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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for August 25, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Valverde fears Menchov in high mountains

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Alejandro Valverde, the Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears co-leader together with the "virtual" winner of the Tour of France, Oscar Pereiro, likes the 2006 Vuelta a España route. "I already said in the Vuelta presentation that it suits me well," he said. Moreover, the talented Spaniard is convinced to arrive in "very good condition" at the beginning of the Vuelta, after riding the Clásica de San Sebastian and Subida a Urkiola.

In a recent interview in Meta2mil, Valverde said he was "satisfied" with the team that Eusebio Únzue has finalised for the stage race, and pointed at the top of stage 18's La Pandera climb, where he has already won: "There, I experienced a very pretty and unforgettable day," he commented. Another ascent that will be in his interest is the one to the Calar Alto astronomical observatory on stage 16. "The Morredero doesn't treat me badly; I already won there in the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon", Valverde added.

The worst memory one of the Vuelta stages has left him, though, was the fifth final stage in La Covatilla, when he lost more than two minutes on Roberto Heras in 2004. And Menchov? The Russian is his most feared rival, at the moment: "I can be near him against the clock, but Menchov makes me afraid in the high mountains." Valverde talks, more concretely, about La Cobertoria coming up on stage nine this year: "Although I have done it in training, it seems to me very hard. The three final stages as well as the fifth, seventh and ninth, are frightful," Valverde concluded.

An interview with Matthias Russ: The thrill of victory

Gerolsteiner's Matthias Russ looks a lot younger than his 22 years, but the young man already knows what it's like to have a pro win and even to wear the leader's jersey in a stage race. Susan Westemeyer finds out that the talented Gerolsteiner has not been overawed by his early success.

Matthias Russ
Photo ©: Christine Schramm
(Click for larger image)

Success has come early in Matthias Russ' career. Most riders serve a long apprenticeship before they realise significant results. "The word 'overwhelming' describes it best," Russ told Cyclingnews. "In the moment that it happens, it just seems so unreal and then all of a sudden you know why you have trained so hard."

This is his second year in the pro peloton, having signed with Gerolsteiner as a neo-pro for the 2005 season. His first season was notably short on results. He was lucky enough to be nominated for the Vuelta last year, but had to drop out two-thirds of the way through - his first three-week Grand Tour was a bit too much coming at the end of a long first season.

To read the full interview, click here.

Klöden happy to win again

"I am of course very happy about my win in the Regio Tour," said T-Mobile's Andreas Klöden. "After a three-week break from racing, my return to action couldn't have gone better. And it's proof that I made the right decision to give my body a break after the Tour de France." Writing on his website, www.andreas-kloeden.com, he noted, "I was very happy to win a stage race again, and one of my favourite races, to boot."

Klöden's form got better from day to day. "The first two days it was a little difficult to find the right rhythm, but after I got over my slight injuries from a crash, I came more and more in form. I quickly noted that I still had a lot of form left over from the Tour de France," he said.

"In the third stage as well as the time trial, I was able to call on that potential and I was very pleased to win against the clock." He also thanked his teammates, who "supported me with great commitment and helped to defend the yellow jersey."

His next planned race is the Tour of Britain, "and I will also look at whether I will ride in the World's," Klöden declared.

Team line-ups for GP Plouay

T-Mobile

Three of T-Mobile's key Tour de France riders will join forces again at Sunday’s 217 km Grand Prix Ouest-France in Plouay, France. Michael Rogers, Serguei Gonchar and Eddy Mazzoleni will be hoping to rediscover their fine Tour form on their return to France.

Michael Rogers, in particular, travels to Brittany in good shape. The Australian finished second overall behind teammate Andreas Klöden at last week's five-day Regio-Tour in south Germany, notching up his first stage win in a magenta jersey along the way. The hilly and challenging 19.75 km circuit course in Plouay should suit the 26 year-old, who has already started his preparations for the defence of his World Time Trial crown: the Aussie was in Salzburg on Wednesday to recce the route he will tackle in September.

The Tour trio will be joined by the classics specialist Sergey Ivanov, Kim Kirchen and Steffen Wesemann, as well as young Linus Gerdemann and Frantisek Rabon, who will also fancy their chances on the circuit's short punchy climbs.

For the 70th anniversary of the race, the organisers have added a 1.6km climb with an average gradient of 6.8 percent. This feature, along with the usual Moulin, Lezot and Ty-Marec climbs will make this year's event more challenging than ever for the riders. Eleven laps in total will be raced before a successor to George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) is known.

Sporting director Valerio Piva, who doesn't see his riders as among the favourites, expects a tough race at a high tempo. "The French teams will be particularly highly motivated," said the Italian. "They will be urging on their favourites." Piva sees this as an advantage: "We are not pressed to set the pace, instead we can keep an eye on how the race develops."

The 20 ProTour teams are joined in Plouay by two wildcard entries; French team Agritubel, who impressed at the Tour de France, and the Baden Cooke-led Unibet.com.

T-Mobile Women’s team

T-Mobile’s women’s team are also in action in Plouay on the weekend for the tenth leg of the Women’s World Cup series. Judith Arndt, who was in impressive form on her return to racing at the recent Route de France, leads the six-strong roster.

"Judith knows the terrain here well, she was runner-up in Plouay in 2003," said sporting director Andrzej Bek. "Hopefully, she can build on the fine form she showed at the Route de France." Saturday’s women’s event is raced over the same tough 19,75 circuit the men tackle, with the 29 teams facing six laps of the circuit.

The women's roster will be: Kim Anderson, Kim Baldwin, Magali Le Floch, Amy Moore, Judith Arndt and Ina Teutenberg.

Caisse d'Epargne

José Luis Jaimerena will lead the team Caisse d’Epargne-Illes Balears in the GP Plouay. The team has confirmed its line-up: Imanol Erviti, Alexei Markov, Aitor Pérez Arrieta, Fran Pérez, Mathieu Perget, Nicolas Portal, Mikel Pradera and Vicente Reynes.

Liquigas

The Italian team has announced Stefano Garzelli and Manuel Quinziato in its rider roster for the French one-day race. Both of them claimed a win this month: the former won the Tre Valli Varesine, and the latter took a stage win at the Eneco Tour and finished fifth in the general classification.

Enrico Gasparotto and Vincenzo Nibali - who took the third place at the Eneco Tour - will take part in the race, too, as well as Patrick Calcagni, Roman Kreuziger, Marco Milesi and Stefano Zanini.

Gerolsteiner

Gerolsteiner is heading to the GP Ouest France Plouay hoping to repeat its performance from last year: places three (Davide Rebellin), five (Peter Wrolich) and six (Markus Zberg).

Rebellin will be missing this year - the Italian will be busy at a race in Spain that weekend - but the other two will be there, eager to do as well again, if not better. But the team is looking at two others as having the best chances to win: Eneco Tour winner Stefan Schumacher and Fabian Wegmann. And if it comes down to a sprint, the team will count on David Kopp, who won a stage in the Eneco Tour.

The full Gerolsteiner roster for the GP Ouest France Plouay is: Thomas Fothen, Frank Høj, David Kopp, Stefan Schumacher, Fabian Wegmann, Peter Wrolich, Beat Zberg, and Markus Zberg.

Franke files charges against Ullrich

German anti-doping crusader Werner Franke has filed charges against Jan Ullrich, according to the Stuttgarter Nachrichten newspaper. Franke says that the former Tour de France winner has sworn an affidavit that Ullrich knows is not true. Ullrich has allegedly sworn that he has had nothing to do with Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes. "But that contradicts the documents from the Guardia Civil," Franke said.

Franke also claims to know which bank Fuentes used to accept money from his clients. "It is a Chinese bank with a branch in Zürich."

At Ullrich's request, a court recently issued a temporary injunction against Franke and his claim that the rider paid €35,000 yearly for doping products. Franke has appealed the ruling.

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

Deignan back in action

By Shane Stokes

Promising Irish climber Philip Deignan has finally made his return to competition following a highly frustrating couple of months for the AG2R Prévoyance rider. The 22 year-old crashed in his first race of the season back on January 31, suffering a broken collarbone. He recovered from that but was then forced to scratch from AG2R’s squad for the Giro d’Italia squad due to a kidney infection. It was subsequently discovered that he had glandular fever, a problem he has only got over in the past few weeks.

Deignan returned to racing on Sunday when he rode the Châteauroux Classic de l'Indre Trophée Fenioux in France. He finished 90th, 13 minutes and 12 seconds behind Crédit Agricole’s Nicolas Vogondy. He is currently competing in the Tour du Poitou Charentes et de la Vienne and should continue to build form there.

The Donegal rider had a strong debut season in 2005, finishing fifth in the European championships and ninth in the world under 23 road race in Madrid. He is regarded by some in Irish cycling as the most gifted of its up and coming riders.

Two-year deal for Roche

By Shane Stokes

Meanwhile, another promising Irishman has signed a two year deal to race with the Crédit Agricole team in 2007 and 2008. 22 year-old Nicolas Roche is currently in the second year of his pro contract with Cofidis and has posted some good results this year, including fourth on a stage and fourth overall in Paris - Corrèze, fourth in the Irish road race championships, eighth in the Polynormande and tenth in Paris - Camembert Lepetit.

He also went close to a stage win in the Four Days of Dunkirk in May, going clear with Niels Brouzes (Auber 93) but being caught inside the final 500 metres. He finished sixth overall in the final King of the Mountains classification there.

Roche, son of the 1987 Tour de France winner Stephen Roche, will next compete in Sunday’s ProTour GP Ouest France in Plouay. He will then go on to ride the Tour de l’Avenir, which runs from August 31 to September 9.

Tour de l'Avenir without Colombian riders

This year's Tour de l'Avenir will have to do without the Colombian team, which has announced today that it will not be able to fly to Europe because of Visa problems. The formation of six riders (Edwin Parra, Manuel Mayorga, Diego Montoya, Wilson Marentes, Juan Pablo Forero and Rafael Montiel) was scheduled to take a flight on August 28, to participate in the most prestigious Under 25 event in Europe which will see ten stages unfold from August 31 to September 9.

The following teams were invited by French organiser ASO: Ag2R Prevoyance, Agritubel, Germany, Germany, Auber 93, Belgium, Bouygues Telecom, Chocolade Jacques - Topsport, Cofidis, Columbia, Cycling Team Capec, Française Des Jeux, France, Jartazi-7Mobile, Landbouwkrediet - Colnago, Norway, Omnibike Dynamo Moscow, Orbea, Perutnina Ptuj, Portugal, Rabobank, Ukraine, Unibet Davo and Viña Magna-Cropu. No American teams were invited either.

Vanderaerden DFL-Cyclingnews' DS at Tour of Britain

Legendary Belgian sprinter and hardman of the 1980's peloton, Eric Vanderaerden, will take up his new post as directeur sportif of the DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed squad this week as he travels with the team to the UK for the Tour of Britain.

The 44 year-old from Lummen, Belgium, brings with him a fabulous record as a rider where he won the Tour of Flanders in 1985, Paris-Roubaix in 1987, a Belgian Championship in 1984, the Tour's green jersey and won the prologue in both the Vuelta a España and the Tour de France in his debut year of 1983.

After his retirement from racing in 1990's, Vanderaerden took up a job as directeur sportif at the Italian Mapei squad, who in that decade were the undisputed kings of the classics. Vanderaerden used his tactical knowledge and leadership to guide many of the great riders of the era to victory including Michele Bartoli and Adriano Baffi.

"Eric is a legendary rider and his addition to the squad is a huge step forward for us," said DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed performance director Gilbert de Weerdt. "He knows exactly where a rider has to be at the right time and knows exactly how to get the best from his riders on and off the bike."

Team owner Nick Collins was also delighted to see the Belgian onboard. "Eric brings us a new dimension. He is a rider of the modern generation who can help us make the step up to the next level. We had several discussions throughout the spring and I'm delighted that Eric is able to join us earlier than expected and take up his new post in time for the Tour of Britain," Collins commented.

Collins has good reason to be happy as the team prepares for the trip to the UK and what it considers to be it's home race. In 2005, the team finished with Yanto Barker inside the top 10 as the leading British rider and is focused on showing that once again they can mix it with a quality field.

German TV wants "doping clause"

The two German public radio and TV stations ARD and ZDF are determined to put more pressure on professional sports in the fight against doping. This week, the main sports broadcasters in Germany signed new deals with the German equestrian and handball federations, which included "doping clauses" allowing them to pull out of their engagement if a doping scandal erupts in the particular sport.

These contracts are planned for all 32 German sports federations, including cycling. "With this, we want to increase the pressure on the federations, organisers and sponsors," said ZDF editor in chief Nikolaus Brender, after Tour de France audition figures this July dropped because of the doping scandal involving, amongst others, Jan Ullrich.

VDB in Italian amateur races under false name

The latest story on Frank Vandenbroucke, once an exceptionally strong talent in Belgian cycling, truly makes one wonder. After the pro peloton waited in vain for his come-back this spring, VDB is now reported to have participated in several amateur races in Italy. Not under his real name, of course, nor in the colours of Unibet.com.

Italian Gazzetta dello Sport on Thursday published photos of Vandenbroucke racing in an Italian 28-32 years category race wearing an ordinary blue jersey, and claims that he used a license under the name Francesco Del Ponte showing, moreover, the photo of... Tom Boonen!

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