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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News for March 29, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones

Ullrich pulls out of Sarthe with knee injury

The much anticipated return of T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich to racing has been delayed again, his team said today. Due to return at next week's Circuit de la Sarthe (April 4 to 7), Ullrich will not be travelling to France because of an irritation in his right knee, "which, on medical grounds, rules out racing," said team doctor Prof. Dr. Andreas Schmid following tests at Freiburg's Uni-Clinic on Tuesday.

The injury is "not uncommon among athletes," added Schmid, referring to the previous experiences of Andreas Kl÷den und Rolf Aldag. According to Schmid, however, Ullrich's current problems are not related to his injury and subsequent operation in 2002.

In early March Ullrich first felt "a small twinge in the knee", and the diagnosis was an irritation. A few days with a reduced training load followed, so Ullrich could train without experiencing pain. However, recent intensive training in preparation for his planned season start caused the injury to return. "I will be paying more attention to ensure the irritation heals fully, then I can start to progressively increase the training load," said Ullrich.

"Naturally I'm disappointed," he wrote on his website, janullrich.de. "I was really looking forward to my first race after so many months of training. But it wouldn't bring anything to try and continue with the program. It's still early in the season. If I don't make any mistakes now, then I won't have to worry about limitations at the Tour. And that's what really matters. The next few days I will do a little light training and work with my physiotherapist Birgit Krohme."

T-Mobile team manager Olaf Ludwig also considered it "a pity that Jan has to cancel Sarthe. I would like to have seen him in competition, especially as he's been training solidly in the last few months and had been spared from illnesses."

For Ludwig, it's another example of his team's bad run of luck so far this season, referring to the injuries suffered by Bram Schmitz (broken foot), Eric Baumann (broken tibia and fibula) and Andreas Kl÷den (dislocated shoulder) as well as the many riders who fell ill at the start of the season. The former sprinter knows from personal experience, however, that "it would be downright negligent for Jan to race in the coming weeks and risk aggregating the injury through some miscalculated enthusiasm."

To prevent this, the medical team in Freiburg have prescribed Ullrich a reduced training workload, building up to more intensive blocks. The former Tour champ will also undergo intensive physiotherapy to help the healing process. "There's no point complaining. I want to put this knee trouble behind me and get on with a structured build-up to the Tour," said Ullrich.

Ullrich's program now depends on how well his knee heals. The current plan is for him to continue training in the coming weeks (Switzerland, Tuscany) in preparation for a competitive start at Tour de Romandie (April 25 - 30).

Boonen has a cold

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Tom Boonen got through the first stage of the Driedaagse van De Panne without incident, preferring not to get near to the front of the bunch in the sprint for ninth place. He also looked strong on the climbs, appearing to be trying to discourage a chase of the break in front, which had his teammate Filippo Pozzato in it.

Despite a strong impression, Quick.Step's team director Rik Van Slijcke told Sportwereld that Tom had been "awake all night coughing. A cold." Boonen didn't mention this, saying merely that "to get to Zottegem without a scratch was hard work. After the rain, the roads were dangerously slick. That's why I chose, dependent on the risk, to ride in front or completely at the back. The feeling in the legs is the same and that is promising now with the Ronde so close."

Eisel: "I rode too foolishly"

Bernhard Eisel (R)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Franšaise des Jeux's Bernhard Eisel was bitterly disappointed to finish second in Tuesday's first stage of the Driedaagse van De Panne, saying, "I rode too foolishly!" This is how he describes it on www.eisel.com: "After 100 kilometres I found myself in a large group, out of which I attacked about 40 km before the finish. Steegmans came with me and later Leif Hoste came, too. As a trio we could hold our advantage, which never went under a minute." And in the finale, "I concentrated only on Steegmans, supposedly the only serious competition for me. And then I opened the sprint too early, and totally blew my chances. I know that I am strong. With this form there is no way I should have lost the race. Tactically, that was not my best race."

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Sanchez strong in De Panne

Although the stage honours had all been wrapped up by Leif Hoste, Bernhard Eisel and Gert Steegmans in the first stage of the Driedaagse van De Panne, Liberty Seguros' Luis Leˇn Sanchez produced a great ride in the final 30 km to get within 12 seconds of the leaders at the finish.

Sanchez had got himself into a group of 12 riders that was chasing the leading trio, but the group could never close the gap to less than a minute. On the Leberg and then the Berendries on the final lap, Sanchez made his move. "Approximately 30 kilometres to go, I jumped alone because I had good legs and also because Manolo ordered me, to try to see if I could take back the minute and a half that they had."

Sanchez rode powerfully over the final kilometres to carve all but 12 seconds off the gap that no-one else could close. On the general classification, thanks to time bonuses, he sits 25 seconds behind Hoste. His hopes now rest on the final day's time trial. "I don't know why, but double stages have always been good for me, like in Alcobendas, where I won the time trial twice. Here also there is a double stage on the last day and I expect to take advantage of the opportunity."

Nevertheless, Sanchez is starting to feel the mental tiredness that a lot of racing brings. "Since Australia, I am competing in everything, and I do not believe that I'm going better, although I do not feel tired either. Maybe I am more exhausted mentally than in my legs after so many races."

This race will be his last before a rest period, then Sanchez will resume at Alcobendas and the Volta a Catalunya as preparation for the Tour de France.

Bondariew "unfit to start"

Ukrainian rider Bogdan Bondariew was declared unfit to start the Driedaagse van De Panne on Tuesday, after the UCI carried out health controls in the morning before the start. Although Bondariew's haematocrit was 46 (under the 50 percent limit), his reticulocyte (new red blood cells) count was considered too high, and he was told to rest for two weeks.

Bondariew's Intel-Action team press officer Marcin Karda told Cyclingnews that his high reticulocyte count was a result of a month long altitude camp in Colorado Springs recently.

The UCI also tested Liberty Seguros, Landbouwkrediet-Colnago and Team Wiesenhof riders. No others were declared unfit.

Hondo: UCI ruling "is all politics"

According to the UCI, Danilo Hondo can start racing again Saturday, but no ProTour or Pro Continental team is allowed to sign him, because of the ProTour Code of Ethics. "The Code is a question of interpretation," Hondo told the dpa press agency last night. "The UCI can't force teams to not let me start. It's all a matter of politics, just as it has been from the beginning."

"The UCI's statement hasn't changed the situation at all - the legal status is, as before, totally unclear," Gerolsteiner's Mathias Weiland told Cyclingnews.

In addition, he said, under the Swiss court ruling he is able to start racing immediately and not as of April 1, as the UCI claimed. Hondo is expected to issue a more complete statement later today or tomorrow.

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Wired To Win: Surviving the Tour de France

Brain meets bike on the giant screen

After near three year gestation period, Wired to Win has finally hit IMAX theatres across the globe. The film follows the efforts of FDJeux.com teammates Jimmy Casper and Baden Cooke in the 2003 Tour de France, and how their brains cope with the stress. Chris Henry reports on the movie from New York.

Baden Cooke and Jimmy Casper
Photo ©: Wired to Win
(Click for larger image)

The 2003 Tour de France, the centenary of the event, generated considerable excitement for many reasons. The hundredth anniversary of the first Tour, Lance Armstrong's quest to join the elite club of five-time winners, fellow American Tyler Hamilton's struggle to overcome a broken collarbone and finish fourth in Paris, perennial runner-up Jan Ullrich's closest ever deficit to Armstrong... Each of these elements provided the race with almost unparalleled drama. Behind the scenes, excitement was also being generated by a Tour first: an IMAX feature film being created on the roads and in the skies above France.

Director Bayley Silleck had a lengthy filmmaking resumé, but was new to the world of professional cycling. He found himself easily drawn into the stories and the drama of the Tour. "It's kind of embarrassing, really," he explained. "I didn't realize it was a team sport... that there was actually an incredible amount of strategy involved. It's like chess on bikes. When you get to know some of the riders, and you learn how hard it is just to finish the race, let alone win anything, it's almost impossible not to get emotionally invested."

Click here for the full feature

UCI Continental Tour rankings

The UCI has updated its various Continental Tour rankings, with the five leaders getting to wear their respective continental jerseys in races over the next month. In Europe, Frederik Willems (Chocolade Jacques) has lost the jersey to his teammate Niko Eeckhout, with David Bernabeu Armengol (Comunidad Valenciana) moving up to second ahead of Willems. In Africa, Rupert Rheeder has a comfortable lead of 88 points over Kazakhstanis Bakhtiyar Mamyrov and Pavel Nevdakh. In Asia, it's another South African leading: David George, winner of the Tour de Langkawi, who has 178 points compared to David McCann (Giant Asia Racing Team) on 148.

The American tour sees Pedro Pablo Perez Marquez (Cuba) on top, after dominating his national tour. Juan Carlos Rojas Villegas (Costa Rica) is 17 points behind the Cuban, with Venezuelan Manuel Eduardo Medina Marino 24 points behind. Finally, William Walker (Rabobank Continental) still leads the currently dormant Oceania Tour on 117 points, ahead of Canadian Dominique Perras (Kodakgallery.com-Sierra Nevada Pro Cycling) and Russell Van Hout (Savings & Loans).

The top teams are Cycling Team Capec (Africa), Selle Italia - Serramenti Diquigiovanni (America), Giant Asia Racing Team (Asia), Chocolade Jacques - Topsport Vlaanderen (Europe), and Southaustralia.com-AIS (Oceania).

Full rankings: Individuals, Teams, Nations.

Zabel and Petacchi lead Milram at Flanders

Team Milram has selected Erik Zabel and Alessandro Petacchi in its line up for the Tour of Flanders this Sunday. Zabel, fourth last year, is the more experienced of the pair on the Flemish roads, and will no doubt be looking for another top placing. The other riders in the squad are Simone Cadamuro, Alessandro Cortinovis, Maarten Den Bakker, Ralf Grabsch, Martin Muller and Fabio Sacchi. Substitutes: Alberto Ongarato and Marco Velo. Sports directors: Gianluigi Stanga and Antonio Bevilacqua.

Milram has also announced that it has a new sponsor: Bracca Acque Minerali S.p.a has signed a one year deal with the team to be its official water supplier.

New Zealand Track World's squad

The team to represent New Zealand at the 2006 UCI Track Cycling World Championships being held in Bordeaux, France April 13 -16 has been named:

Joanne Kiesanowski
Alison Shanks
Jason Allen
Sam Bewley
Dave Cresswell
Hayden Godfrey
Tim Gudsell
Marc Ryan

Terry Gyde - Coach
Tessa Sollaart - Soigneur
Steve Wallis - Mechanic

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