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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for April 2, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner, assisted by Sabine Sunderland and Susan Westemeyer

Ronde pre-race words of wisdom

Belgian newspapers have geared up continuously during the last couple of weeks to create the anticipation for Sunday's Ronde van Vlaanderen, the Flandrian's favourite. Only hours before the 258 km parcours will be taken on by the toughest bike racers in the world, last year's second and third-placed, Andreas Klier and Peter Van Petegem, have made known their thoughts to Belgian colleagues. Discovery's DS Dirk Demol, meanwhile, is pleased his squad has now more to hope for at in Flanders than a few years ago.

Klier: "I'll win, I know for sure"

The 2005 podium with Klier placed second
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

T-Mobile's Andreas Klier is full of self-confidence that he can be the first to cross the finish line in Ninove-Meerbeke after 17 walls and a total of 20 kilometres if cobblestones. "Boonen already is the best in the world," Klier, who lives in Flanders, told Sportwereld. "Later it will become clear if he is the Indurain of this time on his terrain, or maybe the Lance Armstrong, or the new Eddy Merckx. Who knows.

"But that doesn't mean that I am going to tell him Sunday morning that I'm going to beat him. Tom might laugh at that. I'm still convinced that I'll win.

"It can go the same way (as last year). Maybe he (Boonen) will win with a two-minute lead, and make us look ridiculous. Later when I'm sixty I'll be able to say that I was beaten by the strongest rider of my time... To win the Ronde Van Vlaanderen, you have to be able to stop using your brain in the finale. You have to be able to give, without thinking. Like Tom did last year. The will has to be stronger than the heart and the legs.

"My love for the Ronde has grown slowly. First as Peter (Van Petegem)'s helper; until I discovered three years ago that I can win this race myself one day. Friday morning, I was still out cruising with 'de Peet', Baguetje and Van Impe, the usual clan. But on Sunday it could be man against man. I'm looking forward to it. From Van Petegem I learned a lot."

Van Petegem: "Sunday, the race is on"

Last year's third-placed Peter van Petegem (Davitamon-Lotto) signing autographs at the start
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Click for larger image

Davitamon-Lotto's Peter Van Petegem was also looking forward to the Ronde, keeping the faith that he, too, is a possible candidate for victory.. "Sunday my season starts," Van Petegem told Het Laatste Nieuws, "I'm ready to battle. Sunday the race is on. If I wouldn't believe in [victory], I wouldn't be sitting here. If I wouldn't be able to go up those hills as quickly as I used to, than we have a big problem.

"Everything is perfect. The form is OK, I haven't been sick and the Three Days of De Panne passed smoothly. We are ready and the rest doesn't keep me awake," he was quoted in HNB, putting his slower reaction on the Patersberg in the E3Prijs down to a technical error. "If I compare to this moment last year: did we have that much more victories? Waregem? We didn't win that either. Harelbeke? I finished third there. Is that such a difference with this season? I've been pro for fifteen years and not once have I have worried the days before the start of the Ronde. And all those times I have finished top ten, I think. Why should I worry?," Van Petegem asked.

"Most of the other riders will sleep well, too," he continued. "Vansevenant, Roesems, Vogels: those guys aren't riding to win the race and they know their job. There's only one winner in the team: Peter Van Petegem. The atmosphere in the team is good and the form is, too.

"The start is given in Brugge, and by the time we reach the Muur a lot will have happened. Until the Muur you have to make sure that you stay out of trouble and that you don't have to ride defensively. And after that it's man against man. Simple. If you win the Ronde, then you have beaten the rest."

While Van Petegem said that there wasn't only Boonen to watch as a favourite, he also hinted at the possibility of breaking away before the Muur in Geraardsbergen. "I don't think anyone is thinking about how to beat Tom Boonen," he said. "If you're busy with that you definitely won't beat him. But naming Boonen as the only favourite for Sunday is forgetting a few others - as if there was only Boonen to beat. Of course, I also know I can't ride to the finish in Boonen's company. I don't have to mention he's in the form of his life. That has nothing to do with tactics. You could say: I'll lose Boonen on the Muur. But will you arrive at the foot of the Muur with Boonen? And Boonen will have to get over all those climbs and cobbles himself, too. He might puncture, even puncture twice."

Van Petegem also made clear that there were no alliances between riders in the race, even if they were friends. "I'm not planning on putting my head down because of someone else's strength," he added. "I'm not doing that quickly: putting my head down. How we will solve things; that's for Sunday, in the finale.

"Almost every team has got a potential winner. That rider will race to win himself. Not to make another one lose, or help an ally win - what good does that bring him? Last year some said I had Boonen's opponents as my allies. It was said that Klier is my best mate. That doesn't exist. Not in the Ronde Van Vlaanderen. On Sunday, everyone rides to win. I would like to get in front with ten guys and that eight of them look at Boonen when I attack... But all of those guys will want to win themselves."

Discovery have their plan ready

"George Hincapie is our team leader, Hoste, Devolder and Gusev are lightning conductors," Discovery Team Director Demol told Sportwereld. "A lot has changed in this team since two years ago. Now we have eight to ten riders that really can go for it. Two years ago we bought 'Volderke', last year Hoste and Hammond, now Gusev who finished tenth in Meerbeke in his RVV debut and twelfth in Roubaix. It used to be frustrating because we only had three riders as motivated as the sports director. The rest came to Vlaanderen for an evening of Italian or Mexican food.

"Boonen makes me think of Lance more and more. When he was riding in my team, he was already pretty self-confident, now he's even more. To ride Boonen into oblivion, we'll have to make the race hard. To attack is the only way to do that. We have to break all four of them because Bettini, Pozzato and Nuyens aren't exactly choir-boys either. All teams have got the same interests.

"I'm keeping Van Petegem in mind. He is old but not worn. He could be an ally. If Boonen is the strongest and ends up winning, I will be sincerely pleased for him. But I'll also be thinking: damn, that could have been one of my men."

The DS' prognostics

A few directeur sportifs have been asked to give their prognostics on who will end up on the podium in Meerbeke on Sunday afternoon. While some of them have faith in their own riders (Peeters, Sergeant and Piva), others believe that their rivals will win (Maasen, Demol) - or is it all mind games? Courtesy of Het Laatste Nieuws.

Wilfried Peeters (Quick.Step): "It will be a hard, nervous race because of the wind. In the end the strongest will come to the front. And Tom wins."

1.Boonen
2.Van Petegem
3.Hincapie

Marc Sergeant (Davitamon): "Already before the Muur Van Petegem and Hoste will go. Boonen will win the sprint of the chasers."

1.Van Petegem
2.Hoste
3.Boonen

Valerio Piva (T-Mobile): "Klier will arrive alone, after a 'demarrage' (breakaway) on the Bosberg or shortly after. Super-favourite Boonen will win the sprint for second."

1.Klier
2.Boonen
3.Ballan

Frans Maassen (Rabobank): "With a lead group of about five men they'll ride away in the finale. They'll stay together and Boonen will win the sprint."

1.Boonen
2.Van Petegem
3.Bettini

Dirk Demol (Discovery): "A group of about six, seven guys, with Bettini amongst them, will break away and put Boonen in a tight situation. Bettini will win the sprint."

1.Bettini
2.Dekker
3.Hincapie

Wesemann out

Steffen Wesemann (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Click for larger image

2004 Ronde Van Vlaanderen winner Steffen Wesemann (T-Mobile) will not participate in this year's edition if the event. Suffering from respiratory problems due to a viral infection, the German will rest to cure his condition. Team mate Andrť Korff will replace him in Sunday's race.

"In this state, he wouldn't be able to play a role in the finale anyway," said T-Mobile directeur sportif Valerio Piva. "It would be too risky to make him race only to help the team in the beginning. That's why it is best that he takes the time to recover, to be fit again for Paris-Roubaix."

The essence of 'de Ronde'

As the season heads into the heart of the Spring Classics it's time to focus on Belgium and a race which captures the imagination of most cycling enthusiasts - the Tour of Flanders. Cycling historian Les Woodland takes a look at what makes de Ronde van Vlaanderen so special.

Waiting for the bunch
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

I bet your local bike race doesn't have rock-style merchandise. But that's because it's not the Tour of Flanders, the race that belongs to Belgium and the people of the bike-crazy north. Because as everyone knows, heaven keeps a special place for Flandrians who win.

So, you want to time the break? What better than your own Ronde wristwatch from Rodania, including "a sport version provided with hour, minute and second hands, date, heavy rust-free metal body, shock-resistant mechanism and shatterproof glass, tested at 100 metres below water, equipped with massive rust-free steel strap with double slot for safety"? Or perhaps you're better at guessing the future than timing the present. OKÖ name the first three in the right order and you'll receive a hefty prize from Eddy Merckx. But be warned: you'll be one of more than 80,000 sending a prediction to Het Nieuwsblad, the organising newspaper.

The Tour of Flanders was the invention of Karel van Wijnendaele, sometimes known as Karel Steyaert. He was born in 1882 and became a bike racer and journalist who for 20 years ran Belgium's team in the Tour de France.

Click here for the full feature.

Pollack newest addition to T-Mobile's injured list

T-Mobile's string of injured riders keeps on growing - the newest addition to the list is sprinter Olaf Pollack. Knee problems make him doubtful for his planned starts at Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix this coming week. The German is being treated in Potsdam by sports doctor Ralph SchŁrer. "It doesn't look good right now," Pollack said. "But I'm still hopeful." Pollack has earned both of T-Mobile's wins this year.

Milram's 'new way of cycling'

Team Milram is continuing its 'new way of cycling' approach by establishing a 'new form of scouting system in pro cycling' for finding and developing young riders, the team has announced. Directeur Sportif Jan Schaffrath will be in charge of the new program.

"I will look, especially in Germany, for two or three young riders for our team," Schaffrath said. "I am especially interested in a rider for the Belgian Spring Classics, a rider for the Tours, and someone with climbing abilities. But team spirit, commitment and a certain independence are also important factors."

Swedish MTB pro attacked in Curacao

Swedish MTB rider Emil Lindgren was the victim of an assault while training on the Mountainbike World Cup parcours in Curacao this weekend and had his bicycle stolen.

Lindgren is said to be relatively unharmed by the attack, though shocked by the aggression and has several bruises. Police found his bike and later arrested two suspects.

Writing in his own website, he said, "I went for my daily ride and after while I rode to the parcours to do a lap. After about two kilometres two guys jumped out from the bushes on a down hill stretch. I rode at high speed and was to pass them when one of them hit my shoulder which resulted in a crash.

"I didnít understand what had happened until one of them took my bike and started to run. The other one picked up stones and started throwing at me. I ran as fast as I could the other way and I donít know if any of the stones hit me. I was just scared that one of them might follow me."

Lindgren made it back to his hotel safely, where he was able to assess the damage; some bruising and a deep cut in his right knee.

The local police apparently responded quickly and located his bike as well as arresting the two suspects.

But it was hardly the best preparation for the first round of the MTB World Cup, and Lindgren finished the men's race in 62nd place, almost 15 minutes behind race winner Bart Brentjens (see report).

"Iím happy that I wasnít badly injured and Iím looking ahead again. I always do my best in all situations and Iíll do it now as well.Ē

Garrett Lemire Memorial Grand Prix

The third annual Garrett Lemire Memorial Grand Prix (GLMgp) will be held this Sunday, April 2, in downtown Ojai, California. Top professional domestic cycling teams from all over the country will be present, as well as many amateur racers.

One of the top-rated races on the National Race Calendar (NRC), the 2006 GLMgp will be a one-mile circuit course, commencing at 7:00 am with the Masters Men field of 75 riders. At 11:35 am, the women pro riders will come to the start line. This approximately one-hour event will spotlight the top women riders in the country. The Menís Pro/1 category is scheduled to start at 1:25 pm, with one hundred twenty racers in the field.

The 2006 field of menís professional teams includes local team, Successful Living, managed by local Ojai racer Ryan Yee. Formerly of Team Sea Silver, Yee now manages and races for Successful Living, while continuing to dedicate many hours to the Garrett Lemire Memorial Grand Prix. Also expected to make a strong showing are Team Jelly Belly and newly formed Toyota United, which is managed by two-time GLMgp winner Harm Jansen of Thousand Oaks.

Women's teams to watch include the newly formed Colavita Cooking Light, which joined powerhouse Quark after the 2005 season. Led by Dotsie Bausch, the team promises to be a strategic presence at Sundayís race. Other possible winning teams include Team Lipton, led by last yearís 2005 GLMgp winner Laura Van Gilder, T-Mobileís Kim Anderson and Ojai native and former Olympic silver medalist Mari Holden.

For more information on the event and the Garrett Lemire Memorial Foundation, please visit www.glmgp.com.

Westside Cycling Classic registration open

Registration for this years British Columbis Provincial Championship in Canada, the Westside Cycling Classic is now open at www.teamwedgewood.com. Riders can register early to take advantage of the special, early-bird pricing.

The race will again take place on Fatherís Day, Sunday, June 18, 2006 as part of the Point Grey Fiesta Weekend celebration and be an important fundraising event in support of the BC Cancer Foundation for the Wedgewood Cycling Team.

"This year we are anticipating riders coming to Vancouver from all parts of Canada and the Pacific Northwest," said race director Jonathan Wornell. "Being the Provincial Championships is a big draw for riders from British Columbia and, with such an exciting course and such great feedback following last years event we expect a good size field."

One rider who is looking forward to the race is Vancouver resident and Heath Net/Maxxis rider Kirk O'Bee. "Its a great course, well designed and draws a big crowd especially on the hills," O'Bee said. "I always like to ride well at home and will be riding to win."

As part of the Wedgewood Cycling Teams fundraising efforts for 2006, $5 from each riders entry fee as well as funds raised on the day will be donated to the BC Cancer Foundation.

Only hours left to join the Fantasy RVV game

Specialized's Roubaix Pro is the big prize
Photo ©: Specialized
(Click for larger image)

There are only hours left to enter you team for this year's Rond Van Vlaanderen. All teams must be submitted before Sunday April 2 at the following times depending on where in world you are located:

10:00am Europe CEST (summertime!)
04:00am USA EST (no daylight saving time observed)
18:00pm Aust EST (+10 UTC)

The winner of this year's Spring Classics Fantasy Game game will win a Specialized Roubaix Pro Bike, equipped with Shimano Dura-Ace 10-speed groupset and an FSA all-carbon compact crankset, worth US$4400. Plus, the top player also wins a team-issue Specialized Decibel helmet and a pair of Specialized optics for a total prize value of US$4710 (that's probably the same money as 20th place in the actual race - and you don't have to grovel up the bergs.)

The Roubaix has become one of Specialized's most popular road bikes, with its combination of light weight and supple ride. It's based on the 'FACT 7r' carbon frame with compact race geometry and Zertz vibration damping seatstay inserts, matched to a carbon fork (also with Zertz inserts). It has an S-Works FACT carbon stem with magnesium face plate, and carbon aero handlebar with Shimano Dura-Ace 20-speed group.

The Roubaix Pro also features the FSA K-Force MegaExo two-piece carbon crankset with compact 50x36T chainrings, plus a Dura-Ace wheelset and Specialized 'Body Geometry' Avatar saddle with titanium rails.

And the most important part - more prizes!

In addition to the Roubaix Pro bike-Decibel helmet-plus-optics from Specialized, there is an array of some of the finest cycling products on offer to players in the 2006 Spring Classics Fantasy Game.

From HED comes a pair of beautiful Bastogne wheels worth over US$600, as well as helmets from Giro, saddles from fi'zi:k, pedals from Speedplay, tyres from Maxxis, Pro Cool mesh sleeveless base-layers from Craft, and for each race, there is a pair of Smith Reactor Max-Team CSC Edition glasses for scoring the highest in each of the seven Spring Classics.

You can win prizes for each of the individual races and for competing in all seven races. Remember you don't need to enter all seven races to win prizes. Have a look at the tactics and prizes of last year's winners.

'Via Milano' takes first win

A pair of beautiful Bastogne wheels worth over $600 USD
(Click for larger image)
HED's Bastogne wheels are named in honour of the Belgian town of Bastogne
(Click for larger image)
Craft are giving away ten of their Pro Cool Mesh Sleeveless Baselayers
(Click for larger image)

The first prize winner of the Spring Classics is manager "VeloEspresso" with his team "Via Milano". He wins the pair of Smith Reactor Max-Team CSC Edition glasses for scoring the highest in the first race of the seven Spring Classics. These are the limited edition Team CSC racing glass worn by the guys on the team. Manager "VeloEspresso" was narrowly beaten by our own manager, Jeff 'Doctor Maboose' Jones, with team "Cyclingnews", but obviously we don't allow our own guys to win. Manager VeloEspresso "promises to give Jeff a run for his money in the Tour of Flanders"!

Points update

Once again you will have 4000 points per team to select your eight riders with. This year, in the light of the new UCI ProTour points system, we have had to make some changes. We have taken the final 2005 rider rankings from the UCI ProTour and have multiplied them by ten. Riders that did not score UCI ProTour points have been awarded nominal points (lower than those of the scoring UCI ProTour riders). We appreciate this might not best reflect some of the skills of the non scoring UCI ProTour riders in the coming races but we hope that this will set us up better for the future as the scoring system becomes more accepted. We have also limited the number of teams people can enter in this year's Spring Classics game to five per manager. We've done this to ensure the competition is open to all, spreading the prizes to an even wider range of players.

How to play

Yes, you too can be a professional team manager. Based on the live racing action, you will take up the challenge using your knowledge and tactical skill as a race team manager to compete with fantasy managers from around the world. All you need to do to take part in the latest of the Fantasy Games at Cyclingnews is register and, once the provisional race list has been announced, select 8 riders for each of the following races:

Milan - San Remo: March 18
Ronde van Vlaanderen: April 2
Gent-Wevelgem: April 5
Paris - Roubaix: April 6
Amstel Gold Race: April 16
La Flèche Wallonne: April 19
Liège - Bastogne - Liège: April 23

Follow the races live and use your skill and knowledge to win prizes. For more details on how to play go to the rules section for more info. To register your teams for the game go to http://fantasy.cyclingnews.com/

It's a great way to follow the Spring Classics.

Good luck!
The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team

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