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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News for June 18, 2005

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

The TerminAitor's back

Aitor Gonzalez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
Photo ©: AFP
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Aitor González (Euskaltel) pedaled his way back into the spotlight with an amazing individual time trial against a speeding quintet of chasers in yesterday's final stage of the 2005 Tour de Suisse 2005. In one strong effort, González took away the winning seconds from Michael Rogers (Quick.Step), who was leading the chase, but could do nothing to fight off González' assault on the yellow jersey.

"I was convinced that I would win," González said about his successful move. "I was visualising it and on the day before, I tried already. I was in top form and felt very good, although I didn't meet my objective of taking the Yellow jersey," the Basque said about the penultimate stage where he moved up in GC by more than one minute.

"I don't usually like attacking further away from the finish," he continued, "but in this instance I had no alternative; I had to take maximum risk. Fortunately, it all turned out well for me despite the fact that they were very well organized in the chase. The worst thing that could have happened was to crash in one of those curves."

González' riding yesterday was similarly strong as in 2002, where he won two stages of the Giro d'Italia and three stages as well as the overall classification of the Vuelta a España. "It's a very important victory in my career, even more so after these more unfortunate last years [2003 and 2004 with Fassa Bortolo - ed.]. I'm on top again now, just like at the Vuelta a Espańa in 2002."

Nevertheless, González may not ride the Tour de France this year, he conveyed. Euskaltel-Euskadi's Tour roster has not yet been announced.

Schleck almost made the podium

That hurt. Fränk Schleck finishing stage 8.
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
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In the end, Team CSC's Fränk Schleck came just five seconds short of making the final podium in Tour de Suisse. Schleck finished second in Sunday's ninth and final stage, which was won by Aitor González (Euskaltel), not only taking the stage but also the overall victory.

"Bjarne Riis and Kim Andersen gave me the chance as captain in this big race, and we aimed for a place in the top five. So I lived up to the expectations, but of course it's kind of bad luck to be mere seconds from a podium spot, especially when the team has worked so hard for me throughout the race," Schleck said.

"It would be hard to think of a more exciting race than the one we saw today," said a satisfied sports director Kim Andersen after the 100 tough kilometres. "Fränk was perfect, and Jens Voigt was the direct cause to the Ullrich-group loosing it's momentum, just as they were about to re-establish contact." Voigt, who was in one of the early breakaways, was told to wait for the Schleck-group on the last climb, and after that the strong German gave everything he had for Schleck.

Gil "should have waited"

Koldo Gil (Liberty Seguros)
Photo ©: Christine Grein
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Spanish climber Koldo Gil, who placed 10th at the Tour de Suisse - 1.42 behind winner Aitor González - is satisfied with his overall performances, but disappointed with the fact that he couldn't achieve a victory. "I haven't taken advantage of my good form in the way that I wanted," the Liberty Seguros rider said. "At the Giro d'Italia, my knee injury prevented me from forcing hard during the second half of the race, which is why I came to Switzerland feeling very well. It angers me to leave here without having won anything. Especially on the third day, when I was caught with 300 metres to go."

At the end of stage three, Gil had attacked on the Arlbergpass with 9 km to go and rode an impressive solo down to the ski resort St. Anton. Jan Ullrich himself closed the gap for a bunch sprint, won by Bradley McGee. After getting so close, Gil was even more disappointed as he could not make up for it on the following stages. "It's easy to say it now, but maybe I should have waited until the finale to attack," he said, analysing his racing strategy during the last, decisive stage to and from Ulrichen. "This way, I could have tried to make it to the finish with Gonzalez. But I'm still happy because I've tried everything."

Gil's next stop, before taking a mid-season break to live up to Liberty's Vuelta a España roster, will be the Spanish Championship. "Given the fact that some riders will be absent [i.e., Alejandro Valverde - ed.] and that it's a difficult course, I want to take advantage of my current form and try to win," Gil continued. "The truth is that I've always like this race, it just has never liked me."

After the Tour de Suisse, Gil also had a word on the impressive overall winner González, Tour de France contender Ullrich and unlucky runner-up Rogers. "Aitor González was really, really good. Ullrich was dong OK, but not super. This race suited him very well with regular climbs not made for pure climbers. In any case, he still has enough time for the Tour de France. I also liked seeing Michael Rogers doing so well, he showed that he is gaining experience."

Cunego skips National Champs

Italian team Lampre-Caffita has announced its Italian riders participating in the National Championships, which will take place in Montesilvano, province of Pescara, on the last week-end of June. Young Tour de France hope Damiano Cunego, still suffering from mononucleosis, is missing in that list, which could be another indicator that the Giro 2004 winner will not line up in Fromentine on July 2. No official word has spread so far as to his participation in the "Grande Boucle".

No Gerolsteiner in Zabel's future?

By Susan Westemeyer

Team Gerolsteiner spokesman Mathias Wieland denied that the team has offered a contract to T-Mobile sprinter Erik Zabel. "I can answer that with a definite no. I would write that off to his trying to improve his market value. We have definitely not made an offer to Erik," Wieland said, nevertheless admitting that there has been contact to Zabel in the past. "Erik Zabel is such an outstanding rider, the best that we have in this time. He will see his future to be with T-Mobile," Wieland concluded.

The confusion arose from an interview Zabel gave to a German newspaper. Apparently he was asked whether he had received offers from other teams such as Gerolsteiner, and he replied "yes," without specifying which teams.

Barras confirmed Australian Track Coach

The Cycling Australia (CA) Board of Management met over the weekend and reinforced its support for National Head Track Coach, Martin Barras and the Track Sprint Program. The Board reconfirmed its confidence in Barras and the program as it adopted the decision announced last Thursday by the Disciplinary Committee appointed to investigate an assault on Barras by athlete, Jobie Dajka.

"It has been a tough week or so for all involved in this process but no-one has suffered more than Martin", said CA CEO Graham Fredericks after Saturday's Board meeting. "With a predominant public focus on Dajka's health and the reasons behind the attack it was easy to overlook the trauma this has caused the individuals in the track sprint squad and the potential long-term impact this incident could have on the program.

"The Board felt it important that all the athletes, the coach and the staff involved in this program are aware they have our full and ongoing support," Fredericks added.

BMX program planned; Kilo and 500 supported

CA also takes on a new high performance program from July 1st with the inclusion of new Olympic cycling discipline BMX. A workshop with high performance personnel will take place in the next two weeks to map out the BMX program structure for the next four years.

"We are looking forward to a closer integration with BMX", said Fredericks. "They will join us along side our track, road, mountainbike, athletes with disability and junior programs in what we regard as one of the most successful high performance environments in world sport".

However, the CA board will continue to explore avenues and support others in seeking a review by the sport's international governing body, the UCI (International Cycling Union), of its decision to drop the men's kilometre and women's 500m time trials from the Olympic competition program.

Kiesanowski to participate in Dead Dog Classic

Organizers of the Dead Dog Classic bicycle race have announced that pro cyclist Joanne Kiesanowski from New Zealand will race in next weekend’s competition. Currently ranked 11th in the world, the Nobili Rubinetterie rider and has been training in Colorado Springs for the upcoming Giro d’Italia Femminile. Kiesanowski is looking forward to the challenging high altitude racing and the climbs that the race offers, saying that it should be perfect preparation for her upcoming multi-day race in Italy.

The Dead Dog Classic has been held in and around Laramie, Wyoming, for 17 years. The road race through the Snowy Range Mountains will be held on Saturday, 25 July, with a criterium and a time trial to follow the next day.

This year the Dead Dog Classic is part of the American Cycling Association’s Rocky Mountain Cup Race series as well as their Seniors/Masters Best All Around Rider and Best All Around Team Competitions. Additional information on the race can be found at

SA Hector Norris track gets grant

The venerable Hector Norris track in Southern Johannesburg is all set for a new lease of life after the injection of a R663 350 grant from Cycling South Africa.

"It’s wonderful news and we have already begun the face lift operations," enthused Grenville Scullard, the chairman of the Central Gauteng Cycling Union (CGCU) whose club, the Lifestyle Performance Cycling Club, runs the facility. "The money will be used for two parallel concepts: general and basic maintenance of the facility, and the creation of a new home for all cycling disciplines," he explained.

In parallel with the upgrading of the existing facilities, Scullard also plans to build a BMX track. "This is in keeping with our need to make Hector Norris a sustainable facility, which means that the more people through the gate, the better for us all," he continued. It also explains why a 2.5 km MTB track is part of the concept, as is a small road safety course manned by the Metro Police.

"The upgrading of the existing club-house is already underway; we have 23 development bikes at Hector Norris and we need a secure storage area for them," Scullard continued. To cater for all cycling disciplines, Scullard has also begun to acquire cycling-specific gym equipment, "and there will also be a centre for physiotherapy, which is very important for all cycling disciplines," he added.

Together with a comprehensive outreach to local schools and a closely monitored development programme, it’s clear that the cash injection couldn’t have at a better time for the "grand old lady" of Gauteng cycling.

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