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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for March 18, 2006

Edited by Anthony Tan & Jeff Jones

Commonwealth Games Day 2 wrap-up

By Mal Sawford with additional reporting by Rob Jones

The second day of track cycling competition in Melbourne saw three gold medals decided, with the home nation Australia taking a clean sweep in all events. Katherine Bates and Rochelle Gilmore teamed up to finish first and second in the women's 25 km points race, before Ryan Bayley showed his class by blitzing the field in the men's keirin. In the final event of the evening, Sean Finning won the men's 40 km points race after lapping the majority of the field five times.

Click here for the full day 2 wrap-up

Canadians finish with silver

Canada had a strong second day in the track competition at the Commonwealth Games, led by Travis Smith's (Calgary, AB) silver medal in the keirin.

Travis Smith,
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Two days ago, Smith thought his best opportunity to medal was in the keirin, saying, "There is that element of chance which means if I can get into the final I have an opportunity there." A combination of skill, tactics and that element of chance led to his second place finish.

After qualifying the long way via the repechage, Smith lined up for the final against the three fancied Australians, Ryan Bayley, Shane Kelly, and Ben Kersten. In the race, Smith hung back initially. "When the (pace) bike pulled off I rushed through to the front and the guys all reacted. This put me on the Aussie train, which was perfect."

Bayley was in front on the final lap, and Smith was following Kersten. "I thought Ben was going to crash...he came down on Shane (Kelly) and I heard their pedals clip but I just kept going."

Kersten crossed the line second with Smith third, so it looked like a bronze medal for Canada. However, upon review Kersten was disqualified, moving Smith up to silver. "In the repechage I was almost disqualified," said Smith. The Kiwi (Adam Stewart) moved up so I shot the hole, but then he came down on me. But after the judges reviewed I was okay.

"My season's been really good so far, and this is the best way to (almost) finish it off. This gives me some confidence for the World's."

Gina Grain (4th) was Canada's best rider in the women's points race, won by Australian Kate Bates. Mandy Poitras made a late surge to finish fifth. "It was so close," said Grain. "To be that close to a medal; I can taste it.

"I fought hard in the first three sprints and was accumulating points, but in the middle part of the race I had a hard time recovering for some laps and couldn't contest the sprints, which hurt me. But, I was able to come back with a strong finish, which brought me back into the game. I needed that last sprint, but I was just a little bit short.

"I'm not disappointed - this is my personal best ride, and I'm happy with the way I rode my race. This is just my seventh international Points Race. Mandy and I worked together well. The strategy was that it was Mandy's job to follow Bates and cover moves. My role was to be aggressive - race hard, but smart.

"I'm still learning something every race, and this makes me really confident for the World's next month."

Zach Bell (Canada)
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

The men's points race saw Sean Finning score a staggering 137 points after lapping the field five times. Canada's best rider was Zach Bell (8th), who with strong support from Martin Gilbert, was aggressive all race, and was in a couple of field lapping moves. In the latter part of the race he spent over ten laps out in front on his own, getting over half a lap's lead on the pack before they reeled him back in. However, Bell scored maximum points in an intermediate sprint during his time away.

"I surprised myself a little bit. I knew I had good form after the pursuit, but I didn't know if it would translate to a mass start race. Unfortunately, I missed the one really important move; if I had been there I could have been top-five.

"This year, working with Eric (van den Eynde) has been huge; he has picked out my weaknesses and made them better. Plus, I have four times the international racing this year, and it shows. Working with Martin (Gilbert) has taught me so much because he has years of experience - every race he teaches me something.

"This year has already been a big step up - yesterday at the pursuit, for the first time I was thinking, 'Yeah, I can ride with these guys.'"

Team England cyclists empty-handed

Emma Jones (England)
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Team England cyclists missed out on the medals in this evening’s Commonwealth Games track finals in Melbourne’s Multi Purpose Venue as the honours all went to Australia. Emma Davis Jones from Cheshire and Derby’s Nikki Harris finished seventh and eighth respectively in the women’s 25km points race. Davis Jones scored four points and Harris three.

Gold went to Australia’s Katherine Bates with 30 points while her team-mate Rochelle Gilmore was second with 21. Scotland’s Kate Cullen got the bronze, scoring 13 points.

Ashford’s Jamie Staff and Manchester’s Matthew Crampton both failed to challenge for honours in the men’s keirin. Staff finished sixth in the second division final after failing to make it through to the medal race, while the 19-year-old Crampton didn’t make it through the first round.

Jamie Staff and Shane Kelly
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

The gold went to Australia’s Ryan Bayley with Canada’s Travis Smith getting silver and Scotland’s Ross Edgar taking the bronze.

Staff looked in good form in the first round early in the evening, when he was second in the first heat, just losing out to Bayley on the last lap. But Crampton had a poor race and was disqualified in the third heat for bumping John Cumberbatch of Barbados as he tried to get out of a boxed position on the inside.

Staff then tried to sprint off the front of the group in his second round race and was swept away by Australia’s Shane Kelly. Staff finished fifth, meaning he would be out of the medals in an event he won at the 2004 World Championships in Melbourne.

In the men’s 40k points race, Barnsley-born Ed Clancy was the top ranked England rider. The 21-year-old from Cheadle finished seventh with 66 points. Andy Tennant from Wolverhampton was 10th with 43 points and Ian Stannard from Milton Keynes was 18th without registering a score.

Sean Finning made it three golds out of three for Australia in the velodrome on day two of the Games. Finning won with 137 points and New Zealand’s Hayden Roulston took the silver with 119. Welshman Geraint Thomas snaffled the bronze with 110.

Heinrich Haussler interview: "I can do even better"

A happy Heinrich Haussler
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Gerolsteiner's young shooting star is Heinrich Haussler, a 22-year-old Australian-German who took the biggest victory in his short career with a stage win in the Vuelta last year - the only German victory in a Grand Tour in 2005. At the start of this year, he continued his winning ways at the Vuelta a Murcia with victory in both the first and last stages, and will be wearing dossard #131 in Saturday's Milan-San Remo. Susan Westemeyer asked him about his plans this season.

Cyclingnews: Congratulations on your two stage wins in Murcia. Both were bunch sprints - are you turning into the next super sprinter? Can we expect to see you challenging Boonen and Petacchi?

Heinrich Haussler: I'm sure I will challenge them; every race is a challenge, isn't it? And I have sprint experience with Alessandro from the Vuelta last year. Right now, I'm just taking advantage of every chance I have to win a race, without really thinking about whether I'm a sprinter, Classics rider or stage-race specialist. I think that is the privilege of youth!

CN: You said that you surprised yourself, because you're not yet in your best form. What is missing? And what do you think you can accomplish when you are in top form?

HH: I have several weeks altitude training on Teneriffe behind me and the change back to normal conditions is difficult for the body. Some feel it more, some less. I feel it pretty strongly. After two wins, that sounds funny, but it's true. So I'm relatively convinced that I can do even better. I just have to stay healthy.

Click here to read the rest of the interview.

Rogers to lead T-Mobile in Coppi-Bartali

Reigning world time trial champion Michael Rogers will spearhead the T-Mobile squad next week's Settimana Ciclista Internazionale di Coppi e Bartali, which begins on Tuesday, March 21, in hilly terrain on the Adriatic coast.

Lining up alongside the 26-year old Australian will be four more riders from T-Mobile's Tour de France core squad, namely Giuseppe Guerini, Serhiy Honchar, Matthias Kessler and Oscar Sevilla. While Rogers and company travel to Italy's Adriatic coast fresh off a training period following their first races, Kessler makes his season debut.

"For us it's important to have our prime Tour candidates racing together already," said Rudy Pevenage in a team statement, who will be the directeur-sportif during the race. "This way they can work on developing good teamwork in a race situation." Rounding out the eight-man squad are the sprinters Olaf Pollack and André Korff, and Aussie all-rounder Scott Davis, the younger brother of Liberty Seguros-Würth rider Allan.

200 riders from 25 teams will start in the holiday resort of Riccione next Tuesday with the opening day a double stage, beginning with a 95,2 km circuit race in the morning followed by a 11,8 km team time trial in the afternoon. The only flat stage in the UCI category 2.1 race is Friday's 184,3 trek from Carpi to Emilia.

Riders: Scott Davis, Giuseppe Guerini, Serhiy Honchar, Matthias Kessler, André Korff, Olaf Pollack, Michael Rogers, Oscar Sevilla.
Directeur-sportif: Rudy Pevenage

Quick.Step to Cholet-Pays De Loire

The Quick.Step-Innergetic team will send the following group to the French semi-classic Cholet-Pays De Loire, to be held next Monday, March 19.

Riders: Francesco Chicchi, Kevin De Weert, Ad Engels, Kevin Hulsmans, Sebastien Rosseler, Leonardo Scarselli, Cédric Vasseur, Wouter Weylandt
Directeur-sportif: Rik Van Slycke

Jittery Joe's team profile: The more things change...

The 2006 crew
Photo ©: Mark Zalewski
(Click for larger image)

With a slightly slimmed-down roster for 2006 and only three returning riders, the coffee-powered Jittery Joe's-Zero Gravity team is a leaner and more focused outfit than last year, as Mark Zalewski discovered at the team's launch in Athens, Georgia.

We last visited the Jittery Joe's-Zero Gravity team around this time last year at the roasting company's main building for a team launch party. Riders, sponsors and local fans of the team joined together again in 2006 for food, music, team introductions and, of course, coffee. And while there are many similarities from year to year, a few noticeable differences were present. One difference is the size of this year's team, down from 11 riders to a squad of nine. This change perfectly illustrates a shift in attitude and focus for the 2006 team.

"What we've tried to do is take what we had last year and really tighten it up," says team director Micah Rice. "We have nine riders instead of eleven, but all are full-time riders...we really enjoyed having Trent and Kabush with us last year - obviously Trent did a lot for us with results. But everyone this year is full-time on the road, which is nice knowing that everyone is focused on one thing." Rice is referring to two of the mainstays from last year's team; Geoff Kabush and Trent Lowe, two mountain bikers who split their time on the trail and the road with success in both. Lowe has now converted full-time to the road with the Discovery Channel team following his breakthrough 2005 season.

This is one similarity that remains from year to year - the 'stepping stone' phenomenon. Rice readily acknowledges it, saying, "I pick up guys that I know, if we do our job as a team, will definitely not be with us next year. This really is a stepping stone, and I don't see us changing out of that in the foreseeable future."

Click here to read the rest of the feature.

Only hours left to join the Fantasy Milan - San Remo game

There are only hours left to enter you team for this year's Fantasy competition. All teams for the Milan - San Remo race must be submitted before Saturday 18th March, 10am Central European Time. There is still plenty of time to enter your teams and there are some great prizes on offer this year.

Prizes

We are pleased to confirm that this year, Craft, fi'zi:k, Giro, HED, Maxxis, and Speedplay among others will be providing some fantastic prizes this year. A pair of beautiful Bastogne wheels worth over $600 USD could be yours if you win. Giro and Speedplay are once again continuing their support and are offering some of their finest products. There are ten sets of Maxxis tyres on offer to the lucky winners. Craft are giving away ten of their Pro Cool Mesh Sleeveless Baselayers.

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.

Rider points update

A pair of beautiful Bastogne wheels worth over $600 USD
(Click for larger image)
HED's Bastogne wheels are named in honour of the Belgian town of Bastogne
(Click for larger image)
Craft are giving away ten of their Pro Cool Mesh Sleeveless Baselayers
(Click for larger image)

Once again you will have 4000 points per team to select your eight riders with. This year, in the light of the new UCI ProTour points system, we have had to make some changes. We have taken the final 2005 rider rankings from the UCI ProTour and have multiplied them by ten. Riders that did not score UCI ProTour points have been awarded nominal points (lower than those of the scoring UCI ProTour riders).

We appreciate this might not best reflect some of the skills of the non-scoring UCI ProTour riders in the coming races, but we hope that this will set us up better for the future as the scoring system becomes more accepted. We have also limited the number of teams people can enter in this year's Spring Classics game to five per manager. We've done this to ensure the competition is open to all, spreading the prizes to an even wider range of players.

How to play

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. 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.

It's a great way to follow the Spring Classics.

Good luck!
The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team

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