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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for March 21, 2006

Edited by John Stevenson & Les Clarke

Ulmer out of Games TT

With just minutes to go before the start of the women's time trial in the Commonwealth Games, red hot favourite Sarah Ulmer has pulled out, citing back problems.

At a pre-race press conference, a clearly upset Ulmer said, "This is what we train for and to not be able to race is gutting. But that's sport; you have extreme highs and lows."

Being forced to drop out of the time trial was dounbly disappointing for Ulmer because she has recently had excellent form. "I had a really good race in New Zealand," she said, referrring to her dominating victory in the Wellington women's World Cup on March 5.

Ulmer said she still hopes to be able to ride Sunday's road race, "and I'm very angry [about missing the time trial] so look out!"

Commonwealth Games time trial preview: Wind and strong field may bring surprises

By Rob Jones and Les Clarke

Nathan O’Neill (Aus) is the favourite
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image) Nathan O’Neill (QLD) reflects on his seventh Australian TT title

Today's men's and women's time trials, which take place along the coast next to Port Phillip Bay, are shaping up as being tri-nations battles, with Australia, England and New Zealand going in as the three strongest nations. Canada and South Africa will also go into the event as good medal chances, with several strong riders taking to the start at St Kilda Beach.

Riders head out from the beach in a south-easterly direction - 14.5 kilometres for the women and 20 kilometres for the men - before retracing their path back to the finish. There are no major climbs, but the wind may be a factor. However, conditions this morning are reported to be calm, and the forecast is for morning cloud and local fog clearing to a fine and mostly sunny afternoon with light easterly wind and afternoon seabreezes.

Canadian time trial champion Svein Tuft said yesterday that it's a course which favours him. "I like this course a lot. I like that it's windy; right now it is kind of a cross-head wind on the way out and cross-tail on the way back," he said. "The pavement is super smooth, so it's going to be fast. The hardest sections will likely be some of the false flats which are fairly exposed to the wind. You'll have to ride smart, and make sure that you have power left for the return in the tail wind, so that you can really crank it up. I'm feeling really good; ready to rip it."

Click here for the full preview

Another Aussie neo-pro scores upset win in Europe

Chris Sutton
Photo ©: Paul Henderson-Kelly
(Click for larger image)

Unavailable for duties with the national squad in the 2006 Commonwealth Games road race, Chris 'CJ' Sutton recently made his way to Europe to start work for the French ProTour squad, Cofidis.

And the 21 year-old Australian neo-pro has already rewarded his employers with an upset win in the 202km Cholet-Pays De Loire, an UCI 1.1 road race held in France last Sunday. Sutton, the son of former world points race champion Gary Sutton and considered one of Australia's brightest prospects, was up against several ProTour teams and many experienced professionals, such as wily Belgian Niko Eeckhout (Davitamon-Lotto), who finished in second, and fellow Australian Baden Cooke from Unibet, who ran fifth.

'CJ' was one of the riders "heavily considered" for selection for Australia's Commonwealth Games road race squad, but selectors felt it was in the best interests of the young rider to let him finally start his career with one of Europe's top teams, said Cycling Australia high performance manager Kevin Tabotta.

Earlier this year Sutton had been held up from going to Europe by work visa problems, and Cofidis had wanted him to start racing in January. He continued training in Australia before heading over to Europe last month, so his win last weekend was considered a major surprise given that he had not had much racing in his legs.

Like many of the Australians racing for ProTour teams in Europe, Sutton also has a considerable pedigree on the track and has successfully carried over his skills to the road.

"I started feeling very good with 50 kilometres to go," he told Cyclingnews after the finish. "Then it came to a bunch sprint. The last kilometre was really dangerous. I thought I was going to crash but I got through. Unibet was doing a perfect job for Baden Cooke so I went on his wheel and I sprinted down the left. Beating these guys is unbelievable. This is a dream come true. Baden Cooke is one of the best sprinters in the world!"

See the full report from Sunday, January 2006 interview and check out CJ's bike.

Backstedt's injury worries continue

Liquigas' big Swede Magnus Backstedt continues to suffer from the effects of a fall during the Challenge Illes Balears series in Spain, and with the cause of the injury yet to be ascertained, the prospect of Backstedt challenging for wins during spring looks to be in jeopardy.

"As a professional rider it's not if you fall off, it's when and how badly," Backstedt said recently, but after good winter preparations Liquigas' man for the classics had been looking forward to a strong start to 2006. The fall in Spain looked like a fairly regular crash, and early diagnosis of the injury was positive so he was back on his bike for the GP Lucca and Tirreno Adriatico. "For me to stand any chance of getting to peak fitness for the classics I had to get through the full race at Tirreno," said Backstedt. "I had some really good days, but also some where I was just in agony."

He underwent further treatment before last Saturday's Milan-San Remo, and he started in Milan with a positive outlook, only to be struck by the effects of the injury more than halfway through the race. "For the first 185km I was cruising, pedalling along nicely and doing the job for the boys. Within five pedal strokes my knee locked up and I was in total agony," he said.

Backstedt is now undergoing further diagnosis to find out the root cause of the injury, saying, "I've consulted various experts in the field and will have an MRI scan - from that I can start possible treatment this week." One of the peloton's biggest riders, and after winning Paris-Roubaix in 2004, Backstedt's focus is obviously on the classics, where he'll once again test his luck and form on the cobbles. "My main focus is to get back on my bike and back to competition as soon as possible," he said. "I still have a window to get back in shape and be fully competitive for the classics, but day by day this window is getting smaller."

George joins Relax, aiming for good CW Games ride

By Shane Stokes

South Africa’s David George is aiming to build on the strong form he has shown already this season with a successful performance in the Commonwealth Games time trial this afternoon and then in European events from April onwards.

The Tour de Langkawi winner has signed a deal with the Relax-Gam team and will debut with the Spanish Continental Professional squad on the 3rd of April in the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco [Tour of the Basque Country].

“The deal came about through my friend and coach David Plaza, who I started to work with last year when we were with the Barloworld team,” George told Cyclingnews over the weekend. “He has really taught me how to train and prepare physically for objectives, something which I think we don't think enough about in cycling. Anyway Dave has been working as my manager, and guru, as well; we had talked to Relax before Malaysia but they wanted to have a look there. And that went OK! Also, they have secured the team’s participation in the Vuelta and were looking for a rider with my capabilities to strengthen the squad.”

George competed with the Barloworld team for the past two seasons but was left without a contract for 2006. The 30 year old bounced back by winning the 2.HC Tour de Langkawi in February and then finished second in the Giro del Capo just over a week ago.

“In hindsight all has worked out ok,” he said, speaking about his time of uncertainty. “I have a few victories under the belt and a job at a team where I will have a fair amount of responsibility, possibly even at a Grand Tour. I will be based out of Madrid and will hopefully have the opportunity to target the rest of my season around the Vuelta España. Having had a good period now, it would make the most sense to have my [next big] objectives a bit later in the season, so that works perfect for me. It will also give me some time to adapt to my new team.”

Before then, George will try to medal against the clock on Tuesday. Although he was out of the placings in the time trial at the Tour de Langkawi, he won the TT in the Giro del Capo and should be one of those gunning for the top spot of the podium.

“I had set out the first few objectives for the start of the season which were, Malaysia, Giro del Capo and Commonwealth Games. I really wanted to stay with those and not try to change too much. The Games are not really that big in the general world of cycling but in South Africa, as in the UK and Australia, they are pretty important. So I was happy to have the opportunity to come back and represent SA here in Melbourne.”

 

An interview with Katie Compton: Against the odds

Compton rode powerfully
Photo ©: Russ and Nancy Wright
Click for larger image

Coming from virtually nowhere to win both the 2004 and 2005 US national Cyclocross championships, Katie Compton remains quite an enigma for US cycling fans. Cyclingnews' Steve Medcroft spoke with Compton after her second national championships win last December and found out a little more about this talented rider.

In 2004 Katie Compton surprised the elite women's field at Cyclo-cross Nationals in Portland, Oregon. She had no UCI points and started at the back of the grid, and as she hadn't raced a US Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross race, media and competitors who had been facing each other all year in top-level ‘cross knew little about her. It wasn't until she stomped to the front of the race, opened a defiant gap on the field and took the championship jersey without a challenge that we learned a little more.

In an interview with Cyclingnews after that race, her Carmichael Training Systems elite coach told us that she avoided UCI races because they would have affected her eligibility to compete as the sighted pilot to a blind stoker on a Paralympics track tandem team; that team won gold in Athens in 2004. We also learned that she had trained for nationals by quietly competing in men's races in Colorado.

Click here for the full interview.

Sparkassen-Münsterland-Giro announced

Münster, Germany, will host the new "Sparkassen-Münsterland-Giro" in early October. The race has been given a 1.1 UCI ranking, and will run for 200 km around the Münster area. The plans for the race arose from the cancellation of the Gronigen-Münster race, which was not held in 2005 because of financial problems.

The race for the pros will be accompanied by "Everyman" races of varying distances and the student championships. "Münster and its surroundings are the cycling capital of Germany and deserve a first-class race," said former T-Mobile pro Rolf Aldag. "In the Sparkassen-Münsterland-Giro, I see the chance to confirm and improve the reputation of the city and area as a top region for cycling, both professional and as hobby."

The race is to be held on October 3, the Day of German Unity, a national holiday. Team Gerolsteiner and Team Milram have already announced plans to participate.

Schleicher plans to stay put

Women's road world champion Regina Schleicher hopes to stay with her current team, Equipe Nürnberger, until she ends her career. "I have found the right team, which really supports me," she told the German press agency DPA. Between 1999 and 2004, Schleicher changed team four times, but now has a contract with Nürnberger through 2007. "If it goes well, I would like to continue with the Equipe until the Olympic games in Peking. Then I'll call it a day," said the 31-year-old.

Don't have a cow

How a farmer's brew affects riders health

By Susan Westemeyer

Did you ever wonder why so many riders come down with stomach problems after the various spring races in Belgium? One might suspect it's the effect of bouncing up and down so long on cobblestones, but the truth of the matter is much more... natural, one might say. It's all due to the cow manure, says T-Mobile's team doctor, Stefan Voigt.

"Last year in late March, Flanders experienced a spell of mild weather, prompting many farmers to spread manure on their fields. However, the good weather didn't hold and heavy rainfall during the 'Dreidaagse von de Panne' (three to five days before the Tour of Flanders) caused the manure to run off the fields and onto a few hundred metres of the race route," he explains on the team's website.

And how does the cow manure work its magic on the riders? "When the riders sped through these stretches, the excrement sprayed out in all directions -- onto the riders' faces and onto the mouthpieces of their water bottles. Consequently, when a rider took a swig from his bottle, he also unwittingly swallowed millions of E-coli bacteria. Within 12 hours of the E-coli contamination, the riders suffered severe upset stomachs with vomiting and diarrhea."

The solution? "Let's hope for cool and dry weather... so that the farmers 'dangerous brew' is frozen, or at least doesn't run off onto the race route."

Line-ups for upcoming races

You know the season is getting into full swing when your Inbox is stuffed full of team announcements for imminent races. Here's a few.

Settimana Ciclistica Internazionale "Coppi & Bartali"

Italian teams are targeting the five-day 'Coppi-Bartali Week' which starts today and runs until March 25. Barloworld will field a predominantly young team including Felix Cardenas and Tiaan Kannemeyer who recently rode in South Africa; young Italians Gianpaolo Cheula (fresh from last week's Tirreno-Adriatico) and Mauro Facci (third in the Classic Haribo); Basque riders Pedro Arreitunandia and Amets Txurruka;and James Perry, who is making a return to racing after injury.

"We'll be looking to continue our run of success and strong riding at the Coppi & Bartali," said Barloworld's Valerio Tebaldi who will be the team's directeur sportif. "In every race we've ridden so far this season we've been in the thick of the action and often got impressive results. I'm sure that'll be the case at the Coppi & Bartali with a team of young but very determined riders."

Spain's Saunier Duval Prodir may not be an Italian squad, but the team's Italian superstar Gilberto Simoni will be looking to show some early-season form in the run-up to the Giro d'Italia. Simoni will be supported by Riccardo Ricco, Guido Trentin, Marco Pinotti, Rubens Bertogliati, Angel Gomez Litu, Oliver Zaugg, and Nicolas Fritsch.

Germany's Team Gerolsteiner will roll out a couple of its big guns with Markus Fothen, Heinrich Haussler, Levi Leipheimer, Sven Montgomery, Michael Rich, Matthias Ruß, Georg Totschnig and Beat Zberg. Christian Wegmann will be directeur sportif.

There's a strongly Italian flavour to the Quick Step-Innergetic line-up with Paolo Bettini, Davide Bramati, Francesco Chicchi, Juan Manuel Garate, Jose Antonio Garrido, Ivan Santaromita, Leonardo Scarselli, and Hubert Schwab. Serge Parsani will be directeur sportif.

Italian Professional Continental outfit Team Miche will be represented by Alejandro Alberto Borrajo, Mauro Gerosa, Pasquale Muto, Przemyslaw Niemec, Bo Hamburger, Antonio D'Aniello, Yuri Mitlushenko, and Maurizio Carta.

Another Italian Professional Continental squad, Ceramica Flaminia, will field Manuele Spadi, Stefano Boggia, Krystzof Szczawinski, Gianluca Geremia, Maurizio Varini, Maksym Rudenko and Domenico Quagliariello

Acqua & Sapone Caffe' Mokambo will be represented by Alexander Arekeev, Crescenzo D'Amore, Andrea Masciarelli, Rinaldo Nocentini, Leonardo Moser, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Ondrej Sosenka and Andrea Tonti.

Dwars door Vlaanderen-Waregem

The T-Mobile Team has a youthful squad for this 202km Belgian one-day semi-classic. Twenty-two-year-old Marcus Burghardt was fourth last year in his neo-pro season and he will be joined by Dutchman Bas Giling, sprinter André Greipel, Czech neo-pro Frantisek Rabon, Stephan Schreck, Bram Schmitz and Jörg Ludewig.

"Marcus rode a superb race here last year. The cobbled course really suits him. I am hoping that he can again be right up there when it comes down to the crunch," says Frans van Looy, who will be directing team affairs in Belgium.

The race starts in Kortrijk and takes the riders on a challenging circuitous 202km route through West and East Flanders before the finish in Waregem. The lumpy parcours includes plenty of Flanders' fabled bergs; short, sharp climbs, with the first (Katteberg) coming after 90 kilometres.

Some of the 'bergs' along the route, such as Eikenberg (8 percent), Valkenberg (10 percent) and Oude Kwaremont (11.6 percent), will also feature in the upcoming Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders). And the two races have something else in common; plenty of cobbles.

"The roads are narrow and twisting. To avoid getting dropped by a sudden attack, you have to be on the alert at all times", says van Looy.

Alessandro Petacchi will lead Team Milram's assault on this Belgian one-day semi-classic on March 22. He will be supported by Maarten Den Bakker, Simone Cadamuro, Alessandro Cortinovis, Ralf Grabsch, Martin Muller, Marco Velo, and Fabio Sacchi. Directeurs sportifs will be Gianluigi Stanga and Antonio Bevilacqua.

Landbouwkrediet-Colnago will field Bert De Waele, Nico Sijmens, Steven Kleynen, Sjef De Wilde, Filip Meirhaeghe, Kevin Neirinck, Jurgen Van Loocke and Johan Verstrepen. Claude Vancoillie will be directeur sportif.

Tom Boonen may think it's not a good idea for him to win everything, but it's likely he'll want to please home fans when Quick.Step-Innergetic lines up for Dwars door Vlaanderen. He will be supported by Steven De Jongh, Kevin Hulsmans, Servais Knaven, Nick Nuyens, Bram Tankink, Kevin Van Impe, and Wouter Weylandt with Wilfried Peeters in the team car.

GP Harelbecke

Alessandro Petacchi will lead Team Milram again for this race on March 25. He will be supported the same squad as for Dwars door Vlaanderen-Waregem: Maarten Den Bakker, Simone Cadamuro, Alessandro Cortinovis, Ralf Grabsch, Martin Muller, Marco Velo, and Fabio Sacchi. Directeurs sportifs will be Gianluigi Stanga and Antonio Bevilacqua.

Lampre-Fondital will start its Spring Classics campaign at GP Harelbeke with Alessandro Ballan, Enrico Franzoi, Paolo Fornaciari, Daniele Righi, David Loosli, Claudio Corioni, Matteo Carrara and Matteo Bono. The same eight riders will also start Fléche Brabanconne (March 26) and the Ronde van Vlaanderen (April 2).

For the KBC-Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde (March 28-30), and Gent -Wevelgem (April 5), Lampre-Fondital will field Alessandro Ballan, Enrico Franzoi, Paolo Fornaciari, Daniele Righi, David Loosli, Claudio Corioni, Matteo Carrara and Danilo Napolitano.

Looking further ahead, the team has also announced its line-up for Paris-Roubaix: Alessandro Ballan, Enrico Franzoi, Paolo Fornaciari, Daniele Righi, David Loosli, Claudio Corioni and Matteo Bono.

CapTch Classic signs JetBlue as partner

Budget airline JetBlue has signed up as a sponsor of the CapTech Classic, June 1, Richmond, Virginia. As well as being official airline of the four-year-old race, JetBlue will be title sponsor of the women's event, to be known as the JetBlue Women's Open.

The CapTech Classic and JetBlue Women's Open once again feature on USA Cycling's National Racing Calendar. The races will feature a spectator-friendly course in the heart of the city, a Marketplace Expo, live closed-circuit TV coverage, kid's activities, live music, food, and more.

For more information see www.captechclassic.com.

2006 Infineon Raceway Cycling Series

The 2006 Infineon Raceway Cycling Series begins April 6 in Sonoma, California. The venue is 30 minutes north of San Francisco, and organiser Peter Nicholson says the races, "feature a variety of formats on the same courses used by NASCAR and Indy Car drivers, as well as a substantial prize list. The Infineon Twilights are an outstanding opportunity for both new and experienced racers."

Races will be held Thursday evenings in April, August and September, and an overall points champion will be awarded for each series. Free, one-day licenses will be available for first-timers while A and B races will be run concurrently, providing an opportunity to race with teammates in different categories.

"This is a great alternative to the usual Tuesday night crash fest, I mean, training criterium!" adds Nicholson.

For more information see www.infineonracewaycycling.com

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