Latest Cycling News for February 28, 2006
Edited by Hedwig Kröner
Landis the King of California
After the Floyd Landis’ overall victory in the Tour of California this Sunday, the Phonak team sat down together in style and drank a toast. Landis won both the time trial and the general classification in his home state, and was able to celebrate in the presence of his family. But there wasn’t much time to savour the success, because the squad started its journey back to Europe at 4 am, where the first ProTour race of the season, Paris-Nice, kicks off next Sunday.
"We’re celebrating a little. But not wildly, of course, and especially not long," an overjoyed Floyd Landis said. "We still have other big goals ahead of us." Nevertheless, this victory means a lot to the Californian. "But I’m mostly proud of my team," he continued. "It did its job extremely well."
Directeur Sportif René Savary honoured the whole team for its efforts. "Such a triumph is only possible thanks to a good team spirit among the riders and the people supporting them," Savary said.
Meanwhile, Phonak's General Manager John Lelangue is seeing the bigger picture of the recent success. "The fact that Floyd Landis was able to enter three stages at the Tour of California as the leader was good training for us," Lelangue explained. "We focused exclusively on the general classification and didn’t have any ambitions at all in terms of stage wins. This was a new situation for the entire team, which worked very well with its leader - every rider was in place when he was needed.
"That's how we applied pressure to the other teams, like CSC or Discovery, and now we’re returning to Europe with very valuable experience. Given the good form that the riders are now in, I’m confident that we can also have a good race at Paris-Nice, which starts next Sunday in Issy-les-Moulineaux [a district of Paris -ed.]," he concluded.
If Olaf Pollack was "overjoyed" to have won the sixth stage of the Tour of California, the T-Mobile rider nearly found himself unable to describe the feeling of winning yet another one - the seventh and final stage. "I can hardly find words to describe the feeling," Pollack said after the race. "The victory was undescribable, the teamwork perfect and then the emotions were crazy!"
The last day of the inaugural Tour of California took place on a 13-km circuit in Redondo Beach, which also involved a small hill. "The profile of the last stage wasn't as flat as they said it would be," Pollack observed. "The little hill got harder and harder for me on every lap, so that just makes me all the happier to have won!"
The 32 year-old, who joined T-Mobile in 2005 after having spent five seasons with the Gerolsteiner squad, finally overcame the physical restraints of an ongoing knee problem this past year, and the mental blow this had caused him. Now, the German sprinter does not take anything for granted. "I had to wait nearly 20 months for another success and now I get two stage wins within 24 hours. Crazy!"
Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer
Phonak and Française des Jeux to Paris-Nice
The first ProTour race, Paris-Nice, is coming up from March 5-12. Swiss Phonak team has announced the following roster to participate in the French "race to the sun": Aurélien Clerc, Martin Elmiger, Robert Hunter, Nicolas Jalabert, Floyd Landis, Axel Merckx, Koos Moerenhout and Alexandre Moos.
French team Française des Jeux is sending young Thomas Lövkvist into the race, who is in great form after almost taking the lead at the Tour Mediterranéen a couple of weeks ago. He will be co-leading the team with Sandy Casar. Also lining up will be Bradley McGee, Gustav Larsson, Lilian Jégou, Benoît Vaugrenard, Francis Mourey and Eric Leblacher. "I'm confident and sure that we will be able to realize something good at Paris-Nice," said team director Marc Madiot, still impressed by Philippe Gilbert's recent victory in Het Volk.
22 teams to Giro d'Italia
The organisers of the Giro d'Italia have announced the selection of teams invited to participate in the 89th edition of the Italian Grand Tour. On top of the 20 ProTour teams, RCS has chosen two Continental Pro outfits to come to the race: Ceramica Panaria-Navigare and Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni, which both include a number of Italian and South American riders. This adds up to 22 teams which will take the start of the Giro in Belgium this year: the prologue as well as the first stage will take place in Seraing, Southern Belgium.
The teams for the 2006 Giro d'Italia are thus the following:
Ag2R Prevoyance (Fra)
Klöden happy to be back in action
T-Mobile's Andreas Klöden is happy to be back in the saddle again, having competed in the GP Chiasso and GP Lugano in Switzerland over the weekend. The German climber broke his hand in the Tour de France last July and had not raced since - so even though he didn't finish either race, Klöden was happy to get back into race rhythm.
"After a seven month break from racing, at first, it was an almost unfamiliar feeling to be riding in the peloton again," the 30 year-old said. "But that didn't last long and after only a few kilometres the joy of being there again gained the upper hand. Despite the cool and at times rainy weather, I was able to ride well and to test where I stand at the moment." Klöden, who finished the 2004 Tour de France second-placed behind Lance Armstrong, is now planning for his next appearance in the Italian ProTour race Tirenno-Adriatico, scheduled for March 8-14. Klöden will be one of T-Mobile's greatest assets in the 2006 Tour de France. "I am looking forward positively to this year and am 120 percent motivated," he concluded.
Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer
Rujano vs. Selle Italia
Venezuelan rider José Rujano, who won the 2005 Giro d'Italia mountains jersey, is currently not fulfilling his duties as a regularly contracted rider of the Continental Pro team Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni. According to a team statement, Rujano did not show up at last week-end's races in Switzerland, the GP Chiasso and the GP Lugano, although he was included in the team roster to participate at the events.
According to a statement issued by the Colombian team, the 24 year-old climbing sensation, who also won a stage in last year's Giro and ended up third-placed overall, is still under contract with the outfit until June 1, 2006, when he will be free to leave and join the ProTour ranks with Belgian Quick.Step. The arrangement came about because Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni was relying on Rujano to get a wildcard invite to the 2006 Giro d'Italia, but now the deal is falling apart.
In the statement, the team outlined that it renounced to a "rather important" compensation sum offered by Quick.Step, as it was agreed that "its equivalent would benefit directly the rider." It therefore asked Rujano to comply with agreements allegedly made in August 2005, otherwise it would block the rider transfer due after the Giro d'Italia.
NZ Women's races equipped with tracking system
Both the women's World Cup race in Wellington and the preceding Trust House Women's Cycle Tour, starting tomorrow, will be equipped with a tracking system to control the outcome of the events. While the system is already used at all ProTour, World Championship, Olympic and Commonwealth Games events and will eventually be in common use, it is the first time the devices will be used in New Zealand.
A microchip will be attached to the front wheel of the bike of each rider in the 124-strong field. During the three-day tour around Wellington and Wairarapa, the chip will be picked up by sensors at the start and finish of each stage. During the World Cup race in Wellington, there will be additional sensors around the course to help officials keep track of the field.
"Previously when they've had a blanket finish they've had to rely on video replays to sort out the placings. That can take a lot of time and it's not always reliable," said Race Director Jorge Sandoval. "This technology will give them an accurate run down of the placings within minutes. And during the World Cup race it means we'll be better informed about what's happening out on the course."
The riders were issued with their microchip today when they registered for the Trust House Cycle Classic. The women's peloton then took to the streets of Wellington in a parade from Parliament to Civic Square, where they were given a Mayoral Reception. The Trust House Tour starts on Wednesday, March 1 with a criterium around the Lower Hutt CBD, starting at 7pm. On Thursday the tour heads to the Wairarapa for two stages and then on Friday it returns to Wellington for a time trial around the Miramar Peninsula.
Neiwand sentenced to prison
Olympic dual Silver medallist and Kilo World Champion Gary Neiwand has been sentenced to four months imprisonment for breaching an order requiring him to keep away from his ex-wife. The Melbourne Magistrates' Court ruled that the suspended sentence given to Neiwand in September last year would now become effective as the former track rider had breached it by driving past his wife's house. Neiwand's lawyer is reported to appeal the sentence and apply for bail.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)