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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for June 21, 2005

Edited by Anthony Tan

A missed opportunity for Schleck?

Though a national crown awaits

By Anthony Tan in Switzerland

When Cyclingnews spoke with Team CSC's Frank Schleck before the start of Sunday's final stage of the Tour de Suisse, the Luxembourger appeared a little over-awed at the prospect of a potential podium finish.

"Hopefully, I can have a good day, and keep up with those guys. I showed that I can do it [on previous mountain stages], but you never know. You saw [Fabian] Jeker yesterday [Stage 8], he just blew... hopefully it's not going to happen to me," he said with a nervous laugh.

Coming off an excellent Giro d'Italia, where he rode in support of Ivan Basso, last week was the first time the 25 year-old found himself playing a real leadership role on the team. "I had very good shape in the Giro, helping Ivan [Basso], but I couldn't race for myself till the Tour de Suisse, where I got my chance," said Schleck.

"My team is supporting me very, very well with awesome guys like Bobby [Julich] and Jens [Voigt]... really the whole team, which is very nice. I'm recovering well, but you never know; if you have a bad day, you can lose fifth place or even a Tour win in one day - but you cannot win [the race] in one day."

Perhaps the weight of expectation got to him in the end, preferring to ride defensively on the final climb of the Furka Pass, letting overnight Michael Rogers (Quick.Step-Innergetic) and Chris Horner (Saunier Duval-Prodir) do the lion's share of the work.

Schleck admirably won the five-man sprint for second place, but the gap between Aitor Gonzalez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and themselves saw Rogers lose the race, with himself suffering an almost equally disappointing blow, finishing just five seconds off Jan Ullrich in the final classification.

Maybe it's a lesson learned - maybe not. However, Schleck won't have a whole lot of time to think about last Sunday's consequences, as his next big objective is coming up this weekend, before a well-earned break.

"I would like to win the nationals [road championships]. Then after that, I will have a break and come back for Sachsen-Tour - but that's not a big goal for me. I will try to be good in the Deutschland Tour and then in the end of the year at Zurich and Lombardy... so Deutschland Tour and October will be my objectives," he said.

Phonak: It's all about the team

The strength of Phonak
Photo ©: AFP Photo
Click for larger image

After finishing second in the ProTour team time trial in Eindhoven last Sunday, Phonak now lead the UCI ProTour teams classification, and have indicated they will continue to focus on finishing the season as one of the world's top three teams.

"This is fantastic, and it's proof that we're a team with quality," said Phonak CEO Andy Rihs.

Added team manager John Lelangue: "It's great motivation to start out the Tour de France as number one. For me, it's confirmation that we have a good team - and one without individual competitors. But the most important point is the consistently high level that the team has displayed the entire season.

"The fact that we were able to establish ourselves among the five best teams is very important to us. For us, a top five ranking is the achievement of our main goal - that we've now been able to take the lead is super. It's very important, both for the team as well as the sponsors."

Lelangue also said Phonak will try and make the podium spot at every race they compete in for the rest of the season, but will continue to focus on the ProTour teams classification.

"It certainly won't be easy," Lelangue said about their ambitions, "but I prefer this challenging starting position compared to being in 11th or 12th position with a points deficit. Things are very close among the top four teams. Therefore, it's important that we continue scoring regular points in every race.

Matt Hayman update

By Anthony Tan in Switzerland

Speaking with Cyclingnews before the sixth stage of the Tour de Suisse to Arosa last week, Aussie classics rider Matt Hayman was feeling a little out of his comfort zone with the oodles of mountains that lay ahead.

"When I first came here, I wanted to try and get away on one of the flatter days," said Hayman to Cyclingnews. "We don't have a real goal, so we're all pretty free to just have a go and try and get away in a group... and try and get through the mountain stages. Today, I'm just trying to get through the race."

Well, the 27 year-old made it through that day, and all the way till the final stage in Ulrichen, where he started, but like 26 others, did not finish. And he achieved his goal of getting himself in a breakaway on Stage 8, even though with another mountain-top finish to Verbier, the early move was always going to be doomed.

Speaking about breakaways, he must have been impressed with his fellow team-mate from Canberra, Rory Sutherland, who, for a neo-pro, had an outstanding Giro d'Italia, putting himself in at least two significant breaks over the course of the three weeks, and came into Milan 108th overall.

Said Hayman: "Yeah, but a lot of the guys who have come over [to the professional ranks] have been able to adapt really quickly to the pro way of racing, and to be able to get away in a few breaks in the Giro was pretty impressive as a first-year [professional]."

Asked about his season's major focus, the Spring Classics, Hayman said he was satisfied with how things went, but like any rider, he would have liked a win to go with it.

"The Classics were solid. I mean, I didn't win anything, but came close a couple of times... like a stage of De Panne and Dwars Door Vlaanderen, and in the bigger races, I was able to do my work, so I was happy with how it went. I got sick two days before Roubaix - I had a fever a couple of days after Gent-Wevelgem - so that was a bit of a downer, but after that, all the other races I did well in."

At the time we spoke with him, Rabobank's Tour line-up had not been confirmed, and to date, there is still one spot up for grabs. But Hayman is realistic about his chances of riding La Grand Boucle - at least for this year - and is looking more towards the final Grand Tour of the year, the Vuelta a España, in September.

"Yeah, the Tour de France line-up's been changing every day now... I mean, with Oscar [Freire] not looking like he's riding, Bram de Groot broke his wrist after Uniqa... so it's been changing, but I don't expect I'll be going. So I'll pretty much have till the end of July off, then the Sachsen-Tour [July 20-24], hopefully the HEW Classic [July 31], and then I'll probably ride the Vuelta. I want to do a Grand Tour again; I didn't do one last year," he said.

Gerolsteiner names their nine

On Monday, assistant directeur-sportif Christian Henn together with team manager Hans Michael Holczer confirmed the team's nine-man line-up for the Tour de France. Five Germans, two Austrians, one Swiss and an American make it a multicultural crew of sorts, with the team spearheaded by Levi Leipheimer and Georg Totschnig, both proven performers at this level.

Gerolsteiner's TdF team: Robert Förster, Sebastian Lang, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rich, Ronny Scholz, Georg Totschnig, Fabian Wegmann, Peter Wrolich and Beat Zberg.
Reserves: René Haselbacher and Markus Zberg

Liberty's Eleven

This week, the 11 shortlisted riders for the Tour de France from Liberty Seguros-Würth will spend their time in the Spanish town of Puente Viesgo, Cantabria. Here, the summoned cyclists will complete a final block of training, but more importantly, Puente Viesgo will be the place where team manager Manolo Saiz will select his nine-man line-up for La Grand Boucle, which begins on the west coast of France in Fromentine on July 2, commencing with a 19 kilometre individual time trial.

Liberty Seguros-Würth short-list for TdF: René Andrle, Joseba Beloki, Alberto Contador, Allan Davis, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, Roberto Heras, Jörg Jaksche, Luis León Sanchez, Marcos Serrano, Ángel Vicioso and Jan Hruska.

Davitamon-Lotto for national championships

Being a Belgian-registered team comprised of predominantly Belgian riders, it's only natural to see 17 Davitamon-Lotto riders on the line-up for this weekend's Belgian championships, with the only exception being defending champion Tom Steels, who has not yet recovered from his injury sustained at the Giro d'Italia.

Three of the team's riders - Koos Moerenhout, Leon Van Bon and Aart Vierhouten - will also be contesting the Dutch national championships, to be held in Rotterdam on Sunday. The start time is 12 noon, with 16 circuits totalling 216 kilometres.

In Belgium, the 230 kilometre race shall be held in the provinces of Luxembourg, Libin and Saint-Hubert, also starting at noon this Sunday. From the start in Libin, riders will begin with five local circuits of 8,6 kilometres, before reaching Saint-Hubert for 12 circuits of 15,6km, for a total distance of 230km.

Davitamon-Lotto racers for Belgian championships:

Mario Aerts, Frédéric Amorison, Serge Baguet, Christophe Brandt, Wim De Vocht, Bart Dockx, Jan Kuyckx, Bjorn Leukemans, Nico Mattan, Axel Merckx, Bert Roesems, Gert Steegmans, Preben Van Hecke, Johan Vansummeren, Wim Vanhuffel, Peter Van Petegem, Wim Vansevenant.

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