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Old 02-27-04, 09:01 AM   #1
Smoothie104
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Domina and Phonak Selected to ride TdF

Wild card selections have been made: Tyler and Mario are in.


Maybe Mario will finish? Maybe not! Who will win the sprint to the team car Pettachi or Cipollini?


The Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), organiser of the Tour de France, announced Friday afternoon seven teams selected as 'wildcards' for the 2004 Tour. Per new UCI regulations, all eight wildcards must be announced by March 1, rather than the previous selection of four teams in early spring and the remainder in May. The top 14 teams in the UCI rankings qualify automatically. This year only 21 teams will contest the Tour, one fewer than the customary 22.

Among the Tour contenders and team leaders waiting for selection, Tyler Hamilton and Oscar Sevilla (Phonak), Joseba Beloki (Brioches La Boulangère), Christophe Moreau (Crédit Agricole), and... Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze) have all received their ticket to the Grande Boucle.

Most notable, perhaps, is the decision this year to invite Cipollini's Domina Vacanze team. Even forgetting the great debate which surrounded the team's non-invitation to the centenary Tour in 2003, the fact that Domina Vacanze dropped to Division II this year offered little hope of a selection in what is almost certainly Cipollini's final year as a professional. The Tour de France has typically been reserved for Division I teams, but clearly Jean-Marie Leblanc and his colleagues have decided to tip their hat to Cipollini by inviting the team. This will be Cipo's first Tour since 1999.

Along the same lines, the Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme team will be forced to sit out the Tour this year, as it too was downgraded to Division II this season. Despite a strong start to the season, with several victories already in the bag for Alejandro Valverde, Kelme did not claim a place next to Domina Vacanze.

Not surprisingly, four of the seven wildcards chosen are French teams. Leblanc and the Tour have remained steadfast in their desire to see national teams well represented, and France, with six teams, will once more field the most teams.

While Ag2r, La Boulangère and Crédit Agricole were safe bets, the selection of the newly formed RAGT Semences-MG Rover team shows a bit more discretionary decision-making on the part of ASO. Formed from the remnants of Jean Delatour, RAGT is an ambitious but unproven entity, as most of its top riders left the team in the midst of the uncertainty of 2003.

Teams pre-selected:
Alessio-Bianchi
Cofidis
Team CSC
Euskaltel-Euskadi
FDJeux.com
Fassa Bortolo
Gerolsteiner
Illes Balears*Banesto
Liberty-Seguros
Quick.Step*Davitamon
Rabobank
Saeco
T-mobile Team
US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor

Wildcard selections:
Ag2r-Prévoyance
Brioches la Boulangère
Crédit Agricole
Domina Vacanze
Lotto-Domo
Phonak Hearing Systems
RAGT Semences-MG Rover

Breakdown by nation:

France - 6
Italy - 4
Spain - 3
Belgium - 2
Germany - 2
Switzerland - 1
Denmark - 1
Netherlands - 1
United States - 1
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Old 02-27-04, 10:19 AM   #2
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Wooop!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smoothie104
Maybe Mario will finish? Maybe not! Who will win the sprint to the team car Pettachi or Cipollini?
Are we going to make these jokes for the next 5 months?

I have my predictions about Peta and Cipo this year, but I can't say any of it out loud. I don't want to mess with the Lion King's juju. But it's going to be really tough race for the Green Jersey. And there are lots of other folks, just waiting to be the spoilers. (*cough* Baden! *cough*)

No real surprises, selection-wise. The only disappointment for me, is that Kelme won't be there. Would Valverde have ridden the Tour? Probably no, right?
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Old 02-27-04, 11:06 AM   #3
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Domina over Kelme? What????
What did Domina do different this year to earn a spot?
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Old 02-27-04, 11:20 AM   #4
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I don't think its a matter of what Domina has done this year that got them invited. I think the ASO and most fans feel that this is Cipo's last year. Love him or hate him you have to admit he has had a great career. I look at this as being his "victory lap". Except for his excessive ego I do not feel that Cipo has done a thing to hurt the sport unlike several other great riders.
Every year the TDF being "the race of the year" ends up screwing one team or another. This year its Kelme's turn. Last year it was Domina's.
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Old 02-27-04, 11:59 AM   #5
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I am very happy that Dom Vac got a place. So far this year they have been out racing and have had quite a lot of noticable presences in races. Cipo says he will hold out for the tour but it remains to be seen if he can manage it...
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Old 02-27-04, 12:22 PM   #6
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Kelme didn't get the invite due to some of their riders
waiting to get their UCI cards and money problems.

Gonna be an interesting tour thats for sure.

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Old 02-27-04, 02:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by georgesnatcher
I think the ASO and most fans feel that this is Cipo's last year. Love him or hate him you have to admit he has had a great career.
I thought he had a great career, and I thought it made more sense to invite him last year. And seeing that the team didn't deserve the invite last year, I don't see how they deserved it this year (after such a stellar team performance in 2002, not as much in 2003).
And Kelme has lit things up very well in the past... especially in the Tour.
Oh well
Maybe they would make a better selection, with the internal problems Kelme has had.
I was hoping for both Domina and Kelme though.
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Old 02-27-04, 03:24 PM   #8
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There have been some whispers that the 22nd spot will go to Kelme if they can get their act together here shortly. More on this as I find it out.
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Old 02-27-04, 03:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by girl27
Are we going to make these jokes for the next 5 months?
Do we have to talk about the TDF now? It's February! Het volk is tomorrow!
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Old 02-27-04, 03:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smoothie104
Maybe Mario will finish? Maybe not! Who will win the sprint to the team car Pettachi or Cipollini?

Bad form.
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Old 02-27-04, 04:39 PM   #11
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Maybe not such a big deal for Kelme this year as I don't
think they really had the guns for the Tour and the Vuelta. Let's hope Cipo makes it further than Pettachi did last year
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Old 02-27-04, 10:27 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laggard
Do we have to talk about the TDF now? It's February! Het volk is tomorrow!
You're right. I've got to focus.

The whole Petacchi/Cipo thing just gets me all riled up.
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Old 02-28-04, 05:25 AM   #13
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If we are discussing Phonak at this time of year, should we not be wondering whether or not Camenzind and Hamilton will clash at Liege?
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Old 02-28-04, 09:07 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laggard
Do we have to talk about the TDF now? It's February! Het volk is tomorrow!
Het Volk was cancelled due to snow.
You know what this means...
There is a good chance it will be colder this summer
Maybe it will snow again in Belgium in JULY, during the TDF! Aha!
1996 all over again.
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Old 03-03-04, 01:12 PM   #15
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Looks like Kelme is in if they can line up one more sponsor.

Leblanc told Marca "It was our intent to count on Kelme, a historic team that has always done well in the Tour, but we will wait until it fixes its administrative situation," Leblanc told Marca. "In any case, we have reserved a place for them." Kelme will require an additional sponsor, "which is going give it the necessary cash to expand its budget, because at the moment it's not sufficient to start in the Tour."
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