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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for March 22, 2006

Edited by John Stevenson & Les Clarke

Some usual and new suspects for Tour de Georgia

2005 winner Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
Click for larger image

Organisers of the Tour de Georgia, April 18-23, have announced the teams that will line up for this year's edition. Many ProTour teams will be making return appearances, including the 2005 champion Tom Danielson's Discovery Channel squad. Also returning and certainly with eyes on the top prize is Floyd Landis and his Phonak Hearing Systems squad. Team CSC will also be back and is the team most likely to be packed with US riders. Saunier Duval-Prodir makes its third appearance in as many years, though Germany's Gerolsteiner team led by American Levi Leipheimer will not take part this year.

Of the first-time ProTour teams, the most notable is Quick Step-Innergetic, fuelling speculation of an appearance by Tom Boonen, much to the dismay of many sprinters. Also making a first-time appearance, but with many possible riders with Tour de Georgia experience is Davitamon-Lotto with 2003 champion Chris Horner, Fred Rodriguez and 2003 stage winner Henk Vogels.

On the domestic side, all of the top NRC teams will be present, including Health Net-Maxxis and Navigators Insurance. Toyota-United will be looking to add to its UCI stage wins after a successful Tour of California as a first-time team, but with many experienced riders. Another first-time team that will be battling a learning curve as steep as Brasstown Bald is TargeTraining, featuring many first-year pros. Local boys Jittery Joes-Zero Gravity will be defending their home turf with the usual local support.

UCI ProTour Teams

Team CSC (Denmark), No. 1 in 2005
Phonak Hearing Systems (Switzerland), No. 2 in 2005
Davitamon-Lotto (Belgium), No. 4 in 2005
Prodir - Saunier Duval (Spain), No. 7 in 2005
Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team (USA), No 8 in 2005
Quick Step-Innergetic (Belgium), No. 12 in 2005

UCI America Professional and Continental Teams

Health Net presented by Maxxis
Navigators Insurance Professional Cycling
Jelly Belly Cycling Team
Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team
Colavita Olive Oil - Sutter Homes Wines Cycling Team
Team TIAA-CREF
Kodakgallery.com - Sierra Nevada Pro Cycling Team
TARGETRAINING Cycling Team
The Jittery Joes - Zero Gravity Professional Cycling Team

Menchov's Vuelta victory celebration delayed

After being found guilty of EPO use following stage 20 of last year's Vuelta a Espana, Roberto Heras has now delayed the awarding of victory to Denis Menchov because of the Spaniard's ongoing legal action. The suspended rider has commenced proceedings against the Spanish Cycling Federation in Valladolid, which could create issues surrounding the final race outcome if he is successful.

The ceremony, which would have awarded a podium place to Francisco Mancebo and made Denis Menchov's victory official has now been postponed from the scheduled March 23 date due to ramifications surrounding Heras' legal action. Vuelta organisers Unipublic stated that, "We have received notice that Roberto Heras has begun legal action against the resolution of the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) after his positive test in the 20th stage of the 2005 Tour of Spain."

Unipublic went on to explain the difficulty of the situation and apologised to the families and sponsors of Menchov, Sastre and Mancebo, who were due to feature in the ceremony. "Although the rider has been sanctioned as expected, Unipublic has decided to call off the ceremony scheduled for March 23 in order to safeguard itself against the possible consequences of legal action. We would like to apologize for the inconvenience caused to the riders Menchov, Sastre and Mancebo, to their teams and their sponsors."

Cancellara ready for classics

Fabian Cancellara, recruited by CSC during the winter as a rider for the classics, feels he's ready for the classics season. The 25-year-old Swiss rider performed well in last Saturday's Milan-San Remo, getting himself in the front group and showing the type of form necessary to do well in the tough schedule of northern classics ahead.

"I actually still felt quite fresh towards the end of Milano-San Remo and that is definitely a good sign," Cacellara said on Team CSC's website. "We had Fränk Schleck all the way up front so of course I wasn't going anywhere, but I did have the legs for an attack during the final kilometre," he added.

Although he was feeling the pinch somewhat the following day, all had gone well for him in his first crack at La Primavera. "The following day I was fairly worn, but during the last couple of day's training here in Switzerland I've felt that my form is right where it should be," he explained.

A win in the time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico was a confidence boost ahead of his busy schedule. "It was very important to win that one - both for me and the team," said Cancellara. "It was good for morale to show that we've prepared for the big races in the right way - I feel totally ready and I look forward to hitting the cobblestones."

But there's still work to be done in the meantime, according to the big Swiss, including E3 Prijs on Saturday and Brabrantse Pijl on Sunday. "There are two good races this weekend and I'm initially going to try to sit up front in the E3 Prijs on Saturday. It will prove a good test of my form even though primarily it's all about getting ready for Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix," he said.

Five from six for Australia in Commonwealth games time trials

Gordon McCauley, Nathan O'Neill, Ben Day
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

The host nation took a remarkable five of the six cycling medals on offer in yesterday's Commonwealth Games time trials, sweeping the women's podium and taking the two top spots in the men's event. Oenone Wood, Kathy Watt and Sarah Carrigan made up the women's podium while Nathan O'Neill and Ben Day took the two top spots on the men's. It seemed that only numbers stopped Australia from making it six from six: only two Australians started the men's time trial, leaving the door open for New Zealand strongman Gordon McCauley to grab the bronze.

O'Neill delivered a typically powerful ride, going out fast and, as he put it afterwards, "hanging on" to take the gold medal. On the way, O'Neill passed several highly regarded time trialists including Canada's Svein Tuft and England's Stuart Dangerfield who had one and two minutes' start on O'Neill.

Starting 11 minutes before O'Neill, Ben Day was in no danger of being passed by his team-mate's locomotive effort, but knew it was not going to be easy to beat him. Nevertheless, Day's second half was faster than O'Neill's, reducing the 40 second deficit at the turn-around point to 24 at the finish.

Gordon McCauley was full of admiration for O'Neill's ride. "Nathan put two minutes into me. There's no where I could have made another ten seconds on the course, let alone two minutes, so they deserved to finish first and second," he said. "I'm just happy there were only two Aussies in the field."

The women's podium
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

Australia's sweep of the women's podium was made easier by the absence of New Zealand's Sarah Ulmer who pulled out hours before the race suffering from a pinched nerve in her back. Nevertheless, Wood, Watt and Carrigan's achievement was a first for women's cycling at the Commonwealth Games, made all the more remarkable by Watt's silver medal performance.

This was the 41-year-old Melbournian's fourth Commonwealth Games and seventh medal of a career that has been characterized by an often stormy relationship with Australia's selection system. Watt won the road race at the 1992 Olympic Games and took silver in the time trial but seemed to spend the 90s in the news more for her battles to get selected for Australian teams than for her achievements on the bike.

After unsuccessfully taking court action against Australian Cycling to try and gain a place on the team for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Watt put cycling on the back burner to concentrate on coaching, photography and her bike shop. But with a Commonwealth games time trial looming on her home roads, she returned to tracing with a passion last year, and made the team by winning the Australian women's time trial championship.

Watt had hoped for better than silver, but said afterwards, "I was hoping to win gold, but the course was a little flat for me, but it's good Australia made it 1-2-3. I thought [being able to ride on home turf] was too good an opportunity to miss, so I trained hard to make it here. I've probably ridden this road thousands of times and I know it pretty well."

Winner Oenone Wood credited Australian women's coach Warren MacDonald with helping her win. "I knew I was in pretty good form coming out of Geelong and New Zealand," she said. "Wazza [Warren McDonald] and I have been doing a lot of time trial training. He was fantastic today in the car. He kept me focused."

See also: Men's road TT full results, report & photos; Women's road TT full results, report & photos.

BikeNZ examining points race

New Zealand cycling officials are examining a tape of last Friday's Commonwealth Games points race after suggestions that Hayden Roulston may have missed out on a gold medal due to a scoring error, according to a report in the New Zealand Herald.

BikeNZ endurance coach Terry Gyde received a video of Friday's race yesterday after television commentator Phil Liggett raised fears that Australian winner Sean Finning was wrongly awarded a 20-point bonus that should have gone to teammate Peter Dawson, meaning that Finning's total of 137 points would be 117 - two less than silver medallist Roulston.

"We're checking to see if there was a mistake but at this stage we're not too excited about it," said BikeNZ media officer Ted Jones, who is currently looking at possible courses of action if an error has been made.

Operation for Klöden

By Susan Westemeyer

Andreas Klöden's streak of bad luck and injuries seems to have no end: he crashed while training Tuesday, injuring his shoulder. Team T-Mobile's website announced yesterday that he will undergo an operation today Wednesday for an acromioclavicular dislocation. Team doctor Carsten Temme said that Klöden would be in the hospital for five days and in two weeks can start training on the roller. "We figure that Andreas can start intensive road training the end of April. But it depends on how he heals," Temme noted.

Klöden was supposed to have started in the Criterium International this weekend, to be followed by the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, Fleche Wallonne, and Lüttich-Bastogne-Lüttich. He missed the second half of the 2005 season with a broken hand suffered during the Tour de France.

First big European win for TIAA-CREF

The US-based TIAA-CREF team has scored its first big European win at the Tour de Normandie. Twenty-seven-year-old neo-pro Brad Huff won the first road stage of the week-long race in Forges les Eaux yesterday, outsprinting Vidal Celis (Orbea) and Saďd Haddou (Auber 93) after a lengthy sprint.

"I started my sprint with 300 meters to go, which is way, way too long," said Huff. "But, I got it anyway."

Results & report

Buitenpoort - Flexpoint ready for big 2006

Buitenpoort-Flexpoint are ready
Photo ©: Buitenpoort-Flexpoint team
(Click for larger image)

After a strong showing in 2005, women's professional squad Buitenpoort - Flexpoint has been presented in Holland and according to team management are set for an even better 2006.

Jean-Paul van Poppel returns as team manager that includes new riders Loes Gunnewijk, Madeleine Sandig and Suzanne van Veen. Double world champion Susanne Ljungskog stays with the team, along with Mirjam Melchers-van Poppel, Amber Neben and Tanja Hennes. The squad won two world cups in 2005 (Tour of Flanders and Castilla y Leon), plus Tour de l'Aide, Expert Ladies Tour and the Tour of Toscane - in 2006 they'll be aiming to add to this impressive list, and have the firepower to do so.

The 2006 Buitenpoort - Flexpoint squad is: Susanne Ljungskog, Mirjam Melchers-van Poppel, Amber Neben, Tanja Hennes, Vera Koedooder, Sandra Rombouts, Luise Keller, Linda Villumsen, Elsbeth van Rooy-Finch, Loes Gunnewijk, Madeleine Sandig and Suzanne van Veen

Wiesenhof-Akud in Belgium

Team Wiesenhof-Akud has announced its line-ups for the upcoming races in Belgium. It's "a week, that is full of typical Belgian racecourses: lots of steep climbs, often with cobblestones, long pave passages early in the races, as well as frequently bad weather, wind, cold, and strong opponents," said the team. "All of these things make the coming days a challenge. The riders are optimistic, that they will present themselves well and will be able to make their presence known."

Dwaars door Vlaanderen (March 22): Gerald Ciolek, Artur Gajek, Felix Odebrecht, Steffen Radochla, Torsten Schmidt, Marcel Sieberg, Lars Wackernagel, Carlo Westphal

E3 Preis Harelbeke (March 25): Artur Gajek, Christian Leben, Felix Odebrecht, Steffen Radochla, Torsten Schmidt, Marcel Sieberg, Lars Wackernagel, Gregor Willwohl

Pfeil von Brabant (March 26): Tim Klinger, Christan Leben, Robert Retschke, Torsten Schmidt, Marcel Sieberg, Corey Sweet, Lubor Tesar, Lars Wackernagel

USA Cycling road nationals registration open

USA Cycling has announced that registration for its 2006 National Festival is now open and is encouraging competitors to register early before field size limits are reached. Riders can visit www.sportsbaseonline.com to register.

The annual event which crowns USA Cycling national champions in road disciplines for junior, U23, master and elite categories is scheduled for July 5-17 at Seven Springs Resort in Champion, Pa. Fields are limited to 125 riders in each of the road races and 100 riders in each of the criteriums. There is no limit to the number of entries in time trial events.

Because of the introduction of a USPRO time trial national championship this September, riders on either UCI registered ProTour, Pro Continental or Continental teams are no longer allowed to compete in the men's elite time trial. With the exception of that restriction, both the men's and women's elite time trials are open to all riders who meet the eligibility requirements in the rulebook. For eligibility requirements, competitors should to refer to page 101 of the USCF rulebook. USA Cycling reminds riders that the elite men's road race and criterium is open to category 1 riders only, while the elite women's road race and criterium is open to category 1 and category 2 riders.

For more information see www.7springs.com

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