First Edition Cycling News for June 9, 2005
Edited by Hedwig Kröner & Jeff Jones
Favourites show their cards in Dauphiné TT
The Dauphiné Libéré's third stage time trial in Roanne today saw many of the Tour favourites show their cards in what was considered an important pre-Tour test. Not only Lance Armstrong, but also Santiago Botero, Levi Leipheimer, Floyd Landis, Alexandre Vinokourov, and Roberto Heras all tested their form against the clock. It was a windy stage, with the Mistral blowing the riders from all directions as they negotiated the tough 47 km course.
At the end of the stage, it was 2002 World Time Trial Champion Santiago Botero (Phonak) who claimed his second ever Dauphiné time trial win - he also won a similar stage in 2002. But Botero's margin of victory was only 1 second over American Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner), who again showed the benefits of his wind tunnel testing earlier this season to ride into the yellow and blue leader's jersey, with a 12 second buffer over Botero.
Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) had a tough day, conceding 26 seconds to Botero, but clearly showing that he is right on track to defend his title in the Tour de France. He was third in the stage and sits in third overall, and with the mountains to come, eyes will be on him and the other Tour favourites to see how they are climbing.
Speaking of other Tour favourites, Floyd Landis (Phonak, 4th at 39 seconds) and Alexandre Vinokourov (5th at 1'00) had good rides in Roanne as well, while Roberto Heras (38th at 3'32) still needs to tighten up his riding against the clock if he is to challenge for the Tour de France title.
Cunego down with mononucleosis?
Young Italian super talent Damiano Cunego (Lampre Caffita) may be ill with mononucleosis, which would explain his poor performances at this year's Giro d'Italia, where he was initially counted among the favourites. After finishing the Grand Tour 24 minutes behind the victorious Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel), the 2004 Giro winner underwent some blood testing to determine the state of his health. The examination revealed an abnormally important reaction to certain viruses, namely the Epstian-Barr virus (EBV), which causes mononucleosis infection.
According to a team statement, further testing will take place between today and June 20, 2005. In the meantime, Cunego's training schedule has been rearranged until the examining doctors are able to conclude on his health. Lampre-Caffita has not made any amendments to Cunego's racing schedule - yet. The illness usually lasts for four weeks, but fatigue from it may persist for a few months, and it could endanger Cunego's Tour de France participation, or at least his preparation for it. Mononucleosis is a viral infection whose symptoms include fever and tiredness. It is most common among people 15 to 35 years old, and cannot be treated except by rest.
Fassa and Balears line-up for Tour de Suisse
Italian team Fassa Bortolo has announced its roster for the upcoming Tour de Suisse from June 11-19. The following riders from the Italian ProTour team will travel over the Alps to its neighbouring country to take the start in Schaffhausen: Lorenzo Bernucci, Fabian Cancellara, Dario Frigo, Andrei Hauptman, Kim Kirchen, Vincenzo Nibali, Fabio Sacchi and Matteo Tosatto. The 'Silver team' will be directed by Directeurs Sportifs Alberto Volpi and Mario Chiesa.
As for the Illes Balears-Casse d'Epargne team, the following riders will accompany Alessandro Valverde on his pre-Tour de France test: Joan Horrach, Toni Colom, Jonathan González, Unai Osa, José Luis Arrieta, David Navas and Pablo Lastras.
T-Mobile ambitious for Switzerland
Defending champion Jan Ullrich spearheads the T-Mobile roster in the 69th edition of the Tour de Suisse, starting this Saturday. As planned, the team captain will use the nine-day race through the Alpine nation as the penultimate competitive warm-up before his last chance to beat Lance Armstrong at the Tour de France in July.
"Defending my title is not on my mind, this is all about a measured build-up to the Tour de France," the 31 year-old said. Lining up alongside Ullrich in Switzerland are fellow Germans Tobias Steinhauser, Stephan Schreck, Steffen Wesemann and Rolf Aldag, as well as the Italian duo of Giuseppe Guerini and Daniele Nardello, with the latter's form and fitness back on track after recovering from the back injury that forced him to abandon the Giro d'Italia. Russian Sergey Ivanov rounds out the eight-man roster.
The Italian climber Guerini finished eighth overall in 2004, and was runner-up to teammate Alexandre Vinokourov on GC in 2003. "We are using this race first and foremost as part of our Tour preparations. But maybe Giuseppe can also etch out a good overall placing," said T-Mobile directeur sportif Mario Kummer on the team's plans at the Tour de Suisse.
The competition in Switzerland will be tough, with a number of top class riders using the ProTour race as part of their build-up to the Tour. They include Paris-Nice winner Bobby Julich (CSC), Spanish rising star Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears), Austrian climber Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner), mystery man Joseba Beloki (Liberty Seguros), Giro star Gilberto Simoni (Lampre) and German young gun Patrik Sinkewitz (Quick.Step). The event kicks-off on Saturday, June 11, with a 170 km-long stage starting in Schaffhausen, in the north of the country. The first GC selection is expected as soon as Sunday, when the riders tackle a 36 km-time trial in and around Weinfelden.
While stages one, four and five will offer the sprinters a chance to flex their muscles, stage three, which finishes atop St. Anton (in Austria), and the summit finishes in Arosa (stage six) and Verbier (stage eight) will certainly test the climbing legs in the peloton. "These stages will give me a chance to test my climbing form. I want to showing myself in front on at least one or two stages," said an ambitious Ullrich before the race.
The ninth and final stage, starting and finishing in Ulrichen, will certainly be interesting, even if the final classification may already be determined: 50 km of climbing, and 50 km of descending, taking in the leg-breaking Nufenen, Gotthard and Furka passes. The severity of Sunday's crunch final stage should rule out any repeat of last year's freakish one second winning margin and keep the race leader on his guard.