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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for April 18, 2006

Edited by John Stevenson

Allez Ya'll: Tour de Georgia preview

Danielson tries to be first repeat winner

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

Coming up on

Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

WAP-enabled mobile devices: http://live.cyclingnews.com/wap/

Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel) approaches the top of Brasstown Bald to take the lead in 2005
Photo: © Jon Devich
Click for larger image

The fourth edition of the Tour de Georgia moves up a notch to become the only hors category stage race in North America. And with a new category comes a new sponsor -- Ford Motor Corporation. While a certain American racing legend will be absent from this year's race, one of the strongest fields of ProTour and continental teams will battle through the north Georgia mountains, including the feared ascent to the top of Brasstown Bald mountain. Leading the way, possibly up Brasstown Bald again, is Discovery Channel's Tom Danielson, who secured his victory last year by beating everyone to the top amidst the wind and snow and taking the leader's jersey from Phonak's Floyd Landis.

But Landis is having a good 2006 season so far -- a very good season, with strong wins at the inaugural Tour of California and Paris-Nice. Landis will be looking to wear the leader's jersey again and better his third place in the 2005 race. Team CSC is back on American soil with its usual strong team but without American Bobby Julich. Dave Zabriskie will be the lone American hope on the team with his strength in the time trial, but any member of the team is dangerous for a stage win, including last year's epic stage 4 winner Brian Vandborg.

Quickstep-Innergetic, Davitamon-Lotto and Suanier Duval-Prodir are the other teams representing the ProTour. Inaugural race winner Chris Horner is not slotted as the GC man for Davitamon-Lotto's team, but a fast team is still assembled for sprint and stage wins with Aussies Robbie McEwen, Henk Vogels and American Fred Rodriguez leading the charge.

Click here for the full preview. See also the start list and stage details.

O'Grady and Bak return

CSC team directeur sportif Kim Andersen has said that Lars Bak's and Stuart O'Grady's return to racing at yesterday's Rund um Köln went "better than expected". The 202km race was won by Milram's Christian Knees from David Kopp (Gerolsteiner), perhaps helping to demonstrate that Milram isn't a two-sprinter team after all.

CSC's Luke Roberts was seventh, a result about which Anderson said, "Luke did well and was right where he was supposed to be, when the first serious split took place. He lacked that last bit in keeping up, when four riders escaped at the end, but he did get a top-10 spot for his efforts."

As for the two riders returning from injury, Anderson added, "Both Lars and Stuart did well too considering the pace was very fast from the start, and that it was anything but a flat route. I actually think it went considerably better than expected with them both recovering from serious crashes. They got some good [training], which will help them get ready for the two Danish races at the end of the month."

Quick Step - Innergetic for final Spring Classics

The Quick Step - Innergetic team has announced its line-up for the last two Spring Classics, tomorrow's Flèche Wallonne (April 19) and Sunday's Liege - Bastogne - Liege. The team will field the same squad for both races, with Paolo Bettini moving into the limelight now that Tom Boonen is taking a well-earned rest after his Spring campaign.

Bettini will be supported by Serge Baguet, Kevin De Weert, Ad Engels, Jose Antonio Garrido, Juan Manuel Garate, Bram Tankink, and Cédric Vasseur, with Serge Parsani as directeur sportif.

Lampre-Fondital for Flèche Wallonne

Flèche Wallonne will also be the next stop on what the Lampre-Fondital team describes as its "expedition" to the Northern classics. The team will field a seven-rider squad for Flèche Wallonne, a race that direttore sportivo Fabrizio Bontempi describes as "a special race because of its hard finish at Huy."

Despite the steep final climb, Bontempi said, "We aim to get a good results. I think that [Evgueni] Petrov and [Tadej] Valjavec could do good things and that all the team could be competitive".

The line-up will be: Giuliano Figueras, Ruggero Marzoli, Marco Marzano, Salvatore Commesso, Evgueni Petrov, Tadej Valjavec and Patxi Vila.

FRW for women's Flèche

The Italian FRW team has announced its line-up for the women's World Cup race that runs alongside the men's ProTour Flèche Wallone on Wednesday April 19. Under direttore sportivo Fausto Tardozzi the team will field Giorgia Bronzini, Martina Corazza, Indre Januleviciute, Kettj Manfrin, Nina Ovcharenko, Tetyana Palchynska, Laura Pisaneschi, Ombretta Ugolini and Modesta Vzesniauskaite.

Spiuk-Extremadura for Vuelta a La Rioja

The Spanish Spiuk-Extremadura team has announced its line-up for the 46th edition of the Vuelta Ciclista a La Rioja, a mountainous three-day stage race that starts April 21 in Calahorra, Spain.

The team will field Fernando Torres, Jesús Ramírez, Rafael Macarrón, Enrique Salgueiro, Josu Mondelo, Ángel Rodríguez, Pedro Romero, Ignacio Sarabia.

Each of the three stages of the Vuelta a La Rioja involves some significantly hilly country. There are two category three climbs in the first stage; stage two finishes at almost 2100m altitude at Cruz de la Demanda and stage three crosses the category one Alta de la Herrera.

Only one ProTour team will take part in the Vuelta a La Rioja, Spain's Caisse D'Epargne - Illes Balears. The majority of the field will be made up of Continental Professional and Continental teams: Comunidad Valenciana; Relax - Gam; Kaiku; Andalucia - Paul Versan; 3 Molinos Resort; Ceramica Panaria - Navigare; Cycle Racing Team Vang; Atom - Azpiru; Orbea; Grupo Nicolas Mateos; and Spiuk - Extremadura.

US champions to ride Teleperformance's Tour of the Gila

Reigning USPRO road champion Chris Wherry and time trial champion Chris Baldwin will both line up at this year's 20th edition of Teleperformance's Tour of the Gila, New Mexico, USA, May 3-7.

Wherry and Baldwin are both members of the new Toyota - United Pro team and Wherry has twice been overall winner of the Tour of the Gila, the notoriously hilly event based around Silver City, New Mexico. The five-stage race culminates in the notorious Gila Monster road race that crosses the Continental Divide and takes in five categorized climbs. It's Baldwin's first out here, though his wife, Cyclingnews diarist Kimberly Baldwin, won the women's race in 2005.

Baldwin and Wherry will be supported by a strong Toyota-United Pro team, including Justin England, New Zealander Heath Blackgrove, Stefano Barbieri, and Mexico's Jose-Manual Garcia.

Contact centre outsourcer Teleperformance USA is the new title sponsor for this year's Tour of the Gila and it about to open a new call center in Silver City - a facility that will employ more than 600 residents.

For more information see www.tourofthegila.com

Top US racers line up for inaugural Willamette Valley Classic

While the Tour de Georgia will no doubt take centre stage among US races this weekend, plenty of top domestic riders will be in action at the inaugural Willamette Valley Classic Stage Race, April 21-23 in Willamete Valley, Oregon.

Riders rostered for the Willamette Valley Classic include Mike Sayers (Health Net/Maxxis), Adam Craig (Giant), Carl Decker (Broadmark Capital/Hegans Berman) and Svein Tuft (Symmetrics Cycling). The women's field is strong, as well, with more than 50 riders, including Pro 1/2 favorite Leah Golstein of the Israeli national team.

More than 400 men and women are entered in the race's 10 categories for three or four stages, depending on category, over the course of three days, including two road races, a circuit race and a time trial. Total prize money for the event tops $10,000.

The race categories include Pro/1/2 Men, Category 3 Men, Category 4/5 Men, Masters 40+ 1/2/3, Masters 40+ 3/4/5, Juniors, Pro/1/2 Women, Category 3 Women, and Category 4 Women. The Pro 1/2, Masters 1/2/3 and Pro/1/2 Women will complete all four stages; the other categories skip the time trial.

Stage 1, the High Pass Road Race, Friday, April 21, starts in Junction City and travels up into the Coast Range in a hilly 17.5-mile lap.

Stage 2, the Sears Road Time Trial, Saturday April 22, starts and finishes in Creswell, a 17-mile race against the clock.

Stage 3, the Bear Creek Circuit Race, also Saturday, is an up-and-down 5.2-mile lap; racers complete four-to-eight laps, depending on the category.

Stage 4, the Wolf Creek Road Race, Sunday, April 23, is a extremely challenging 56-to-85-mile European-style road race that serves up 4,500-to-7,500 feet of climbing. The Wolf Creek Road Race starts and finishes at the Kings Estate Winery in Lorane, Oregon.

For more information see www.willamettevalleyclassic.com.

Canadian junior racer foils robbery

Giga-Bike/La-Z-Boy junior rider Adrian Johnson (17) became a local hero last week when he helped apprehend a thief who had stolen an elderly woman's purse. Johnson and his father saw the robbery take place in downtown Victoria, Canada on Thursday April 13, and the youngster chased the purse-snatcher on foot.

Johnson cornered the thief in a nearby parking lot and he, his father and an off-duty security guard detained the six-foot tall, 190lb man while police were called. According to Victoria police constable Brent Berger, the man, who turned out to be on parole, was arrested and charged with robbery.

"Adrian showed extreme courage which put him in a very dangerous position, especially considering the type of violent crime he was dealing with. Adrian's act of courage is unquestionably amazing and the team is proud of him that he was able to end this lady's nightmare", saidGiga-Bike President Calvin Straathof.

"Chasing down the man was the kind of decision made in the heat of the moment", said Johnson. "We've talked about it in the sense that possibly it was valiant, but probably not really good judgment. Obviously it's one of those situations where people look at it and say there's something heroic about it, but personally I say I just wouldn't want [a robbery] done to me."

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