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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for April 25, 2006

Edited by John Stevenson

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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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Ullrich back at Romandie

Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) at last year's Tour of Germany
Photo ©: Andrea Hübner
Click for larger image

The Tour de Romandie, which starts today in Switzerland, will see the long-awaited return to racing of T-Mobile star Jan Ullrich. However, Ullrich's eyes are not on the prizes at Romandie, but on the longer-term goal of the Tour de France.

"I'm not at the Tour de Romandie to win stages or the overall classification, I'm here to prepare for the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France," Ullrich said on Monday, according to Reuters.

"It's not going to be easy because some of the stages of the race are tough but my goal is to get to the finish in Lausanne. I expect to suffer in the mountains but there is nothing I can do about that."

Ullrich plans to ride the Giro d'Italia in May and peak for the Tour de France in July. He was scheduled to start racing much earlier in the season, but has been suffering from a knee problem, which he said recently is now clear. "I'm completely back on track. Now I can put my push hard on the pedals and my knee doesn't hurt. Even after doing speed training, where I pace behind a motorbike, I don't have any problems anymore."

Nevertheless, starting almost two months behind Tour rivals such as Ivan Basso means Ullrich has a lot of ground to make up and he realizes getting into shape by July is going to hurt. "My plans for the season were different and the Giro will be hard but now I have to make the best of it," he said.

"I've been able to train hard for two weeks. This has given me a lot of confidence for the future."

Gerolsteiner looking for stage places in Romandie

Team Gerolsteiner's goal in the upcoming Tour de Romandie is to do well in the individual stages. Directeur sportif Raimund Dietzen has said he doesn't want to pressure his riders on GC. "Most of them are still building up their form. It's a form test for Georg Totschnig, too," he said.

But if something good happens, Dietzen is of course willing to take it. "When along with good stage results we happen to get a forward place in the GC, then that is naturally even better and a chance that we will want to use."

The team is sending three Swiss riders to the Swiss race: Beat and Markus Zberg and Sven Montgomery. Beat Zberg has won a stage in the race in 1995 and finished third in 1997 and second in 1999. Montgomery was sixth overall in 2001 and won the mountain jersey in 2004.

The full Gerolsteiner line-up for the Tour de Romandie will be: Torsten Hiekmann, Sebastian Lang, Sven Montgomery, Ronny Scholz, Georg Totschnig, Beat Zberg and Markus Zberg.

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Klöden back on the road

T-Mobile's other disaster-plagued rider, Andreas Klöden, is also hopeful that he will be in good shape for the Tour. "Since last Thursday I have been able to ride on the road again," he said of his ongoing recovery from a training crash and shoulder operation.

"The last few weeks were full of training on the roller and physical therapy. I still have some pain, but I can ride for three to four hours a day," said Klöden.

On his website, www.andreas-kloeden.com, he notes that he hopes to continue healing so quickly, "so that I can start racing again soon. Exactly when that will be depends on the further healing process, but right now I am optimistic that, at the latest, I will be able to present myself in good form at the Tour."

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Rabobank reflects on solid LBL

"It's a real pity that I didn't win," Michael Boogerd told his fans on the team's website after his fifth-place finish in Sunday's Liege-Bastogne-Liege. "I can live with it; but I am not happy about it. The team worked really well, until after La Redoute I didn't suffer at all. So that was really nice." Juan Antonio Flecha and Alexandr Kolobnev were in the first serious break of the day. On the Côte de Wanne the peloton took it back. And the other Rabobank riders kept Boogerd out off the wind until then.

"I gave a lot when I was in the front, although I was careful and I kept a bit in reserve. In hindsight you can say that you wasted power then, but it could have been that they didn't get back to us. But I did have enough energy left. Because I could follow easily; even more, I answered a few attacks. I knew I was without chances in the sprint against Valverde though."

"If I had known that things would turn out that way, I would have kept a few bombs in my pocket for the last kilometres. Maybe I would have had the power left to place a last attack. But yeh, if you would know such things in advance..." he told HNB.

Team director Erik Breukink was happy with Boogerd's race. "When he got injured earlier, he focused on the last two classics of the spring. He suffered a lot in the Tour of the Basque country, but the results came. Michael is a man with character, he can do those things."

"Michael took his chance. He came really close, but unfortunately it wasn't to be. And besides that, we got through the hard race pretty well. No injuries, no punctures. And in that surprisingly big front group we were well represented. CSC broke their teeth on that one; something we luckily didn't have to do."

Courtesy Sabine Sunderland

Horner saves face for Davitamon

Chris Horner, the American rider of the Davitamon-Lotto team was the one to make great publicity for his team during the last spring classic of the season.

He was in the picture on La Redoute and also made the group of twelve which contained all favourites for the win. "But at that moment, I knew that it was a no-win situation already," Horner told Sportwereld. "With all those fast men in there, there wasn't a possibility for me to win. I should have tried earlier. I'm sorry I didn't accompany Boogerd and Rodriguez on the Côte de Sprimont. But yeh, although I tried it almost everywhere, I couldn't keep jumping with everything and everybody, could I? This is a classic of 262km!

"I am happy about how my form is and the possibilities offered to me by the team management. I feel good in this team."

Team manager Marc Sergeant on the other hand doesn't feel that good after assessing his team's performance so far in the 2006 season.

"We missed out on the prizes. We do lack a few guys who can finish things of, a scoring forward line. And yes, it's only good if you win."

Before the Ronde Van Vlaanderen the team's main sponsor Marc Coucke burdened the riders with a lot of pressure. Too little real racing by his riders, and that wasn't to his liking. Although Van Petegem finished a decent fourth in the Ronde, and obtained a third place in Paris-Roubaix - if it weren't for the disqualification - the results aren't regarded as good enough for the Belgian Pro Tour team.

"Every balance without a registered win isn't good." Sergeant told HLN. "Van Petegem was there for his races, but he was never in the running for the victory. In Amstel we saw Leukemans, but he wasn't good enough. And in Liege, we sprinted for the win for the first time with Horner."

"It all went too stiff. The riders were all sitting in the bus, disappointed. They know themselves that it wasn't good. It's true what they say about the winning mood: one victory - like Mattan last year in Gent-Wevelgem - would have set us free. But now everyone was just thinking "we have to, we have to" but it doesn't work at all.

While the team sponsor and manager are completing the revision of the start of season performances, part of the team can save the furniture in the Tour of Romandie starting tomorrow. With a strong line-up in this stage race, the bad spring classics period might soon be forgotten. Robbie McEwen will be aiming for sprint victories, while Cadel Evans more than likely will be getting the opportunity to improve on his less-than-expected performance of the last week by going for the overall. Chris Horner, Mario Aerts, Bart Dockx, Bert Roesems, Wim Vanhuffel and Johan Vansummeren make up the rest of the team.

Courtesy Sabine Sunderland

East Coast Velo wants riders

US club, East Coast Velo, is looking for three to five women racers to field a composite team in this year's Liberty Classic, June 11 in Philadelphia. Interested riders should posses a current UCI license and be at cat 1 or 2 level, said team manager Dave Fischer. Interested riders should contact Fischer at jakobsno1@comcast.net for more info regarding the team.

$150,000+ up for grabs in new Chicago race

The Tour of Elk Grove is a new two-day criterium event that will be held in suburban Chicago over the weekend of August 12-13, 2006. According to the organisers, the total prize purse, $153,000, is one of the largest in US racing.

The event - full name the Alexian Brothers International Cycling Classic Tour of Elk Grove - will be held within the Elk Grove village area and will comprise two days of criteriums for all categories, culminating each day in a men's pro-am international event with a first prize of $25,000 for the 100km August 12 race.

"The Village and our residents are very excited to be hosting this unique sports event that will spotlight the world's top professional and amateur athletes," said Mayor Craig Johnson. "It will also showcase how great a sport criterium cycling is to a broader American audience."

For more information see www.tourofelkgrove.com.

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