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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for August 31, 2006

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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Edited by Anthony Tan, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears: Two-headed Hydra to devour rivals

One is the current ProTour leader. The other is the likely winner of this year's Tour de France. Together, they make up the double act that the Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears team hopes will lead to victory in the 2006 Vuelta a Espana. Shane Stokes found out what Alejandro Valverde, Oscar Pereiro and directeur sportif Eusebio Unzue had to say about their plans for the race.

Valverde, Eusebio Unzue and Pereiro
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

When Valverde broke his collar-bone in the Tour, Pereiro stepped up to lead the team. Now that Valverde is back, the Caisse d'Epargne-IB Hydra has two heads. Looking at recent history in the three Grand Tours, it is clear that having two leaders in one squad is potentially dynamite. Not in the sense of blowing the opposition to smithereens, but more the sort of explosiveness that is directed inwards and can wrench teams apart.

In 1998 there was a simmering tension between the swashbuckling José Maria Jiminez, who dominated in the Vuelta's high mountains, and Banesto team-mate Abraham Olano. Olano went on to win overall but Jiminez' relentless uphill accelerations put him under serious pressure along the way.

Things were much uglier between Lampre team-mates Gilberto Simoni and Damiano Cunego in the 2004 Giro d'Italia, their clash echoing that which took place between Carrera's Stephen Roche and Roberto Visentini 17 years earlier. Cunego went on to win that Giro but things have never been the same between the two Italians. Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond famously fell out in the 1986 Tour, while more recently, T-Mobile's muddled tactics and chasing of Alexandre Vinokourov, one of the team leaders, made Lance Armstrong's victory in the 2004 Tour de France a little easier than it would otherwise have been. Somewhat logically, it also led to the Kazakhstani's move from the German squad.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Gerolsteiner takes the good and the bad

It was a good news, bad news sort of day for Gerolsteiner at the Vuelta a España on Wednesday.

The good news was that captain Davide Rebellin has apparently fully recovered from his crash in the opening stage team time trial. The Italian finished the stage in 20th place, two minutes down on winner Danilo Di Luca. "After his crash and the difficult stage today, I hadn't reckoned with that," said a pleasantly surprised directeur sportif Reimund Dietzen. "But Davide rode a super race and has surely gained motivation for the coming stages."

The bad news side was young Marcus Fothen, who was considered a back-up co-leader to Rebellin. Far from finishing up as high as team-mate Rebellin, Fothen came in with the last big group at 27'59. "After the Tour and the subsequent racing pause, that was clear," said Dietzen. "He wanted to see how it would go, and it didn't. But he'll still be looking to do well in a stage or two."

Brandt out of coma

Following his life-threatening crash last Tuesday at the Schaal Sels in Belgium, which saw Davitamon-Lotto rider Christophe Brandt kept in an induced coma, doctors decided to wake him earlier than foreseen, with positive results.

His team reports their rider is now awake and his condition is improving rapidly with no heavy pains, and has already spoken with his wife. Brandt's blood controls show a particularly positive evolution.

Immediately after his accident, the 29 year-old Belgian was hospitalised, having suffered a punctured lung, four broken ribs and a broken upper arm, with one of his kidneys requiring removal. Initially, he was to have been kept in an induced coma for a minimum three days.

Goss signs with CSC

South rider, Matt Goss, has signed a three-year contract to ride with Team CSC, the world's top-ranked professional team, from 2007. The 19 year-old Tasmanian has had an outstanding year of success, posting six victories in Europe so far this season and is currently wearing the race leader's jersey in the Tour of Britain.

"I'm very excited to be going to one of the world's top teams," said Goss, who fielded offers from four other ProTour teams. "I believe CSC offers me the best opportunity to develop as a professional cyclist and they also support my dream of riding for Australia on the track at the Beijing Olympic Games."

Earlier this year, Goss was a member of the Australian teams pursuit quartet that claimed gold at the world track championships and silver at the Commonwealth Games, and CSC has agreed to release him for national team track commitments until Beijing 2008. Goss is also excited about joining fellow Australians Stuart O'Grady and Luke Roberts, who currently ride with the CSC team.

"I think I can learn a lot from Stuey [O'Grady], not only on the road but also in terms of combining a road career with track ambitions," said Goss.

"In Goss, we have one of the cycling sport's greatest talents at the moment," said CSC team manager Bjarne Riis. "His results speak for themselves and it will be very exciting to follow his career over the next few years. He's already shown that he's able to do well among the pros, and by signing a three-year contract with Team CSC, he'll have ample opportunity to progress. He comes highly recommended by Stuart O'Grady, whose opinion I value a lot, of course."

The South was launched this year as part of the Cycling Australia-AIS high performance program, with the aim of preparing young riders for the challenges of a professional cycling career. Team Director, Brian Stephens, says whilst disappointed to be losing Goss from the team, he is proud of the teenager's accomplishments and of the fact the team has acted as a launching pad for Goss.

"He has had such a great season and is such a super talent that it was inevitable he would seize the opportunity to step up to the ProTour ranks," said Stephens. "It was a matter of finding the best fit with a team that would look after him and his development, and he has found that with CSC."

Goss has also been selected in the Australian 'Cyclones' Under-23 team at the road cycling world championships being staged in Salzburg, Austria from September 19, where he will line up in the U23 men's road race.

Piil leaves CSC for T-Mobile

After six years with Team CSC, Danish rider Jakob Piil will be joining the T-Mobile team in 2007. "I feel it's time for a change, which is why I've chosen to switch teams," he said on

"But I must admit, that it's probably been the hardest decisions I've made in my career so far, because I've really enjoyed my time with Team CSC. I've been with this team since the beginning and watched it grow. But if I'm to try something new in my career, it has to be now," said the 33 year-old Piil.

"I fully understand that Jakob needs new challenges and we wish the very best," added CSC team manager Bjarne Riis. "Jakob has been an important rider to our team for the last seven years, and of course we thank him for that. I think that Jakob has a lot to offer T-Mobile with his vast experience and the potential he continues to have as a rider."

Sinkewitz stays put

Wesemann and Burghardt unknown

Patrik Sinkewitz will definitely be staying at the T-Mobile Team next year, despite rumours that he would sign with Milram. "Patrik still has two years on his contract," his manager Tony Rominger told "We haven't spoken with any other team. There was no reason to."

However, it doesn't look so good for Rominger's two other T-Mobile clients, Steffen Wesemann and Marcus Burghardt: "I have asked again by T-Mobile, but so far I haven't received an offer for either rider," said Rominger, but added, "They will surely get something."

Largest Interbike in 25-year history

Bringing together more than 1,000 cycling-related brands and approximately 20,000 attendees annually, the 25th edition of Interbike, America's largest bike trade show, has already made claim to be the largest in history.

Starting with the OutDoor Demo in Bootleg Canyon, Nevada, from September 25-26 followed by the Interbike Expo in Las Vegas from September 27-29, the combined exhibitions' floor space totals more than 360.000 net-sold, square-feet, with roughly 300.000 set aside for Interbike. The figure equates to 3,057 individual 10x10-foot booths, where 25 countries will be represented, ranging from Andorra to the United Kingdom.

"This year's Interbike coincides with a crucial time in our history," said Interbike's group show director, Lance Camisasca in a press release.

"High fuel prices make for top news stories everyday, global warming and the environmental damages caused by fossil fuels have produced a feature film, and our country's abysmal health and obesity problems have not gone away for a minute. Industry manufacturers are presently creating dynamic products that address all of these major news headlines," Camisasca said.

In the wake of Operación Puerto and Tour de France winner Floyd Landis turning a positive result for testosterone, the cycling industry appears to be turning its focus towards the consumer, rather than the professionals many fans try to emulate.

"It's a big launch for us this year with the Trek and Gary Fisher MTB line," said Zap Espinoza, Trek's public relations manager. Don Palermini, brand manager for Bell Sports, also emphasised the importance of the retail aspect of the show, with no mention of links to professional athletes or teams.

Added Camisasca, "Having greater exhibitor presence this year, in addition to an eight percent increase in pre-registration of retail stores, bodes well for the show and also indicates the industry is feeling positive about its health."

Cyclingnews will once again be providing in-depth coverage of the trade show season, beginning with Eurobike from August 31-September 3 in Friedrichshafen, Germany.

Italian champ goes for Paralympic glory

Losing his left leg some 20 years ago after a tumour of the knee, Italian Fabrizio Macchi said from that moment on, 'my second life had begun'.

Current national champion in the road time trial and individual pursuit, coupled with numerous podium placings but never a gold medal at world championship level, Macchi, from Varese, is no longer content with the second or third step. "It's the time to stop it, I don't please myself with second or third places... I ride for the win, and I don't hide it," he said.

"The most important occasion will be the individual pursuit on track, Friday 11," declared Macchi, referring to the upcoming IPC (International Paralympic Committee) Cycling World Championships from September 9-18 in Aigle, Switzerland, where the Italian will take part in four events over seven days.

"The track in Aigle is not among the fastest but it is very flowing: it is necessary to be able to drive the bike because the track is very compact and requires a nimble way of pedalling. I could be protagonist in the time trial, too, after the winning the World Cup [with three wins in four races - ed.]. I will try... "

Speaking about his final preparation leading to the IPC World's, Macchi said: "I have continued to train at home, on the roads and on the track in Varese. Recently, I have differentiated the workout: I go on track not more than one or two times in the week and the rest I ride on the road, with sprints on the climbs, time trials and motor-pacing. When I can, I go out with athletes such as Ivan Basso and Stefano Zanini."

"I can say that my condition is more than good," continued Macchi. "I am very satisfied because, for the first time, I succeeded in finishing my preparation without impediments. Since I have intensified the training, I have not caught a cold... Fingers crossed, there are a few days before the races... "

The road events will be held from September 15-17, beginning with the time trial and followed by the road race.

La Vuelta: faster than a speeding bullet...

The peloton in the Vuelta may have to fear the appearance of the Spanish police: not a doping raid, but a speeding ticket!

It seems that not everyone is too thrilled to have a stage end in their town, especially considering the traffic, barricades and the additional goings-on. A disgruntled resident of Caceres, where the fourth stage ended, has filed a complaint with the local police. He cited the entire peloton, which sprinted to the finish at over 60 kilometres and hour yesterday, in a city where only 50 km/h is normally allowed.

The complainer himself is no speed demon, however, as he took 90 minutes to fill out the required forms. A spokesman told AFP the story would go down as a favourite in police history and would be treated as a holy relic in their archives.

Fantasy Vuelta - Hours left to join in and win!

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)

There's still time left to join in the Fantasy Vuelta game. You can join and change your riders right up until stage 7 begins this year (Deadline - Friday 1st Sept 13:08 UTC/GMT+2 Spanish time, or 07:08 US Eastern Daylight Time). 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.

First Fantasy winners announced!

The first five winners of daily stage prizes have been provisionally confirmed. Winning a pair of BBB Parts Winner Quickstep glasses. Their teams had the highest cumulative stage points for the first stages of the Vuelta.

Daily Stage Prize winners

Stage 1 winner - team Stage Winner (Manager - Mountain to Climb, GBR)
Stage 2 winner - team The Empire (Manager - Zeeman, AUS)
Stage 3 winner - team 3VueltaStimul (Manager - Stimulleke, BEL)
Stage 4 winner - team (Manager - Jon Durham, USA)
Stage 5 winner - team FCF1 (Manager - Hercules III, USA)

There are plenty more prizes to win in the overall prize competition. The Fantasy game is a great way to get to know the Vuelta in more detail, as you take on the role of being a team manager during each day of the Vuelta, making the best of your team selections as the Vuelta unfolds stage by stage. Depending on how the riders finish each stage in real life you will score points for your Fantasy team to win some great prizes. You'll get a much more intimate knowledge of the lesser seeded riders as you watch their progress in your own teams and in other Fantasy manager's teams each day. You'll also get a much more in depth insight into how the riders perform over the coming weeks through the sprints and the mountains.

BH Bikes are providing us with 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

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 until stage 7 begins! 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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