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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for September 19, 2005

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Vuelta final stage wrap up

Petacchi takes five; Heras makes history

Count the victories
Photo ©: AFP
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Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) didn't surprise too many people today by winning the final stage of the Vuelta a España in a bunch sprint in Madrid. But in what could well be a dress rehearsal for next week's World Championships, Petacchi had to work for it as his team didn't quite get its train in order in the hectic final kilometres. After the U-turn with 600m to go, it was all uphill to the line, and Petacchi was able to pass Marco Zanotti (Liquigas) in the final 100 metres to claim victory, with Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) once again second, and Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner) third.

In winning the stage and all three intermediate sprints, Petacchi also took home the points jersey from Roberto Heras. Both finished on equal points, but Petacchi had more stage wins to his credit.

The stage was a relatively easy one for four time Vuelta champ Heras, whose team barely had to work to keep him out of trouble on the Madrid World's circuit. Luis Pasamontes (Relax) and Alexandre Botcharov (Credit Agricole) provided the main break of the day, attacking with two laps (34 km) to go to gain up to 27 seconds, before they were caught on the last lap. Then it was attack and counter attack to try and prevent a bunch sprint. But no-one could, and Petacchi won the stage, and Heras an unprecedented fourth Vuelta a España.

Also see:

Stage 21 full results & report
Live report
Stages & results
Start List

Golden jersey - golden bike

By Hernan Alvarez Macias in Madrid

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros)
Photo ©: Unipublic
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Vuelta a España winner Roberto Heras (Liberty-Würth) rode the last stage of the race on a special bicycle especially made for today. His BH Global Concept was been painted in gold and displayed the years of his four record-breaking Vuelta victories: 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2005. "Arte-Ruta" was the company that made this special design.

While Heras has achieved the record of victories, he did not break the record of stages wearing the leader's jersey. The Swiss Alex Zülle dressed in the golden jersey 45 times, but the rider from Salamanca put it on 'only' 37 times including today. He wore it 10 days during this year's Vuelta. In this ranking Gustaav Deloor, Delio Rodriguez and Tony Rominger are third with 32 stages, sixth-placed are Julian Berrendero and Txomin Perurena with 29 days, eighth Laurent Jalabert with 25 days and ninth Abraham Olano and Costa with 23 stages.

Petacchi ready for big date

By Hernan Alvarez Macias in Madrid

Photo ©: AFP
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Italy's Alessandro Petacchi is a very big candidate for the Madrid World Championships, even though he tries to get rid of the pressure of being among the top favourites. After winning his fifth stage at the Vuelta a España, he spoke about the race he will race on September 25.

"It is a very ugly finale," Petacchi said. "It's very difficult because the team is very important. It's an almost 500-meter sprint because you should accelerate and then do the sprint. There should be two very strong riders up front. It's hard; I think everyone says it is an easy course but it's not. I think the race is very long, almost 280 kilometres. It is certain that many riders will try to attack me in the climb in the park. This is not the Zolder's World's as everybody thinks."

He also talked about Germany's Erik Zabel, who impressed him during the Vuelta. "He will certainly do a big race on Sunday because I have seen him doing fine during the last week. He is a rider that can be in front during long races and he does good sprints."

Asked who he would count as favourites for the victory next Sunday, 'Ale-Jet' replied, "If it ends in a bunch sprint, I think [Robbie] McEwen, because the course features a last corner good for him to find a better position. But I think it's going to be difficult to finish in a bunch sprint all together."

About his condition, Petacchi said that he hoped to be in better shape than the other sprinters because he finished the Vuelta. "I have one week to study the course and see," he concluded.

Sastre "deserves podium"

Carlos Sastre (CSC)
Photo ©: Unipublic
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Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) succeeded in landing a nice third place in this year's final Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España. After three weeks impressive efforts, Sastre was able to enjoy his spot on the podium in Madrid and celebrate his biggest result in one of the big stage races.

"Carlos did really well in the Vuelta and he fully deserves his spot on the podium," said sports director Kim Andersen on "He's an all round rider and it's great to see him prove it with a nice result such as this. It takes a lot to achieve a podium spot in the Vuelta, and I think he's been one of the prominent riders in this race - just as we as a team have been up front in nearly all stages. We took a brilliant stage victory, and with a little luck we could've taken a couple more. On the whole I'm very satisfied with the efforts delivered by everyone. Our aim was to get a good result overall and try for a stage win along the way, and we've achieved both. The team has worked perfectly and everyone down here in and around the team deserve big credit."

Santos Gonzalez sacked by Phonak

By Hedwig Kröner and Hernan Alvarez Macias

In the morning before the last stage of the Vuelta a España, Phonak team manager John Lelangue announced that Santos Gonzalez, previously placed 8th on GC, will not be a member of the Swiss team anymore. The affair began last Wednesday, when Santos Gonzalez rode an excellent stage finishing third in La Granja de San Ildefonso in stage 17 - but on the very next morning, the rider was taken out of the race by his own team's management.

Gonzalez failed an internal test carried out within the squad, which allegedly revealed a hematocrit level higher than 47, the team's self-imposed tolerance level.

"We could very easily have said that Gonzalez had a physical problem and that he couldn't take the start in the morning," team manager John Lelangue told reporters in Spain. "But for the sake of transparence, we decided to make this information public."

Gonzalez, meanwhile, has rejected that his blood levels were too high, telling Spanish TVE on Friday: "I'm in complete disagreement with this decision. I passed a blood test yesterday, whose results were normal. I'm a professional for ten years and I never had a problem like this. My image is damaged with this affair."

Gonzalez also said that the real intention of Phonak was to terminate his contract, which lasted until 2006. "John Lelangue, Juan Fernández and the team doctor told me that I couldn't continue the race with those levels, but if I signed the cancellation of my contract for December 31, they would let me finish the Vuelta to look for another team. This sounded like blackmail to me, so I refused and gave the matter into the hands of my lawyers," he said.

The affair will certainly continue as both parties cannot seem to reach a deal in the near future.

As it turned out, the abandon of Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Phonak) during stage 18 to and from Avila was also related to this affair. The Spaniard was riding in the day's breakaway when he decided to quit at kilometre 128, but not for health reasons - nor because he was thinking about the upcoming World's, as Cyclingnews interpreted. Perdiguero abandoned to protest against the fact that Phonak's team management had decided to take his teammate and friend Santos Gonzalez out of the race the same morning.

Rodriguez obtains mountain trophy

By Hernan Alvarez Macias in Madrid

Joaquin Rodriguez (Saunier Duval)
Photo ©: Hernan Alvarez
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Joaquin Rodriguez (Saunier Duval) was the surprising mountain leader of the Vuelta a España. He worked all the 21 days of the race to reach his goal and finally made it beating Eladio Jimenez (Comunidad Valenciana), his biggest rival. He performed very well in all the mountain stages and also in all the climbs where KOM points were awarded, but didn't achieve a stage win.

"I would have liked to win a stage because I had options," said Rodriguez at the final Vuelta press conference in Madrid. "But that jersey was very demanding: it forces you to sprint on every climb and I always finished with very little strength left in the finale."

Rodriguez said he got ill with a cold at the Pajares stage and that he had a bad time during the last week. "The day in Avila [stage 18] was the worst day during the Vuelta," the Spaniard commented, adding that he was looking forward to pursue the same jersey again in the coming years. "Jose Luis Laguia achieved five mountain jerseys in the Vuelta. He said that it's a prize with a lot of prestige. I'm young and I have chances of equalling his record."

The 26 year-old will ride for Illes Balears next year as he signed a two-year contract with Unzue's team. "I'm happy with that and let's see if I can keep on improving," Rodriguez said.

Finally, he referred to the World's parcours, which will not be his cup of tea. "I think it's perfect for Petacchi," Rodriguez confirmed the overall sentiment. "I expected a harder course, a more demanding course. I had the feeling that it's a very fast circuit and that it will a very fast race. I think it will be perfect for the sprinters."

Cañada to undergo surgery

Saunier-Duval's David Cañada, who had to abandon the Vuelta because of an elevation of his heart rate (tachychardia), will be undergoing surgery in a Madrid hospital, French website reported. The Spanish rider was diagnosed with Wolf-Parkinson-White syndrome years ago and advised to treat his illness. The surgery will take place this week, and if all works out as planned, Cañada should be able to pursue his career.

Power shifts in store for U.S. men's peloton next season

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

Talks of transfers and newly forming teams always amass this time of year, and tracking down comments from the involved parties can be... well, difficult. Sometimes speculation turns out to be just that, and other times it just does not live up to the hype. However, this time around the talking is bigger than usual with many significant names involved - and best of all, much of the speculation has been confirmed by the people actually involved.

TIAA-CREF growing

A team set to expand for next season is Jonathan Vaughter's TIAA-CREF squad of mostly under-23 developmental riders. The 2006 edition will see an increase in the roster due to the signing of an additional major co-sponsor. This will allow the team to add slightly older and more experienced (but still young) riders to shepherd along in their already established careers further.

"We will race quite a bit more in Europe, while upping our U.S. presence in the big events," Vaughters told Cyclingnews. He went on to reveal that some of the new riders will include the new U.S. elite criterium and pursuit champion Brad Huff (Mercy Cycling), former U.S. elite criterium champion and ex-Mercury and Saturn sprinter Rahsaan Bahati (McGuire-Langdale), and current Canadian road champion Francois Parisien (Espoirs Laval) who bested the top pros in his country to take the maple leaf jersey. The announcement of the new co-sponsor and the addition of another major name to the team will come around Interbike.

Health Net-Maxxis changing

After the season Health Net-Maxxis has had this year, it is unavoidable that the team will be able to hold-on to their entire roster. John Lieswyn has long announced his retirement at the end of the year, and Tyler Farrar is headed to the ProTour with the French team Cofidis. And even though the team is losing Wherry and Dominguez to a new team, they have re-signed at least two of their big horses, Scott Moninger and Gord Fraser - and Jeff Corbet says that the team is continuing in their role of top rider development by signing some new, younger talent.

More Americans for Saunier Duval

Finally, Saunier Duval-Prodir is once again dipping into the North American peloton for new talent, this time with Canadian Charles Dionne (Webcor) and Aaron Olson (Colavita-Sutter Home). The Spanish ProTour team cited Dionne's impressive wins in the San Francisco Grand Prix and Olson's potential, especially in the time trial. Both have signed two-year contracts according to the team management. Bicycle maker Scott-USA, who sponsors the team, will certainly happy with these additions as they continue their expansion into North America.

"I am hoping for a few early season classics, like Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix," said Olson. "The team wants me to do a Grand Tour, so I will be working extra hard to make the Tour team. It's been a goal of mine, that has been a long time in the making!"

There will be more team news coming on Cyclingnews in the coming weeks - stay tuned!

'Round' wins for Rabobank

With his impressive stage victory in the UCI ProTour race Tour of Poland, Thomas Dekker has given the Rabobank Cycling Team its 400th road race victory in the ten-year history of the team.

Dekker, who just turned 21, was 8 seconds faster in the 19 kilometres long final mountain time trial than American Bobby Julich and 25 seconds faster than number 5 and Rabobank teammate Pieter Weening.

In a similar impressive way, on Saturday Lars Boom rode to the 350th victory of the second Rabobank team, the U23 development squad. Boom, 20 years old, won the sprint in the first part of the second stage of the Tour de la Somme in Abbeville, France, by beating the experienced French professional Stéphane Pettileau amongst others.

The elite cyclo-cross riders of Rabobank will soon reach a milestone number of 250 victories. The count is 246 since Sven Vanthourenhout won in Dudzele, Belgium, last weekend.

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