BETTINI STIRS UP NEW TEAM RUMOURS

Paolo Bettini has confirmed that he will race for one last season in 2009 but has yet to confirm who he will ride for, sparking a series of rumours concerning the creation of new teams and the arrival of new sponsors.

Bettini looked set to stay with Quick Step but then fell out with team manager Patrick Lefevere when claimed he did no have any cash for Bettini and then promptly signed Stefan Schumacher.

Over the weekend there have been reports that Bettini may team up with Davide Rebellin and join a new team under construction in Monaco where both Italian riders are based. Former Gewiss professional Francesco Frattini is reported to be behind the project, with Canadian charity H20 and two American investors reportedly set to back the team.

The rumours of a team being created in Monaco have been circulating for several months and Bettini is apparently still waiting for financial guarantees but Frattini is expected to finally make an announcement during this week?s world championships.

According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Bettini is also considering an offer from an Italian sponsor to create a totally new team and Lampre team manager Giuseppe Saronni is also searching for a sponsor so he can sign the double world champion.

Bettini likely to decide his future this week or at the latest after the world championships.

VOIGT WINS TOUR OF POLAND

Jens Voigt (CSC) won the Tour of Poland, fighting through terrible weather conditions throughout the week of racing.

While other riders tried to survive in the cold rain and were wishing they were already on holiday, Voigt went on the attack on the key sixth stage in the mountain. He jumped away and blasted to the finish, taking the yellow jersey from early leader Allan Davis (Quick Step). Voigt?s team mate Lars Bak finished second at 1-22, with Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) third at 1-24.

Despite clearly being in form, Voigt announced that the Tour of Poland was his last race of the 208 season. He won the stage of the Giro d?Italia that finished on the Varese world championships circuit but will watch the road race on television.

VALVERDE SEALS PROTOUR SUCCESS

Nobody really noticed and few cared but Alejandro Valverde and his Caisse d?Epargne team won the ProTour competition at the weekend.

Valverde did not ride the Tour of Poland, the last race of the troubled series, but won with a total 123 points. Italy?s Damiano Cunego (Lampre) was second with 104 points and Andreas Kloden (Astana) was third with 96 points.

Caisse d?Epargne won the bragging rights as best ProTour team thanks to consistently good results during the season. The Spanish team beat Astana by just three points, with previous winners CSC third. Spain completed their domination of the ProTour by also taking the nations competition ahead of Germany and Italy.

PETACCHI WINS IN ITALY

Following his success in the Tour of Britain, Alessandro Petacchi won his first race in Italy since the end of his ban on Saturday, beating Mauro Richeze (CSF Group) and Enrico Rossi (NGC) at the Memorial Viviana Manservis race near Ferrara.

KHALILOV TAKES GP PRATO

Mikhaylo Khalilov (Flaminia-Bossini Docce) won the GP Prato in Tuscany on Sunday after an early break of 14 riders stayed away. Khalilov beat Marco Frapporti (CSF Group) and Volodymyr Zagorodny (NGC Medical).

BONNET WINS THE GP ISBERGUES

Frenchman William Bonnet (Credit Agricole) won the GP Isbergues in France, beating 21 year old Australian stagiaire Wesley Sulzberger (Francais des Jeux) and Chris-Anker Sorensen (CSC) in a close sprint. Sulzberger rode the Tour of Britain for the SouthAustralia.com team but his second place behind Bonnet secured him a full contract with Francais des Jeux.

ARNDT AND COLUMBIA DOMINATE IN TUSCANY

Women?s World Cup winner Judith Arndt and her Columbia team mates dominated the Giro della Toscana stage race, the final major women?s race before this week?s world championships.

Columbia won the opening team time trial, Marianne Vos (DSB Bank) then took control by winning stage two but Columbia then won the next four stages and Arndt sealed overall success when the final stage ended in Florence. Arndt finished 42 seconds ahead of Trixi Worrack (Nurnberger Versicherung) and 1-03 ahead of Vos.

Arndt will ride both the time trial and the road race at the Varese world championships. She is one of the big favourites for the road race where she will face Olympic champion Nicole Cooke. Cooke did not ride the Giro della Toscana, opting for a quieter build-up via the Tour de L’Ardèche in France.

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