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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for March 20, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Commonwealth Games Day 4 wrap-up

Mark Cavendish (Isle of Man)
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Three more gold medals were decided on the final night of racing in Melbourne, with three different Commonwealth nations winning. Australia added another to its total when hometown favourite Katie Mactier beat compatriot Kate Bates in the women's individual pursuit, with England's comeback girl Emma Jones taking the bronze medal.

The men's team sprint saw a showdown between the strong teams from England and Scotland, with the Scots scoring their first ever Commonwealth Games gold medal in cycling in a close final. The team of Chris Hoy, Craig Maclean, and Ross Edgar accounted for England's trio of Matthew Crampton, Jason Queally, and Jamie Staff by just 0.027 seconds. Australia had to settle for bronze this time, with Perkins, Kelly and Bayley beating the New Zealand team.

The final event of the track meet was the men's 20km scratch race, where the Isle of Man's Mark Cavendish won his country's first cycling medal for 40 years when he beat Ashley Hutchinson (Australia) and James McCallum (Scotland). The trio, together with Timothy Gudsell (New Zealand) and Zack Bell (Canada) had lapped the field early on, and were the only ones in contention for a medal.

Click here to read the full Day 3 wrap up.

Nine medals for English track team

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

Track cycling trio Matt Crampton, Jason Queally and Jamie Staff won a Commonwealth silver medal for England in the men's t eam sprint on the last evening of track racing in Melbourne, losing the final to Scotland by an agonising 0.027 seconds. Emma Davies Jones meanwhile completed her remarkable recovery from a hit and run accident five months ago to win a bronze medal in the womenís individual 3k pursuit, giving England a total of nine medals in the velodrome (three gold, four silver and two bronze).

Englandís team sprinters crossed the line at the end of the three laps of their final in 44.309 with Scotland less than a breath ahead in 44.282. England have now taken silver at this event at three Commonwealth Games in a row.

Queally picked up his second silver of the Games, having narrowly missed gold twice in Melbourne by hundredths of a second. He also lost the 1k time trial on Thursday, March 17, by less three hundredths. Queally has now won the same two silver medals at the last three Games, and despite winning six Commonwealth medals in his career, has still not won a gold.

Hayles was magnanimous in defeat against Scotland. "It was disappointing not to get gold," he said. "We were so close but we have to be happy though - we were beaten by a better team on the day." The trio were comfortable winners of their qualification ride against Canada earlier in the evening, clocking 44.464 to set up their medal bout against Scotland. The Scots had ridden superbly against Malaysia to reach the final.

The women's individual pursuit podium
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Davies Jones, who finished just outside the medals four years ago in Manchester, beat Alison Shanks of New Zealand in the individual pursuit to go one better this time. "Iím so excited, it feels like I have won a gold medal," said the thrilled Davies Jones afterwards. The cyclist from Cheshire suffered a serious back injury in September 2005 after being knocked off her bike while cycling to training in Manchester. "I always wanted to be here and my coach had faith in me after my accident," she said. "Previously, I just wanted to go to sleep."

Davies Jones had beaten Shanks easily in the qualifying round, recording 3:38.791, the third fastest of the round, to set up their medal match. But she had a tougher battle to secure the bronze: Starting slowly, she was 0.4 seconds down at half way. Gradually, Davies closed the gap, however, reducing the lead to 0.3 at 2k as she began to find her rhythm. By 2500m she had edged ahead by 0.2 seconds and in the last two laps she powered home as the Kiwi tired, winning in 3:40.057.

"It was tight, very tight," she said. "I really pulled it out of the bag. This means the world to me. I am in shock. A few weeks ago I did a trial and was five seconds slower.

"I did have a plan, I promised my coach I would not get involved in a fight," she added. "And then I heard my Dad, who has a very distinctive voice, so I gritted my teeth and stuck to my plan. My coach has great faith in me and for the last two laps I did everything for those who have faith in me."

Favourites' reactions to Primavera

On the day after the 97th Primavera Milano-Sanremo, reactions to the unusual race outcome have been plenty. The Belgian Quick.Step squad was of course very happy to have outsmarted the rest of the sprinter's teams, especially Alessandro Petacchi's Milram outfit, which missed out on the victory by just a couple of metres: the crucial question of timing to bridge the gap to victorious breakaway Filippo Pozzato was raised, as well as the firepower of the Milram train questioned - but not by the Italo-German sprint protagonists themselves, who were satisfied with their performance.

Boonen celebrates Pozzato's win
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

But first of all, the world champion Tom Boonen said that he was relieved he had not won the race, but instead finished fourth behind his own Quick.Step teammate. "For me, only the first place counts, and it went to a teammate that really deserved it," he told Belgian Sportwereld. "I'm really happy that it wasn't me this time. Boonen all the time can't be good for anybody - not for me, not for the media, not for my fans. Because in time, everybody will feel it is normal [for Boonen to win]. Cipo had to wait 12 to 14 years before he won (sic), Bettini one year out of seven. If you win everything, the fun is gone too.

"Today, I was again able to see that I have a Primavera win in my legs, and our rivals could experience that Quick.Step-Innergetic wasn't eliminated even if they didn't play the Boonen-card. With Bettini, Pozzato, Nuyens and myself we have four leaders, which also makes it easier on me."

Boonen also explained that a small mechanical in the final sprint prevented him from obtaining a higher placing, possibly outsprinting Alessandro Petacchi. "I couldn't get the chain on the 11," he recalled, speaking of the moment when he was on Petacchi's wheel in the last few hundred metres of the Via Roma. "It's the third time this has happened this year. But for me it was better that Pozzato won. I could sense that Milram was losing, as the panic was so great that Zabel went to the front 1500 metres from the finish and drove himself right out of it."

Meanwhile, Petacchi's high-profile domestique Erik Zabel - himself a four times winner of the event - viewed that last bit of the famous Italian spring classic as a perfect moment of teamwork instead of insisting on the defeat. "Three kilometres before the line [Petacchi] said that he felt super," Zabel told German Radsportnews. "So we rode for him immediately. It worked out really well between us, except for the fact that Pozzato went off the front..."

Team Milram
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

His teammate and last year's winner Alessandro Petacchi would have liked more Milram men around him on the last climb, the Poggio. "Cortinovis and Den Bakker were gone before the finale," he told Belgian Sportwereld. "I had counted on them in the Poggio nonetheless." But then, 'Ale-Jet' was very satisfied with the work that had been done for him, even though it did not result in victory. "I think the squad did an excellent job; we pulled the race all the way from Milan," Petacchi told tuttobiciweb. "We were really strong; we had the responsibility on our shoulders and did everything to win. Before the Poggio, I tried to save Sacchi, Velo and Zabel for the finale, but had to sacrifice Sacchi and Velo. In the finale, Sacchi and Zabel gave their all again for me, but just couldn't do more. I was stronger than last year; I felt really well, but missed that little bit of luck to win. But to see Zabel work for my victory is the greatest satisfaction."

And the man who made the most out of the supposed bunch sprint situation in Sanremo, Filippo Pozzato, also had some meaningful words to sum up the greatest of his victories as a professional so far: "The most beautiful thing about it was that Boonen hugged me with his eyes wet, while three other teammates celebrated with me," the only 24 year-old winner told Telegraaf. "That made me feel important as a man - the rider only comes second."

His team director Wilfried Peeters also knew what to say about his young prodigy: "Pozzato is a diamond, but one that you have to cut now and again. He can have stardom attitudes, but last year he started out his season with an huge setback in his form. Maybe it was better this way, as he now has both feet firmly on the ground."

Menchov to receive Vuelta honour

Rabobank's Denis Menchov has a special trip planned for this week: The Vuelta a España second-placed will finally receive his title in Madrid on Thursday, March 23, after initially finishing the race ranked second behind Roberto Heras. Since the former Liberty Seguros rider was stripped of his win after testing positive for EPO, Menchov will now be officially declared the winner of the event.

The Russian, who won two stages in the 2005 Vuelta and wore the leader's jersey for nine days, therefore takes the first Grand Tour win for the Dutch Rabobank team. Numbers two and three, Spaniards Carlos Sastre and Francisco Mancebo, will also come to Madrid to receive their honours. The ceremony will be broadcast on Spanish television.

Australian Track World's team announced

Cycling Australia has announced the Cyclones team to contest the 2006 Track Cycling World Championships being staged in Bordeaux, France from April 13-16.

For the Sprint events, the following riders have been selected:

Ryan Bayley (WA 09.03.1982)
Shane Kelly (VIC 07.01.1972)
Ben Kersten (NSW 21.09.1981)
Joel Leonard (VIC 22.07.1981)
Anna Meares (QLD 21.09.1983)
Kerrie Meares (QLD 04.09.1982)
Shane Perkins (VIC 30.12.1985)

For the Endurance events, the following riders have been selected:

Katherine Bates (NSW 18.05.1982)
Simon Clarke (VIC 18.07.1986)
Peter Dawson (WA 04.02.1982)
Sean Finning (VIC 22.01.1985)
Matthew Goss (TAS 05.11.1986)
Ashley Hutchinson (QLD 09.05.1979)
Mark Jamieson (TAS 04.05.1984)
Katie Mactier (VIC 23.03.1975)
Miles Olman (QLD 23.02.1986)
Stephen Wooldridge (NSW 17.10.1977)

Andy Schleck breaks collarbone

Danish team CSC had to add yet another name to the list of injured riders after the 204-kilometre Grand Prix Cholet on Sunday. Andy Schleck was involved in a crash after about 25 kilometres, and the 20 year-old rider suffered a broken collarbone as a result.

"Andy was really unlucky and it's too bad we now have to add his name to our list of injured as well," said sports director Kim Andersen, who had four riders in first peloton in the French race. "But accidents will happen in this sport and we can't change that fact."

As for the race, Andersen added, ""We tried to set up the sprint for Martin Pedersen, who seemed the fastest of the four. Unfortunately he was cut off and didn't get the chance to really take part in the sprint." Chris Sutton (Cofidis) won the GP Cholet while Martin Pedersen came in 14th.

Renšng involved in accident

Petter Renšng of Team Unibet was hit by a car on Friday morning while training in Malaga, Spain, shaping up to make his debut at the Criterium International next week-end. In the descent of a climb, the elder of the Renšng brothers was hit from behind by a tourist from Finland and crashed hard. He was taken to hospital, where doctors feared for serious neck or back injury.

After a complete check-up, the bruised Renšng was released and will try to train again from Wednesday on, although his bike was completely wrecked. Team Unibet will then evaluate if Renšng will be able to ride in Criterium International.

Courtesy of Olivier Onderbeke, www.acso.be.

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