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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for March 2, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones

Pippo power: Pozzato ready to rock in 2006

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Filippo Pozzato
Photo ©: Sirotti
Click for larger image

It was a clear, crisp Ash Wednesday morning with snow sprinkled atop the crest of Monte Grappa like confectioner's sugar on Martedi Grasso's fritelle and crostoli. But carnevale was now over and as Lent began, one member of Bassano del Grappa's contingent of pro cyclists was out for a training ride. As Cyclingnews managed a rare mid-day ride at the foot of Monte Grappa, we were passed by a streak of blue on a carbon fibre Time bike, a long, lean riding machine name Filippo Pozzato who said "ciao" as he flew past. Fortuitously, just up ahead was a semaforo rosso (red light) where we caught up the the likeable 24 year-old Quick.Step rider, who agreed to let us try to ride with him for a few kilometres.

Fresh from the front group in Saturday's Het Volk where he made the crucial attack with 40km to go, we asked Pippo, "What was your training program today?", and he related, "I went for an hour ride with (Quick.Step teammate) Guido Trenti, then did a (anaerobic threshold) test by riding six kilometres up Monte Grappa."

We noted that Pozzato had his SRM on his training bike and asked him how his training was going so far this season. "It's great so far; I'm quite fit but just lack some racing in my legs. I started in Mallorca, then did Laigueglia and (Quick.Step) was supposed to do Valencia, but it didn't work out. Last weekend went pretty well and now I'm going to Belgium tomorrow (Thursday) to race the Three Days of West Flanders over the weekend. Then Tirreno-Adriatico and of course Milano-Sanremo."

We noticed that Pozzato was leaner than at this time last year and he confirmed that, saying "Yes I've lost some weight and changed my preparation for this season. Plus I was sick three times last spring with the flu and could never get my fitness to the level I wanted."

He was pleased with his performance last weekend in Belgium, where he finished fifth in Het Volk. "Like I said, I could use more racing, but I was still competitive and the team was really good. In Het Volk I was a little cooked in the finale as we had been away for a long time, but it was good. The next day, (Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne) I was in a break until 30km to go and when we got caught, Boonen and Nuyens went and we won. That was great."

As we were about to part ways, it was Pozzato's time to turn the tables on the journo and ask Cyclingnews a question as he demanded, "Who does the live coverage on Cyclingnews?" and I explained that it was one of my colleagues [People actually read them? - ed.]. Pozzato then told us that "when (you guys) wrote that Wilfried Peeters was shouting at me to ride a bit faster, that's not really what he was saying. He wasn't angry at me at all, just encouraging me. I know the team was happy how I rode..." [Sorry Pippo, that wasn't what I meant to imply - ed.]

We said we would talk it over with the boss and let him know, and Pippo smiled and said, "OK, va bene" as the classy Quick.Step man pedaled off for his pranzo di mezzogiorno and we tried to recover from an extended session of riding over 30km/h for the first time in years.

Look for an in-depth interview with Pozzato on Cyclingnews in the near future.

Phonak going for the win in Paris-Nice

After Floyd Landis' win in the Tour of California, Team Phonak is going to Paris-Nice (March 5-12) full of confidence and aiming for the overall victory. The team will be quite similar to the one used in California, with Landis again serving as team captain. He will be joined by Aurélien Clerc, Martin Elmiger, Robert Hunter, Nicolas Jalabert, Axel Merckx, Koos Moerenhout, and Alexandre Moos, with John Lelangue, Juan Fernandez, and Jacques Michaud directing and managing the team.

Having arrived in Europe at the beginning of the week, Landis hopes to become acclimatised by Sunday. "Paris-Nice isn't the most important race of the season for me," he said. "I'll take it day by day and give it my best. But I'm sure that a strong team will be supporting me."

The race does not feature a long time trial, which is one of Landis' strengths. Instead, it features a mixture of sprint and mountain stages. Phonak will bet on Robert Hunter and Aurélien Clerc in the first two flat stages, but after that will aim to get in the winning moves in the mountains.

Gerrans makes his return

The French ProTour team AG2R Prévoyance has announced its lineups for upcoming races, including the return of Simon Gerrans in Milan-Turin on March 4. He will be accompanied by Julien Loubet, Lloyd Mondory, Carl Naibo, David Navas, Erki Putsep, Christophe Riblon and Ludovic Turpin, with Gilles Mas acting as trainer. For the Giro di Lucca that follows on March 6, the team will be nearly identical, with the inclusion of Iñigo Chaurreau and Alexandre Usov in place of Erki Putsep and Ludovic Turpin. In Paris-Nice (March 5-12), the team will see José Luis Arrieta, Mikel Astarloza, Cyril Dessel, Renaud Dion, Samuel Dumoulin, Hubert Dupont, Christophe Moreau and Tomas Vaitkus in action. Dion is taking the place of Stéphane Goubert, who is suffering from gastroenteritis. Yuriy Krivtsov and Sylvain Calzati will act as reserves for this race, while Vincent Lavenu and Arturas Kasputis will direct the team.

Di Luca and Garzelli debut in Milan-Turin

Liquigas-Bianchi's Danilo Di Luca and Stefano Garzelli are set to make their season debuts in this Saturday's Milan-Turin race. They return to competition after a three week training camp at altitude in Toluca (Mexico).

Di Luca hopes that the camp will pay the same dividends as it did 12 months ago. "We'll take full advantage of that hard training in future," he said. "In the first races, we're going to find the right rhythm. In Tirreno-Adriatico some 'Mexicans' may aim at winning. In particular, Stefano Garzelli, who is very fast."

Besides Di Luca and Garzelli, Luca Paolini is one of the favourites, too. The Liquigas squad will also feature: Mauro Da Dalto, Marco Milesi, Andrea Noè, Franco Pellizotti, Alessandro Spezialetti, Charles Wegelius and Stefano Zanini. Team manager: Mario Scirea.

Serrano prevented from starting in Murcia

Ricardo Serrano (Kaiku) has become the latest rider to fail the UCI blood controls. Serrano was one of 32 riders tested on Wednesday morning before the start of the Vuelta a Murcia, but his HR-OFF score was over the limit. He was told to rest for two weeks for health reasons, and will have to pass another test in order to race again. A high HR-OFF score is considered suggestive, but is not proof, of blood doping. It is also far less arbitrary than the 50 percent haematocrit limit.

Kaiku issued a statement in response to Serrano's failed health test, expressing its support for the rider. "Serrano gave correct haematocrit and haemoglobin values, but his "Australian formula" score - which compares the haemoglobin and reticulocytes values - was over the limit." Kaiku expressed its "complete support" for Serrano and the team's doctors, "who have always showed their professionalism in an area that the team, during its year and a half of existence, has never had a problem with and has passed every drug test that has been carried out to date."

Riders from, Lampre and Liberty Seguros were also tested.

Comunidad Valenciana and Relax gain wildcards for Vuelta

Unipublic, the organisers of the Vuelta a España, has named the 22 teams that will take part in its race between August 26 and September 17. In addition to the 20 ProTour teams, Spanish pro continental squads Comunidad Valenciana and Relax-Gam have been invited to take part.

According to UCI regulations, the team list has to be announced now, which is not to Unipublic's liking. "The development of the season may suggest to us to change this list, but the current regulations do not permit this."

Crow optimistic about cancer fight

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

February has not been the greatest month for Sheryl Crow. Nominated for another Grammy for her recent album Wildflower, which she dedicated to Lance Armstrong, Crow and fiance Armstrong announced they would go their separate ways on February 4 rather than marry as planned in April. Then on Wednesday, February 22, Crow's website announced that the 43 year-old singer/songwriter had a successful operation for breast cancer, caught in its early stages.

Sheryl Crow recently spoke to La Gazetta dello Sport's Pier Bergonzi about her fight with cancer and her future plans. "Now I'm doing better and I've decided to be optimistic", Crow told Bergonzi from her Los Angeles home. "It's going to be tough, but I'm ready," explained a determined Crow of her fight to beat breast cancer. "I was getting ready for my North American tour when I felt something wasn't doctors found the problem and we decided that they would operate. Did you know that by the end of the year, there will be two hundred thousand women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer?"

Like fellow songbirds Anastacia and Kylie Minogue, Crow had contracted the number one cancer killer for women, but told Bergonzi she expects to beat the beast. "The doctors have gotten everything and I'm sure they did a good job. So I've decided to be positive about my future. And I've still got a lot of projects..."

Crow has cancelled upcoming concerts in March and April and will now have to undergo two months of preventative radiation therapy. "The doctors told me that the radiation is something I have to do. But I still hope to be in Italy in June for my concert on Firenze. And maybe even go to the Giro d'Italia. I still like cycling very much."

Crow also spoke to Bergonzi of her relationship with Armstrong, saying "I know he is concerned about mom is here with me." Talking of her break-up with Armstrong, Crow explained, "Lance recently retired after an extraordinary career where he was completely at the top. So he still needs to figure out his new life."

CLIC24 & UK24 join forces for charity

CLIC24 2006 will be a UK24 Solo Racing Club Points Series event for solo riders in Britain. The popular charity 24 hour endurance event will be the first Cat D event where soloists are able to earn points based on a broad effort instead of prize money. It will be held on the weekend of May 13-14 at Charterhouse, Mendip Hills, Somerset.

Following the success of last year's event, which raised over £34,000 for children's cancer and leukaemia charity CLIC Sargent, the 2006 event promises to be the bigger and better. With a target of £50,000 CLIC24 will offer up its usual mix of home-cooked food, live music, free campsite and laid-back atmosphere.

This year's event will feature the same course as last year, a 10 mile loop including steady endurance climbs and miles of downhill singletrack through the Mendip Hills in Somerset. The course will ensure that solo riders are treated to a challenging yet enjoyable weekend of riding, at the same time as making a real difference to the fund raising.

Event Organiser Neil Wilkins said, "Being part of UK24 will open up CLIC24 to a broader range of solo riders who can gain early season points in a very different kind of way, whilst making a big difference to the charity sponsorship we are trying to raise...It will be an excellent experience for the less serious solo riders to be on the trails alongside the best in our sport."


Ontario cyclists score Quest for Gold funding

12 cyclists from the Canadian province of Ontario have been selected for funding under the Quest for Gold OAAP program. The athletes nominated were selected using the sport-specific selection criteria developed by the Ontario Cycling Association:

Brooke Boocock - Road
Sarah Coney - MTB XC
Chris DaSilva - BMX
Tim DaSilva - BMX
Krystal Jeffs - Road
Celeste Jones-Baumgardt - Road
Marty Lazarski - MTB XC
Kaitlin Michener - MTB XC
Adam Morka - MTB XC
Amanda Sin - MTB XC
Catherine Vipond - MTB XC
Derek Zandstra - MTB XC

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