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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for May 21, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones & John Stevenson

Giro Stage 12 wrap-up

Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo)
Photo ©: Sirotti
Click for larger image

The first part of the 12th stage between Alleghe and Rovereto was dreaded by some, with the steep Passo San Pellegrino after 26, but it turned out to be a very relaxed pace up the climb and for the rest of the stage. As usual, Selle Italia went on the attack with Jose Rujano winning the mountain sprint, then Philippe Schnyder getting a gap with just over 100 km to go. But the sprinters teams flexed their muscles and brought the Swiss rider back with 30 km to go for a fairly regulation bunch sprint.

For the second time, Alessandro Petacchi got it right and won the stage very convincingly from Paride Grillo (Panaria), who tried to get the jump on the Fassa Bortolo man with 250m to go. But Petacchi grabbed his wheel and left him in his wake as he crossed the line with two bike lengths to spare.

The 12th stage was uneventful for the classification riders, who were looking ahead to the weekend's big mountain stages, and Ivan Basso (CSC) spent a relaxed day in his first maglia rosa.

Also see:

Stage 12 Full results & report
Live report
Start list
Stages & results
Stage by Stage
Past winners

McEwen questioned by police

By John Trevorrow in Rovereto

After finishing sixth in the 12th stage between Alleghe and Rovereto, Davitamon-Lotto sprinter Robbie McEwen was escorted by the carabinieri to the local police station for questioning about the seizure of the team's hypoxic device two days ago. Although legal under WADA and UCI rules, hypoxic devices are supposedly forbidden under Italian law 376, which prohibits use of any method to increase blood values for sports competition. At the time of the seizure, McEwen denied using the apparatus, but did say that some of his team-mates used it.

"The police from Padova came up and wanted to ask me a couple of questions," he told Cyclingnews after stage 12. "They knew I was going home tomorrow, so they wanted to know if they could ask a couple of questions before I left. They drove me to the police station, asked a couple of questions which I didn't know the answers to anyway. They asked me about the AltiTrainer machine, and who used it, and I said 'I don't know'. Then I came back to the hotel."

Have you used the machine? "No, I haven't used it. I've been to altitude a few times for training and I wasn't that impressed with how I came back after it, so there's no way I'd go in a machine that simulates that anyway. I've had nothing to do with it."

Did you know about the law in Italy? "I'm just racing. I'm not sure what the actual law is, but from what I can gather. Their law says it's forbidden to use the hypobaric chamber, but apparently this machine is not the same thing. I don't know exactly the nature of the machine."

In Australia, most of the football teams use hypobaric chambers: "Yeah, and I'm sure in Italy it's exactly the same, for helping the healing of injuries.

"Like I said to a pommy journalist, it's just another Italian investigation. It's a bit like when Lance comes to Italy to answer all those investigation questions. He answers the questions and just goes home."

Post stage quotes

By John Trevorrow in Rovereto

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto, 6th)

"No good," were McEwen's first words after crossing the line.

Position or legs? "Both. When I don't feel good, I find it hard to get into position. I got blocked a couple of times and I just couldn't get on to the Fassa train. But I just didn't have the legs either."

Matt White (Cofidis, 46th)

"The race changes a bit after today because Stuey's going home. We've got one guy in general but it gives us more latitude to do something, maybe take my chances."

Trent Wilson (Colombia-Selle Italia, 116th)

"Today was the calm before storm. Legs weren't that good but it was flat and easy. I'm happy with the change of rules for tomorrow. It was going to be a nine percent time cut but they've lifted it to 15 percent."

Rory Sutherland (Rabobank, 152nd at 1'27)

You looked good in yesterday's stage. "Yeah. I was just too slow for the front group and a bit quick for the bus. Wanted to see how would go yesterday seemed all right. Tired today, but things are going well."

It seemed as though things were fairly organised on that first climb: "Yeah, it was pretty well organised by the Aussies. I was quite content to do the pace they did today. It was a good day. We'll just see what happens in the next few days."

Russell Van Hout (Colombia-Selle Italia, 156th at 1'27)

Russell had a big smile on his face when we spoke to him at the finish, as he was worried about today's stage. "I was just so rapt they went easy up the climb. Feel much better now. It's such a nice day out there. Like I've got chance for the rest of the tour"

Matt Wilson (Francaise des Jeux, 182nd at 2'13)

"It was really easy today and pretty well another rest day. perfect up the climb, I just praying that some little Italian didn't cock everything up, but worked out well. changes after because Cookie's going home we've got no real tour team leaders left, no-one for GC, so a matter of survival. Maybe'll go stage or two, have bit myself, otherwise make to finish."

Bjarne Riis, team manager, CSC

“The stage unfolded like we thought it would, and we were able to control the peloton. The next two stages are very important, so it was nice to get a chance to save some strength today. I believe it will be possible for Ivan to put some pressure on his main opponents, so of course we'll try to attack should the opportunity arise,” said Bjarne Riis after the stage.

Popovych increases lead in Catalunya

Race leader Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

Discovery Channel rider Yaroslav Popovych's lead in the Volta a Catalunya increased yesterday as the race tackled a tough 17.1km mountain time trial, won by Iñigo Cuesta (Saunier Duval-Prodir).

Popovych finished fifth, which was enough to retain a leader jersey that Discovery Channel directeur sportif Dirk Demol says the team intends to defend, despite not having the idea line-up for the hilly final two days.

"It was perhaps the first real big uphill time trial stage of his career," said Demol in a team statement. "We went out to see the course this morning. I know these roads and remember how hard they are. We tried to do the stage in three parts - stay under control in the first part, go faster in the second part and then save some for the end. Popo was very good until about five kms to go. You could see he was on the limit and it had to fight through. He has had much competition this year and you could see at the end he was at his maximum."

Discovery will have to fight to keep Popovych in the lead to the finish. "We expect attacks from the gun tomorrow for sure," Demol said. "We'll do our best to try and control the race - it's a long one. I'm more worried about the stage after tomorrow. It's shorter but very hilly."

Demol added the team around Popo is motivated to defend his lead even though it's not a team for the mountains, comprised mainly of riders from the Classics.

Klöden returns

Andreas Klöden (T-Mobile) will return to racing at the Bayern-Rundfahrt (Tour of Bavaria), May 25-29. Klöden last raced four weeks ago, when he dropped out of the Fleche Wallonne on April 20. In an interview on T-Mobile's website, he says he is still not in "peak form".

"I am feeling good, and getting better with each training ride," says Klöden. "Of course I am far from my peak form, but I need to bide my time. I have been training with steadily increasing intensity as I am well aware that my performance levels are not just going to improve overnight."

Klöden has been concentrating on endurance training, with six and a half and seven-hour rides, recently adding in some hills in the Black Forest and his base in Switzerland. With the Tour de France on the horizon, and a repeat or improvement on his 2004 second place an obvious target, he says he is, "happy with the way things are going at the moment."

His goals at the Bayern-Rundfahrt are modest. "I am not gunning for a high GC finish," says Klöden. "I want to get race miles into my legs, use the competition to develop speed, endurance and power. But having said that, if I feel that I have the right sensations in my legs on any given day, then I will go for it."

After Bayern-Rundfahrt, Klöden will race the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré in France, June 5-12.

Hell on Wheels - heaven on-screen

Erik Zabel
Photo ©: Aztec International
Click for larger image
A bottle hand-up
Photo ©: Aztec International
Click for larger image

Quality films about professional road cycling are very rare and the German film, Höllentour (Hell on Wheels) is a 'must see', reports Gerard Knapp.

Freed from the constraints of strict television reportage, German film-maker and Academy Award-winner Pepe Danquart has produced a beautiful film about road racing, capturing the colour, movement, atmosphere and drama in a way that places it among those special sports documentary films that transcend the boundaries of interest only to the committed fan.

In other words, this is no ordinary regular race video. Danquart and his crew base their documentary around the Centenary Tour de France of 2003, following the fortunes of then Deutsche Telekom (now T-Mobile) professionals, Erik Zabel and Rolf Aldag.

But this is not just about the two German riders. The film follows the race - with sidebars on Tyler Hamilton's amazing performance - but it has no narration (voice-over), a sure sign of a confident filmmaker. Rather, it's the pictures, the riders and the cameos from a varied cast of characters who tell the stories and provide the insights.

This is not to say the film is only for the die-hards; rather, it is perhaps one of the first cycling films that could help non-cyclists understand the passion and suffering of this simultaneously beautiful and brutal sport.

Click here for the full review.

Bruyneel denies rumours of Armstrong-Crow split

Discovery Channel directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel has denied rumours that Lance Armstrong and girlfriend Sheryl Crow have split up. The story, reported in US celebrity gossip magazine Star, alleged that the difference in lifestyles between musician Crow and cyclist Armstrong had led to a split.

Thomas defends Welsh championship

Young Welsh rider Geraint Thomas will complete a remarkable recovery from injury this weekend when he defends his Welsh Senior Road Race Championships title on Sunday, according to a report from the BBC.

The 18-year-old underwent an operation to remove his spleen after a training crash in Australia in February. The world junior scratch race champion was hospitalized after hitting a piece of road debris while training in Sydney, where he was due to compete in a round of the track world cup.

The 130km race between Llanelli, Cross Hands, Llandeilo and Carmarthen will be Thomas' first in Wales since the crash, though he recently took part in the Flèche du Sud stage race in Luxembourg as part of the Great Britain team.

With many top Welsh riders in Ireland for the FBD Insurance Ras, Thomas is the favourite to take the Welsh championship, an achievement that would make him the first rider to win consecutive championships since Bill Owen in the 1960s.

UCI doping sanctions

The UCI has announced the following sanctions for doping offences.

Patrick Köhler (Germany), tested positive with betamethasone during the race Int. Hessen Rundfahrt (Germany), sanctioned by Bund Deutscher Radfahrer, suspension of 6 months from 15th January 2005 to 14th July 2005, disqualification of the race.

Angel Vazquez Iglesias (Spain), tested positive with EPO during the race Circuito Montañes (Spain) on 22nd June , sanctioned by Real Federacion Española De Ciclismo, suspension of 2 years from 3rd April 2004 to 3rd April 2006, disqualification of the race.

Enrico Poitschke (Germany), tested positive with betamethasone during the race Int. Hessen Rundfahrt (Germany) on 1st September 2004, sanctioned by Bund Deutscher Radfahrer, warning and addition of 1% of the time recorded during this stage.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)