First Edition Cycling News for April 6, 2006
Edited by Hedwig Kröner
Mighty Thor hammers Kopp and Petacchi
By Jeff Jones and Brecht Decaluwé in Wevelgem
After a very tense finish to the 68th Gent-Wevelgem, Norwegian Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) grabbed his second win of the season, beating David Kopp (Gerolsteiner) and Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) in a small bunch sprint. After a stage win in Tirreno-Adriatico, this is his second win in a ProTour event. "This is a big victory for me, my first classic," Hushovd said after the finish. "Winning green in the Tour de France is bigger. Still, winning a race like Gent-Wevelgem, a semi-classic, is big. I'm really happy."
Talking about the sprint, Hushovd admitted it was tight. "Yeah it was really close. He [Pozzato] did a really good attack. I choose to stay in the wheel of Petacchi. David Kopp started the sprint quite early and instinctively I decided to go with him. It proved to be the right decision as I passed him at the end."
The race did not split up until over the second ascent of the Kemmelberg with 40 km to go, when a group of 40 or so riders formed in front. Although Tom Boonen was not in it, preferring to save his legs for Sunday, Alessandro Petacchi certainly was - along with five Milram teammates. But things didn't go quite according to plan for Ale-Jet, as first Lars Michaelsen (CSC), then Bert Roesems (Davitamon), and finally Filippo Pozzato (Quick.Step) attacked and broke the rhythm of the train. In the end, it was Hushovd with the quickest legs in the headwind sprint ahead of Kopp and Petacchi.
David Kopp (Gerolsteiner), second
"I am overjoyed, the second place in this Classic makes up for my bad luck last Sunday on the Koppenberg. I had great legs and the fact that the team counted on me for the sprint gave me extra confidence. We had four men in the first group, my compliments on René Haselbacher, Sebastian Lang, Frank Hoj and Heinrich Haussler, who worked their tails off for me. In the end I lost by three centimetres, but on the other hand, I outsprinted Petacchi - I can be satisfied with that!"
Alessandro Petacchi (Milram), third
"I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to win this classic. My teammates gave all they had to take the break back, and then to control the counter-attacks coming from those who feared that I would beat them in the sprint. In the finale, because of the strong headwind, the race didn't get to great speed and, unfortunately, I suffer in that type of sprint. But I still think I've passed the test, as I was able to be in the front as I had planned for myself this morning. I'll be back next year, knowing that I can win here."
Bert Roesems (Davitamon-Lotto), 37th
Roesems attacked just after Michaelsen was caught. "I think he was a bit early with his attack. I sat a bit far and couldn't immediately react to his action. Maybe I also attacked too early but at the end of such a race you're no longer using your brains but using your instinct. We had three men up front that weren't able to beat men like Petacchi and Hushovd in the sprint. My attack was the only thing we could do. The conditions were alright because the road where I attacked was running slightly downhill and had good asphalt."
Lars Michaelsen (Team CSC), 47th
Michaelsen tried to break away with 15km to go, but wasn’t able to develop a sufficient gap. "I hoped another rider would join me in the escape. Beforehand I talked with Pozzato if he was interested in an attack. But apparently he had other orders [Pozzato attacked in the last km - ed.].
"It’s sad that Roesems waited until I was captured by the Milram train. In the last few kilometres I had to stop and get another wheel because Geslin rode into it." The young Frenchmen had his own feelings about the incident: Geslin came to the Dane to ask him why he made an unexpected move in front of him, as he blamed Michaelsen for producing a crash behind him.
Christian Henn (Gerolsteiner directeur sportif)
"I was satisfied with the team's performance Sunday after the Ronde van Vlaanderen - today we showed that we can now get a very good placing in the pavé races. David's performance was surely outstanding today, but the whole team was quite strong from beginning to end."
Written press not allowed
Written press journalists found themselves in a strange situation at the finish in Wevelgem: they were denied access to the finish zone. Only photographers and radio/television were allowed access by the organisers. The attending journalists did everything possible to enter the restricted zone in the hope of doing their jobs, but didn't succeed.
Press representative Marc Van Landeghem listened to the complaints, and will report them to Alain Rumpf, Swiss UCI ProTour manager. This sets a worrying precedent, as the finish zone is crucial for all media, and the written press have demanded a swift reaction against the organisers of the ProTour event.
Resignation or Dismissal for Bisceglia? Dispute at USAC
By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
A day after it was announced that Gerard Bisceglia was no longer serving as CEO of USA Cycling, questions as to how this came about are still prevalent. Cyclingnews spoke with Bisceglia on Wednesday morning about what happened on Tuesday. "I was dismissed," Bisceglia replied. "No cause given."
When asked about the annual review that board member Mark Abramson said immediately preceded his 'resignation,' Bisceglia said, "I didn't get a review. There was no review ever given to me."
Cyclingnews contacted USA Cycling board president Jim Ochowicz on Wednesday to ask if Bisceglia resigned or was dismissed as he contends. "There was no decision, Gerard resigned from USA Cycling," Ochowicz clearly stated. "He signed a letter or resignation." When asked about the findings of the annual review that seems to be at the center of Bisceglia's departure, Ochowicz replied, "The finding [of the annual review] is not public information." As to whether or not the findings of the review prompted the board to ask for his resignation, he continued, "That is not public information, that is confidential for Gerard and USA Cycling."
A lot of tension has been present between Bisceglia and Ochowicz since the two disagreed over Ochowicz's outside consulting employment with BMC and the Swiss Phonak team. Even though the board eventually absolved Ochowicz of being in a conflict of interest, Bisceglia remained uncomfortable with the arrangement. "The discussion about my relationship with BMC has already run it's full course," said Ochowicz.
"I was working on bringing credibility back to the organization," said Bisceglia. "We had ceased to be relevant. I thought we were making considerable progress." He cited that the board itself was too separated from the interests of the members. "The interesting thing is that there are two groups. Fifty-five thousand are cyclists and then there is a small group called the board, and they don't serve one another at all. The foundation and USPRO is on the board, and who knows how they get elected?"
Bisceglia reflected that his focus on serving the members more than the board was what ultimately led to his end. "The biggest conflict I had with the board is that I am nobody's man. I was working for the organization and not individuals. We have fifty-five thousand members, and only 1,500 vote. And that's what you get. [My removal] is an example of how the board and membership are totally disconnected."
As for now, Bisceglia is unsure if he will pursue any type of legal action against USA Cycling regarding how his employment ended. "I don't know - I'm still considering my options. I really don't know, it came as a shock. I need to evaluate my feelings, and I don't think much is accomplished through bitterness." In the mean time, he returns to where he was four years ago when Ochowicz hired him as CEO. "I was retired when I took this job because I thought it would be fun. I had a marvelous time. It was the most fun four years of work. It was great to go from event to event and see people's passion for the sport."
Schleck injured, out of Pais Vasco
Just as Team CSC's Fränk Schleck was in a position to bring home a top result in the Vuelta a Pais Vasco, the Luxembourgian was unlucky enough to crash. Schleck had to abandon the race during the 170-kilometer third stage between Segura and Lerin.
"Fränk crashed on the descent from the first climb, when another rider swayed towards him," said an upset sports director Kim Andersen. "He smashed his helmet, but seemed okay at first. He got back on his bike but was completely dizzy, so we chose to take him out of the race and straight to the hospital. Here he was diagnosed with severe concussion and he has to remain in the hospital overnight for observation.
"It's such bad luck for Fränk, that he crashes at a time where he could have made a top result. He was flying on the climbs and I think he could've done really well. But at least we should be pleased that the helmet saved him from a very serious accident, and that he got off with a concussion. In relation to the rest of the race we'll have to keep our chins up and concentrate on the individual stages," Andersen added.
Kelly impressed by Boonen
By Shane Stokes
Former one-day Classics king and current Eurosport commentator Sean Kelly said this week that he was very impressed by Tom Boonen’s performance in the Tour of Flanders last Sunday. "It was really something out of the top drawer," said the Irishman, who won most of the big Classics during his pro career. "He was race favourite and put up a performance fitting of that.
"Boonen seems to be a rider who must attack, he is very aggressive," Kelly continued. "He had teammates there who could have worked for him but he was the one who responded when attacks went. He is not afraid to make an effort, and is really impressing as world champion. He has also been very well received in Belgium - he is the new kid on the block and has a lot of support."
As Boonen is still just 25 years of age and therefore should have his peak athletic performances ahead of him, there is much speculation as to how far he can go in the sport. When asked if Boonen could work on his climbing and longer time trials to become an even more complete rider, as Kelly himself did during his career, he said that it was possible: "If he concentrated on it he could certainly develop a bit more, he has that potential."
However, Kelly added that "it is different to the way things were before. It is very specialised nowadays, with sprinters and climbers working very hard on their disciplines. So it’s perhaps more difficult to win many different types of races than it was in the past."
Boonen is aiming to defend his Paris-Roubaix title this Sunday. Should he do so, he will match the two Hell of the North wins by Kelly, who came out best in 1984 and again in 1986.
Saunier wants Freire
The 2006 season has not yet begun for long, and it is already the time for team change speculations: Oscar Freire, whose contract with Rabobank will end in a few months' time, was reportedly offered one million Euros a year to ride for Spanish squad Saunier Duval. The triple world champion's signing is apparently a top priority for team director Mauro Gianetti, who already counts two-time Giro d'Italia winner Gilberto Simoni in its ranks, as well as time trial specialist David Millar.
Gonchar gearing up for TdF
After riding only for Italian teams, Serguei Gonchar joined T-Mobile this year. The Ukrainian had just one small problem with joining the German squad: "I still have to learn English. But the Italian-speaking group at T-Mobile is pretty big, which is pretty helpful," Gonchar said after the first months of the 2006 season spent with his new outfit. However, he noted that the way in which his new team was directed was slightly different to his previous team's management. "The mentality in a German team like this is different from an Italian team," Gonchar said. "Those responsible for everything stay calm and are convinced that they are doing the right thing, even when things aren't going as planned."
T-Mobile chose to sign the time trial specialist in view of this year's Tour de France. "In the past years, the Giro was always my goal. This year the Tour de France will be my high point, and that's why I started the season later," he added, explaining why his first race had been the Settimana Ciclista Coppa e Bartali from March 21-25, where he finished 46th. "I couldn't expect to be successful in the Settimana," he explained. "It was important for me to find the rhythm of competition in my first race of the season."
Gonchar is now riding the Circuit de la Sarthe, where he is supporting team captain Michael Rogers. "I will test myself in the time trial, although 8 km is actually too short for me. All of the time trials which I have won in my career - and that's nearly 40 - were never shorter than 25 kilometres." Indeed, Gonchar 'only' placed seventh behind time trial winner Ivan Basso on Wednesday. After Sarthe, Gonchar will have two weeks of intensive training before heading on to the Tour de Romandie and the Giro d'Italia.
2006 Montreal World Cup and Tour announced
The ninth edition of the only Women's Cycling World Cup in America will be held on Mount Royal in Montreal on May 27, 2006, as organisers have also announced the fifth edition of the Tour du Grand Montréal, scheduled from May 29-June 1. The Montreal World Cup on the famous Mont Royal in the heart of the city is now nearly two km longer, stretching to Parc Jeanne-Mance and Avenue du Parc. According to Daniel Manibal, president, "the new course allows the public to view the race from different vantage points. Although the Mount Royal lookout and summit remain choice spots from which to watch the event, Parc Jeanne-Mance and Avenue du Parc will be great for seeing cyclists flash by in this flat section of the race."
The Tour du Grand Montréal two days after the event, divided into four stages, will see its prologue in Lachine modified by 3.8 km, now 9 km in all, thus transforming it into a true time trial. The second stage, a 118 km road race, will take place on a hilly course in Rigaud, and the third stage, a 50 km criterium race mixed with intermediary sprints and public prize money giveaways, will see the riders take on Little Italy. The fourth and final stage, a five-lap run totalling 115 km, is at the peak of Mont-Saint-Hilaire on Chemin de la Montagne. The field coming to Quebec for the Tour du Gand Montréal will be very international.
"This year, we worked hard to find teams of different geographical origins to be able to offer spectators a diversified pack," Manibal explained. "Our efforts paid off. We have already received confirmation from Cuba’s national team and the new UCI team from Hong Kong, Giant Cycling Team, whose athletes are excellent sprinters, in addition to teams from Germany, New Zealand and Italy, who boast formidable climbers."
Prior to the World Cup race, a cyclosportive called Le Challenge du Mont-Royal will be open to experienced cyclists, and after the Tour has ended, on June 3, the "cyclo du Tour à Rigaud" will take cycling tourists to the Tour du Grand Montréal’s crucial stage. In collaboration with their respective school boards, over 400 students of the elementary and secondary level will also have a chance to take part in leisure rides on sections of the pro courses in the Lachine, Rigaud and Mont-Saint-Hilaire stages.
More information can be found here www.world-cup-cycling.org.
Spring Classics Fantasy Game 2006 - check this booty!
OK - are you having trouble keeping up with the awesome range of prizes on offer in the 2006 Spring Classics Fantasy Game? Well, that's understandable, because it's a real booty of some of the finest cycling products on the planet. So, let's re-cap and help you decide whether you'd make a better directeur sportif than Patrick Lefevere or Johan Bruyneel.
We are offering a total of 19 prize packages for the Spring Classics, ranging from the super Grand Prize of the Dura-Ace and FSA compact carbon crankset-equipped Specialized Roubaix Pro bicycle (and a team replica Decibel helmet, plus funky Specialized eyewear), through to the per-race prize of Smith Optics Limited Edition Team CSC replica Reactor Max eyewear.
So with three races run and won, there are still four races to be held: Paris-Roubaix, Amstel Gold, La Fleche Wallone and finally, the oldest of them all, Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
The complete prize list is as follows:
1st runner-up: One set (pair) of HED's 'Bastogne' wheels, worth US$600, plus a Craft Pro Cool Mesh sleeveless baselayer (yes, exactly like what the pros choose to wear), plus a set of Maxxis high-performance Columbiere road tyres and a pair of Reactor Max Smith Optics, the original Team CSC racing glasses;
2nd runner-up prize packages: there are three '2nd runner-up' prize packages on offer. Each has the following prizes - a Giro Atmos Helmet in your choice of colour, a Craft Pro Cool Mesh sleeveless baselayer, plus a set of Maxxis high-performance Columbiere road tyres and and a pair of Reactor Max Smith Optics;
3rd runner-up prize packages: and the goodies keep coming as there are three '3rd runner-up' prize packages on offer. Each has the following prizes - a set of Speedplay 'Zero' stainless steel pedals from the Californian company that equips ProTour teams like Team CSC and Phonak with their super-light, and super-adjustable pedals, plus a Craft Pro Cool Mesh sleeveless baselayer, plus a set of Maxxis high-performance Columbiere road tyresand and a pair of Reactor Max Smith Optics;
4th runner-up prize packages: there also three '4th runner-up' prize packages on offer. Each has the following prizes - a ultra-comfortable yet high-performance fi'zi:k saddle from the team issue - limited edition range, such as the Di Luca Killer & Cunego Piccolo Principe, plus a Craft Pro Cool Mesh sleeveless baselayer, and a set of Maxxis high-performance Columbiere road tyresand and a pair of Reactor Max Smith Optics.
So, in all, there are 19 separate prizes on offer in the 2006 Spring Classics Fantasy Game. To find out how to enter your team, go the Fantasy Game's information page and get behind the wheel of your own team-car! 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.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)