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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for April 27, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

No ProTour teams in Castilla y Leon

The 20th edition of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon will commence today with not a single ProTour team at the start, as all of the Spanish ProTour teams who would normally take part are either in Romandie or are preparing for the Giro d'Italia. The separation of professional cycling into ProTour and non-ProTour events has put the future of this race in doubt, as the organiser had to fight to obtain live television coverage, which is so crucial to guarantee sponsors.

The Spanish Continental teams will therefore fight it out amongst themselves for the honours in Castilla y Leon, with Comunidad Valenciana bringing a strong team with European Continental Tour leader Rubén Plaza and Vuelta a Rioja leader Javier Pascual Rodriguez. Felix Cardenas (Barloworld) and Aitor Perez (Spiuk) should be worthy challengers, while Francisco Pérez (Maia) will be back in action after finishing his suspension for EPO. Perez has already raced since finishing his ban, winning last weekend's non-UCI classed Gran Premio do Centro, a three day Portuguese stage race.

The race will consist of five stages, starting on Wednesday in Astorga with a 142 km stage, and ending on top of La Covatilla on Sunday, which should be the decisive stage. There is also a 45 km team time trial in Toro in stage 3.

The stages

Stage 1 - April 27: Astorga, 142 km
Stage 2 - April 28: Astorga - Zamora, 168 km
Stage 3 - April 29: Toro TTT, 45 km
Stage 4 - April 30: Zamora - Salamanque, 181 km
Stage 5 - May 1: Salamanque - La Covatilla, 176,5 km

Latest Continental rankings

There have been few changes to the leaders of the UCI Continental Tours after the publication of the latest rankings. Only the leader of the European Tour has changed, with Ruben Plaza Molina (Comunidad Valenciana, 282 pts) taking over from Aitor Perez (Spiuk, 3rd on 218 pts), with Niedersachsen Rundfahrt winner Stefan Schumacher (Lamonta) in second place on 232 points.

The other four individual leader's jerseys are held by Tiaan Kannemeyer (Barloworld-Valsir, Africa), Edgardo Simon (America), Graeme Brown (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare, Asia), and Robert Mclachlan (MG Xpower Presented By Bigpond, Oceania).

In the teams rankings, Barloworld-Valsir (Africa), Health Net presented by Maxxis (America), Ceramica Panaria-Navigare (Asia), Comunidad Valenciana (Europe), MG Xpower Presented By Bigpond (Oceania) are on top of the various tours. Finally, South Africa (Africa), Argentina (America), Australia (Asia), Spain (Europe), and Australia (Oceania) lead the respective nations rankings.

Full rankings: Individuals, Teams, Nations.

An interview with Constantino Zaballa

Riding with his heart and head

Zaballa wins stage 19 of the 2004 Vuelta a España

Photo ©: Unipublic

Click for larger image

A man whose name is never far away from the break, Constantino Zaballa was a supporting actor during the 2003 and most of the 2004 editions of the Vuelta a España, until he played the starring role late in 2004. The Saunier Duval man put many frustrations behind him on September 24 last year when he won his first Vuelta stage after a lonely 108km breakaway in Villalba.

That victory was the beginning of a sweet period for the Spanish rider. He raced the World Champs in Verona for his country; he led the Vuelta a Valencia on the first day, and he stood on the bottom step of the final Paris-Nice podium with Bobby Julich and Alejandro Valverde - illustrious company indeed. Cyclingnews' Hernan Alvarez Macias caught up with Zaballa during his massage session in Liege the day prior to Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which represented his last race from the first part of a pretty busy 2005 calendar.

Cyclingnews: Was it important for you to take third in Paris-Nice?

Constantino Zaballa: Yes, of course. I think it is an important achievement and one that can change me for better as a rider. This makes me see that at certain moments, when I am fit, I can fight for one-week tours.

CN: That represents a big step forward in your career, right?

CZ: Yes, I think it is like a reward for all these years of work. Little by little I am improving and taking quality steps in performance terms.

CN: I guess that winning the 19th stage of the 2004 Vuelta a España was meaningful for you?

CZ: Yeah, that's another triumph based on perseverance and the daily work that I'm proud of. I think it was a nice way of winning and it was something I always had in mind; to try to win a big tour's stage out front by myself.

Click here for the full interview

Lefevere satisfied, but looking ahead

Quick.Step's Patrick Lefevere
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Click for larger image

The Quick.Step team has good reason to be satisfied with its spring season, with victories by Tom Boonen and Nick Nuyens in several of the major northern classics. Boonen in particular has led the charge, with his impressive Ronde van Vlaanderen/Paris-Roubaix double.

"As far as publicity goes, we stand out above all the other teams," said team manager Patrick Lefevere in an interview with Het Laatste Nieuws. "One million Flemings who watched Paris-Roubaix for five hours: phenomenal! And Boonen dived on by all the media. Only with his dog I've read no interviews.

"At the start of the season, I said one classic, a good Tour, and the World Championship. We already have a third of that, the rest can follow easily."

As usual, Lefevere is not 100 percent satisfied with his team. "Pozzato has disappointed me already: one flash in the Hell, that was it," he said, but added: "The Belgian/Dutch core around Tom Boonen really surprised me. The guys improved beyond themselves: Hulsmans, Cretskens, Lotz, Tankink...they didn't want to be inferior to one another."

As for certain stage racers, Lefevere is not as happy: "Mercado and Pecharroman have been sent off to the giro. Completely invisible. I want to build my classic core and thus they have to leave. I'm at the limit of my budget. I heard the asking price of Flecha: I had to go and sit down.

Buitenpoort in Gracia-Orlova

The Czech Republic will play host to the 2.2 ranked women's tour, Gracia-Orlova, between April 28 and May 1. The Dutch Buitenpoort-Flexpoint team has selected five riders to take part in the race, led by dual World Champion Susanne Ljungskog, with Vera Koedooder, Lada Kozlikova, Sandra Rombouts and Tanja Hennes-Schmidt as well. The team will be directed by Jean Paul van Poppel and Klas Johansson.

The stages

Stage 1 - April 28: Detmarovice - Stramberk, 92 km
Stage 2 - April 29: Lichnov - Lichnov, 115 km
Stage 3 - April 30: Orlová - Rydultowy, 73 km
Stage 4 - April 30: Kuznia Raciborska ITT 18 km
Stage 5 - May 1: Orlová - Orlová, 100 km

Scottish XC MTB series round 2

The second round of the 2005 Scottish Cross Country Mountain Bike Race Series takes place this weekend at the Aonach Mhor site near Fort William. The Nevis Range/Aonach Mhor Ski Area is situated 4 miles North of Fort William coming from the South, on A82, or 5 miles South of Spean Bridge if coming from the North (Inverness or A9 way).

The Round 1 elite men's race saw Gareth Montgomerie set the pace and take an early lead in the series with the up and coming 19 year old Robert Wardell following in second place. This weekend will see if the Scottish Champion James Ochterlonie has recovered from his early season exertions and injury in Cyprus and if he is fit again to test the young pretenders. With another strong field likely other top finishers from Glentress such as James Fraser Moodie, Scott MacRae, Iain Nimmo and Bruce McClearey will be out to improve their rankings. Top Scottish women's rider, Ruth McGavigan, raced with the Sport men last time, so it remains to be seen if the other women, especially Julie Cartner and Catherine Niblock will get a shot at challenging her this weekend.

Full series program

XC-1 - April 3: Glentress, Peebles
XC-2 - May 1: Fort William
XC-3 - May 29: Dalbeattie
XC-4 - June 26: Contin [champs], Inverness
XC-5 - August 7: Kelburn Country Park, Glasgow
XC-6 - August 28: Drumlanrig, Dumfries
XC-7 - September 25: Aviemore

More information:

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