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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for March 7, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones

Tough Tirreno-Adriatico takes off in Tivoli

By Jeff Jones

2005 winner Oscar Freire (Rabobank) Photo ©: Sirotti
Click for larger image

With the exception of Tom Boonen, who has once again chosen to race Paris-Nice, the world's top sprinters will be honing their form in the Italian stage race Tirreno-Adriatico, that starts on Wednesday, March 7. Three-time world champion and last year's winner, Oscar Freire, will front up in the Rabobank colours; Italian sprinting stallion Alessandro Petacchi will be there for Team Milram; and a somewhat bruised Robbie McEwen will be back in amongst it for Davitamon-Lotto.

Apart from these three fast finishers, the 200 rider field is also bristling with other talent: Quick.Step's Paolo Bettini and Filippo Pozzato, winners in 2004 and 2003; Milan-Turin winner and ex-world champion Igor Astarloa (Barloworld); last year's ProTour winner Danilo Di Luca and Liquigas-Bianchi teammate Franco Pellizotti; CSC's Tour star Ivan Basso and Stuart O'Grady; Andreas Klöden (T-Mobile); Gerolsteiner's Davide Rebellin; Credit Agricole sprinters Thor Hushovd and Jaan Kirsipuu; Discovery Channel's George Hincapie, Leif Hoste and Paolo Savoldelli; Bernhard Eisel (Française Des Jeux); Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-Fondital); and Liberty Seguros' Jörg Jaksche.

It's a quality line-up, and it will not take long to see who has the best early season form. Most riders do "the race of two seas" with a view to the first big classic of the season on March 18: Milan-San Remo. It's quite common that the winner of that race has already done Tirreno-Adriatico as part of their preparation.

The 25 teams will roll out on Wednesday, March 8 for a 167 km stage around Tivoli, which is on the western side of Italy near Rome. It's not an easy finish either, and is steadily uphill for the last seven kilometres, making life tougher for the pure sprinters. On Thursday, March 9, the riders face an up and down 171 km stage between Tivoli and Frascati, with a tricky climb in the final 10 km.

The race then heads almost due east towards the Adriatic, with a 183 km journey between Avezzano and Paglieta. Another uphill finish, with a 3 km climb at around 6.5 percent, may foil the sprinters again and see Bettini and Rebellin battle it out. Stage 4 from Paglieta to Civitanova Marche is a beachfront run, but gets lumpy towards the end as it turns inland. Still, the finish should suit the sprinters.

The fifth stage is a 20 km time trial around Servigliano, a discipline that has been absent from T-A for the last few years. That and the sixth stage should decide the general classification, with Stage 6 ending on top of the 1105 metre high Monti Della Laga in San Giacomo. The final stage is a sprinters' special, 166 km between Campli and San Benedetto Del Tronto, finishing with eight laps of a flat circuit. All up, the race is 1090 km and looks to be more challenging than in previous years.

The stages

Stage 1 - March 8: Tivoli – Tivoli, 167 km
Stage 2 - March 9: Tivoli – Frascati, 171 km
Stage 3 - March 10: Avezzano – Paglieta, 183 km
Stage 4 - March 11: Paglieta – Civitanova Marche, 219 km
Stage 5 - March 12: Servigliano – Servigliano ITT, 20 km
Stage 6 - March 13: S.Benedetto Del Tronto – S. Giacomo (Monti Della Laga), 164 km
Stage 7 - March 14: Campli - S.Benedetto Del Tronto, 166 km

Naturino-Sapore di Mare betting on Fischer

Italian continental professional team Naturino-Sapore di Mare will start in Tirreno-Adriatico with high hopes for Brazilian sprinter Murilo Fischer. He will be supported by Valerio Agnoli, Luca Ascani, Paul Crake, Cristian Gasperoni, Massimiliano Gentili, Massimo Giunti and Filippo Simeoni, with Antonio Salutini serving as directeur sportif.

"Our main rider for Tirreno-Adriatico is Murilo Fischer," said Salutini. "While the young Agnoli and Ascani have good condition, and could aim at a stage win."

Löwik out of Paris - Nice

Gerben Löwik (Rabobank) will not start in today's second stage of Paris-Nice. The Rabobank rider is suffering too much from several bruises he sustained in a crash during yesterday's first stage to Saint-Amand-Montrond.

Omloop Het Volk for women

The first Omloop Het Volk (UCI 1.2) for women will be ridden this Sunday, March 12, between the Belgian towns of Deerlijk and Deinze. Despite its name, the parcours will be completely different to the men's Het Volk that was won by Philippe Gilbert just over a week ago. The total distance is 91 km, consisting of 46 km between Deerlijk and Deinze, then three 15 km finishing circuits. There are four climbs in the first half: Waregemseweg (km 18 and 32), Nokereberg (km 23), and Brugstraat (km 34), and one cobbled section: Herlegemstraat (km 29).

23 teams are expected to take part, making for a big field. Anita Valen (@Work Cycling Team), Mirjam Melchers-van Poppel and Susanne Ljungskog (Buitenpoort-Flexpoint), and Suzanne de Goede (AA-Drink) are the main favourites. Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel will serve as race ambassador, to try to lift the low profile of women's racing in Flanders.

Teams announced for Redlands Bicycle Classic

The Redlands Bicycle Classic (March 24-26) has released the lists of men's and women's teams for the 22nd edition of the race. Current USPro champion and last year's winner Chris Wherry will be headlining the men's field, along with his Toyota-United Pro Cycling teammates Juan Jose Haedo and Chris Baldwin, the current US Time Trial Champion. Under 23 National Champion Esad Hasanovic, riding for AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork, will be competing along with six-time Canadian National Champion Mark Walters, from Navigators Insurance.

The full list of men's teams is: Team Health Net presented by Maxxis, Jelly Belly, Colavita/Sutter Home Winery, Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada Cycling, Team TIAA-CREF, AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork, Jittery Joe's Pro Cycling Team, Successful Living presented by PARKPRE, Priority Health Cycling Team, Team Monex, Target Training, VMG Racing, BMC Racing Team, Fiordifruitta, CRCA/Sakonnet Technology U25, Kahala-LaGrange, Broadmark/Hagens-Berman Cycling Team, California Giant/Village Peddler, Sienna Development/Goble Knee Clinic, and Team Spine.

The women's field also has its 2005 champion Christine Thorburn returning to defend her number one. Thorburn is riding for Webcor-Platinum team, and will be up against Team Lipton's Kristin Armstrong, who won a bronze medal last Saturday in the women's individual pursuit final at the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Sydney. German top sprinter Ina Teutenberg will again return to Redlands, racing for T-mobile.

The balance of the Women’s teams include Victory Brewing Cycling, Velo Bella – Kona, Ford Cycling, Colavita Cooking Light, Landis/TREK/VW, Vitamin Cottage Cycling Team, Team Cheerwine, Team Biovail, Team Kenda Tire, Bicycle John's and Colorado Premier Training – Colnago.

More information: www.redlandsclassic.com

La Vuelta de Bisbee

The 28th edition of La Vuelta de Bisbee Stage Race (LVDB) will be held from April 28-30 in Bisbee, Arizona, USA. The three-day, four-stage event features an uphill time-trial prologue, two road stages and a time trial. The senior men, Pro 1-2, riders will cover more than 175 miles (280 km) of racing and 10,000 feet (3000 m) of climbing. The senior women and master men riders will cover slightly less distance and climbing.

The high-desert terrain of Southeastern Arizona with its rural highways that run through mountainous desert canyons and slope down and away from the historic mining town has drawn racers to Bisbee since 1976. LVDB boasts past winners such as Greg Lemond (who won as a 16-year old in 1978), Bob Cooke (1977, 79), Alexi Grewal (1992), Scott Moninger and Jeannie Longo (2002) and most recently, Clemente Cavaliere and Brooke Ourada (2005).

The stages

LVDB opens with an uphill time trial that gains 837 feet of elevation in just 2.8 miles. The course records are: Men - 9:18 by Malcolm Elliot in 1993; Women - 10:33 by Leslie Schenk in 1987; Master Men - 10:37 by Doug Loveday in 2003. The three stages that follow will test competitors climbing, sprinting, and time-trialing skills. If this race has not sorted itself by Sunday, the final stage features an extended uphill finish with two category 3 climbs in the last 15 miles.

Prologue - April 28: Mule Pass Individual Time Trial, 2.8 miles
Stage 1 - April 29: Sulphur Springs Road Race, 79 miles
Stage 2 - April 29: Warren Time Trial, 8.3 miles
Stage 3 - April 30: Tombstone Road Race, 87 miles

More information: www.lavueltadebisbee.us

Bay Area women's cycling clinic

San Francisco's Bay Area Women's Cycling (BAWC) will be holding its sixth annual women's and girls' road cycling clinic on Saturday and Sunday, April 1-2, at Lucie Stern Community Center, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. The Clinic runs from 9:00am-5:00pm both days, and registration and refreshments are from 8:00-9:00am.

The clinic is for women and girls who want to learn how to improve their bike handling skills, to know what is needed to start road racing, or to improve their racing strategy. It is for beginner and intermediate racers, triathletes, endurance riders, and cycling enthusiasts.

The weekend will offer skills drills and classroom instruction that include basic bike handling skills, climbing, descending, cornering, group riding skills, bicycle maintenance, bicycle fit, nutrition, training, and racing skills/strategy. Expert bike fittings can be scheduled by pre-arrangement for an extra cost.

Instructors include Stanford University alumna, Nicole Freedman. Freedman is a professional cyclist, two-time U.S. National Champion, former member of the U.S. Olympic Road Team, and founder of the former Ford-Basis Women's Cycling Team. She has coached numerous individual athletes as well as cycling clinics for women and girls around the country.

The clinic costs $89/day or $159/weekend (or $84/day or $149/weekend for San Francisco Bicycle Coalition members - www.sfbike.org/?join_renew); Juniors (age 18 years or under): $39/day or $79/weekend. Five full scholarships are available for juniors. Group rates are also available.

More information: www.bawcycling.com

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