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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for May 3, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Voigt: Ullrich would be unbeatable in CSC

Jens Voigt
Photo ©: Jon Devich/CN

Jens Voigt (Team CSC) is one of the top 10 riders of the 2004 season, winning two stages and the overall of Criterium International, a stage in the Vuelta a Pais Vasco as well as second in the Tour de Georgia, third in the Tour Méditerranéen and fourth in Paris-Nice. The German switched teams to CSC this year after six years of riding for Roger Legeay in Gan/Credit Agricole, and has experienced an improvement in form.

"I have new teammates now and with that, a lot more pressure," explained Voigt in an interview with German newspaper Der Spiegel. "I would like to prove myself in the new team. And then there's Bjarne [Riis], a brilliant trainer and team director. He has a magical capacity to lead every rider to the heights of their personal achievement. I've never experienced someone like this. Bjarne is a motivational artist. He gives you the self-confidence that you need around you in hard races."

Voigt recalled the team's rather novel training camps, which pit the riders against all sorts of challenges, none of which are cycling related. "That was real survival training, which lasted 36 hours. For example we had to make a campfire by means of only one match. If we didn't succeed, one of us would have to run for a certain distance. Together we constructed a rope bridge over a gorge, which we had to get across. We also had to overcome a wall made only out of rope."

The camp was designed by ex-soldiers to test psychological characteristics of each team member, and Bjarne Riis was informed of the riders' performance under pressure. "As a team, it brought us together in any case," said Voigt.

Voigt was asked his impressions of Lance Armstrong in the Tour de Georgia, and he related that Armstrong was "more open and more at ease. I don't kn7ow whether it's his new girlfriend but he makes jokes with journalists and is not as closed as before...In Georgia he delivered a good performance. He seems to be on the right way towards the Tour de France." He added that he believes that Armstrong will win his sixth Tour, and will hang up his bike afterwards.

Finally, questioned on how Jan Ullrich would fare in CSC, Voigt replied, "In my opinion, the combination of Ulli and Bjarne would be unbeatable. When Ulli won the Tour for the first time, Bjarne was next to him and was able to give him valuable tips." And with Voigt, Jaksche and Ullrich all in the same team, "We three together - that would be a hammer! It would be incredible what we could do."

Valverde records a hat-trick

Alejandro Valverde (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme) has lifted his tally of wins this season to 10 after taking the third and final stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon in a bunch sprint. Valverde had also won the preceding two stages, including a tough mountain top finish in stage 4, demonstrating further his talent as an all-round cyclist.

"It's the first time that I've won three consecutive stages and for me this is impressive," said Valverde. "I continue to surprise myself, but what are we going to do about it? You have to keep going. At the start of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon I never thought that I was going to achieve this performance, but things have turned out well. It's never easy to win a race, but it's true that the level here is not the same as in the Vuelta a Pais Vasco."

Valverde paid tribute to his team, which has been suffering of late following the doping allegations of Jesus Manzano, which have forced Kelme out of the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia. "All this comes from a wonderful team and it raises everyone's morale after everything that has happened. I'll now have 15 days vacation, which is necessary both physically and mentally, but I believe that it will be over soon."

Team manager Vicente Belda said that for Valverde, it would have been "impossible to do better. He has had 31 days of competition and has won 10 of them. We could not ask for more, as many of our riders have been racing at the limit of their forces."

Valverde finished fourth overall in the five day tour, which was won by Koldo Gil (Liberty Seguros).

Klöden crashes, but can train

After a four year absence from the top of the results table, German rider Andreas Klöden (T-Mobile) looks to be nearing good form again. His strong performances in Flèche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege were marred by a crash in the Rund um den Henninger Turm last Saturday. Klöden, who helped in what was ultimately a fruitless T-Mobile chase of the breakaway, was caught up in a crash on the wet roads and ended up in hospital with an injured elbow. Although it was feared that he had broken something, x-rays showed that this wasn't the case and Klöden will be able to train again.

Andreas Klöden's next appointment will probably be the Bayern Rundfahrt on May 19, where he hopes to do well.

Cofidis and Quick.Step-Davitamon for Dunkirk

The Four Days of Dunkirk (May 5-9) will see the Cofidis team back in action for the first time since Gent-Wevelgem with the following riders: Jimmy Casper, Arnaud Coyot, Jimmy Engoulvent, Peter Farazijn, Dmitriy Fofonov, David Millar, Stuart O'Grady and Janek Tombak.

Quick.Step-Davitamon has also named its squad for the French race, with directeur sportif Wilfried Peeters taking Frederic Amorison, Laszlo Bodrogi, Aurelien Clerc, Wilfried Cretskens, Nick Nuyens, Kevin Hulsmans, Servais Knaven and Jurgen Van Goolen to Dunkirk.

Top teams expected for Ster Elektrotoer

Erik Zabel
Photo ©: Wim Amels

The organisers of the Dutch Ster Elektrotoer have confirmed that a number of the top ranked teams will be at the start in Veldhoven on June 16. The five day race will have Rabobank, T-Mobile, Quick-Step.Davitamon and Team CSC among the starters, these teams being ranked the top four in the world at the moment.

Rabobank is expected to have a strong lineup built around Erik Dekker, who will use the race as preparation for the Tour de France. Thus, Rabobank will skip the Route du Sud in France, which it considers too tough as a Tour preparation race. T-Mobile will bring its top sprinter Erik Zabel to the Ster Elektrotoer, and he will be in search of one or two stage wins as part of his final preparation for the Tour de France. Both CSC and Quick.Step are also expected to bring at least a couple of their top riders to the Netherlands.

The Chocolade Jacques team includes last year's Ster Elektrotoer winner Gerben Löwik, who is currently out of competition after breaking his elbow in Paris-Roubaix, however it is hoped that he will be fit in time for the race. Löwik won last year riding for BankGiroLoterij, which has dominated the race for the last three years but may find it difficult to do so again this year.

The (mostly) Belgian teams of Lotto-Domo, Relax-Bodysol, Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, Mr.Bookmaker and Vlaanderen T-interim will all start, as will Cofidis, Ag2R and From the Netherlands, the Division III teams Bert Story-Piels, Van Vliet-EBH Advocaten, Van Hemert Groep, Löwik-Tegeltoko and AXA will complete the field.

The Ster Elektrotoer will start on June 16 with a prologue Veldhoven. Stage 1 (June 17) will take place from Eindhoven to Nuth. Stage 2 (June 18) will be through the Limburg hills, starting and finishing in Valkenburg. The queen stage on June 19 will travel through the Belgian Ardennes from Coo to La Gileppe and the final stage on June 20 will be from Sittard to Schijndel.

Bicycle fleamarket in Valkenswaard

The annual "Wieler Revue beurs", a bicycle memorabilia fleamarket, will be held for the 42nd time in Valkenswaard, the Netherlands on Saturday, May 15. The market is considered the biggest of its type in Europe, and collectors can buy and sell photos, caps, newspaper clippings, magazines, books, videos, cd roms, jerseys, bidons, stickers, autographs and many other bicycle related things. Examples include an original signed photo of Rik van Looy, a photo of the 1938 World Championships on the Cauberg, an official book of the Tour de France or even an "In Memoriam" card for the recently deceased Briek Schotte.

Collectors will come to Valkenswaard from all over Europe: the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Czech Republic, Spain, Luxembourg and Switzerland. The fair will be held in the Maenen hall, Leenderweg 58, Valkenswaard. Opening time is 10:00 and it will run until approximately 14:00. Entry fee is €2.50.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)