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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for August 20, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones and Anthony Tan, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Eneco Tour stage 3 wrap-up

Easy-peasy for Tommeke

As easy win coming up
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Tom Boonen's win on Saturday in the town of Westmalle, home of the eponymous Belgian brew, increased his victories this season to 19 - even though his initial intention was to set up one of his team-mates. As a consequence, the world champion continued to hold onto his lead in the Eneco Tour of Benelux, but with tomorrow's time trial in Landgraaf, it's likely his spell will come to an end by Sunday evening.

"I pulled the sprint for [Steven] De Jongh or for [Wouter] Weylandt. I went hard and I think that Steven got a push. Then I saw Max van Heeswijk coming back and bent over double again in the last metres," said Boonen.

"I don't find it so bad that I have to ride in the red jersey again on Sunday," he said, referring to his comment in the newspapers after Friday's stage that he didn't want to wear the jersey, preferring his rainbow stripes.

"In the time trial, I can't wear my rainbow jersey anyway. And because of that, the affair really got blown out of proportion," Boonen remarked. "I think tomorrow [Sunday] it will be quite difficult to defend my leader's jersey in the time trial. My next objective will be a good performance in Monday's stage that finishes in my hometown of Balen."

Click here for the Full results, report & photos.

Gutiérrez ready for TT

Jose Iván Gutiérrez (Caisse d'Epargne) finished stage 3 in sixth place, and kept his fifth place overall on the general classification. "Under the red kite of the last kilometre, I was in the perfect position," he said right after the finish. "At that moment I was ninth and at 400 metres from the line I was in fact sixth, just on the world champion’s wheel.

My first intention was not to do the sprint, because I have no chance facing such sprinters like Boonen and Cadamuro. I was simply very attentive because the last kilometres are so fast it is very easy to lose some time there. You have to consider the fact that the bunch broke every day at the finish of the stage.

"It was very important for me to maintain my current position so that tomorrow I can take the start of the time trial in one of the very last positions. I am already completely concentrated on that stage because I think it will make the real decision in this race and I really believe in my possibilities."

Julich leaves Eneco Tour

At the start of the third stage of the Eneco Tour in Beek, a notable absentee was defending champion Bobby Julich from Team CSC, the American suffering from fatigue after an already long season.

"Bobby didn't have any strength left following a couple of stages with crosswinds and several crashes. He was completely worn out both physically and mentally, so we decided he should get some rest instead," explained sports director Tristan Hoffman on

Going into Sunday's time trial, the best-placed Team CSC rider is Karsten Kroon, who lies 13th overall together with Thomas Dekker (Rabobank) and Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux), 23 seconds off the lead of Tom Boonen.

"Karsten received good support from his team-mates and is well prepared for Sunday," said Hoffman. "He did a lot of training on his time trial bike [leading] up to this race, so hopefully he won't lose too much time to his rivals in the overall standings; if that's the case, we believe he's able to get one or two good results in the final stages of the race."

An interview with Bernhard Kohl

To thine own self be true

Shakespeare's cautionary words in Hamlet have been heeded by Bernhard Kohl. Rather than staying at T-Mobile for another season, he is following his instincts and heading to German rival team Gerolsteiner. Susan Westemeyer finds out the reasons behind Kohl's career change and reflects on the young Austrian's early career successes.

Bernhard Kohl (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Berni Kohl is a young rider on the way up. After a modest debut year in 2005, he has proved himself this year with such accomplishments as third place overall in the Dauphine Libéré and winning the Austrian championship. He is not one to let such success turn his head, though, saying, "I must now stay true to myself and then I am sure that I will achieve even more."

However, he will be looking to make those achievements at a new team, as he has already announced that he is leaving T-Mobile team for Team Gerolsteiner.

Why the move? "At T-Mobile there are many riders with similar qualities to mine. I think that I will be able to use my abilities better at Gerolsteiner," he said. For example, "In Rogers, Sinkewitz and Gerdemann, there are three young riders with similar abilities and goals to mine on the team, as well as such established riders as Klöden and others. It is difficult to satisfy all these riders' wishes."

He has nothing negative to say about T-Mobile, however, "I have always felt well there," he said. "I had my chances at T-Mobile, for example at the Dauphine. Everyone was very helpful whenever I had questions."

Click here for the full interview

Pereiro back for Clásica de Los Puertos

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Oscar Pereiro, the winner of the Tour de France if Floyd Landis is found guilty of doping, will return to competition at the Clásica de Los Puertos, which will be disputed on Sunday. The Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears rider is coming back less than a week before the Vuelta a España, where he intends to participate alongside team captain Alejandro Valverde.

The Clásica de Los Puertos consists of 146 kilometres of selective, mountainous terrain. Two ascents of the cat. 3 La Serranilla, the cat. 2 Los Leones and the cat. 1 Navacerrada will suffice to break the peloton, and it will be a good test before the Vuelta. Despite this, the only ProTour team starting is Caisse d'Epargne Illes Balears. Professional Spanish teams Comunidad Valenciana (in its last race), Kaiku, Andalucía Paul Versan and Relax, as well as continental teams Massi, Spiuk, Orbea, Nicolas Mateos, Viña Magna and a Spanish U23 team will take part.

Antequera: "Valverde and Freire as leaders"

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Oscar Freire and Alejandro Valverde in the road race, and Jose Iván Gutiérrez in the time trial: that's Spanish selector Paco Antequera's plan for the World Championships in Salzburg. But Antequera will wait until after the Vuelta before deciding on the group of riders that will take part in the World's.

"Previous experience, as well as the nature of the parcours, have created a plan that will be based on Freire and Valverde as leaders, and with another rider as a joker," said Antequera on the RFEC website.

Spain will be allowed a maximum of nine riders in the World's, in line with the other top nations. Who will be Spain's joker? "Astarloa has some physical problems, and until he knows how he is going, I don't know if I can have him. It could also be Perdiguero, but it depends on how the Vuelta goes." Another rider who is almost fixed in Antequera's schemes is Oscar Pereiro. "Not because he has won the Tour, but because I liked what he did last year in Madrid a lot."

Antequera does not know the parcours in Salzburg yet, "although I have some references from Juan Carlos Martin, and the road circuit is similar to the Madrid one, but perhaps a little harder."

At the moment, the Spanish selector has already followed the national squad in the Vuelta a Burgos and in Clásica de San Sebastián, although he has not drawn too many new conclusions. "I cannot say that Gutiérrez has surprised me in Burgos, because I know him perfectly. I liked the attitude of Xavier Florencio in San Sebastián a lot. He is a rider who has been up there in previous years, but has remained on the sidelines. And now, for Salzburg, he could have that opportunity."

World Championships for Ballarat?

By Mal Sawford in Ballarat

Australian Cycling Grand Prix director John Craven closed proceedings at a gala dinner in Ballarat last night with the promise "that what started today in a small way in Learmonth will, believe me, become the next big thing in Australian cycling!"

A new addition to the Tattersall's Cup series alongside the established tours of Gippsland, Murray River and Tasmania, the three event Australian Cycling Grand Prix culminates with the Victorian Open Road Championships road races on the Buninyong circuit – which hosted the Australian Open Road Championships from 2002 to 2004.

Craven's Caribou Publications has also secured the rights, in conjunction with the City of Ballarat, to return the Australian Championships to Buninyong in 2007, 2008 and 2009, but Craven has his sights set even higher.

"The Australian titles are back where they belong in Buninyong, which will be known as the home of the Australian Open Championships," Craven said "and maybe one day the home of the World Championships!"

Craven believes that the 10 kilometre circuit which features a mixture of uphill climbs, fast winding downhills, stunning views and well maintained roads is the premier road circuit in Australia. On the Buninyong circuit, with the combination of his enthusiastic and determined team, and the support of local and state government, he believes he could stage a World Championships equal to any held outside of Europe.

Van Heeswijk to Rabobank?

"We can use another sprinter besides Oscar Freire," said Rabobank team manager Theo de Rooij to De Limburger when asked to confirm if Discovery Channel sprinter Max van Heeswijk is joining the team next season.

De Rooij admitted the 33 year-old's participation at the Tour de France is an important topic of conversation with the negotiations; since van Heeswijk joined his current team in 2003, he has not being included on their roster for Tour. De Limburger also suggests that if signed, the Dutchman will take the place of Australian Graeme Brown, who recently found his feet and won two stages of the Deutschland Tour.

According to van Heeswijk's agent, Paul the Geyter, it's a matter of days before the contract is signed: "There are still a couple of details that must be finalised, but they are only dots and commas," he said.

Zberg re-signs with Gerolsteiner

Markus Zberg has signed a new two-year contract with Team Gerolsteiner, which was announced on his Web site, "It is relatively easy to make a new contract when the team wants to keep you and I absolutely want keep riding with this team," he said.

"Our team has further developed itself this year. The young riders are already at a very high level." The 32 year-old added "Next to pursuing my own goals, it will be my duty to help the young riders in the races. And that is a lot of fun!"

Aussie sprinters continue winning form

Dual Olympic and Commonwealth Games champion, Ryan Bayley, has claimed the 'Fastest Man on Wheels' title at the Leigh Valley Velodrome in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania.

Bayley defeated American Gideon Massie in two straight rides, with team-mate Shane Perkins posting another solid performance to claim bronze in two straight heats from Canadian Travis Smith. In the quarter finals, Massie caused the upset of the meet when he defeated fastest qualifier Mark French. In the women's sprint, as was the case in Los Angeles last week, Queensland pair Anna Meares and Chloe McPherson again went head-to-head in the final.

"It was a strongly contested final between the two with some excellent tactical riding and very uncompromising racing," said Australian coach Martin Barras. "Chloe really took it to Anna but her experience won the day in two straight heats."

To cap off the night's racing, Meares won the scratch race, while the Australian trio of Perkins, French and Bayley downed the American national team with Canada third in the teams sprint.

The squad now heads to Germany, where they will be joined by junior riders Daniel Ellis and Scott Sunderland. The pair recently contested the junior world championships in Belgium, where Sunderland scored gold in the kilometre time trial and silver in the sprint, while Ellis claimed bronze in the sprint; both riders were also in the Australian trio that won silver in the teams sprint.

The next race for the squad will be the Cottbus International on Friday, August 25th.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)