First Edition Cycling News for January 23, 2006
Edited by Jeff Jones & John Stevenson
JCTDU Stage 5 wrap-up: Alby gets another, super team effort delivers Gerrans
The Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under finished in Adelaide yesterday with a second victory by Liberty Seguros' Australian sprinter Allan Davis. Race leader Simon Gerrans (AG2R Prevoyance) rolled across the line safe in the bunch and became the first rider ever to lead the race from start to finish.
A delighted Gerrans paid tribute to his team-mates for protecting the slender lead he established on the first stage. "I'm just absolutely rapt, I can't believe that I've had the lead from the first stage right through to today," he said after crossing the line. "It's just an incredible feeling.
"My team mates rode a fantastic race, they backed me since the first day and protected me on every stage and there's no way I could have done it without them."
The final stage panned out well for Gerrans with a small break away group getting away early but containing noone who posed a threat to the overall rankings. But he still took care to avoid any trouble.
"I didn't take any risks," said Gerrans. "I just did what I had to do and crossed the line.
"I've given myself a bit of a surprise this week... if someone had told me I would lead the tour from start to finish last week I wouldn't have believed it at all," Gerrans said. "I guess I've shown something to myself as well as everybody else this week and this should do my Commonwealth Games selection chances a lot of good."
In the last stage finale, the sprinters all knew that Robbie McEwen was the man to mark as his Davitamon-Lotto team upped the pace in second-last lap to try and position him for the win. But Allan Davis snatched a super-close victory, beating McEwen across the line by centimetres and getting congratulated by McEwen as they rolled into the finish area.
"I got on Robbie's wheel and just went from there," said Davis whose parents were trackside to cheer him on. "He gave me a good run into the finish. I've gradually progressed every year and maybe things are starting to pay off."
His Liberty Seguros-Wurth team was happy with Davis' second stage win, which also put him on top of the SA Lotteries Sprint Classification for the race but a little disappointed they weren't able to secure a back-to-back win for defending JCTDU champion, Luis Sanchez.
"I tried everything I could yesterday, as did the team, to help Luis - we basically laid it on the line for him," said Davis. "But Simon and the AG2R guys were too good. We have no excuses and we still came away with three stage wins [Carlos Barredo won Stage 3] and second overall."
Samuel Dumoulin looks for more chances
By Jean-François Quénet in Adelaide
Until the very end, Samuel Dumoulin has tried to beat Cadel Evans for the King of the Mountains prize at the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under. But his main job, to protect the overall lead of his AG2R team leader Simon Gerrans, has made that tricky.
"Unfortunately I was lacking information about how many riders had stayed away," Dumoulin said of the final stage and its two KOM ascents of Montefiore Hill. "I won the [second KOM] sprint ahead of Evans, but there were only three riders left in the front. If there were four, I think I'd have won the KOM, but it doesn't matter really. The essential issue for me was to make sure Simon was safe for winning the overall classification."
Playing the role of a domestique, Dumoulin finished sixth on GC in the 2006 Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, his second time taking part in the Australian stage race. He was an active member of the breakaway on day one, where he started chasing points for the KOM classification, but on day three, Evans was in the break and the Frenchman had no choice but give priority to the defense of Gerrans' leader jersey. At the end, his team-mate became the first rider to keep the lead from start to finish since the event was created back in 1999.
"When we got here in Adelaide, we made it clear inside the team that we had to keep winning this race every three years," Dumoulin said. AG2R's Gilles Maignan won the JCTDU in 2000 and Mikel Astarloza took the GC for the team in 2003. AG2R have been faithful to the South Australian event since the beginning, and this year theteam made sure it sent a competitive squad once again. The 2006 JCTDU squad was the core of the team that will line up for Paris-Nice's squad with Gerrans, Dumoulin, Sylvain Calzati and Cyril Dessel. The three French riders are all from the same area near Lyon. They've known each other for years and Gerrans got on really well with them as soon as he joined the team one year ago.
Before 2005, AG2R team manager Vincent Lavenu had never sent a neo-pro to the Tour de France in all the years since the team started as Chazal-Vanille et Mûre in 1992. Even Alexandre Vinokourov had had to wait his turn. But Simon Gerrans did such a good job in Spring last year that he forced open the doors of the Tour de France team and landed AG2R's best stage finish in the 2005 Tour when he ran third in Revel behind Paolo Savoldelli and Kurt-Asle Arvesen. Dumoulin is probably his closest friend in the team. "I've had a great week working for Simon," he said. "I was also a protected rider in the team and it was actually easier to ride in the front of the bunch. I was trying to give directions to the other guys for Simon to save as much energy as possible. He's been great and all of us have loved backing him."
25 years old Dumoulin may be a little guy at 1.59m but he's got big ambitions for himself as well. He was the winner of a stage in the Dauphiné Libéré last year, so he hasn't waited for AG2R to become a ProTour team before winning something in the ProTour. "I want to keep improving," he said. "I'm ready to take any other opportunity to win a big race. I know that I won't win the hardest mountain stages or the big bunch sprints, but any transition stage or a race finishing in a sprint without the best sprinters, I'll give it a go. I'm not the guy for winning GC in the biggest races but I'll try to do what Simon has done this week. We will not necessarily wait for 2009 for giving AG2R another win at the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under."
An AV to save the day? UCI prepares for next round in ProTour stoush
By Gerard Knapp in Adelaide
Armed with new marketing collateral produced by a research firm, the International Cycling Union is set to meet in three weeks with representatives of the three Grand Tours in an effort to resolve their differences that threatens to derail the fledgling concept of the ProTour, the UCI's attempt of amalgamating the world's top road races under one umbrella structure.
UCI president Pat McQuaid said on Sunday, January 22, 2006, at a press conference in Adelaide, South Australia, he is hopeful the race organisers will accept their conditions and become part of the ProTour "between now and 2008".
He said the research firm gave a presentation during a meeting held on January 18 in Geneva between the UCI and its supporters, notably the ProTour teams and their sponsors, represented by Patrick Lefevere, president of the AIGCP and director of the Quick.Step squad, as well as Paolo Del Lago from Liguigas.
The research is designed to show the potential of the ProTour and that it has a solid commercial future that could deliver benefits to all parties via increased exposure and television coverage. He said following the presentation, all three reiterated their support for the ProTour concept.
Click here for more from McQuaid, including comments on the JCTDU becoming part of the ProTour and the Olympic fate of the track kilo and 500m.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)