Latest Cycling News for August 12, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones
Sparkling lineup for Clasica San Sebastian
By Shane Stokes
One of the strongest fields assembled this season for a one day race will line up on Saturday in the Clásica San Sebastián in Spain. The provisional start list reads like a who's who of modern cycling, with Tour de France stars such as Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), Systems), Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto), Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner), George Hincapie, Yaroslav Popovych (both Discovery Channel), Christophe Moreau and Andrei Kashechkin (Credit Agricole) all down to start.
Other big names expected are ProTour leader Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi), Olympic champion Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step), 2004 Tour of Italy winner Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Caffita), Tour de Suisse champ Aitor Gonzalez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), great American hope Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel) and former world road race champion Igor Astarloa (Team Barloworld Valsir), who returned to winning ways in the Tour de Burgos.
Of course, much attention will be justifiably focused on the rider wearing dossard number 1, namely Miguel Martin Perdiguero of the Phonak Hearing Systems team. Last year the Spaniard surprised Bettini and then-World Cup leader Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) when he won a five up sprint to take the win, with fellow Spaniards Marcos Antonio Serrano Rodriguez (Liberty Seguros) and Alberto Martinez (Relax-Bodysol) landing fourth and fifth. Basso was a handful of seconds back in sixth, one place ahead of another strong rider, Gerolsteiner's Georg Totschnig. Form permitting, Perdiguero has the right mixture of climbing ability and sprint power to challenge once more for the prize.
Cyclingnews will be providing live coverage of the Clasica San Sebastian on Saturday, starting at 3:00 pm CEST; 6:00 am PDT; 9:00 am EDT; 11:00 pm AEST
Moment of truth in San Sebastian for Switzerland
By Tomas Nilsson
By climbing to the tenth position in the latest Pro Tour rankings, Switzerland might get a nine man team to the World Championships road race, unless Ukraine (Gustov, Popovych and Gonchar) can bounce back in the Clasica San Sebastian, the only remaining Pro Tour race before August 15. The margin is a narrow seven points.
The UCI nations ranking by August 15 decides the numbers of participants for each country for the men's road race at the World Championships. The top ten nations on the Pro Tour ranking are qualified for nine riders (down from 12 in recent years). For the next levels of participation, six or three riders, the position on the respective Continental tours decide the numbers of participants. But that means that a nation like Switzerland, with most of its good riders in Pro Tour teams, might have a problem qualifying at all. Switzerland is ranked so low on the European Continental Tour that it isn't qualified for a team. Only one Swiss rider would then be allowed to start, since the nation has riders in the top 200 of the individual Pro Tour rankings which allow for one spot in the World's road race. Ukraine, on the other hand, is qualified for a three man team from the European tour.
Norway's Thor Hushovd will anyway most likely be a lone rider since Norway hasn't qualified from the European Continental Tour. The 16 top nations under those from the Pro Tour will field teams. Norway is in 18th position among these. But Hushovd's, and by all means Kurt-Asle Arvesen's, positions in the individual Pro Tour rankings allows for one rider, most likely Hushovd. Estonia and Luxembourg are in similar situations.
For other nations, the system means that the riders in Continental Pro and Continental teams qualify their nations on the various continental rankings. But then the riders in the Pro Tour teams will most likely start in the race. Denmark, for instance, is for the moment qualified for six riders thanks to the efforts of Anders Lund, Martin Pedersen and Jacob Moe Rasmussen of Team GLS, while the World's squad most likely will be dominated by riders from CSC and other Pro Tour teams.
There are still a number of races counting in the rankings this coming week end, plus ongoing stage races Volta a Portugal and Regio Tour. But the only possible change seems to be that an Austrian team might replace Croatia from Europe. On other continents, the Tour de la Guadeloupe is the only qualifying race but the situation there doesn't suggest any changes.
From continents outside of Europe South Africa, Burkina Faso, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Japan, Uzbekistan and New Zealand will field teams while Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Mexico are qualified for one rider each.
Also see: Nations rankings
Strong T-Mobile team for Deutschland Tour
With six Tour de France riders in its line up for the Deutschland Tour (Tour of Germany), T-Mobile will be one of the top favourites for the nine-day stage race that starts next Monday, August 15 in Altenburg. Captain Jan Ullrich will spearhead the team, hoping to capitalise on his good form that saw him finish third in the Tour de France. "If I can keep my form of the previous weeks, I think I can mix it at the front and battle for victory," said Ullrich.
Apart from Ullrich, there will be Tour riders Alexandre Vinokourov, who won the 2001 Deutschland Tour, Italian climber Giuseppe Guerini, Matthias Kessler, Stephan Schreck and Tobias Steinhauser. The team will be rounded off by classics specialists Steffen Wesemann and Bram Schmitz. The tall Dutchman is back in training after his abandon in the Benelux Tour.
For the first time after its relaunch six years ago, the Deutschland Tour doesn't start at the end of May, but takes place three weeks after the Tour de France. Ullrich sees this as an advantage. "For me, it's no build-up race for the Tour any more. So instead of having to save my energy, I can give it my best shot," he said.
The tour is expected to be tougher than ever, and the fourth stage from Kufstein to Sölden is the first one in the history of the race to feature an 'Hors catégorie' climb. The finish on the Rettenbachferner (2,684 m) is the second highest summit on this year's ProTour calendar, after the Stelvio (2,758m) in the Giro d'Italia. "Of course, the ascent to the Rettenbachferner is the highlight of the tour," said team director Mario Kummer, while Jan Ullrich commented: "That's one hell of a stage. If you're not at the front there, forget about the podium."
Team manager Olaf Ludwig agreed with the prognostics: "The parcours is incredibly tough. The winner needs to be a good climber. In my opinion, the stage from Kufstein to Sölden is on par with the mountain stages of the Tour."
After the inclusion in the ProTour calendar the Deutschland Tour has been extended by two days and is now approximately 1,530 km long. Apart from the two tough mountain stages, the 30 km time trial at the penultimate stage is likely to shake the GC.
A total of 21 teams will be on the start line in Altenburg on Monday - the Pro Continental Team Wiesenhof received a wild card entry. Quick Step has named the 2004 Deutschland Tour champion (and future T-Mobile rider) Patrik Sinkewitz as well as HEW-Cyclassics winner Filippo Pozzato. The Dutch Rabobank team pins its hopes on Michael Rasmussen, winner of the Tour's mountain jersey, and Tour stage winner Pieter Weening. Gerolsteiner has selected Levi Leipheimer and Georg Totschnig.
Stage 1 - August 15: Altenburg - Plauen, 170 km
Van Dijk extends
Dutch sprinter Stefan van Dijk has extended his contract with the MrBookmaker.com for another two years. "My ambitions and that of the team lie close to each other," said Van Dijk. "We both would gladly ride the Tour de France. Now that the Tour organisation has separated from the ProTour, the chances are open for more teams."
Muraglia renews with LPR
Team LPR has renewed the contract of Giuseppe Muraglia for another year. Muraglia has one victory this season: the second stage of the Giro del Trentino on April 20.
Track figures up
According to the UCI, interest in track cycling is growing, with the 2004-2005 Track World Cup 'Classics' series recording its best TV viewing figures yet. With a TV audience of nearly 30 million watching over 91 hours of coverage, the Track World Cup was seen by a few thousand more people this season than last. In addition, the 2005 UCI Track World Championships in Los Angeles, USA, enjoyed more than 75 hours of TV (live, delayed broadcasts, special programs, sports and news broadcasts). Most of the coverage was shown in Europe (60.8 percent of broadcasting time), with the remaining 39.2 percent being shown around the rest of the world. 132 countries broadcast the 2005 World's, up from 111 that showed coverage of the 2004 World's in Melbourne.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)