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Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News for June 17, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

Rogers' mountain training pays off

Mick Rogers (Quick.Step)
Photo ©: Sirotti
Click for larger image

World time trial champion Michael Rogers (Quick.Step) took the lead in the Tour de Suisse yesterday with a strong performance in the final four uphill kilometres of the sixth stage. With Chris Horner and Vincenzo Nibali already up the road for first and second, Rogers went with a group containing Fabian Jeker and Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier), Frank Schleck (CSC), Koldo Gil (Liberty), Tadej Valjavec (Phonak), and Aitor Gonzalez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), distancing race leader Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) by 34 seconds at the finish. Rogers was the best of his group to finish third in the stage, which gave him a 20 second advantage over Ullrich on GC.

"It was quite a hard stage and the last climb was very hard but I've done a lot more training in the mountains compared with last year and I'm feeling good," said Rogers who lives and trains in the mountains near Varese in Italy during the European professional season. "I'm in much better condition than the same time last year as well.

"I really wanted the leader's jersey but I concentrated on my own race and not on Jan (Ullrich)," explained Rogers. "It was a tough stage and I just worked on staying in front but I think if he (Ullrich) had the legs he would have gone with me when I attacked."

On Friday morning before the start of stage 7, Rogers was quietly confident that he could hold onto the lead for the remaining three days. "Obviously the legs are a little bit sore but everyone is in the same boat," he said. "We've got three pretty hard days coming up, especially the last day, which is short but has three very solid mountains in it. It's going to be quite a job to hold it but I'm confident, I have a great team around me and my condition is good."

This week has also boosted Rogers' confidence ahead of next month's Tour de France. "I pretty much based the whole year around the Tour and it seems it's coming good at the right time," he said. "I'll have a short rest after this race finished and then move onto France with all the groundwork done and well prepared."

Cyclingnews will cover the seventh stage live, starting at 15.00 CEST.

Eddy Merckx turns 60

The world's greatest ever cyclist, Eddy Merckx, turns 60 today (Friday). The Belgian, who is fit and looking as lean as he did in his racing days, has been celebrated around the world for several weeks already, and he is clearly still as popular as ever.

"It's been a madhouse for weeks," Eddy told Het Nieuwsblad. "I think that now it's really the last time that I will agree to all the requests from the national and international media." Today, he will give interviews to RTBF radio, Radio 2, Omroep Vlaams-Brabant, a German TV crew, VTM news, and then RTBF TV, squeezing in a drink with his former teammates and some time with his family late in the evening.

The greater Merckx family may be enhanced very soon as Axel's wife Jodi is expecting their second daughter, possibly even today. "That would be beautiful," said Eddy. "Only, you can't control nature."

An interview with Simon Gerrans

All guns blazing

Having just won Tour du Finistère
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
Click for larger image

Signing with Ag2R Prévoyance in late 2004, Simon Gerrans has stormed onto the pro scene in 2005 with a string of top ten victories against stiff competition, including victory in the Tour du Finistère in April - and the 25-year-old Victorian has only just begun. Cyclingnews' Les Clarke caught up with Gerrans just after he'd finished the Tour of Luxembourg to see how this young gun is firing.

Moving to Europe and getting a start in a pro team is one thing, but getting out on the road and beating seasoned campaigners in notable races in your first year is something else altogether. Ag2R's Australian neo-pro, Simon Gerrans, has done this in 2005. After joining Vincent Lavenu's team in September 2004, Gerrans came out with all guns blazing.

Gerrans joined a growing list of Australians plying their trade in Europe in 2005, celebrating his arrival with victory in the Tour du Finistère, beating the likes of Cofidis' David Moncoutié, and eighth place in Brabantse Pijl, riding against stars of the sport such as Armstrong, Freire, Hincapie and Ekimov. By his own admission he's been shocked by such performances and now faces the possibility of riding the Tour de France after his team was granted a wildcard entry into le Grand Boucle.

Having moved to Nice, Gerrans is enjoying the beginning of his pro career, saying, "It's really great. I've got my own apartment in Nice with plenty of other Aussies around to train with. It's fantastic being able to train with those guys and even the weather's been good." The big buzz around Ag2R right now is their wildcard entry to the Tour de France, and Gerrans explained, "The reception's been great; they were always confident of getting it [the wildcard entry], but we didn't know for that long before the announcement was made that we were a real chance of getting that entry."

Click here for the full interview

De Gruyter stagiaire with

Belgian Klaas De Gruyter, an elite rider with Soenens Germond Ingelmunster, will become a stagiaire with later this year. De Gruyter is a university graduate and a talented rider to boot. He finished 4th overall in Triptyque Ardennais and Gent-Ieper and has numerous top 10 finishes in other big Belgian races. In 2004, he was 4th in the Belgian championships for Elite zonder contract.

European Track Championships presented

On Thursday evening, June 16, the European Track Championships were presented in Bergamo. The Championships take place on July 3-4 on the Dalmine velodrome and will see 13 nations (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and Hungary) competing in three categories: Junior, U23, and Elite. Only the Derny and the Madison titles will be decided.

Among the riders confirmed to start are Swiss Franco Marvulli, World Madison Champion in 2003 and silver medalist in the same discipline at the 2004 Athens Olympics and World Championships; Slovakians Martin Liska and Jozef Zabka; and Italians Marco Villa, Samuele Marzoli, and Ivan Quaranta.

Newly appointed Italian national team supervisor Silvio Martinello is hoping that the European Championships in Bergamo will kick off a rejuvenation of Italian track cycling. "We want to start a number of initiatives to relaunch the popular culture of track, and also to reinvigorate the development centres. A project that I can make a concrete contribution to and relaunch the whole movement that has been lost in an identity crisis, but doesn't lack the potential to come back to excellence...Now is the best moment to enter the fray."

The program

Day 1 - July 3

20.30-21:00: Derny qualification, 55 laps
22:10: B final, 60 laps
22:50: European Derny Championship final, 80 laps
23:30: Presentation

Day 2 - July 4

20:30: Junior Madison, 80 laps
21:20: U23 Madison, 110 laps
22:30: Elite Madison, 130 laps

Stephen Roche Grand Prix next week

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

Dundrum is synonymous with the name Stephen Roche, who carved out a piece of cycling history in 1987, winning the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and the World Championship. But his roots are very much in evidence with a beautiful piece of sculpture in the shape of a wheel in the centre of Dundrum, which is now a thriving place thanks to the new centre, which also sponsors the local cycling club, Orwell Wheelers.

On Wednesday, June 22, the annual Stephen Roche Grand Prix will be held in Meadowmount, starting at 7:30pm. The race features a generous prize list, courtesy of the Dundrum Shopping Centre, and will be staged by the Orwell Cycling Club. It's an ideal opportunity for the general public to see the cyclists in action on a closed circuit and watch the tactics that go into criterium racing. The circuit is one mile in length and every so often there are lap prizes for the first across the line.

Hopefully, Stephen may put in an appearance, but given the time constraints involved with the Tour de France beginning in the first week of July, it may not be possible.

With the National Championships on Sunday week, it is interesting to note that Mark Scanlon has indicated that he will be on the start line. Last year, Mark opted out of the defence of his title because of his impending debut in the Tour de France!

Young US cyclist loses leg

22 year-old David Young, an American Cat 1/2 rider and the recent winner of the 74 mile Tour de Phoenix, has lost his left leg below the knee (and may lose the knee as well) as a result of a motorcycle accident on June 6. Young was riding with a friend in Kenosha, WI, when the two collided with each other and crashed.

David tried to leverage himself and the bike from falling by extending his left leg out toward the pavement, ultimately leading to his severe leg injury. He got up and tried to walk when he realized his left leg was incorrectly positioned. David was immediately air-evaced to Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, WI, where doctors decided to amputate his leg from just below the knee. He also severely dislocated his knee to the point that it will be a challenge to save it. His other injuries include lacerations and road rash on his arms, leg, and head.

David's family, friends, and team (Vision Quest LLC) have rallied around to assist him pay his large medical costs, as he was not insured, and they are asking for support. More information can be found at:

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