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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for August 27, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Vuelta stage 1 wrap-up

Sastre first leader

CSC's Carlos Sastre has ridden into the gold jersey after the first stage of the Vuelta a Espańa, a 7.3 km team time trial in Malaga. Sastre crossed the line first as his team clocked an impressive 7'36 to win the stage, seven seconds clear of Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears and eight seconds better than Milram. This was despite the fact that CSC had a relatively slow start, and was only in eighth spot at 3 seconds at the 3.3 km time check.

Milram had posted a solid time of 7'44 that stood until Caisse d'Epargne, the third last team to leave, beat them by one second. But less than four minutes later, CSC smashed that mark and put Sastre in gold. Denis Menchov's Rabobank team was comparatively off the pace, posting a time of 7'54 to put it in 12th place at the finish.

Click here for the Full results & report and live report.

León Sánchez: Astana ready for Vuelta

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Coming up on

Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

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Promising Spanish Astana rider, Luis León Sánchez, has come to an unexpected appointment in his intensive 2006 calendar, mainly because his frustrating experience in the last Tour of France. Leon Sanchez talked to El Faro de Murcia, and assured that he went into the Vuelta feeling optimistic: "I am really very tired and punished psychologically, mainly, because I have trained very hard without competing," he said. "On the other hand, I get here in better condition than I hoped."

But, is Astana really ready for the Vuelta? "We look ahead with optimism, trying to leave all that happened behind us, and focusing on our work. We have a solid and experienced leader, Alexandre Vinokourov, and we count on an exceptional team both on the human and technical level."

Asked what he personally aspired to do in this Vuelta, León Sánchez replied, "I want to play a satisfactory role in this Vuelta, but I have to work as well as possible for Vinokourov. We could only compete in the Tour of Germany until now, whereas the majority of our rivals have done the Giro or the Tour. Everything will depend on how I feel from day to day." León Sánchez considered the first week as "very hard" and said it could well "decide the general classification."

Another hill for GP Plouay

By Hedwig Kröner

Last year's podium
Photo ©: JF Quénet
Click for larger image

One of France's greatest one-day races, the GP Ouest-France in Plouay, Brittany, has been added another climb to void having to recur to a photofinish like last year, when Discovery's George Hincapie snatched the win just centimetres off AG2R's Alexandre Usau. Plenty of spectators are again expected on the traditional circuit course, raced for the 23rd time, but this year, it will be 19.750 kilometres long - 5600 metres longer than in 2005. What's more, the Côte de Kérihuel (2.300m at 8 percent gradient) will give the race a new flavour.

Together with the climbs of Lezot (1,300m at 7 percent) and Ty Marrec (1,000m at 7 percent), the profile of the French ProTour race has again been raised. Eleven laps will have be mastered before the winner will be known - possible candidates include CSC's Fränk Schleck, Gerolsteiner's Stefan Schumacher, Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux) and Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), who just won the Tour du Poitou-Charentes. Last year's winner Hincapie is not on the start list.

"The new course suits climbers and punchers more," noted AG2R's Sylvain Calzati, adding, "It's a race where you have to be on the attack regularly - so it's good for me..." But the Tour de France stage winner will be up against other strong men like Juan-Antoni Flecha (Rabobank), Filippo Pozzato (Quickstep) - and even youngsters like Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) or Linus Gerdemann (T-Mobile) could do the trick and continue the change of generations that has also marked this 2006 season.

The men's race will be covered live at

Klöden to Astana

By Susan Westemeyer

Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Andreas Klöden will ride for Team Astana next year, he announced late Friday night. He will be joined there by his current T-Mobile teammate Matthias Kessler, as well as Phonak's Gregory Rast.

The 2006 Tour de France third-placed told Cyclingnews, "I did not want to leave T-Mobile, but the situation there is not clear right now. I'm looking forward to a new beginning and a big challenge at Astana, which has proved itself to be a very good team.

"The main reason for my decision is especially the fact that I will go to a very strong team with riders like Alexandre Vinokourov and Andrei Kashechkin, with whom we will be able to accomplish much in the coming season," Klöden added on his personal website,

Klöden rejected leader's role

It seems to appear that Klöden himself decided he did not want to be a team captain in the future. Walter Godefroot, former Telekom/T-Mobile team manager and now an advisor to Team Astana, showed himself surprised at the signing. "I am really very surprised," he said. "Klöden will surely not be captain at Astana in any case, because this role clearly belongs to Alexandre Vinokourov."

Christian Frommert, director of sports communications for T-Mobile International, the team sponsor, commented, "In this difficult time for cycling, we offered Andreas Klöden a prominent and responsible position. We accept that he apparently cannot or will not take it. Considering those circumstances, the decision to separate is surely better for both sides."

Rolf Aldag, ex-rider and soon-to-be directeur sportif, also noted that Klöden had decided against the role of captain and for the role of a helper. "Andreas - whom we thank for his work in the past as a loyal helper - would have been the head of our team as captain. A leading figure for the younger riders." Now it will be up to others to fill that role, he noted. "We will have a strong team next year, that will fullfill our expectations not just on the bike."

Incoming general manager Bob Stapleton, who will take over from Olaf Ludwig on October 1, called it "a professional decision, that we have to respect."

Klöden had waited a long time for a contract offer from T-Mobile, and offered "no comment" on the statements made by the T-Mobile officials. The team also noted that Matthias Kessler was leaving, and that it had not made him an offer.

Manager Rominger helps build up Swiss-Kazakhstani team

According to Swiss Tagesanzeiger, Klöden, Kessler as well as Rast have signed two-year contracts with Astana. They are all managed by Tony Rominger, who also "assists" Astana team manager Marc Biver, the Tagesanzeiger noted, and according to, Rominger "will have an official function by Team Astana in the coming season."

The Tagesanzeiger had also reported that Gerolsteiner's Rene Haselbacher had signed with Astana, which the Austrian rider denied, although admitting that it will likely happen in the near future. He said, "There are very intensive discussions with Astana, being conducted by my manager Tony Rominger. The fact is that the negotiations are very advanced, it only has to do with the details now." If Haselbacher signs a contract, he will announce it "during the Vuelta or during the World's in Salzburg."

Ullrich will not contest T-Mobile dismissal

Jan Ullrich has accepted his firing from the T-Mobile Team and will not contest it further, thus losing out on potential millions of Euros. German TV channel ZDF quotes Spiegel magazine as saying Ullrich's decision was not exactly voluntary, but forced upon him by his manager, Wolfgang Strohband's, actions.

Ullrich was suspended by the team on the day before the start of the Tour de France, on suspicion of being involved in the Spanish doping scandal around doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. The team formally fired him three weeks later, on July 20. At that time, Ullrich called the firing "not acceptable." Strohband issued a statement saying calling it "ungrounded" and announcing that Ullrich would take legal action.

However, Spiegel now reports that Strohband is responsible for the fact that Ullrich will now not receive the severance payment which he and the team had allegedly already negotiated. The problem: Strohband's statement that Ullrich would never again ride for T-Mobile, that this was a "closed chapter".

According to Spiegel, this statement pulled the rug out from under the financial demands. In order to receive the payments, Ullrich would have had to offer to continue to ride for the team, while his contract did not expire until the end of the year. In other words, he would have allowed the team to buy out his contract, and he would have accepted the money instead of riding for the team. However, the statements that he would never again ride for the team negated this.

Ullrich prosecuted for fraud

Meanwhile, Chief Public Prosecutor Fred Apostel in Bonn, Germany, has confirmed to magazine Focus that he is engaged in proceedings against Ullrich for possible fraud. Former athlete Britta Bannenberg complained that Ullrich, as well as his advisor Rudy Pevenage and cyclist Oscar Sevilla had swindled the T-Mobile team and therefore breached their contracts.

"I do not want to comment on the outcome of our examinations," said Apostel, who is currently waiting for the protocols of taped phone calls from Spain, which allegedly prove the link between Ullrich and doping doctor Fuentes.

Quickstep to Tour of Britain

The Belgian Quickstep team has finalised its roster for the upcoming Tour of Britain. World Champion Tom Boonen will be joined at the stage race beginning Tuesday, August 29 in Glasgow by: Francesco Chicchi, Wilfried Cretskens, Juan Manuel Garate, Nick Nuyens and Filippo Pozzato. The team will be directed by Wilfried Peeters.

DFL motivated for 'home' Tour of Britain

Having finished the 2005 Tour of Britain with the highest placed British rider, DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed return to the UK with the clear intent of showing that the squad is ready to reveal just how far they have come in a year and how much further they intend to go. Led by former National Champion Russell Downing, the team blends the talents of its British and Australian riders to target stage wins throughout the six day race.

"This is going to be a very tough race" said Gilbert de Weerdt, Performance Director of Team DFL. "The quality of the field is superb and with riders like Andreas Klöden, Michael Rogers and the World Champion Tom Boonen riding, nothing is going to be easy for anyone. But we have already proved we can compete with the best, and the riders are super motivated."

Team boss Nick Collins has every faith in the riders achieving their goals on home shores: "Our job is to get out there and mix it up with the big guns each and every day. We don't want a day to go by without DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed jerseys to be seen in the breaks, at the front of the climbs and in the sprints. It's our home race and to be out there in front of the cameras and crowds is very important to us."

Collins and the team are committed to improving the depth and quality of the squad in 2007 and this week announced that legendary Belgian sprinter Eric Vanderaeren will join the team as director sportif at the Tour of Britain in advance of his expected start in the role of January 2007 - an additional boost to the team.

Former National Champion Russell Downing will be the man to watch on stage three when the race finishes in his home city of Sheffield. Having just won the prestigious Overijse race in Belgium, Downing said, "I know those roads like the back of my hand and the run in to Sheffield is probably the hardest in the Tour. After my win this week in the Overijse race I know I have the legs and with strong men like Cam, Kane and Dean beside me it would be great to win at home, but you can never tell with this race, we have to react when the race goes and take all the opportunities we can."

The complete DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed team roster at the Tour of Britain will be: Alex Coutts, Dean Downing, Russell Downing, Cameron Jennings, Kane Oakley, Tom Barras and Gilbert de Weerdt.

Cyclocross Team Cheerwine finalised

Cheerwine Cycling has announced its roster for their 2006 Elite Women’s Cyclo-Cross team. Anne Bolyea, owner and director of the Women’s team has chosen the following riders: Tara Ross (2005 member Canadian National Cyclo-Cross team and 2004 bronze medallist Canadian National Cyclo-Cross Championships), Clara Beard (2005 U-23 U.S. National Cyclo-Cross Champion), Elizabeth Frye (2000 Bronze medallist MTB Master’s Worlds), Mandy Lozano (15th overall 2005 Verge Mid-Atlantic series) and Cara McCauley (20th overall 2005 Verge Mid-Atlantic series).

"I'm very excited about the riders on this team," Bolyea commented. "Tara and Clara are very strong racers and they will be joined by veteran mountain bike racer Beth Frye along with up and coming cross racers Mandy Lozano and Cara McCauley. I'm so happy to have Tara back in our program because she has so much talent. I can’t wait to see how Beth Frye will fair since she has so much experience from the mountain bike side of racing."

Bolyea also announced that the team will join forces with Greg Becker and his men’s cyclo-cross team, Sonic. "Becker brought Kona bikes and SRAM to the table and our riders are thrilled to race on the new SRAM gruppos and Kona frames. Cheerwine hopes to 'make the leap' with SRAM for our 2007 road program so this should be a wonderful fit for everyone. The women will be racing the Verge Mac Series, the Verge New England Series, and the USGP of Cross. Verge has been Cheerwine’s clothing sponsor for three years now and we are loyal to their dedication to cyclo-cross and look forward to doing as many Verge races as we can," continued Bolyea.

Cheerwine will also help sponsor the North Carolina Grand Prix of Cross in Hendersonville, NC, as well as another UCI race. "I am so happy to be able to give these riders a chance to race cross," said Bolyea with a smile. "I will be sending Ross to Belgium in December to race and that should be a blast for her! Don’t be surprised if you see other Cheerwine riders on the cross scene in both California and in Pennsylvania, I’ve heard rumours that a few of my other road racers are planning on 'crossing-over' as well."

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