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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Wachovia Week Special Cycling News for June 4, 2005

Edited by John Stevenson with Tim Maloney

Say captain - say what

Fast Freddy Rodriguez
Photo ©: Tim Maloney
Click for larger image

With his instantly recognizable stars and stripes jersey, Fred Rodriguez sometimes resembles a two-wheel version of Captain America. We spoke to the three time USPRO champ and with Sunday's Wachovia USPRO Championship looming, Fast Freddy is brimming with confidence.

Rodriguez' Davitamon-Lotto teammates told Cyclingnews that the American is in excellent condition and he returned their props, explaining that, "Henk (Vogels) is in good form after the Giro and Nico Mattan is really excited to be here racing in UCI level races for the first time. I hope I have the good form it takes to keep my USPRO title Sunday."

Although Fred was runner up again in Trenton, he is still faithful to his choice of 54x11 for his sprinting gear. "That's the gear that works for me and it just needs that little extra push." But if FredRod isn't Captain America come Monday, he's okay to go back to the regular Davitamon-Lotto team kit. "Oh, I'd be okay with that ... but I'm not going to look at that until it happens. And I'll be back here at Philly again to give it another shot. (Wachovia USPRO) is one of my favorite races." Rodriguez will ride the Tour de France in 2005, where his role, "will be a mixture of things; there are about four stages that are good for Robbie McEwen and if I get the okay to have my own chance, I'll go on the attack in some other stages."

Hammond on comeback trail

Roger Hammond
Photo ©: Tim Maloney
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Discovery Channel's British champ Roger Hammond is still recovering from his untimely meeting with a Belgian lamppost at Gent-Wevelgem that put the kibosh on his run at Paris-Roubaix. Hammond made his comeback last month in Catalunya and had a strong sprint in Trenton for fourth. "It's been a little bit disappointing for me," Hammond told Cyclingnews.

"It took a long time to heal up because my injuries were a lot worse than I thought. My strained tendons took a long time to heal. Initially I thought that I had only had a broken thumb, but the tendon strains took a longer time to heal than the broken bones!"

But Hammond has good morale and is determined to defend his UK championship title at the end of June. "Oh yeah, I'm getting stronger every day," he said. Hammond also showed off his cool new Giro Atmos helmet that the Santa Cruz firm created to match his elegant UK Champion jersey. "I just got this at Catalunya so I have to keep it," joked Hammond before he headed off to race at Trenton.

Liquigas-Bianchi's Fire & Ice

Liquiguys liking it
Photo ©: Tim Maloney
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Brazilian sprinter Luciano Pagliarini and Finnish champ Kjell Carlstrom are proof that opposites attract. The fiery Brazilian is know for his sprinting prowess, while Carlstrom comes from the Finnish hardman tradition of "sisu" or gutsy endurance riders. But the Liquigas-Bianchi teammates are friends and also roommates on their first trip to America.

Pagliarini and Carlstrom have raced all over the globe and are enjoying their experience at the Wachovia Cycling series. "The racing has been good and so has the weather; we're looking forward to Sunday," said Carlstrom.

Pagliarini has been able to enjoy a shopping expedition in Philly, as Air France lost his suitcase on the way over and five days later, the French carrier still has no idea where it is! "Yeah it's a real pain, but luckily I had my shoes and my bike", said Pagliarini, who lives in Treviso, Italy with his wife Julia. Liquigas-Bianchi was able to organize a rush shipment of team jerseys and short from Italy so the team was able to start all six riders at Thursday's Wachovia race in Trenton, where Marco Zanotti was 10th.

Raging Bull

Dario Pieri
Photo ©: Tim Maloney
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Although his nickname in the Lampre-Cafitta team guide is 'Svarovski', Dario Pieri's real nickname is "Il Toro di Scandicci" (the Bull Of Scandicci), witnessed by his powerful physique that enabled him to bull to a runner-up spot at Paris-Roubaix a few years ago. Cyclingnews shared a few moments with the likeable Toscano who likes coming to America.

"Yeah this is my second time here," said Pieri. "I was here four years ago with Saeco and I really like America... it's bello here and I'd like to live here but I don't speak English." We asked Pieri to compare cycling in Tuscany to what he's found in America and he replied, "The races here are shorter and are all circuits other than the international level races we have in Philadelphia. There are a lot of small teams the riders are really good here and so is the race organization. In fact, it's a lot like Italy."

We asked Pieri what his role is on the Lampre-Cafitta squad and he told us, "Philadelphia isn't an easy race to interpret. We have two riders in good shape, Ballan and Marzano so we will support them. That's my job Sunday."

Ultra Nico

33 year old Nico Mattan is one of Belgium's most popular riders. The garrulous Gent-Wevelgem winner likes his experiences so far in America. "This is my first UCI race here," Mattan explained before the Wachovia Trenton Invitational, "as I rode a criterium last year in North Carolina." Mattan took a break after a successful spring classics campaign where he had a controversial ProTour win at Gent-Wevelgem.

"Yeah I have pretty good form now and after Philly, I'll do Tour de Suisse and the (Belgian) national championships," he said, adding that he was if he'll ride the Tour de France at this point. We asked if he'd brought his vociferous fan club, Nico Mattan's Ultras and he laughed and said, "Oh they are back in Belgium training to support me in the next Belgian races!"

We also asked the likeable Mattan why he was so popular in Belgium and he said, "I don't know exactly... I like to have fun with the fans, have a beer with them and I'm just a regular guy. We had a gentleman's race one week after Gent-Wevelgem for me and there were 1600 people that turned out! It was great... so one good thing about me is that I can't say no to my fans but maybe that's a bad thing too..."

Celebrate for a good cause

Wachovia post-race party and Davis Phinney Foundation live auction

Aisner and Phinney
Photo ©: Tim Maloney
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Cyclingnews caught up with our diarist and America's winningest pro rider Davis Phinney at Trenton, where Davis was being interviewed by his old friend Michael Aisner, who is the speaker for the Wachovia Cycling Series. Phinney, who won the final edition of Aisner's much loved race, the Coors Classic in 1988, has spent plenty of time in Philly. Among his palmares is a USPRO championship, when Phinney sported his Captain America colors in 1991-92. Phinney is in town for USPRO Championships post-race party on Sunday in Philadelphia that will feature a Live Auction to benefit his Davis Phinney Foundation, which supports Parkinson's disease research and wellness. Phinney was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson's disease in 2000 and has battled the disease since, launching his foundation,, in 2004.

All are welcome at Tir na Nog Irish Bar and Grill at 1600 Arch St in Philadelphia from 8pm to closing for live music, drink specials and a special live auction of autographed team jerseys, Graham Watson prints and other rare cycling memorabilia to benefit Davis Phinney Foundation.

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