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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for March 15, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry

Jaksche takes another step

Jaksche's happy
Photo ©: AFP

Jörg Jaksche and Team CSC wrapped up a dominant performance at Paris-Nice Sunday as Jaksche took the overall classification and CSC took team honours, placing Bobby Julich and Jens Voigt in the top five of the general classification. Jaksche led from start to finish after winning the time trial last Sunday, but confessed to moments of uncertainty throughout the week.

"I was nervous every day just because I'm not used to being a leader," Jaksche said after the conclusion of stage 8 in Nice. "The last two stages were hard, but I was never really put in difficulty."

Jaksche was quick to credit his team, which even after losing three riders on the race's penultimate day kept him in position to counter any attacks from rivals like Frank Vandenbroucke (Fassa Bortolo) and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner).

"I have a really good team and they kept me out of trouble," Jaksche said Sunday. "[My lead] was only 15 seconds so we had to be really careful and always keep an eye on Rebellin. But we made it and I'm happy."

After victory at the Tour Méditerranéen in February, followed by his Paris-Nice success, Jaksche feels he has stepped up to a new level as a professional. After several seasons as a dedicated team worker for ONCE-Eroski, the German is pleased to have a new set of opportunities in which he can race for himself. Still, with CSC, Jaksche insists the question of leadership remains a collective decision.

"We have an open team, and if someone is in a better position, everyone will ride for him."

Team director Bjarne Riis still sees Jaksche in a supporting role for the Tour de France, but isn't afraid to look for a bigger result from his new recruit.

"In the Tour, Jaksche's role will be to help the team in the team time trial, and work in the mountains next to Basso and Sastre," Riis said. "We'll see how that goes. Leader? Why not if he continues to progress. Paris-Nice is a one week race... the Tour lasts three weeks."

Cyclingnews Paris-Nice coverage

Stage 8 - Full results & report
Live blow-by-blow report

Scott Sunderland's stage 8 report
Stages & results
Start List
Photo gallery

See also: Cyclingnews' pre-race interview with Jörg Jaksche

Vinokourov's next stop: San Remo

Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: AFP

Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile) capped off a successful Paris-Nice Sunday with his third stage win in four days, outsprinting breakaway companion Denis Menchov (Illes Balears-Banesto) on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. Vinokourov was knocked out of contention for the general classification as early as stage 2, but the T-Mobile leader, two-time defending champion at Paris-Nice, bounced back to fight for stage wins.

After "finding his legs" in the second half of the week, Vino is confident for the opening round of the World Cup, next Saturday's Milan-San Remo. Naturally Erik Zabel will rank among the team's leaders, having stamped his name on the San Remo palmarès in recent years. Nonetheless, Vinokourov's explosive, attacking riding style will no doubt come in handy for la primavera.

"With three stage wins in a big race like this, I can say that the form is there," Vinokourov commented after his win in Nice. "Things are looking good for Milan-San Remo.

"It'll all depend on how the race goes," he said, referring to his personal objectives for the race. "Either we'll prepare the sprint for Erik Zabel, or follow Bettini and the favourites on the Poggio."

Winner of the Amstel Gold Race in 2003, Vinokourov has shown that he is just at home in the major classics as he is the stage races. Rendez-vous Saturday in Italy...

Riis deflects criticism

Team CSC director Bjarne Riis, hailed by many as the ace tactician of Paris-Nice, took issue with innuendo raised by some after his team's dominance in the first major stage race of the 2004 season. While Quick.Step's Tom Boonen commented that CSC raced like the powerful Gewiss team of ten years ago (of which Riis was a member), his tone was one of praise for CSC as the strongest team at Paris-Nice, even if the mention of Gewiss evoked suspicions of unrealistic performances.

"I've heard some things about us that concern me," Bjarne Riis commented in a Reuters report. "Some journalists will say anything. I can say that we have worked very hard together with the 25 riders of CSC in ten day training camps. Nobody worked like we did. We may have done the same number of kilometres as other teams, but ours were good kilometres!"

Mayo focuses on time trials

Iban Mayo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is putting renewed emphasis on his racing against the clock, hoping an increased focus on time trialing will pay off in this year's Tour de France. Mayo finished 6th overall in the 2003 Tour de France, complete with a stage win atop l'Alpe d'Huez. This season has started well for the Basque hopeful, finishing 11th in the time trial stage of the Vuelta a Murcia, 48 seconds behind stage winner José Ivan Gutierrez, and within 19 seconds of defending Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong.

"I did a good time trial and it went well, but I didn't go crazy," Mayo said in an interview with Spanish paper AS. "This time difference has nothing to do with what will come at the Tour de France. I was completely wiped out, but the main objective was to see how the new position on the bike went. This winter I went to Italy to study how my position could be improved to get maximum power, and this was the first time I got to test it."

Like Armstrong, Mayo intends to take advantage of time trial opportunities in the build up the Tour, testing himself (and the competition) at each occasion. The prospect of an uphill time trial at Alpe d'Huez in this year's Tour de France is one that excites Mayo no end.

"The truth is I was really happy when I saw that the Tour was going to include [the Alpe d'Huez time trial]," Mayo said. "In a flat time trial I lose time but in this one I can be among the leaders. I'm very motivated for the stage and I think I can do well, but there are still a lot of favourites. Armstrong, Ullrich, Beloki, Heras, Sevilla...

"To win would be beyond words," he added. "It would be beautiful after having won [on Alpe d'Huez] last year in a road stage to repeat the triumph in a time trial."

Mayo has been tipped as one of Spain's next contenders for the Tour crown, but he himself is keeping his ambitions in check.

"I want to win a stage and improve upon my sixth place overall from last year. I always try to do my best, to shoot for the highest place. If I can reach the podium, that would be good, even third place."

Ullrich back to Italy

Jan Ullrich has returned to the Tuscany region of Italy for another training camp as he continues his slow build-up for the Tour de France in July. Ullrich came face to face with his top rival Lance Armstrong at the Vuelta a Murcia earlier this month, but isn't likely to see the American in competition again until the Tour. In the meantime, it's back to Italy for more training alongside his faithful friend and T-Mobile teammate Tobias Steinhauser, Rudy Pevenage, and physiotherapist Birgit Krohme.

Ullrich and Steinhauser, who returned to Italy on Saturday, are aiming for daily rides of up to 180km, he explained on his personal website. The 1997 Tour de France winner's next race this season will be the Setmana Catalana, which begins March 22 in Spain. He also plans on the Circuit de la Sarthe in France (April 6-9), as well as the Rund um Köln in Germany April 12.

Gilbert to the Giro

Rising Belgian star Philippe Gilbert ( has been selected by team director Marc Madiot to ride this year's Giro d'Italia. Madiot took his team to the Giro last year, and sees the Italian tour as an opportunity for his younger riders to gain experience which will prove valuable at the Tour de France down the road. For Gilbert, the understanding that a slow and tempered progression is a wise decision is marked by a twinge of disappointment.

"I spoke with Marc Thursday night and it was decided that I'm going to the Giro," Gilbert told La Dernière Heure. "Which means that I won't do the Tour. I've thought about it a lot. When I see that the competition is already hard here [at Paris-Nice], I have no chance of making top twenty, even on a stage. So, it would be stupid to go to the Tour.

"I don't want to risk burning out my motor," Gilbert added. "There are a lot of young riders who burn their wings too early at the Tour de France. I'd rather wait a bit."

Aside from the Tour, Gilbert will also race a 'gentle' program during the classics season, avoiding the cobbled classics of the north. "Not because they don't interest me, but I have to stay prudent."

Gilbert will, however, test his legs at Milan-San Remo this weekend, the longest of the World Cup classics. Something he expects will provide another 'famous experience'.

Women's cycling loses Pigois

Women's cycling lost one of its great promoters Thursday with the death of Frenchman Rémy Pigois. Pigois died of a heart attack at the age of 60 in Bourges, France. Pigois was known as both a race announcer for major events including the Grande Boucle féminine and the Tour de l'Aude, as well as a race organiser for prestigious events like the Trophée d'Or and the upcoming Ladies Berry Classic (April 3-4). Pigois also wrote for the French sports paper l'Equipe for many years. A funeral will be held Tuesday, March 16 in Bourges.

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