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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for August 25, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Vinokourov keeps ambitions modest

Alexandre Vinokourov, the captain of the embattled Astana team, trained for three hours on Thursday in the surrounds of Malaga, then spoke about his ambitions for the Vuelta and World Championships. Vinokourov downplayed his status as one of the favourites for the Vuelta, preferring to wait and see how everything pans out.

"I am in good shape and also I want to be good in the race. My first intention is to reach the ideal condition for the World's and, if I get over the mountains, I will go for the general classification...In the Vuelta what I want is to demonstrate to myself that I'm motivated and that I can do a good three week race."

Vino's compatriot Andrey Kashechkin showed better form in the recent Tour of Germany, which puts him in a position of alternative captain for the Vuelta. "Kashechkin has already ridden hard in the Tour of Germany and is maybe thinking more about a stage victory here, but it will depend on the race as to what strategy we adopt."

As for the race's favourites, "Valverde is the most dangerous if he comes in good condition. After him, nobody knows, there can also be a break like in the Tour."

Astana's problems this season, stemming from its involvement in Operacion Puerto will serve as a "double motivation for us" according to Vinokourov. "We want to demonstrate to our sponsor that we are here and that we are going to fight."

Gil removed from start list

Spanish rider Koldo Gil has been taken out of the Saunier Duval roster before the start of the Vuelta because of a possible involvement in Operacion Puerto. The precautionary move was made after a revised 'list' of riders was handed out to the 21 teams down to take part in the race. Gil was on the list as he used to ride for Liberty Seguros, but there was no official word from the UCI that he would not be allowed to race. Gil will be replaced by Jose Alberto Benitez.

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

Phonak lines up for its last grand tour

Phonak will line up in Malaga on Saturday for its last ever grand tour with no real aims at the general classification. Two riders from the Tour de France team, Miguel Angel Perdiguero and Nicolas Jalabert are part of the roster, but the Swiss contingent makes up the majority of the team with four riders. The full roster is: Aurélien Clerc, Ryder Hesjedal, Nicolas Jalabert, Steve Morabito, Uros Murn, Luis Oliveira, Miguel Angel Perdiguero, Florian Stalder, Steve Zampieri.

The team, which will be directed by Juan Fernandez and René Savary, is aiming to have what it calls a 'disciplined race'. "The young riders like Stalder and Oliveira will have a chance to show what they've got," said Fernandez.

Austrians heading to Spain

Three Austrians are heading to Spain for the Vuelta, each for a different team. And each is going into the race with different expectations.

Française des Jeux' Bernhard Eisel is looking for success. "At any rate, I speculate with a stage win. How it turns out may be a different story. But my team will be working for me." That stage win had better come early, though: "I don't yet know how long I will ride. Either ten days or two weeks. I'll decide from day to day." (

Gerolsteiner's René Haselbacher wouldn't mind a stage win, either. "In any case I will try to bring in a day's success," he said. "I see the Vuelta on one hand as preparation for my homeland World's, but it not simply a training race. It is still the third biggest stage race in the world." Having ridden the Vuelta last year, he said, he knows that "the Vuelta means a three-week fight for survival." (

The third Austrian is T-Mobile's Bernhard Kohl, who has slightly different expectations other than a stage win or simple survival. "Actually I was planning to go for a stage win." But then he was made team captain. "Now I will of course try to ration my strength well. I want to finish as far ahead in the GC as I can. The Vuelta is a particular challenge. It will be difficult to bring consistently good performance in those three weeks of heat in Spain. But I will give everything I have."

He also thanked his team for making his cap tin, especially in light of the fact that he has already announced that he is leaving T-Mobile after this season. "This experience is very important for my future. You can't always take it for granted, to be given an assignment like this so soon before a team change." (

Azevedo to leave Discovery

José 'Ace' Azevedo will leave the Discovery Channel team at the end of this season, the team confirmed. After riding for Disco/USPS since 2004, Azevedo decided to forego the final year of his contract to race domestically in Portugal, allowing him to spend more time at home with his family.

Azevedo, a Portuguese climber, was a part of the 'Spanish Armada' - the name given to the group consisting of Jose Luis Rubiera, Benjamin Noval, and Manuel Beltrán for their efforts in defending team captain Lance Armstrong. During Armstrong's sixth Tour de France victory in 2004, Azevedo finished a career-best fifth place overall while riding as a domestique. This year, as one of the team leaders, Azevedo was 19th overall, the best placed Discovery rider in the Tour. He also finished fourth overall in the Dauphiné Libéré, fifth overall in Castilla y Leon, and sixth overall in Paris-Nice.

"It was a difficult decision," said Azevedo. "The Discovery Team is the best in the world - it is any rider's dream. But I discussed it with my family, and I am content with the choice."

"We are very appreciative of José's hard work and dedication to this team over the past three years," said team manager Johan Bruyneel. "He has been very instrumental in the Team's success and we wish him all the best as he starts a new chapter in his life."

In the coming months, Discovery Channel will look to sign new additions for the 2007 team, which has already contracted Levi Leipheimer, Sergio Paulinho, and Tomas Vaitkus.

More contract news

Italian Stefano Garzelli has a two year deal with Acqua e Sapone. The Liquigas rider won the Rund um den Henninger Turm, a stage in the Tour of Luxembourg and Tre Valli Varesine this season.

Spanish rider Joan Horrach, winner of a stage of the Giro d'Italia this year, will transfer to Team Barloworld for next season. Horrach has ridden for Caisse d'Epargne since 2004, and Maia-Milaneza before that.

Gyllenhaal to play Armstrong in Lance biopic

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

The choice of which Hollywood star will play Lance Armstrong in the long-rumored biopic of the seven-time Tour de France winner was reportedly leaked by Armstrong while talking to ESPN. Jake Gyllenhaal, the co-star of the film Brokeback Mountain has apparently been chosen, according to multiple entertainment news sources.

Armstrong also confirmed that Matthew McConaughey had been in the running for the role but the movie's producers decided otherwise. A photo of Lance and McConaughey was featured in the August 28 edition of Newsweek. Additionally, photos of both stars riding with Armstrong have appeared in the media in the last month.

The New York Post reported, "Lance said that's why he has been spending so much time with them both this summer."

No word yet on who will play the key characters involved in Armstrong's life, or whether Sheryl Crow will be portrayed at all. The entertainment media has also combined recent revelations by Crow about their break-up. "When we broke up it was devastating," Crow was quoted as saying.

Hincapie's second place trophy ends up in Zwolle

George Hincapie (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reports that George Hincapie's trophy that he received for finishing second in the Eneco Tour has ended up in a bar in Zwolle, The Netherlands. Bar owner Theo Dragt got the trophy from Willem Boverhof, a Zwolse journalist who happened to be parked near the Discovery Channel team in Ans after the final stage.

After what happened in the final sprint, where Hincapie saw his chances of victory disappear after a spectator pushed Stefan Schumacher into the American's front wheel, one of Discovery's soigneurs was thinking of throwing the trophy out of the bus on the way home. Boverhof 'rescued' it from an ignominious fate, and it is now ensconced in a bar in Zwolle.

Zabriskie to appear at Bikes 4 Kids in Utah

Team CSC star Dave Zabriskie both host a dinner and fundraising ride at Bikes 4 Kids Utah in the USA. The non-profit organization today announced details of its upcoming fundraiser for underprivileged children in the Salt Lake Valley. Bikes 4 Kids Utah will provide new bicycles for 1,000 pre-qualified, underprivileged children from the Boys & Girls Club of Murray, the Guadalupe School, Holy Cross Ministries, the Hispanic Rotary and Rose Park Elementary.

Along with the 1,000 bicycles, the children will also receive helmets, t-shirts and locks through the proceeds accrued from sponsorships, a fundraising dinner with silent auction and bicycle rides, including a ride with Salt Lake City native Dave Zabriskie, the third American ever to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France. Excess proceeds will go to Guadalupe School, Donated Dental and improving the bike lanes in Murray City.

Zabriskie will host a 50-kilometer ride and pre-ride dinner at the event. Tickets are available at

Hed Tour competition winners announced

Cyclingnews and Hed Cycling have announced the three winners of their Tour de France competition.

Kieran O'Neill from the UK was our first place winner guessing the time of the winner of the final TDF time trial exactly. He wins the H3 Carbon time trial wheels.

Taking second place was Todd Derksen from the US, winning a pair of Aerobars with Doug Adam from New Zealand taking third place to win a pair Flip Lite bars.

Fantasy La Vuelta 2006 Prizes

Vuelta Fantasy Game
One pair of BBB Winner Quickstep glasses
Photo ©: BBB
(Click for larger image)
One pair of HED Bastogne wheels
Photo ©: HED
(Click for larger image)
10 sets of Maxxis Courchevel tyres
Photo ©: Maxxis
(Click for larger image)
Three sets of Speedplay CSC edition pedals
Photo ©: Speedplay
(Click for larger image)
$200 worth of Sockguy socks
Photo ©: Sockguy
(Click for larger image)

We are pleased to announce the following prizes have been confirmed for the Vuelta Fantasy game:

- Daily Prize - 21 pairs of BBB Winner Quickstep glasses
- 1 pair of Hed Bastogne wheels, special silver edition
- 10 sets Maxxis Courchevel tires
- 3 sets Speedplay CSC edition pedals
- $200 worth of Sock Guy vouchers
- 3 Giro/Bell helmets

Details of the Grand Prize and more runner-up prizes to follow soon. With just a few days left until the 2006 Vuelta a España kicks off, now is a good time to start thinking about your strategy for your team selection for the Fantasy Game. Here's what 3rd Place winner from last year's game, manager "Marko Tammsaar" from Estonia, had to say on his winning 2005 selection:

"I spent a lot of time studying last years results from the Vuelta and this years results from pre tour competitions and result to the start of the Vuelta. My tactics : 1. Follow cycling and know cyclists, their capabilities and team strategies; 2. In the Vuelta all categories are pretty much for the same GC cyclists; 3. In the Vuelta be ready for the surprises: the sprinters stage on paper could turn out as a stage for climbers and GC contenders and vice versa as well; 4. In Estonian we have a nice saying that says "wise men do not rush" - follow the first stages carefully and register your team as late as possible; 5. No matter what strategy you have it actually comes down to luck in the end anyway."

There's more info on last year's winners selections and tips on the main Fantasy site.

Register now!

Create your teams today. Registration has already begun. Be a professional team manager for the 2006 La Vuelta and create your own dream team from any of the real life riders in this year's Vuelta. Based on the live racing action, you will take up the challenge of using your knowledge and tactical skill as a race team manager to compete with other virtual managers from around the world. Follow the races live and use your skill and knowledge to win some great prizes.

Riderlist Uploaded

The official La Vuelta rider list has been uploaded to the game site ready for your winning team selections to begin. We have based the points for each of the riders for the Vuelta on a merged list of ProTour points from both the end of last year and the end of May this year (post Giro 2006). More information on the Rider Reference details can be downloaded in Microsoft Excel format in the Downloads section.

Play for FREE in La Vuelta 2006 game

Remember you can play for free for the first 6 stages! Try your teams out and see which rider combination is best.

We hope you enjoy this year's game and look forward to seeing your winning team online soon.

Good luck!

The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team

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