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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for March 19, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Milan-San Remo wrap-up

Wildcard Pozzato spoils the Petacchi show

Filippo Pozzato (Quick.Step)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Filippo Pozzato (Quick.Step) has won the 97th Milan-San Remo with a superbly timed, and very powerful attack with 400 metres to go to hold off the Alessandro Petacchi-led bunch sprint. Pozzato was the only member of a six man break that escaped at the top of the Poggio to survive to the finish, as Rabobank and Milram all but chased it down within the final kilometre. But somehow, the junction wasn't quite made and Pozzato had no choice but to jump off Rinaldo Nocentini's wheel with a long way out to try to steal the victory. In the end, he did it with metres to spare, giving himself and Quick.Step their biggest win this season.

"It's the race I've always dreamed about; the most beautiful day of my life," said Pozzato after the finish. "We all worked together well and won. It's incredible, the only year I haven't talked about Sanremo I achieved the win! I haven't got so many supporters, but today I think I made some friends among the tifosi. I'm one of the most criticized riders in Italy, many did not believe in me but now... We're a great team: Bettini made the gap for me, Boonen told me not to give up, ever. To have champions like these work for me is the greatest of all. On the Cipressa I spoke with Tom, I decided to make the pace to the top. Ballan did a great move on the Poggio, and I wanted to work with them, but couldn't... Today I showed that I'm right there; that when I have to make the race I don't pull back. And I'm only 24 years old..."

Petacchi led the bunch home for second, while Tom Boonen started celebrating his teammate's win early, allowing Luca Paolini (Liquigas) to take third place. Milram will have to be content with another second place, until its train can reach the same heights as Fassa Bortolo.

The race was run in cool, spring conditions with an early breakaway of eight riders going clear after approximately 30 km containing Daniele Contrini (LPR), Unai Etxebarria (Euskaltel), Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis), Ludovic Auger (FranÁaise des Jeux), Kjell CarlstrŲm (Liquigas), Mirko Allegrini and Sergiy Matveyev (Panaria), and Giampaolo Cheula (Barloworld). They gained a maximum lead of 11'30 before they were caught just before the Cipressa at 266 km. The next attack went on the approach to the Poggio containing Moerenhout (Phonak), Trenti (Quick.Step), Schleck (CSC), and Reynes (Caisse d'Epargne). Schleck went solo on the climb, but was caught by Pozzato, Ballan, Astarloa, Sanchez, and Nocentini over the top. The break stayed together until the final kilometre, when Pozzato succeeded in staving off the mass sprint.

Also see: Full results, report & photos, Live coverage

Commonwealth Games day 3 wrap-up

England fight back with two golds

The lads from England
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

The third day of competition in Melbourne saw the English squad take some revenge for the first two days of pummeling at the hands of the Australians, winning two gold medals out of the three events contested. The English opened up well in the men's 4000m team pursuit, comfortably beating defending champions Australia in the final by nearly three seconds. New Zealand took the bronze after catching Malaysia in their ride-off.

In the men's sprint that followed, Australian Ryan Bayley continued his winning ways from last night, beating Scotland's Ross Edgar 2-0 in the final and showing that he is close to his best again. Canadian Travis Smith scored the bronze medal after beating Matthew Crampton (England) in the minor final. The women's sprint saw a reversal of the situation, when World Champion Victoria Pendleton (England) beat Anna Meares (Australia) in a three round final. Meares, the slower on paper, was able to take one round back from Pendleton, but the English rider came from behind to win the last round. Bronze was for Anna's sister Kerrie Meares, beating New Zealand's Elisabeth Williams.

Click here to read the full Day 3 wrap up.

Double delight for Team England

The 4km team pursuit quartet of Stephen Cummings, Rob Hayles, Paul Manning and Chris Newton dominated their event to take two gold medals on the third night of racing at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia. Victoria Pendleton added the Commonwealth sprint title to last yearís World Championships gold to make it a day of double delight for England in the velodrome.

England lived up to
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

The England team won against Australia in the pursuit final having been by far the fastest qualifiers in the morning, winning in a time of 4:02.699, nearly three seconds ahead of the Australian foursome. Manning, Hayles and Cummings thus added team gold to the individual medals they won on Thursday, while Newton took his first Commonwealth Games gold at this event having won silver in 1994 and 2002.

"We worked really hard for this," said 31 year-old Manning from Stockport. "We had a very respectful time in the final and are very happy. As a team we take immense satisfaction from these two rides today. Itís great when all the work comes together at a major championships like this."

England were expected to win after becoming world champions last year, and they lived up to the expectations. "This is what we came here for and we got it," said 33 year-old Rob Hayles from Derbyshire. "It was really great. After the World's we were gobsmacked. This tops it off."

"Thereís still lots to come from us," continued Manning. "There are technical improvements we can make. We are always improving but then so is the level of the event. We have to keep on our toes and keep pushing for good times."

Manning said winning his second gold of the Games was not on his mind before the race. "I came concentrating on the team pursuit," he said. "The individual was just a bonus really."

Anna Meares, Victoria Pendleton, Kerrie Meares
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Shortly afterwards, Pendleton lived up to her billing as favourite for the womenís sprint when she won the gold medal after a hard fought battle against Australiaís Commonwealth and Olympic time trial champion Anna Meares, exacting some revenge for her defeat at the hand of the Australian in Thursdayís time trial final.

"Iím really, really happy," said Pendleton. "This was my main event and because itís an Olympic event it was my main focus." Pendleton took the first of the three races with a powerful surge from the front. Meares had twice beaten her sister Kerrie by coming from behind in the semi-finals but the rider from Hitchin was too strong and won easily in 11.822.

The second race was much closer though, and Pendleton was edged out by the merest fraction as she chased Meares home. The Australian won by the width of her wheel rim, setting up the decider: After a cat and mouse tussle, Pendleton chased the Australian hard around the final bend and just managed to push her wheel in front of the Australianís on the line.

"The sprint is a gamble, itís always very close so I feel great about the win," said Pendleton. "It was tough but you just have to block it out and focus."

Pendleton had stamped her authority on the event in the morning when she broke the four-year-old Commonwealth Games record with a time of 11.275. In the semi-finals she was drawn against Williams who had only made it through thanks to the repecharge. Williams was no match for the flying 25 year-old from Hitchin who won the first two of her best-of-three races with ease to book her spot in the final.

In the battle of the siblings, Anna got the better of her sister Kerrie, coming from behind in the final lap with a powerful turn of speed to win the first race. The second race had to be restarted when Kerrie went so slowly she touched the wall with her arm, but Anna was still too good in the re-run duel, setting up the exciting final.

ProTour council meets again

The UCI ProTour Council (UPTC) has met again at the offices of the Italian Cycling Federation, in Milano, Italy, on Thursday, March 16. In a press statement, the organising committee of the ProTour has announced that it "confirmed the decision taken in September 2005 to adopt a system aiming to a progressive renewal of Team licences and allowing candidates to apply each year, which corresponds to the proposals formulated more recently by the organisers of the Grands Tours."

The UPTC also announced that it would conduct an in-depth study on the distribution of wild cards "in order to avoid possible inequalities". Moreover, a "Development" work group has been appointed to study the introduction of a "Promotional Calendar".

Finally, the UPTC confirmed that for the period of 2007-2008, the ProTour calendar and participation rules would remain the same as the 'status quo' decided in Madrid in September 2005; the smallest possible consensus between the world governing body of cycling and the organisers of the three Grand Tours, who recently saw their plans to create a new "Trophy of the three Grand Tours" rejected by the UCI.

When contacted by Cyclingnews at the end of February, the president of Tour de France organiser ASO did not want to comment on the current state of affairs, saying that "there are important discussions with the sponsors now, and it would not be productive to talk to the media at this time." In its statement, the UCI ProTour Council now "noticed with satisfaction the report on the discussions launched by the Team Sponsors with the involved parties."

It would seem that the team sponsors, which are paying considerable license fees to be within the ProTour, are now exerting their influence in the power struggle between the UCI and the three Grand Tours - a clash commonly believed to be mainly about the attribution of television and image rights.

Giro half-stages out of program

The 2006 Giro d'Italia will very probably not end with two half-stages on the last day, May 28, as had been planned and announced at the official presentation in Milan on November 12, 2005. After many complaints of the riders and its representative union, the AIGCP, Giro d'Italia organiser RCS director Angelo Zomegnan said that a regular, full stage between the Ghisallo and Milano would replace the time trial up the famous mountain, scheduled in the morning, and the last stage, which was planned to take place in he afternoon.

"[UCI] regulations do not hinder us to program two half-stages on the last day," Zomegnan said on Friday, March 17. "Nevertheless, we talked to the riders and took note of the problems TV had with the time trial in the morning. We don't want to put any further pressure neither on the riders nor on [Italian host broadcaster] RAI."

Meanwhile, discussions between the AIGCP and RCS have not ended, reported German Radsportnews. The rider's union has criticized the organiser's plans to make the riders' transfer from Belgium to Italy, taking place after the three first stages of the Grand Tour, by night train and not by plane. "We will make a decision on that by the end of the month," commented Zomegnan.

No more racing for Bouyer

Franck Bouyer, professional cyclist with French ProTeam Bouygues Telecom, has to stop his 2006 season before it really begins. Suffering from narcolepsy, a condition resulting in sudden sleep attacks, the 31 year-old needs to take a medication to cure the illness, but this particular drug happens to be listed as a performance-enhancing substance: modafinil. In August 2005, the World Anti-Doping Agency authorized Bouyer to compete again after having been sidelined since June 2004.

However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has now validated an appeal against WADA's decision, which was issued by the International Cycling Union (UCI) in autumn last year. "They are asking me to pass VO2 max tests with a different protocol," Bouyer told L'Equipe, which added that the rider had passed the examinations several times already. "The experts told me that there won't be any problems after that anymore. But they've been telling me this for more than two years now..."

The Frenchman will thus return to Switzerland at the end of March for further testing and try to prove once more that the intake of two doses (pills) of Modiodal per day does not increase his performance. Bouyer still hopes that an authorisation to use the drug for therapeutic reasons will be delivered to him, and that this decision will be final.

Tour de Luxembourg gets one more day

After being classified Hors Catťgorie in 2005, the Skoda-Tour de Luxembourg will grow in 2006 by adding one more day to its race schedule. Taking place from May 31-June 4, the event will now involve four stages after the initial prologue, organiser Ed Buchette has announced, adding that at least 14 teams with eight riders each will be present.

Six ProTeams have also confirmed the event: Team CSC, which will probably line-up Luxembourg champion Fršnk Schleck and his younger brother, national TT champion Andy Schleck; T-Mobile, probably sending the Grand Duchť's sportsman of the year Kim Kirchen; as well as Crťdit Agricole, Bouyges Telecom, Rabobank and Liquigas-Bianchi.

The stages are scheduled as follows:

Prologue - Wednesday, May 31: Luxembourg, 2.6 km
Stage 1 - Thursday, June 1: Luxembourg - Mondorf-les-Bains, 176 km
Stage 2 - Friday, June 2: Schifflange - Differdange 184 km
Stage 3 - Saturday, June 3: Wiltz - Diekirch, 185 km
Stage 4 - Sunday, June 4: Mersch - Luxembourg, 146 km

"Quacking" got Danielson down

Discovery Channel's Tom Danielson is recovering from a crash at last week's Tirreno-Adriatico, where he came down in the final sprint of stage four on Saturday, March 11. The American rider nevertheless finished the stage race, ending up a solid 10th on General Classification, and is now in his home in Girona, Spain, shaping up for the upcoming Tour de Georgia from April 18-23, where he wants to defend his 2005 title.

"There was a lot of quacking going on in Tirreno-Adriatico," Danielson said. Asked what the term 'quacking' meant, he explained, "Itís when you are in a race with a bunch of guys, in this case the spring classics tough guys, and they are bumping and grinding the whole day for position in the peloton. The roads are narrow, the pace is super high and guys are constantly battling for position trying to put you in the gutter." [kwakken is Dutch for 'bump' - e.d.]. Which was what happened in stage four, but fortunately Danielson wasn't hurt seriously, adding that he was "OK, a little sore but recovering well".

The 28 year-old, who celebrated his birthday on March 13, is looking forward to returning to the United States for the Tour de Georgia next month. "Iím really excited to come back to race in the U.S. and specifically Georgia," he said. "Thereís nothing like having fans cheering your name. Itís amazing how much racing at home can motivate you to race at a higher level and hope that I will be able to successfully defend my title in Georgia."

The race comes just prior to one of Danielson's season objectives, the Giro díItalia, and again involves a mountain finish on top of Brasstown Bald, a stage that the Discovery climber won in 2005.

2006 Cycle4MS Racing Team announced

The Cycle4MS Racing Team, based in the Halton Region, Ontario, Canada, has announced its 2006 roster. The teamís main goal is to fund raise and raise awareness for the MS Society of Canada (all funds raised are donated to the Halton Chapter of the MS Society).

Cycle4MS has already raised over $1500 through the 800 laps for MS at the Forest City Velodrome and the teamís social night at Boston Manor in Burlington.

Click here to view the full announcement and roster.

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