Latest Cycling News for August 31, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones
An interview with Tom Danielson
The new hope
Tom Danielson is considered one of American cycling's greatest hopes - talented, young, and with a willingness to learn, the man from Durango is currently at the Vuelta a España and eager to perform well. It's here that Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes sat down and spoke with Danielson about injuries, race potential and the year so far.
Tom Danielson has got his Tour of Spain off to a perfect start, finishing a fine fifth in the prologue on Saturday and then showing good climbing legs on the Alto de San Jerónimo on Sunday. After four stages of the race he's lying in 11th place overall and, crucially, building confidence and experience for future Grand Tour campaigns.
The 27 year old Discovery Channel rider has long been considered one of US cycling's brightest talents. While racing for Mercury in 2002, Danielson won the Tour of Qinghai Lake in China and broke Tyler Hamilton's course record by almost a minute when he took the Mount Washington Hill Climb. The following year, he won the Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia, earning considerable praise in the process. More victories followed in the US, in events such as the Pomona Valley Stage Race, the Redlands Bicycle Classic, the Nature Valley Grand Prix, the Cascade Cycling Classic and the Tour de Toona. He also set a course record for the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic.
People were starting to get excited about the young talent from Durango, Colorado, and Fassa Bortolo duly snapped him up, giving the then-Saturn rider his first European contract. However, although the move to Giancarlo Ferretti's silver squad seemed like a dream for the young professional, he was frequently left on the sidelines and never got a chance to show his worth. Winning the Mount Evans hill climb in another new record hinted at what could have been had he been given a real shot.
He was frustrated, but he would get his chance. Lance Armstrong's career was winding down, and the Discovery Channel team were looking for new American talent to nurture. Danielson fitted the bill perfectly. Recognising that he had a lot to learn, the team set about showing him the ropes and gave him a masterclass when they guided him to an excellent victory in the Dodge Tour de Georgia. Danielson finished ahead of established European professionals such as Levi Leipheimer, Floyd Landis and Armstrong himself; it was, he says, his biggest victory and one which gave him a lot of satisfaction.
"It really meant a lot, and for a number of different reasons," he said. "The number one was that the team and Lance and Johan had faith in me and put pressure on my shoulders. It was a very difficult field - you could see that the American guys and the European guys who were there are winning ProTour events this season, and have taken first, sixth and ninth in the Tour. And also the guys who helped them do that.
"So it was a good field, but the most important thing was that the team came up with a very difficult plan for me. Lance helped me a lot and having an idol, a mentor like that to come up with a plan and for me to put the icing on the cake was a huge accomplishment. It taught me that if I believe in myself, I can push my own limits. I hope to achieve that here, next year even more, and hopefully arrive at the top eventually."
Euskaltel playing the Aitor Gonzalez card
After Iban Mayo lost seven minutes to the GC favourites on the second stage, Euskaltel-Euskadi will now base its classification hopes on Aitor Gonzalez, winner of the Vuelta in 2002. After Stage 4 yesterday, Euskaltel team manager Julian Gorospe told TVE that he has a lot of confidence in Aitor Gonzalez's condition, and believe that he can obtain some good results in the Vuelta. "He's in good shape, with good morale, appetite, and concentration. I hope that the team will be able to support him to get a good result."
Gorospe explained that Iban Mayo is still having small problems, but that he is getting better every day and hopes that he will find his form once the race reaches the mountains. Iban Mayo himself said that he has been suffering in the early stages, but hopes to play a supporters role for Aitor in the coming weeks.
Diary watch: young guns at the Vuelta
By Susan Westemeyer
Stage 3 brought Gerolsteiner's Thomas Ziegler the chance to make his break and go for the win 18 km before the end - but maybe there's a secret 'bad luck' explanation for why he didn't get the victory. "As I noticed that nobody came with me, I realized it wouldn't work out. I had no chance alone against the fast field. But you never know what might happen and sometimes things work out. But I wasn't disappointed when the peloton caught me back in at 4 km.
"What did bother me, though, was that I have lost my good-luck charm. My girlfriend gave me a ring which I always take off my finger during a race - because of the possibility of injuries in a crash - and I wear it on a chain around my neck. But the chain caught on my speedo during my breakaway and the ring flew away. Now I have to ride 18 more stages without my good luck charm!"
The Gerolsteiner "luck" continued the next morning. "We came downstairs for breakfast at 8 a.m. - no hotel personnel were anywhere to be seen, not to mention no breakfast. Our soigneur Nikolai took over the kitchen and came up with some day-old rolls and the muesli that we always have with us. The kitchen workers finally came at 8:30 and didn't seem to be so happy to see a stranger in their kitchen. But at least we had something to eat." (www.radsportnews.com)
Francaise des Jeux's Bernhard Eisel got a top ten finish Tuesday, much to his own surprise. "I was in 40th place with about 500 meters to go. Realistically I had no chance. Then a hole opened up and I went for it. I was able to make up a lot of places in the last 200 meters. Unfortunately it wasn't enough for a place on the podium. The legs just aren't as they were by the Tour de France, so therefore I'm very satisfied with the outcome."
But the action isn't over just because the riders are over the finish line, Eisel learned. "I came across the finish line on the far left side, where a Spanish cameraman stood. As a pro cyclist, I know that sometimes space is tight. But this journalist didn't move back, he moved forward another meter into the road. I was able to avoid a crash only with great difficulty. I really got upset over this." (www.eisel.com)
Ballerini fears Boonen
Italian national selector Franco Ballerini will be aiming to repeat the squadra azzurra's success from Zolder 2002, where the Italian team rode a great race to deliver Mario Cipollini to the line. That year, Alessandro Petacchi was one of Cipollini's lead out men; now, he is the top favourite in case of a bunch sprint.
After the Vuelta's fourth stage, which was won by Petacchi, Ballerini commented to Sportwereld.be that two wins in a row wasn't necessarily an ideal situation for him. "I would have preferred to see Tom Boonen win today," he said. "And in Cuenca, Erik Zabel. It would be very good for the squadra azzurra because we would have two countries that would be completely behind their sprinter. Still, for me Tom Boonen remains the rival of Alessandro Petacchi...Boonen is a very complete opponent. A man that in a race like that, can get with the right break, someone who can do it alone, and is still the biggest threat to Peta at the finish. You don't win the Ronde van Vlaanderen, Paris-Roubaix and a few Tour stages by magic."
Ballerini also commented about the Australian team, which he doesn't believe will help Italy and Belgium control the race. "We also can't count on Australia, because the sprinters will bite each other's heads off, although you have a 'McEwen corner' with 600 metres to go."
Koerts to leave Cofidis
36 year-old Dutch sprinter Jans Koerts will leave the Cofidis team at the end of this season, reports ANP. Koerts said he was disillusioned with the news, as he was under the impression that there would be no problems for him to stay with the French team. But now, he believes he will have difficulty finding a new team. He suffered a serious crash in the Volta a Portugal, and is still unable to train on the road. He will not be able to race again this season. "Before my crash I showed how hard I can work for a team. I hope the team leaders also saw that. Otherwise, the end of my career is getting very close."
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)