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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for January 27, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones & John Stevenson

Money problems cancel Setmana Catalana, endanger Vuelta a Aragon

Financial problems have caused the organizers to cancel two major Spanish stage races, the Setmana Catalana and the Vuelta Ciclista a Aragon, it was announced Wednesday. "The basic reason is that it has been impossible to raise enough money to put on a race to the standards expected and met in previous editions," said Catalana organiser Esport Ciclista Barcelona. "We are confident that the issues affecting professional cycling, and as a result the Setmana Catalana, will soon be resolved so that we can put on a race next year."

Arturo Lopez, of the Vuelta a Aragon, said that the race faces "the same problems as other races" and that the management "is not able to cover the budget." However, he said that there is still a small chance that the race could still be held, noting that "as of February 2 we will know definitely whether it can be run or if we must suspend it."

Rumsas and wife given suspended sentences

Lithuanian cyclist Raimondas Rumsas and his wife Edita have been given four month suspended sentences by a French court for possession and import of doping substances. Edita was also given a €3000 fine. The court in Bonneville handed down its verdict today, three and a half years after Edita was stopped at the French border with a quantity of illegal drugs immediately following the 2002 Tour de France, where Raimondas finished third.

In addition, Polish doctor Kristof Ficek was given a 12 month suspended sentence, as the court determined that he had prescribed the drugs.

Dekker chooses Cecchini

Dutch talent Thomas Dekker has joined a number high profile riders in their choice of trainer, Italian doctor Luigi Cecchini. "Thomas is a potential Tour winner," said Cecchini in an interview with De Telegraaf. "Therefore I will happily work with him."

Dekker has recently moved to Lago di Camaiore on the Mediterranean coast, where he will be in close contact with Cecchini. "I'm certainly not choosing the easiest way," said Dekker. "But I don't want to reproach myself in a few years that I didn't get the most out of my career. I have the feeling that I'm taking another step in the right direction. For me, what counts the most is a good classification in the Tour de France. I'm not a person to play a supporting role."

Dekker said that he will stay in Italy for long periods of time in the early season, but will return to The Netherlands for training in between races as the year progresses. He plans to work on his climbing by using the Italian terrain, which offers more than the hills in Limburg or the Ardennes. "Here there are cols of 20 kilometres that you can work on to your heart's content."

Cecchini trains many top pros, including Jan Ullrich, Damiano Cunego, Alessandro Petacchi, Juan Antonio Flecha, Kim Kirchen and Fabio Cancellara, and in the past he has looked after Bjarne Riis, Ivan Basso, Tyler Hamilton, Michele Bartoli, Gianni Bugno, Angel Casero, Mario Cipollini, Francesco Casagrande, Fabiana Luperini, Pascal Richard, Max Sciandri, Rolf Sörensen and Andrea Tafi. The 21 year-old Dekker is the latest of these.

"For me it's an honour to work with him," said Dekker. "Ceccho is so driven and has so much passion. I see it as a unique chance. He has 20 years experience...I don't want to betray Cecchini's trust. I want to prove that I'm here on my merits and to reach the top in the coming season."

In response, Cecchini commented, "Of course I don't have all the science to hand and I also can't see into the future. But it is pretty simple to establish that Thomas is a super talent."

Although Cecchini has been investigated by Italian authorities in relation to doping matters, he has no convictions against his name. Dekker is aware of this, and clarified: "I'm only concerned with him on training matters. He is not my doctor, but my trainer. The past few years have seen new times in cycling. Look how easy it is for young riders to reach the top. For me, that is proof that you can win in this sport without doping."

Bodrogi planning hour record attack

Hungarian Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole) is planning an attack on the World Hour Record in September, according to ANP. Bodrogi will aim to beat the mark of Czech Ondrej Sosenka, who clocked 49.7 km for the hour in mid-2005. He will do it at the velodrome in Bourdeaux, according to team director Roger Legeay.

Naturino-Sapore di Mare approved

The UCI has approved the application of Italian team Naturino-Sapore di Mare for a place in the Professional Continetal ranks. The team run by Vincenzo Santoni did not initially submit all tehnecessary paperwork by the original deadline, but was granted an extension and has now met the requirements.

Gerolsteiner, Wiesenhof-AKUD for Doha and Qatar

The German Gerolsteiner and Wiesenhof-AKUD and teams have announced their line-ups for today's Doha International GP and the Tour of Qatar (January 29-February 3). Gerolsteiner is pinning its hopes on sprinter Robert Förster. "Robert is highly motivated," said directeur sportif Christian Henn. "A stage win would be the right tune-up for the upcoming races and would help strengthen the morale as well as the team feeling." Henn also noted, "We're not going there for training!"

Gerolsteiner will field Robert Förster, Thomas Fothen, Rene Haselbacher, Frank Hoj, Sven Krauss, Sebastian Lang, Volker Ordowski, and Peter Wrolich.

Wiesenhof-AKUD will be represented by Artur Gajek, Tim Klinger, Christian Leben, Felix Odebrecht, Lubor Tesar, and Carlo Westphal.

Boonen back at GP Doha

The Quick.Step-Innergetic team will tackle the GP Doha (Jan. 27) and Tour of Qatar (Jan. 30-Feb. 3) with Tom Boonen as captain. The World Champion will be joined by Wilfried Cretskens, Steven De Jongh, Kevin Hulsmans, Servais Knaven, Matteo Tosatto, Guido Trenti, and Kevin Van Impe.

Meschenmoser thankful for first pro start

Neo-pro Christoph Meschenmoser is starting the GP Doha for the Netherlands Skil-Shimano team, as his very first professional race -- an exciting event for any rider, but one that means even more to the young German. Two years ago it looked unlikely that he would have a pro career, or even much of a future at all. In September 2003 he crashed in the Giro della Toskana and injured himself so badly that he was placed in an induced coma. "I don't think about it very often," said the 22-year-old. "Now, I just look to the future."

Tough route unveiled for FBD Insurance Rás

By Shane Stokes

The route
Click for larger image

As time continues to tick down to the start of the 2006 FBD Insurance RÁS, more details about the Irish tour have been released. This year’s event will start and finish in Dublin, the riders scrapping it out over a route 1230 kilometres in length and based in the south, west and east of the country.

“I think this is going to be a very tough course due to the balance struck between climbs and long stages,” said race organiser Dermot Dignam on Thursday. “There is a lot of pulling and dragging along the way. In addition, the inclusion of a team time trial plus a full road race stage on the final day add additional challenges to the riders. It all should lead to some very exciting racing.”

The 2.2 ranked contest gets underway on Sunday, May 21 with a mainly flat stage from Dublin to Enniscorthy. This 121 kilometre leg will take in two category three climbs along the way but, perhaps more importantly, will also feature two hot spot sprints. These often play an important role in determining the first yellow jersey of the race.

At 180 kilometres the second stage from Enniscorthy to Cobh is the longest of the 2006 FBD Insurance RÁS. It features three categorised climbs along the way before a steep uphill sprint to the line. Another uphill finish features 24 hours later in An Daingean (Dingle). However, before reaching the end of the 173 kilometre leg, the peloton will slug it out over four category three ascents earlier in the day.

The last of these, An Bharog Bheag, is situated just 13 kilometres from the finish in An Daingean’s Main Street, providing a possible springboard for a stage-winning attack. The route will also pass the house of past winner Paídi Fitzgerald, marking the 50th anniversary of his victory.

On paper at least, the fourth stage is likely to be the toughest day in the saddle for the estimated 180 participants. The tough roads of Kerry bring a total of seven categorised climbs, the 150 kilometre leg from An Daingean to Listowel including the gruelling category one climb of The Maum. Both long and steep, this is followed by some very undulating roads and should see the peloton split into several distinct groups.

Following a ferry transfer from Kerry to Clare, things flatten out somewhat on the following day’s stage from Kilrush to the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) village of An Cheathru Rua. Just one categorised climb will be tackled, but the 178 kilometre leg should bring some fast furious racing. The run-in to the finish will be held mainly on narrow, uneven roads, and so breakaway groups may well have a chance to stay clear to the line.

As previously announced, history will be made on Friday 26 May when, for the first time ever, a visually spectacular team time trial will impact upon the general classification of the race. The teams will slug it out on a 24 kilometre course which both starts and finishes in An Cheathru Rua.

Later that day the riders will leave the town in a 83 kilometre stage to Westport, taking in two third-category climbs along the way. The ability to recover from the morning time trial will pay a part in determining the outcome of this leg of the race and, indeed, may also impact on the fight for the yellow jersey.

Saturday May 27 is the penultimate stage of the 2006 FBD Insurance RÁS and so the stakes will be high. Although there are no categorised climbs along the 168 kilometre route from Westport to Clara, the inevitable clash between the race favourites should result in some fast, tactical racing as the peloton speeds through towns such as Claremorris, Castlerea, and Roscommon.

Twenty-four hours later the field will slug it out for the final time as the race reaches its climax with another tough stage. In a break with tradition, the last day will be a fully-fledged road stage rather than a circuit race, increasing the tension in the tussle for the final yellow jersey. The riders will face a total of four categorised climbs between the start in Clara and the finish in Skerries, including one on each of the two laps of a tough 13.7 kilometre finishing circuit.

FBD Insurance Rás 2006 stages

Stage 1 - Sunday 21st May: Dublin – Enniscorthy, 121km
Stage 2 - Monday 22nd May: Enniscorthy – Cobh, 180km
Stage 3 - Tuesday 23rd May: Cobh – An Daingean, 173Kms.
Stage 4 - Wednesday 24th May: An Daingean – Listowel, 150km
Stage 5 - Thursday 25th May: Kilrush – An Cheathrú Rua, 179km
Stage 6 - Friday 26th May: An Cheathrú Rua Team Time Trial, 24km
Stage 7 - Friday 26th May: An Cheathrú Rua – Westport, 83km
Stage 8 - Saturday 27th May: Westport – Clara, 168km
Stage 9 - Sunday 28th May: Clara – Skerries + 2 laps of circuit, 155km

2006 America’s Dairyland/Cannondale presented by Udderly Smooth

The America’s Dairyland team has announced its 2006 roster. The 'Cowgirls' return with their familiar core squad and three new riders. The team expands in 2006 with the addition of Heather Albert, Betsy Galenti, and Natalie Klemko (U-23). Returning members of the 2005 elite team are Rachel Eichers, Australian Patricia Palmer, Anna Dierking (U-23), Laura Downey, Rebecca Anderson, Jamie Surges and Julie Schmitt.

Click here for the full roster and announcement.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)