Virenque to announce retirement?
Richard Virenque prepares to speak to the press, Nicolas Roche signs up with Cofidis, Honchar out of
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Seven times Tour de France King of the Mountains Richard Virenque has called a press conference in Paris on this coming Friday, when it is he will announce his retirement from the sport. The Frenchman, who will be 35 in November, does not have a deal sealed with his Quick Step team for next season, but has given indications in recent days that he feels that now is the best time to bow out of cycling. His team-mate and close friend Laurent Dufaux announced a similar decision just a couple of weeks ago. As Virenque apparently prepares to say goodbye after 14 years as a pro, another famous name is set to rejoin the pro ranks. Nicolas Roche, the 19-year-old son of 1987 Tour, Giro and Worlds winner Steven, has agreed a two-year deal with Cofidis after a successful spell with them as a stagiaire. The French team have also a announced a deal with Dutch veteran Jans Koerts. Roche is set to ride the world under-23 championship in Verona next month. One man who won’t be in Verona is Ukrainian time trial specialist Serhiy Honchar, whose De Nardi team have announced that he will miss the championships because of a knee injury picked up in a training crash two weeks ago. Still in Italy, the organisers of the Tour of Lombardy, the final World Cup race of the season have unveiled significant changes to this year’s route. For the first time in the race’s long history it will start in Switzerland at Mendrisio and finish 246 kilometres later in Como. In recent seasons Lombardy has started in Como and finished in Bergamo. Some of the route will be familiar to fans of the race, however. The famous Ghisallo climb features just 44 kilometres from the finish, while the San Fermo della Battaglia hill, which last featured when Bernard Hinault won Lombardy in 1984, is back on the route just six kilometres from the finish.