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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for August 28, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

An interview with Xavier Florencio

Unforeseen victory

Xavier Florencio sprung a surprise on everyone when he won the Clasica San Sebastian, one of the toughest single-day races on the ProTour calendar. Cyclingnews' Hernan Alvarez Macias caught up with Florencio in his Malaga team hotel two days before the start of the Vuelta a España, the third and last of the grand tours for 2006.

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

Xavier Florencio was an unknown rider to most cycling fans until August 12. On that day he won the Clasica San Sebastian and surprised many people and also himself. He didn't exactly have a big list of highlights on his palmares before his San Sebastian win. His career highlights were a stage victory in the 2002 Tour de l'Avenir and his 18th place in the 2004 Tour of Flanders. At 26 years old he might find his big win marks the perfect moment to make the jump to mix it with the elite riders of cycling.

Florencio considers himself a cyclist suitable for the classics and other short races. The Spanish rider from Mont-roig del Camp, Tarragona has the ability to follow in the steps of Oscar Freire, Igor Astarloa and other great Spanish riders who shine at one-day races.

Asked about how he felt 48 hours before the beginning of the Vuelta a España he said, "After the classic [San Sebastian] I have a bit of uncertainty [about my form]. I hope to have the same fit condition that I had two weeks ago. It was difficult to keep in the same shape and I will try to win a stage. [To win] the general classification is very difficult, so I will try to be at the front on a stage." Florencio has not marked out a suitable Vuelta stage to attack. "I don't know yet," he said. "It depends on the physical condition that I am in and on how my legs go. I have to try to be at the front on some stage and make the most of the opportunity of being with the top players."

Click here for the full interview

Rasmussen changes objectives

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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Danish climber Michael Rasmussen has changed his objectives for the Vuelta a España after getting the 'flu a week ago, as he wrote in his diary on feltet.dk. "Actually, I am still motivated, but my goals have changed slightly. I managed to train three hours in a week where I should have trained 30 hours. Obviously, I have to be realistic and lower the ambitions regarding the classification. Instead I will try to make it in a break."

Rasmussen said that he put on one and a half kilos in that week, and "That is also the reason that I lowered the ambitions for the overall. In order to make it well in the overall classification, you have to be on your marks right from the beginning of the race. It was my plan to race hard from the start, because the classification will probably be set already during the first week. Then I would probably have gone down a little during the final week, since it is my third grand tour this year. But now, we will have to see how things unfold. At least it will be an important preparation for the last part of the season."

The Dane they call 'Chicken' is looking forward to Wednesday's mountain stage. "A lot of things will be settled there. If things goes well and I can sit among the best far up the climb, I might try to stay with a reasonable chance. But, if I realise that I’m in trouble right away, there is no reason for me to ride to the limit in order to loose two minutes. Nothing good will come out of that. In that case it is better to take it easy and just get through."

That might be a stage for his team captain Denis Menchov, who is the virtual defending champion of the Vuelta. "It someone is going to do it in our team, it will be him, but his situation is much different from last year. He has already had a long and impressive season. A stage win on Mont Ventoux (Dauphiné Libéré) as well as a stage win in the Pyrenees and a stylish classification ranking in the Tour. Last year he stood here at the starting line aiming to save his season."

Vuelta diary watch: It's too darn hot

There was a common theme in what the Vuelta riders have written in their online diaries: It's just too darn hot in Spain!

Gerolsteiner's Robert Förster could hardly find anything to be satisfied with. After the evening stage Saturday, Sunday's stage started early so as not to overlap (too much) with the Formula One race being held in Turkey. (Note: Why do the Spaniards care about the auto race? Because the leader in the rankings and favourite to win the title again this year is Fernando Alonso - coincidentally, a Spaniard). But back to bikes.

"Yesterday evening after the late race I absolutely could not get to sleep. Tossed and turned, I don't know when I finally closed my eyes," he wrote on Sunday. "So of course this morning we had to get up 6:30, because things started so early today. It was still dark outside!"

"But the worst of all is the heat. This morning it was nearly 30 degrees, and under way over 40 degrees. The wind feels like a hot-air hair dryer." (www.radsport-news.net)

T-Mobile's Bernhard Kohl put it politely, calling the starting time "unusual." the young Austrian rider, who is captain of the T-Mobile squad, said the only thing that bothered him today was the heat. "At the finish it was 42 degrees and I was not the only one who was totally soaked with sweat." (bernhardkohl.at)

Another Austrian rider named Bernhard, this one Eisel with Française des Jeux, said he was struggling with the heat, too, but also had a few words over the actual race. "A podium place was possible today. But 150 meters before the finish, as I came from behind with a lot of momentum, Erik Zabel closed the door on me. He pulled over right in front of me, I have no idea why. I had to brake and didn't have any chance left." (www.eisel.com)

Finally, Rabobank's Grischa Niermann called it "a very quiet and comfortable race, that is if you can call 40 degrees comfortable." He says that he stayed by captain Denis Menchov and brought him safely to the finish in the middle of the pack well behind the sprinters.

And in the pack is where we can expect to see not just Niermann and Menchov, but all of the Rabobank riders for the next day or two. "Since we will hopefully need all of our strength during this race, we won't be seeing a Rabobank rider in an escape group. On Wednesday, after the first mountain-top finish, we will know how Menchov, but also Rasmussen and Boogerd are doing, and what our tactics for the rest of the Vuelta will be." (grischa-niermann.de)

No World's for Van Petegem

Peter Van Petegem's season will not include the World Championships this year. The experienced Belgian told national coach Carlo Bomans that he would not be fit in time, following an operation to remove three cysts. He was to restart in Tuesday's Schaal Sels, but will delay it a little longer.

"That's a pity," said Bomans to Het Nieuwsblad. "I can always use a good Peter Van Petegem at the world championships. But he told me definitely that he would not be completely fit in a month. He is riding, but that is not training."

Ullrich announces contract is ended

Jan Ullrich says that it is not true that he has accepted his dismissal from T-Mobile Team, and that on the contrary, he and the team have reached an agreement to cancel his contract. All documents have been signed, he says, but both sides have agreed not to comment on the contents. T-Mobile could not be reached for comment.

The German media had reported over the weekend that Ullrich had accepted the dismissal and would not pursue it further, thus losing potentially millions of Euros. Allegedly, remarks by Ullrich's manager, Wolfgang Strohband, indicating that Ullrich would never again ride for T-Mobile, killed the talks.

Agritubel contract news

27 year-old Denis Robin has extended his contract with French continental professional team Agritubel. In four seasons as a pro, Robin has yet to record any results of note, although he was seriously injured in 2005.

Meanwhile, Stéphane Bergès (31) will leave the squad at the end of the year, after just one year in Agritubel colours.

Bucciero to Panaria

Italian Antonio Bucciero will ride with Ceramica Panaria-Navigare next season, according to Tuttobiciweb. Bucciero turned pro with Saeco, but then retired from the sport at the end of April last year, while riding for Acqua e Sapone. He raced with the amateurs for Ceramiche Pagnoncelli before accepting an offer to go pro again with Panaria. He has a one year deal, with the option of two more.

Panaria will also sign Daniele Colli (Liquigas) and Filippo Savini.

Fundraisers to support LAF

Cyclist and cancer survivor Will Swetnam is holding an eBay auction to raise funds for the Lance Armstrong Foundation via the Livestrong Challenge. There are three items for auction: a Lance Armstrong signed limited edition lithograph (134/500); a Lance Armstrong signed silk screen print of Lance riding; and a 1999 Mapei/Quick Step jersey signed by the team.

The items will be sold to the highest bidder via eBay, with all payments made directly into Swetnam's Livestrong Challenge account, although he will receive no money in this process. Shipping will be paid for by the winning bidder, and will be handled outside of the "winning" bid payment.

More information: www.SupportLAF.com

Another fundraiser is being organised by Fred Drewe, a 30 year testicular cancer survivor, a life long cyclist, and a member of the LiveStrong Challenge in Orange County, Philadelphia, and Austin. Drewe is holding a raffle, whereby entries are made through a $20 donation (tax deductible for US residents) directly to the LAF. There are only 1000 tickets available.

The prize list includes 3 T-shirt quilts, one based around the Ride for the Roses event, the Tour of Hope, and the third will be designed by the winner. Also there is a Graham Watson Giro d'Itialia poster and several Tour de France and Ride for the Roses jerseys.

For more information, go to www.cancerfundraisingtshirtquilts.org or www.drewe.com

International Vets Cycle Classic in New Zealand

The inaugural International Vets Cycle Classic is to be held in Masterton, New Zealand, over the 2007 Easter weekend (April 6-9). The Vets event will be a combination of the circuits already used in the men’s Trust House Classic, combined with new stages in the Wairarapa region.

It will be the first time a race of this nature has been held in New Zealand and will see the involvement of hundreds of masters cyclists. Race organiser Jorge Sandoval said that the time is ripe for a major national event like this.

"I have been asked many times over the years when I am going to run a vets event. Well now I will run one, and it will be held on the same basis as the elite Trust House Cycle Classic that takes place every year, except with shorter stages."

The race will be based in the Wairarapa and will be staged over the same circuits as the elite men earlier in the year. The final stage will be as hard as the elite men and will finish with a hill climb up the gruelling 12 km Admiral Hill.

The event will attract participants from all over New Zealand and Australia, many of them ex national champions.

Fantasy La Vuelta: Win a BH bikes L75D!

 
Vuelta Fantasy Game
The grand prize
Photo ©: BH Bikes
(Click for larger image)
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)

BH Bikes have confirmed they are providing the Grand Prize in this year's Fantasy game! The L75D Global Concept G-1 Ultegra D bike worth 3499EUR/4499US$ comes with an impressive component list worthy of the some serious competition performance fantasy or otherwise. In addition to the Grand Prize the prizelist so far is as follows:

- Grand Prize - BH Bikes L75D Global Concept G-1 Ultegra D bike

- Daily Prize - 21 pairs of BBB Winner Quickstep glasses
- Runners-up Prizes - 1 pair of Hed Bastogne wheels, special silver edition
- Runners-up Prizes - 10 sets Maxxis Courchevel tires

- Runners-up Prizes - 3 sets Speedplay CSC edition pedals
- Runners-up Prizes - $200 worth of Sock Guy vouchers
- Runners-up Prizes - 3 Giro/Bell helmets

More prizes to be announced soon...

Still time to join in!

Remember there's plenty of time to make your final decision on your team riders. You can join and change your line up right up until stage 7 begins this year. There is no disadvantage in joining now that the Vuelta has begun. If you are new to the idea of Fantasy Sports Games then please have a look at the tips on strategy and gameplay in last year's winners pages on the main Fantasy site.

Register now!

Create your teams today. 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.

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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