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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for April 4, 2006

Edited by John Stevenson & Les Clarke

Tom Boonen: How the Ronde was won

Ik ben Tom Boonen
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) won his second Ronde van Vlaanderen in a row with yet another powerful performance over the rest of his rivals. After following Leif Hoste's attack on the Valkenberg with 30 km to go, Boonen stayed with the Discovery rider and the pair came to the finish together. In a two man sprint with Boonen involved, there is usually only one outcome. After the race, Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé was at the post-race grilling of Tom Boonen.

Q: Did you feel enormous pressure to win the race today?

TB:I'm very strange in that way. In the Driedaagse van De Panne-Koksijde I was stressed all the time. Constantly, you try to avoid falls and illness. But after Wednesday, I was confident that I wouldn't experience a setback in my fitness. Today, I didn't have time to think because the race was on right from the start. We even didn't have time to take a piss.

Click here for the full report

Discovery riders out of action after Flanders spills

Gent-Wevelgem line-up will lack Classics specialists

Discovery Channel riders Michael Barry and Roger Hammond will both be out of action for a while after crashing in the Tour of Flanders Sunday. Barry sustained back injuries after hitting a barrier while Hammond needed 14 stitches just below his knee after the race.

Barry will be off the bike for at least two months, according to "He … went over his handlebars, landing face-first and then on his back," said directeur sportif Dirk Demol. "The last thing he said he remembers was me telling him on the radio that the roads in this town were very narrow and to be careful… He will need probably three weeks bed rest to let his back heal, and then we'll do some more scans and see how things are."

Hammond's stitches are supposed to stay in for ten days, which means it's unlikely he will ride Paris-Roubaix this weekend. "He's definitely out for Ghent-Wevelgem Wednesday," said Demol, "and while I know he's one of the really tough guys in the pro peloton, I must say it doesn't look good for him to ride Sunday at Paris-Roubaix."

With injuries limiting Discovery's options for the remaining Classics, Demol expects George Hincapie and Leif Hoste to be the team leaders for tomorrow's Gent-Wevelgem. The remainder of the team will comprise Fumy Beppu, Stijn Devolder, Vladimir Gusev, Benoit Joachim, Gennady Mikhaylov, and Matt White.

Demol also explained Discovery's tactics at Flanders, where Hoste worked with Boonen until about 1.5km from the finish. "Many people have asked, why Leif?" said Demol. "He couldn't win a sprint against Boonen. Well, I can tell you.

"When Leif attacked with 32 km left it was not supposed to have been a race-deciding effort. We were trying to break up the Quick Step grip on the front of the race. We figured a big effort could get the numbers down to maybe two of them and two of us and then we'd see how it went. Leif was surprised to see that he had only Boonen with him, and radioed back to me to see what he should do.

"I told Leif that he could cooperate but that Boonen had to take the longest pulls. I also told him that if George could bridge up, then Leif could not pull any more and he'd have to wait for George. Leif was completely happy with this plan, as was Johan [Bruyneel] when I spoke with him later. I radioed George and told him to try and drop the riders he was with and then Leif will be waiting for you. George agreed and put in a big effort on the Muur, but couldn't shake the guys he was with, and that's why Leif and Boonen went to the line 1-2."

Quick Step is undoubtedly the team to beat in the Classics, and reminds Demol of US Postal and Discovery at the Tour de France during the Lance Armstrong era. "They have the strongest man in Boonen and they have him surrounded by a very good team, world class riders like Bettini, Pozzato, Baguet and Nuyens. If you want to beat them you have to break their grip on a race, but that is also very difficult to do."

Wim De Vocht out

Davitamon-Lotto's Wim de Vocht was also a casualty of the Ronde crashes. After a bad spill Sunday a medical examination yesterday revealed pleural damage, in addition to to two cracked ribs and a broken elbow. The elbow does not require plaster, but the pleural injury will necessitate a long spell off the bike. De Vocht is not expected to return to racing until June at the earliest, putting him out of the team's line-up for the Giro d'Italia.

Dekker to ride Gent-Wevelgem

Erik Dekker will ride Wednesday's Gent-Wevelgem after originally declaring he wouldn't ride the mid-week classic. "Dekker is a surplus asset for the team in these types of races," team leader Frans Maassen had originally said, but things seem to have changed with Dekker expressing his desire to race during the week. Dekker finished 22nd in Sunday's Ronde Van Vlaanderen, and asked to be included in the team for the next Belgian classic. According to Maassen, Dekker will be used to assist Juan Antonio Flecha as he tries to take the win after last year's disappointing second-place finish in controversial circumstances.

Rabobank's squad for Gent-Wevelgem will now be the same as that for the Tour of Flanders. This is surprising because as well as Dekker, Jan Boven, Marc Wauters and Joost Posthuma weren't in the original selection squad for the mid-week classic either, but now find themselves competing. Massen explained the problem was that young riders such as Marc de Maar and Niels Scheuneman, who had hoped to ride on Wednesday, will now miss out.

As reported last week, Spaniard Oscar Freire will miss the cobbled classics due to his ongoing recovery from injuries sustained last season, and is riding the Vuelta a Pais Vasco, while Thorwald Veneberg and Jukka Vastaranta are recovering from injuries.

Paolini looks towards Gent-Wevelgem

After suffering a very untimely puncture on the descent of the Kwaremont in Sunday's Ronde van Vlaanderen, Liquigas' Luca Paolini is looking towards Gent-Wevelgem to make up for some of the opportunity lost.

The 29-year-old Milanese punctured just moments before Tom Boonen made the decisive attack, which was disappointing as Liquigas' 2006 recruit headed the peloton when the race made it to the first climbs, and he felt in great form. "I’m sorry because the Ronde was very appealing to me and I’ve been training for it since November," said Paolini. "However, when you ride on the hills you know physical fitness isn’t everything; it’s also a matter of luck. This is a race of cruel charm," he continued, before adding, "I’m going to get my revenge in Wednesday’s Gent-Wevelgem."

Liquigas will line up with the same squad as last Sunday's Flanders race, with Stefano Zanini, Michael Albasini, Daniele Colli, Alberto Curtolo, Mauro Da Dalto, Marco Milesi, and Marco Righetto joining Paolini for the start in Gent. Dario Mariuzzo will manage the team. Paolini will sit out Paris-Roubaix (April 9), replaced by Nicola Loda - the remainder of the squad will remain the same for the 'hell of the north'. Paolini will instead focus on preparations for the Amstel Gold Race, where both he and Danilo Di Luca will be Liquigas' big guns.

Napolitano out of Gent-Wevelgem

Danilo Napolitano will miss Gent-Wevelgem after a fall during the last day of Driedaagse van De Panne. Lampre's chief medical officer Carlo Guardascione said that, "Napolitano suffered a lumbar bruise which caused a lumbar ache and it hasn't yet healed; as a precautionary measure, we preferred to stop the athlete competing." Lampre won't replace the Italian sprinter and will therefore start the race with seven riders.

Rogers leads T-Mobile at Sarthe

Australian Michael Rogers will lead the T-Mobile team for the Circuit de la Sarthe, April 4-7. Team leader Jan Ullrich was scheduled to make his long-awaited return to racing when the race rolls out of Mouilleron-Le-Captif today, but he is sidelined with an irritation in the right knee, "which, on medical grounds, rules out racing," says team doctor Andreas Schmid.

Rogers plans to use the four-day race to further build up his form after performing well in the recent Settimana Coppi e Bartali. He will be supported by his compatriot Scott Davis, the Ukrainian time trial specialist Serhiy Honchar, Dutchman Bas Giling, neo pro Frantisek Rabon and André Korff. The 32-year old is expected to put his fast legs to good use in the possible sprint finales. "The terrain is predominantly flat, tailor-made for breaks and sprints," said T-Mobile directeur sportif Rudy Pevenage.

Pevenage expects the crux of the four days to be the final stage which includes a 300m, 18 percent climb that the riders will tackle several times. "Here, another GC shakeup is possible," says Pevenage.

Heras plans civil appeal

Perhaps inspired by the recent success of Danilo Hondo in using the Swiss civil courts to have his extended ban overturned, Roberto Heras is planning a similar appeal through the Spanish legal system. Heras, who tested positive for EPO at the 2005 Vuelta a Espana has already had an appeal to the court in Castilla y Leon rejected because the body was not prepared to hear his case until all avenues of appeal via sporting courts had been exhausted.

Heras' appeal against his two-year ban is now before a commission of the Spanish Olympic committee, which will make its decision in the next three months. If the ban is upheld, then Heras' lawyer José Maria Buxeda says the next step is the civil courts. "The (civil) court did not basically deny it had jurisdiction," he said Monday. "We will plead if necessary before the civil courts."

Sea Otter raises funds for cancer

This weekend's Sea Otter Classic (April 6-9) will be doing its part for cancer sufferers with the festival taking donations for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Organisers expect 10,000 cyclists and 50,000 spectators to attend the three days of cycling, so the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's logo has been placed on the Sea Otter Classic website where it's hoped plenty of cycling enthusiasts will see it, click on it, and donate.

Joshua Alfaro, an eight-year-old with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) living in Salinas, CA, has been made the the honoree for the Sea Otter Classic, and it's for people like him that money is being raised. Funds will go to blood cancer research and patient services, and anyone can donate at - click on The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society logo.

Australian champ Van Hout to line up for Tour of Southern Grampians

Australian national champion Russell Van Hout will spearhead a record field of 199 riders in this weekend's Shire of the Southern Grampians - Coleraine Tour. Van Hout is keen to impress on the local scene after his omission from the Australian team for the Commonwealth Games road race. The four-stage, two-day race will be the first major outing for the recently established Australian UCI continental team, Savings and Loans. Van Hout will be backed by a strong team, including Olympic gold medalist Brett Aitken and young guns James Hannam and Will Dickeson. Aitken is expected to make his mark on the shorter, faster stages and the criterium.

However, the South Australian based team will certainly not have everything their own way, and will face fierce competition from Victoria's best, including Drapac Porsche rider Darren Lapthorne, and current junior world pursuit champion Michael Ford (AIS). Another rider to watch is the talented Nick Sanderson, following his return to Australia from Belgium team Davitamon Lotto. Leigh Egan heads the strong 'Decked Out Coaching' Team, whilst the in-form Jai Crawford and the Pratties team also poses as a major threat. Riders such as Queensland's Bradley Payne and the A.C.T's Fabio Calabria (ACTAS) add additional depth to the field.

This year's edition of the Shire of the Southern Grampians - Coleraine Tour will include a women's race for the first time. VIS rider Peta Mullens (Caulfield-Carnegie) is the strong favourite, but riders likely to spoil the party include exciting junior Lisa Friend, who impressed at the Baw Baw Classic last weekend, Albury rider Deb Fagg, and the consistent Alicia Evans.

For more information see

Gent Wevelgem Fantasy Game ready to go!

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

Get into the spirit of the Classics by selecting your own dream team in the 2006 Cyclingnews Spring Classics Fantasy Game - the latest rider list for Wednesday's Gent Wevelgem race has been uploaded to the site. Submit your teams before the following times to take part:

11:00am Europe CEST (summertime!)
05:00am USA EST (no daylight saving time observed)
19:00pm Aust EST (UTC +10)

Appropriately, the winner of this year's Spring Classics Fantasy Game will win a Specialized Roubaix Pro Bike, equipped with Shimano Dura-Ace 10-speed group 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.

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!

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)

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.

Team 'MoJo2' wins Ronde van Vlaanderen

The second prize winner of the Spring Classics is manager "D. Jay" with his team "MoJo2". There were a number of managers tying for first place in this race. D. Jay wins due to his previous higher scoring race. He wins the pair of Smith Reactor Max-Team CSC Edition glasses for scoring the highest in the second race of the seven Spring Classics. These are the limited edition Team CSC racing glass worn by the guys on the team.

How to Play

Be a professional team manager for the 2006 Spring Classics. 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 18th 2006
Ronde van Vlaanderen, April 2nd 2006
Gent-Wevelgem, April 5th 2006
Paris - Roubaix, April 6th 2006
Amstel Gold Race, April 16th 2006
La Flèche Wallonne, April 19th 2006
Liège - Bastogne - Liège, April 23rd 2006

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 of the site for more info. To register your teams for the game go to

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

Good luck!

The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team

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