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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for March 13, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones

Bettini still in doubt

Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Innergetic)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Paolo Bettini is still in doubt to ride this Saturday's Milan-San Remo, after has crash in Stage 3 of Tirreno-Adriatico left him very sore. Bettini won the first two stages of the 'race of two seas', but things turned upside down in the rain on Saturday when he crashed at high speed on a descent.

Bettini's biggest problem is his right knee, which he can barely bend, preventing him from training more than 15 minutes on Sunday. The Quick.Step-Innergetic team will re-evaluate his condition today (Monday), but will not make the final decision on the Milan-San Remo squad until Wednesday.

The news is better for Tom Boonen, who won three stages in Paris-Nice but stepped off at the start of the final stage in order to better prepare for La Primavera. Today, Boonen will reconnoitre the final part of Saturday's parcours, between Alassio to Sanremo, including the Cipressa and the Poggio. The Monaco-based Belgian will spend two days back in Belgium this week before returning to Italy on Thursday.

An interview with Joerg Jaksche

Past, present and future

At only 29 years old, Joerg Jaksche is already in his tenth year as a professional cyclist. In that time he has hopscotched around from Polti, to Telekom, to ONCE, to CSC and now to Liberty. Susan Westemeyer tracked him down and asked him about his teams, his past, his present and his future.

Jaksche won the mountains competition
Photo ©: Andrea Hübner
(Click for larger image)

Cyclingnews: Within the last few years you changed from ONCE to CSC and then to Liberty. Why did you leave ONCE? And why did you return?

Joerg Jaksche: I went away, because we stood before an uncertain future. ONCE pulled out after the Tour and the team management still hadn't found a new sponsor by the time of the Vuelta.

It gives you a certain sense of security to come back to a team where you know their values and where you know in a positive sense with whom you will be dealing and what will be expected of you. I knew that, and that was my reason for going back.

CN: Your year with CSC was very successful, with wins at Paris-Nice and the Mediterranean Tour. Why did you leave the team after only one year?

JJ: I've known Bjarne [Riis] for a long time. He helped me in the most difficult time of my career, when I was young and wanted to quit the sport. He did things for me - a young unknown - which as a Tour winner he didn't have to do, and which nobody would believe, because many people have a false impression of him. I have a lot to thank him for, a whole lot.

One evening in Italy, I spoke to him about the future of the team and he told me in his typical open and honest manner that he might have to use his private financial resources to plug some holes. I didn't want that and therefore went to Liberty, although I still had a contract with CSC and could have stayed.

Click here for the full interview

Schleck hangs onto fifth

Frank Schleck (CSC)
Photo ©: Hedwig Kröner
(Click for larger image)

For the first time in two years, CSC didn't finish Paris-Nice with the overall victory, preferring to have a quieter start to the season than usual. After Bobby Julich won the prologue, CSC's best placed rider on GC was Luxembourgian Fränk Schleck, who finished fifth. On the final stage, Schleck took a bonus second in an intermediate sprint, which moved him into a virtual fourth, before Antonio Colom (Caisse d'Epargne) escaped on the last descent to leapfrog over Schleck and Sanchez into third overall.

"Fränk tried to escape but Landis was untouchable," team director Alain Gallopin commented on "There were a lot of attacks at the end, but we simply didn't have the team to make a difference today. All things considered, we've done well in this race, and apart from the numerous crashes, we've got what we came for. By winning the prologue, capturing the leader's jersey and getting one rider in the top five overall we've made our mark and I think the riders have done a good job. Fränk Schleck has continued to impress and shows great potential to make some excellent results in the near future."

Di Luca targets the Giro

Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi) is setting his sights on the Giro d'Italia this year, and will not target the late spring classics as he did in 2005. Di Luca won't start in the Amstel Gold Race, as a result.

By the same token, last year's Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner Alexandre Vinokourov will skip it this year in favour of the Tour de France.

Karin Thürig extends with Univega

The two-time World Time Trial Champion Karin Thürig has decided to extend her contract with the Univega Pro Cycling Team until 2008. "I feel very good in the team, have the freedom to prepare myself for triathlon competitions also, and find a very professional environment," said Thürig. "Finally, that gave me the reason for an early extension."

Veenendaal-Veenendaal changes name

The Dutch classic Veenendaal-Veenendaal will probably get a new name next year to reflect a new sponsor, and will likely be called the Food Valley Classic, reports De Gelderlander. The name change is not set in stone yet, and the race will still be called Veenendaal-Veenendaal when it takes place on June 7.

"We hope that a business or organisation will adopt the race and tie its name to it," said race director Job van Schuppen. The potential sponsor, Food Valley, is a partnership between businesses, authorities and universities in the area of Wageningen, Ede, Rhenen and Veenendaal (WERV). The organisers have also asked the WERV municipalities to put in money and is negotiating with SBS6 to broadcast the race live.

Related story: Veenendaal-Veenendaal: In the shadow of the Classics

Revamp for Lehigh Valley Velodrome

The Lehigh Valley Velodrome in Trexlertown, PA, USA, will undergo a substantial program restructuring and a revamped image for 2006. At an event in the velodrome's headquarters in Allentown on March 9, the new executive committee unveiled a new logo and website (, along with its vision for the future.

Present were Olympians Erin Hartwell and Marty Nothstein, respectively CEO and COO of the velodrome, and Bob Martin, president of the board of the Velodrome Fund Inc., among others. "Thirty years ago, I watched Bruce Jenner win Olympic Gold at the XXI Olympiad in Montreal," said Hartwell. "It was at that moment that I committed to the Olympic Ideal and the pursuit of Citius, Altius, Fortius, it was at that moment I wanted to live by an exceptional standard.

"It is a privilege and an honour to represent the Lehigh Valley and the Lehigh Valley Velodrome in our mutual pursuits of responsible growth and a strong community presence. It is an ethos that my staff and I bring to work each day as we all strive to create a vibrant, exciting, and professional environment at our place of employ. We're passionate for what we do in part, because it's a place where dreams still come true."

Three areas will be focused on by the velodrome management:

  • Revamp the 2006 Professional Racing Series with a reduced number of events (11) with a tighter orchestration between the racing, musical entertainment, and other pre and post-event festivities.
  • Restructure the ever-popular community programs under a single-scope High Performance and Development Bridging Program directed towards introducing regional youth to cycling, providing clear pathways through the sequential phase of development into sanctioned racing, and smoothing the transition from regional rider to national team program.
  • Initiate interest and feasibility for future expansion of existing infrastructure and physical growth beyond current borders to include a multi-use facility designed to support elite athlete development and talent identification.

"I want to create a centre where athletes from all over want to train, while again providing our local athletes with a clear path on how to achieve their Olympic dreams and helping them turn their dreams into reality," said Marty Nothstein. "I would love to see the Lehigh Valley become the home of an Olympic-level training center, one that provides every possible need for an athlete to accomplish their goals and dreams."

"The objective is to bring the world back to the Lehigh Valley in 2006 and for many years to come with a strong commitment to the elite domestic and international rider," Hartwell said when questioned about the quality of racing scheduled for '06. Later on he iterated that "our mantra this year is 'celebrating 30 years of traditional and excellence with our best season yet, which means right now, there's no 'wiggle room' for Marty and me… the world is watching what we do and we're committed to making sure we do it right. In this game, there are no second chances and T-town needs to retain its title as the Mecca of track cycling worldwide. We're making sure that is exactly what happens."

Canadian federation renews sponsorship

The Canadian Cycling Association (CCA) has renewed its sponsorship deal with Tim Hortons for another three years. Tim Hortons will be a gold-level Sponsor of the CCA's National Cycling Teams and as the official title sponsor of the CCA's national championship events in the four Olympic disciplines of road, mountain bike cross country, track and BMX.

"The continuation of this relationship with Tim Hortons is a key pillar in our marketing strategy," said Kim Sebrango, CCA's director of marketing operations. "Tim Hortons is a Canadian icon and Canadian Cycling is committed to partnering world-class athletes with world-class brands."

Team Alliance Environmental

Sponsored by Alliance Environmental Systems, Inc. of West Chester, PA, Team Alliance Environmental will continue to focus on building one of the strongest elite amateur cycling teams in the USA's Mid-Atlantic region, while promoting the growth of youth cycling with its junior program.

This year, the team's racing schedule will aim primarily at a mixture of NRC events east of the Mississippi River, and regional races of historical impact - races that may not fall on the NRC calendar, but are important for sponsors and press coverage. The team will also race in most PA BAR races. It hopes to move to Continental status in 2007.

Full roster and release

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