First Edition Cycling News for March 8, 2006
Edited by Jeff Jones & Les Clarke
Paris-Nice stage 2 wrap-up: Happy days continue for Boonen
World Champion Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) pulled off his second victory in two days, winning the lumpy and cold 200 km stage between Cerilly and Belleville ahead of Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros-Wurth) and Danilo Napolitano (Lampre-Fondital). Despite the strength of the Quick.Step train, it was looking like an unlikely win at one point when early attacker Nicolas Crosbie (Agritubel) had over 27 minutes with 120 km to go. He still had 18 minutes of that intact with 45 km left, but the cold and the climbs got to him and he was caught by a counter attacking Andriy Grivko (Milram) and Samuel Dumoulin (AG2R) with 13 km to go.
Quick.Step then took over and swept up the pair with 2 km left, executing a perfect lead out for Boonen to take his second win in a row and his ninth win of the still very young season. In doing so he extended his lead to 17 seconds over second placed Bobby Julich (CSC), who is still the favourite to win the race on Sunday.
"To be honest, we weren't expecting a win today," said Boonen. "We were the ones controlling the tempo in the first part of the race. Later on a few other teams started to make their moves and it was then that our team worked together guiding me to the finish line.
"Tosatto and Trenti were both fantastic during the final kilometre as were the rest of my teammates during the phase before the sprint. I am extremely happy and hope to go on to win another stage, making it a hat trick! That would be fabulous. The general classification? I'm not bothered about it."
Second placed (for the second time) Allan Davis commented, "Quick.Step worked very well for Boonen, but I took his wheel and was well placed at the end. I tried to pass him and for a moment I believed that I might win, but it was impossible. I'm satisfied because I tried everything and because with this condition, I believe that I can win very soon. On Thursday I will have another opportunity."
Crashes put paid to several
By Jeff Jones
The second stage was not without incident, with crashes taking out several riders, including CSC's Christian Vandevelde, Bouygues' Pierrick Fedrigo, Gerolsteiner's Sven Montgomery, and Milram's Mirko Celestino. Others like Michael Blaudzun (CSC) and Brad Wiggins (Cofidis) were involved in falls, but made it to the finish.
Vandevelde's crash occurred after 80 km, when the road narrowed and he collided with teammate Michael Blaudzun. "It was just plain bad luck that Michael and Christian crashed into each other and it's too bad we have to do without Christian," said Bjarne Riis on team-csc.com. "He's having his left shoulder x-rayed this evening and hopefully he doesn't have any broken bones. Blaudzun fought hard to get through the stage. He suffered quite a lot of pain in his knee but did manage to complete, which is actually pretty impressive. We'll have a problem sticking to our plan with only six riders because the race will get tougher already from tomorrow.
"Apart from the crash the stage went OK for us. We got through it without using too much energy and we left it to the sprinters' teams to do most of the hard work," added Riis, whose team has won Paris-Nice for the last two years.
Celestino's fall happened after 140 km, when he ran off the road trying to avoid a skid in the peloton. He fell on his right side and head, and broke his right collarbone. That could well put paid to his chances of riding Milan-San Remo, depending on how bad the break is.
Liberty Seguros also lost key man Alberto Contador, although it wasn't due to a crash. Contador punctured on the last descent with 10 km to go and was unable to rejoin the leaders. He ultimately lost 1'13 and with it his chances of winning the race to the sun. Contador experienced similar bad luck in last year's race, when he crashed in the first stage at 7 km to go and lost 58 crucial seconds.
Bobby Julich: anything more is icing on the cake
By Shane Stokes
Having structured his training towards hitting peak form in the Giro d'Italia, Paris-Nice prologue winner Bobby Julich has told Cyclingnews.com that he is not putting himself under pressure as regards repeating his overall win of 2005.
"Winning the prologue was a total surprise for me," Julich told Cyclingnews on Monday evening. "So too California, where I almost won the prologue there. This definitely wasn't one of my objectives for the season. After two years where we just blitzed the spring, we purposely took a more lax training schedule over the winter in order to do better later in the season.
"Probably the only reason why I am here is because I have number one on my back from last year. Otherwise I would be doing Tirreno [Adriatico] or maybe even just training right now. As far as the overall, I am already happy to have a win. I am ecstatic. But if the opportunity is there to get another good result, great."
Julich says he is taking a relaxed approach to the rest of the race, putting himself under no pressure. World champion Tom Boonen took over the yellow jersey after stage one and CSC and Julich are content just to let things play out over the next few days. "I am under no false impression that I am going to just ride away from the field and win for the second time, but I am definitely going to have fun doing what I do," he said. "With one win already in the pocket, there is really nothing to worry about. For me, personally, anything more is just icing on the cake."
Given that he had a light winter, the 34-year-old is surprised to already be in such good shape. "I definitely rested over the winter, let me put it that way! But I think that 20 years of doing this for a living is perhaps paying off - maybe there is a little bit of a roll-over effect. I have never really allowed myself to recover in the off-season; maybe I was always riding with one foot in the grave for a couple of years. Now that I just enjoy what I do and take the off-season a little bit easier, then hit it hard again in January, perhaps my body has time to recover and have a little bit of an overcompensation effect.
"You know, besides the training camps, I haven't even started my individual training. That is where I really got my form for Paris-Nice, Criterium International and the Tour of the Benelux last year. I start that block of training after Paris-Nice, so I am really looking forward to being even better in the Giro. I feel I can definitely go up another level."
A full Bobby Julich feature will follow later this week on Cyclingnews.
Gerolsteiner's 'tag-team' for Tirreno-Adriatico
Gerolsteiner will go on to Italy with two team captains for the start of Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday after Levi Leipheimer decided to take part in the race at late notice. The American will be joined by Davide Rebellin as team co-captain for the seven stages that cover 1090 kilometres which starts in Tivoli on Wednesday and runs through to San Benedetto del Tronto on March 14.
Rebellin decided against riding the race parallel to Paris-Nice this year because also it this time the excursion had attracted into its homeland. Directeur sportif Christian Henn believes he'll enjoy having two leaders for the race in Italy. "That is an advantage," he said. "We can be like a tag-team, and the competition must double the amount of attention they pay to us.
Henn is also confident the race will be good for his team. "I'm looking forward to the race; it's the first Pro Tour race for me this year - I see Quick Step will have Paolo Bettini there, but we still want to be a part of determining the the outcome of the race."
Gerolsteiner's squad for Tirreno-Adriatico: RenÚ Haselbacher, Frank Hoj, David Kopp, Sven Krau▀, Levi Leipheimer, Andrea Moletta, Davide Rebellin and Fabian Wegmann. Directeur sportif: Christian Henn.
Discovery Channel for Tirreno-Adriatico
Discovery Channel have announced their roster for Tirreno-Adriatico (March 8-14), and according to thepaceline.com's Chris Brewer team management have gone for a combination of classics big hitters (Leif Hoste and Stijn Devolder), strong domestiques (Michael Barry, Viatchslev Ekimov, and Pavel Padrnos), and stage race heavyweights Tom Danielson, George Hincapie and Paolo Savoldelli to create a balanced team capable of pulling off a strong result.
Discovery Channel's team for Tirreno-Adriatico: Leif Hoste, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, George Hincapie, Paolo Savoldelli, Stijn Devolder, Pavel Padrnos, and Viatchslev Ekimov. Directeurs sportif: Dirk Demol and Lorenzo Lapage.
Lampre-Fondital for Tirreno-Adriatico
Lampre-Fondital have announced their squad for the March 8-14 race which kicks off in Tivoli. Riders: Alessandro Ballan, Daniele Bennati, Salvatore Commesso, Claudio Corioni, Giuliano Figueras, Paolo Fornaciari, Ruggero Marzoli and Daniele Righi. Directeurs sportif: Maurizio Piovani and Guido Bontempi.
New Irish team competes in South Africa
By Tommy Campbell, The Irish Independent
After being launched in Milltown, County Clare by Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United last week, the new Murphy & Gunn/Newlyn Group head into action on Wednesday with five members of the team competing in the Cape Argus Pick 'n Pay Giro del Capo in Wellington, South Africa.
Derek Burke, Andrew Roche, John O'Shea, John Dempsey and Conor Murphy, who won the opening race of the Irish season in Bray have a tough task ahead of them, competing against a field of 120, with 10 international and 14 local teams, over 600 kilometres. This will also be the start of their programme for the next six months, with the team making early inroads into the international arena, the only Irish team to do so until the FBD Milk Ras in May.
Back in Ireland, the Mick Cahill Cup in Banteer, County Cork and the Traders Cup in Dundalk both take place on Sunday, with early season events enjoying a marked improvement in numbers - a good sign for the year ahead. Last weekend's race winners Theo Hardwick (Cycling Pursuits Cup) in Broadford and Eugene Moriarty (Cycleways Cup) in Navan certainly took observers by surprise - Hardwick has been an absentee on the circuit in recent years and Moriarty always plays his cards in favour of the latter part of the season. Both are scheduled to line up in Banteer where the defending champion is Vincent Gleeson of the West Clare CC.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)