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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for March 15, 2006

Edited by John Stevenson & Les Clarke

Tirreno-Adriatico wrap: Petacchi fine tunes for San Remo while Dekker wins overall

Petacchi-Shiva?
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Milram's Alessandro Petacchi has shown that he's in fine form with a win on stage 7 of Tirreno-Adriatico, and even more importantly Milram displayed the type of teamwork that'll be hard to beat come Saturday on Via Roma. Petacchi and team-mate Erik Zabel worked some 'tag-team magic' during the second half of the race to help bring back Joseba Albizu (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and set up AleJet for another win in 2006. "My team-mates worked perfectly and I started my sprint at 180 meters from the finish," said Petacchi after his win. "I thank my team-mates - Knees and Poitscke lead the bunch in the circuit. Cortinovis accelerated. Sacchi, Velo and Zabel got me to the last 180 metres," he explained.

It's been a sprinter's delight in this year's Tirreno, though no one rider has dominated the bunch finishes. Bettini, Freire, Hushovd and now Petacchi have enjoyed wins in the Italian race, and with Milan-San Remo this weekend all looks set for an excellent battle of the fast men. Bettini may be out of serious contention for a San Remo win following his crash on stage 3 of Tirreno-Adriatico, but Liberty Seguros' Allan Davis, who has set the Italian classic as one of his goals for the season and world champion Tom Boonen will also go into Sunday's race as a favourite.

Petacchi was therefore happy to get a win ahead of his San Remo title defence, saying after the finish, "I hope we will have the same finish as last year. I hope I can counter the attacks on Cipressa and Poggio but I have a very strong team which has other alternatives to win." Meanwhile, further back in the pack Thomas Dekker was celebrating his first major stage race victory, showing class and intelligence to take the lead two stages earlier and hold onto it until the finish in St Benedetto Del Tronto. Watch for the young Dutchman in these shorter stage races throughout 2006 as he establishes himself as not just a young talent but a real contender.

The cards fall right for Dekker

The final podium
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

After showing so much promise among the junior ranks, and with an eagerly anticipated move to the seniors, Thomas Dekker's potential as a stage race champion of the future has been confirmed with an overall win in Tirreno-Adriatico. With a past winners list that includes names such as Bettini, Freire and namesake Erik Dekker, winning the early season Italian stage race is no mean feat and must surely send a message that says, 'I have arrived'.

The quality of opposition 21-year-old Dekker beat on his way to the crown must also be a reassuring sign for Rabobank management and Dutch cycling in general; holding off past winners Bettini, Davide Rebellin and Filippo Pozzato on their home turf takes strength, something many observers know the young Dutchman possesses. His strength in the time trial, a discipline he has excelled in at world championships level, is of particular note - he was able to position himself perfectly to launch into the race lead following a time trial where he put more than 20 seconds into his nearest rival.

Dekker is a 'confidence rider', a breed that performs better when results are going their way. This significant win may just be the impetus for bigger and better things for Dekker, a young rider that has shown for some years he's well capable of producing these types of results and has now delivered. Apparently it came as no surprise for stage 7 winner Alessandro Petacchi, who said after the finish, "Before the race my team-mates asked me who I thought would win the Tirreno. I immediately said 'Thomas Dekker'. We train a lot together and I know how he was fixated on this race," before he added, laughing, "If only I had put money on it!" Chances are there'll be more money resting on the ability of Dekker to win races in the future.

See also:
Full results & report
Photos
Stages
Start list

Bettini and Freire feeling good for Primavera

Quick Step's Paolo Bettini and Rabobank's Oscar Freire both say they're feeling good ahead of Saturday's Milan-San Remo classic. Each comes into the race under different circumstances, with the Olympic champion having won stages one and two of Tirreno-Adriatico before crashing out on stage three, while Freire won a stage and enjoyed the race lead for a couple of days.

Freire is coming back into some excellent form, while Bettini looked in doubt for a start in the big Italian race - but both riders will start, and Bettini hopes his injuries won't hinder him during the race. "Every day it gets better and better, but there's still some pain in my lower back and upper knee," said the Italian. "I hope that it plays no part during the finish on Saturday."

"I feel I'm getting better each day," said Freire, who is coming back after a disappointing 2005 where he was plagued by injury after a great start to the season. His win in stage 3 of Tirreno-Adriatico shook up his system a little bit, which prompted the Spaniard to comment, "That was my first serious effort in a year. It felt as if my bones exploded!"

Having recently turned 30, Freire believes the added maturity will serve him well in racing. "I now have the experience and the right mentality - I only have to remain healthy!" He believes he'd be better served staying on Petacchi's wheel in the finale of Saturday's classic instead of Tom Boonen's, and if 'Oscar the Cat' or 'Paolo the Cricket' get among the pigeons, look out for either of these past winners to take the cake on Via Roma.

Landis won't defend ProTour lead

His victory in Paris-nice put Floyd Landis (Phonak) in the top spot in the UCI's ProTour rankings, and after Tirreno-Adriatico Landis retains that lead by just one point over Tirreno winner Thomas Dekker (Rabobank).

However, Phonak's sights are on the Tour de France, and Landis won't be defending his lead, according to Phonak team manager John Lelangue. "By winning Paris-Nice, Floyd Landis now leads in the ProTour ranking. This is very good news," said Lelangue in a team newsletter. "But we know that he will relinquish that lead soon. The focus for us is the Tour de France. Consequently, Landis will not be put into action in ProTour races automatically."

Landis' next outing will be the Critérium International, followed by the Tour of Georgia and the Giro d'Italia. "He will compete in these races without any pressure," says Lelangue. "The sole concern is to prepare him well for the season climax, the Tour de France. We know now that his training is on target."

ProTour top ten riders after Tirreno-Adriatico

1 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems                 52 pts
2 Thomas Dekker (Ned) Rabobank                              51
3 Francisco Javier Vila Errandonea (Spa) Lampre-Fondital    43
4 Jörg Jaksche (Ger) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team             40
5 Antonio Colom Mas (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears    35
6 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                   35
7 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi           31
8 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel                  30
9 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC                              25
10 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank                           25
 
Full rankings: ProTour, TeamsNations

Commonwealth Games news

England aims for record

The English team for the 4000m team pursuit at the Commonwealth Games is aiming high: to break the British and even world records on the way to equalling or bettering their silver medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

The four-man team of Rob Hayles, Chris Newton, Paul Manning and Stephen Cummings will have to break the British national record to have any chance of winning in Melbourne. "We're aiming to beat the national record, but we might have to break the world record to win," said Newton.

The world record, 3:56.61, was set by Australia at the Athens Olympics in 2004 - and the British team was the runner-up then. The tables were turned at the last world championships when Britain took the gold, but the Australians will have the hometown advantage this time.

"To win a gold here is just as difficult as at the World Championships or Olympics," said Cummings. "Basically it's the same nations - Australia and us - we've been the best two teams on the track for years now.

New Zealand makes tough choices

New Zealand track coach Terry Gyde yesterday decided which riders would start in which disciplines in the velodrome competition at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, which starts Thursday.

The black-clad New Zealand team has been a dark horse in recent World Cup team pursuit contests and might yet cause an upset to English and Australian hopes in Melbourne. The selection of the four-man squad was therefore a subject of intense interest in the New Zealand camp, and Gyde has gone with in-form riders Hayden Godfrey, Marc Ryan, Jason Allen and Tim Gudsell.

Jason Allen, Hayden Roulston, and Marc Ryan will ride the individual pursuit. Richard Bowker, Roulston and former world champion Greg Henderson will ride in the points race, while Henderson, Godfrey and Gudsell will all compete in the scratch. Peter Latham was not selected, but will ride in the road events.

Mälarenergi's Johansson to coach Swedish espoirs

The Swedish Cycling Federation and Swedish Olympic committee have agreed upon a long term commitment where Team Mälarenergi's coach David Johansson will function as a project leader and coach for a new U23 national team.

To be able to match the riders in a professional way, the federation has opted to use the existing infrastructure as well as the leaders of the Swedish Team Mälarenergi.

The sporting director of the Swedish Cycling Federation, Hans Falk will shortly present the nine riders who will make up the team, and he explains that their schedule will include a number of international races, with the European and World Championships being the main goals.

Their first race will be French stage race Circuit des Ardennes, (April 7-9th) followed by one day races Tour de la Côte Picardie (France, April 12th) and Ronde van Vlaanderen (Belgium, April 23d).

"I'm delighted that more resources will be given to the national team again," says David Johansson, who is currently in Spain with Team Mälarenergi. "I think it will create better possibilities for a rider from a smaller team to race on the highest level, and we will be able to offer them a suitable racing approach as we have lots of experience."

To be able to work with the national team, Team Mälarenergi will be looking to recruit more leaders in order to deal with their normal activities, and to be able to race both with the national team and the club team in different races at the same time.

Wiesenhof-Akud for Nokere-Koerse

The German Wiesenhof-Akud team has announced its line-up for today's Nokere-Koerse. The team will field Artur Gajek, Tomas Konecny, Marcel Sieberg, Lubor Tesar and Lars Wackernagel.

Wyley aims for Des Hanlon triple in big weekend of Irish racing

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent/Evening Herald/Sunday Independent

With St Patrick's Day falling on Friday this year, Irish racers can look forward to an extended weekend of racing, and riders with aspirations of success in upcoming big events such as the Ras Mumhan or the FBD Insurance Ras will get a chance to test their form.

On Patrick's Day, Friday March 17, the action will be in Carrick-on-Suir where the local club, Dan Morrissey/Carrick Wheelers have a well packaged day of racing to suit all categories. The principal race of the day will be for the Carriag Challenge Cup sponsored by the Carraig Hotel.

The following day the ever popular Cicli Sport GP will be held in Moneymore and will be promoted by the East Tyrone CC.

No doubt the big race of the weekend will be the Des Hanlon which sets out from Carlow on Sunday at 11.30. This will be the first time since the start of the season that more or less all the Category One competitors will converge in the one spot for the first big test of the season.

For one rider, Rory Wyley from Dungarvan steeped in the tradition of cycling since he was knee high, it will be that extra special. Wyley is going for a unique three wins in a row in the Des Hanlon.

"I realise fully the importance of this event," said Wyley. "Every season since I returned home in 2002 from England where I had a love for athletics and cycling, the Des Hanlon was always my target for the year. The first success I had in 2004 went more or less unnoticed but last year my anonymity evaporated in space. Now all and sundry realise that I am no flash in the pan.

"On Sunday, it is going to be very difficult to make it a trio which if it comes to past will set me up for those questions that regularly do the rounds of quizzes!

"As far I am concerned, all I want to do is to get through the event safely, because then I'll have another event to race in," said Rory.

Last weekend was a particularly bad one for cycling with the Traders Cup in Dundalk being abandoned because of a crash between a competitor and a car. Whilst in the Mick Cahill race in Banteer, two promising competitors from the Earl of Desmond/Bicycle Club broke collar bones. Hopefully there will be no further hiccups in the races ahead!

Towards the end of last season a race was also abandoned in Co. Meath because of a crash between a competitor and a vehicle.

Milan - San Remo Fantasy Spring Classics 2006 game coming soon

We are pleased to announce the first of this year's four Fantasy Games - The Spring Classics 2006. Be a professional team manager for the 2006 Spring Classics. Based on the live racing action, you will take up the challenge using your knowledge and tactical skill as a race team manager to compete with fantasy managers from around the world. All you need to do to take part in the latest of the Fantasy Games at Cyclingnews is register and, once the provisional race list has been announced, select eight riders for each of the following races:

Milan - San Remo, March 18th 2006
Ronde van Vlaanderen, April 2nd 2006
Gent-Wevelgem, April 5th 2006
Paris - Roubaix, April 6th 2006
Amstel Gold Race, April 16th 2006
La Flèche Wallonne, April 19th 2006
Liège - Bastogne - Liège, April 23rd 2006

Follow the races live and use your skill and knowledge to win prizes.

Prizes

We will shortly be announcing a fantastic selection of prizes for this year's game. You can win prizes for each of the individual races and for competing in all seven races. Remember you don't need to enter all seven races to win prizes. Have a look at the tactics and prizes of last year's winners.

For more details on how to play go to the rules section of the site for more info. To register your teams for the game go to fantasy.cyclingnews.com.

The Cyclingnews Fantasy Game - a great way to follow the Spring Classics.

Good luck!
The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team

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