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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for July 26, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones

Sastre: Pereiro could have won the Tour

Sastre and Pereiro
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Fourth place getter in the Tour de France, Carlos Sastre (CSC), has said that Pereiro lost the Tour because he was more concerned with Sastre rather than the other riders in the race. Speaking to journalists in his hometown of El Barraco, in Spain, where he was being honoured by the general public, Sastre commented on the crucial 17th stage to Morzine, where Landis took back most of the time he had lost the previous day.

"There were several people who were more concerned with me, of what I had to do and what I could do, than with what they had to do, and they lost a very nice opportunity for their rider to win the Tour de France," said Sastre, referring to the Caisse d'Epargne team.

Sastre also admitted that nobody, including him, thought that Floyd Landis "could endure 130 km in front the way he did" on the way to Morzine. Sastre gave Landis a big "chapeau" after only managing to take back 55 seconds on the Phonak rider on the col de la Joux-Plane.

Although he came close to the Tour podium - the final time trial saw him drop from second to fourth - Sastre came away with a "positive balance" from the Tour. Apart from gaining experience in the race, "It helped me believe more in myself," he said.

After his press conference, Sastre was honoured in El Barraco's City Hall by a delegation of officials and riders from the cycling school directed by his father, Víctor.

Valverde may miss Burgos

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) is rebuilding his season to start in the Vuelta a España on August 26, but isn't sure when he'll return to racing, following his broken collarbone in stage 3 of the Tour de France. Valverde's director, Eusebio Únzue, told El Faro de Murcia that he doubted Valverde would be ready in time for the Vuelta a Burgos, that runs between August 6-10. "I don't think he is ready for the Vuelta a Burgos," said Únzue. "Anyway, he will do a test at the end of this week to decide what his immediate calendar will be. Valverde on the right track."

Únzue won't consider it a disaster if Valverde misses Burgos, "Because we have other races available," he said. One of those could be the Clasica San Sebastian on August 12, followed by the Subida Urkiola the next day. And between the 16th and 23rd of August, Valverde could do the Benelux Tour, while the Clásica de los Puertos is on August 20.

Únzue also believes that Valverde has a good chance in the Vuelta. "The time trial stages are suitable for Valverde, and the mountain stages do not worry us; we already know that Valverde, in form, is capable of everything."

As far as the Caisse d'Epargne riders who will support Valverde in Spain, Únzue confirmed that Oscar Pereiro, second in the Tour, will be in the Vuelta, "but not all those that were in the Tour."

CSC: Keeping a winning formula

Team CSC management are big believers in the merits of training camps. After their July 2005 training camp Allan Johansen and Christian Müller followed up on their week of hard labour in the Austrian hills by winning two stages in the Sachsen Tour - a two-trick feat that Andy Schleck repeated this year. During the second part of last season, the team performed strongly in the Tour of Denmark, the Hew Classic, the Benelux Tour, the Tour de l'Avenir and the Vuelta. CSC manager Bjarne Riis likes to keep a winning formula, as Sabine Sunderland found out.

Lars Bak after a tough day
Photo ©: Sabine Sunderland
(Click for larger image)

After having taken the team to Denmark for a training camp in December, followed by a 10-day meeting in Tuscany in January and a fine-tuning training session of another ten days in Solvang, California in February, training camps might have become a bit of a drag for the riders you'd think. But not for the CSC riders.

While Carlos Sastre and his team-mates were doing an outstanding job in the Tour de France, DS Scott Sunderland again got handed the responsibility to plan the seven days of intense training for the rest of the squad.

"There's several factors which contribute to an efficient training camp," said Sunderland. "The location, what the weather will be like in that area, the training parcours, the ease of travel to and from the hotel and so on. You need to synchronise everything to make sure that you have all ingredients in place for a smooth run. It does take some serious planning."

Sunderland gathered the CSC troops at The Radisson SAS Balmoral hotel in Spa, Belgium. Nestled amidst the lovely forests of the Belgian Ardennes, it is a charming and cosy four-star hotel. Spa, famous for its natural thermal springs was no doubt an ideal location to put some long and hilly kilometres in and ride some of the well-known climbs of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege parcours in preparation for the second part of the season.

Director Sportif Dan Frost, mechanics, soigneurs and the 22 riders arrived on the afternoon on Sunday the 9th of July. The majority of the riders were coming off a rest period after already having raced 60-70 days this season. A few were still on the road to recovery after injury or illness.

Click here for the full feature

West Midlands Stage announced for Tour of Britain

Landis and Boonen likely starters

The Tour of Britain cycle race (August 29-September 1) will return to the West Midlands for its second consecutive year on Friday, September 1, with a new stage start in Wolverhampton. Starting off at Market Square in Wolverhampton, the route will take in the towns and cities of Newport, Stafford, Cannock, Lichfield and Walsall, before a finish at Millennium Point in Birmingham.

Elite cyclist Kristian House ( and event director Tony Doyle, unveiled the route across the West Midlands at a launch today (July 26) in Wolverhampton.

Hugh Roberts, Chief Executive of the Tour of Britain, commented, "I am delighted that the Tour will be returning to the West Midlands in 2006. The stage promises to be an exciting and challenging one for the riders and I am sure the local residents will provide great support and encouragement to all of the teams competing."

This year’s race looks set to be the biggest yet. World Champion Tom Boonen from Belgium, holder of the Tour de France yellow jersey for four days, recently confirmed he will ride the Tour for Quick.Step-Innergetic. The organisers have also announced the presence of Tour de France winner Floyd Landis (Phonak), although this will depend on what date he will have his hip replacement surgery.

Milram to Vattenfall Cyclassics

This Sunday's Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg will mark the next round of the single day ProTour classics. Team Milram is hoping for a home win with Erik Zabel leading the German/Italian squad. Supporting Zabel will be Mirko Celestino, Daniel Becke, Christian Knees, Enrico Poitschke, Marco Velo, Bjorn Schröder, and Sebastian Siedler. Martin Müller will be the reserve rider, and Antonio Bevilacqua and Jan Schaffrath the sports directors.

Maertens to hospital

Ex-top pro Freddy Maertens was taken to hospital on Tuesday during the post-Tour criterium at Diksmuide. Maertens, who had raced the previous evening in Aalst, felt unwell in the heat and experienced heart rate disturbances. Doctors examined him and determined that it wasn't serious, so Maertens was allowed to leave hospital later that day.

World champion Tom Boonen won the criterium in a two man sprint from Robbie McEwen.

Italian transfer news

Italian website Tuttobiciweb has reported on some contract news, concerning mainly Italian riders. After Cristian Moreni's second placing in stage 18 of the Tour, he will likely renew his contract with Cofidis until the end of 2008. Filippo Pozzato (Quick.Step) is said to be in "advanced negotiations" with Liquigas, while Quick.Step is interested in Andrea Tonti (Acqua e Sapone). Another Acqua e Sapone rider, Rinaldo Nocentini, has had "concrete interest" from the French ProTour team AG2R.

Finally, Alexandre Vinokourov's new Astana team is on the lookout for riders, and has had contacts with German Matthias Kessler, who rode well in the last Tour.

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