First Edition Cycling News for October 11, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones & Hedwig Kröner
Paris-Tours: victory from the jaws of defeat
Erik Dekker (Rabobank) proved once again that Paris-Tours is not just a classic for sprinters, as he pulled off a remarkable last gasp victory on Tours' Avenue de Grammont, a few metres ahead of the charging peloton. Dekker was in a breakaway for 227 of the race's 252 kilometres - firstly with Bram Tankink, Vladimir Gussev, Manuel Quinziato and Eric Berthou, then finally with Matthias Kessler, who came across to Dekker together with Igor Astarloa, Allan Davis and Juan Antonio Flecha with 6 km to go. As the peloton bore down on them, Dekker and Kessler attacked with 3 km left and all but managed to hold off the pack. As his teammate Steven de Jongh started the sprint behind, Dekker jumped with 200m to go to claim the win, while Kessler was partially swamped and finished 7th.
Afterwards, an incredulous Dekker was interviewed by French TV, saying, "I don't speak French but in English, I don't have any words for this. It's very special.
"I realised in the beginning that I was good today. We only had five guys in the break, but I always believed in it, even when the good guys came across at the finish. I thought maybe I could get their wheels and go for it in the sprint."
Dekker explained that it was Rabobank's plan to have someone in front so that the other sprinters' teams would be forced on the defensive. "I was in the break, trying with the rest of the team because we didn't want to chase today. That's why I was there. In the last six or seven kilometres, even my own teammates were chasing behind because they thought I was finished and they were riding for Freire."
Dekker was asked when he believed he would win. "500 metres to go? 100 metres to go? It was so close, the peloton was sprinting, but you never know. I still felt strong."
Hondo's team satisfied
In second place, leading the bunch home was Danilo Hondo (Gerolsteiner), whose team manager Christian Henn said, "We're very happy about the second placing of Danilo Hondo. Losing the World Cup jersey [to Bettini] doesn't hurt too much. The race went as we expected. We knew that Paolo Bettini is a better sprinter than Davide. Davide accepted today's result entirely and made the best of his situation."
Henn assured that the fight over the jersey isn't over yet, as there still is the Giro di Lombardia to come next Saturday. "It will be close finish," he said. "Davide still has every chance, and he will use it."
Freire rounds out the podium
O'Grady and Kessler disappointed
Rabobank's World Champ Oscar Freire finished a creditable third on the Avenue de Grammont in Tours and paid tribute to his team. "All of the team raced well," said the Spaniard. "Dekker was the strongest; he showed it in the end. It's normal that he wins."
Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis) was a little disappointed at missing out on the podium, but was delayed by a crash with 6 km to go. "I was down in the crash with Paolini on the hill before last. I had to sprint to get back to the bunch. That was where I left my strength, even if I did finish fifth. It's a shame because the team made a big effort to chase down the breakaway."
The luckless Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile) had to be content with seventh place, even though he was in right up there in contention with Dekker. "I do admit I was a bit disappointed," he said on T-Mobile's website. "I've finished sixth or seventh a lot; getting second would have been nice. And I was so close, too."
Asked if he lacked the power in the end, he replied, "Not really, but Dekker attacked again in the last metres. I couldn't respond to it and thought - well, I'll get second then. I didn't feel the peloton so close behind me, and it caught me immediately. So in the end I got seventh."
About Dekker: "When I caught up with him with 3 km to go, I looked at his face and saw that he was still fresh, still looking good. I knew then it would be difficult for me. Erik is an absolute top rider and that's what he's proved again today."
Bettini takes over World Cup
After finishing sixth in today's Paris-Tours, Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Davitamon) finally managed to wrest the World Cup leader's jersey away from Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner). With just one more round of the World Cup to go, only 13 points separates the two, which means Bettini will have to ride well in Lombardy next Saturday in order to claim his third World Cup title in a row.
"I finished sixth, that's OK," said the Italian. "In the sprint, I was a little squeezed in when I tried to take Freire's wheel. I couldn't drive the sprint like I wanted to. I get the World Cup jersey again, but things will be decided at the Giro di Lombardia. The points difference is not big, but Rebellin will have to attack if he wants to win the World Cup. I will follow him."
World Cup standings after round 9
2003 Giro d'Italia winner Gilberto Simoni was in Las Vegas for a quick trip to Interbike, where he signed autographs at sponsors Cannondale, Fi'zi:k and Full Speed Ahead. Cyclingnews managed to grab a few minutes with the tough man from Trentino to discuss his exclusion from the Italian national team at the World Championships in Verona.
Simoni has no love for Italian team boss Franco Ballerini, and explained that, "I think the fact that Freire won shows how bad of a job [Ballerini] did to select the Italian team for Verona. On the other hand, Spain brought a lot of champions; their team manager [Paco Antequera] got them to work together and in the end, they took the rainbow jersey. To come into the World's with only one key rider [Bettini] is where Italy made its mistake; when he had problems, everything fell apart."
Further analysing the Italian team strategy, Simoni said that, "The team said that they had both Bettini and Cunego as leaders, but gave little support to Damiano (Cunego); if they didn't really believe in him, they should have given him a different role. That is the shame of Ballerini...next year, I'm going to do what Rebellin did and get dual citizenship. In Verona, letting the sprinters get to the end of the race - that was a mess. It was a weird race where no one dared to attack. Rebellin would have been very useful; he could have made a solo attack and had a good chance to win the World Championships."
Wortegem-Petegem opens 'cross World Cup
The Czech rider Zdenek Mlynar has won the first World Cup cyclo-cross race in Wortegem-Petegem, Belgium. Mlynar was the first on the line in a bunch sprint of a race that some bemoaned wasn't much of a cyclo-cross race at all. Sven Nys, who finished fifth, related, "I was in the first five and that was my aim. I have done a good job. In rain and mud, the show would be really be on, but it wasn't to be. But this was not a cyclo-cross. I thought that this scenario would happen and it did."
Referring to third place getter Mario de Clercq, Nys added, "The one who drew up this course hoped that everyone would stay together. But he was also beaten."
Meanwhile, the news reported by Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday that growth hormone was found at De Clercq's house in a search last year cast a shadow over the rider, although he confessed to knowing little about it. "I don't really understand it," he told VRT television. "I would happily say something, but I don't know anything. In February they said in Kortrijk that it was finished. Now they come with other arguments. I was really baffled when I heard it."
Italy's autumn triptych
The Italian sports newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport announced its "Autumn triptych" (Trittico d'autunno) of three one-day races starting with the 89th Milano-Torino on Wednesday, October 13, the 91st Giro del Piemonte on Thursday, October 14, and the last World Cup race in 2004, the 98th Giro di Lombardia on Saturday, October 16.
The journey from Milano to Torino will be 199 km long, with the final climb on the Colle di Superga before the finish at the Fausto Coppi velodrome. Last year's winner Mirko Celestino will be there, as well as his teammate Damiano Cunego and other Italian riders such as Ivan Basso, Davide Rebellin, Stefano Garzelli, Michele Bartoli, Dario Frigo, Daniele Nardello, and Michele Scarponi. Other contenders include Alexandre Vinokourov, Yaroslav Popovych, Michael Boogerd and Igor Astarloa. On the next day, The Giro del Piemonte will take the riders on 190 km of relatively flat terrain from Alba to Cuneo for a possible revenge.
The 20 teams taking part in both races are the following:
Acqua&Sapone (Nocentini, Marzoli)
Alessio-Bianchi (Pelizzotti, Baldato)
Ceramiche Panaria (Sella, Tiralongo)
Cofidis (Moncoutié, Vasseur)
De Nardi (Gonchar, Giordani)
Domina Vacanze (Scarponi, Simeoni)
Fassa Bortolo (Frigo, Bruseghin)
Gerolsteiner (Rebellin, Wegmann)
Illes Balears-Banesto (Garcia Acosta, Gutierrez)
Lampre (Astarloa, Bortolami)
Landbouwkrediet-Colnago (Popovych, Duma)
Liberty Seguros (Baranowski, Davis)
Lotto-Domo (Van Bon, Baguet)
Phonak (Zülle, Aebersold)
Rabobank (Boogerd, Dekker)
Saeco (Cunego, Celestino)
Saunier Duval - Prodir (Piepoli, Martin Perdiguero)
Team CSC (Basso, Bartoli)
T-Mobile (Vinokourov, Nardello)
Vini Caldirola (Garzelli, Casagrande)
Mayo linked to Illes Balears
The Spanish team Illes Balears, earlier in the week reported to have an interest in signing Kelme's Alejandro Valverde, is now focusing on Iban Mayo from Euskaltel instead, according to AS. Mayo's buy-out clause is said to amount "only" to €900.000 instead of €2 million for the Kelme star. Sabino Angoitia, Mayo's manager, admitted to have spoken with José Miguel Echávarri, Illes Balears' team director, but not of a possible move of Mayo.
"I talked to him about other riders," said Angoitia. "Illes Balears has not made an offer [for Mayo - ed.] yet, but if they do, I would certainly study it closely." His manager does recognise that there are differences between Mayo and Euskaltel's team manager Miguel Madariaga, but affirms that it is nothing new and no reason for him to leave the squad. Mayo is currently recovering from a mononucleosis which stopped him from riding the Vuelta a España this year, after abandoning the Tour de France.
Cross-Canada Challenge set for 2005
CycleCanada announced today that it has fixed the schedule for The Crossing, a six-week cross-country ride for 2005. The Crossing will be a timed ride and daily average distances will be 185 km (115 miles). There will be several days of 200-plus kilometres in the schedule. The total distance of the ride from Vancouver to Halifax will be 6750 kilometres (4,200 miles).
The dates for The Crossing in 2005 will be July 2 to August 14. There are 37 riding days in the schedule over seven stages. Each stage will be followed by a rest day. The stages are The Pacific, The Rockies, The Prairies, The Canadian Shield, The Lakes, The Rivers and The Atlantic.
Riders enter as solo participants or as two-person tandem teams, either as a same-gender team or a mixed team. Special arrangements can be made for a team with a different rider on each segment. Results will be recorded by age and gender using standard seniors and masters cyclists categories. For a tandem team or a segment team, the age category will be based on the youngest rider.
Keeping in mind the challenge of the ride, participants must follow a vigorous pre-ride training schedule. Riders should be prepared for a daily ride of 200-plus kilometres before the start of the trip. Several century-plus rides (100 miles or more) should be part of the spring training schedule.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)