TOUR DE FRANCE TO VISIT BARCELONA in 2009

The mayor of Barcelona has revealed that the 2009 Tour de France will visit the Spanish city for a stage finish on July 8 and a stage start on July 9.

To the annoyance of race organisers, who like to keep the route under wraps until the official presentation in late October, mayor Pere Alcober confirmed that the Tour de France would visit Barcelona 44 years after its last visit.

The 2009 Tour de France will start in Monaco on Saturday July 4 with a 15km time trial. The Barcelona stage finish is set for the Wednesday after, suggesting that the Tour de France may visit the Pyrenees immediately after.

Book your low-cost flights for Barcelona and Girona now.

BIG NAMES LEAD BIG TEAMS AT MEN?S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

The leading cycling nations have announced their line-ups for the Elite men?s road race at the world championships, with the big names of the peloton set to lead their nations on the Varese course.

Reigning world champion Paolo Bettini will lead the Italian team, with support from Damiano Cunego, Luca Paolini and Davide Rebellin. Despite his aggressive ride in the Tour of Britain, Danilo Di Luca was not selected for the Italian team. The rest of the team includes hard working domestiques as Italy will be under pressure to control the race at home in Varese.

Tom Boonen leads the Belgian team as he tries to resurrect his image after failing an out of competition dope test for cocaine. If the race does not end in a sprint, Philippe Gilbert will be Belgium?s best hope along with Tour of Flanders winner Stijn Devolder.

Australia named their team on Wednesday and despite living close to the Varese circuit, Cadel Evans is not in the line-up. He hurt his knee in the Silence-Lotto team?s post-Tour de France party and hobbled through the Olympics before ending his season early.

Another local resident, Michael Rogers, will lead the Aussie team. He will be David Millar?s biggest rival in the time trial and share leadership in the road race with Stuart O?Grady and Robbie McEwen. Tour of Britain stage winner Matt Goss is part of the Aussie nine.

Team Columbia?s Linus Gerdemann will lead the German team along with Stefan Schumacher and Erik Zabel. Sylvain Chavanel and Tour of Britain winner Geoffroy Lequatre stand out in the French team, while Oscar Freire and Alejandro Valverde lead the Spanish team.

Frank and Andy Schleck will ride for Luxembourg but their CSC team-mate Fabian Cancellara has yet to confirm if he will ride for Switzerland in both the time trial and road events.

PETACCHI GETS INVITE TO PARIS-TOURS

Thanks to his three stage wins in the Tour of Britain, Alessandro Petacchi and his LPR team has been given a late invitation to ride the Paris-Tours classics on October 12.

Race organisers ASO had snubbed Petacchi even though he won Paris-Tours in 2007 but have changed their minds and given the Italian a ride.

Petacchi will now have a chance to take on Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Robbie McEwen (Silence), Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) and former lead-out man Erik Zabel (Milram) in the expected bunch finish in what is know as the sprinter?s classic.

Britain?s Mark Cavendish will ride the world championships in Varese but is not expected to extend his season to include the French race.

DUENAS AND BELTRAN TOUR DE FRANCE POSITIVES CONFIRMED

The Agence Francaise de Lutte Contre le Dopage (AFLD) has confirmed that the analysis of B samples taken during the Tour de France have confirmed that Spanish riders Moises Duenas and Triki Beltran tested positive for EPO.

Both riders now face disciplinary hearing in Spain and a two-year ban if found guilty of doping. Both riders are also under investigation by French police for doping offences.

The two tested positive early in this year?s Tour de France after the French lab secretly introduced a new test for the third generation form of EPO know as Cera. They were immediately sacked by their Barloworld and Liquigas teams.

RELATED LINKS

Britain names final six for Worlds road race

Wednesday’s British news round-up