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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for March 14, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner, assisted by Susan Westemeyer and Sabine Sunderland

"No mathematics" for Contador

By Hedwig Kröner

Alberto Contador (Liberty Seguros)
Photo ©: Hedwig Kröner
(Click for larger image)

One of Spain's most promising young cyclists, Liberty Seguros' Alberto Contador, has started his 2006 season with the French 'race to the sun' about a week ago. Being an excellent climber and a good rouleur, the 23 year-old would have been a candidate for a good overall placing or a stage win in Paris-Nice, but Contador was a little short of luck after finishing a solid fourth at the prologue in Issy-les-Moulineaux.

In the second stage from Villemandeur to Saint-Amand-Montrond, the young Spaniard punctured at a crucial moment of the race. "It was a little bit of bad luck, that's true," Contador told Cyclingnews in the evening of the fifth day of racing. "We were chasing down the break when I punctured, so the race was really fast at that moment. I lost time there, although two teammates were with me - one of them had to give me his bike."

The winner of last year's Setmana Catalana also recalled the time when another mechanical ruined his then good chances of a stage win in the 2005 Paris-Nice: on the last day, he went on a very promising solo breakaway in the hinterland of Nice when his chain slipped. "I rode that stage in front all day, and I almost made it hadn't my foot slipped out of the pedal in the descent - I almost crashed very badly that day, it could have been much worse."

Click here for the full feature.

Boonen ready for the challenge

"I know the Poggio like the back of my hand," world champion Tom Boonen told the Belgian press, invited to a chat in the mundane city of Monaco yesterday. Teammates Hulsmans, Cretskens, Nuyens, Tosatto and Trenti joined him for a 'stroll' on the Via Roma from Alassio to Sanremo on Monday. The Capo Mele and the Capo Cervo were scouted by car.

Boonen, who impressed during the reconnaissance is certain he knows the parcours very well and is ready for the first big goal of the year. "I didn't have to ride today anymore; I have ridden up the Cipressa and the Poggio a dozen times already since the Ruta del Sol," he told HNB.

"Last year, I was forced to just follow on the Poggio - now I know that climb like the back of my hand. I know every turn, and how best to take it. I feel I will be able to take off on that climb myself now. Descending in the company of Trenti and Tossato was very informative, but in the race things sometimes take a different run."

The Belgian superstar is determined to win the "Primavera", as much as he is eyeing the Grenn jersey in the Tour de France this year. "Milano-SanRemo is like the Green in the Tour: it's not a must but it's a challenge. One day I have to have it on my palmarès," he added.

According to Boonen's roommate Kevin Hulsmans, the last test was successful. "Tom is in the same starting position as Petacchi was last year," Hulsmans told Het Laatste Nieuws. "He simply can't lose Milan-SanRemo."

Team-lineups for Milano-Sanremo

Dutch team Rabobank has announced its rider selection for the upcoming Classicissima: Oscar Freire will be leading the team, and as he has finally put his health problems behind, should be counted in the group of favourites. Erik Dekker, Thomas Dekker , Juan Antonio Flecha, Pedro Horrillo, Bram de Groot, Marc Wauters and Matthew Hayman will be his teammates at the start of the famous Italian race in Milan next Sunday.

At Saunier Duval-Prodir, seven riders are certain to start: Gilberto Simoni, Rubens Bertogliati, Riccardo Riccò, Guido Trentin, Francisco Ventoso, Ángel Gómez Litu and Manuele Mori, with the eighth rider to be determined between the likes of Pagliarini, Pinotti or Zaugg. The team has also announced some uncertainty as to the participation of Mori, who had to abandon Tirreno Adriatico due to gastric problems.

More injuries in Tirreno

The list of injuries gets longer and longer at Italian stage race Tirreno Adriatico. Jan Kirsipuu (Crédit Agricole), who fell heavily last Friday in the third stage, has apparently broken his left heel. Like many other riders, he too can forget about racing the coming weeks.

Then, a dog running onto the road caused Thorwald Veneberg to crash on the penultimate day and break his collarbone. The 28 year-old Rabobank rider also fractured his ischial bone and suffered a concussion.

Three rain jackets for Kohl in Italy

T-Mobile's Bernhard Kohl had been looking forward to the mountain stage of Tirreno Adriatico, but the weather put an end to his plans as snowfall caused the high mountains to be basically eliminated from the course of Monday's stage six. But the weather was not finished with its tricks, as Kohl found out.

"At the start the weather was, as usual, awful," Kohl said on his personal website. "We started with three degrees and rain. To be on the safe side, I put on every piece of clothing I had with me. I felt like the Michelin man. But as usual, 'whatever you do is wrong', and after an hour it stopped raining and started to warm up. I practically had a heat stroke, before I could take off my three (!) rain jackets. Hopefully, the weather will be nice to us on the last day," he added.

Stahurskaya gets two-year ban

Former world champion Zinaida Stahurskaya has been banned for two years for doping. The 34 year-old Belarusian tested positive at three European races last year - once to anabolic steroid stanozolol and twice to hormone testosterone.

"It is regrettable, but we believe that it will teach her a good lesson," Belarus cycling coach Anatoly Miklashevich told AP on Monday. Stahurskaya, who is currently training in Italy, won the 2000 world road race title and the women's edition of the Tour de France in 2002. It is not her first positive test for doping substances, nor her first suspension: At the Giro d'Italia Femminile in 2001, she returned a positive test for a diuretic, and at the Circuito di Massarosa in 2003, for ephedrine. She was out of competition for four and two months respectively.

Urweider blames nutritional supplement

Sascha Urweider, suspended by Team Phonak Monday after a positive A-test for testosterone, lays the blame on a nutritional supplement. "I got the stuff on the Internet from Germany," Urweider said. "I thought a substance from Germany would surely be okay. If it had been something from the US, I would never have tried it."

Team owner Andy Rihs had a different point of view. "What he did was totally crazy," Rihs told Swiss newspaper Blick. "Our team doctors have repeatedly warned against using nutritional supplements." When buying the product, Urweider thought he had been cautious. "I considered it to be a reputable company," he said. "I read the packaging insert. And at some point you just have to trust other people." According to the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, he said that the producer explicitly said that the product does not contain any substance which appears on the doping list.

Urweider did not release the name of the product, but said that if the B-test is also positive, then he would let the product be investigated.

The team suspended Urweider after being informed of the positive results of the doping control taken during training on February 14. Urweider, 25, is a second-year pro with the Swiss team, which has a history of doping-related problems in recent years.

Breschel to return home

Team CSC's Matti Breschel was transferred from the hospital in Torhout to Oudenaarde mid last week, where he started mild rehabilitation exercise. The injuries the young Dane suffered turned out to be more serious than initially thought: After his crash in the last stage of the Three Days of West-Flanders, Breschel had been confined to his hospital bed most of the time. Teh CSC rider is now allowed to head back home tomorrow, Wednesday, but he will be wearing a special harness to protect his torso.

"At times I feel really good - guess that is when I've been given a fresh batch of painkillers," he said jokingly. "I get up and move around more easily then. My mum even took me out for a breath of fresh air yesterday. I've got to say it's a special experience to be in a wheelchair. Seeing the cobbled streets normally gives me a real buzz and then I can't wait to get on the bike and ride them; but now I had complete different feelings!"

Breschel has received lots of support over the last week, not only from his family and his team. "It's been great to get that many heart-warming messages from the Belgian people and fans from all over via e-mail," he said. "Johan Museeuw has checked on me regularly and it's really nice of him to be so concerned about my progress.

"I received plenty of chocolate and that's a real treat of course; but I've got to be careful not to put on any weight, so mum and my younger brother Casper are going to enjoy them most for a while to come!," added Breschel, who is looking forward to full recovery.

"I've remained positive all along and feel things are heading in the right direction," the Dane said. "The headaches are definitely decreasing, but my back is killing me at times. The lack of movement is the main cause for it I think and I'm sure Ole Foli [team CSC Body SDS Therapist] will have his work cut out. But I am looking forward to going back to Denmark and get back to bike training as soon as possible. I'm motivated and eager to return to competition."

Pollack follows the sun

Olaf Pollack, who achieved both of T-Mobile's victories so far this year, has escaped the German winter to find warm temperatures on Spanish island Mallorca. "I'm training here with a few colleagues," Pollack reported. "From my T-Mobile team, Andre Korff, Andre Greipel and Matthias Kessler are here, Daniel Musiol from Team Milram and Danilo Hondo - a good group to train with, I think." The training days tend to be rather monotonous, he noted. "Every day is more or less the same: get up, get something to eat, train, coffee and conversation in the afternoon and then to the sauna for relaxation."

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