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Latest Cycling News for September 16, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

Clear run for Heras

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros)
Photo ©: Unipublic
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After Thursday's final mountain stage in Avila, Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) is on the downhill run to winning an unprecedented fourth Vuelta a Espa˝a. Heras still has a commanding 4'30 lead over Denis Menchov (Rabobank), and with tomorrow's 39 km time trial between Guadalajara to Alcala de Henares the only real chance for Menchov to make up time, Heras should be safely in gold in Madrid.

"The team has been working together very well in the last mountain stage, and I did not have any problem to control the race," said Heras after stage 18. "There were attacks, but maybe [Stage 18] was easier for us. Still, three stages remain, but Madrid is closer every day, although we cannot relax. The stages that remain are already easier to control, and I will come to the time trial with a good cushion of time in my favour."

Liberty's team manager Manolo Saiz echoed Heras' words about Stage 18. "Today's stage was probably less difficult than that of yesterday. We let a breakaway go and the team has worked very well, and with a lot of discipline behind. No day is easy, but today our rivals probably paid a bit for the beating that they gave to themselves yesterday, because at this point of the race, it is difficult to recover a bit more. These two stages were the major obstacles that we still had, although there are still two more stages left, plus the time trial. Roberto continues to look very good to me, and he comes to the chrono with an advantage that will allow him to do it with more tranquility."

Biggest win for S°rensen

Nicki Sorensen (CSC)
Photo ©: AFP
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Team CSC's Nicki S°rensen took the biggest victory in his professional career by winning the tough 18th stage of the Vuelta a Espa˝a. S°rensen was part of a large breakaway group which crumbled in the finale. The Danish rider beat Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Comunidad Valenciana) in the uphill sprint in Carlos Sastre's hometown of Avila.

"It's fantastic to win such a big stage," a happy Nicki S°rensen was quoted on the Team CSC website. "I've felt great for quite a while now; it's huge to be able to claim a victory like this. It's without a doubt the biggest win in my career up till now. The final was very tactical, at one point I thought it was going to be a bit tricky. But luckily I had some strength left, and when we started the sprint with 250 meters to go I knew I was going to win."

"Nicki has won a beautiful and very prestigious stage and he has every reason to be proud of himself," said sports director Kim Andersen. "Steadily he has improved his form during this race and it's really something to be able to ride this fast in the third and last week of the Vuelta. Right now Carlos Sastre is almost certain of his spot on the final podium, and winning a stage on top of this is just icing on the cake for the whole team."

Schumacher: "I'm not guilty of anything"

By Susan Westemeyer

Stefan Schumacher, the Team Shimano rider acquitted of doping charges this week, has said, "I'm not guilty of anything...justice has prevailed, even if that sounds corny. Nevertheless, the whole thing turned out to be the equivalent of a six-month ban for me."

In a recent interview, he explained his future plans. "I will ride a few small races in Belgium, but of course I'll have no chance of winning them. My condition is terrible. I've trained everyday but haven't raced since June." Looking further into the future, he says the chances are good that he will be with a Pro Tour team next year. News on the street is that the German rider will sign with Gerolsteiner for next season.

Schumacher describes what his summer has been like. "At first it was a shock, it was like a bad joke. My job was at stake. But worst of all were the everyday effects. My case was mentioned a few times in the newspaper and at home in NŘritgen; people looked at me differently. A lot of people mentioned it to me and I'm sure a lot of them thought there must be something to it, because everyone hears so much about doping in cycling. I felt as if I was branded. Now I'm happy because of the acquittal but it leaves a bitter aftertaste; I'm not guilty of anything. As of now, I'm just looking to the future."

Schumacher had tested positive for the doping substance cathine (norpseudoephedrine) in the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt earlier this year. The German Cycling Federation BDR dropped the charges this week, saying that the rider had asked several sports federations if the medication against his pollen allergy was permitted.

Gerolsteiner signs another two for 2006

Colombian Leonardo Duque and German David Kopp (Team Wiesenhof) have been signed by Gerolsteiner for 2006. 25-year-old Duque, who rode as a stagiaire for Chocolade Jacques last season, won two stages in this year's Tour de l'Ain while Kopp, who only moved to Wiesenhof at the end of 2004, has recorded four victories so far in 2005.

Labbe to Bouygues

Cyclo-cross specialist Arnaud Labbe will leave Auber 93 for Bouygues Telecom next season, according to French website Cyclismag.com. Although he has yet to sign on the dotted line, Labbe already has his bikes and other gear ordered. Labbe is the third Auber rider to leave for a french ProTour team. Julien Mazet and John Nilsson are also expected to leave, and they will likely be replaced by neo-pros.

Kroon makes Dutch World's team

The Dutch men's squad for the World Championships has been finalised, with Rabobank's Karsten Kroon taking the last spot. The full team is: Leon van Bon and Koos Moerenhout (Davitamon-Lotto), Max van Heeswijk (Discovery Channel), Michael Boogerd, Thomas Dekker, Joost Posthuma, Karsten Kroon, and Pieter Weening (Rabobank), and Bram Tankink (Quick.Step). Thomas Dekker and Joost Posthuma will ride the time trial on September 22.

Cunego does the double on the weekend

Lampre-Caffita will race in this weekend's Italian double header (both 1.1 category races) with Damiano Cunego as captain. "We will try to make the race hard: also if these two races are not very selective, we will work for Damiano, who is preparing for the next G.P of Zurich at the beginning of October," said DS Giuseppe Martinelli.

In Saturday's G.P. CittÓ di Misano, Cunego will be joined by Matteo Bono (stagiaire), Salvatore Commesso, Paolo Fornaciari, Samuele Marzoli, Eddy Mazzoleni, Alessandro Spezialetti and Andrea Tonti. Giuseppe Martinelli will direct the team.

In Sunday's G.P. di Prato, the line up will be Damiano Cunego, Matteo Bono (stagiaire), Salvatore Commesso, Paolo Fornaciari, Francesco Gavazzi (stagiaire), Eddy Mazzoleni, Morris Possoni (stagiaire), and Andrea Tonti. Guido Bontempi will direct the team.

Interstate rivalry strong in Goulburn to Sydney

An elite team of Victorians, fresh from racing in Europe and America are heading to Sydney, Australia, in a bid to steal line honours in New South Wales' oldest and greatest race, the 170 kilometre, 2005 Goulburn to Sydney Cycle Classic to be held on Sunday, September 25.

Professional cyclist, David McKenzie will lead fellow Victorians, Andrew Naylor, Aaron Salisbury and Richard England in a traditional grudge race against NSW riders which dates back to 1903, when D. Cupples beat Ossie Brook, a Goulburn 17 year-old for fastest time. Since then Victoria has regularly invaded the race with champions including the great Sir Hubert Opperman and 'Fatty' Lamb in the 1920s, Ernie Millikin in the 1930s and in more recent times, Ric Patterson the 1986 winner, and Tom Leaper in 1999.

NSW riders, including triple world champion, current Olympic Champion and World Record holder, Stephen Wooldridge, who has just returned from Germany, Richard Moffatt, Trent Wilson, Russell Van Hout, Tom Brook, and Ben Brooks, who have returned from Europe and America, will join other locals Peter Hatton (under 23 national champion) and former Australian national champion Eddie Salas to defend the state's honour.

McKenzie has described the timing of the 170km Goulburn to Sydney cycle race as "perfect" for preparations for Victoria's Herald Sun Tour. "When I was younger, I followed the Goulburn to Sydney race and it always was and remains a prestigious event, one I'd compare to races I've ridden in Europe," said McKenzie.

In a polite dig at those "north of the border", McKenzie claims some of the road surfaces in New south Wales to be "dead and slow" and his training has had to be tailored accordingly. David and his team will be flown up from Victoria by HLP group's corporate helicopter in the belief that they will be in better condition than their rival starters on race day September 25th.

"The start list comprises a crackerjack field," said McKenzie, a winner of a stage in the 2000 Giro d'Italia. There will be no love lost as he lines up next to his former teammates Trent Wilson and Ben Brooks, both NSW riders.

In response to the Victorian's comments Trent Wilson said, "We're going to drop 'Macca' (David McKenzie) on Razorback. If he's in the finish with us, where in trouble."

Racing starts in Goulburn at 8:30am and will travel through Mittagong and Picton, reaching the Razorback Range around 11:30 am, and is due to finish in Camden's main street at 12:15 pm where an all day festival is planned.

2005 Verge Mid-Atlantic Cyclocross Series to feature six UCI-sanctioned races

Following a stellar 2004 campaign that saw top-level racing amongst National Champions of cyclocross, mountain biking and road racing, and racers from the USA and Canada and England, the Verge Mid-Atlantic Cyclocross Series kicks off its 2005 campaign on October 9 in scenic Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The eight-race program features six UCI - sanctioned races, two of which are ranked UCI C1, and also includes two double-header UCI weekends.

The official online registration service of the Verge Mid-Atlantic Cyclocross Series is BikeReg.com. For more information, see www.monkeyhillcs.com/mac/mac2005/

2005 Verge Mid-Atlantic Cyclocross Series Schedule:

October 9 - Evo Cross Wrightstown, Bucks County, PA;
October 16 - Beacon Cyclocross (UCI C2) Bridgeton, NJ

International Double-Header Weekend #1

October 22 - Wooden Wheels Cyclocross (UCI C1) Granogue (Wilmington), DE
October 23 - Wissahickon Cross (UCI C2) Ludwig's Corner Horse Show & Country Fair, Glenmoore PA

International Double-Header Weekend #2

November 5 - Westra/Lower Allen Classic (UCI C2) Camp Hill, PA;
November 6 - Highland Park Cyclocross (UCI C1) Highland Park, NJ
November 27 - Capital 'Cross Classic (UCI C2) Reston, VA
December 4 - Fair Hill Park Cyclocross Fair Hill, MD

Velo Bella announces elite 'cross team

US women's team Velo Bella has announced its lineup as the first all-female cycling team to compete on the US national cyclo-cross circuit. All six of last year's riders have returned to the team, including two 2005 US National Cyclocross Team members, Sarah Kerlin and Barb Howe; the 2005 NCAA National Cyclocross Champion, Melodie Metzger; and 2003 US National Cyclocross Team member Christine Vardaros with veteran Bellas Erin Kassoy and Sami Fournier adding experience. New to the team is Ann Fitzsimmons.

"We're honoured to have Ann on the team," explained team founder, Sabine Dukes, "She entered her first cyclocross race two years ago as part of a Dirty Dozen contest we held to encourage beginners. To see her racing on the elite level now is extremely rewarding."

In 2005, Velo Bella's elite cyclocross team will focus on the US Gran Prix of Cyclocross Series and the National Championships. Velo Bella's calendar includes over 30 local races, UCI events, and regional championships. The team plans to win North American UCI events, place in the top three at Nationals, and send at least two riders to the World Championships.

The team will race on custom designed blue or pink Rock Lobster cyclocross bikes with pink Chris King headsets. A portion of the proceeds from the sales of the headset will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Other sponsors include Easton, Crank Brothers, Fizik, Limar, Wipperman, IRD, Good Vibrations, Mr Grumpy's, and the never grumpy Sheila Moon. The team is actively searching for a title sponsor, as currently the riders are funding their own racing. "We had to scramble last year to help send our two riders to Worlds", said Sabine, "Fortunately our cyclocross community came through to help the team."

In addition to national racing, the elite team will be joined by dozens of amateur racers who will compete in local races throughout Northern California, Minnesota, Mid Atlantic, North Carolina, Michigan, Tennessee, Connecticut, Georgia and other events across the country. Velo Bella is also promoting the Surf City Cyclocross Series and the 5th stop of the US Gran Prix of Cyclocross, as a fundraiser for the team and as an excuse to try its hand at the limbo.

Team roster

Christine "Peanut" Vardaros (Mill Valley, CA)
Sarah "Bella Loca" Kerlin (Santa Cruz, CA)
Barbara "Barbarella" Howe (Marin, CA)
Erin "Biscuit" Kassoy (Palo Alto, CA)
Melodie "Sweet Pea" Metzger (Berkeley, CA)
Sami "The Flash" Fournier (Washington, D.C.)
Ann "Needs a nickname" Fitzsimmons (Morgan Hill, CA)

Team website: www.velobella.org

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