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Latest Cycling News for May 1, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Bittersweet result for Liberty Seguros

Alberto Contador (Liberty Seguros) says Goodbye to Romandie, but he will be back in Suisse soon
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Liberty Seguros-Würth finished off the Tour de Romandie with one laughing and one crying eye. The Spanish team took home three top five placings with Alberto Contador, Jörg Jaksche and Andrey Kashechkin, one stage victory by Contador and the team's classification, but the overall victory finally went to Davitamon-Lotto's Cadel Evans, who was simply superior on the 20.4km-long time trial course of the last stage. Team director Manolo Saiz was happy with the result, but couldn't hide a little disappointment after coming so close to the final victory.

"I can't ask for more," said Saiz after the race. "We've done well, the whole team has worked and there are no complaints. There was simply one better rider, Cadel Evans."

Saiz commented that it was a "very difficult time trial for Contador, because it had two very hard cobblestone sections that did not favour him - and that was where the race was decided. Still, I'm satisfied because both Alberto and Kashechkin, as well as Jaksche, did very well. The team is in shape, we put three men in top five and, although it does not console me, I hope that this curse of second placings will soon be over." Indeed, Contador's second position in GC is number 13 for Liberty this season - as opposed to seven victories.

Contador himself also put things into perspective after the race. "It wasn't the best day of my life, but it wasn't too bad either," he said. "Cadel Evans was impressive and I can only congratulate him. I felt better than in the time trial of País Vasco, because there I was very bad. Today, on the other hand, the parcours didn't suit me. Last year I was much worse there, so I'm satisfied because my feelings were much better this year." Contador agreed with his directeur sportif about the course. "[The two cobblestone sections] were about one kilometre, but it was a very hard climb and they became long enough," he added.

The 24 year-old had set himself some high goals at the beginning of the season. "I'm a little annoyed that I haven't won the GC neither in País Vasco nor in Romandie, but at least I have won a stage and have been at a good level for the whole month," said Contador, who will now take few days' break before preparing for the Tour de Suisse and ultimately, the Tour de France.

Ullrich passes the test

Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

After completing the Tour de Romandie as a season debut - finishing it in 115th position, almost 50 minutes down on overall winner Cadel Evans - Jan Ullrich has overcome the first competition hurdle on his way to the Tour de France. "I'm satisfied that he's made it through," said T-Mobile directeur sportif and personal trainer Rudy Pevenage. "His form is on the rise and he will be continuing at the Giro d'Italia."

Ullrich himself was happy to have finished the race. "It was very hard with that many altitude differences, but it was great training," he said. "That I also finished the hard day does me good and makes me think positive."

Just after passing the finish line on Saturday, the German described the penultimate stage around Sion as "a great breakthrough. This day made me stronger. I'm happy to have made it through. And the best thing about it is that my whole body is in pain, except for my knee."

To Belgian Het Laatste Nieuws, Pevenage admitted that he was nervous about his protégé's success this season. "All we have to do is see to it that he'll be ready for the Tour de France," the Belgian said. "That's where it'll count. But the anxiety that it doesn't work out once again is always there. It gets at me; more than at Jan. I can feel the pressure coming from everywhere. I must remain patient and continue to believe."

Also see: Tour de Romandie final stage full results, report & photos.

CSC, Davitamon announce Giro line-ups

On Monday, May 1, Team CSC has announced its nine riders for his year's Giro d'Italia, starting on May 6. Surprisingly, team director Bjarne Riis has selected Spaniard Carlos Sastre into the Giro line-up. The full 2006 Giro d'Italia roster for Team CSC is: Ivan Basso, Carlos Sastre, Bobby Julich, Jens Voigt, Volodymir Gustov, Giovanni Lombardi, Iñigo Cuesta, Michael Blaudzun and Nicki Sørensen.

Davitamon-Lotto's rider roster for the Giro is now also official: Christophe Brandt, Nick Gates, Josep Jufré Pou, Jan Kuyckx, Robbie McEwen, Bert Roesems, Preben Van Hecke, Wim Vanhuffel and Henk Vogels will be the riders starting the Italian Grand Tour in Belgium. Directeurs sportifs Herman Frison and Allan Peiper will watch over them.

Grillo out of Giro

Panaria's Paride Grillo will not be able to compete in the upcoming Giro d'Italia. Since mid-April, Grillo has been struggling with bronchitis, which has now proven to be stronger than him. The Italian Continental Pro team has announced that Mexican Moises Aldape Chavez will replace Grillo at the Tour of Italy, starting on Saturday, May 6.

T-Mobile selects five for July

Just before the Henninger Turm race on May 1 in Frankfurt, the T-Mobile management has announced five of the nine riders that will participate in the 2006 Tour de France. "Jan Ullrich, Andreas Klöden, Michael Rogers, Sergei Gonchar and Eddy Mazzoleni are certain," said team manager Olaf Ludwig. "There are seven other riders for the four remaining slots."

Young Patrik Sinkewitz is hoping to become selected for the Grand Tour #1, and he reportedly has the support of 'Der Kaiser' himself. "In his current form, he would definitely be part of it," agreed Ludwig. Also on the candidate list are Giuseppe Guerini, Matthias Kessler, Oscar Sevilla, Sergei Ivanov, Lorenzo Bernucci and Stephan Schreck.

Dekker the younger in Tour de France roster

Rabobank has revealed some of its team line-up for the 2006 Tour de France. Speaking to the Telegraaf, team director Erik Breukink confirmed that Thomas Dekker is on the list for his Tour de France debut this year. "If all goes well, Thomas is in the selection," Breukink said. Other riders who have gained the slot for the toughest bike race on earth are Michael Rasmussen, Denis Menchov, Erik Dekker, Michael Boogerd, Oscar Freire and Juan Antonio Flecha - which makes seven out of nine.

"We have more than nine riders in mind for the Tour right now," continued Breukink, who knew from experience that some riders may not make it because of a last-minute injury or any other reason. "We also look at who's in form - that's why we keep two or three places open."

Last year's Tour de France stage winner Pieter Weening hasn't got a certain entry for France in July, but two months ahead of the race, he finds it too early to prove himself worthy. "For most riders, it's about the last few weeks before the start," Weening said. "It's about the shape of the moment. If you ride badly three weeks before the race, it's only logical that you're not going to be selected. I will put down my candidacy in the Dauphiné Libéré or the Tour de Suisse."

Every spot on the Tour de France roster needs to be earned, but the Rabobank management remains fair. "Weening may have had a disappointing spring, but there is no talk to deny him the Tour selection now," added Breukink. "Just as his stage victory last year doesn't guarantee him a seat this year."

A happy ending for Aldag

Rolf Aldag and Erik Zabel at the 2005 Dortmund Sixday
Photo ©: Elmar Krings
Click for larger image

Former T-Mobile rider Rolf Aldag has officially ended his career as a pro cyclist in his home town of Ahlen, Germany, on Saturday, April 29. After a 63km-long circuit race, which of course Aldag won, the man who participated ten times in the Tour de France for his T-Mobile team said goodbye to racing.

Many of his long-time colleagues came to escort the 37 year-old to the finish line: Jens Voigt (CSC), Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Marcus Burghardt and Sergej Ivanov (T-Mobile), three Milram riders and last but not least Aldag's friend Erik Zabel, who led out the sprint for his long-time companion. "He deserved it," said Zabel, adding with a grin that he wouldn't have dreamed to lead out a sprint again for a T-Mobile rider.

Aldag's palmarès includes stage wins in the Tour de Suisse, Tour de Romandie and Deutschland Tour, as well as a seventh placing in the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Aldag also wore the mountains jersey at the Tour de France 2003 for one day: He held on to Richard Virenque in a mountain points' collecting breakaway which got the Frenchman the stage win, the yellow and the polkadot jersey - which the 1,77m tall German wore on the next stage to L'Alpe d'Huez.

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