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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for April 23, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones & Hedwig Kröner

Tougher Doyenne for 2005

By Jeff Jones

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: Gunnar Mjaugedal

Liege-Bastogne-Liege marks the seventh and final ProTour spring classic, with Sunday's edition planned over a more challenging course than in previous years. Prompted by criticism that the course was too easy last year, given that there were still 60 riders in the peloton at the foot of the final climb of St-Nicolas with 6 km to go, the organisers ASO have decided to throw in a few more obstacles. There are 12 climbs in this year's 91st L-B-L, up from 10 last year, and the inclusion of the Côtes de Wanne, Stockeu, and Haute Levée between km 171 and km 186 should make the lead up to the finale harder than before.

In fact, it's the Côte de Wanne that really marks the beginning of the end game, falling as it does with 89 km to go. After the Stockeu and Haute Levée, the riders will tackle the Rosier (km 195), La Vecquee (km 208), La Redoute (km 225), Sprimont (km 231), Sart-Tillman-Tilff (km 246), and St Nicolas (km 255). And of course, the final kilometre and a half to the finish line in Ans is uphill, at a gradient of about 5-6%.

As always, it's the riders who make the race, and in the last week we have seen some biggish bunches at the foot of the final climbs in the Amstel Gold Race and La Flèche Wallonne. That tactic has been dictated by the favourites' teams, who have been controlling the racing instead of trying to break it open at an earlier stage, so that their captains arrive at the finish as fresh as possible.

Live coverage

Cyclingnews will be covering the 91st Liège-Bastogne-Liège live from start to finish. Coverage starts at 10:45 CEST (Europe)/4:45 EDT (USA East)/1:45 PDT (USA West)/18:45 AEST (Australia East).

Click here for the full preview

Di Luca looking for triple

Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Click for larger image

Danilo Di Luca is the man to beat in Belgium at the moment: after dominating the Amstel Gold Race and the Flèche Wallonne, Di Luca is longing for the third success to confirm his leadership of the Classics in northern Europe and consequently of the Pro Tour rankings. As Liquigas-Bianchi team manager Roberto Amadio said, "Liège-Bastogne-Liège is the most charming Classic in the race calendar and we are going to do our best to win. We are accepting our responsibility as the favourite team, but we aren't worried thanks to Sunday's and Wednesday's victories."

Danilo Di Luca and Franco Pellizotti, who trained on the Côtes of the next ProTour race on Friday, agreed: "The route is tougher than last year. In the past, the race was often decided on the Redoute, but this time the battle may start from the Stockeu climb," the riders said. As one should never change a winning team, Liquigas-Bianchi will feature the same riders who were Di Luca's helpers in La Flèche Wallonne: Albasini, Calcagni, Carlström, Gerosa, Ljungqvist, and Mugerli.

Liberty Seguros recons the Liege parcours

The Liberty Seguros-Würth team also reconnoitred the last 100 kilometres of Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Friday, in order to get a feel for the changes in the parcours. Team manager Manolo Saiz, who went with the riders, commented that the organisers have recovered "the old parcours, which was used the first time that I came to this race." In his opinion, the change is positive. "This gives more dynamism to the central part of the race, to the zone of the Stockeu, where the Eddy Merckx monument is located. The Cote de Wanne has become longer and you enter Stockeu after a corner, starting from zero. They have managed to make the race harder before La Redoute, at which a smaller group should arrive."

After training, Koen de Kort and Ángel Vicioso took part in a charity race, and Vicioso gave his impressions of Liège. "I know it well, because I already have done it four times," he said. "With these changes they have made it more selective and have not left a moment to recover, it is a succession of climbs and descents ".

Vicioso sees himself with a good chance after his performances in Amstel and Flèche. "Liège is the race that I like the most of these three classics; it's the most important and, though maybe the Amstel is better suited to my characteristics, Liège is something more."

Vicioso added that on Sunday, "bad weather is forecast, and that will increase the danger on the descents and the tiredness of everyone. For me, the harder the better, because it will be possible ride more comfortably in the last 40 kilometres, that have not changed at all."

Cunego is ready

Damiano Cunego (Lampre)
Photo ©: Sirotti
Click for larger image

Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Caffita) followed the trend today and, together with his teammates, trained over 100 km of the Liege parcours. After training, Cunego reported that felt healthy and in good condition. "His sore knee is not a problem any more for his participation in Liège-Bastogne-Liège," said Lampre's team doctor, Dr Pallini.

"Cunego trained with all his teammates without any problem," said the team's DS Guido Bontempi. "So his race schedule before the Giro will not change: Liège-Bastogne-Liège and then, from the 26th, the Tour de Romandie, in Switzerland."

The Lampre-Caffita team roster: Damiano Cunego, Gerrit Glomser, David Loosli, Daniele Righi, Alessandro Spezialetti, Gorazd Stangelj, Sylvester Szmyd, Patxi Vila

CPA meeting held in Liège

87 riders, including Di Luca, Bettini, Valverde, Moncoutié, Chavanel, Wesemann, Voigt, Dekker, Gilbert, Kirchen and Jeker took part in the meeting of the CPA (riders association) that was held in Liège under Francesco Moser's presidency. Expressing their desire to play an increasingly important role within professional cycling, they asked the International Cycling Union to be more attentive to their opinions.

Among other points, the riders expressed themselves about the road racing reform, the ProTour, which the riders generally support. Nevertheless, the rider representatives expect their minimum salary to proportionally increase with the growing number of race days required by all the UCI ProTour teams. It was concluded that the amount of €50,000 will have to be reached in the next few years.

Regarding safety, the riders pointed out that the main areas of danger in their profession were the race finish zones, and that these had to be made less dangerous. As the safety in all the events represents an absolute priority for the riders, they decided to give up any opposition to the new regulation concerning compulsory helmet wearing.

The riders accepted the principle of the participation of the professional continental teams in the UCI ProTour events. However, they pointed out that all the participants in the same race should be subjected to the same rules with regard to the fight against doping (medical monitoring, and the riders' whereabouts for out-of-competition testing).

The riders who will represent the teams within the CPA - whose names are yet to be announced - will meet again on Friday, May 6, 2005 in Reggio Calabria.

Tour de Georgia tech: The road a-Hed

Steve Hed is the aerodynamics guru who makes sure that Lance Armstrong and the Discovery Channel team have the quickest, slipperiest equipment for the all-important time trials in events like Georgia and the Tour de France. Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski spoke to Hed before the Georgia stage three time trial to find out what's new and what's coming in time trial equipment.

Viatcheslav Ekimov's Trek TT bike
Photo ©: Jon Devich
Click for larger image

While all of the teams of the Tour de Georgia were busy preparing their time trial machines for the stage three time trial, Steve Hed of Hed Design was thinking ahead for the Tour de France time trials. Hed was on hand in the Discovery Channel camp making last-minute adjustments and getting valuable feedback from Lance and Co. on how to improve the aerodynamics and performance of the Trek speed machines.

Cyclingnews' was able to have a chat with the guru behind many of the latest advancements in bicycle aerodynamics in between tweaks and adjustments. We kicked off by asking Hed about the most recent improvements in time trial technology.

Steve Hed: It's interesting. Time trial bikes are finally catching up. Now what you are seeing is going to be interesting -- to see who does the next [big] redesign. I mean people are looking at what everyone else is doing and it all looks pretty good. Things are more sleek and a lot more aero than they were four or five years ago.

Click here for the full feature

Worldwide TV coverage for Tour de Romandie

For the first time in its history, the 2005 Tour de Romandie will enjoy worldwide TV coverage. Images of the 11th ProTour race will be broadcast on four continents: Europe, America, Australia and Africa. The Tour de Romandie will be broadcast live, not only in Switzerland, but also in Spain (TVE), France (Sport +), Germany (DSF), Belgium (VRT and RTBF) and the US (OLN). An hour of highlights will be shown by Sky Italia (Italy), Premier Media Group (Australia) and Supersport (South Africa).

Vanderaerden to direct amateur team

Eric Vanderaerden has signed a preliminary contract to direct the Colba Telecom amateur team, which will become a continental team next year. Vanderaerden will begin working at recruiting riders starting in May.

Blignaut sponsored by Digica

International IT outsourcing company Digica has extended their ventures to the international sporting arena by signing as principle sponsor to South African cyclist Morné Blignaut. The agreement will see Blignaut joining Digica's Cape Town staff as of May 2005, which in turn will see the company sponsoring the 22-year-old in both local as well as international events.

In 2004 Blignaut took part in five international events, which included the World Cup in Moscow, the 28th Grosser Weihnachtspreis in Dortmund and the 28th Grand Prix in Hannover, finishing second in the Keirin and seventh in Germany respectively. The "Arnold Schwarzenegger of SA Track Cycling" holds the SA Junior Record for the 200m Flying Sprint, which he set in 2001 with a time of 10.84 seconds, while his time set in Atlanta, which saw him breaking Ken Carpenter's 12-year-old 200m Flying Sprint record, still remains to be beaten. Blignaut will also compete at the South African National Championships from 28-30 April 2005.

Blignaut was also suspended for six weeks after an incident between him and officials at the Tri-Nations meet in Bellville last month, where he became aggressive after a race jury decision didn't go his way. He was fined the Swiss franc equivalent of R2,000, is required to undergo a course with a sports psychologist on anger management, and will have to tender a written public apology for his behaviour at the Tri-Nations.

Forest City Velodrome is "mint"

On Thursday afternoon, the volunteers that have put many hours into getting the Forest City Velodrome ready for riders turned the first laps of the 138 metre indoor Velodrome in London, Ontario (Can). Many of the participants have just begun training so they can compete on a weekly basis at the track. All riders took the Learn to Ride program. This orientation is a must for all first time riders to the London track.

The opening night of racing, beginning at 7pm on Saturday might see the available seats sold out. Racers from all divisions will come from Montreal, Detroit, Toronto, Wisconsin, and Savana, Georgia. Tickets are $10.00 each or opening special of four for $20.00.

UCI sanctions

The following riders have been sanctioned by the International Cycling Union:

Luis Fernandez Olivera (Spa), tested positive for Triamcinolone acetonide during the race Bira, in Spain, on July 1, 2004, sanctioned by Real Federacion Española de Ciclismo, fine of €601.

Victor Garcia Estevez (Spa), tested positive for Triamcinolone acetonide during the Vuelta Ciclista a Leon, in Spain, on August 5,6 and 7, 2004, sanctioned by Real Federacion Española de Ciclismo, fine of €601.

Victoriano Martinez Fernandez (Por), tested positive for Triamcinolone acetonide during the race Troféu Joaquim Agostinho GP Int. de Ciclismo de Torres Vedras, in Portugal, on July 10, 2004, sanctioned by Federacão Portuguesa de Ciclismo, suspension of six months from February 1, 2005 to July 31, 2005, disqualification of the race.

Alice Cristina Pereira Azevedo Couto (Por) tested positive for ephedrine during the Masters European Championships in Portugal on July 25, 2004, sanctioned by Federacão Portuguesa de Ciclismo, suspension of three months from October 25, 2004 to March 25, 2005 (idle period held in account), disqualification of the race.

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