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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for October 3, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones and Hedwig Kröner

Di Luca first king of ProTour

Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi):
Photo ©: Sirotti
Click for larger image

Liquigas-Bianchi's Danilo Di Luca has crowned himself first king of the UCI ProTour on Sunday in Zürich, Switzerland. By coming into the finish in fourth position behind winner Paolo Bettini in the Züri Metzgete, "the Killer" scored enough points to win the new season-long ranking classification succeeding the World Cup.

Di Luca is out of reach of the last of his remaining theoretical opponents, even though the calendar will only be sealed after the Giro di Lombardia on October 15. With many riders of the Top 10 ranking having ended their racing schedule for this year - or retired - the 29 year-old will keep the white jersey he's been wearing for most of the season.

The Italian rider was first awarded the trophy after his impressive double Amstel Gold race and Flèche Wallonne in April, having already won the Vuelta a Pais Vasco. Only four riders topped the ProTour rankings before him: Bobby Julich after Paris-Nice, Oscar Freire after Tirreno Adriatico, Alessandro Petacchi after Milano-San Remo and Tom Boonen after his Paris-Roubaix victory.

As for the teams and nations rankings, nothing is certain yet with CSC still closely followed by Rabobank in the teams, and Italy being chased by the U.S. in the countries. The next ProTour race, Paris-Tours, will add to the standings on Sunday, October 9, before the last event in 2005, the Giro di Lombardia on October 15, will seal the classification.

Rankings as of October 2, 2005

Individuals
 
1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                    229 pts
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step                              171
3 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team                          140
4 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 139
5 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team                 136
6 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner                       131
7 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC                              130
8 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 129
9 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                  128
10 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                      126
 
Teams
 
1 Team CSC                                                 352 pts
2 Rabobank                                                 325
3 Phonak Hearing Systems                                   318
4 Davitamon-Lotto                                          303
5 Liberty Seguros - Würth Team                             294
6 Saunier Duval - Prodir                                   287
7 Gerolsteiner                                             271
8 Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                       255
9 Illes Balears - Caisse D'epargne                         238
10 T-Mobile Team                                           237
 
Nations
 
1 Italy                                                    661 pts
2 United States Of America                                 559
3 Spain                                                    459
4 Germany                                                  365
5 Belgium                                                  304
6 Netherlands                                              280
7 Australia                                                262
8 France                                                   163
9 Luxembourg                                               156
10 Russian Federation                                      153
 
Full rankings: ProTour, Teams, Nations

Second-placed Schleck "showed class"

The podium (L to R:)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

Team CSC's Fränk Schleck finished second after a very solid effort in Sunday's Züri Metzgete and earned the praise of his sports director. "Fränk was fantastic and fought his way to a brilliant result," said Kim Andersen on team-csc.com. "He really showed class out there - both physically and mentally with his excellent sense of tactics. He didn't give in, and it took a lot of effort to prevent the pursuers from catching up. The result is yet another solid testimony to Fränk's enormous potential, and with his performance today we've every reason to think he's capable of winning one of the big classics."

Schleck could indeed be satisfied with finishing second behind the winner Paolo Bettini, as 'Il Grillo's performance was more than outstanding. A very interesting battle unfolded behind him between Schleck and Fassa Bortolo's Lorenzo Bernucci, which the Luxembourger won in a sprint, 2'57 after Bettini crossed the line.

"I'm very satisfied with my result, even though I didn't win," said Schleck after the finish in Zürich. "Bettini was untouchable today, but this is one of those second places you can be proud of. I really felt good out there and all I had to do was try. It definitely wasn't my favorite kind of weather, and I'll admit we did take some chances in the turns in order to keep our distance to our two pursuers. But we made it and it was a big thing for me to end up on the podium in a race like this."

The whole of the Züri Metzgete (the "Butcher of Zürich"according to some) was marked by rain, fog and cool temperatures.

Piil crashed and broke hip

On a very different note CSC's Jakob Piil had to see his opportunities and the remainder of the season totally shattered when he crashed after being hit by one of the service cars.

"Jacob crashing today is really tragic," said team manager Bjarne Riis. "He was in the shape of his life and now has to see the whole thing go down the drain, because one of the drivers didn't adhere to the regulations. He has every reason to be absolutely furious, especially after all he's been through to get back on this level."

Piil was taken to a local hospital where a broken hip was diagnosed.

Haussler continues impressive run

Young Australo-German Heinrich Haussler, who won stage 19 of this year's Vuelta a España, continued his impressive performances amongst the top pros at yesterday's Züri Metzgete in Switzerland. Finishing seventh behind the Italian winner Paolo bettini, the 21 year-old neo pro put his unknown name up in the results lists once again.

"An incredible performance," said Gerolsteiner team manager Hans-Michael Holczer after the race. "The kid is sensational." Haussler, who jumped in a breakaway with his teammate Andrea Moletta about half way through the 204 kilometer event, managed to hold on as it disintegrated and come into the finish 3.39 minutes after Bettini.

"In the finale, everybody [in the break] had difficulties, it was on and off. Some fell out of the group in front, some caught it from behind," added Holczer, who saw his team move up on seventh place in the ProTour team rankings.

Phonak and Swiss Cycling launch partnership

ARcycling AG, the company managing the Phonak Cycling team, has announced a partnership with the Swiss cycling federation to support Swiss development riders in their beginning careers. At select races, the best Swiss U23 riders will be able to compare themselves directly with the international competition. ARcycling AG supports this idea with a financial commitment of 100,000 Swiss francs.

On the initiative of team Phonak's directors Andy Rihs and John Lelangue, the cooperation with Swiss Cycling should enable true talents to make the leap into the professional ranks over the mid and long term. "If we want to remain one of the strongest cycling nations in future as well, then we can't afford to lose any time in actively creating and implementing the appropriate professional structures," said Andy Rihs.

ARcycling AG will cover the costs for transport etc., as the U23 riders will travel all over Europe next year. "Competing as a national team at five of the best one-day races and one large international stage race for young riders, the young Swiss talents will be given a chance to distinguish themselves in direct competition with the best up-and-coming riders," said John Lelangue. Together with representatives from Swiss Cycling, the racing calendar will be drawn up over the next couple of weeks. Races in Belgium, France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland are being considered.

Volcano eruption threatens Vuelta Feminina a El Salvador

Stage one of the Vuelta Feminina a El Salvador was changed due to a volcano eruption in Santa Ana, west of San Salvador, the race finish of the day. The Ilamatepec volcano, also known as Santa Ana, exploded to spit heavy rocks from its crater on Saturday morning, and authorities evacuated hundreds of people living on its slopes. However, according to Cyclingnews' sources, all riders and staff are safe.

The Ilamatepec, the largest of the country's 23 volcanoes, has been increasingly active since July 2004 but has not erupted since 1904.

Young rider dies

According to Italian Tuttobiciweb, 18 year-old Paolo Marelli died while competing in the Medaglia d'Oro Primo Lamperti race on Sunday. The young man was riding for Team Casartelli.

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