October 29, 2004
CSC signs 6 riders, Jaksche to Liberty Seguros
VeloNews | Vande Velde, Zabriskie to CSC Team CSC announced its 2005 squad, and Bobby Julich, fresh from his bronze in the Athens time trial, is still in the saddle, while Americans Dave Zabriskie (ex-US Postal) and Christian Vande Velde (ex-Liberty Seguros) join Bjarne Riis' squad, whose Tour GC threat remains Ivan Basso. Germany's Jorg Jaksche returns to DS Manolo Saiz, for whom he rode from 2001-2003. He'll ride for Saiz' Liberty Seguros squad next season.
Team CSC in 2005: Ivan Basso, Michele Bartoli, Fabrizio Guidi, Giovanni Lombardi and Andrea Peron (I); Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor); Lars Bak, Michael Blaudzun, Matti Breschel, Thomes Eriksen, Lars Michaelsen, Jakob Piil, Nicki Soerensen and Brian Vandborg (Den); Handbook Calvente and Carlos Sastre (Sp); Vladimir Goussev (Rus); Tristan Hoffmann (Ned); Peter Luttenberger (A), Andy and Frank Schleck (Lux); Jens Voigt (G); and Bobby Julich, Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie (USA).
Cipo unretires ... again
On second thought, says Super Mario, I don't like golf and I wouldn't get nearly the attention I get riding, so I'll be back next year.
Cipollini signed with Italy's Liquigas Sport, where he'll join TDFBlog favorite Magnus Backstedt, Stefano Garzelli, and Danilo Di Luca.
The 37-year old, who holds the record for the most number of Giro d'Italia stage wins with 42, retired two years ago before making a comeback.
Cipollini has also won 12 stages of the Tour, but has been plagued by injury over the past year.
"[I will ride] with the enthusiasm as if it were my first season," said the rider also known as "Super Mario".
October 28, 2004
2005 Tour route unveiled; Armstrong "50-50" to race
Jean-Marie LeBlanc introduced the 2005 Tour this morning in Paris. It's a route that limits the individual time trials and mountaintop finishes where 6-time winner Lance Armstrong has traditionally earned (and padded) his race lead.
Instead of a prologue, the '05 Tour kicks off with a 19km indivividual time trial on the Atlantic coast, then heads east, briefly visiting Germany. The second time trial is Stage 20, in Saint-Etienne. The team time trial survives (no word on whether the time gap rules also survive) and will be Stage 4.
Johan Bruyneel was on hand, and cyclingnews.com asked whether the 6-time winner would likely race the '05 Tour, and how the course matched up with his strengths.
"...the possibility that Lance (Armstrong) will ride the Tour (de France) is still 50/50. It's a good course for Lance but there has been a lot of pressure on him over the past six years," he said.
"It's not necessarily how difficult the course is, but how motivated he is."
Only three stages end on a mountaintop, but riders will ride through the Vosges, the Alps, the Pyrenees, and the Massif Central.
Despite a tough stage to Courchevel, in which the peloton will tackle the Cornet de Roselend climb that ended Miguel Indurain's reign in 1996, the Alps stages look less gruelling with two valley finishes, in Briancon and Digne.
The Briancon stage will, however, include the famous Galibier and Madeleines passes.
The Pyrenees look set to be more decisive with two finishes at high altitude in Ax Trois Domaines and a gruesome 17th stage to Le Pla d'Adet.
BBC Sport also claims Armstrong's decision to ride or not isn't expected until February or March.
Germany's former Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich, who finished off the podium for the first time in his career in July, stayed away from the presentation.
And Bruyneel admitted that even if Armstrong stuns the world of cycling by shunning the event, they have another ace up their sleeve in the shape of Portuguese talent Jose Azevedo, who finished in fifth place this year after helping Armstrong to his sixth victory ... "If Lance decides not to do it, we'll have to centre things around Azevedo. I think that someone who finishes the Tour in fifth place could hope to go further."
The VeloNews page includes the individual climbs and their difficulty on each stage.
Leipheimer diary addresses team change
Levi Leipheimer signed with Gerolsteiner, where he says he and Georg Totschnig will be the team's Tour de France GC threats.
I haven't picked a racing schedule for next year yet but the goal still remains the Tour de France. I have done it twice now and finished in the top ten twice. This is my stepping stone for an improvement next year and beyond. I won't be satisfied with the same result. I want to be at least in the top 5 and go for a stage win. I am feeling more confident now and I feel comfortable in my place in the peloton.
October 27, 2004
2005 Tour route to be announced Thursday
BBC Sport reports that the 2005 route will have only one time trial and 3 mountain finishes,
...as opposed to the customary two trials and four to six high-altitude finales.
There is expected to be a longer prologue than usual on 2 July but the only time trial is set to take place in St Etienne on the penultimate day.
BBC Sport goes on to say that Armstrong "will be seeking to win his seventh title in Paris next year," but I haven't seen anything to confirm this.
Armstrong throws a few grenades at the Italians in this CyclingNews interview, but doesn't really comment on his schedule for 2005.