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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for March 8, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Jaksche steps up to the challenge

Jörg Jaksche (Team CSC)
Photo ©: CN

There was no doubt that Team CSC's Jörg Jaksche's winning ride in the opening time trial stage of Paris-Nice was the standout performance of the day. Starting as one of the final 10 riders, Jaksche clocked a time of 17'19 over the wet and technical 13.2 km parcours to finally knock Davide Rebellin from the top of the leaderboard. Neither world time trial champion David Millar nor defending Paris-Nice champion Alexandre Vinokourov could do better, and Jaksche finished the day with the yellow jersey of race leader on his shoulders.

The modest German has already one victory to his credit in 2004, the Tour Méditerranéen, where he and Team CSC time trialled to the summit of Mont Faron to win the final stage and the overall classification. Thus for Paris-Nice, Jaksche is certainly one of the favourites, although his team also boasts Michele Bartoli, Ivan Basso, Jens Voigt, Bobby Julich and Jakob Piil.

"Almost all of our riders can win Paris-Nice", said Jaksche post-stage, "so we're in a very convenient position."

Cyclingnews sat down with Jaksche for a pre-race interview on the eve of Paris-Nice, and found out a little bit more about this modest German rider who joined CSC after three years with ONCE.

"I'm a little shy, not very self-centred, and I just try to do my job as well as I can," Jaksche said when asked to describe his personality, on or off the bike. "I like to keep my feet on the ground and show my strength more through my riding.

"For me it's not a problem riding for other people. Of course I would like to win more, but I was never on small teams. I was always on teams with world class riders, not like on a small team where I could win a stage here or a small race there. I'm realistic and I know what [a team] will expect from me and what I should expect from the situation."

Of his past experience at ONCE, Jaksche described Manolo Saiz as a "dictator, but if you showed him total loyalty, he helped you...ONCE was very professional. Here [at CSC] it's absolutely professional, but with Manolo he did everything. The tactics... everything. If he said attack, you attacked, even if sometimes it wasn't the right moment. With Bjarne [the riders] have more self confidence and more responsibility to make their own decisions."

The Tour de France remains a focal point of Jaksche's season. Last year he finished 17th, including losing five minutes when he stopped when teammate Joseba Beloki crashed. Jaksche ruled out the podium but believes he will "be able to have some good results in the Tour. I can't say which results, whether it's 10th or 15th...It's difficult. I always say when I do the Tour that I just want to cross the Champs Elysées for the last time and say, 'Ok, I've done my best'."

Thinking ahead for this season, the classics period will be important for Jaksche. He will likely challenge in the Critérium International at the end of March before tackling Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, building up to the Tour de Romandie, another major goal. "I want to do really well at Romandie, then we'll see how it goes," he said.

To read the full interview with Jaksche, click here.

"Unexpected" result for Rebellin

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen

Despite being pushed out of the leading spot in the last 10 minutes by Jörg Jaksche, Gerolsteiner's Davide Rebellin said he was still satisfied with his second place in the first stage of Paris-Nice. "A satisfactory results, I didn't expect it," Rebellin told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "The fact that it wasn't a time trial for specialists favoured me, and there wasn't too much flat. The weather conditions added uncertainty: when I started the roads were drying out; afterwards it began to rain and then when the last riders set off the asphalt was drying up again."

Rebellin is still motivated for a podium finish in Paris-Nice, and is looking forward to the final few stages.

Good result for Dekker

Eirk Dekker (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen

A third place in the opening time trial of Paris-Nice was very satisfying for Erik Dekker (Rabobank), who is hoping for a good season after the last two years where nothing has gone right. Like the other favourites, Dekker had the bad luck to ride in the latter half of the day when the rain came down.

"I've been looking forward to this race enormously and I've prepared well on this parcours," Dekker told ANP. "A nice parcours, if it hadn't rained so hard of course. I had one difficult corner, where I maybe lost a second to Rebellin. But Jaksche had ridden in the same conditions as I."

About his chances at the overall victory, Dekker was optimistic. "This is a race that I can just do, the same as Tirreno [which he won in 2002]. I can't attack on the climbs but normally speaking I can hold on OK. It sits at the limit of what I can do."

VDB satisfied

Frank Vandenbroucke (Fassa Bortolo)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen

I feel good about my performance today," a happy Frank Vandenbroucke (Fassa Bortolo) told Het Nieuwsblad. He finished 11th, only 23 seconds behind a surprisingly strong Jaksche. Vandenbroucke started in the pouring rain, a thing Jaksche was slightly lucky with.

"You can't control everything. When you see all the big names - Botero, Hamilton, Rogers, Cancellara - I kept behind me in classification; riders who started in dry conditions, you can tell I rode a top time. The first six kilometres I was riding in the rain. It was very dangerous at times, but I took some risks anyway. It was a nice parcours, although it was hard to dose the efforts properly. I didn't know what to think after I finished - with so many big riders still having to take the start after me, on dry roads.

"To finish top ten was my goal, I finished 11th. It's not because you set yourself a goal before the start that this will effectively happen. I estimate that I lost 10 seconds because of the bad weather I had to ride in. Without this factor, I would have finished 5th or 6th, and then my plan would have worked out. I have always been a decent time trialist, but I have never won many chrono's. In 1998 I won the prologue in Suresnes, but those were my best years, I was riding on class alone. In the mean time I'm five or six years older.

"But I'm satisfied. I'm following my schedule perfectly. Never before have I worked harder than the way I did over the last few months. This is the proof that I didn't do it all for nothing. In this Paris-Nice I'm targeting a good general classification, but everything is there to support my form for April. I want to be in absolute top form for the Tour of Flanders. Here I get the chance to get the necessary competition rhythm among a fantastic field of competitors."

Boonen sick

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step-Davitamon)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen

Quick.Step-Davitamon's Tom Boonen is fighting off a bad cold at the start of Paris-Nice, which will affect his chances of a stage win. In the opening time trial he finished 106th, 1'11 behind the winner. "I'm as sick as a dog," Boonen told Het Nieuwsblad with a croaky voice. "Last week the runny nose started and since Saturday I've got a sore throat. But I'm not taking any medication as yet; it has been three days now. I will try to challenge the other sprinters if [Monday] finishes in a mass sprint."

Bad luck for Verbrugghe

Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto-Domo) suffered a puncture and finished fifth last in the time trial nearly two minutes behind Jörg Jaksche. "The world just collapses at a moment like that. I told myself "foert" (bugger this) and rode for ten kilometres in a small gear. The most important thing is that I don't have any more problems with my knee and back."

Verheyen's bizarre experience

Geert Verheyen (Chocolade Jacques) had a bizarre experience at the start of Paris-Nice according to Het Nieuwsblad. "I checked in with the commissaires at the start but suddenly got pushed aside by Xabier Zandio from the Illes Balears team. I pointed it out to the race commissaires but they acted indifferently. I decided to start there and then. Afterwards the Spanish rider seemed to be taking the mickey out of me on top of things!"

Isidro Nozal, the revelation from last year's Vuelta, was more relaxed. The clock had ticked away for nearly a minute before he found it was time to get going. The next rider out of the start gate, Dario Frigo (Fassa Bortolo), had to start almost immediately and wasn't even clipped into the pedals when he set off. Frigo quickly caught Nozal, and the pair spent the rest of the race dueling, eventually finishing within a few seconds of each other.

Cyclingnews Paris-Nice coverage

Stage 1 - Full results & report
Live blow-by-blow report

Scott Sunderland's stage 1 report
Stages & results
Start List
Photo gallery

Note: We will be providing live coverage of each stage, beginning at 15:30 CET/9:30 EDT/6:30 PST/01:30 AEST

Armstrong to ride Dauphiné Libéré

Lance Armstrong has decided that he will ride the 56th edition of the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, to be held between June 5-12. It will be the fifth time he has ridden the race, and the two time winner is attracted by the Dauphiné's mountain time trial, which will probably be on Mont Ventoux. The only time Armstrong has not competed in the Dauphiné in the last five years was in 2001, where he opted to do the Tour de Suisse, again because of its uphill time trial.

Credit Agricole injuries update

The Credit Agricole team reports that Christophe Moreau, who suffered a knee injury during training in January, is well on the way to recovery and is expected to start in the Classic Loire Atlantique on March 19. Sébastien Joly also intends to come back to competition in this race, having overcome some tendonitis problems.

Finally, Damien Nazon, who crashed in the Doha International GP, intends on starting Tirreno-Adriatico after a big bruise on his hand has healed up.

Drug bust in Trieste

Italian police in Trieste have uncovered a cache of illegal drugs in the hotel room of a 28 year old Hungarian amateur cyclist, according to an ANP report. 30 bottles of EPO and growth hormone were found in the search, and police say that the drugs were intended for riders competing in an upcoming amateur race in the Trieste area.

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