First Edition Cycling News for April 22, 2006
Edited by Hedwig Kröner
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In his final press conference before tackling the first of two major season objectives that he hopes will see him become only the eleventh rider in the history of sport to achieve the Giro-Tour double, Team CSC invited members of the press to talk cycling with their man of the moment, Ivan Basso, and team manager Bjarne Riis. Cyclingnews' Anthony Tan found the 2006 Giro d'Italia favourite and his master tactician their usual quietly confident selves.
Sitting down before a packed press room at the Eurotel in Lanaken, Belgium, a few kilometres down the road from where the Amstel Gold Race began in Maastricht last Sunday, a very slim-looking Ivan Basso took his position in the middle of the table, flanked by two people. To his right, Team CSC's press officer Brian Nygaard, who would help him with what he wanted to say in English, a language he's improved on considerably since joining the team, and on his left, the man who he says is largely responsible for getting him where he is today, Bjarne Riis.
"I don't know a rider who doesn't like this," said Basso half-jokingly, which brought plenty of laughter from the audience.
"Two years ago, I didn't have this [many] journalists in front of me - it wasn't good for me! I explained before: it's a pleasure for me; when I go training and people go past in the car and stop and take a photo... when I was in San Francisco, in one training session, 20 people came up to me on the bike. It's nice for a rider; I think if one rider doesn't like this, he's not honest."
Two years ago, however, the then 26 year-old was already set for stardom after his mountain victory atop La Mongie at the 2004 Tour de France and eventual third place finish. Even four years back, he showed plenty of promise as the best young rider at the 2002 Tour, finishing 11th overall. The difference now is that Basso is an overwhelming favourite to win both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, something which hasn't been done since Marco Pantani achieved the feat eight years ago.
Click here to read the full feature.
Liège: Pellizotti, Di Luca & Garzelli for Liquigas
Franco Pellizotti will go to Belgium tomorrow, on Saturday, April 22, to take part in Sunday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The 'Dolphin of Bibione', as fellow Italians call Pellizotti, decided to abandon the Giro del Trentino because of a muscular problem to his left quadriceps after crashing last Tuesday. Although he abandoned the short stage-race in Italy, he is likely to recover before Liège-Bastogne-Liège, his team announced.
Pellizotti's support may be paramount for Danilo Di Luca and Stefano Garzelli who will be the attack men for Liquigas in the 'Doyenne'. The team guided by Stefano Zanatta will also include: Patrick Calcagni, Kjell Carlström, Matej Mugerli, Vincenzo Nibali and Alessandro Spezialetti.
Meanwhile, Danilo Di Luca has finished a series of workouts and reconnaissances of the route of the upcoming Giro d'Italia and sounds confident. "The sixth place I scored at Flèche Wallonne allows me to be quite optimistic," Di Luca said. "Of course, we have numerous and dangerous opponents. We really need to keep our eyes wide open and to manage our energy carefully without underestimating anyone."
At the same time of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, another Liquigas squad will race the Giro dell'Appennino. DS Mario Chiesa will direct Italian champion Enrico Gasparotto and Eros Capecchi, Mauro Da Dalto, Francesco Failli, Roman Kreuziger, Nicola Loda, and Charles Wegelius in Italy.
Romandie with Ullrich
It's official: T-Mobile has announced Jan Ullrich to be the leader of its team roster for the Tour de Romandie from April 25-30. The Swiss stage race marks the first season outing for the 32 year-old German after overcoming his knee problems. Ullrich has been able to train pain-free in Tuscany of late. "My knee is able to support my full body weight again now that the slight irritation has gone", said the T-Mobile captain, who spent up to six hours each day on the bike and included some intensive motor pacing in his regime.
Supporting Ullrich at the 11th ProTour race this season will be Serguei Gonchar, Eddy Mazzoleni, Michael Rogers and Oscar Sevilla, all of whom are part of T-Mobile's Tour de France core squad. "It's important for the potential Tour riders to train to work well together in all kinds of race situations", said directeur sportif Rudy Pevenage.
The Belgian, who oversaw Jan Ullrich's training in Tuscany, is "not expecting too much" of his protégé at the Tour de Romandie yet - above all, Ullrich is supposed to get some racing kilometres in his legs. "The tour is a good preparation for the Giro", Pevenage explained. Italy's Grand Tour, taking place from May 6-28, is Ullrich's scheduled next stop on the road to the Tour de France.
The full T-Mobile roster at the Tour de Romandie will be: Lorenzo Bernucci, Serguei Gonchar, Bernhard Kohl, Eddy Mazzoleni, Michael Rogers, Oscar Sevilla, Jan Ullrich and Thomas Ziegler.
Saunier, Liquigas for Romandie
Team Saunier Duval-Prodir has communicated its final line-up for the Tour de Romandie from April 25-30. Participating for the Spanish team will be: José Angel Gomez Marchante, Koldo Gil, Rubens Bertogliati, Oliver Zaugg, Guido Trentin, Nicolas Fritsch, David de la Fuente and José Alberto Benitez, under the guidance of directeur sportif Pietro Algeri.
The Italian Liquigas squad to the Tour de Romandie will include Dario Cioni, Swiss Michael Albasini and Italian champion Enrico Gasparotto. DS Dario Mariuzzo and Mario Scirea will also count on Romandie stage winner Andrea Noè, Dario Andriotto, Vladimir Miholjevic, Manuel Quinziato, and Stefano Zanini.
Velo breaks collarbone, out of Giro
Alessandro Petacchi's precious teammate Marco Velo has broken his right collarbone in a crash at the Niedersachsen-Rundfahrt today. Just as the supersprinter scored his third consecutive stage win at the race, Velo crashed in the bunch sprint just before the finish line.
"I led out the sprint as always, and when Alessandro came off my wheel there were about 150 metres left," Velo said. "Hondo, who got second, passed me with about 100 metres to go, so I decided to continue to take a placing home. Unfortunately, at about 50 metres to the line, I got rammed and went down. I don't know what exactly happened, but I do know that I slid until 40 metres after the finish line. I'm really unhappy and sad because this means that I will have to skip the Giro."
Other riders affected in the crash included T-Mobile's Olaf Pollack, Graeme Brown (Rabobank) and Kenny van Hummel (Shimano).
Van Den Broeck allowed time to grow
Jurgen Van Den Broeck, former junior world time trial champion (2001) is showing promising things while doing his duties within the Discovery Channel Team. Van Den Broeck turned pro with Lance Armstrong's team in 2004, and he doesn't regret taking that step up only being 20 years of age at that time. "I don't regret that early transition to the pro ranks at all," he is quoted in HNB. "The easiest way isn't always the best."
The 23 year-old Belgian feels that his capacities are slowly increasing, and is very happy with his current form."I know I'm not progressing with giant steps, but I'm going forward and that certainty is sufficient for me," Van Den Broeck said. "I feel that progression. For now it might not be visible in the results, but I can handle a bigger training load. I don't notice it myself but people around me tell me that my body has developed strongly. I have less trouble staying put in the front. Look at last Wednesday: I went up the Mur de Huy in the company of guys like Bettini, Di Luca and Valverde. That's the kind of signs I need. Mentally I still have my weak moments. But we're working on that and a good result is always good for the head."
Van Den Broeck likes to play his cards close to the chest for now. He's not pointing out where his ambition lies and gives himself time to grow in peace. "One day races, or tours? I'll see what the future brings," he continued. "I do have goals in my head and know when and where I want to accomplish them, but the outside world doesn't need to know what they are."
Van Den Broeck knows where his limits are this weekend, but insists on what every young rider must bring into the sport if he wants to become a cycling great one day: dreams. "I'm not a world top rider like Valverde - to win in Liège is of course an illusion for now," the Discovery rider commented. "But why wouldn't it be possible one day? It is, everything is. It's just that I refuse to give myself a deadline for now."
Courtesy of Sabine Sunderland
Pucinskaite leads Nobili at Tour de Berne
For the fifth round of the 2006 Women's World Cup, Nobili Rubinetterie Menikini Cogeas has announced that Edita Pucinskaite will be leading the team at the Tour de Berne on Sunday, April 23. Finishing sixth last Sunday at the Flèche Wallonne, Pucinskaite has a lot of racing intelligence according to team director Walter Zini.
"There are many ways to interpret a race, but Edita belongs to those who do it best," Zini said. "We're getting out of the Ardennes with good morale, knowing that we delivered excellent work. Pucinskaite is growing as the race program unfolds, and her teammates, too."
The Lithuanian will therefore lead her team into the Tour de Berne and the following Gracia Orlova stage race, beginning in the Czech Republic on April 27. "Our goal will be to go for the classification, but we have many possibilities especially now that Gollan, Corneo and Oki have a good pedal stroke," Zini continued. "We expect to get a good result." ´Between the two competitions, Nobili Rubinetterie Menikini Cogeas will also be represented at the Gran Premio Liberazione on April 25 with the following riders: Silvia Valsecchi, Elodie Touffet and the young Bertolo, Azzini, Borchi, Pirola and Prandi.
Shenandoah, the US 'Tour de l'Avenir'?
In under one week from now several of North America's top cycling pros and some of the best under-25 riders will descend into the Shenandoah Valley to test their mettle against each other on one of the toughest stage race courses in the country. From April 25-30, the six-day, the seven-stage Tour of Shenandoah will blaze through the mountainous roads of Central Virginia in a bid to become North America's version of the Tour de L'Avenir.
At one of the leading U-25 road stage races in the USA, pro mountain bike Trek/VW are planning to dominate Shenandoah's infamously leg-pounding mountains with Harrisonburg native, Jeremiah Bishop, being the obvious local favourite. An impressive 5th overall and two third place stage finishes at the 2005 Tour of Shenandoah make Bishop a candidate for the podium, as well as his teammate, Chris Eatough.
Team R.A.C.E. (Race Against Cancer Everywhere) under the direction of 1988 fourth-placed at the Tour de France Steve Bauer, primarily a U-25 team, will send four athletes including Ryan Roth, U-23 National Road Champion and ITT silver medalist from the Canadian Championships in 2005.
Another outfit to watch will beTeam AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork: Consistently ranked alongside the likes of Health Net and Discovery Channel, the team is sending an international squad with riders hailing from the U.S., Canada, and, most notably, Serbia: Predrag Prokic, 24, is from Belgrade, Serbia and now resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. Prokic is the Under-23 Balkan Champion 2003, and placed 8th in the Tour of Greece.
Fellow Serbian, Viktor Laza is the 1999 Yugoslavian Junior National Champion Road and Criterium. He also placed third in the UCI World Junior Points Classification that same year. In 2005, Laza won the South Carolina Championships.
More competition will be coming from Team LSV/Kelly Benefit Solutions with Matt Cooke and Nick Waite, as well as from Team Right-Aid, formerly Snow Valley, that will be lining up with Zach Bell, the 2004 and 2005 Canadian National Pursuit Champion. The 23 year-old sprinter is a nine-time Canadian National medallist.
South Australia.com-AIS undergo testing
South Australia.com-AIS riders Matthew Goss and Peter Dawson underwent testing at the Mapei Sports Science Centre in the Northern Italian town of Castellanza today. Mapei, one the team's sponsors, is strongly committed to sports science development and the well-equipped testing facility is only 30 minutes away from the South Australia.com-AIS European headquarters. The other members of the team underwent testing two weeks ago.
Goss, 24, and Dawson, 19, joined the team in Italy this week after a successful campaign at the Track Cycling World Championships in Bordeaux, France, where they were crowned World Champions as members of Australia's gold medal winning teams pursuit line-up. "We like to test the guys at the beginning of the European season to get base line fitness values to compare with future tests throughout the season," said Team Director, Brian Stephens, about the work under the direction of Professor Aldo Sassi. "Matt Goss was impressive with his best ever test result for absolute power output, power to weight ratio and VO2 max. Peter was a little more fatigued in the wake of Bordeaux but we know where he needs to improve.
"It's also interesting to look at their form coming out of the track World Championships because of the track preparation is largely anaerobic, and now they'll be needing more aerobic fitness for road competition."
All team members will undergo testing periodically throughout the season to monitor the impact of training and racing. "The testing also allows us to fine tune the individual rider's programs to ensure they perform at their peak in nominated events," Stephens continued. "All the information is sent back to Canberra where it is logged with the Australian Institute of Sport sports scientists.
"We really value the relationship we have with Mapei and the support they provide for us here in Italy because it means we can continue the work we do at the AIS back in Australia whilst here at our European base."
Australian cycling has been fortunate to have the support of Mapei since the nineties. Cycling Australia/AIS High Performance Program cyclists who have benefited from the facility include a host of now established road cycling professionals such as four time trial World Champion, Michael Rogers (T-Mobile), Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros-Wurth), Scott Davis (T-Mobile), dual Olympic gold medallist, Graham Brown (Rabobank) and 2003 Tour de France sprint champion, Baden Cooke (Unibet).
Junior Peaks attracts top UK field
More than 60 of the UK's top junior riders will assemble in the Peak District on Sunday to contest the second round of the British Cycling Junior Road Race Series. With a course based on Longnor, four miles south of Buxton - the same roads used for the revised route of last year's Premier Calendar Tour of the Peak - the riders will face three ascents of Axe Edge and two of Hitter Hill before the victor is decided.
Following their dominant performance and overall win for Andrew Griffiths in the Martin Ashfield Classic at the beginning of April, the Glendene CC will be the team to beat. Their lineup also includes Alex Dowsett Junior Peaks winner in 2005), Russell Hampton, Matt Rowe, and Manx men Peter Kennaugh and Jonathan Bellis. However, the Le Coq Sportif trio of Steven Burke, Mark McNally and Adam Bonser are sure to present a challenge, as will the strong Merlin Development Squad including Kevin Barclay and Rhys Lloyd.
Without such strong team support but still likely to figure in the action are Adam Blythe (Pinarello RT), Tom Diggle (Kuota/Biemme) and another Manx challenger in the shape of Warren Flynn (Obri Coaching).The 69 mile race will leave the race headquarters at Longnor Village School at 12pm to complete three laps of the circuit, with the finish on the B5053 just outside the village.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)