The Clasika San Sebastian could well be seen as a show down between the
great Italian one day racers. This Spaghetti Western has a list of stars,
plots and sub plots which Sergio Leone would have been proud of, although it
is not “for a fistful of dollars” that the Italian riders are gathering
in San Sebastian, but rather the honour of winning the txapela, the chance
to make a point regarding Olympic Gold, not to mention the honour and
prestigue of winning the final World Cup.
It is a case of “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (though the reader can
decide which rider fits which description). Davide Rebellin and Danilo Di
Luca arrive at the race determined to show the Italian Olympic Selectors
wrong, meanwhile the elected sheriff of the Italian Olympic Posse, Paolo
Bettini, rides into town with his latest scalp, a victory in the GP Cittá di
Camaiore which he won on Wednesday. (To read Fabio’s outstanding race report and
post race interviews click
Davide Rebellin did not start that race. Talking to DiarioVasco, Bettini
said, "Rebellin decided not to start in Camaiore so he would have fresher
legs in San Sebastián and maybe win the race. Make no mistake, I am looking
to win the race again. I go to San Sebastián to win and also want to repeat
my World Cup victory of last year."
The Quickstep rider also has a love of hats - "The cap (txapela) that they
gave me last year when I won. I want another."
Having ridden the Tour de France, and indeed, was Polka Dot KOM until he
passed it over to team mate Richard Virenque, Bettini will be not only
riding for Olympic Gold , but also to win the World Cup.
"After the Tour I have trained only lightly, so I could make a full
recovery. Although I did not win in Hamburg, I thought I rode a complete
race. I attacked, I escaped, I disputed the sprint. The reward was in Camaiore. I believe that I will be the same Bettini
that you saw last year in this race and August."
Bettini - Do you know I look taller in this hat?
Courtesy El Mundo Deporte.
Cricket” is well aware that this is a key moment in the
season - "If I win in San Sebastián or get a top three place then I am still
on course for a World Cup Victory. Even so, if Rebellin is ahead of me then it
might be too difficult in later races to recover the points though Zurich could
also be a key event."
Bettini is also well aware of local “gunslingers” who are looking hot on the
draw; Igor Astarloa is the local bookies' favourite: "Igor is riding very
well, and he has home advantage. Freire cannot be discounted. The strongest
one of all seems to be Astarloa. Rebellin will be with the best. Ivan
Basso can be dangerous on a climb like the Jaizkibel."
As with any spaghetti western, there must be a man who is basically a mystery.
Enter stage right, Alejandro Valverde, It would appear that he can sprint, time trial, climb and read a race. Yet has rarely ridden outside Spain, or
against real opposition. As Bettini notes, "I hardly know him, but his
results are impressive. Valverde is going to be dangerous."
No prizes for guessing the bad guy. Or is he the good guy?
Enter stage left; Pippo Simeoni who leads a Donima Vacanze team that also
includes Michele Scarponi U.S Postal include Azevedo, Hincapie, and
Rubiera. Both teams would dearly love to be in the final shoot out.
Shoot out - Rebellin's team is looking very determined this
Photo courtesy A Fistful of
In spite of the fact that Lance Armstrong’s career is embraced by San
Sebastian, the Lone Ranger of Texas will not be riding in our Spaghetti
Armstrong won the event in 1995, but probably a more legendary feat is his
last place on his debut in the pro scene in San Sebastian in 1992. Why
legendary? Because the next week he was second in Zurich. Awesome riding by
Still, Armstrong has not yet quite ridden into the sunset. As Frantisek
Bouc reports for the Prague Post, Armstrong continues to ride his own trail.
And shame on the “Fans” who should endanger perhaps the greatest outlaw of
our times - Lance Armstrong.
Legend Tours Kids' Clinic - Lance Armstrong, here for race, drops by oncology
By Frantisek Bouc
The Prague Post
(August 5, 2004)
He came, he saw, and he lost. Still, he became a hero to many people in the
U.S. cycling legend Lance Armstrong arrived in the city July 29, just four
days after capturing a record sixth consecutive triumph in the world's most
prestigious cycling race, the Tour de France. He took part in an exhibition
race on Wenceslas Square July 30.
Competing against 50 top cyclists, Armstrong circled the course 100 times in
an 80-kilometer (49.7 miles) race watched by tens of thousands of fans,
including celebrities and President Vaclav Klaus. Armstrong finished fifth.
"I was still quite tired after the Tour de France and also the ride on the
cobblestones was demanding," he said moments after the race.
The race was not the most important thing about Armstrong's two-day visit to
Prague, however. The event's organizers, the Triatlon Praha club, said even
though Armstrong was paid some 3.5 million Kc ($134,600) in appearance
money, perhaps his biggest incentive was an invitation to visit the
children's oncology clinic at Prague's Motol hospital. As a cancer survivor
himself, Armstrong welcomed the opportunity to continue in his mission of
providing hope to cancer patients worldwide.
"We contacted Armstrong's U.S. Postal team last winter and we had to wait
for about two months before we actually received a reply from the team,"
Triatlon Praha director Jaroslav Vasicek said. "One of the most convincing
arguments to accept the invitation was an opportunity to visit the pediatric
oncology unit at Motol hospital where the kids read Lance's biography."
Armstrong, who survived a bout with testicular cancer that sidetracked his
cycling career from 1996 to 1998, said he felt committed to visiting the
children. "It's still hard for me to go to a hospital," he said. "I still
have fresh memories of my time in hospital and I understand what the
patients and families are going through. As a cancer survivor, I think it's
my obligation to share my story and to hopefully provide some hope for young
patients, for family members, for nurses and doctors."
Motol director Miloslav Ludvik said Armstrong is a tremendous icon for
children being treated at the oncology unit. "He is a great inspiration for
the kids and proof that it is possible to beat the illness," Ludvik said.
Indeed, Armstrong became a hero for the young patients. The children
welcomed him to their "Indian camp" and gave the cyclist the Indian name
Armstrong is the second athlete to receive an Indian name from the children
at the hospital. Czech soccer star Karel Poborsky received the name Kicking
Deer after visiting the patients last fall.
His visit to the hospital was among the few items on Armstrong's Prague
agenda that remained unchanged.
Triatlon Praha's Vasicek said Armstrong's appearance in Prague was
jeopardized after there was an incident with drunk fans in Holland who
hurled stones at Armstrong's car July 28.
"U.S. Postal [team officials] contacted us several times ... in order to
make sure there was not a similar danger in Prague," Vasicek said.
In Prague, four bodyguards escorted Armstrong and his girlfriend, singer
Sheryl Crow, wherever they went. This time, it was the cyclist who made
unexpected changes. First Armstrong failed to attend a dinner with U.S.
Ambassador William Cabaniss after landing in Prague, citing fatigue. Later,
Armstrong relocated from a luxurious villa in the upscale Barrandov
neighborhood to the Four Seasons hotel in the city center. He and Crow then
took a spontaneous night stroll through the city.
"My first impressions were great," Armstrong said. "Prague has a worldwide
reputation of a beatiful place; we've got confirmation of that."
On the morning of the race, Armstrong arrived at Motol hospital some 30
minutes late. Not wanting to shorten his stay with the children, he did not
spend much time with reporters.
When asked about his career plans, Armstrong, 32, said he was aware that the
end of his cycling career was coming. He added that he maybe has one more
Tour de France victory in him.
"Obviously, my time is limited. I suspect maybe one more Tour de France
victory could come if things go well," Armstrong said.
Armstrong also told reporters that this year's win in Paris looked easier
than before. "My performance was better than last year and my main rivals
were not as strong as last year," he said.
During discussions with the young cancer patients, Armstrong was asked
whether it was more difficult to win the Tour de France or to beat cancer.
Beating cancer was more difficult, he told them.
"The Tour de France is not an easy race to win, but once you defeat cancer,
everything goes much easier afterward," Armstrong explained.
As with most cyclists, podofdonny is a keen hat
Photo courtesy Southern California
Professional Model Management.