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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News for March 7, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

Cancellara within two seconds

Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo)
Photo : AFP
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Chrono specialist Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo) came close but was still two seconds off Jens Voigt's winning time in the Paris-Nice prologue. Resplendent in his red Swiss TT Champion's skinsuit, Cancellara said afterwards that, "This prologue was one of my primary objectives of the season and a podium placing two seconds behind an athlete in form like Jens Voigt, one of the favourites for this Paris-Nice, is satisfying for me. I've come out of a lesser period because I was sick for a long time: from our team camp, at the end of January, to the first races in Spain where I started in the Ruta del Sol. Before I left for Paris-Nice I was at Flecha's house (in Spain) where I could train in warmer weather and I must say that the choice was a correct one.

"Although my preparation has been interrupted, it seems to me to be more than last year, I still hope to be ready for the important races such as Paris-Roubaix, the other northern classics, continuing with the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de France, where in the first day's time trial I hope to repeat my performance of the 2004 prologue. I will now fine tune my preparation in Paris-Nice with the hope of finding better times."

Dekker finds some form

Erik Dekker (Rabobank) Photo : Luc Claessen
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A third place in the Paris-Nice prologue, three seconds behind Jens Voigt, was a pleasant surprise for Rabobank's Erik Dekker, who has been sick for the first part of the season. "I'm astonished with what I have achieved here," he was quoted by Algemeen Dagblad as saying. "No, I can't understand the logic. The only thing that I had resolved to do was to try to ride better. And then you come third in the first round of the ProTour. You can say a lot about it, but not that it's bad. Yet I can't see myself riding smoothly at the top soon. This was four kilometres, in very cold conditions. That distance suits me. On the other hand, the cold does not. That makes it all so uncertain, eh."

Liberty not quite there

There were mixed, but generally positive feelings in the Liberty Seguros-Wrth camp after the Paris-Nice prologue, where Alberto Contador finished 7th and defending champion Jrg Jaksche 20th. Being the first ProTour event, Paris-Nice is a big goal for Manolo Saiz's team, but it seems that it will have its work cut out to topple CSC.

Jrg Jaksche
Photo : Luc Claessen
Click for larger image

"I had good feelings in the race, although at certain times I didn't quite have the power to push the gear that I wanted," said Contador, "[I was] good enough. I'm very satisfied with the time trial that I have done, but it is necessary to consider that it was only four kilometres and you can't draw too many conclusions."

The best thing, according to Contador, "is to be ahead, but for the time being it's not very important. I had good feelings in Valencia and here, and now it will be necessary to see if things are OK, because this is a very important race and I have to go day by day."

Jaksche lost 8 seconds to finish 20th, and admitted that he was "not that great, except at the start. It's difficult to explain. Today's time is not important. There is still a lot of ground to cover and we have to see what happens."

Team manager Manolo Saiz summed things up, saying, " The whole team has been good, only it was necessary for us to be extraordinary. It has been a typical time trial of Paris-Nice, but we have to admit that those who have beaten us are all extraordinary riders."

Saiz and Liberty will now work towards winning back time via bonus seconds in the intermediate and finishing sprints.

Armstrong "survives" prologue

Lance Armstrong
Photo : Rgis Garnier
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Cold
Photo : Tim Maloney
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Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) returned to racing in 2005 with a low key performance in the prologue of Paris-Nice, finishing in 140th place out of 168 riders. The American, who has not made a goal of doing well in Paris-Nice, grinned wryly as he quipped that it was, "probably the worst time trial of my life...I've achieved my first goal. I survived the prologue. I'll try to stay with the peloton in the next few days. I think that it will be hard to follow them, but I hope to reach Nice."

Armstrong admitted that the cold, jetlag, and most importantly, lack of racing kilometres affected him today. "Man I was cold today - I froze!" he was quoted by Sportwereld as saying. "This was extremely hard...My condition is really nothing special. I've actually never stopped training, but I'm behind compared with other years. I stayed a lot longer in the US and I only came back to Girona on Thursday. The jetlag is still in the legs. I'm still a bit too heavy...

"From now on, it really starts for me and I am 100 percent ready to go to work...everyone knows my objective this year (Tour de France) so for now (at Paris-Nice) I'm just here to get used the rhythm of racing and build my strength. This is pure preparation. Hey guys, these were my first four racing kilometres!"

Armstrong's did have some positive assessments of his ride, saying, "I felt pretty good today and my position on the bike was good."

The six-time Tour champ also hinted to French TV at the possibility of riding Paris-Roubaix this year, but said he would leave that decision up to team manager Johan Bruyneel.

Tour of the Benelux for four years

The new ProTour race through the Benelux region, that is based on the Tour of Holland, will also be known as the Eneco Tour. A four year agreement was signed over the weekend in Paris between the organisers and the large Dutch energy company Eneco. The race will take place between August 3-10 and will number eight stages, starting in the Belgian province of Antwerp with a prologue time trial, and finishing in the Dutch town of Etten-Leur with a 26.4 km time trial. It's a slightly different format to the previous Tour of Holland, and will include more stages through Belgian territory.

The race will be jointly directed by Dutchman Henk van Mulukom and Belgian Rob Discart, the latter who also organises the Tour of Belgium. "It's a combination of classic elements," said Van Mulukom. "We are aiming it at the classics riders. He hope to get the current Van Petegems, Boogerds and Bettinis at the start. Only a complete rider can win this race. With elements of Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the Amstel Gold Race and the Tour of Flanders, we hope to distinguish ourselves within the ProTour. At the end, a closing time trial will crown the tour."

Provisional stage list

Prologue - August 3: Antwerp ITT
Stage 1 - August 4: Antwerp (province) - Brabant (province)
Stage 2 - August 5: Brabant (province) - Sittard
Stage 3 - August 6: Beek - Landgraaf
Stage 4 - August 7: Landgraaf - Verviers
Stage 5 - August 8: Verviers - Hasselt
Stage 6 - August 9: Hasselt - Antwerp (province)
Stage 7 - August 10: Etten-Leur ITT, 26.4 km

Gent-Wevelgem invites four teams

With participation by the 20 ProTour teams mandatory at this year's Gent-Wevelgem on April 6, there are only four other slots available to non-ProTour teams. The organisers have assigned the spots to three Belgian teams: Landbouwkrediet Colnago, Chocolade Jacques and Mr.Bookmaker.com, and the American team Navigators Insurance.

50th Lincoln International Grand Prix

Taking place on Sunday, May 8 in Lincoln, Great Britain, is the 50th edition of the Lincoln International Grand Prix. This year's race will form part of the UCI's European Continental Tour, and is ranked as a 1.2 event. It will be raced over 13 laps of a 21 km circuit for a total of 163 km.

Several foreign teams have already been finalised for the race, including Canada's Jet Fuel team, which will include five Canadian riders and one Norwegian. The team took part in the 2002 race and two members of that team, Buck Miller and Andrew Randell (19th that year), return to Lincoln in 2005. Also making the journey back to Lincoln from The Netherlands will be the Marco Polo and the BRC Kennemerland Racing Teams. These teams have been regular visitors to Lincoln since the race became international in 1999 and always provide strong riders. Marco Polo placed four riders in the top 20 last year and Kennemerland finished with four riders on the result sheet.

Team Rochelle has also registered its presence with foreign riders from Ireland, Canada and Latvia, and confirmation is expected shortly from at least two more foreign teams.

The Lincoln International Grand Prix will see Portuguese UCI commissaire Isabel Maria Franco Fernandes present at the 2005 race. A commissaire since 1988, 35 year-old Isabel lives near Lisbon, is fluent in English and French and is studying Spanish and Italian to back up her native tongue. She is qualified in Portugal as a commissaire, a coach, a teacher and a masseur. She will be backed up by British International Commissaires, Richard Robotham, Chris Naylor and Steve Parsons in the race.

The organisers say that sponsorship has now covered 85% of the race budget of £30,000, and any interested companies wishing to sponsor the Lincoln should contact Ian Emmerson at ian.emmerson@ntlworld.com for details.

Trek/Volkswagen Factory Team

The Trek Volkswagen Factory Racing Team is gearing up for another action-packed season. This year, the teams see well known veterans returning, as well as some fresh new faces joining the racing scene. Together, these riders make up one of the strongest racing programs in the USA.

The teams will compete in more than 100 events across the country, including stunt shows and all National Off Road Bicycling Association (NORBA) Series races. Riders will be equipped with Trek Fuel 98 bikes, featuring Rock Shox suspension, Shimano disc brakes and drivetrains and Bontrager tires and components.

Click here for the full team rosters

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