First Edition Cycling News for March 31, 2006
Edited by Hedwig Kröner
Klier T-Mobile captain in Flanders
Andreas Klier will lead the T-Mobile roster of classics specialists at Sunday's Tour of Flanders. Klier, who lives and trains in Flanders, was the runner-up to Tom Boonen at last year's 'Ronde' and the 30-year-old is fit and looking forward to start again. "I am all fired up for Flanders," said the Klier, who can count on very special support in his bid for victory in Meerbeke, as former Tour of Flanders winner Steffen Wesemann will ride for him according to T-Mobile management. Wesemann certainly has the race knowledge to give Klier a hand over the 17 punchy climbs and countless cobbled passages.
The magenta outfit is likely to be one of the driving teams in the race on Sunday, as last year T-Mobile placed three riders in the top ten: Klier was second, Erik Zabel fourth and Russian champion Sergey Ivanov ninth. Zabel has moved on to Milram, but sporting director Valerio Piva remained convinced that "our team has shown that we have what it takes to win this cycling monument."
Piva further believes that Ivanov and Lorenzo Bernucci can be Klier's key men in the race's crucial final stages. Bernucci returns to racing after the flu forced the Italian to scratch Milan-Sanremo a fortnight ago. "Lorenzo is very important to our tactics, he can be a huge help to Andreas in the closing stages," said Piva, who also pointed to the good form of Stephan Schreck, Bram Schmitz and Marcus Burghardt. "Marcus was solid at Dwars Door Vlaanderen, and Bram is competitive again after fighting back bravely from his early season injury." Sprinter André Greipel will complete the T-Mobile roster.
The 258 kilometres of 'Vlaanderen's mooiste' (Flanders' finest) promise yet again to be exciting, as World Champion Tom Boonen will do everything to keep his title. Piva picked out the Flemish superstar as the man to beat, scoring his third E3-Prijs Vlaanderen win last weekend and having top men at this side like Milan-Sanremo winner Filippo Pozzato. "Quick Step are incredibly strong at the moment," Piva added, but he won’t be defining the team tactics around the Belgian squad. "We are going to try to ride our own race."
Furthermore, T-Mobile will enjoy a premiere at this year's 'Ronde' - sending not just one, but two teams into competition. For the first time, the team's men's and women’s teams line up at the same race. "It is really very special to have both teams in competition at the same event," said team manager Olaf Ludwig.
Fresh off a successful period of racing in Australia, New Zealand and the USA, the T-Mobile women chase World Cup points in Europe for the first time. Olympic silver-medallist Judith Arndt and World Cup leader Ina-Yoko Teutenberg lead a strong team over the 111 km women's course.
The T-Mobile men's team lining up in Flanders will be: Lorenzo Bernucci, Marcus Burghardt, André Greipel, Sergey Ivanov, Andreas Klier, Bram Schmitz, Stephan Schreck and Steffen Wesemann.
Quick.Step, Saunier Duval for the Ronde
The Belgian Quick.Step team has announced its rider roster for the Ronde van Vlaanderen. As expected, the following riders will line up next Sunday: Serge Baguet, Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen, Wilfried Cretskens, Kevin Hulsmans, Nick Nuyens, Filippo Pozzato and Kevin Van Impe.
Tom Boonen, who skipped the last stages of the Driedaagse van De Panne, feels in perfect shape to repeat his 2005 victory of the race. "I’m in better condition this year as opposed to the same time last year," Boonen said on Thursday evening. "I decided not to take part in the De Panne today as I really didn’t want to risk anything in light of next Sunday’s race. However, I did some cycle training in my room whilst watching the last 50 kilometres of the race on the television."
The World champion was sure to have taken the right decision. "Last year I fell during De Panne, injuring my hand," he continued. "This year I’ll be taking part in the race without being restrained by health problems. Our team is very tough, maybe even the best but as always the competition is hard. I hope the weather will be good and dry, therefore limiting the risks of falling."
Teammates Paolo Bettini and Filippo Pozzato, also in excellent shape, will recon the route on Friday, March 31. The two Quick.Step riders will begin their training session at 10 am in Oudenaarde, right in the heart of the race, climbing some of the 'walls' including Oude Kwaremont, Paterberg and Koppenberg.
"The Tour of the Flanders is one of my favourite races," said Bettini. "For this reason I decided to come to Belgium a few days early in order to try out the route. Our team will be starting the race with Tom as our leader who will have to be protected. It will be very important for us as a team to be with him during the final phases and for us not to make any mistakes."
Spanish team Saunier Duval-Prodir has also announced its rider roster for the Ronde van Vlaanderen, the same team that will also compete in Gent-Wevelgem and Paris Roubaix in early April: Charles Dionne, Aaron Olson, Peter Mazur, Francisco Ventoso, Ángel Gómez Litu, Carlos Zárate and Luciano Pagliarini.
Milram changes Flanders roster
Team Milram has announced two changes to its Ronde van Vlaanderen roster. The final line-up will be: Alessandro Petacchi, Erik Zabel, Maarten Den Bakker, Alessandro Cortinovis, Ralf Grabsch, Enrico Poitschke, Christian Knees and Marco Velo.
Fabio Sacchi and Alberto Ongarato will not take the start on Sunday. Sacchi injured his right knee in Waregem at the Dwars door Vlaanderen recently, where he also suffered a cut to his eyebrow which had to be stitched six times. Ongarato, on the other hand, isn't affected by a crash but by viral intestinal problems which also made him abandon Tirreno-Adriatico and forced him to miss out on Milano-Sanremo.
Grabsch out of Flanders, back at Wevelgem
Bert Grabsch, a German Phonak rider who lives in Switzerland, suffered a sprain to the thumb/ball area of his left hand during a mass crash in the second stage of the Driedaagse van De Panne, according to Phonak's team physician Thomas Klimaschka. The injury isn't as bad as first thought, but Grabsch will nevertheless miss out on the Ronde van Vlaanderen, which was meant to be one of his season highlights.
The 30 year-old now hopes that the heavy swelling will go down quickly and that he will be fit again for Gent-Wevelgem on April 5 and Paris-Roubaix on April 9. Grabsch has travelled back to Switzerland on Thursday evening, where he will resume training as soon as possible. As a replacement, Phonak has named Ryder Hesjedal for the Ronde van Vlaanderen.
Hondo waits and hopes
Danilo Hondo has issued a statement regarding the current legal debacle surrounding his aimed-at return to professional racing. A Swiss Cantonal Court recently put aside the Court of Arbitration for Sport's two-year ban imposed on Hondo, but the World's governing body of cycling and the World Anti-Doping Agency do not accept this turn of events. While WADA has published a communiqué saying that the "decision from the Court of Appeal constitutes either an annulment of the CAS decision, or the raising of fundamental questions on the World Anti-Doping Code", Hondo continues to hope that he will find a team to start racing again.
"It's crazy - a judge issues a temporary injunction under which I can start racing again immediately, but I'm still sitting at home," the sprinter said. "The UCI has finally issued its position statement, but with a hook on it: they leave the decision to the teams, reminding of the so-called 'Code of Ethics', an agreement among all the Pro Tour and Continental Pro teams.
"Which I can't understand at all, because this Code deals with the non-signing of riders who purposely and knowingly doped," he continued. "Neither of those apply to me, and in addition, the temporary injunction is not the only thing that says I am innocent."
The German cyclist's arguments were that the same rules should apply in sports law than in civil law, where a person is considered innocent until proven guilty. "The sports court procedure in Lausanne was finished, but the civil judge put it entirely aside, which means that until a final verdict is reached, I am considered innocent, as is normal in civil law," he said. "Why, then, can't I ride in the highest sporting league, ply my trade and earn money? It is also not entirely right that the UCI gives me the right to start as of April 1. I have that right as of March 16, the date the court issued its ruling. In addition, Swiss Cycling has already sent me my license."
Until further notice, Hondo will now continue to train as he has been doing ever since he was suspended, keeping an excellent shape. "I hope that the UCI, as the international federation, finds the time in the coming days to think about it and to clear the misunderstandings out of the way, because I would like to ride top races as soon as possible, and many top teams want that, too," he concluded. "So I will keep training hard over the weekend in the hopes of soon being a real pro again!"
The UCI's Code of Ethics prevents ProTour teams from hiring riders found guilty of doping infractions for up to four years, so Hondo had been linked to a Continental outfit, Team Wiesenhof-Akud, as team manager Raphael Schweda had raised the possibility of Hondo signing with them. Wiesenhof's spokesman, Marcel Wüst, didn't deny there were talks, but didn't confirm them either.
"Good for him if he finds a team, but so far it is all temporary," Wüst told Cyclingnews, insisting on the fact that a main trial before a higher court will still determine the rider's future in about six months. "On the performance side he will be back soon, and any team could count on good results from him soon. If he signed with a team like Wiesenhof-Akud, it would be a big thing, especially because it would get some big media coverage, too. But whether sponsors (in general for all teams) would like to have someone on their team who is (so far) only temporarily allowed to race is another story."
2006 Dauphiné Libéré route set
One of the last countdown races to the Tour de France in July, the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, has its route all set and ready to go for the 2006 edition of the event. Starting in Annecy close to Switzerland with a pancake-flat 4.1 km-prologue on Sunday, June 4, the 58th Dauphiné Libéré will of course take on high mountains such as the Mont Ventoux, the Col d'Izoard, the Col du Galibier and La Toussuire amongst others. The race ends on Sunday, June 11 in Grenoble.
While stages one and two will be a sprinter's feast, stage three will shuffle up the general classification for the first time in view of a possible later overall winner: Wednesday June 7 is the day of the individual time-trial with a 42 kilometre route around Bourg-de-Péage. The route is undulating, and includes one fourth category climb at the nine kilometre mark.
The mountains arrive on the following day with a climb to the observatory at the summit of the either dreaded or loved Mont Ventoux, which will be climbed "traditionally" via its south side from Bédoin. Starting in Tain-l’Hermitage, the riders will have 186 kilometres in their legs at the finish on top of the 1909 metre "Giant of Provence", and Liberty's Alexandre Vinokourov might be looking to repeat his 2005 stage victory.
The race then transfers to the alpine town of Sisteron before the riders take on the 2,360 metre Col d'Izoard on their way to Briançon on Friday, June 9 - a good preparation for the French "Grande Boucle" just a few weeks after the event, as the Col d'Izoard will feature in the Tour de France stage 15 to L'Alpe d'Huez.
But the queen stage of the 2006 Dauphiné comes on the penultimate day: also featuring the same climbs as in the Tour de France stage 16 to La Toussuire, the riders will however be starting in Briançon and not Bourg d'Oisans. The peloton then faces a 169 kilometre stage including the 2,646 metre Col du Galibier before the long descent back to the valley. The riders then climb the 2067 metre Col de la Croix de Fer via the Col du Glandon before the 1,638 metre Col du Mollard. The final climb leads from the town of St-Jean-de-Maurienne up to the ski resort of La Toussuire, 1,700 metres in altitude.
The organisers of the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré have announced the participation of all 20 ProTour teams, as well as French Continental Pro squad Agritubel. Last year's winner Inigo Landaluze (Euskaltel) is expected to attend in view of defending his title, with Alexandre Vinokourov (Liberty Seguros), Floyd Landis (Phonak), Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner), Denis Menchov (Rabobank), Francisco Mancebo (AG2R) and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) all announced as participating to finetune their respective shapes for the Tour de France.
Prologue - Sunday, June 4: Annecy - Annecy, 4,1 km
Miche racing in France
Italian Continental team Miche Cinerama Tinkoff will be on its way to France on Friday, March 31, to participate in the GP Ville De Rennes on the Atlantic coast on Sunday. The team will also take part in the Circuit de la Sarthe from April 4-7, especially looking forward to the first 2006 race of Slawomir Kohut. Severyn Kohut, Tommaso Caneschi, Bo Hamburger, Pasquale Muto and Arkadiusz Woitas will be his teammates.
Fantasy Riderlist Ronde van Vlaanderen - Build your teams now!
Be a professional team manager for the 2006 Spring Classics. Based on the live racing action, you will take up the challenge using your knowledge and tactical skill as a race team manager to compete with fantasy managers from around the world. All you need to do to take part in the latest of the Fantasy Games at Cyclingnews is register and, once the provisional race list has been announced, select 8 riders for each of the following races:
Milan - San Remo, March 18th 2006
Follow the races live and use your skill and knowledge to win prizes.
We are pleased to confirm that this year's main sponsor will once again be Specialized. More details on the specifics of the prize coming very soon. Smith have confirmed they will be offering 7 pairs of Reactor Max-Team CSC Edition glasses for the winner of each individual Spring Classic Race. This is the limited edition Team CSC racing glass worn by the guys on team.
Craft, fi'zi:k, Giro, Hed, Maxxis, and Speedplay amongst others will be providing some fantastic prizes this year. A pair of beautiful Bastogne wheels worth over $600 USD could be yours if you win. Giro and Speedplay are once again continuing their support and are offering some of their finest products. There are ten sets of Maxxis tyres on offer to the lucky winners. Craft are giving away ten of their Pro Cool Mesh Sleeveless Baselayers.
You can win prizes for each of the individual races and for competing in all seven races. Remember you don't need to enter all seven races to win prizes. Have a look at the tactics and prizes of last year's winners.
Rider points update
Once again you will have 4000 points per team to select your eight riders with. This year, in the light of the new UCI ProTour points system, we have had to make some changes. We have taken the final 2005 rider rankings from the UCI ProTour and have multiplied them by ten. Riders that did not score UCI ProTour points have been awarded nominal points (lower than those of the scoring UCI ProTour riders).
We appreciate this might not best reflect some of the skills of the non-scoring UCI ProTour riders in the coming races, but we hope that this will set us up better for the future as the scoring system becomes more accepted. We have also limited the number of teams people can enter in this year's Spring Classics game to five per manager. We've done this to ensure the competition is open to all, spreading the prizes to an even wider range of players.
How to play
Be a professional team manager for the 2006 Spring Classics. Based on the live racing action, you will take up the challenge using your knowledge and tactical skill as a race team manager to compete with fantasy managers from around the world. All you need to do to take part in the latest of the Fantasy Games at Cyclingnews is register and, once the provisional race list has been announced, select eight riders for each of the following races:
Milan - San Remo, March 18th 2006
Follow the races live and use your skill and knowledge to win prizes. For more details on how to play go to the rules section of the site for more info. To register your teams for the game go to fantasy.cyclingnews.com.
It's a great way to follow the Spring Classics.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)