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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for April 29, 2005

Edited by Anthony Tan

Ulmer quashes retirement rumours

"I'm not retiring and I'm not pregnant"

At a press conference in New Zealand today, Sarah Ulmer, the current world record holder in the women's 3km individual pursuit, quashed ongoing speculation that she would retire after her hugely successful Athens campaign. Instead, the 29 year-old told said she would switch her focus to the road time trial, with the 2006 world championships in Austria and the Commonwealth Games as likely targets.

"I'm not retiring and I'm not pregnant. We can end those rumours right now," began Ulmer. "To be honest, when I finished the Olympics, that was going to be it and I told myself right up to the Olympic Games that was going to be my last race and that's how I approached it. But I'm not ready to retire, I'm not ready to give up sport yet."

However, Ulmer confirmed she is ready to retire from the track, and the same event she has dominated since taking the crown from previous world record holder Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel at the world championships in Melbourne last year. "I'm not ready to give up cycling but I'm equally not ready to go back to the same event that I've done for 12 years. I feel like I've done all I can do in that event. I don't think I can top what I did last year in the pursuit."

Speaking about diverting her attention to the road time trial, Ulmer admitted there was "no way" she would be ready to ride this year's world road championships in Madrid the way she'd like to, although she will attempt to qualify for a place on the team.

"There's no way I'm going to be in shape to contest a world championship like I'd want to contest it, but that's something we've got to decide. I've got to make the decision whether I want to line up knowing I'm going to get a relative pasting, deal with that and take it for the experience, or not line up for that very reason," she said.

"It's [the road time trial] a totally different event, it's basically a totally different sport. I've never trained for it before and I've basically never ridden one before except for in tours. I'm going to have to suffer obviously a lot of losses before I become even remotely competitive again."

Discovery team update

With the Tour de Georgia over and Discovery Channel's main man for the Giro d'Italia, Tom Danielson, showing he's ready after his win Stateside, the 27 year-old and his team manager Johan Bruyneel took time to reflect on a stressful but successful week.

"We were all disappointed after the time trial [Stage 3] but we had to stay confident and realize that it was still possible [to win]," said Danielson to ThePacline.com. "For all of us, we had to have the mental energy to bring us back up and focus on the job ahead of us. I'd say that's where Johan came in to play, as he was great in motivating the team."

Bruyneel said that if the gap was at three minutes after the time trial, then winning overall wouldn't have been possible: "even with one minute, it was already a big gap, but it was possible", he said.

"It was good to see Tour [de France] guys like Eki, Chechu, Azevedo and Lance wanting to race and win it. It was also nice to see that everyone believed in such a young guy like Tom. We all knew he could go uphill fast, but he had yet to prove it in a race. It was nice to see them go for it and give their all."

Added Danielson: "I kept telling myself what Lance had been saying to me all week - 'believe in yourself and start acting like you can do this. You have to have more confidence in yourself.' I wanted more than anything to show I could handle pressure and could be there when the team needed me."

While extremely satisfied with the results, Discovery's sporting manager also admitted things have been a little tougher for the team this year, evidenced by the number of second and third place finishes. "If this was last year, probably half of those second place finishes would have been wins," said Bruyneel. "That's just the difference between this year and last year. Last year, it all worked. This year, it's been a bit more difficult."

Popovych returns at Catalunya

Bruyneel was also relieved to hear one of Lance Armstrong's right-hand men for the Tour de France, Yaroslav Popovych, has finally obtained the necessary visa to compete in Europe.

"It's been difficult for him to obtain the necessary visa due to the change in governments but I talked with him today and he finally got it," Bruyneel said. "He's been training well and as of right now, is due to start the Tour of Catalunya (May 16-22), the [Critérium du] Dauphiné Libéré (June 5-12), the new team time trial event (June 19) in Holland and then the Tour. He feels good and at this moment, we don't want to take any risks with him at this stage, so I don't want to put him in a race if he's not fully ready for it. I would rather have him train."

'One of my best' Springs for Hincapie

After a successful Spring campaign, the team's Classics captain, George Hincapie, is now taking a short rest back home in South Carolina before preparing himself for the Tour de France.

With his early season victory in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, followed by a sixth overall in Tirreno-Adriatico, seventh in Flanders, then second in Paris-Roubaix, the 31 year-old rates his season so far as one of his best. "As for as the Spring in general, I feel it was one of my best," said Hincapie.

"Since Milan-San Remo, I feel I was solid in all the races and felt stronger than in years past. I'm pretty happy with the way it went. In Flanders, I made some mistakes and probably could have had a better result without those tactical errors.

"At Roubaix, I think I almost rode the perfect race and just didn't have the speed in the last 100 meters. That's probably the only thing I would have liked to have done different. Boonen was super good - the best he's ever ridden in his life - and was unbeatable. There wasn't anything I could have done different, other than to be in the winning break without Tom, and that wasn't going to be possible."

News from Romandie

Schleck under the weather

Although Team CSC's best-placed rider on the overall classification at the Tour de Romandie, Fränk Schleck wasn't feeling too good before the start of the second stage in Fleurier yesterday, with his directeur sportif Alain Gallopin saying the Luxembourger caught a cold overnight. However, the 25 year-old still managed to finish in the 128-strong peloton after a moderately difficult day, the same time as stage winner and new race leader Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo), and therefore hold onto his top 10 position.

"Last night Fränk didn't feel well, but today he was more or less ok, and like the rest of our riders he had no problem keeping up with the peloton," said Gallopin on the team's website, www.team-csc.com.

Schleck's team-mate Giovanni Lombardi also finished fourth in the stage behind Petacchi, but Gallopin acknowledges there's little any team can do against the La Spezia speedster. "Lombardi was right on Petacchi's wheel, and he tried to go for it by opening the sprint. Unfortunately for him, Petacchi is almost unbeatable at the moment," he said.

Kohl looking forward to the cols

Boasting three category one climbs in less than 50 kilometres coupled with a mountain top finish, today's queen stage [Stage 3] of the Tour de Romandie is one for the climbers and could well decide the overall winner of the race. One rider looking forward to the challenge is T-Mobile's Austrian neo-pro, Bernhard Kohl.

"I felt good today and tried my luck with a few attacks," said the 22 year-old, who was part of the short-lived 15-rider break that formed on the climb of La Sagne at roughly the 75 kilometre mark. Prior to joining T-Mobile, Kohl rode for Rabobank's feeder team in 2003 and 2004, as well as Austrian Division III squad Elk Haus Radteam Sportunion Schrems in 2002.

No Giro for Klier

After abandoning on the opening road stage of the Tour de Romandie, T-Mobile Team's Andreas Klier is reported to be still suffering the after-effects of his crash in Gent-Wevelgem, where he suffered concussion and injured his knee. "I wasn't expecting that it would all pass off perfectly, but if I had known before hand that I would abandon the race during stage one, then I wouldn't have travelled here," said a disappointed Klier on the team's website, www.t-mobile-team.com.

"The after-effects of the crash have obviously sapped much of my strength and power. I could ride my bike, but not on proper training rides. The knee feels fine now, but I was still suffering from frequent headaches on the bike [on Wednesday]."

The 28 year-old German was scheduled to be part of the team's make-up for the upcoming Giro d'Italia, but admits that will no longer be the case in his current form.

"I was looking towards the Giro and then I wanted to take a break, so I could prepare intensively for the second half of the season. But now I have to face up to the fact that there will be no Giro for me," he said.

Barloworld's weekend racing roster

Team Barloworld-Valsir will use the same line-up of riders at both the UCI Cat. 1.1 GP Herning and CSC Classic races, to be held in Denmark on Saturday and Sunday this weekend.

Team roster: Stefan Adamsson, Luca Celli, Rodney Green, René Joergensen, Antonio Salomone.

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