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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for April 26, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Liberation, confirmation and realisation

Davide Rebellin's incredible triple

Three wins, count 'em
Photo ©: Elmar Krings

"Liberation, confirmation and realisation" were the words Davide Rebellin used to sum up his three big victories this week. First there was the Amstel Gold Race, then Flèche Wallonne, and now Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Only a handful of riders have won the Fleche/Liège double, and no-one has ever won all three in the same year. Cyclingnews' Chief Online Editor Jeff Jones was there to witness each victory, and reports from Liège about Rebellin's amazing week.

"In fact it was incredible, unbelievable. Three races that I have dreamed of since I was a child. Three races that up until now I had only finished with podium places. I came again to the north to try and finally win one. Now I've won all three in a week. It's completely incredible!"

Those were the first words that the 32 year old Gerolsteiner captain Davide Rebellin used to describe his unprecedented successes this week, brought about through a combination of a powerful sprint and perhaps even more importantly, an ability to read the race better than anyone else.

"I consider my first victory in Amstel a liberation after two years of misery and health problems. The second win in Flèche Wallonne was the confirmation that the first success was no fluke. And today was really the realisation that I can win all these races, to finish in front with the best in the right break."

Rebellin again benefited from a 'scripted' race, where a breakaway containing one of his teammates reached a 10 minute lead in the opening half of the race, forcing the other teams on the defensive to lead the chase on the return run to Liège. From then on it became a selection race, and Rebellin was there on the Cote de St Nicolas with 6 km to go when Boogerd and Vinokourov attacked. "It went as perfectly as I could have wanted," Rebellin described the race. "A good speed, and a non-threatening break, with riders who weren't too dangerous for the win. In short, I could spare my strength for the finale."

Click here for the full interview

Boogerd has mixed feelings

Mixed feelings
Photo ©: Gunnar Mjaugedal

Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) took his 10th World Cup placing in Sunday's Liege-Bastogne-Liege, being beaten for the second time in eight days by an incredible Davide Rebellin. Boogerd has only one World Cup victory to his name: the Amstel Gold Race in 1999, but has finished three times 2nd and one time 3rd in that race, as well as 2nd and 3rd in the Giro di Lombardia, and twice 2nd and once 3rd in Liege-Bastogne-Liege. His spring campaign now over, Boogerd said that he had "mixed feelings" about it.

"Cycling is really a complicated sport. It's not like swimming or skating, where normally the fastest wins," wrote Boogerd in his column in De Telegraaf. "Here there are other things that can influence your performances enormously. The fact that I punctured both wheels with 21 km to go was of course not ideal. I stood still, had to come back to the group, start at the back of the first peloton on the climb of Sart-Tilman and not ride on my own bike. That makes it just a bit harder. Still I don't want to give any excuses.

"Rebellin has proved his exceptional class. If he was just half a percent weaker, than I would have won my dream race. I've never been so close. I think that now I have the form of my life. All the training is paying off with two nicely ridden races and two impressive second places. But the win unfortunately wasn't there."

Boogerd added that his wife Nerena is pregnant with a boy at the moment, and he has decided one thing after this week: "He will not be named Davide."

Giving it everything
Photo ©: Olympia Photo

In an additional interview with Het Nieuwsblad, Boogerd maintained that he did not make any mistakes in the finale yesterday. "No, just like I meant in the Amstel Gold Race. I rode the perfect race. Should I have left the chasing of Vinokourov up to Rebellin? Ach, we weren't far behind the Kazakh, I easily brought him back. I didn't lose La Doyenne there.

"On Saint-Nicolas and in Ans I played all or nothing. Each time Rebellin came back, although I felt that he would crack like an egg after that. I looked behind me a few times to see if there was a teammate in the next group. I didn't see any orange jerseys and didn't hear any information over the radio about Dekker. I didn't get the chance to gamble. Then I put everything on the last five hundred metres. To no avail again. Still I'm proud of myself that I rode such a finale again. I've shown that I'm in the right form, but the Italian is in the form of his life."

Daughter for Moerenhout

Koos Moerenhout (Lotto-Domo) did not race in Sunday's Liege-Bastogne-Liege, but had a good excuse. On Saturday he had to take his wife Edith to hospital, where she gave birth to a daughter, Lynn, on Sunday.

Liège-Bastogne-Liège coverage:

Full results & report
Live report

Frigo out of Giro with virus

Frank Vandenbroucke to take his place

Dario Frigo (Fassa Bortolo) will not take part in the next Giro d'Italia. Frigo has been suffering from a viral infection since Paris-Nice, which forced him to abandon that race. He has been unable to train properly since then and, together with the team management, decided not to start in the three week grand tour on May 8. Frigo's place will be taken by Belgian Frank Vandenbroucke, who has just finished a fairly heavy spring classics campaign.

Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme threatened with suspension

According to reports in the Spanish press, the Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme team has been threatened with suspension from competition by the UCI unless its main sponsor, the Valencian government, signs contracts for seven riders. The team has been competing since the start of the season, but Ángel Casero, David Muñoz, José Cuenca, José Martínez, Vicente Ballester, Adrián Bonilla and Agustín Alonso have yet to race.

This could jeopardize the team's participation in the Giro d'Italia, although even this has yet to be confirmed by the race organisers. The team management will travel to Milan on Wednesday to discuss the Jesus Manzano affair with the Giro organisers.

Simpson Desert classic 2004

The Simpson Desert in Australia will once again be the focus for the Simpson Desert Cycle Challenge (SDCC) between September 8-October 4. Now in its 15th year, the SDCC is experiencing a period of increased interest and organisers expect that at least a quarter of the 50 rider field will be made up of international entrants, including 10 riders from New Zealand.

The first entrant for the 2004 race was Heinz Von Holzen, a Swiss National who holds an Australian Passport but resides in Bali where he works as a Chef. "I don't think you can be any more international than that!" said race director Trent Taylor. "I don't think there has ever been a competitor more excited about the race than Heinz. He emails me every week to tell me how excited he is!"

The Simpson Desert Cycle Challenge is a 580 km mountain bike race from Purnie Bore in South Australia to Birdsville in outback Queensland. The race travels across the Simpson Desert via the rig road and sees athletes riding through hundreds of sand dunes, fluctuating temperatures and some of the most remote countryside in Australia.

The SDCC comprises nine stages over four and a half days. Competitors cover 80 km during morning sessions and an average of 50 km on each of the four afternoon sessions. The challenge of the SDCC is to maintain the minimum speed requirement of 12 km/h across the sand and corrugated tracks. "12 km/h an hour might not sound very fast but given that most sand dunes require riders to dismount their bikes and walk up the hills, it can be tough to maintain," said Taylor.

More information: Entries close August 31, 2004.

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