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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for August 13, 2006

Edited by Anthony Tan

Clasica San Sebastian wrap-up

Florencio surprises

Xavier Florencio (Bouygues Telecom)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Spanish rider Xavier Florencio (Bouygues) is the surprise winner of the 26th Clasica San Sebastian, beating Stefano Garzelli (Liquigas) and Andrey Kashechkin (Astana) in a 50 rider bunch sprint. Although ProTour leader Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) looked to be the favourite for a bunch kick, he could only manage eighth as Florencio seized the advantage with 200m to go and took the shortest route to the finish.

The race was almost decided between the three heavy hitters: Iban Mayo (Euskaltel), Denis Menchov (Rabobank) and Carlos Sastre (CSC), who had escaped on the Alto de Jaizkibel with 35 km to go. They couldn't gain more than 24 seconds as Caisse d'Epargne in particular led the chase behind. The three were finally hauled back with just under 5 km to go, and a bunch sprint ensued.

Prior to that, there was only one rider who managed to make an early breakaway: Yon Bru (Kaiku), who escaped after around 50 km and was brought back with 50 km to go, having had a maximum lead of 15'10.

Click here for the Full results, report & photos, Live report, and Photos.

Kashechkin satisfied

Repeating his overall performance at the Tour of Germany, Astana's Andrey Kashechkin was very happy with his podium place in the Clasica San Sebastian. "I am very satisfied, because we have done a great race," said the 26 year-old. "The team is obtaining great results in the last races and it is very important for our future."

The champion of Kazakhstan did have something to say about the split on the Alto de Jaizkibel, however, which almost saw Iban Mayo, Denis Menchov and Carlos Sastre fight for the win, and were only reeled in five kilometres from the finish. "After three kilometres of climbing, a few individuals stopped the race momentarily [referring to the Basque protesters - ed.]. Because of it, Mayo, Sastre and Menchov went ahead," said Kashechkin.

Good sensations for Valverde

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

After his performance in the Clasica San Sebastian, few would have believed it was Alejandro Valverde's first race back after breaking his collarbone during the third stage of the Tour de France, a little over one month ago.

When Carlos Sastre, Iban Mayo and Denis Menchov left the field behind on the Alto de Jaizkibel, Alejandro Valverde virtually single-handedly contained the break's lead to no more than 20 seconds. Over the top, his Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne team-mates Iván Gutiérrez, Vladimir Karpets and Pablo Lastras took over from their leader to progressively close the gap, which they did with less than five kilometres to go.

When it came to the bunch sprint, Valverde was the big favourite, but he and the rest of the field were upstaged by a Bouygues Telecom's Xavier Florencio, with the former finishing eighth. "The sprint was a really crazy one," said Valverde.

"In the last curve, I tried to pass on the right side but I was closed in, and after that, it was no longer possible for me to come to the front. I feel very sorry, because my team-mates did a fantastic job today and they really deserve a win to crown it. Anyway, I really want to thank them for what they did for me today."

Continued Valverde, "I had very good sensations during the whole day. I am really satisfied, because it was a very fast race and I was perfectly able to resist, even if I started without having the rhythm of the race in my legs. I rode the whole race in front, and that is of course an excellent signal before the Tour of Spain. It will start in two weeks from now from Malaga and that gives me enough margin to find perfect condition."

Sastre back in top form

Carlos Sastre (CSC)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Spearheading the attack on the often-decisive climb of the Alto de Jaizkibel with Denis Menchov and Iban Mayo, Team CSC's Carlos Sastre appeared to be in a winning position until the final kilometres of the Clasica San Sebastian, a race that eventually saw a relatively unknown Spaniard by the name of Xavier Florencio win in a bunch sprint. Nonetheless, it now appears 31 year-old Sastre has done enough to give himself the green light to ride the upcoming Vuelta a España.

"Carlos was sharp and it was a really good group. Unfortunately, they had headwinds on the flat part towards the finish, so the peloton got an advantage. The whole team did all they could to support Carlos, and we also had the Schleck brothers in the first group," said directeur-sportif Alain Gallopin on team-csc.com.

Virenque hospitalised after cycling accident

Former professional and seven-time mountains at the Tour de France, Richard Virenque, is in hospital following a heavy fall sustained while racing his bike at a five-day amateur event in the French Alps.

"The fork of the bicycle suddenly snapped, and as a result, Richard fell on his face," recalled Virenque's wife Stéphanie, whose husband suffered a broken nose and numerous facial wounds, one of which required 32 stitches and will require cosmetic surgery next week. According to an AFP report, 36 year-old Virenque remains conscious in a Grenoble hospital, attached to a morphine drip.

Comunidad Valenciana to stop August 20

Following an official announcement from the Valencian government, who have chosen to discontinue their sponsorship of the Comunidad Valenciana cycling team, the team indicated they will no longer race as of Sunday week, August 20, according to Cyclingnews.be.

After being excluded from the Tour de France and Vuelta a España based on the ongoing investigation known as 'Operación Puerto', incriminating former assistant sports director José Ignacio Labarta, the Valencian government said "it is no longer viable to project [the ideals of] sport through elite cycling". Instead, the government guaranteed the ongoing support of cycling oriented towards "the promotion of a healthy lifestyle".

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

Voigt's winning ways

Recent Deutschland-Tour victor Jens Voigt continues to prove age is no barrier. In Saturday's Rund um die Hainleite in Germany, the 34 year-old veteran from Team CSC leapt off the front of the peloton with 25 kilometres to go and held off a hard-chasing field to beat Wiesenhof's Robert Retschke and Belgian Frederic Amorison from Lanbouwkrediet-Colnago by 41 seconds.

"At the moment he's untouchable. He has so much strength, as he has been able to keep his top shape after the Tour de France," said CSC directeur-sportif Tristan Hoffman on team-csc.com. "The other teams took turns trying to catch him, and other riders tried to bridge the gap, but they just couldn't reel him in."

Petacchi's progress continues

In the same race and his second race back after fracturing his knee at the Giro d'Italia, Milram sprinter Alessandro Petacchi completed 165 out of 200 kilometres' racing at yesterday's Rund um die Hanileite, with no complaints.

"Today I did some good training. My knee is okay and this is important for me," said Petacchi in a team statement. "I did 165 kilometres of the race because it started to rain in the final and I didn't want to risk [anything]. Tomorrow, I will start at the Bochum Sparkassen and if the weather is good, I would like to finish the race," he said.

Cancellara looking towards world's

Stage victories in Tirreno-Adriatico and the Volta a Catalunya, then, of course, his Paris-Roubaix triumph, the Swiss time trial championship, and last week, two stage wins and the overall in the Tour of Denmark. Now, Fabian Cancellara has his sights on the world championships in Salzburg.

"I believe I'll be chosen as captain for the Swiss team at the world championships," said Cancellara on team-csc.com. "It's a tough course in Salzburg, so I have to train on it a couple of times, but I think it'll suit me well. Of course it all depends on my shape at the time,"

Cancellara wasn't sure about his form a week ago, but his surprise victory in Denmark leaves him with no doubt.

"I wasn't quite sure about my current shape, so I didn't know if I actually had a chance of doing well in the overall standings. I was prepared to work for Stuart O'Grady or Lars Bak, who were in top shape as well. On the other hand, I knew, that if my form was 100 percent, I would be able to win a race like Tour of Denmark," he explained.

The Tour of Denmark was one of the early steps towards his the final season goal at the world's, but before then, the 25 year-old may have the chance to show his skills in the upcoming Vuelta a España. "I believe I'll be on the Vuelta roster," said Cancellara, "but it hasn't been decided yet.

"I had some good training sessions ahead of the Tour of Denmark and I was also able to get some rest in between, so now we'll have to decide, whether me doing the Vuelta would be good for me and the team."

Cancellara admitted he was disappointed to be left off the team's roster for the Tour de France, but is already thinking about the season ahead and being a part of La Grande Boucle in 2007.

"Yes, obviously it was very disappointing, but that's life as a bike rider," he said. "After the team was selected I was in good shape physically, but mentally I was feeling bad. So I took a couple of days without my bike, and then I started focusing on the world championships, cause without a specific goal, you are not able to train 100 percent.

"[Next year], I hope to be in great shape early, so I can do well in Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Later on in the season, I would like to be selected for Tour de France."

Astana for upcoming ProTour races

Astana will be sending the same eight riders to the upcoming Eneco Tour (August 16-23), GP Ouest France - Plouay (August 27) and Tour de Pologne (September 4-10).

Riders: Carlos Abellán, Dariusz Baranowski, Koen de Kort, José Joaquín Rojas, Dani Navarro, José Antonio Redondo, Eladio Sánchez, Iván Santos

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