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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for July 17, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones & Shane Stokes

Valverde's recovery continues

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Ten days after he crashed during the third stage of the Tour, Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) is training again on the road. He is looking forward to the last part of the season, where he hopes to show himself at his best again.

Valverde described his first ride on the road as, "Very satisfactory. I took to the road for half an hour on Saturday, and I finished my training session with one hour on the home trainer. Considering the fact that I had very good feelings, yesterday I did 80 kilometres. Today and the days which follow, I will continue to do between 70 and 90 kilometres each day, to avoid forcing either too much at the beginning, and then as soon as I get confidence and find the rhythm again, I will increase mileage gradually."

Valverde said that his shoulder is still bothering him as a result of his collarbone fracutre. "But all that is quite normal, only one week after the operation. The doctor who operated on me, Dr. José Luis Martínez Romero, is very happy because there was no complication with the operation, the injured is healing very well and I am recovering very well. So we have all the reasons, both of us, to be satisfied."

Valverde wants to come back to racing, " soon as possible, of course! Already in the Vuelta a Burgos if it were possible. But I do not want to rush things. It is still too early to decide. I will speak with Eusebio Unzue and we will program my return to competition together."

The question as to whether who will lead Spain at the World Championships in Salzburg was also put to Valverde. "The World Championship is a race which is appropriate to both of us. The decision to choose the leader of the team will fall to the national coach. That could be Oscar [Freire], or me, or both. Whatever his choice, I will accept it."

Finally, Valverde said that he has been following the Tour de France, and is very happy that Caisse d'Epargne has the yellow jersey. "Yes of course I do, every day. And now of course with more satisfaction after what Oscar Pereiro realized and the great job my teammates are doing every day. It was real happiness to see Oscar putting the yellow jersey on his shoulders. He is really a very good rider. Now we will see how he goes through the Alps. He has to resist, but with tranquillity and without any pressure."

Riders, officials gather in Germany to commemorate Amy Gillett

Amy Gillett, 1976-2005
Photo ©: AIS
Click for larger image

Tuesday will be one year since the tragic accident in Germany that took the life one of Australia's leading cyclists, Amy Gillett, and hospitalized her five Australian Institute of Sport teammates - Alexis Rhodes, Louise Yaxley, Lorian Graham, Katie Brown and Kate Nicholls - with life-threatening injuries.

On July 18, 2005, the team of six riders was hit by an out-of-control car while on a training ride the day before the start of the Thuringen Rhundfhart, Germany's biggest stage race for female cyclists. The tragedy was a huge shock to the global cycling community, and of the five survivors, only Alexis Rhodes and Kate Nichols have returned to competitive cycling.

To commemorate the anniversary of this day, a full schedule of events will take place in Germany over the next two days. Amy's parents, Mary and Denis, and her husband, Simon Gillett, have flown to Germany, as have Louise Yaxley, Kate Nichols and Katie Brown. Other Australian Cycling representatives will also be present, as will representatives from the Amy Gillet Foundation and the Australian Ambassador to Germany, Ian Kemish.

Starting this morning, there will be a media conference in Jena, after which Amy's parents will visit the hospital to thank the staff that treated the injured riders. Mr Kemish will make an official presentation of thanks on behalf of Australia.

Tonight, at the welcome dinner for the International Thuringen Rhundfahrt, Amy will be remembered among her cycling peers and the Amy Gillett Trophy will be announced.

Tomorrow morning, a private memorial service will take place at the accident site with Amy's parents, her husband, three of the survivors and other family friends who have made the trip to Germany. They will unveil a memorial plaque for Amy and a small service will be held by a local minister.

On Tuesday night, the local Mayor has organized a charity concert of which all the proceeds will go to the Amy Gillett Foundation.

Cyclingnews spoke to the general manager of the foundation, Melinda Jacobsen, who was on her way to the press conference to start the two days of events. Jacobsen said that everybody arrived in Jena last night and they had a small informal dinner.

"Obviously, it is a very sad occasion and the mood is somber," said Jacobsen, "but it will also be an opportunity to celebrate Amy's life. Of course out of adversity comes fortune and we have a very positive outcome with the Amy Gillett Foundation to make sure this kind of thing never happens again."

For further information on the Foundation, please visit the web site

Safe cycling ads to air on anniversary

The first anniversary of the death of AIS rider Amy Gillett will be marked by a television commercial aiming to promote road harmony between cyclists and motorists.

Gillett and five of her team-mates were hit by a car while training in Germany on July 18th 2005. The 29 year old was killed in the collision while Louise Yaxley, Alexis Rhodes, Katie Brown, Lorian Graham and Kate Nichols all suffered serious injuries.

The accident was caused when an 18 year old driver lost control of her vehicle and veered across the road between the towns of Zeulenroda and Auma. She was herself badly injured and was subsequently fined 1,440 euros and had her driving licence revoked for eight months.

Gillett concentrated on cycling after a strong career as a rower. She was a member of the Australian women's rowing eight which finished fifth at the Atlanta Olympics, and successfully translated that talent into bike racing.

In 2002 she won the national pursuit championship and was a member of the Australian World Cup cycling teams in 2002 and 2003. Amy was ranked among the world’s top 100 female road cyclists and last year took third in both the Australian time trial championships and in the prologue of the Tour de l’Aude. She was aiming to peak for the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in this March.

Her husband Simon, parents Denis and Mary Safe and two of her injured teammates will attend a memorial service near Leipzig on Tuesday. This will coincide with the screening of the first television advertisements on Channel Ten in Australia.

The advertisements have been funded from the Amy Gillett Safe Cycling Foundation, set up to honour her memory and to promote road safety awareness.

Funded by the Amy Gillett Safe Cycling Foundation, the 30-second ad begins with a close-up shot of a man and a woman arguing. The camera then pans out to reveal that she is on a bike and he is driving, highlighting the vulnerability of cyclists on the road.

Foundation general manager Melinda Jacobsen was quoted by the Ballarat Courier as saying that the current relationship between cyclists and motorists was at boiling point.

"Currently, an average of 35 bike riders are killed on the nation's roads each year and 2500 seriously injured, with the majority of these collisions involving a motor vehicle," she said.

"Both sides need to understand the perspective of the other so the road can be shared harmoniously.

"Rising petrol prices and an increasing focus on healthy living have seen a dramatic rise in the number of regular cyclists taking to our roads. The Amy Gillett Safe Cycling Foundation is about providing a new perspective to both cyclists and motorists, rather than apportioning blame."

The Foundation was set up last year with three main aims. They are to provide support for the rehabilitation of Amy's five injured team-mates, to fund and administer a scholarship program for young women cyclists in order to support their sporting and academic endeavours, and to support and promote projects aimed at road safety awareness amongst cyclists and motorists.

Her father Denis Safe said he was very happy with the advertisements. "We're very pleased. The foundation is doing a good job with a lot of good work going on behind the scenes.”

Amy Gillett was also commemorated earlier this year with a community ride on Saturday, January 7, in Geelong, Victoria. There was a very strong turnout of almost 3000 people, including AIS members and professional riders

T-Mobile at Thüringen-Rundfahrt

For the first time this season, the T-Mobile riders are competing at a high-profile stage-race in the sponsor's home country of Germany: The Thüringen-Rundfahrt (July 18-23) is known as one of women cycling's toughest events, boasting a long tradition.

T-Mobile is sending a six-strong roster to the six-day race. With the current world number one, Judith Arndt, forced to the sidelines by a viral infection, the focus will be on the Americans Kimberly Baldwin and Kim Anderson to battle it out for the overall win in Thuringia.

"But Ina Teutenberg can also always pull something off", said sports director Andrzej Bek. Though the Dusseldorf-native is primarily known as a sprinter, "she keeps surprising us", as Bek stresses. Teutenberg proved him right recently, when she bagged a stage win last week at the Krasna Lipa race in Czech Republic, a hilly affair. She also won the overall title at the Thüringen-Rundfahrt ten years ago.

The fact that the German stage race, according to her, is "a high-profile event" is indicated by the start list. All top teams with their best riders will be on the starting line. And all of them, as the previous race showed, are in top shape. "It's too bad Judith can't compete and we can't replace her", said Teutenberg.

However, she thinks the odd stage win is well within reach for the magenta team. Bek, too, shares that optimism. "We just had to come up with a different strategy". German Christina Becker is now part of the roster, which is rounded out by Canadian Amy Moore and the Frenchwoman Magali Le Floch.

The riders can look forward to a total of 592 kilometres at the Thüringen- Rundfahrt. "A tough parcours", said Teutenberg, "it's a constant up-and-down ride".

At the race's 19th edition, the challenge is an even bigger one than in previous years. The closing weekend in particular is highly demanding. Saturday, July 22, sees a time trial, followed by a tough 74,4km race around Schmölln. On Sunday, the queen's stage, a 113,1km trek from Gera to Zeulenroda await the riders.

The stages

Prologue - July 18: Zeulenroda, ITT 3,8 km
Stage 1 - July 19: Zeulenroda – Greiz 129,9 km
Stage 2 - July 20: Greiz – Schleiz 122,5 km
Stage 3 - July 21: Schleiz – Gera 129,9 km
Stage 4 - July 22: ITT in Schmölln,18,7 km
Stage 5 - Juli 22: Rund um Schmölln 74,4 km
Stage 6 - July 23: Gera – Zeulenroda 113,1 km

Gerolsteiner looks for stage win in Sachsen Tour

Team Gerolsteiner is going into the Sachsen Tour International (July 19-23) with good hopes. "We have a good line-up and can surely hope for one or more successes," said directeur sportif Christian Wegmann. Not that he is ruling out a chance for overall success. "When we have a chance there, then of course will take it."

Wegmann thinks he has all his bases covered, with the team he will be directing in the German race. Giro stage winner Robert Förster for the sprints, Frank Hoj for breakaways, and Torsten Hiekmann and Giro stage winner Stefan Schumacher for the mountain stages. And while Wegmann notes, "All the guys are coming back from a racing break," he remains optimistic. "I think that especially Schumi will be fully motivated after this time without racing and will be very ambitious."

In addition, the team will have time trial expert Michael Rich. "Micheal is always good for a top placing in a time trial. And he will surely use his chance."

Gerolsteiner for the Sachsen Tour International: Robert Förster, Thomas Fothen, Torsten Hiekmann, Frank Hoj, Volker Ordowski, Michael Rich, Matthias Russ, and Stefan Schumacher.

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