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Tour de Romandie Cycling News for April 30, 2006

Edited by Anthony Tan

Savoldelli does the smart thing

Slow and steady for Van Den Broeck

By Anthony Tan in Lausanne

Discovery Channel assistant team manager Lorenzo Lapage
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
(Click for larger image)

Suffering from diarrhoea during the third stage of the Tour de Romandie, early race leader Paolo Savoldelli decided it was best to call it quits and not start yesterday's tough mountain stage in Sion.

Asked if the problems began the night before, Discovery Channel assistant team manager Lorenzo Lapage told Cyclingnews that Savoldelli only started feeling queezy during the stage. "No, they started in the race; I think he ate something wrong, but mentally speaking, after the race he was okay and he felt better," said Lapage.

"He went three or four times to the toilet, he slept at the hotel that night and went home in the morning. Now, he says the problems are over, so I'm pretty sure it was something he ate. When you have a stage like that and you have problems with your stomach, you lose so much energy, so it was better to send him home to recover, so that he's ready for the Giro."

But a team without a leader is not really a team at all, and Lapage admits it's been difficult to stay motivated since Savoldelli's departure. "Of course, when you lose your leader like that, it's not easy to find the motivation again. But we have a young rider, Jurgen Van Den Broeck, who again showed he's very good, so we're going to try and put him in a good position, and let's hope he can do a top 20 overall."

Since turning professional three years ago, the 23 year-old Belgian has been slowly getting better, and rode a solid support role in the Spring Classics. This week, Van Den Broeck has performed consistently throughout the race, finishing the fourth stage in 20th place which saw him 22nd overall going into the final time trial in Lausanne, 5'25 behind race leader Alberto Contador. He's a strong rider, so today's parcours should aid his chances of that top 20 finish.

"That's what we told him when he became a professional," said Lapage about Van Den Broeck's steady progress. "A lot of people criticised us; he was too young, they said. We gave him a lot of time, and he's a rider who needs a lot of time. But we've seen every year he's made progress, and in the Classics this year, he was very, very strong - so if we give him more time, he will become a very good rider."

Quizzed on when Discovery Channel will decide on their final nine they take to the Giro, Lapage said the team already know: "I think we'll announce that after [the race], but we already have a plan [of who we will take], so we know who's going, and if no-one gets sick, we already know in our heads who we want.

"Obviously Paolo for sure, Pavel Padrnos, Benoit Joachim - those guys for sure are going to the Giro. With Paolo, we saw in the first stages he is ready like last year," he said, dispelling the possibility that Savoldelli's recent sickness will affect his ability to defend the title he won last year.

CSC know their Giro nine

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"I was young once, too, y'know!" says Sunderland

By Anthony Tan in Lausanne

Hey, we know you!
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
(Click for larger image)

Team CSC, considered to be Discovery Channel's biggest arch rival at the Giro with their man Ivan Basso, has also decided on their line-up next Saturday in Seraing, despite team manager Bjarne Riis telling the press a week and a half ago that the Tour de Romandie would determine the final selection.

"We more or less made the decision before the race started that nobody here was riding for a position [on general classification] and that the team was selected before the race started," said Scott Sunderland, CSC directeur-sportif at the Tour de Romandie along with Alain Gallopin.

"Due to a few a few reasons, I know there was one rider going for the last place but he felt more comfortable doing a different program; I know he would have loved to have been in the Giro - especially riding for the win - but he felt it would be better for himself [to skip the Giro] to be better later in the season, and maybe the possibility for a Tour de France berth if he did otherwise. So, yeah, our final selection for the team will be announced early next week."

Sure enough, their best-placed riders, Andrea Peron and Bobby Julich, were by no means going into the red on yesterday's mountain stage in Sion, finishing between five and six and a half minutes down, although both are still in the top 30 riders going into today's final time trial. As for the others, Sunderland said there hasn't been any real standout performances this week from the other teams.

"At this point, no - I think it's more or less the riders that were going to be good. Contador was very strong but he already showed last year how strong he can be, especially in the shorter stages. Everyone else is where we expected them to be and probably where they expected themselves to be, so yeah, no really big surprises, just really confirmation of the riders who are good," he said.

The former veteran professional who rode his last year with Alessio-Bianchi before joining team management also believed Savoldelli's early exit from the race was the only smart choice, particularly in light of what lies ahead. "If you're sick and you've got a stomach problem, you've completely depleted yourself and your immune system, so that's not good. When you're sick, it's better to go home and get recovery - it's too close to the Giro now - it's just the wise thing to do."

An interesting tidbit is that Sunderland actually started off his career in Switzerland 19 years ago, so we asked him if the country brought back some fond memories for him, and if he misses trading in his bike for a car.

Well, I've been riding three times this week!" he retorted with a hearty chuckle. "But not racing - I've got that out of my system, I've got that totally out of my system now!

"But no, it was good to catch up with some people, especially at the prologue there; there was a lot of people in Geneva I know and a lot of supporters from those years and people from my old teams, so it's been very nice to be in these grounds again. But I mean, so many of these races are very familiar to me... I've got good and bad memories from all of 'em!

"Even now, I still get people coming up and asking to sign postcards even from almost 20 years ago. Some pretty young riders [in Team CSC] will come up and go, 'Oh, what's that photo?' - and they look it at and then at me, and go 'Ah!' I was young once, too, y'know!" laughed Sunderland.

Jaksche finding form

By Anthony Tan in Lausanne

After a bout of sickness earlier this month, Liberty Seguros-Wrth's Jrg Jaksche has found his feet again, backing up a solid performance in Lige-Bastogne-Lige with very strong riding at the Tour de Romandie, where he currently lies fourth overall.

"Yes, of course," said the 29 year-old from Ansbach, Germany to Cyclingnews when asked if he was hoping for a good performance this week. I've been a little bit sick, but now, I'm really content with my performance and how things are going here."

Was he content with his ride at Lige last Sunday? "Yeah, well, y'know... what means happy?" Jaksche answered rhetorically. "We tried to bring Vino in a good position but he didn't have the legs to attack, and that's how the situation developed."

Asked where he'd liked to finish at the end of this race, the German was coy about his chances: "Um, ya, let's see... It would be nice if I could hold it or improve it, but you could also have a good or bad day and lose everything. As I said, let's wait and see and then [I'll comment]."

Okay Jrg, we'll wait...

Bertogliati out of Giro

By Anthony Tan in Lausanne

On Friday's third stage of the Tour de Romandie from Bienne-Leysin, Saunier Duval-Prodir rider Rubens Bertogliati was one of the riders involved in a mass pile-up close to the town of Yverdon. Although not finishing the stage, it was first thought the 26-year-old Swiss was not seriously hurt, but has now been revealed he suffered a broken kneecap as a result of the crash, and will no longer be able to participate in the upcoming Giro d'Italia.

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