Latest Cycling News for May 3, 2006
Edited by Jeff Jones & Les Clarke
Bruyneel: The race will be on CSC's shoulders
Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery)
Photo ©: Sirotti
Discovery Channel manager Johan Bruyneel believes that the pressure
will be on CSC's shoulders during the Giro d'Italia and isn't too impressed
with the state of play for stage 17 up the Plan de Corones.
In an interview on thepaceline.com, Bruyneel said, "I think Basso
is the big favourite, at least that's what his director, Riis, says...so
from day one the race will be on Basso and CSC's shoulders, and we'll
see where it goes from there."
The Belgian DS won't be directing the troops for the first grand tour
of 2006, and said defending champion Paolo Savoldelli is feeling good
for the race - but was quick to play down his chances of overall victory.
"While Paolo Savoldelli is not a specialist climber he is a very complete
rider. He is also very strong in stage races and of course he has his
chances. He may not have as big a chance as say Basso, Cunego, or Simoni
as they are all specialist climbers, but he did well in the mountains
last year - he rode his pace and did not panic - and then did very well
in the time trials," he said.
In terms of the parcours, Bruyneel isn't too happy with organisers'
attempts at igniting even more interest in the race. "This course is really
very, very hard and you have to ask yourself - why?" he said. "The interest
in the Giro was higher than ever last year; it's always an intense race
right up to the second-to-last stage.
"So as a director I would prefer it to be less hard - I think the makers
of this course have lost their minds a bit," he continued. "Paolo and
Tom went and previewed a lot of the course recently, including Stage 17
- there's no road at the end: it's 5.5 km up a ski slope!" exclaimed Bruyneel.
"We'll be using 34x28/29 gearing - that's not cycling. We have struggled
more with making sure we have the right components and equipment than
at any other race in our team's history; even at the Tour de France we
know that as long as you have a 39x25 you're good, but this race..."
Ullrich looking to final week
Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: AFP
T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich will line up in the Giro d'Italia with dossard
219 - the last number in the field. But after successfully finishing his
first race of the season in Romandie last Sunday, Ullrich is not too concerned
"The knee has held up well, and I could feel that I was making small
improvements," said Ullrich, who called finishing the Tour de Romandie
"a small victory for myself."
Ullrich is now looking forward to the Giro for some more racing kilometres.
It's a tour that "only starts to get really hard in the latter stages
of the three weeks," according to Der Kaiser.
Ullrich's long time mentor and T-Mobile directeur sportif Rudy Pevenage
believes, "The last week is really tough. There is no let-up on the program."
And, it's a "further important step" on the way to Ullrich's optimal Tour
Pevenage has nominated two riders from T-Mobile's core Tour squad to
join Ullrich at the Giro: world time trial champ Michael Rogers, and 2004
Giro runner-up Serguei Gonchar. Rounding out the nine rider roster on
the 3.526 km route are the Australian Scott Davis, Czech neo-pro Frantisek
Rabon, Jörg Ludewig, Matthias Kessler and the sprint duo of Olaf Pollack
and André Korff.
What's in a number?
Besides Ullrich's number 219, defending champion Paolo Savoldelli will
begin his Giro campaign with the number 1 dossard. And for the record,
2004 champion Damiano Cunego will start with number 111, while red-hot
favourite Ivan Basso will wear the innocuous number 191.
Perez: “The Giro will be won in the Dolomites”
Caisse D’Epargne-Illes Balears' leader in the Giro, Francisco Perez,
believes that José Ivan Gutiérrez will be the man to watch from the Spanish
outfit during the three weeks around Belgium and Italy. Perez is happy
with the team's lineup for the loop of Italy, and is confident that Gutiérrez's
ability in the mountains and against the clock will see him perform well
overall during the three weeks.
"Although I will be the leader, I think that José Iván Gutiérrez will
be the main reference for us, because he has improved obviously in the
mountain stages, and we cannot forget that he is great specialist race
against the clock," said Perez, before he pointed out that the well-rounded
nature of the team means it should perform well as a unit. "In [Marco]
Fertonani we also have a solid performer in the mountains, apart from
one of our younger riders, José Luis Carrasco. I know Vladimir Efimkin
very well because he won the Tour of Portugal last year. Joan Horrach
is very consistent, and I hope that he will finish well positioned in
the general [classification]," he said.
Perez was quick to point out that this edition of the Giro will be particularly
difficult, especially with the Dolomites to climb during the last week.
"This Giro is especially hard, mainly because the Dolomites are during
the last week, with the Pordone, San Pellegrino, Aprica...where the Giro
must be decided," he said. "People like Rujano, Garate, Parra, Pérez Cuapio,
Simoni have real possibilities of winning. The profile of the Alpine stages
don't really suit me, and I think [a high place on] the general will be
difficult for me - in this case, I prefer to obtain a stage win," he added.
As for his own form, Perez said he's pleased with how he feels going
into the year's first grand tour. "At the end of February I won the Clásica
de Almeria, which really signaled the beginning of my season," he said.
"Since then I have been polishing the form until the Vuelta a Castilla
y León, in which I finished eighth. The results of recent training are
optimistic, but in my region we don't have mountains like the Alps, and
that makes you start with some difficulties in this sense," he explained.
Courtesy of Antonio Salmerón Ato
Sprinters in action in the Four Days of Dunkirk
Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues Telecom)
Photo ©: AFP
Although overshadowed by the Giro d'Italia, the 52nd Four Days of Dunkirk
(rated 2.HC on the European tour) has attracted a strong field. Definitely
not a climbers' race, the Four Days is actually five long road stages,
and there is no time trial this year. Last year's winner was Pierrick
Fedrigo (Bouygues Telecom), and the Frenchman will line up again with
the support of Laurent Brochard, Didier Rous and Anthony Geslin, among
others. But there are plenty of challengers.
Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) has been in solid form early this season,
winning Gent-Wevelgem and beating Alessandro Petacchi on more than one
occasion. CSC has its classics squad with Stuart O'Grady coming back after
an early season crash, as are Lars Bak and Brian Vandborg. Other riders
in with a chance of a good showing are Jimmy Casper and Brad Wiggins (Cofidis),
Frédéric Guesdon (Française des Jeux), Fred Rodriguez and Gert Steegmans
(Davitamon-Lotto), Isaac Galvez (Caisse D'epargne), Niko Eeckhout (Chocolade
Jacques), Steven De Jongh (Quick.Step), Jeremy Hunt (Unibet.com) and Gerald
The race takes place in the Nord-Pas de Calais region in France, and
is mostly suited to the sprinters. However, the penultimate stage from
Noeux-les-Mines to Parc départemental d'Olhain features several laps of
a hilly finishing circuit.
Stage 1 - May 3: Dunkerque - Gravelines, 161,9 km
Stage 2 - May 4: Arques - Le Cateau-Cambrésis, 204,7 km
Stage 3 - May 5: Fontaine-au-Pire - Hénin-Beaumont, 181,1 km
Stage 4 - May 6: Noeux-les-Mines - Parc départemental d'Olhain, 190,2
km Stage 5 - May 7: Seclin - Dunkerque, 163,7 km
Bouygues Telecom, Crédit Agricole, CSC, AG2R, Française des Jeux, Cofidis,
Davitamon, Caisse d'Epargne/Illes Balears, Quick.Step, Milram, Agritubel,
Unibet.com, Tenax-Salmilano, Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, Skil-Shimano, Chocolade
Jacques, Naturino-Sapore di Mare, Wiesenhof-Akud, Acqua e Sapone, Health
Net, Selle Italia, Auber 93, Bretagne Jean Floc'h.
New Zealand cycling under siege
By Cyclingnews staff
An inquiry released on May 1 into an alcohol-fuelled incident during
the recent Commonwealth Games in Melbourne has found two New Zealand cyclists
guilty of both breaching their contract with overall umbrella body Bike
New Zealand, Cycling New Zealand, and the Athlete's Disciplinary Code.
Cycling New Zealand's judicial panel told Marc Ryan and Tim Gudsell
to receive counselling within three months or face further sanctions.
The duo have not been ruled out for national team selection, prompting
outbursts from Liz Williams, who was also involved in the incident, and
her mother Patricia.
Liz Williams told talkback Radio Live, "We want to put a stop
to this behaviour so any girl coming through now can go away with that
team and have no problems at all." Patricia Williams told New Zealand's
Radio Sport, "It's a very destructive culture, and very unsafe
for all the girls who go away with the NZ cycling team."
However, exactly what the 'incident' was and how deep such a 'destructive
culture' reaches is still to be revealed, and is the cause of much debate
amongst New Zealand's cyclists and press.
On March 23 Melbourne's Herald Sun reported an incident that
took place between 3 and 5am on March 20 involving three members of the
New Zealand cycling team. The paper reported a female team member had
made a complaint that two males had tried to strip her and urinate on
her at the Games' village following a night of drinking after the last
night of Commonwealth track cycling competition.
The two males, later confirmed to be Gudsell and Ryan, had already left
the Games village in accordance with prior travel arrangements, and the
police had not been involved.
Dave Currie, New Zealand's Chef de Mission, said at the time that, "there
hasn't been an incident." The next day however, Currie said, "I want to
confirm there was an incident that happened a couple of days ago involving
three members of our cycle team arriving home in the village in the early
hours of the morning."
Further reports amongst the Australian and New Zealand press focused
on a suspected binge drinking culture within kiwi cycling.
On March 24, the three cyclists had been named, but Williams, 25, had
had a statement read out by the New Zealand psychologist Gary Hermansson
playing down the incident saying it was a "non-event." No further details
were revealed, only causing further speculation and allegations of a cover-up.
Following the May 1 publication, which vindicated Williams of any wrongdoing,
BikeNZ's handling of the incident has again been brought into the spotlight.
Cycling NZ president Wayne Hudson, questioned after the May 1 report's
release, said Cycling NZ would not reveal what happened and disagreed
that the incident should be fully disclosed.
"Transparency doesn't actually mean going back over the incident and
looking at the dirty, grubby details of it all which everybody has been
David Leggat, writing in The New Zealand Herald has said that by keeping
quiet, "Cycling NZ has done (Ryan and Gudsell) no favours with its decision...if
Ryan and Gudsell's behaviour was truly blown out of proportion, why not
reveal it?" Hudson fuelled arguments of a drinking culture within the
team by admitting he had dealt with 15 disciplinary and doping complaints
over the past three years.
Williams, meanwhile said, "We want to put a stop to this behaviour so
any girl coming through now can go away with that team and have no problems
"I've long said there should be a chaperone going with the girls," mother
Patricia Williams said, "because they have been unsafe for a very long
A review of the Commonwealth Games campaign will be conducted by BikeNZ
chief executive Rodger Thompson as promised, and will include an investigation
of the team's culture. Unfortunately for cycling in New Zealand it may
be too little too late. The team has already been under fire for failing
to bring home the expected bags of medals from Melbourne's Games.
In the lead up to the Beijing Olympics, BikeNZ now faces more pressure
with the government's sports funding body SPARC analysing Commonwealth
Games' performances, and the Williams saga set to continue.
Frans Assez dies
Frans Assez, the manager of the Belgian continental team Flanders, has
died suddenly, just a few days before his 59th birthday. Assez became
ill at home after a ride on Tuesday, and passed out. He was unable to
Besides managing his team and the Flanders bike shop in Oudenaarde,
Assez was also a professional rider between 1974 and 1981. He won just
one race as a pro: in Sint-Martens-Lierde in 1974. His death came as a
shock to many, and the team managers in the Four Days of Dunkirk held
a minute's silence before their pre-race meeting yesterday evening.
Unibet for Tour of Luxembourg
The Unibet.com team has been named for the Tour of Luxembourg (May 31-June
4): Baden Cooke, Johan Coenen, Jeremy Hunt, Jonas Ljungblad, Luis Pasamontes,
Marco Serpellini, Erwin Thijs and Matt Wilson. Directeur sportif for the
race will be Lucien Van Impe.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)