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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for February 25, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones, assisted by Susan Westemeyer

CSC looking for a positive Het Volk

Team CSC will kick off its spring season on the weekend with the Omloop Het Volk and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. The team will field the same lineup for both races, and even though the riders have just arrived from the California training camp, sports director Kim Andersen hopes for a little more luck than in last year's races.

"Well, it probably can't get much worse than in 2005, where Tristan broke his leg in Het Volk and Piil crashed out of Kuurne," said Andersen, who sees Allan Johansen as Team CSC's best shot at a good result in Het Volk. "Allan is extremely motivated and doesn't seem to be bothered by jet-lag as much as the other guys. He was 12th here last year, and I believe he will be up front tomorrow as well."

On Friday the riders were trying out the new carbon frames, in order to make the final adjustment to the cobblestone bikes. "It's obviously hard to say where we are right now in terms of shape. But we don't expect great results this weekend, mainly because the riders just came back from USA. So for us these two races are about preparing for the big classics later in the spring, and should we make one or two good performances down here, we'll consider it an extra bonus," finished Andersen.

Wiesenhof-Akud for Het Volk

German continental team Weisenhof-Akud is looking forward to the pavé and the international competition in Belgium this weekend at Omloop Het Volk. The youngsters on the team not only anticipate the challenge but also have respect for the level of competition. "Boonen, van Petegem and Co. - we'll have to see what we as young racers can do against these world-class riders. We're doing well and will try to do our very best," said Marcel Sieberg.

Directeur Sportif Jochen Henn noted, "A knowledge of the course is very important in this race," and advises his youngsters "to orient themselves on the big name riders when it gets down to business, because they know the pave sections like the backs of their hands. Maybe one of our guys can hang on with them until the end and then win a sprint," he concluded hopefully.

German champion Gerald Ciolek will be making his season debut after finishing his education.

Team Wiesenhof-Akud for Het Volk: Gerald Ciolek, Artur Gajek, Felix Odebrecht, Steffen Radochla, Marcel Sieberg, Lubor Tesar, Lars Wackernagel, Carlo Westphal

AG2R Prévoyance for Belgian weekend

The AG2R Prévoyance team will contest the Belgian opening weekend with the following riders: Renaud Dion, Laurent Mangel, Lloyd Mondory, Jean-Patrick Nazon, Erki Putsep, Christophe Riblon, Marc Scanlon, and Tomas Vaitkus. Reserve: Alexandre Usov. D.S.: Arturas Kasputis.

No Het Volk for Backstedt

After a winter that presented no major health problems, Sweden's Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas-Bianchi) has been fighting his way back after an innocuous crash in the first stage of the Challenge Illes Balears left him with a strained tendon in his left knee. Despite earlier reports, he will not be riding Het Volk on Saturday.

Backstedt said, "It was one of those crashes that as a pro bike rider we go through all the time, but I must have come down harder than I thought."

The big Liquigas rider got back up to finish the stage, but was unable to start the remainder of the race do to the pain in his knee. "The initial diagnosis was that I had just tweaked something and I was cleared to ride two days later. After only a few kilometres I was just in agony."

Subsequent visits to the chiropractor and British Olympic Medical Centre in London showed no major damage, but a build up of scar tissue on the tendon. "I have managed a few rides up to four hours, but the tendon has just been so sore the next day. I haven't been able to string enough days together to be ready for Het Volk and Kuurne Brussels Kuurne. I can't jeopardise the rest of the classics by going into these races under prepared. I am having physiotherapy everyday and have been ordered to have complete rest until Sunday. I'm feeling better and better every day.

"I will start training again on Monday with Tirreno-Adriatico in mind. I will just aim to ride through that and regain the form that I had going into the season"

The big Swede has come into 2006 eight kilograms lighter than at the same time in previous seasons, but through carefully controlled training has maintained his power. "I feel that with the extra weight gone it will open up a whole new range of races that I could be competitive in, but Paris - Roubaix will always be my focus," he concluded.

Weather good for the Omloop

There's no chance of the Belgian opener being cancelled due to bad weather this weekend, with good conditions being predicted by the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium. After an overnight minimum of -2°, Saturday will be fine with a maximum of 4°. There will be, however, a moderately strong ENE wind blowing against the riders in the finale.

Click here for the Full preview, Map, Start List, History

Wood Predicting sprint finish at Geelong World Cup

By John Michael Flynn in Geelong

Oenone Wood (Nürnberger)
Photo ©: John Flynn
(Click for larger image)

Geelong Tour winner and two-time World Cup road race champion Oenone Wood is predicting a sprint finish in Sunday's UCI. Geelong World Cup as the largest field yet assembled for the opening race of the series takes shape. And the news for followers of elite women's cycling just gets better, with several of the big name riders involved in crashes at this week's Geelong Tour expected to make it to the the start-line.

Defending Geelong World Cup Champion, Australia's Rochelle Gilmore, is a confirmed starter in tomorrow's race. The Safi-Pasta Zara Manhattan sprinter suffered severe bruising to her right knee after crashing near the finish of Wednesday's Geelong Tour stage in Barwon Heads.

Canadian Lyne Bessette (T-Mobile), who hit the deck hard in Thursday's final stage of the Geelong Tour is also likely to start, with her shoulder injury not as serious as first thought.

Joining the best field yet assembled for a UCI women's World Cup race in Australia will be Olympic Champion Sara Carrigan (Q.A.S.) and Britain's Nicole Cooke (Univega), both of whom chose not to take part in this week's three day stage race.

Click here for the Full preview, Map, Start List, and History

Teutenberg beats the men with first T-Mobile win

Ina Teutenberg (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: John Flynn
(Click for larger image)

The T-Mobile women have managed to do what the T-Mobile men haven't yet - they have won a race. Ina-Yoko Teutenberg won the final stage of the Geelong Tour, bringing in T-Mobile's first victory of the year. She had finished third and second in the previous two stages, placing fifth in the final GC.

Directeur Sportif Andrzej Bek says, "It's been a good week overall." He claims not to be surprised at Teutenberg's good results, noting that, "We always knew that in Ina we have an ace up our sleeves." He is looking forward to Sunday's World Cup race, reckoning the chances not only for Teutenberg but also for her teammates: "The course is a nice one. There is one 500 metres climb on the course. It is a power climb and should suit Ina. Of course anything can happen, but if it comes down to a sprint we will give her a good lead out and put her in good position. If it unfolds in another way, then we are ready for that also. We have plenty of riders capable of finding their ways into the breaks."

Baumann successfully operated on

T-Mobile sprinter Eric Baumann is already hopping around on crutches in his hospital room after a successful operation Wednesday to set the broken tibia and fibula he suffered last week in the Volta a Algarve. "He's doing very well under the circumstances," said team doctor Lothar Heinrich, which Baumann himself confirms. "I'm doing a lot better, if you can say that, at least now only two days after the surgery I can hobble alone to the bathroom on my crutches."

The sprinter is not feeling lonely in the hospital. He has had visits not only from teammates but also from D.S. Frans van Looy and team bus driver Bert Tolhoek, who stopped by on their way home from Portugal.

Baumann is already receiving physiotherapy and is scheduled to leave the hospital next week. He doesn't know when he will ride again, but wants it to be "as soon as possible."

Cunego back in Almeria

The Lampre-Fondital team is active in Spain at the moment, with Damiano Cunego scheduled to make his season debut in the Classica Almeria on Sunday. He will continue with the Vuelta a Murcia from March 1-5, joined by Paolo Tiralongo, Marco Marzano, Marzio Bruseghin, Giuliano Figueras, Sylvester Szmyd, Gorazd Stangelj and Tadej Valjavec.

Directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli explained the targets for Cunego in Spain: "Damiano always started his seasons from Spain; it's the third year that we'll begin in this way. We hope to find warm weather, so we will be able to work in perfect conditions. With Cunego, there will be the team that he will often race with, a group focused on important races. We hope to obtain good results, also considering that the racers are in good shape."

The team had a sniff of success in today's fourth stage of the Vuelta Valenciana, with Patxi Vila finishing fifth on the Alt del Campello, 0'15 behind winner Toni Colom. "Patxi's race was good," said D.S. Guido Bontempi. "He has succeeded in getting into the winning group and was brilliant on the climb. It's a pity he couldn't go for the victory. Petrov was good also, finishing 14th at 39 seconds.

Finally, Lampre-Fondital will race in the GP Chiasso and GP Lugano in Switzerland this weekend with Matteo Bono, Matteo Carrara, Claudio Corioni, David Loosli, Morris Possoni, Marius Sabaliauskas, and Mauro Santambrogio.

JCTDU wins at Australian Sport Awards

The Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under was crowned Australian Sport Tourism Award of the year at the Australian Sport Industry Awards in Sydney ahead of the Australian Open Tennis and Gold Coast Airport Marathon this week.

Australian Major Events general manager Leeanne Grantham accepted the award, saying, "National interest in the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under continues to grow from year to year, with the 2006 event attracting 495,000 spectators and more than 11,670 international and interstate visitors who came to South Australia specifically to attend the event. This award represents the next significant phase in the event's growth and stamps further authority on its reputation as a sports tourism icon.

"We want to build on this success and next January, we hope there will be even more support with an increased number of recreational and community events allowing more amateur cyclists and enthusiasts to participate in this world class event."

The race is now entering its ninth year, and continues to attract top European and Australian teams and riders. The 2006 event provided an economic benefit to the State of at least $13.2 million, the equivalent of 203 full-time jobs, as well as media exposure valued in excess of $15 million.

More information: www.tourdownunder.com.au

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