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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for April 27, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Romandie stage 1 wrap-up

McEwen gets first Euro win for Davitamon

Robbie McEwen (Davitamon Lotto)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

In the Tour de Romandie's s first stage on a loop from Payarne back to the same city, Davitamon finally scored its first European victory this season with Robbie McEwen outsprinting a strong Mirco Lorenzetto (Milram) and Daniele Bennati (Lampre). Despite the rainy conditions in the race finale, the Australian sprinter didn't hold back as he had been eager to cross the finish line in first position again after a few setbacks this early season.

"I've been telling the boys since yesterday that this was our only chance for a sprint and I wanted to win it, because I've had a hard time since, well, since I crashed and broke my rib on the fifth of March [at the Three Days of West Vlaanderen - ed]," McEwen told Cyclingnews.

"I rode Tirreno with a broken rib - basically rode everything with my rib broken and just couldn't go 100 percent - but now I'm finally back. This is really my first race in almost a month, so this is a good comeback race and I knew this was my only chance."

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The stage saw Dmitri Konyshev (LPR) on a 120 km-long solo in front of the bunch, but inevitably the Russian was reeled in on the relatively flat parcours. Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery) retained his slender lead over Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) - but this tight situation could loosen up tomorrow as stage 2 will have two Category 1 climbs (km 56,2 and km 157,7) along the way and a total 1,810 metres' elevation. April 27 will be one of the most difficult days in the saddle - maybe one for those often-aggressive Liberty Seguros guys, like Jörg Jaksche or David Etxebarria. Savoldelli shouldn't have any problems in the hills, saying today he's been doing specific training in the mountains in order to be ready for the Dolomiti at the Giro d'Italia.

Also see: Full results, report & photos

Liège fall-out ramps Giro rivalry

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

With the main protagonists of the upcoming Giro d'Italia front and center at last weekend's Liège-Bastogne-Liège classic, the challenge between CSC's Ivan Basso, Lampre-Fondital's Damiano Cunego and 2005 ProTour winner Danilo Di Luca of Liquigas-Bianchi became more acute as each rider was able to judge each others' condition in a fast, hard edition of L-B-L. Basso's CSC squad has been exceptionally strong this season, and the 'Doyenne' was no exception as the Danish squad flexed its muscles and took command of last Sunday's classic by imposing an infernal pace at the front in the second half of the race.

Ivan Basso (CSC)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

"Our team (CSC) tried every way to get the win at Liège-Bastogne-Liège", explained Basso post-race. "The only mistake we made was when Bettini attacked at the top of the Sart-Tillman climb. I was behind and was surprised by his move. And so was Schleck. Bettini's move was a good one and it could have been one to go with. But in any case, I'm feeling good form now." Commenting on his likely Giro rival Cunego, Basso explained, "Cunego? I knew he had good form; all the riders who are favourites for the Giro were up front at Liège." When La Gazzetta dello Sport's Gigi Perna asked Basso if he knew Cunego was marking him closely all day, he replied in the affirmative. "Yes, I realized he pulled me back when I attacked in the final kilometre, and that wasn't the only time."

Damiano Cunego (Lampre)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Cunego was happy for his podium performance at L-B-L. "It was a good performance for me because almost no-one thought I would be a favourite," explained the rider from Cerro Veronese. "I did better than expected and next year when I ride this race, I want to try and win." As for his emerging rivalry with CSC's Ivan Basso, Cunego commented that "CSC worked hard all day and Basso tried some attacks, but he just wasn't fast in the sprint."

Danilo di Luca (Liquigas)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Less evident that either Basso or Cunego was Di Luca, but the Liquigas-Bianchi man, who ended up 9th in Liège, is behind both riders in his Giro preparation. "I felt good on the climb of St. Nicolas and wanted to attack," explained Di Luca, but that messed me up in the sprint, when I just didn't have the legs. Too bad, because I think I rode really well on Sunday." All three ambitious Italians have their next appointment at the start of the Giro d'Italia in Seraing, Belgium on Saturday, May 6.

Gerrans back in mid-May

2006 Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under winner Simon Gerrans will be back in competition at the Tour de Lorraine in France on May 18, his team AG2R has announced. After undergoing two operations to his collarbone - the second because of an infection of the wound - Gerrans is currently training in Australia. He was able to start cycling again on a home trainer three weeks ago and has returned to the road since last week. Gerrans will fly back to Europe on May 15.

Bäckstedt back on the bike

After crashing in the Trofeo Mallorca on the opening day of his 2006 season, fighting his way through Tirreno Adriatico and Milano-San Remo, Liquigas' Magnus Bäckstedt was finally forced off his bike with a split in the tendon behind his left knee. The tall Swede was ordered to rest for up to six weeks to allow the tendon to heal. He has since been under the care of Doctor Paul Sutton, the surgeon who helped rebuild the knee of top British track cyclist Tony Gibb after a career-threatening crash, as well as Allison McQueen-Luzar, one of the only practitioners in bio-resonance therapy in the UK.

"I've been very lucky to have had top specialists such as Paul and Allison dedicated to getting me back on my bike," said Bäckstedt. "The bio-resonance therapy is quite new and has helped speed up the healing process in the tendon. Tendon injuries are not as straight forward as a strained muscle or broken bones, they take longer to regenerate themselves."

Bäckstedt has started this week with short turbo trainer workouts that will gradually increase over the coming weeks. "I can't express the frustration I have felt with this injury," he continued. "When you crash and break something or lose large amounts of skin that you normally get when you crash, it's easier to deal with because you can physically see the injury. With this it's tougher to deal with mentally, but I have had incredible support from my family and would like to thank fans all over the World for their messages of support. I also need to give special thanks to my coach Steve Benton and manager Martin McCrossan for keeping me sane through it all."

The next target for Bäckstedt is to be fit and ready to tackle the Dauphiné Libéré which starts on June 4. He will then look to get back in shape to see if he can go one better than his sprint into Karlsruhe on stage 7 of last year's Tour de France, where he narrowly missed out to Robbie McEwen.

Voigt to Giro and Tour

CSC's Bjarne Riis has confirmed that Jens Voigt will be lining up for the very first time at both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France this year. The German, whose season start was overshadowed by an injury to his shoulder suffered during the off-season, will be accompanying his team leader Ivan Basso to both Grand Tours, where the Italian aims at nothing less than the victory.

Crédit Agricole saves Caucchioli for Tour

At the Giro d'Italia beginning in ten days, Crédit Agricole will be without Pietro Caucchioli, who finished eighth in last year's event and third in 2002 with former team Alessio. The Italian climber will instead participate in the Tour de France for his French outfit.

As for the upcoming Giro, Crédit Agricole will send nine of the following ten riders to the start in Belgium: Francesco Bellotti, Alexandre Botcharov, Mads Kaggestad, William Bonnet, Christophe Edaleine, Patrice Halgand, Rémi Pauriol, Benoît Poilvet, Yannick Talabardon and Nicolas Vogondy.

UCI creates Academy

The International Cycling Union (UCI) has announced that it has established the so-called UCI Academy in partnership with IF Education. Over the next 12-18 months, this Academy offer specific courses for athletes as well as for Sport and Major Event Executives. All executive courses will be produced in conjunction with Manchester Business School at the University of Manchester.

The UCI currently has Member Federations in over one hundred and sixty nations and hopes that the UCI Academy services will become another means to fulfilling the UCI mission of "promoting cycling in every country throughout the world and at every level."

Committed personally to this new initiative, the President of the UCI Pat McQuaid said on Tuesday, April 26 that "many athletes are exposed to constant travel for training and competition purposes. The UCI Academy will assist them to continue their studies whilst maintaining the highest quality of their training, helping to ensure a holistic approach to their personal and career development. It will provide these athletes with the essential skills to move easily into their chosen career when they retire from competition."

Kohl: the to-do and the nettles

At the ongoing Tour de Romandie, T-Mobile's Berni Kohl is riding his first race ever with team star Jan Ullrich, and is quite impressed with all the to-do and fuss around the German Tour de France hope. "It's really crazy, you can barely concentrate on cycling," Kohl wrote on his personal website. "Before this I never rode a race with him, so I hadn't experienced the media interest first hand yet. But I don't want to be distracted by it all and will concentrate on the race."

How well he concentrated on Wednesday's stage is open to debate, although the cause of his "downfall" was certainly not the media interest in Ullrich. There was a crash on the right side of the road and as the TV helicopter zoomed in on it, a magenta-clad figure on the left side slid gently away and went somersaulting down the bank into a ditch.

"Since there weren't any mountains today in which I could show myself, I had to think of something else," he elegantly explained. "Well, that spectacular crash wasn't really planned. But nothing happened to me, and that's the main thing." Well, almost nothing happened to him: "The only problem with the crash was that while I landed soft, I didn't land on a nice lawn, but in a field of nettles. Unbelievable how my whole body burns now! I hope it goes away quickly, if it stays like this I won't be able to even think of relaxing tonight."

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Top women's field for Tour of Gila

For the 20th annual Teleperformance's Tour of the Gila bike race in Silver City, New Mexico, from May 3-7, 2006, a top field of pro women are expected. Some of the top teams and riders will be Colavita/Cooking Light, featuring Dotsie Bausch and Brooke Ourada, CPT-Colnago with Marisa Asplund and Nicky Wangsgard, and Velo Bella/Kona featuring Nicole Freedman. In addition, US National Road Champion Katheryn Curi heads up a strong Webcor Builders-Platinum Advisors team that also includes Erinne Willock and Betina Hold. US National TT Champion Kristen Armstrong leads a powerful TEAm Lipton, which also includes former US criterium champion Laura Van Gilder.

The Tour of the Gila began in 1987 and has become part of USA Cycling's National Racing Calendar. It is recognized internationally with participants coming from Canada, New Zealand, Germany, Russia, Mexico, Colombia and Australia.

TRIA women’s cycling team announced

TRIA, a new women’s pro cycling team has been announced. With title sponsorship from the TRIA Orthopaedic Center, an orthopaedic facility in Minneapolis, Minnesota, riders on TRIA will focus on National Racing Calendar (NRC) races in 2006.

Teamwork is the foundation of TRIA. Manager Eric Lynch, who has worked with all of the team’s riders in previous years, said, "The TRIA riders are team players with great attitudes. I’m excited about the range of skills on the squad - we’ve got it all covered." Eric expects the team to do especially well at stage races with challenging courses.

Click here for the full announcement & roster.

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