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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for April 7, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones, with assistance from Sabine Sunderland and Susan Westemeyer

Hincapie has sights set on Roubaix victory

George Hincapie (Discovery)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

With all the top ten places Hincapie has gathered in Paris-Roubaix over the years (2nd last year, 4th in 1999 and 2001, 6th in 2000 and 2002, 8th in 2004) the former winner of Gent-Wevelgem, K-B-K and GP Plouay is more than ever aiming for the highest step on the podium in the 'Hell of the North'.

"Last year I finally started believing in myself," Hincapie said in a lengthy interview with Hugo Coorevits of HNB. "My neighbour is my mental coach. I met her last year before a speech I had to give for a multinational company," George explains. "She told me: I can help you. She made me realize that I can win even if I don't feel good; that I should never give up. That's how I won the Grand Prix de Plouay. She turned me into a winner. I've become a bit more selfish. With my mental coach and the birth of my daughter Julia Paris, the pieces of the puzzle fit. I used to do everything just for myself, now I'm taking responsibility for my family."

Hincapie himself is an established businessman and owner of Hincapie Sportswear, a company which his brother Rich started three years ago.

The fact that Hincapie's mental coach completely changed his way of thinking was noticed in the Tour de France last year. As a classics rider, he was suddenly powering up the steepest climbs. He won the stage on Pla d'Adet is now one of America's main hopes for the podium in the next Tour de France.

"Stage 15 in the tour 2005 changed a lot for me. I used to think: I am big, so I can't climb. My mental coach has taught me to think positive. She made me believe I can do things I didn't think possible. I could do it. I train like an animal in the mountains. Most of the time that's tougher than racing. I won the prologue in the Dauphiné Libéré. I consider it a compliment when connoisseurs tell me I can handle all terrain."

Hincapie fell in love with the pavés in '94, when he first saw a cobble stone riding Omloop Het Volk as part of the Motorola team. "In New York no-one knows what a pavé is. They think that we're riding across bricks."

Hincapie is stronger than ever before; and victory in Paris-Roubaix might be within his reach more than any other year. "I was never better than I am now. That's something I experienced in the Ronde last Sunday. I have never weighed less. 75kg for 1.90m. And I never had a stronger team: Hoste, Devolder, Gusev, Hammond...if he recovers in time. When Knaven won in 2001, I was on my own in a group with four Domo-riders."

The strategy for next Sunday? Hincapie's answer is clear and simple: "The same as in RVV: try to create a numerical majority with Discovery Channel and enter the velodrome without Tom Boonen."

Landbouwkrediet-Colnago for Paris-Roubaix

Mountain biker Filip Meirhaeghe will spearhead the Landbouwkrediet-Colnago team for this Sunday's Paris-Roubaix, using his offroad experience to try to tame the cobbles of the 'Hell of the North'. In addition, Johan Verstrepen, Jurgen van Loocke, Mathieu Criquielion, Kevin Neirynck, Sjef De Wilde, Andy Cappelle and Jean-Paul Simon. Directeurs sportifs: Claude Criquielion + Claude Vancoillie.

Raisin stabilised, but still in a coma

The life of American cyclist Saul Raisin is no longer in danger, according to Credit Agricole's Dr Ménard, who travelled to the hospital in Angers where Raisin was situated. Raisin was admitted to hospital on Wednesday night with a cerebral edema after crashing in the first stage of the Circuit de la Sarthe. Doctors performed two operations on Thursday to reduce the swelling in the brain, and they were successful.

"There is currently no longer any risk to his life," said Dr Ménard to L'Equipe. He is now stable but will be kept in a coma for the time being. "The coma can last between days and weeks. It is necessary that the brain heals now."

Fränk Schleck (Team CSC) recovering

Team CSC's Fränk Schleck is making good recovery from his crash in the third stage in the Vuelta a Pais Vasco. "I'm actually OK after having had a good night's rest," Fränk is quoted on the team's website as saying. "I had a bad headache this morning, but it's gotten better as the day has progressed, and I've been training a tiny bit indoors without any problems - just to get a little exercise.

"I'm expecting to be able to ride for a couple of hours on the road tomorrow, and then we'll have to wait and see how the week goes, whether I'll be ready for the Amstel Gold Race. I would like to start in order to help Karsten Kroon and the rest of the team, but naturally they'll only allow me to do it if I'm fit enough."

Boogerd improving

Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) is recovering well from his broken foot, and is riding the Vuelta al Pais Vasco at the moment, where he is in an impressive 10th position on GC. Boogerd looks to be ready in time for "his" races: Amstel Gold and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

Before the start of stage 4, Boogerd told De Telegraaf, "This is the second day that I am riding without my foot being completely taped up. I didn't get any more x-rays done before I came here, but the break has healed well. And the pain is gone, but super? No, it's still not going all right yet."

Boogerd showed he had decent condition in the tough stage 2, where he made it to the finish with the lead group. "There I noted that my condition was in order, but I still have pains all over my body. Our soigneur has worked overtime!"

Boogerd is the best placed rider on his team in the Vuelta, which wasn't the intention before the race. "That also leads to stress. Mentally, that's saps you, but yes, I'm there now and you don't give up your spot easily."

Thüringer Energie Team to work with T-Mobile

By Susan Westemeyer and Torsten Holz

The Thüringer Energie Team (from left):
Photo ©: Torsten Holz
(Click for larger image)

The new German Continental team Thüringer Energie Team presented itself to the public yesterday, with a surprise - the team will also work closely with Team T-Mobile, to develop young riders for the Pro Tour team.

The team also has its own goals, such as winning the team ranking in the U-23 Bundesliga and going for individual victories. The team hopes, naturally, to do well in the Thüringen Rundfahrt, with one or more podium places in mind. The Continental Tour licence enables the team to participate in the Europe Tour, which will let the team gather important experience, and perhaps a win or two. The most important race in this series is the EON Hainleite (formerly TEAG Hainleite) in August, which is held in the team's hometown of Erfurt, Germany.

"The engagement is the logical consequence of our increased emphasis on young riders," said T-Mobile Team Manager Olaf Ludwig, who looks to the "responsibility for the future of cycling." Both sides will benefit when his team works with "one of the best U-23 teams."

"The jump to a professional team like T-Mobile at the age of 21 or 22 is just too early for most riders," said Ludwig. This way, the team can "park them for one or two years by the Energie team". In return, T-Mobile will help the team find sponsors and provide its know-how, for example providing time trial bikes or wind tunnel testing. "But definitely no money will change hands," said Ludwig.

Ludwig noted that the Thüringer team has proved its worth by providing current pros Stephan Schreck, Eric Baumann, Patrik Sinkewitz, Thomas Ziegler, Andre Greipel and Sebastian Lang.

Click here for the full team roster


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Torsten Holz

  • Olaf Ludwig (Manager T-Mobile Team) left, with Christan Mueller (mdr, TV-Station)
  • The Thüringer Energie Team (from left): Christian Bach, Florian Frohn, Daniel Schueler, Philip Patzer, Matthias Hahn, Sven Hippel, Sebastian Schwager (German U-23 champion), Tony Martin, Marcel Barth, Sascha Damrow, Nico Graf, Karsten Heß, Gert Seifert, Patrick Gretsch, Björn Gollhardt
  • Tony Martin, Sebastian Schwager (German U-23 champion), Thüringer Energie Team, Olaf Ludwig (Manager T-Mobile Team)

Yellow for Schumacher

Stefan Schumacher
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

Gerolsteiner's Stefan Schumacher had hoped to win Thursday's stage in the Circuit de la Sarthe, but was happy enough to settle for second and the leader's yellow jersey. "It was clear on the uphill finish that the team would ride for me. I'm good at that kind, and I was leading for a long time. Too bad that someone got by me. The stage win was gone, but I'm happy about the yellow," he said.

Naturally, he and the team hope to defend his 3 second lead in today's final stage. "It will be hard, but we will give everything we have," said team manager Hans-Michael Holczer. "It'll be pretty hard," agreed Schumacher, who added, "When you have the yellow jersey, you want to defend it. And that it what I will try to do on Friday."

Wiesenhof-Akud for Ronde van Drenthe

Wiesenhof-Akud will be setting off for the Ronde van Drenthe without the defending champion, Marcel Sieberg. Sieberg has had to sit out much of the spring season with suspected mononucleosis, and is not yet ready to start racing again. However, the team remains nevertheless optimistic.

"We only have 10 days until our first big highlight, Rund um Köln, and so we are doing well," said sprinter Steffen Radochla. "In Drenthe it will depend on our getting in the right group, because we will start with only five riders. But I think we can do it."

Sports director Jens Heppner said that the question of team captain would be decided during the race itself. "If it comes down to a sprint, then obviously Steffen will be our number one. But everyone on the team has their chance - they just have to use it."

Wiesenhof-Akud for Ronde van Drenthe: Steffen Radochla, Robert Retschke, Corey Sweet, Lars Wackernagel, Gregor Willwohl.

Final Giro d'Italia stage list

Organisers RCS Sport have released the definitive stage list for the 89th Giro d'Italia, which runs between May 6 and May 28. Starting in Seraing (Bel) with a 6.2 km time trial, the Giro spends four days in Belgium before transferring on the first Wednesday to Italy. The first stage on Italian soil will be a 38 km team time trial between Piacenza and Cremona. The plan to split the final day into two stages has been scrapped, and the race will finish with a 140 km stage between the Museo Del Ghisallo and Milan.

Final stage list

Stage 1 - Saturday, May 6: Seraing - Seraing ITT, 6.2 km
Stage 2 - Sunday, May 7: Mons - Charleroi Marcinelle, 197 km
Stage 3 - Monday, May 8: Perwez - Namur, 202 km
Stage 4 - Tuesday, May 9: Wanze - Hotton, 193 km
Rest Day - Wednesday, May 10
Stage 5 - Thursday, May 11: Piacenza - Cremona TTT, 38 km
Stage 6 - Friday, May 12: Busseto - Forli', 227 km
Stage 7 - Saturday, May 13: Cesena - Saltara, 236 km
Stage 8 - Sunday, May 14: Civitanova Marche - Maielletta Passo Lanciano, 171 km
Stage 9 - Monday, May 15: Francavilla Al Mare – Termoli, 127 km
Stage 10 - Tuesday, May 16: Termoli - Peschici, 187 km
Rest Day - Wednesday, May 17
Stage 11 - Thursday, May 18: Pontedera - Pontedera ITT, 50 km
Stage 12 - Friday, May 19: Livorno - Sestri Levante, 171 km
Stage 13 - Saturday, May 20: Alessandria - La Thuile, 218 km
Stage 14 - Sunday, May 21: Aosta - Domodossola, 223 km
Stage 15 - Monday, May 22: Mergozzo - Brescia, 189 km
Stage 16 - Tuesday, May 23: Rovato - Trento Monte Bondone, 173 km
Stage 17 - Wednesday, May 24: Termeno/Tramin - Plan De Corones/Kronplatz, 133 km
Stage 18 - Thursday, May 25: Sillian - Gemona Del Friuli, 210 km
Stage 19 - Friday, May 26: Pordenone - Passo Di San Pellegrino (Dolomiti Stars), 224 km
Stage 20 - Saturday, May 27: Trento - Aprica, 211 km
Stage 21 - Sunday, May 28: Museo Del Ghisallo – Milano, 140 km

Total: 3,526.2 km

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