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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for March 10, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner and Jeff Jones

Paris-Nice stage 4 wrap-up: Boonen unstoppable

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Not even a mechanical problem just a few metres from the finish line hindered World Champion Tom Boonen in scoring his third stage win in Paris-Nice. The Quick.Step sprinter again beat Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros-Würth) and Stefan Schumacher (Team Gerolsteiner) across the Rasteau finish line for his third win in four days, reinforcing his leadership of the points classification.

"At about 200 metres from the finish line I had a problem with my bike chain," explained Boonen, who was passed by Davis in that moment. "I had to stop pedalling - thankfully I managed to get the bike back in gear and launch myself into the final sprint." Which he again won by a length over the Liberty Seguros sprinter!

Boonen, who scored his tenth victory this year today in Rasteau, can only be happy at how the race unfolded for him. "I am very satisfied with how things are going so far at the Paris Nice. I’ve got my eyes on the Cannes stage but I think it will depend on how that stage evolves. I’ve already asked an awful lot of my teammates," added the Belgian, who will also be handed the "Oscar of Cycling" by Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport next Thursday. The trophy is reported to be a decorated bar of Gold. The "Oscar"-jury consists of the 20 managers of the ProTour teams, the organisers of the three Grand Tours and a group of 27 international champions.

See also:
Full results & report
Start list

Gerdemann "still satisfied"

By Hedwig Kröner in Rasteau

Linus Gerdemann (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Hedwig Kröner
(Click for larger image)

German T-Mobile Team hasn't been able to show itself much in these first half of Paris-Nice. With newly arrived Kim Kirchen out of the race since stage three, together with Thomas Ziegler, the team participates in breakaways, like in today's stage where Bas Giling rode in front of the bunch for more than 100 kilometres. Unluckily, it was designed for a sprint finish... but the harder days on the way to Nice are yet to come, and T-Mobile is hoping to be out for more.

"Our leader for Paris-Nice, Kim Kirchen, had relatively bad back pain and abandoned because of that," T-Mobile's Linus Gerdemann told Cyclingnews in the finish of stage four in Rasteau. "We're still a young team here; it's true that we haven't been able to show our abilities yet but I don't think we're too bad, either."

Gerdemann is also one of the team's new recruits for 2006, along with Patrik Sinkewitz, Jörg Ludewig and Eddy Mazzoleni, who all race Paris-Nice. Unfortunately, the 23 year-old Tour de Suisse stage winner, rated a great German stage race talent, experienced some difficulties the very first day.

"I had a lot of bad luck in the prologue - I went on the course when it rained," he said, explaining about his 86th place, 21 seconds off the winner Bobby Julich. "I don't want to hide behind excuses but I think I was still the best rider of all of those who started in the rain. The road was wet, there was a fast descent with five curves with zebra crossings - you just can't do much in these circumstances. I certainly lost ten seconds there, and if I hadn't lost them, I would have been in the top 20."

Nevertheless, Gerdemann is satisfied with his appearance in France so far, and is now looking to raise his overall placing. "Yesterday, my performance was good as I was able to be in the front group when we hit the final climb, so the ascent went alright," he continued. "Unfortunately, Kim Kirchen wasn't there anymore to benefit from my work, as he abandoned. Now, I feel good for the last three, hard stages. I'm still within striking distance so I don't think they'll let me go for a stage win because the time gap is too small. But I'll try to improve my GC placing - or, if I have a really bad day tomorrow, go for a stage win after that. My form is okay for this time of the year."

Last year, Gerdemann made headlines not only because of his stage victory in the Tour de Suisse, but also because his then-team director Bjarne Riis spoke of him as being "the greatest German talent since Jan Ullrich". Did he feel any pressure after this mighty wording?

"No, I've always said that I want to live up to the expectations but you shouldn't forget that I only started cycling when I was 17 years old," Gerdemann replied. "So I haven't been in the saddle for that long, and I think Bjarne said it in that context. I see this as really the first season of being a pro, as I was still an amateur in Spring last year. So I'm really quite satisfied with myself. If I had eased up a little yesterday instead of jumping away with breaks, I could have achieved a placing within the top ten, I'm sure. But somebody's gotta attack, and I like doing that too. So I'm just satisfied to see that the absolute top riders here are not that far away in Paris-Nice."

Having already attained his declared pre-season goal, "improving my stamina", the young rider is now taking things one step at a time. "I'll ride Milano-San Remo next week, then I'll take a break for a while. I'll continue with Tour de Romandie to shape up again for the Giro," he added.

Merckx: "Landis can win the Tour"

"Floyd can win the Tour," Axel Merckx told Belgian newspaper HLN. "He's surprising everyone. Never thought that he already would be this good this early," Merckx said. According to his Phonak teammate, Floyd Landis is a very classy rider, a real leader; but he also knows how to build a good atmosphere in the team.

"It's hard to have a serious conversation with him. He constantly has you laughing," Merckx commented. Defending the yellow jersey on Landis' shoulders is the first job for the Phonak team in Paris-Nice, but is it possible that they are also looking at going for the overall win in that three week-tour in July?

"Floyd is really blooming now he's reached thirty. He's got all the qualities [to win the Tour}: he's a strong time-triallist, a decent climber and he's not afraid. You can build your house on him. But let him start with Paris-Nice," Merckx concluded.

Courtesy of Sabine Sunderland

Double double for Quick.Step

Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step) does it again
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Not only "Tornado Tom" has sprinted to victory for Quick.Step on Thursday, March 9 - Paolo Bettini also did, beating Erik Zabel (Team Milram) and Mikhaylo Khalilov (Team L.P.R.) for the second day in a row in Italian ProTour race Tirreno Adriatico.

"I can’t hide the fact that I'm in great shape," the Olympic Champion grinned. "Once again our team was extremely tough today and Pozzato was fantastic during the finale. As soon as possible I’m sure I’ll be able to pay Pippo back for everything he has done for me these last few days!"

And it looks like Bettini isn't finished yet. "Tomorrow’s stage is one that I have already won twice, in 1999 and 2003," he continued. "We’ll have to see if I can make it three! But I’m not thinking about the general classification, I’m taking things on a day by day basis." It is already Bettini's forth win this season.

See also:
Full results & report
Start list

O'Grady breaks five ribs and collarbone

By Jeff Jones

Stuart O'Grady (CSC)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

This season's classics hopes of Stuart O'Grady (CSC) have vanished after a crash during the second stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, between Tivoli and Frascati. After hitting a pothole, O'Grady fell hard, breaking his collarbone and five ribs. He is unlikely to be back to full fitness for six to eight weeks, according to team director Scott Sunderland.

"We were racing in and around Rome," Sunderland told Cyclingnews. "There was a lot of parked cars and some bad roads. There was a big pothole and Stuey went straight into it, didn't he? They're racing so hard, with 200 riders pushing and shoving, and he went down. He broke five ribs and a collarbone. What was going perfectly to plan and getting ready for Milan-San Remo and the classics is all gone. He's in a lot of pain.

"He could possibly be back on the bike in two to three weeks, on the home trainer. The collarbone is the least problem: It's the ribs that's going to be a problem. They can be four to five weeks, but after six weeks you can still be hurting when you're climbing.

"We have to redo his program a bit, and we'll just see what happens, when we can get back into it. We have to look at other races. There are some good stage races, and a possibility to go to the Giro, maybe the Tour, but at this moment, it's too early to say. It depends a lot on when he can do proper training. He's not a rider who you just have riding around.

"He'll be back, but it's a big blow for him. It's our fourth rider this week: Vandevelde and Blaudzun, who has tendon damage on his knee; Breschel, who has to stay in hospital until at least next Wednesday or Thursday - that's a week and a half for him in hospital. The team's lost two of our good riders for the classics in O'Grady and Breschel."

CPA criticises Tirreno doping controls

The Association of professional cyclists (CPA) has issued a statement with regard to the hematocrit controls carried out by the UCI before the beginning of Tirreno Adriatico in Tivoli on March 8. "The procedure in which the blood samples were taken was obviously against what the regulations stipulate," the CPA stated in its communiqué, saying that the controls had been carried out in a "passage area" of a hotel hall, lacking "the most elementary protection of privacy and hygienic conditions".

The Italian wing of the association, the ACCPI, and the CPA have announced that the riders "will not accept the repetition of similar episodes". The results of the tests proved all concerned riders negative for any traces of artificial blood alterations.

Ullrich training in Tuscany

The question of where Jan Ullrich is and what he is doing has finally been answered: he is training in Tuscany. "After my successful training camp in South Africa in February, I am now working on my form in a very concentrated and intense way," Ullrich said on the team's website. He is accompanied by directeur sportif Rudy Pevenage and his physiotherapist, Birgit Krohme.

"The snow chaos is Southern Europe made our arrival a bit more difficult," Pevenage said, who is satisfied with the local conditions after the first training ride. "It is dry here and with temperatures around 15°, we can carry out our planned program."

Team manager Olaf Ludwig is scheduled to visit Ullrich in the next few days. Ludwig, Ullrich and Pevenage will together plan the rider's first race appearance. "It depends on the progress of his form," said Ludwig. It was important now, said the team manager, "that he gets is further training kilometres and thus establishes the basis for a good start in the season."

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

UCI and WADA coming to terms?

Hein Verbruggen, vice-president of the International Cycling Union (UCI), and Dick Pound, president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), have announced that they had taken advantage of their presence together at the Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy, to discuss matters of mutual interest, and that Pound was willing to accept an invitation to visit the UCI’s Swiss headquarters as soon as possible after the Winter Games, "to acquaint himself with the efforts made by the UCI in doping matters and to explore the potential for further and closer cooperation in the future," as the communiqué read.

It further outlined that, "contrary to public statements [Pound] made in September last year, it was not Verbruggen who provided any copy of doping control forms signed by Lance Armstrong during the 1999 Tour de France to the French newspaper L’Équipe."

Henk Vogels Cycling Foundation online

The Henk Vogels Cycling Foundation is now online at The Foundation was created in 2002 to provide promising elite, disadvantaged and disabled Western Australian cyclists with funds to prepare for and compete in national or international cycling competitions, so that they are given an opportunity to make a mark on the cycling world and achieve the levels attained by Henk Vogels.

In February this year, junior athletes sponsored by the Foundation had a very successful Australian Championships, with Scott Sunderland winning three gold medals; Duane Johanssen won gold as part of the record breaking team pursuit team; and Cameron Meyer won four gold and one silver in an amazing performance, including a very fast time of 3:19 for the 3000m individual pursuit.

In 2006 one of the projects of the Foundation is to provide equipment to members of the Western Australian Institute of Sport (WAIS) Talent Identification Squad. This will allow junior athletes identified as having above average talent the opportunity to explore the sport of competitive cycling further, without being disadvantaged by their socio-economic background.

The Foundation will be launching a major fundraising event later in the year to provide a bigger budget for its sponsorships.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)