First Edition Cycling News for May 2, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones
Botero is back
And Cunego isn't far off...
After two years of bad results, partly caused by recurring illnesses, Colombian Santiago Botero came back to his best level by winning the final stage and the overall of the Tour de Romandie. The Phonak man flew home in the final 20.4 km time trial in Lausanne to beat an improved Brad McGee (Francaise des Jeux) by 25 seconds, with Botero's teammate Oscar Pereiro in third at 35 seconds and overnight yellow jersey wearer Damiano Cunego (Lampre) fourth at 36 seconds.
"Today, I think I'm the happiest man in the world," Botero told Cyclingnews at the post-race press conference. "In the sport, you need everything to be perfect. That hasn't happened the last few years, but now I am healthy and I trained very hard in Colombia during the winter [16,000 kilometres to be exact - ed.]. This is the result of all my efforts."
Botero's last victory was in the World Championship Time Trial in Zolder in 2002, and he was finally able to follow that up with another one today in Lausanne, perhaps the sign of a good season to come. He also gave credit to a more relaxed atmosphere at Phonak compared to his previous team, T-Mobile. "There are no big stars, nobody bigger than all the rest, but everyone on roughly the same level," he said. "This is what I like about this team. Phonak did not put pressure on me; they let me train my own way, and they trusted me."
The final stage was also a good form test for Giro contender Damiano Cunego, who will line up in Reggio Calabria next Saturday with ambitions of winning it a second time, even though his teammate Gilberto Simoni might have something to say about that again. But beside the two Lampre captains, there is 2000 Giro winner Stefano Garzelli, who finished just three seconds behind Cunego in the final time trial, won the points jersey, and looks to be in decent shape coming into the Giro, despite having a bad day on Friday in the mountains. The other main Giro challenger, Ivan Basso (CSC), did not race in Romandie.
No TV in Romandie
Problems in the live TV broadcast in the Tour de Romandie today prevented anyone from watching Botero's victory in Lausanne. The problems were caused by a fire at the finish.
Di Luca maintains ProTour leadership
The winner of three ProTour races this season, Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi) has maintained his comfortable lead in the ProTour rankings after round 11, the Tour de Romandie, finished today. That race was won by Santiago Botero (Phonak), who now has 51 points, well off Di Luca's total of 131. In second and third places are sprinters Tom Boonen (Quick.Step, 112 pts) and Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo, 95 pts). The latter should score a few more points during the Giro d"Italia, but with only a maximum of 3 points available per stage win, it is highly unlikely that he'll regain the leader's jersey. On the other hand, Giro favourite Damiano Cunego (Lampre, 51 pts) could score 85 points if he won the race again, in addition to points garnered for stage wins. That would put him on at least 136 points - enough to overtake Di Luca - but Di Luca also has Giro ambitions...
In the teams rankings, Rabobank (170 pts) has edged ahead of CSC (166 pts) and Davitamon-Lotto (164 pts), while Italy has broken clear of everyone else in the nations rankings with 398 points, with Spain (314 pts) and Belgium (214 pts) in second and third.
Rankings as of May 1, 2005
Individuals 1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 131 pts 2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step 112 3 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 95 4 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank 94 5 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 86 6 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank 80 7 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC 75 8 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 75 9 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC 72 10 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team 67 Teams 1 Rabobank 170 pts 2 Team CSC 166 3 Davitamon-Lotto 164 4 Fassa Bortolo 148 5 Phonak Hearing Systems 144 6 Saunier Duval-Prodir 127 7 Liberty Seguros-Würth Team 125 8 Quick Step 116 9 Liquigas-Bianchi 111 10 Gerolsteiner 106 Nations 1 Italy 398 pts 2 Spain 314 3 Belgium 214 4 Germany 189 5 United States Of America 150 6 Netherlands 112 7 Australia 90 8 Switzerland 61 9 Norway 55 10 Colombia 51 Full rankings: ProTour, Teams, Nations
Ekimov out for months
Russian hard man Viatcheslav Ekimov's career is in danger of coming to a premature end, as the first prognosis is that the injuries he sustained in a crash while training last week could keep him from racing for four to five months.
Ekimov crashed when he hit a pothole while out riding with his teammate Lance Armstrong in Austin, Texas, last Thursday. Armstrong was not involved in the crash at all, as Ekimov had stopped and was chasing when he hit the hole, hitting his chest on the stem and then falling on his back. As a result, he broke his sternum and a vertebra in his back. He was taken to hospital but has been released.
Despite the likelihood of him having to take a long time off the bike, Ekimov's team director Johan Bruyneel said that early retirement wasn't an option. "Slava is not thinking of stopping yet," Bruyneel told Sportwereld.be. "He is as hard as nails. He hopes to be competitive again by the end of the season."
Vandenbroucke is back
Frank Vandenbroucke (MrBookmaker.com) has made his long awaited return to racing, starting in today's Rund um den Henninger Turm in Germany. VDB had planned to come back in the Tour de Picardie in mid-May, but decided instead to start a couple of weeks earlier and keep the team management happy. He did not finish in Frankfurt, but neither did most of the peloton.
The race also marked a comeback to the winner's circle for Erik Zabel, with the T-Mobile man winning a 20 rider bunch sprint and taking his third victory in this event.
Big weekend for Team Cyclingnews
By Shane Stokes
Team Cyclingnews.com posted two fine results this weekend with important rides in Denmark and Belgium. Sven De Weerdt took his and the team's top result to date in a major event when he finished ninth in the GP Herning on Saturday. Hamish Haynes followed that up with victory in Sunday's 1.2 ranked Groote Mei Prijs Hoboken, breaking away with two others in the final stages of the race and winning their three-up gallop to the line.
"I was really happy with the result, I never expected it," said De Weerdt after his top ten in Denmark. "I was sick after racing in Switzerland last weekend, and didn't do much training this week. So I was quite surprised to get the result, especially as in the first 100 kilometres I didn't feel that good at all. I thought that when the break goes, when the top riders are really going for it, I won't be able to follow.
"But then once I had 100 kilometres covered and went through the feeding zone, I started to feel better. I could place myself in the front every time we went over the dirt sections and on the last such section of the big loop, I was in the top five. We then went clear and ended up being away in a group of about 16 riders.
"I was pretty tired towards the end, when the first three guys got away, as there were a lot of attacks. I got sixth in the sprint in our group. It is my best result in a big race, and also the best for Team Cyclingnews.com."
Team manager and father Gilbert de Weerdt agrees. "This weekend is our best this season. We had a lot of wins like the one we had today last year and the year before - we can win at that level. But to be top 10 in a 1.1 is a bit special for us. I think it is the most important result that the team has got so far."
Next up for the team is the Omloop der Kempen in the Netherlands, some smaller races in Belgium, then the bigger goal of a good performance in the Triptyque Ardennais. Team Cyclingnews.com will then build up for what the riders hope will be a strong campaign in the Tour of Qinghai Lake in China in July.
Keep an eye out for the next Team Cyclingnews.com diary instalments.
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