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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for April 17, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Schleck got his big win

Dirty, but happy:
Photo ©: Elmar Krings
(Click for larger image)

Fränk Schleck finally achieved his first "big one". After a spectacular solo attack, the Luxembourger from Team CSC took a well-deserved victory in the 41st edition of the classic Amstel Gold Race. When the decisive split took place on the steepest climb, at Keutenberg about 13 kilometres before finish, both Fränk Schleck and his teammate Karsten Kroon were placed in the lead group, and soon the two riders took matters into their own hands.

With an impressive attack Schleck went solo, while Kroon stayed behind to keep the other favourites in check. After that it was entirely up to Schleck, and the 26 year-old rider lasted all the way home and could subsequently claim the biggest triumph of his career so far.

"I'm so happy right now and it's really hard to put into words how I feel, because this is such a great moment for me," said a very emotional Schleck in the finish. "I've been close so many times before, but have often lacked that last bit of luck. Today I was up front again and was lucky enough to have Karsten Kroon providing me with invaluable help. Winning the Amstel Gold Race is a big deal and I would like to thank the entire team."

Team manager Bjarne Riis guided his protégé to victory. "When we had two riders up front after Keutenberg, I knew anything was possible and everything did indeed work out for us," said Riis. "This was team work to perfection - especially Karsten was a big help - and it's a fantastic triumph for Fränk, who has developed enormously and reached a level where he's capable of winning a big classic. I predict him the winner of more races like this. We've won two classics within a week and it's definitely a huge mile stone for our team."

Bettini hopeful for Belgian Ardennes

Il Grillo
Photo ©: Elmar Krings
(Click for larger image)

Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step), who rode the Dutch Amstel Gold Race in the front but finally couldn't make it to the finish line first, was disappointed after the race on Sunday but also looked at the bright side. "I proved that this race can suit me; and it would have been another beautiful pearl in my collection," the Olympic champion told Tuttobicisport. "But you can't always win... Moreover, at a certain moment in the race I didn't feel that my legs were responding very well, and in the finale, nobody wanted to chase."

CSC's Fränk Schleck, who won the ProTour event, had made his decisive attack out of the group including Bettini some 10 kilometres to the finish. "But it reassures me that I'm in good condition with a view to the next races; the ones I really like: Flèche Wallonne and in particular, Liège-Bastogne-Liège," added Bettini, who hopes to win the Belgian Classic for a third time.

McQuaid in awe for Bos

Theo Bos (Netherlands)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

UCI president Pat McQuaid was very impressed with the performance of Dutchman Theo Bos at the World Championships in Bordeaux, France. The 22 year-old scored two Gold medals in the Keirin and Sprint events. "I must admit that it was Theo and not myself who was the boss here this week-end," McQuaid told the Telegraaf in Bordeaux on Sunday evening.

Bos dominated the event, as he won all heats in both disciplines. "He was simply a class apart here," added McQuaid. But the 'Boss' himself didn't want to hear too many compliments. "Maybe it looked easy, but I had to give everything I had to win here," said the World champion, who was very happy to make up for his missed out chances in Los Angeles last year. "There's not one rival like the other," he continued. "The qualities, and the weaknesses of each of my rivals are like a database in my head."

Asked how he prepared for the event, a self-confident Bos replied, "I know what I have to do to get ready for competition. Together with (Dutch federation doctor) Tjeerd de Vries I work out my training schedule. Peter Pieters (Dutch federation coach) doesn't have an influence on it - we sprinters are free. You have to know your body well; know how it reacts. Too much work damages the muscles. Rest is the best training."

Bos is sure that it's his motivation and devotion to the track that makes him win. "I practice this sport with full dedication," he continued. "When the motivation comes out of yourself, the result is always optimal."

Phonak for Flèche and Liège

Team Phonak has announced its riders election for the upcoming Classics in Southern Belgium. At Flèche Wallonne, taking place on Wednesday, April 19, the Swiss squad will line up the following riders: Bert Grabsch, Patrik McCarty, Axel Merckx, Koos Moerenhout, Alexandre Moos, Steve Morabito, Uros Murn and Steve Zampieri.

The roster changes only slightly on the following week-end, when Liège-Bastogne-Liège will take to the roads in the Ardennes hills. Team managers John Lelangue and Jacques Michaud opted for Patrik McCarty, Axel Merckx, Koos Moerenhout, Steve Morabito, Uros Murn, Victor Hugo Peña, Miguel Angel Perdiguero and Steve Zampieri to compete on Sunday, April 23.

Hondo comeback delayed

Finally, Danilo Hondo (Lamonta) will not be able to take the start of Easter Monday's Rund um Köln in his native Germany - contrary to previous reports. The governing body of cycling, UCI, prohibited the sprinter's participation because team change deadlines have not been respected in his move to the Continental squad. Hondo now wants to return to racing on April 19 at the Niedersachsen-Rundfahrt.

Löwik operated, again

Gerben Löwik again underwent surgery last Wednesday. The Rabobank rider was operated on his saddle area, after already having problems in the beginning of this year, which made an operation necessary on February 12. It's the third operation for Löwik, as he needed surgical help also after the Tour de France last year. The team announced nevertheless that the current infection did not have the same causes as the one last year. Löwik will need ten days to recover, and will not be able to participate in the Niedersachsen-Rundfahrt from April 19-23 as had been the plan.

Cancer center beneficiary of Pennsylvania Triple Crown of Cycling

The Fox Chase Cancer Center has been named as the official charity of the Pennsylvania Triple Crown of Cycling, a three event pro cycling series anchored by the 22nd annual Philadelphia International Cycling Championship. Over the next five years, Fox Chase will benefit from fundraising events associated with the three races including the Lancaster Classic on June 4, the Reading Classic on June 8 and the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship on June 11.

The 2006 charity event will be "Pedal for Prevention", a non-competitive bike ride open to people of all ages. The ride will take place on the championship race course in Philadelphia beginning at 7:00 a.m., on Sunday, June 11. The course will be cleared of participants before the pros hit the streets for the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship, starting at 9:00 a.m. Online registration for the ride will begin next week.

For more information about "Pedal for Prevention" and the PA Triple Crown Benefiting Fox Chase Cancer Center, please visit www.procyclingtour.com or the center’s web site at www.fccc.edu.

Vuelta de Bisbee announced

The 28th edition of La Vuelta de Bisbee Stage Race (LVDB) will be held from April 28-30, 2006. The three-day, four-stage event will include an uphill time-trial prologue, two road stages and a time trial. The senior men, Pro 1-2, riders will cover more than 175 miles of racing and 10,000 feet of climbing. The senior women and master men riders will cover slightly less distance and climbing.

The high-desert terrain of Southeastern Arizona with its rural highways that lace through mountainous desert canyons and slope down and away from the historic mining town has drawn racers to Bisbee since 1976. LVDB boasts past winners such as Greg Lemond (who won as a 16-year old in 1978), Bob Cooke (1977, 79), Alexi Grewal (1992), Scott Moninger and Jeannie Longo (2002) and most recently, Clemente Cavaliere and Brooke Ourada (2005).

LVDB opens with a tough time trial that gains 837 feet of elevation in just 2.8 miles. The three stages that follow will test competitors climbing, sprinting, and time-trialling skills. If this race has not sorted itself by Sunday, the final stage features an extended uphill finish with two category 3 climbs in the last 15 miles.

For more information and registration, please visit www.lavueltadebisbee.us.

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