First Edition Cycling News for March 12, 2006
Edited by Jeff Jones and Anthony Tan
Paris-Nice stage 6 wrap-up
Just one stage to go in the race to the sun, and today in Cannes, Kazakhstani Andrey Kashechkin (Liberty Seguros) emulated his friend and teammate Alexandre Vinokourov by winning the stage solo, as Vino did two years ago. Kashechkin attacked the remnants of the early break on the Col du Tanneron with 23 km to go, catching and passing Evgeni Petrov (Lampre-Fondital) 1 km from the top. He then rode a very strong finale to end 1'06 ahead of Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) and 1'11 in front of Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux).
It was a hard stage for Floyd Landis and his Phonak team, but they rallied to the cause. With the (at one stage) 19 man breakaway containing several riders within four minutes of Landis' yellow jersey, his team had to maintain a tight grip on the situation, which they did. Petrov came within 15 seconds of "virtual yellow" but in the end, Phonak neutralised any threats, with some help from Rabobank.
"It's all good now, before it was all bad!" Landis told Cyclingnews at the finish. "It attacked like crazy today! But I'm very proud of my team, and I was confident that we'd make it through, still. They stayed together as long as they possibly could and I still had two guys at the end. I'm very very happy with that.
"I would have liked to have had a break of guys with 10 mins or more. It would have been easier on the team. On top of that, it was a very hard stage." Tomorrow, Landis predicts his rivals will attack. "They will try. It's been a hard race until now. No matter what happens I'm proud of my team. It's not easy to defend in a race like this."
Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) kept the points jersey, and even got into an early break. He was in the peloton until the final climb. "I had a hunger knock, as the stage started so fast and there were so many hills and curves that I didn't have the time to eat," he told Cyclingnews. "I don't know if I'll finish the race; it doesn't really change anything if I don't. I'll just see how I feel tomorrow."
Dekker on the bright side, again
By Hedwig Kröner in Cannes
Rabobank's Erik Dekker has found reason to be happy again after his unlucky start into Paris-Nice and a very annoying pain in the back, which hindered the rider's preparation for his first season goal since the off-season.
"I initially came to Paris-Nice to win the prologue, but then everything turned out differently," he told Cyclingnews in a café in Digne-les-Bains, sipping a warm café au lait while waiting to to sign in for stage six to Cannes. "But I'm still in the race, that's most important, and my form is very good so I'm very happy with that."
The Dutchman explained about the factors that turned his plans upside down. "I lost 15 or 20 seconds in the rain at the prologue; that was such bad luck, terrible," he sighed. "And I'm never going to get those again - I'm not the kind of climber that can gain time on this kind of parcours. At the moment, I'm tenth overall but I'm only a few seconds away from the fifth or sixth rider. It's still very close."
On the other hand, Dekker is more or less relieved from a back pain that he suffered from for two months. "Since last Wednesday, it's almost gone," he pointed out on the bright side. "I suffered for two months, it was a real problem: I couldn't pedal slowly - I could race hard, like time trials, sprints or climbing was okay, as long as there was tension on my back. But in the descents and when it's not going too fast I had a lot of problems, also in training. I was treated and finally the last treatment did the job. It was about time! Last Monday, on stage one, I really hurt in that last climb before the finish."
Finishing with the main favourites' group in Cannes today, the Rabo rider was able to put his announced goals for the day to practice: "No damage, that's my goal for this stage," he had said at the start. And as Cyclingnews crossed his way again on the waterfront of the famous French glamour city after the finish, Dekker was all smiles as he sat comfortably in the warm spring breeze on a sunlighted café terrace, about to have another one of those strong French coffees...
A good day for Liberty
By Hedwig Kröner in Cannes
"I'm really happy with my new team, really happy to be part of it," Paris-Nice stage winner Andrei Kashechkin said about the Spanish Liberty Seguros squad, with which the 25 year-old signed at the end of last season. "Getting to know Manolo Saiz has been quite a revelation. He has a very good relationship with his riders and I think that's very important. I certainly know that it works for me, as I have been feeling better and better these past few weeks."
Team director Manolo Saiz was of course overjoyed with the Kazakhstani's victory. "When he got 25 seconds on the chasers on the top of the climb, I just waited for the next time gap announced on the radio," Saiz told Cyclingnews at the finish in Cannes. "But when he still had 30 seconds halfway down the descent, I knew there would be a real possibility for victory! I'm happy to see him win here today, and Luis Sanchez took the jersey of best young rider, too, so it's a great final report from Paris-Nice," Saiz smiled, as he was heading off to Tirreno Adriatico that very same evening, adding, "But there's tomorrow also; we will try again!"
The boss of the Liberty Seguros team is proud of his riders, especially the younger ones with which he came to Paris-Nice. "I came here with a very young team," Saiz said. "For me, the result of the prologue was already very good, and now of course, with a stage win, it's even better! Luis Sanchez also impressed me, on the day up to Saint Etienne he first waited for Kashechkin, then he came back on the front group, and he's only 22 years old. That's the most important thing for me: with this many young riders on the team generally speaking, we have a great future ahead of us."
A full interview with Manolo Saiz will follow soon on Cyclingnews.
The Cofidis question
By Hedwig Kröner in Cannes
Seeing the final kilometres of today's stage unfold on the big screen by the seaside boulevard in sunny Cannes, one couldn't help wondering why the two Cofidis riders in the chase group, Sylvain Chavanel and David Moncoutié didn't stay together to try and reel front rider Kashechkin in. Maybe a stage win would have been possible if the two had joined forces, possibly with their fellow breakaway mates, instead of Chavanel powering away on his own and Moncoutié drifting pointlessly in the back, of course without participating in the chase.
When confronted with this question, Cofidis team manager Eric Boyer answered, "No, because Kashechkin was simply unbeatable today, absolutely unbeatable. On the flat, he increased his advantage not only on Chavanel, but also on the chase group including Moncoutié, Casar, Voeckler etc. - so he was unbeatable today. I actually prefer it that a rival benefits from a situation that we've created, than that we benefit from a situation that others have created, because that's what we've been doing for too many years now. So I prefer to lose with honour than to win by profiting from a favourable situation."
Fair enough, but was there maybe another reason for Moncoutié to hold back? "He does have a mountains jersey to win tomorrow," Boyer replied. "It's true that he is only four points off the leader in that classification, so yes, it would be stupid not to try."
Davis leaves Nice, off to San Remo
By Hedwig Kröner in Digne-les-Bains
Liberty Seguros sprinter Allan Davis had to quit Paris-Nice today because of ongoing stomach problems. But the Australian will return to his European home in the Basque country tomorrow to overcome the bug - and eventually get ready for the "Primavera" next Saturday, a race the man from Bundaberg feels very much attracted to.
"Two days ago, I got stomach illness," Davis told Cyclingnews in the team's hotel off Digne-les-Bains on Friday evening. "On the first mountain stage, I had vomiting on the last 50 kilometres, and in the evening I had a bit of diarrhoea and I felt it yesterday. Today, I started again with the same feelings on the bike, so I had to stop and hopefully recover before next Sunday.
"I'm very happy with my form so I don't want to ruin it. I've trained the whole off-season for now, and I'm only a little bit away from a good victory, I think. If I can recover this weekend and train well over the next week, I should be good for Milano-San Remo."
Tirreno Adriatico stage 3 wrap-up
Petacchi concedes defeat to Mighty Thor
Despite his Milram locomotive working overtime towards the finale, Alessandro Petacchi is yet to notch a win in Tirreno-Adriatico. On Saturday's fourth stage to Civitanova Marche, the expectant tifosi saw Ale-Jet's afterburners run out of steam as Norweigan Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) powered past the 2005 Milan-San Remo champion in the final metres, also beating yesterday's stage winner Oscar Freire (Rabobank).
"The finish was flat with head wind, which is something I like," said Hushovd on his website, thor-hushovd.com. "When Milram led it out, I was far behind. One rider from Acqua e Sapone rode up and I took his wheel. When Alessandro Petacchi went for his sprint, I passed him. I was on the left hand side of the road and he was on the right. I beat him out by half a wheel. It wasn't easy but it went OK."
"The honour goes to Hushovd because he made a beautiful sprint," admitted Petacchi. "My team-mates worked overtime, but this time I made a mistake. I told Zabel to roll off too soon and as a consequence, I was released too far from the finish.
"To do 230 metres of sprinting into a headwind is too much, even for me. I must say, however, that Hushovd, even though he came from behind and benefited [from my draft], sprinted almost as far as me - let me repeat: he was really strong. My condition is very good, perhaps more than last year; today I made a mistake, but the important thing is to feel good for Sanremo," he said.
Unfortunately once again, crashes formed part of the day's proceedings with Filippo Simeoni (Naturino-Sapore Di Mare) the most seriously hurt, who was braced and transported to hospital via ambulance. Other riders who did not finish included Andrea Tonti (Acqua Sapone), Manuele Mori (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Alberto Ongarato (Team Milram), Matthieu Sprick (Bouygues Telecom), Leon Van Bon (Davitamon-Lotto) and Marco Milesi (Liquigas).
T-A dangerous and cold, say T-Mobile riders
Andreas Klöden is happy to be racing again, but is not necessarily happy with the conditions at Tirreno-Adriatico. "The course here doesn't make us riders particularly happy. At times we are riding on roads that are in a desolate condition," the T-Mobile rider wrote on his website, www.andreas-kloeden.com.
"In the first two stages, there were places where the potholes were as big as soccer balls. Plus the course is not sufficiently closed, especially in the last 20km or so. Cars parked left and right, buses standing on the street behind a curve - these things don't really give the impression that the race management particularly cares about the riders' health and safety." Klöden concluded by saying: "Many of my colleagues and I have agreed that something like this doesn't belong in the ProTour."
And his team-mate Bernhard Kohl wasn't impressed with the weather, either: "Normally you wouldn't send a dog out in weather like this, but, hey we cyclist are up for any fun! It was 3° with streaming rain as we were supposed to start," he said on www.bernhardkohl.at.
"Supposed to, because first it was discussed with lots of gestures (after all, we're in Italy) and then a strike [happened]. But nothing helped, we had to go, even when they were already announcing mixed snow and rain on the first mountain."
An interview with David Bernabeu
Another Bernabeu in the spotlight
Following six years in Portugal, a place he calls his second home, David Bernabeu received the call to return to home to Spain in 2005. And with his Comunidad Valenciana team confirmed for the Tour de France, the 30 year-old from Valencia tells Cyclingnews' Hernan Alvarez he's poised to realise his dream of riding the Tour de France.
Bernabeu is a surname that reminds people all over the world of soccer. Santiago Bernabeu was a famous Real Madrid president in the twentieth century, and Madrid's stadium was named after this significant person in the history of that Spanish club. Now there's another Bernabeu in the spotlight: his first name is David and he rides for Comunidad Valenciana.
Victorious in the Trofeo Pollenca round and the overall winner of the Challenge Illes Balears, Bernabeu defeated some big names that included Paolo Bettini, Alejandro Valverde, Constantino Zaballa and Mario Aerts. This was not his first triumph, though, because in 2004, he won the Tour of Portugal and his second Trofeu Joaquim Agostinho. Cyclingnews caught up with him while he was resting in his native Spanish province of Valencia.
Cyclingnews: How do you feel after your victory in Majorca?
David Bernabeu: I feel good. The truth is that I'm happy. I had much expectation because I had prepared the very beginning of the season in order to start well. I think we are going the right way.
CN: Maybe the fact of beating two star riders like Paolo Bettini and Alejandro Valverde is not insignificant, right?
DB: Well, it also depends on the period of the year that you catch them. Maybe they didn't prepare the beginning of the season to be up front. I don't think it's meaningful right now, at this time of the year.
Deignan back racing next weekend
By Shane Stokes
Irish professional Philip Deignan will return to racing in the GP Cholet on the 19th of this month, almost seven weeks after he broke his collarbone. The AG2R Prévoyance rider crashed during his first race of the season, the GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise in France on January 31st, but has almost recovered.
"My form is getting better now," he said this week. "I had two weeks off completely and then did ten days training on the turbo [indoor trainer]. I have been back on the road for two weeks now, doing rides of up to two and a half hours."
"I start racing again on the 19th in the GP Cholet. I will then do the Settimana Ciclistica Internazionale Coppi Bartali in Italy from the 21st to the 25th. Depending on how I am doing, I will either do the Tour de Pays Basque or the Circuit de la Sarthe. I probably won't be going great for the first few races so I will use them as training."
Despite a knee injury at the same time last year, Deignan had a good debut season in the pro ranks. He rode strongly in a number of races, won the Tour du Doubs and then placed fifth in the European championships and ninth in the Under 23 road race champs in Madrid last September.
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