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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for May 31, 2005

Edited by Anthony Tan

Klöden: "I will be there for Jan all the way"

After taking a month off racing to train specifically for the Tour de France, where he will ride in support of Jan Ullrich, Andreas Klöden's impressive victory on the final stage of the Bayern Rundfahrt showed he's well on his way to achieving top form in July.

"This win gives me a real morale booster for the coming weeks of hard work, and shows that my Tour preparations are bang on schedule," said Klöden on "The race pause was well worth it. I am convinced that my form curve will just continue to rise from now on."

T-Mobile directeur sportif Mario Kummer was also satisfied with Klöden return to form: "It was absolutely the right decision for Andreas to concentrate on intensive training the last four weeks. He has demonstrated that he has been doing things right," he said.

And although the 29 year-old German champion finished second to Armstrong at last year's Tour de France, Klöden has already made clear his motives in 2005, where he will provide 100 percent support to Jan Ullrich.

"I know that I can ride a good Tour and that I will be there for Jan all the way. I am convinced that in five weeks time, we will head to the Tour with a super-competitive team."

Alexandre Vinokourov, third overall at the 2003 Tour, also finished second place on the general classification to Michael Rich (Gerolsteiner) at the Bayern Rundfahrt, giving the team another confidence-booster.

Davitamon-Lotto no longer a sprinter's team

Six riders pre-selected for the Tour; three spots remain

With Davitamon-Lotto's Wim van Huffel finishing just outside the top 10 on the overall classification, as well as the team winning the Trofeo Fast Team classification at the Giro d'Italia - in addition to leading the UCI ProTour teams competition - owner Marc Coucke says his outfit can no longer be labelled a sprinters' team.

"The lead in the UCI ProTour teams classification is unexpected but not accidental," said Coucke at a team press conference on Monday. "10 Davitamon-Lotto racers, including six Belgians, already have points. This is better than any other team [Fassa Bortolo, Liberty Seguros, Phonak and Team CSC have seven - ed.], and this is a demonstration of our widespread strength."

Boasting 27 wins to their credit, with four in ProTour races and among eight different riders, Coucke said the team will refocus their goals a little to try and stay as long as possible within the top three ProTour teams. However, the cycling enthusiast also restated that the team's core objectives - to have a strong team for all races, to provide opportunities for young Belgian riders, and to have a worthy ProTour team - have not changed, proudly adding that it is being achieved with one of the smallest budgets of any ProTour team, using a clever system of financial incentive.

"Our bonus system works: Wim van Huffel and Mauricio Ardila can earn twice as much as what they hoped at the start of the season. This is not a problem; we had it included this within our budget," he said

Directeur sportif Herman Frison said they 'discovered' van Huffel at last year's Tour de l'Avenir and the Tour of Austria, where he was riding for local team Vlaanderen - T Interim. "I had a feeling that Wim might be the biggest surprise of the team [at the Giro]," said Frison, who noticed the 26 year-old's second time trial in the final week was markedly better than his first, demonstrating an ability to recover extremely well.

Team manager Marc Sergeant added that praise must also go to the directors and coaches as well as the riders, and mentioned that three riders - Johan van Summeren, Mario Aerts and Cadel Evans - will go to the French Alps next week to reconnoitre the mountain stages of this year's Tour de France.

Sergeant also named six riders who have already been pre-selected for the Tour: Robbie McEwen, Fred Rodriguez, Leon Van Bon, Cadel Evans, Axel Merckx and Christophe Brandt. Seven names remain for the last three selections: Johan van Summeren, Wim Vansevenant, Bert Roesems, Henk Vogels, Mario Aerts, Nico Mattan and Serge Baguet.

McGee in the mountains

Together with 15 of his team-mates, Bradley McGee has currently based himself at one of cycling's great monuments, L'Alpe d'Huez, where he and his La Française des Jeux team shall spend a week of intense training, and where team selections are made for the Dauphiné Libéré, Tour de Suisse - and even the Tour itself.

"It's not spoken, but everyone knows it is often during these camps that selections are made between riders," wrote McGee on his personal website, "Friendly rivalry is what it is and often the rotating 15 minute turns on the front of the group can get heated. Another side of cycling not often known to any one but us idiots.

"I find myself enjoying this 'stage' in the mountains. It's a time to breathe deep and reflect on where I am for this season 2005. From the intentions I have programmed as far back as November 2004, the early season and snow of February, battling through early stage races of March and finally to some solid form, exiting Tour de Romandie with a second place in the final TT that followed on with a win, a much treasured win at Villers Cotterets."

McGee added his victory two weeks ago was very much needed; not so much for himself, but more to reaffirm the trust team manager Marc Madiot has placed in him as a leader.

"As a leader of my team and putting my hand up for top Tour performances has pushed pressure to levels I have never known," wrote McGee. "Remaining focused through good and bad has been a battle. I constantly revert back to my 20-week countdown program that was drawn up over the pre-season and only slightly modified since. It has been my guide.

Always one to relish and thrive under pressure, McGee welcomes being in the heat of battle against proven Grand Tour performances in the bigger races, and describes preparing for a high overall classification at the Tour de France as "fighting a new animal".

Wrote McGee: "[The] Tour build-up is a long and turbulent process. It is not a one day battle. No way can you release the valve with a huge surge and violent effort, all though Villers Cotterets was certainly just that. But even with this win, there was no sense of relief, just a smile before returning to the grindstone with July in mind. The very next day I was across to the Tour's prologue course, near Nantes, with my TT bike and video camera on recon. A few days later I was up in the mountains behind Monaco gasping through my first of three planned altitude camps."

Although buoyed by the challenge, the 29 year-old from Sydney's western suburbs says handling this new approach to his training and racing has had its ups and downs. He notices a physical change, now much lighter "with veins crossing my legs, stomach and back", but feels more powerful on his time trial bike than ever before, and now knows how to eat properly to avoid hunger flat problems.

And mentally? "It's new, a different game and it is right now with just over five weeks to go, the inner voice of positive affirmation needs to rise up and fight off thoughts of negativity and desire to change the course of action."

Wilson unlikely to ride the Tour

While McGee is dealing with his own challenges, so too is his team-mate Matthew Wilson. Due to a minimum number of four French riders required to take part in the Tour de France, as well as four out of the remaining five spots already pre-selected, the 2004 Australian champion appears unlikely to ride his second Tour de France this July.

"This is due to the powers that be accepting that to bring a quality team to the Tour, they will need majority foreign riders, but to keep the image of the team intact, they still want at least four French guys there," wrote Wilson on his personal website,

Although there is technically one spot remaining, Wilson added that Belgian Philippe Gilbert will be the likely candidate, the other four foreign riders likely to be Bradley McGee, Baden Cooke, Thomas Lövkvist and Bernhard Eisel.

Wrote Wilson: "I've been told that it is not a question of form and that I'm not going to be selected based on form or lack thereof, so it's just a matter of wait and see who's going and hope there's a spot left over for me.

"It's frustrating that right now, I probably have the form of my life and I know that come Tour time, I'll be even better and I still may not have the chance to ride! But for now, there is nothing I can do about it except keep doing what I'm doing and hope."

If Wilson isn't selected for the Tour de France, the likely scenario is that the 27 year-old Victorian will get a chance to ride his first Vuelta a Espańa in September.

Julich "a snowball's chance in hell of winning"

Although Team CSC's Bobby Julich knew he was likely to be outgunned if the race came down to a sprint at last Sunday's CSC Invitational in Arlington, Virginia, it was still a far better option for him than a bunch gallop.

"I knew in that break of four that I had a snowball's chance in hell of winning the race, but I had a lot of fun," Julich said on "We don't get the chance to race in America very often so I was out there enjoying it."

In the lead-up event to the three-race Wachovia Cycling Series, Julich finished fourth behind winner Ivan Dominguez (Health Net/Maxxis), Kirk O'Bee (Navigators Insurance) and Ivan Stevic (Aerospace Engineering-Vmg).

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