Latest Cycling News for August 5, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones
Pre-Vuelta tester in Burgos
By Shane Stokes
Spanish cycling continues its build up for this year's Vuelta a España with the start of the 2.HC ranked Vuelta a Burgos on Sunday. A total of 12 teams will line up for the five day race in the north of Spain, with Euskaltel Euskadi, Liberty Seguros-Würth, Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne, Saunier Duval-Prodir, Relax-Fuenlabrada, Comunidad Valenciana, Kaiku and Andalucia Paul Versan attracting most of the home support. Foreign teams travelling include Mr.Bookmaker-Sportstech, Barloworld Valsir, Acqua & Sapone-Adria Mobil and Tenax-Nobili Rubinetterie.
Despite the fact that the race must share the limelight with several other concurrently-running events such as the ProTour Eneco Tour of Benelux plus the 2.HC ranked Post Danmark Rundt and Volta a Portugal em Bicicleta, the Burgos Tour start list has some big names. Tour de France stage winner Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears) is down to start, the race serving to test his recovery from the knee injury which prompted his retirement from the Tour. He was utterly dominant here 12 months ago, winning the overall plus three out of the four stages.
Former Vuelta winner Aitor Gonzalez (Euskaltel) will be aiming to replicate the sparkling form which won him a stage plus the overall classification of this year's Tour of Switzerland, while his team-mate Roberto Laiseka should also be prominent on the mountain stages. Jonathan González Rios (Illes Balears) was fifth last year and may get his chance if Valverde isn't back to top form, while David Etxebarria (Liberty Seguros) can usually be counted upon to stir things up a bit. Jeremy Hunt (MrBookmaker) has shown flashes of good form lately and should figure in any bunch sprints.
The race gets underway on Sunday with a lumpy 159.63 kilometre stage from Burgos to Medina de Pomar. Starting at 880 metres in altitude, the riders pass a Meta Volante (Hot Spot) at Poza de la Sal, 39.67 kilometres into the stage, then reach the day's highest point just over 26 kilometres later when they crest the 978 metre second-category Alto del Portillo de Busto. 12 kilometres of descending takes them to the second Meta Volante, then onwards towards the third category climbs of Alto de Cereceda (106.42 kilometres, 720 metres in height) and the Alto de Bocos (138.14 km, 763 m). Another Meta Volante comes shortly before this final climb, with the riders then building up for a probable bunch finish in Medina de Pomar.
Stage two begins in Lerma and tops out at the summit of the 1400 metre third category Alto del Manquillo after just over 65 kilometres of racing. Three Meta Volantes feature, at Covarruvias (18.85 km), Pradoluengo (71.12 km) and Belorado (113.79 km), with the riders then racing on towards the third cat summit finish at Alto de San Juan del Monte after 175 kilometres in the saddle.
Day three is just 9.55 kilometres in length but although it's the shortest of the race, the gaps created in this time trial from Milagros to Aranda de Duero will start to sift out the race contenders. The general classification is then likely to be upended the following day with the hardest finish of the race, the GPM Especial (special category) climb to Lagunas de Neila coming 156.76 kilometres after the start in Vilviestre del Pinar. The peloton will face four other climbs along the way, the cat. 3 ascents of Alto de Cargadero (19.6 km, 1327.48 m), Alto de Collado (55.83 km, 1268.19 m) and Alto Arroyo (89.38 km, 1137.19 m) plus the first category Alto El Collado (136.68 km, 1382.2 m) punctuating the stage profile. Meta Volantes at Hontoria del Pinar (40.51 km), at the 61.43 km point and at Salas de los Infantes (80.39 km) will further spice things up.
That leaves just one more day to settle things, and there is certainly plenty of opportunity for attackers on this lumpy 168 kilometre stage from Queso de Samasmón to Burgos. There is just one classified climb, the third cat Alto de los Buitres coming 15.2 kilometres from the line, but before then the course detail reveals a saw-toothed, undulating profile which will encourage aggression. Meta Volantes sprints come at Villadiego (10.25 km), Melgar de Fernamental (32.91 km) and Castrojeriz (56.5 km).
August in North America means criteriums galore
By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
With the Fourth of July barbecues long gone and the first day of school looming on the horizon, August means the last chance for a family vacation and the culmination of North American criterium racing. From big money criteriums to the USPRO championships, fans all across the U.S. can get their fill of racing before the end of the season.
When listing favourites for these races, the numerous sprinters of Health Net-Maxxis have to be at the top of the list. Gord Fraser, Greg Henderson, Ivan Dominguez and Tyler Farrar have all ridden well this year. Navigator's Insurance has more than a couple of sprinters in their stable as well with Vasilli Davidenko finishing his career and looking to go out on top. Jelly Belly-Pool Gel would have the USPRO criterium jersey on the team were it not for the retirement of Jonas Carney. However, riders like Alex Candelario, Dave McCook and Danny Pate can all challenge in these races. Colavita-Sutter Home's Mark McCormack leads another strong team with sprinter Juan Jose Haedo.
Other professional and amateur teams will also be using these races as a springboard for next year's sponsorships, while individual riders hope to score a contract for next year. On the women's side, Tina Pic (Quark) is arguably the queen of criteriums, reigning as U.S. champion for the past three years. But outside of the national championships, Pic will have to battle the likes of Ina Teutenberg (T-Mobile) and other strong riders.
Cyclingnews offers a closer look what is ahead for North American racing in this month named after Caesar Augustus.
August 1 - NYC Championships
Unfortunately for the Big Apple, this year's race was without a sponsor and is indefinitely postponed.
August 6 - Bank of America Invitational
One date on just about every U.S. sprinter's calendar is August 6. After last year's initial success, the folks in Charlotte, NC have added a women's race to what is being billed as the "World's Richest Criterium," and with a cash prize list of more than $175,000, who is to argue? Six rider teams will compete for a chance to win on a tight and fast, 1.2 mile course in the uptown district.
Defending champion Ivan Dominguez, now riding for Health Net-Maxxis, is once again a favourite. Davitamon-Lotto, the team of Fred Rodriguez and last year's third place winner Henk Vogels, has accepted an invitation.
Women's Event: 5:30 p.m.
August 14 - Chevron Manhattan Beach Grand Prix
On the other side of the country from Charlotte, the 44th Annual edition of this criterium standard will once again feature the same challenging course. Shaped like a slightly bent "paperclip", the course features two long straightaways, two sweeping 180 degree turns, and 150 feet of climbing per lap. The final turn is just 200 meters from the finish line, so spectators can find many good places to watch.
Tyler Farrar (Health Net-Maxxis) and Tina Pic (Quark) are the defending champions and are good bets for possible repeat wins.
Pro Women: 11:25 a.m.
August 20-21 - USPRO & Elite National Criterium Championships
For the criterium racing junkie in your group ride, this weekend should be circled and not missed. The Chicago suburb of Downers Grove, IL continues as host of the USPRO and elite criterium championships for men and women, with a tough course and lots of racing packed into two days. Saturday features category racing on the same course as the pro's, culminating with a half-distance pro-am for both men and women.
Sunday begins early with a rarely seen men's category 2-only race before the elite amateur men and women fight for the stars and stripes. Like Philadelphia, the USPRO champion will be the first American to cross the line. Last year's finish was one for the story books as two veteran pros, Jonas Carney and Robbie Ventura, raced in their final event as professionals, with Ventura crashing in the final corner and Carney winning the jersey.
This year's race will be equally interesting with the dominant Health Net-Maxxis team consisting of only one American sprinter in Tyler Farrar. Tina Pic (Quark) has owned the women's race since 2001 and looks as strong as ever.
Elite Women: 10:00 a.m.
August 27-28 - Chris Thater Memorial
The people of Binghamton, NY have been running this event for the past 22 years in order to raise awareness of drunk driving. Not only does it feature an NRC criterium with $40,000 in prizes, but a 5km running race worth $15,000 as well. The cycling course is a 1.2 mile roll through a city park that includes a small climb and plenty of non-cycling entertainment for the less-than obsessed cycling fan in your family.
A variety of people have won this race, including Cyclingnews diarist John Lieswyn (Health Net-Maxxis) and Cyclingnews' own Kristy Scrymgeour, riding for Saturn.
Pro Men: Noon
Velo wants to follow Tosatto
Alessandro Petacchi's lead out man Marco Velo is desirous of following Matteo Tosatto to Quick.Step-Innergetic next season, reports Sportwereld.be. Velo considers that he does not have a good enough offer from Domina Vacanze to stick with Petacchi, who will ride in their colours in 2006. But Quick.Step's Patrick Lefevere is not sure whether he can afford Velo either. "We'll see, but I don't have the money to take on everyone," said Lefevere.
Lombardi to manage Basso
Italian Giovanni Lombardi, who will finish his career with CSC at the end of 2007, already has a job lined up after he retires. The 36 year-old will become Ivan Basso's personal manager in 2008. Basso is one of the top favourites to win the Tour de France in coming years.
Bayley to ride Sydney Thousand
By Les Clarke
In his first race since January this year, Dual Olympic gold medallist Ryan Bayley has agreed to compete in the Sydney Thousand on November 27. It's a major boost for the track festival, with Bayley one of the most sought-after riders for the meet.
The young West Australian agreed to terms with promoter John Scott to ride at the Dunc Gray Velodrome in a total of four events, joining Australian track cycling stars Anna Meares, Shane Kelly, Ben Kersten and Kerrie Meares in racing at this festival which has been brought back to life by Scott during 2005. Scott identified Bayley's signature as a vital tool in making the Sydney Thousand a success - and understandably he's extremely pleased.
Scott said it's a "huge step for this race. Our next target is Theo Bos and then Rene Wolff; if we get these two we'll then have a world-class match sprint."
Scott has been trying to lure Bos to Australia in November to take on Bayley after the Australian beat the young Dutch rider in last year's Olympic sprint final to take the gold. "We've been making contact with Bos' people in Amsterdam, and it looks pretty good," Scott said about the progress of negotiations.
But for now Scott has secured his biggest signing to date, and although Bayley was injured in January this year while racing at the Rockhampton Cup on Wheels, he's been back in training with the AIS in Adelaide during the past three months and is hungry to compete at the highest level again. Scott is confident of being able to sign both Bos and Wolff, so the stage would be set for a match sprint second only to the Olympic offering, and a calibre of racing not seen in Sydney since the 2000 Olympics.
Olympia's Tour to Surhuisterveen
The Dutch town of Surhuisterveen hosts a couple of big cycling events each year, including the Profronde van Surhuisterveen (post-Tour criterium in August) and the Centrumcross (cyclo-cross race in December). According to the Friesch Dagblad, Surhuisterveen will gain another race next year, hosting a stage of the Olympia's Tour in May. Surhuisterveen will serve as the finish of the stage on May 16, and the start on May 17.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)