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Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for February 21, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Leipheimer: Arnie's a big deal

Levi's baaack - Gerolsteiner 's Levi Leipheimer the first leader at the Tour of California
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Gerolsteiner's leader at the Tour of California Levi Leipheimer couldn't have asked for a better start after winning Sunday's prologue in San Francisco. In beating favourites Bobby Julich, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, David Zabriskie and Fabian Cancellara, the resident of Santa Rosa, CA, was bestowed the first yellow jersey of the tour from none other than Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, an experience he described as "really cool".

"He came behind the podium when we were waiting and had a talk with us. He knew a bit about bike racing because he went to the Tour de France a few years ago, and was talking to us about how he presented the yellow jersey to Lance [Armstrong]. I think having him present the jerseys just validates the race, and shows the impact it has on California; it's actually a big deal," wrote Leipheimer in his diary on Cyclingnews.

The 32 year-old said he was unsure which bike to use, but decided to make a last-minute decision to go with his TT bike on the short but testing 3.1 kilometre parcours. Leipheimer added the quality of competition is the best he's seen in years, and he'll spend the following stages protecting his lead. "The competition's high, but I'm confident of doing well - especially tomorrow, as we go to my home town where I hope it'll be a field sprint.

"It's most likely there'll be a field sprint; it's pretty flat, which favours that kind of finish. The following stage is kind of hilly - it has a hard climb which is a little way from the finish, so I think there'll be a small group that comes together to contest the finish. With the time trial being the next day, we're going to see what's going to happen in this race very early."

Click here to read the full diary entry.

AIS survivors tell of crash and recovery

Coach Warren MacDonald
Photo ©: The ABC
(Click for larger image)

The Australian Institute of Sport riders who were hit by an out-of-control car in Germany last year told their stories to Australian TV last night. John Stevenson was watching.

Four of the survivors of the July 2005 crash that killed Australian rider Amy Gillett and hospitalised five of her team-mates featured in Australian current affairs TV show Australian Story last night, along with their coach and Amy Gillett's husband.Lorian Graham, Katie Brown, Louise Yaxley, Kate Nichols and coach Warren MacDonald talked about the crash in which the riders suffered horrific injuries, describing the impact and its immediate aftermath.

For readers outside Australia, or who missed the program, it's available on the ABC's website in Flash 8 video format.

MacDonald watched the crash from the team vehicle as the riders rolled down a minor country road in Germany on July 18, 2005 while recconoitring the course for the opening time trial of the Thuringen Rundfahrt near Zeulenroda.

"I saw it all unfold in front of me I saw the accident happen in front of my eyes because I was following behind at somewhere between 60m and 100m," he said.

Click here for the full story.

CSC kicks off well at ToC

Team CSC had three riders among the six best in Sunday's opening prologue of the Tour of California. Bobby Julich was second, only beaten by winner Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner), while David Zabriskie and Fabian Cancellara finished fifth and sixth respectively.

And if it had not been for a mechanical problem to David Zabriskie, CSC's results could have been even better: Zabriskie saw his chain slip off at the bottom of the decisive climb.

Bobby Julich at the Tour of California prologue
Photo ©: Russ and Nancy Wright
(Click for larger image)

"When you think about how much time Zabriskie lost due to his mechanical, it's quite impressive he still managed to take fifth place in such a short prologue." said sports director Scott Sunderland. "I believe he would have been able to match Leipheimer's time without this incident. However, we can't change that now, and we were still able to show people we have a very strong team here. Bobby Julich hasn't prepared especially for the Tour of California, so it was great to see him take second place. I'm sure Zabriskie wants to retaliate in the third stage time trial, but I also think we'll have the first drama already during the very demanding second stage."

Bobby Julich himself was also very satisfied with his performance. "I felt good," the 2005 Paris-Nice winner said. "I mean, the first race of the year I obviously was not 100 percent yet, but the effort was solid. The effort felt good; it didn’t hurt too much. This time of year it’s easy to not know your limits and go too big."

For the American, the course of the prologue quite symbolic. "It has some history to it because they used it in the Coors Classic before so I thought it was pretty cool," he explained. "That was the race that got me into cycling. Maybe riding here in this race doing that course can motivate the next generation of guys to do it and then come to the sport."

Julich was also overwhelmed with the number of spectators at the inaugural Tour of California. "It was a really great turnout," he added. "I was happy to see so many fans. You could feel the energy of the people going up the climb. This is the beginning of a new great American race and I think people are... it just gets more and more."

Courtesy of Sabine Sunderland

Belgian teams cancel Het Volk scouting

Next Saturday, February 25, the Omloop Het Volk marks the start of the Belgian cycling season. Because of the bad weather in the country, the two Belgian ProTour teams Davitamon and Quick.Step have cancelled their traditional scouting of the parcours which was planned for Tuesday.

"We don't want to take any unnecessary risks," said Quick.Step team director Wilfried Peeters on "The risk that riders get sick after riding in this wet, icy weather i too great. We want to avoid that at all cost," agreed Herman Frison of the Davitamon team. "It's only a scouting; most of the guys know the parcours anyway," Frison added.

Belgian Continental Pro team Chocolade Jacques is not going to let the bad weather ruin its plans. "It's OK for it to be cold, but it has to be dry," team manager Roger Swerts explained. "It's good to know the parcours better than our rivals!" will ride part of the parcours if possible. "If the weather allows it, we'll scout the hardest part of the parcours on Wednesday. If it's bad, than we'll limit the reconnaissance to the hilly part," said manager Hilaire Van der Schueren. "I'll pick my eight men from a selection of fifteen on Wednesday. Gardeyn, Cooke and Vandenbroucke were definite starters, but just now, they have symptoms of illness."

Courtesy of Sabine Sunderland

Merckx hands over "bikes for Cuba"

Cycling legend Eddy Merckx was in Cuba over the weekend to hand over 1000 used bikes for local cyclists. The bikeraising programme called "Fietsen vor Cuba" (Bikes for Cuba), sponsored by Belgian lottery, is intended to support the sport on the island, especially in the province of Guantanamo.

Merckx also assisted to the ending of the stage race "Vuelta a Cuba" in Havana on Saturday, and gave the winner, Pedro Pablo Pérez, another bike - brand new, of course. At a reception at the Cuban Olympic Committee on Monday, the Belgian also honoured the country's president, Fidel Castro, by giving him a road bike as a present. "I hope, he will use it," said Merckx.

New trainees at African Continental Centre

Since the beginning of February, the UCI African Continental Centre in South Africa has welcomed a new batch of 25 trainees from 14 countries (Algeria, Burundi, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Seychelles, South Africa, Tunisia and Zimbabwe).

The young riders will be staying at the Continental Centre for six months, as part of a proficiency and detection programme. They will train on the road and on the track. The best of these riders will be eligible to go to the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland, where riders aiming for the highest level (UCI World Championships, World Cups, Olympic Games) are trained.

The African course is being run by Jean-Pierre Van Zyl, manager of the Centre and scratch bronze medallist at the 2003 Track World Championships in Stuttgart.

Kersten out for Clarence St Cyclery Cup

Newly Crowned King of Australian Track Cycling, Ben Kersten, winner of four National titles a fortnight ago will be out to avenge his narrow defeat to brilliant Victorian teenager Leigh Howard in the Sydney Thousand in November last year. Kersten will be aiming to win his third Clarence St Cyclery Cup to be run over 2000m at Dunc Gray Olympic Velodrome, Bass Hill, on Saturday, February 25.

Kersten conceded Howard 70 metres start in the Thousand, but will only give him 40m start on Saturday night - meaning that he will have Howard in his sights from the start. Howard's fellow Victorian champion Joel Leonard is making the trip with the young rider to give him support against Kersten, who has dominated handicap races in Australia for the past two years.

A top entry of elite riders from Great Britain, New Zealand and Japan has been received by the organiser. Racing will commence at 6.30pm for the 24th running of the Clarence St Cyclery Cup, won previously by three Olympic Gold Medallists and two World Champions.

Anti-doping news

The UCI has announced that the following riders have been sanctioned for doping offences.

Alberto Argiro Zapata (Col), tested positive with EPO during the race Vuelta a Costa Rica 2004, sanctioned by the Colombian Cycling Federation, suspension of 2 years from June 7, 2005 to June 7, 2007, disqualification of the race.

Magalie Lalande (Fra), tested positive with Salbutamol during the race Tour Féminin en Limousin, France, on July 23, 2005, sanctioned by the French Cycling Federation, warning and disqualification of the race.

Bart Oegema (Ned), tested positive with Salbutamol during the race Vuelta a Lleida, France, on June 6, 2005, sanctioned by French Cycling Federation, warning and disqualification of the race.

Roger De Breuker (Bel), tested positive with Fenetylline, Amphetamine during the race World Masters Championships in St. Johann (Aut) on August 27, 2005, sanctioned by Royale Ligue Velocipedique Belge, suspension of 2 years from November 5, 2005 to November 4, 2007, disqualification of the race.

Luca De Angeli (Ita), tested positive with EPO during the race Settimana Ciclistica Internazionale (Ita) on March 22, 2005, sanctioned by Federation Italienne De Cyclisme, suspension of 2 years from December 2, 2005 to December 2, 2007, disqualification of the race.

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