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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for September 4, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones & Hedwig Kröner

Vuelta stage 8 wrap up

Plan B works for Petacchi

Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo)
Photo ©: AFP
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Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) had to improvise a little bit to win his third stage of this year's Vuelta in the seaside town of Lloret de Mar. The classy Italian sprinter lost the wheel of his leadout man Marco Velo inside the final 500m, courtesy of a right-hand corner and a Credit Agricole push. Velo ended up leading out Thor Hushovd, who put his nose in front at 200m to go before Petacchi came from behind to power past the Norwegian. Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step) was also right up there in third, again wondering where Tom Boonen was.

"It wasn't a such a smooth ride as previously because of the final corners, where Quick.Step and crédit Agricole wanted to mingle with our train," Petacchi said. "I knew that the last 300 metres we'd have a headwind, so I preferred to come off from behind. On the last corner I was on Bettini's wheel and waited until Hushovd, who was second behind Velo, would come around to take his wheel. It went well.

"Now I know that there's a very difficult week ahead from an altimetric point of view. I'll use it to refine my preparation for the World's. I want to get to the finishes tired, but not destroyed. Then we'll talk about the World's again.

Petacchi's teammate Juan Antonio Flecha added, "I felt better today and was able to pull for a long time during the stage for Alessandro's sprint finish. I hope I'll continue to improve, because finishing this Vuelta means so much to me. I also would love to win a stage in the last week..."

There were no changes to the overall classification, and Roberto Heras will start tomorrow's 48 km time trial in Lloret de Mar with a 12 second gap over Denis Menchov. The Russian could well take back the golden jersey with a good ride in the TT.

The 189 km stage was a routine one for the sprinters' teams, who let a breakaway go after 6 km containing Bart Dockx (Davitamon-Lotto), Xavier Florencio (Relax Fuenlabrada), and Angel Gomez Gomez (Saunier Duval). The three rode out to a maximum lead of 10'40 before the inevitable happened and they were all caught with 14 km to go. A series of late attacks by Luis Pasamontes, Fredy Gonzalez (Relax) and Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Phonak) all failed, and the result was a slightly disorganised bunch sprint.

Also see:

Stage 8 full results, report & photos
Live report
Stages & results
Start List

Heras and Gonzalez confident for tomorrow's time trial

By Hernan Alvarez Macias

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros)
Photo ©: AFP
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Current Vuelta a España leader Roberto Heras thinks he can get in the list of candidates for the stage win tomorrow at the time trial in Lloret de Mar. "It's an important stage with a very demanding and hard route," said Heras to the press. He considers both Denis Menchov (Rabobank) and Carlos Sastre (CSC) can prevail in the stage, but he insisted he can also be one of the favourites.

Looking back on yesterday, the six bonus seconds Heras scored weren't intended to be a cushion for tomorrow. "We hadn't prepared anything", said Heras, "But we were in front and Vicioso launched the sprint. They are only 6 seconds and I do not believe that they are very important for Sunday's time trial, but we had the opportunity and took advantage of it."

His sports director, 'almighty' Manolo Saiz noted that his decision to make Heras take the sprint bonus was taken, "above all, for its psychological reasons." As for tomorrow's time trial, Saiz knows that he might have to see the overall lead slip away, but he's not too concerned about it. "Roberto is doing very well, but the time differences are still very small", said Saiz. "One must forget that Roberto already did one good time trial last year in Almusafes, on a parcours more difficult than this one."

Heras added that the time trial parcours was "not suitable for the specialists, because it has many climbs." He also revealed that he knew the parcours very well, because he trained there often and rode it in the Setmana Catalana. "Sastre and Menchov should do well as this course favours them, but also Mancebo, who's getting stronger every day," Heras concluded.

Meanwhile, Aitor Gonzalez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) hopes he can recover the lost time during the first day of the race riding against the clock on Sunday. "I hope to recover fast from the last few days of suffering and I will try to amend what we have lost so far," said the Basque rider to the media. He explained that the worst thing about the echelons he got in was not the time lost itself, but the big effort he had to make to reach the finish line quickly. The 'TerminAitor' hopes to get in the big battle for the time trial and he includes himself as well as Menchov in the list of favourites.

L'Equipe journalist replies to criticism

Damien Ressiot, journalist with the French sports newspaper L'Equipe, and author of the article published which linked seven-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong with the usage of the forbidden substance EPO in the 1999 edition of the race, has said that he understands the public reactions of the Texan champion faced with these allegations. "I admit that it's a little cruel to stigmatise him only," Ressiot told Cyclingnews' Hedwig Kröner on Saturday, who asked him what he thought of Armstrong's and the public's criticism of the conduct of his investigation.

"But Armstrong made several declarations in the past that he would open his medical dossier, and he never did. Of course, the information we published is very personal, but then you shouldn't announce that you're ready to reveal it any time if you're not going to! While I was working on the current revelations, I asked him to, but he didn't," the French journalist explained.

While Ressiot admitted that his research targeted Armstrong in particular, he also added that his information wasn't sufficient to publish the identities of the six other riders who tested positive in the 1999 Tour de France.

"I did focus on him as a person, on the challenge that he threw at the journalists by repeatedly saying 'Do you think I'm doped? Then prove it!'. Besides, I don't have the means to publish the identities of the other six samples - if I had them in my hands, they'd be in the newspaper, that's for sure. It's not in my habit to protect anybody," said Ressiot, who also exposed the Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano salbutamol case in the middle of the 2002 Tour.

Cyclingnews will feature an interview with the author of what is called in Europe the 'Armstrong affair' in the coming days.

Cyclingnews coverage of the L'Equipe allegations

June 27, 2006 - Carmichael defends Armstrong, Armstrong answers L'Equipe & LeMond
June 26, 2006 - LeMond: "Armstrong threatened my life"
June 19, 2006 - Armstrong calls for Pound's exit
June 18, 2006 - Lance Armstrong's open letter against Dick Pound
June 4, 2006 - UCI hits back at WADA
June 3, 2006 - WADA slams the Vrijman report
June 2, 2006 - L'Equipe stands by its story, UCI supports Vrijman's findings
June 1, 2006 - UCI, WADA and Armstrong react to Vrijman's report
May 31, 2006 - UCI lawyer asks for Armstrong's name to be cleared
May 14, 2006 - Two more weeks for Armstrong investigation

Click here for full coverage of the L'Equipe allegations.

An interview with Santiago Botero

Gunning for another rainbow jersey

Santiago Botero
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
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Santiago Botero made a welcome return to form this season after two disappointing years with T-Mobile. Health problems prevented him from hitting the kind of form which in the past had seen him win the world time trial championships, take stages in the Tour de France and Tour of Spain and finish 4th, 7th and 8th in the Tour. He also won the mountains jersey in 2000.

Botero's T-Mobile years saw a noticeable drop off in results, but after returning to full health, normal service was resumed this season. The Phonak rider dominated the Tour of Romandie, taking the time trial stage plus the overall, rode solidly in the Tour of Catalunya, then took two stages and finished second overall in the Dauphiné Libéré. However, after finishing 2nd on the 11th stage of the Tour de France, a tired Botero started to struggle, eventually reaching Paris 51st overall.

Speaking to Cyclingnews just before the start of this year's Vuelta, the Colombian explained the problem. "I was lost! I was lost because the last two years I didn't have good results, through problems with my health," he stated. "I was happy to become a good cyclist again, but I didn't make a good calculation with my training for the Tour. But for next season I will know how to do it right."

Botero is happy to be performing well again this year. "It is great to be back. My first race was Flèche Wallonne and that went well, then in Liège I did a good job for the team. I went on from that and won the Tour of Romandie, so after two days of competition I went into a ProTour race and won. That was a good result for me, because I trained very, very hard at home. In December, January, February, I put many, many kilometres into my legs. Catalunya was good but I had a cold so that affected my condition. After that, I was again very good in the Dauphine, where I took two stages and we fought until the end.

"In the Tour, I had only ten good stages and after that, my condition dropped. I was not happy because the Tour is very important for me. But it is motivation for next season [to do well there]."

Before the Vuelta Botero told Cyclingnews that he was only at about 50 percent of his top form. He was relaxed about this, though, saying that everything was aimed towards winning another world time trial title later this month.

"After the Tour I was very tired. I took a week's rest, more or less, and I started training step by step with the goal of reaching top shape for the last week of the Vuelta and the world championships. For me, the objective in this Vuelta is not the general classification."

The 32 year old said he was aiming for good rides in the time trials in the Tour of Spain, but didn't expect to do well in the prologue. "I will target the time trial stages, yes, but the prologue is complicated," he said. "I don't have the legs now. I know that I don't have the form [at this point], but I will try to do a good ride in Tarragona. And the last one is important. It is flat, it is in Madrid and it is the last test before the world championships."

However he was a strong ninth on the opening day, showing that his condition in races against the clock was slightly higher than his own pre-race calculation. Botero's next gauge of his form will come in the time trial on Sunday, where he will hope to do a strong ride in the 48 kilometre test.

Click here for the full interview

CSC loses lead in the heat

Team CSC's Lars Bak has lost the overall lead in this year's Tour de l'Avenir in France, mainly because of very hot meteorological conditions. Slovenian Borut Bozic was able to take the jersey from him in the 203 km long third stage from Sainte-Scolasse-sur-Sarthe to Sassay.

"It started out fine," said CSC's sports director Scott Sunderland after the stage on "We had Lars Bak, Andy Schleck and Christian Müller in the front group of 21 riders, who escaped from the peloton after 75 kilometres. But then Andy started having problems with the heat and had to let himself fall back to the second group, where we had Matti Breschel and Kasper Klostergaard, and shortly after that, the 35° Celsius became too much for Christian as well, and he dropped all the way back to the peloton, where Brian Vandborg was sitting." Lars Bak was then the only CSC rider in the front group, and as four riders, among them the day's winner, Borut Bozic, jumped with about 15 kilometres to go, he could only watch them leave.

"Lars was incredibly strong, but without teammates it was impossible for him to control the front group. He is however only a few seconds behind in the overall standings, so he's still very much in the game," a still hopeful Sunderland concluded.

Lampre for Giro della Romagna

Lapre-Caffita will line up at the Giro della Romagna on Sunday with Daniele Bennati as team captain. "His fifth position today [at the Coppa Placci] confirms Daniele is in a good condition. We will do our best to bring him to the final sprint," said directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli, adding that the course wasn't selective. Daniele Bennati recently proved his good form at the Deutschland Tour, where he won three stages.

The complete Lampre roster at the Giro della Romagna consists of: Alessandro Ballan, Daniele Bennati, Gianluca Bortolami, Salvatore Commesso, Damiano Cunego, Oleksandr Kvachuk, Gorazd Stangelj and Andrea Tonti.

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