First Edition Cycling News for April 5, 2006
Edited by John Stevenson & Les Clarke
Tom Boonen: Why not Gent-Wevelgem?
Boonen-mania reaches its peak in Belgium in early April, when the Quick.Step star rides his favourite spring classics. On the eve of the 68th Gent-Wevelgem, Boonen spoke to the press at the Holiday Inn, Gent, about his chances in the mid-week classic and plenty more. Jeff Jones was there for Cyclingnews.
After winning the Ronde van Vlaanderen-Paris Roubaix double in 2005, and his second Ronde just a few days ago, World Champion Tom Boonen is in his best form. Winning one of these highly competitive classics is difficult enough, but the 25 year-old already has three, with the prospect of more to come if everything falls his way this week. While Roubaix is at the forefront of his mind, there's also the small matter of Gent-Wevelgem tomorrow, the Wednesday classic that is favoured by sprinters who can handle the wind... and Boonen is certainly one of those.
But there has been much speculation about whether he will race to win, or try and set up one of his other loyal Quick.Step teammates for victory. Although he wins a lot of races, Boonen is not greedy. He has arguably been the strongest rider in every Belgian one day race that he's ridden this season, winning the E3 Prijs again for good measure. And he's already won Gent-Wevelgem in 2004. Does he need this victory? Or will he try to give it to Milan-San Remo winner Filippo Pozzato, who crashed while in the finale last year?
"We'll see," a lean-looking Boonen told the assembled press corps yesterday. "Tomorrow, for me it's one more very important week: three more races [including next Wednesday's Scheldeprijs]. And I don't give any presents. If I'm good tomorrow and I have the legs and I'm recovered well, then I'll try to win the race. But it's not an objective like the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix. It's hard to be 100 percent in Gent-Wevelgem if you did the final in the Tour of Flanders, but I'll try to."
Saunier Duval wants Freire
Spanish Pro Tour outfit Saunier Duval has made a bid for Oscar Freire, offering him a million-Euro contract according to a report from De Telegraaf. The triple world champion's contract with Rabobank expires at the end of this season, and Saunier Duval are keen to get a classics rider of Freire's calibre on the roster. "With Freire we want to strengthen our team for the spring, said team manager Joxean Fernandez. "Oscar and I have been good friends for years; the interests are mutual but it's too early for a definitive decision yet, he added.
Rabobank's team manager Theo de Rooij is aware of the interest Saunier Duval have in their man. "Two weeks ago Oscar and I sat down at the table, said De Rooij recently, alluding to the conversation he also had with stage race hope Denis Menchov, whose contract is also up at the end of this season. "We want to have further talks with him [Menchov], possibly to negotiate a few issues surrounding the Tour the France, he said.
McEwen out of Gent-Wevelgem
Davitamon-Lotto's Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen has withdrawn from today's Gent-Wevelgem classic due to illness, and will be replaced by Nic Ingels.
Gerolsteiner's "perfect ending"
By Susan Westemeyer
Less than a week after a training crash that jarred his wrist and gave him a severe concussion, Gerolsteiner's Robert Förster sprinted to win the first stage of the Circuit de la Sarthe Tuesday afternoon. "A super-strong team performance, a perfect ending," said team manager Hans Michael Holczer. "After my crash last week, I sure hadn't figured on this, so that just makes me even happier," said Förster. "The team did outstanding work for me. Markus Zberg, Volker Ordowski and Stefan Schumacher set me up perfectly." After the winner's ceremony, Förster won audience approval by presenting his flower bouquet to an elderly lady in a wheelchair.
Gerolsteiner did have one thing to worry about, though. Shortly before the finish line, Stefan Schumacher crashed. "It's really too bad. Stefan gets a lot of credit for 'Frösi's' win. He has a lot of scrapes, but I hope he'll be able to put it aside and get on with things," Holczer said.
Sarthe crashfest pauses season for four
Crashes in the opening stage of the Circuit de la Sarthe have put four riders on the sidelines for at least the next few weeks. Juan Carlos Dominguez (Unibet.com) crashed with 10km to go and broke his right collarbone. Two kilometres from the line, Credit Agricole's Saul Raisin went down hard, breaking his left collarbone, briefly losing consciousness and injuring his hip and face.
A crash near the finish involved Panaria's Brett Lancaster and Tyler Farrar (Cofidis). Farrar sustained a fractured left collarbone while Lancaster has injuries to his thorax and shoulder, but nothing broken.
Klöden back on the bike
By Susan Westemeyer
Not quite two weeks after surgery on his injured shoulder, Andreas Klöden is already training again. He has started light training on the roller, the team announced. "The stitches will be pulled on Wednesday," Klöden said. "I'm doing pretty well. I've been receiving physical therapy for five days and don't have any pain in normal movement. I'm ready to start training on the roller."
In order to relieve any pressure on the injured shoulder, a large gymnastic ball has been mounted on his trainer, between the handlebars and the seat. It is still not yet known when Klöden will race again, but, "Naturally I have not lost sight of my season goal of the Tour de France," he promised.
Contador looking good in Pais Vasco
After taking second in yesterday's second stage of the Vuelta al País Vasco, Alberto Contador was satisfied but still a little disappointed with taking Liberty Seguros' 11th second place for 2006. "The most important thing was to take time in the general," said Contador after the finish. "For me the best thing is that I felt very good during the entire stage and that I took some time in a finish that no one favored me for, because it wasn't a real climbing finish," he added.
"In the end we gave it everything," said Contador. He praised his climbing companion for the day, Aitor Osa. "With me was a rider as strong if not stronger than me, and he did a great job." Still without a win in 2006, Contador isn't worried that he's missing opportunities for victories. "I didn't see myself winning so soon - my aim was to be in full form in April, but I wasn't thinking of winning, because if I had wanted that I might have selected easier races."
This month his aims are the Vuelta al País Vasco and the Tour de Romandie, and he's confident of gettting win number one in either of these tours. "I like this race [Pais Vasco] very much, because last year it gave me the opportunity to be known internationally," he said. According to the Spaniard, his main rivals in Pais Vasco will be Frank Schleck, Thomas Dekker, Davide Rebellin and Alejandro Valverde if he can perform in time trial, with Jose Azevedo and Andriy Grivko also offering a threat. "This tour seems to be harder than it looks, and doesn't have real climbing finishes, which means that victory will be played out in the time trial.
Barloworld dodges the cobbles
The Spring classics season opens with races that are famed for the quality - or lack thereof - of their roads. Tour of Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem and of course Paris-Roubaix are notorious for the cobbled sectors that routinely wreck bikes and sap riders will.
The Barloworld team says it has elected to start its Spring Classics campaign after the cobbled classics. "We've drawn up a programme that really suits the characteristics of our riders," team manager Claudio Corti said in a statement. The team rode the Three Days of De Panne to stretch its legs (its best finisher was Diego Caccia in 52nd overall) and will now tackle GP Pino Cerami on April 6 and Profronde Van Drenthe in Holland on April 8.
With those events as warm-up, the team will then support leader Igor Astarloa at Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
For GP Pino Cerami and Profronde Van Drenthe Barloworld will field Giosue Bonomi, Diego Caccia, Enrico Degano, James Perry, Mauro Facci, Rodney Green, Jeremy Maartens and Tom Southam.
Bisceglia leaves USA Cycling
Gerard Bisceglia submitted his resignation to the board of director of USA Cycling on Tuesday morning, following the board's annual review of the CEO position. "Gerard submitted his resignation to the full board of directors this morning and Steve Johnson has been offered the position effective immediately," said Mark Abramson, vice president of the USA Cycling board of director. "Steve has the full support of the board. He will not be replaced as Director of Athletics and will continue to perform both roles."
When asked why Bisceglia resigned, Abramson replied, "The board has concluded the the annual review of the CEO and he has chosen to resign."
Board president Jim Ochowicz was unavailable for comment.
See also: An interview with Gerard Bisceglia.
Irishman Munroe goes to Aigle
Young Irish rider Martin Munroe has been handed a dream opportunity to spend two months at the World Cycling Centre in Aiglea - and he's hoping a good showing there will see him stay until September.
Eighteen-year-old Munroe, who hails from the Western Lakes town of Partry received the news on Tuesday, March 28, that the Centre had invited him to avail of some of the best coaching expertise in the world - and he flew out on Friday last, March 31, from Dublin. "I am delighted. It's a really big opportunity for me to get the two-month trial, and if I do well I hope I will be kept until September," said Munroe before departing.
"I am in fairly good shape this year. I have only done two races so far, but I did well in both of them - I was ninth in Carrick-on-Suir and second in the Sheefrey Challenge in Westport."
Munroe is a product of the Western Lakes nursery and has been fostered by the club's coach Padraig Marrey, who previously undertook a major coaching course at Aigle. Munroe is a regular on Irish teams, and previously represented the country in the European Youth Olympics. He will prepare like a professional in Aigle and his natural cycling ability - honed in recent years by Padraig Marrey - will be fine-tuned still further. It could pave the way for a professional career in the sport he loves.
Tour of Ulster 2006
With less than four weeks to go, organisers of this year's Tour of Ulster say entries are flooding in for the four-day stage race over the final weekend of April and the May bank Holiday. Amongst the early entrants so far is 1999 winner Ciaran Power (Navigators), as is 2001 and 2003 winner Timmy Barry (Dan Morrissey/Carrick). No riders from Ireland's Commonwealth Games team have entered so far, but they are only just arrived back from the Games in Australia.
Irish News will sponsor the Under 23 competition-for the rising stars of Irish cycling. Last year's winner was Commonwealth Games rider Ryan Connor from Ballymena.
For entry forms and details see www.tourofulster.com
Stage 1 - April 29: Newry - Omagh, 140 km
Australias best ready for Canberra Tour
Top class fields are expected in all eight grades of the 23rd Canberra Tour (April 21-23), held around Canberra, ACT, Australia. Road events will start and finish at Eucumbene Drive, Duffy, and organisers say the success of the Canberra Tour has been built on a well-organised race that is raced through spectacular scenery, during a usually sunny, mild time of year. With challenging terrain around the nation's capital, it's a race that tests some of Australia's best riders.
The Canberra Tour is the first event in the 2006 National Road Series and will include the new teams competition for A grade men. Grades in this year's Tour include A, B, C, D & E grade men, A & B grade women and U19 men and women. On April 23, a 20km participation ride is open to all riders over the age of 14, where cyclists will ride part of the Canberra Tour course.
Online entry and further Canberra Tour information can be found at Canberra Cycling Club's website
ABC rides cleaning up Sonoma backroads
Live in Sonoma County, California and tired of seeing litter all over your favorite back roads when riding your bicycle? The 'ABC ride' on April 15 is an opportunity for cyclists in the area to clean up the backroads by locating illegal dumping and substantial garbage sites so they can be cleared. Volunteer road cyclists are needed to follow strategic rides, spot illegal dumping sites and help designated lead riders acquire dumping locations along specific routes.
GPS locators have been generously donated by REI of Santa Rosa, and will be operated by designated lead riders. The lead riders will be taking the volunteer riders as spotters out on these routes and will be responsible for returning with the data. Four strategic routes throughout the county have been identified where Sonoma County Public Works can follow on a separate day and pick up the rubbish. The A,B & C rides will depart from Helen Putnam Plaza at 9:00am, and the D ride will depart from Sonoma Plaza at 9:00am.
More information is avaliable at the Soulcraft Website.
last chance for Gent Wevelgem Fantasy Game
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, and there's just a few hours left to make your selections and enter. Submit your teams before the following times to take part:
11:00am Europe CEST (summertime!)
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!
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
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 fantasy.cyclingnews.com.
It's a great way to follow the Spring Classics.
The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)