year’s race starts in the Vende, and it is expected that Strasbourg will host the start of the 2006 Tour. London remains in pole position to host the start of the following year’s edition. – The Cafs Baqu pro team is folding after three years of competition at the top level. Backed by a Basque Country-based coffee company, the team’s management are blaming lack of interested co-sponsors for the decision. Cafs Baqu, who have been involved in sponsorship of cycling teams for almost three decades, have said they are likely to continue their link with the sport, but at a lower level. Erkaitz Elkoroiribe, head of the coffee company located in the Basque town of Durango, told El Diario Vasco that “it would be economic madness for us to continue. We were going to be investing 1.2m euros and were looking for someone else to put in 600,000, but we haven’t found anyone. I have spoken with about 30 firms since the end of the Tour of Spain, but nothing has turned up.” Seven new professionals will be given the option of staying with the team and competing at what is likely to be national or continental level. The remainder of the roster, including two-time Vuelta King of the Mountains Felix Cardenas are being released from their contracts. The Colombian is likely to take up one of a number of offers he has had from Italian teams. Baqu, who were close to signing a co-sponsorship deal with Paternina, have indicated they might return in 2006. – Swiss rider Jean Nuettli has failed with a bid to break Chris Boardman’s world hour record. The 30-year-old Volksbank rider covered 46.642km on Vienna’s Dusika velodrome on Tuesday, well short of the Briton’s mark of 49.411km. During an attempt on the record at Bordeaux in 2002, Nuettli covered 47.093km. “I felt like I lacked a little something near the end,” said Nuettli after his latest attempt. “After a dozen or so minutes I realised that I would not beat Boardman’s record, but I will be making another attempt on it.” – Phonak directeur sportif Alvaro Pino has told Marca that all of the riders on the Swiss team’s roster have agreed to have their contracts terminated at the end of next season following discussions last week with company boss Andy Rihs. “All of the riders who had signed two-year deals have been offered the opportunity to reduce that deal to one year, and all of them have accepted, an act for which we must offer our thanks in return for their cooperation and desire to take the team forwards,” said Pino. Pino also revealed that none of the team’s star riders, including Santiago Botero, Floyd Landis, Robert Hunter and Miguel Angel Perdiguero, had asked to be released from their contracts. Phonak, who failed in an attempt to get into the ProTour, have already contacted the organisers of the major tours to assess their chances of wild card selection for those events. – Lance Armstrong is taking his former personal assistant, Mike Anderson, to court in order to annul an alleged agreement between the two men. Anderson has offered an email message sent to him by Armstrong in 2002 setting proposed terms of employment as proof of there being an agreement between the pair of them that served as a contract. According to Armstrong’s legal team, this agreement could be broken at any moment. Anderson was fired in November and is suing Armstrong for half a million dollars and a yellow jersey signed by the six-times Tour de France winner. – Anyone wanting more information on world number one and procycling’s man of the year Damiano Cunego can now find it on the Italian’s new website. Cunego fans should go to www.damianocunego.it – Italian rider Denis Lunghi, who spent this season with the Alessio-Bianchi team, has retired at the age of 28 because of persistent problems with injury. Lunghi’s best moment as a pro came when he won a stage of the 2002 Giro d’Italia.