First Edition Cycling News for September 17, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones and John Stevenson
Postal loses the lead
For the first time in the Vuelta, US Postal Service has lost its grip on the gold jersey after a 12 day run. Today, Liberty Seguros used the same tactic that has worked so well for USPS in the past: set a murderous tempo on all the climbs until there is no-one left, then have the team captain launch himself to victory in the final kilometres. The work of Igor Gonzalez, Koldo Gil, Darius Baranowski, Marcos Serrano and finally Isidro Nozal served to reduce the lead group to a handful of men with 8 km to go to the summit of the Calar Alto, allowing Roberto Heras the perfect platform to fly away for the stage win and the gold jersey.
Heras won the stage by 34 seconds from Santiago Perez (Phonak) and 53 from Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears). Alejandro Valverde (Com.Valenciana-Kelme) and Isidro Nozal (Liberty) were fourth and fifth at 1'27, while race leader Floyd Landis started losing contact with 13 km to go to eventually finish 15th at 3'06. Heras now has the jersey by a slender 35 seconds from Mancebo with Valverde at 49 seconds back. If the climber from Bejar can continue his form in the mountains, he should have more than enough of a buffer to be safe once the race reaches the final time trial in Madrid.
"Everything came out real good today," Heras told Cyclingnews after the stage. "We are here to try and win the Vuelta a España but with guys in the category of Valverde and Mancebo it is not easy. Both of them are equally dangerous. Valverde seems to be recovering from the fall, he is dangerous and very brave... Mancebo is also very dangerous.
"Our idea today was to try and lessen the gap to those above us on GC we weren't thinking about the stage or the lead, simply to lessen the differences, nothing more... Today's stage is defining but it is by no means the deciding stage as we have only finished half of the Vuelta. We still need to do Saturday's and Sunday's stages which will be very dangerous and a whole other week which will include the time trial in Madrid which is not my specialty. It is not long but it could make things difficult for me.
Valverde still in it
Alejandro Valverde (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme) showed today that he has not been weakened too much by his crash two days ago, even though he was unable to match Heras' attack on the final climb. But his fighting fourth place definitely kept him in the race, and he even threw in an attack a few kilometres before Heras made his deciding move. "I tried but couldn't," said Valverde. "On the other hand, I responded better to the fall I suffered on Tuesday than I thought I would. The stage was very tough. I tested myself in the last few kilometres and things were going slightly better than I thought. I have not lost the Vuelta as there are a lot more stages to go and I have been able to cope."
Astarloa and Freire exit
A total of 13 riders exited the Vuelta today, including Igor Astarloa (Lampre), who didn't start, and Oscar Freire (Rabobank), who abandoned. Astarloa didn't give a reason for not starting, but there is strong speculation that he wants to save something for the World Championships in Verona, where he will be the defending champion. Freire has also targeted the World's, as he won on the Verona course in 1999.
It's expected that more riders will follow suit in the coming days.
Half the field (almost) time cut
77 of the 150 finishers today ended at 31'51 down from the winner, which under race rules would be enough to disqualify them for missing the time cut. However, to preserve the size of the field, the "autobus" was reinstated and the sprinters will be back in action in tomorrow's flat stage.
Hondo interested in World's
By Hedwig Kröner
German sprinter Danilo Hondo (Gerolsteiner) is not yet certain of being picked for the German World's team, although he did demonstrate some good form by placing second behind Thomas Dekker in today's second stage of the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt. The hilly 174.3 km between Worms and Mainz was dominated by a six man breakaway that included both Thomas and Erik Dekker, Hondo, Jan Schaffrath (T-Mobile), Kevin Van Impe (Lotto-Domo) and Frank van Dulmen (BankGiroLoterij). Thomas Dekker won the stage solo while Hondo beat Schaffrath in a two man sprint for second.
Before the race started, Hondo told Cyclingnews, "It's been a long season, and it's always difficult as a sprinter to aim for stage victories as well as GC, so that's the dilemma. We'll see how it goes. We definitely have a good team here and hope to do as well as at the Hessen-Rundfahrt."
As for the World's, Hondo said that, "I'd like to go, although I know that the course doesn't suit me too much. But participating at the World's is always a highlight at the end of the season. Plus, the experience of it may help in 2005 or 2006, because in Madrid or Salzburg the profiles will match all-rounders or punchy sprinters like me much more. But for now, there are some young and ambitious German guys that I could help. I think I should be on the team because of the way my season went and my good form right now, but I don't know what decision the BDR [the German federation - ed.] will take. Maybe it'll be the same as last year, when they said that two sprinters on the team were on too many. We'll see."
Hamilton's brain on film at UK show
Visitors to the UK's Cycle 2004 show, September 24 - 26,will be able to get a sneak peak at Brainpower, the movie made during last year's Tour de France featuring Tyler Hamilton's brain.
The movie, which will get a small-screen airing at the show prior to its IMAX release in April 2005, tells how the human brain works by following Hamilton through the 2003 Tour, during which he broke his collarbone and went on to win a stage.
"We chose the Tour de France to show how the human brain works because behind every great athlete is a great mind," said the film's director Bayley Silleck. "The movie is about the human brain, but we chose the Tour as a backdrop because it has all the elements. It's about the human mind, and that intangible thing we call willpower; how athletes make the difference between success and failure."
Full Australian world's team
Cycling Australia Media Release
Cycling Australia has now announced all 33 of the riders who will comprise the Australian team for the world championships in Verona - Bardolino, Italy from September 27 to October 4.
Paul Crake (ACT 06.12.1976) RR
Natalie Bates (NSW 29.03.1980) RR
Peter Dawson (WA 04.02.1982) TT RR
Robert Cater (NSW 02.04.1986) RR
Hannah Banks (QLD 11.08.1986) RR
(RR - Road Race, TT - Time Trial )
Irish world's team
By Shane Stokes
The biggest ever lineup of Irish riders for a world championship campaign was today announced by Cycling Ireland, with a total of fourteen competitors to line out in the time trials and road races in Verona, Italy in late September and early October.
Tour de France rider Mark Scanlon and Ciarán Power, who was thirteenth in the Olympics, will both the championships due to fatigue and injury, but the highly promising Philip Deignan will start the under 23 road race with realistic chances of success. Deignan has performed strongly in big international events all year and most recently finished a fine eighteenth in the Tour of Britain, the-then 20 year old keeping pace with some of the world's top professionals on the steep climbs of the Pennines. He was the best placed amateur in the race.
Deignan was also third on two mountain stages of the under 26 Tour of Italy and is listed in the top five of the under 23 world rankings. He will be joined in the under 23 road race by Nicolas Roche, son of the 1987 Tour de France winner Stephen Roche. He is currently on a trial with the professional Cofidis team and hopes to benefit from riding pro races to reach Verona in top form. Three other promising riders - Tim Cassidy, Paídi O'Brien and Andrew McQuaid - will compete the under 23 lineup.
Irish hopes in the Elite events will rest on the shoulders of David McCann and David O'Loughlin, who are the 2004 FBD Milk Rás winner and the current Irish road race champion respectively. They will ride both the time trial and road race against the biggest names in the sport.
Cycling Ireland's squad also includes three women - Colette Swift and Louise Moriarty will square up against the world's best in the elite women's road race, while Mary Brennan will become the first ever Irish entrant in the junior women's road race.
Four Irish riders will line out in the junior men's championships. Martin Monroe and Ciaran Kelly will compete in the time trial and will then be joined by Maurice O'Brien and Mark Nestor in the road race.
Team manager Frank Campbell is optimistic about team's prospects. "We have prepared very methodically for this event. The process started last January with riders submitting their performance blueprints and this has gone on throughout the year. We have continually tested and monitored the progress of the riders and they are fully aware of their respective roles for the races. This is the shop window for world cycling and Ireland has a good chance of a podium finish."
"Grant Thornton's involvement is vital. In addition to the generous financial support, many of the top riders at this years under 23 event were sponsored by Grant Thornton at the junior event in Lisbon three years ago. This shows a commitment by Grant Thornton to invest in the development of Irish cycling."
Gearoid Costello, Managing Partner of Grant Thornton, said that he hoped the company's backing would help the development of the sport. "Grant Thornton are delighted to be involved. It provides us with a platform to support a whole team of upcoming international riders and build on the success of the last few years. We hope that our support will in some way help Irish riders break into the professional cycling ranks in numbers."
No awards for men at MTB world cup finale
The UCI has announced that it will not hold an awards ceremony for the elite men's category of the overall mountain bike world cup championship when the series winds up in Livigno, Italy this weekend.
The hold-up, says the UCI, is that the Belgian cycling federation has not yet reached a decision regarding Filip Meirhaeghe, who retired from mountain bike racing in July after testing positive for EPO.
At the time of his retirement, Meirhaghe was leading the series. The UCI will award the winner's jersey and trophy for the men's elite category at a later date.
This weekend's team rosters
The Quick.Step-Davitamon, Fassa Bortolo, Lampre and Saeco teams have announced their rosters for this weekend's two major Italian races.
Giro Del Lazio, Italy, September 18
Quick-Step: Paolo Bettini, Davide Bramati, Laurent Dufaux, Aaron Kemps, Juan Miguel Mercado, Nick Nuyens, Harald Starzengruber (DS: Serge Parsani)
Fassa Bortolo: Marzio Bruseghin, Fabian Cancellara, Massimo Codol, Mauro Facci, Juan Antonio Flecha, Dario Frigo, Gustav Larsson, Roberto Petito, Filippo Pozzato, Matteo Tosatto. (DS: Giancarlo Ferretti / Alberto Volpi)
Lampre: Sergio Barbero, Paolo Bossoni, GianLuca Bortolami, Wladimir Belli, Romans Vainsteins, Marco Pinotti, Patxi Vila, Marco Marzano (DS: Maurizio Piovani)
Saeco: Gilberto Simoni, Leonardo Bertagnolli, Mirko Celestino, Jorg Ludewig, Evgueni Petrov, Nicola Gavazzi, Goraszd Stangelj, Andrea Tonti, Gene Bates (stagiaire) (DS: Flavio Miozzo)
G.P. Industria E Commercio Prato, Italy, September 19, 2004
Quick-Step: Paolo Bettini, Davide Bramati, Aaron Kemps, Juan Miguel Mercado, Nick Nuyens, Harald Starzengruber (DS: Serge Parsani)
Fassa Bortolo: Marzio Bruseghin, Francesco Chicchi, Massimo Codol, Thomas Danielson, Luca De Angeli, Mauro Facci, Gustav Larsson, Filippo Pozzato. (DS: Alberto Volpi)
Lampre: Alessandro Ballan, Wladimir Belli, Paolo Bossoni, GianLuca Bortolami, Sergio Barbero, Marco Marzano, Marco Pinotti, Patxi Vila (DS: Maurizio Piovani)
Saeco: Gilberto Simoni, Leonardo Bertagnolli, Mirko Celestino, Jorg Ludewig, Evgueni Petrov, Goraszd Stangelj, Juan Pablo Magallanes (stagiaire) (DS: Flavio Miozzo)
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)