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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for April 23, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones

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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).

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Women's World Cup moves to Berne

The fifth round of the UCI world cup takes place in Berne, Switzerland - a new stop on the women's world cup circuit this year. The race is six laps of a 20.8 km city circuit (an old Bundesliga course) for 124.8 km total, with a fairly challenging 1 km climb in the middle of each lap. Despite this, the rest of the circuit is flat and should suit the sprinters.

The current leader of the world cup is still Ina Teutenberg (T-Mobile), who holds a slender 3 point advantage over Fleche Wallonne winner Nicole Cooke (Univega). A distant third at the moment is two-time world cup winner Oenone Wood (Nürnberger), and all three riders will be among the favourites for Sunday's race. Teutenberg has a strong team behind her, with Magali Le Floch recovered from illness, and Wood will have world champion Regina Schleicher at her side.

Mirjam Melchers (Buitenpoort Flexpoint) is in good form at the moment, and will be looking at improving her world cup position in the wake of her Tour of Flanders win. Her team worked strongly for a victory in Wednesday's Fleche Wallonne, but she had to settle for 33rd while her teammate Amber Neben finished fifth. Tina Mayolo Pic (USA National Team) and Olga Slioussareva (Russian National Team) are other sprinters to watch.

Edita Pucinskaite (Nobili Rubinetterie Menikini Cogeas) finished just behind Neben in Fleche Wallonne, and could be a breakaway danger on Sunday. Local hopes will rest on Nicole Brändli (Bigla), while Fabiana Luperini (Fassa Bortolo) can never be counted out.

Bates hoping to be 'useful' in Bern

By Anthony Tan

Natalie Bates (AA-Drink Cycling Team)
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
(Click for larger image)

Recently crowned Commonwealth Games road champion Natalie Bates found the going a little tough in last Wednesday's Flèche Wallonne, even though she said it didn't start off that way. "The first 50k was actually quite slow and quite steady, not much happening - that's why I was thinking, 'Oh, what's going to happen here?'" she recalled to Cyclingnews, shortly after crossing the line with countrywoman Kathy Watt for 43rd place and two and a half minutes behind an unbeatable Nicole Cooke.

"Then probably four climbs from the end, they started putting [on the pressure], I'm not sure who was being the most aggressive. Going onto the second last climb, it was quite amazing, Buitenpoort had the whole team on the front, the six of them going flat-stick before turning onto that second last climb [Côte de Ahin]. I went out the back at that point, so I can't tell you who drove it over the top, unfortunately... I don't even know who won!" she exclaimed.

When we told her, Bates said it was a 'very predictable podium' with T-Mobile's Judith Arndt taking second and Trixi Worrack from Equipe Nürnberger third. "It's the kind of climb that suits a certain kind of rider.

"That's the thing with Cooke - you can never underestimate anything that she's going to do. She's the kind of rider that can still have enough punch to get up a climb like this, she's not the kind of person who sits in and looks after herself all day - that's why she is so scary, she's capable of anything."

After her surprise victory in Melbourne almost one month ago, the 26 year-old blonde-haired, blue-eyed Aussie from Sydney's west and sister of Australian road champion Katherine Bates says that it's been a bit of a whirlwind trip for her since landing in Europe five days before the women's Tour of Flanders, which marked the third round of the World Cup. "I got over here on the Wednesday after Comm Games and lined up for Flanders on the Sunday, which was a real shock to the system - I think [it was] the cold more than anything.

"But in saying that, this [Flèche Wallonne] is only my second big race; I did a race in Germany two weekends ago, which I won and that was nice, but much smaller race. I'm just getting the race legs back after a bit of downtime, so today was getting a bit of the cobwebs out."

But with Flanders and Flèche now behind her, the Aussie from AA-Drink Cycling Team is hoping today's fifth round of the women's World Cup in Switzerland, Berner-Rundfahrt (Tour de Berne), will see her back in the thick of the action. "I really like the course in Bern on Sunday, so I hope I can be a bit more use there," Bates grinned.

How many paws can you find in Roeselare?

By Miwako Sasaki

The Wielermuseum in Roeselare:
Photo ©: Miwako Sasaki
(Click for larger image)
Freddy Maertens (middle)
Photo ©: Miwako Sasaki
(Click for larger image)
The smallest winner, Jomme
Photo ©: Miwako Sasaki
(Click for larger image)

There was a special event in Roeselare, Belgium this week, to commemorate the passing of the Ronde van Vlaanderen through the town on April 2 - the first time in 26 years that the Ronde has visited Roeselare. The race passed by Roeselare's Wielermuseum (Cycling Museum), where local and dual world champion (1976 and 1981) Freddy Maertens works.

The municipal government of Roeselare celebrated the occasion with a special event, "Op Zoek naar de Leeuw" - in other words "Search for the Lion". De Leeuw (the Lion) is synonymous with Flanders, and Flemish flags with a rampant lion on a yellow background are famous all around the world.

80 caricature paintings of Belgian riders, like Tom Boonen, Peter Van Petegem, Nico Mattan, Jempi Monseré, and also Maertens, were drawn on the windows of the shops, cafés and restaurants in Roeselare, by Filip Cardoen. He is a famous artist in Belgian cycling and his works are also on display in Wielermuseum. This time, Cardoen didn't draw only riders, but also some paws of the lion on his 80 works in the windows. And there was a competition to count these paws...

Over 1000 people participated in this event in Roeselare and 40 people could count the right answer: 142 paws! Those getting it right came to the Wielermuseum on Thursday evening and their prizes were drawn by lottery. James Lahousse, Martijn Monteyne and Jurgen Sierens - all football players from KSV Roeselare, and Roeselare's Sharon Van Dromme (Vlaanderen-Capri Sonne-T Interim) were all present as celebrity drawers, along with Freddy Maertens himself.

The first prize was a Scatto racing bicycle worth €850, won by Stefaan Sierens. Unfortunately, he couldn't come to the event, but his mother-in-law got the prize instead of him. Sierens and his family searched for the paws in the city five times and finally got the right answer. "Sometimes the paws in the window were hidden behind the chairs in cafés, so we had to move the chairs to count the paws!" said his family.

The second prize (MTB) winner also couldn't come the event. 13 year old Pieter Houbaert had football training that evening and his brother, 6 year-old Jomme, and their mother got the MTB instead of him.

After the lottery, the winners also had time to taste the new brand of fruit beer called "Mystic", which may or may not have had an effect on their paw counting powers...


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Miwako Sasaki

Unibet impatient over Omloop's status

The team is getting impatient with the case of Geert Omloop, who was suspended on March 23 after police searched his house looking for drugs. team management want an answer within a week from the court in Turnhout over the status of Omloop: whether he should remain suspended or resume racing.

Jo de Haan dies

Former Dutch pro Jo de Haan has died in Huijbergen on Wednesday, aged 69. After an amateur career with 70 victories, he became a successful pro, winning 36 races including Paris-Tours. In 1963, he finished third in the World Championships in Ronse behind Benoni Beheyt and Rik van Looy. He finished his career prematurely in 1966 suffering from an Achilles injury.

Cycling team benefits St. Louis Children's Hospital

The Dent Wizard-Maplewood Bicycle Cycling Team presented by the Hautly Cheese Company team is taking a more personal approach to fundraising. Instead of mailing a cheque to the St. Louis Children's Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, 25 members of the team rode through Forest Park on Saturday to personally deliver the donation to Janice Bailey, senior director of development at the hospital.

The team raised $6745 by cycling 1680 minutes (28 hours) at the Get Hooked on Health Expo in January at America's Center. "We support development of initiatives that promote wellness of children and the families the hospital serves," said Alan Hautly, owner of Hautly Cheese. "We hope to encourage a healthy lifestyle through a balanced diet and exercise."

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