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Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for March 9, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Paris-Nice stage 3 wrap-up: Landis according to plan

Landis and Vila in the decisive climb
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Floyd Landis has moved himself up to the top of General Classification in stage three of the French 'race to the sun'. After winning the Tour of California, the Phonak leader might well be headed for his second stage race victory this season - that is, if his reduced team is strong enough to protect him until the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.

"Paris-Nice is a great objective for the year," Landis said in the finish in Saint-Etienne. "We'll do our best but it's not easy. We don't necessarily have the strongest team. It was a little bit out of control today. Fortunately we had guys in the breakaways. We'll take it one day at a time." Phonak will now try to defend the yellow jersey with only six riders remaining in the race: Robert Hunter abandoned today because of a sinus infection, and Aurélien Clerc didn't make the time cut.

Landis had repeatedly announced that Paris-Nice was his first objective this season, and he has now proven his ability to put plans into practice. When asked if this yellow jersey was a good sign before the Tour de France, he said "I hope so" with a big smile on his face.

Today's stage victory went to Spaniard 'Patxi' Vila of Lampre-Fondital, who was the only one able to keep up with Landis in the final climb, the col de Croix de Chaubouret, where the decisive attack was made. Last year's winner, Bobby Julich (Team CSC) and overall aspirant Andrei Kashechkin (Liberty Seguros) both lost close to nine minutes in today's cold and misty stage, but many teams with riders in the GC top ten might still put some pressure on Landis and his teammates before his goal is set in stone, for example Team CSC, whose Fränk Schleck finished fourth in today's stage, improving to fifth on GC.

"Fränk lost a bit of momentum at the final part of the climb, and he wasn't able to bridge up to the two leaders on the descent towards Saint Etienne," said team director Bjarne Riis. "It was a very hard stage and Bobby Julich lost a lot of time. Now we will try to support Fränk the best we can in order for him to improve in GC. Generally speaking we are back to where we started this race. We didn't think we would have a rider for the overall win, but still we'll try to make a good result in this race."

Live coverage

Cyclingnews will cover the final four stages of Paris-Nice live, beginning at 14:30 local time (CET)/08:30 (USA East)/05:30 (USA West)/00:30 (Australia East).

See also:
Full results & report
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Tirreno-Adriatico stage 1 wrap-up: Bettini outsprints Zabel

A happy grillo wins in Tivoli
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

In the first stage of Tirreno Adriatico from Tivoli to Tivoli today, Quick.Step's Paolo Bettini grabbed his third win this season by outsprinting Erik Zabel (Milram) and Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole). In the uphill finish straight, Zabel's teammate Alessandro Petacchi led out the sprint for the German, but the Olympic champion proved to be the best man for this type of terrain, especially as he could rely on the help of Filippo Pozzato.

"I rode very well today," said Bettini after the stage. "I was covered throughout the whole race thanks to my teammates who did a fantastic job once again. Bramati, De Jongh and Knaven were out front striding away for 140 kilometres, Baguet split the group up at the beginning of the climb and then Pozzato guided me up to the 500 metre mark. What more could I ask for? I’m feeling great and in form. From now on I’ll be taking things on a day to day basis, at least up until the time trial after which I’ll have to decide on how I am going to ride".

See also:
Full results & report
Photos
Stages
Start list

O’Grady happy with Classics preparation

By Shane Stokes

Following top ten placings in stages of the Tour of California and the Tour of Qatar, Stuart O’Grady is heading into Tirreno-Adriatico confident that his form is on the up.

"I am feeling pretty good," he told Cyclingnews on Tuesday evening. "I have put in the base, I have put in the foundation, and now the results have to come in the next month. That is what I have been building up for.

"We spent the first couple of months either in training camps or racing, so it has been pretty intense preparation for the classics. I was working hard before Qatar and California so definitely wasn’t peaking for either. But from now on things will start getting a bit more serious, so hopefully the results will flow after all the hard work."

O’Grady has been fourth and third in the last two editions of Milano-San Remo and would like to go even higher on the podium. This and the Tour of Flanders are two of his dream races; Tirreno Adriatico will play an important part in making sure the 32 year-old is ready for the first of those.

"It is usually a hard race, but the finishes give you very good preparation for San Remo," he said. "Last year I kind of struggled through it but came pretty good for San Remo, while the year before I was fourth overall. It is definitely a lot tougher circuit this year. My goals are to get some good sprints in and get through the race as best I can. Notching up a win would of course be very nice. As regards overall aspirations, they would lie more with Basso. With a time trial and a mountaintop finish, it will be a bit more up his alley... He’s probably not thinking of being in contention for the overall result, but he is definitely quite psyched for the time trial. There is a 12-kilometre mountaintop finish one day, and I think Ivan will be up there too."

2006 represents O’Grady’s first time racing with a team from outside France. He was with Cofidis for the past two seasons, then Crédit Agricole and GAN before that. He’s pretty impressed thus far with CSC. "It has been everything I have thought it would be, and probably a little bit more," O'Grady said. "It has been really good, the team is definitely extremely professional and at the same time, it is a really good group of people. They work hard, but they know how to enjoy it and make the best out of it as well. So it has definitely been good so far."

A full Stuart O’Grady feature will follow soon on Cyclingnews.

Celestino faces surgery

Milram's Mirko Celestino, who crashed in stage two of Paris-Nice, will be undergo surgery on Friday. The Italian rider fractured his right shoulder blade when he went down, avoiding a skid in the peloton at km 140. Team Milram has announced that the 1999 Giro di Lombardia-winner will "probably" come back to competition for the Classics Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which means that he will miss out on Milano-San Remo.

Guidi out before Tirreno begins

Phonak's Fabrizio Guidi was forced to withdraw form Italian ProTour race Tirreno Adriatico before the actual event began. Suffering from tonsillitis, the 33 year-old sprinter has to take a break from bike racing.

"For the time being, Guidi has to take antibiotics to combat the infection, which doesn't permit him to race or train," explained team physician Dr Thomas Klimaschka. "Whether or not he'll be able to compete in Milano-Sanremo, as planned, is still up in the air. Teammate Ignacio Gutierrez replaces Guidi in the stage race, which began on Thursday, March 9.

Saronni: no advantages in ProTour yet

With regard to the current discrepancies between the three Grand Tour organisers and the International Cycling Union, the team manager of Italian squad Lampre-Fondital, Giuseppe Saronni, has recently given Italian Datasport his point of view. While he regretted that the ProTeams were "involved in the situation despite themselves", he was hopeful that the two disputing parties would come to an agreement over the ProTour soon. But Saronni also noted that, because of the power battle between the world's governing body of cycling and the sport's most important race organisers, the teams missed out on the ProTour's benefits.

"At the moment, there is sort of a truce," Saronni said. "But it was clear that such an important reform of bike racing would not be without pain. There have to be made certain adjustments, but I believe that the parties are not far from a common agreement. The principle to make participate 20 teams with many of the world's best riders in the ProTour has been respected. But in reality, we have some enormous obligations and haven't seen much of the advantages yet."

The manager, who was a professional cyclist form 1977 to 1989, also added that it was hard to find sponsorships, and that smaller race organisers were also affected. "Certainly the financial situation isn't positive, above all in Italy, but the chaos comes from the fact that it's hard to find a sponsor of a certain level," he commented. "This also concerns the smaller races; there is also a crisis from the organisational point of view. Either you're prepared or it gets hard to survive."

Petacchi to Niedersachsen Rundfahrt

Italian Alessandro Petacchi of the Italian-German outfit Milram will ride the Oddset-Rundfahrt (formerly Niedersachsen Rundfahrt) in April, the organisers announced today. The sprinter will use the race scheduled for April 19-23 to prepare himself for the Giro d'Italia. "Petacchi's start is of course a sensation for us," said German race director Otto Pätzold. "I'm sure that he will leave his mark on the flat stages of the Tour and he might even be one of the favourites."

Erik Zabel's participation had been discussed but the German will be competing in the Belgian Classics Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in that period of time.

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Discovery sponsors 2006 Tour de Georgia

Discovery Communications has announced that it has signed a sponsorship agreement with Ford Tour de Georgia for the 2006 cycling event. The Tour, now in its fourth year, will take place April from 18-23. Being the title sponsor of the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team, this is Discovery’s first sponsorship of a major cycling event.

The on-site sponsorship activities at the Ford Tour de Georgia will include the promotion of a new integrated multimedia campaign branded Race to Replace, which is designed to give audiences a look at the team’s athletes, training, preparation and development. Across Discovery’s global television, broadband, commerce and on-line platforms, Discovery will chronicle and provide in-depth information on the health, fitness, science and technology that comprise the building of a professional cycling team.

Bloomer Park velodrome receives award

The Velodrome at Bloomer Park in Rochester Hills, Michigan, was honoured with the 2006 Daniel L. Flaherty Memorial Award, given by the Great Lakes Park Training Institutes at its annual conference, held recently in Angola, Indiana. The Velodrome was the project of note among entries from six states - Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin - and proved to be the perfect blend of Public, Private and Non Profit groups working together for the greater good of the community and its residents.

The privately-funded Velodrome, spearheaded and completed by velodrome designer and builder Dale Hughes, is a model for private-public cooperation. The 1/8th mile oval was built on an abandoned parking lot in Rochester Hills' Bloomer Park after a creative fundraising campaign. Volunteers provided the labour and continue to maintain and operate the track, which was given to the city upon completion, making Rochester Hills one of only 17 communities in the U.S. to list a Velodrome among its facilities.

Beyond the actual construction of the $1 million sports facility, the institutes also recognized programming at the Velodrome, a carefully designed opportunity to engage the public to ride, race or watch events. "Programming is everything," said Hughes, who is also the coordinator of events at the track. "Our track is open seven days a week. Youngsters, adults, everyone, can come and ride - it's free the first time. After that, there's a nominal fee. Youngsters 18 and under are free all the time, all season long."

Alan Buckenmeyer, Park Manager with the city of Rochester Hills, said that the Velodrome has increased Park income by over 40 percent. The Velodrome will open May 1, 2006, starting its sixth season.

Howard Florey Institute Charity auction

The Howard Florey Institute is holding its first online charity auction to raise funds for brain research and two great cycling prizes personally signed by Australian cycling legend Phil Anderson are up for grabs.

All funds raised from this auction will go directly to the Florey, Australia's leading brain research centre based in Melbourne. The Florey’s scientists are working towards better treatments and cures for a range of brain disorders including dementia, depression, Parkinson's disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, motor neuron disease, autism, Huntington's disease and schizophrenia.

The auction items are a Giro Atmos Helmet worth $375 donated by Pacific Brands and a jersey donated by Adventure Travel Company. Both items were personally signed by Phil Anderson at the Howard Florey Institute's special screening of Wired to Win: Surviving the Tour de France at IMAX Melbourne on February 28, 2006.

To win these prizes, visit the new charity online auction at www.donateit.com.au and place a bid from Monday, March 6 to Friday, April 7, 2006.

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