Marco Pantani’s Mercatone-Uno team manager, Felice Gimondi, commented in an Italian newspaper this weekend that Pantani may switch to mountain bike racing in time for the next World Championships.
Although Pantani has a stunning record for crashing his cars, running over cats on his bike and only really coming good when he’s got a whole mountain to himself he evidently thinks mountain biking will be a breeze. Speculation that the promise of more bushes to hide behind for a quick ‘medicinal top up’ provoked this possible career change is obviously nothing to do with us and of course a terrible slander on the poor old ‘Pirate’. After all he’s only up for 3 seperate doping investigations at the moment.
In another completely unrelated development the UCI have announced that any rider testing over 47% haemocrit levels will be subjected to the new (as yet unproven) urine test for EPO, and testing will begin in time for the spring classics.
Meanwhile Jan Ullrich has returned from training in South Africa with a “blick” mark in his training log. Apparently tests show he’s down on “intensive power” and he’s delaying his season start to the Vuelta a Murcia (March 7-11) when Armstrong and Pantani will also be coming out to play for the first time.
Laurent Jalabert will unfortunately be watching all his racing from the couch for several weeks yet, but he’s reportedly recovering slowly and steadily now he’s at home. At least he’ll be able to ring all those handy “claims direct” numbers in the breaks between Richard and Judy.