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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for May 5, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones

A mixed mission for Rabobank

At the 2006 Giro d'Italia, the phrase 'all for one and one for all' may apply to teams like CSC and Discovery Channel with outright leaders, but for Dutch squad Rabobank, it's quite the reverse, with virtually every one of their nine riders entering the first Grand Tour of the year for different reasons. On an unusually warm Thursday afternoon in Maastricht, Cyclingnews' Anthony Tan went to the team's hotel and spoke with three of their riders - Michael Rasmussen, Mathew Hayman and Graeme Brown - as well as first assistant directeur-sportif for the Giro, Frans Maassen.

Michael Rasmussen says the pressure's totally off him
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
(Click for larger image)

Michael Rasmussen

So far this season, last year's Tour de France mountains winner hasn't posted a single result of note. And he isn't intending to change the situation anytime soon, either.

"My team-mates, they don't have any problems with it at all; they know why I'm here," says Rasmussen.

"I'll do my share of the job, but at the same time, they know they can't expect anything from me - and I don't expect anything from them, either. I'm not a protected rider here, and I have to take care of myself, like everybody else except for [Mauricio] Ardila; for the rest, they have to see if they can get in the breakaways or win a stage in the next three weeks."

The 31 year-old Dane spent part of the winter working on improving his time trialing position in the velodrome, and only two days ago in Apeldoorn, underwent wind-tunnel testing. Memories of what happened to him on that Saturday in Saint-Etienne are hard to forget, and most likely hardest for Rasmussen. But who'd dare ask him again, when he's been asked a thousand times already?

As for the results of his modified position, the best test will be on Thursday, May 18 in Pontedera, where a 50 kilometre flat-as-a-tack time test awaits. [Cyclingnews will also feature Rasmussen's TT bike in the coming days - ed.]

Click here for the full feature

Caisse d'Epargne aiming for pink

Although Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears doesn't contain an overall favourite for the Giro's general classification, team director Eusebio Unzue believes that his squad has a good chance of securing the maglia rosa - perhaps as early as the prologue. Speaking in Liège before the start of the race, Unzue outlined the team's plans:

"First of all it is important to tell you that we will start with a team that doesn't have a lot of experience in this kind of race, because some of the riders will take part in a big tour for the first time. I am speaking about Efimkin, Fertonani and Erviti, but also of the some other riders who have only taken part in one major stage race before. That's why I say that the team is quite inexperienced, with no leader for doing well in the overall ranking. But on the other hand I am sure my guys will be able to go in the breakaways and go for a stage win. I am convinced about that. But first of all we will try to win the short time trial in Seraing with Iván Gutierrez, and in doing so go for the first pink jersey of this Giro too.

What are the chances of Gutierrez winning on Saturday? "Don't forget that in 2004, in Liège, very close to Seraing, Iván Gutierrez finished the third in the prologue of the Tour de France, more or less over the same distance. Of course there is a difference because the course was all flat then, while there will be a short but hard climb on Saturday. But I believe he is in top condition right now. He also knows this is his big opportunity and for us it would be so great to get the first pink jersey of this edition of the Giro."

You said your team will go for stage wins. Is there really no possibility for you to do well in the overall ranking? "Some riders still have to improve in that kind of race and I am sure they will do it. Let's take the example of Fran Perez and Efimkin. I am sure they will be able to do very well in the future, but because of their lack of experience it is not possible to know right now how they will manage with the race this year. Both of them have the qualities such a race asks for, and some day they will do well in the general classification, but for now, before the Giro starts, it is not a main objective. But you never know what can happen in a race so we will wait and see what happen during the first race days and then we may have to change or plans. What is sure is that we will try to win one stage at least."

After Alejandro Valverde's wins in the Ardennes classics, do you see Liège with another view? "What is very particular for us, most than any other thing, is that after 27 years working in professional cycling, with Reynolds at first, and after that with Banesto, and up till now with Caisse d'Epargne – Illes Balears, we tried so hard to win those classics! To win the Flèche Wallonne was already something very beautiful, but the success in Liège-Bastogne-Liège is really so special for us. The first part of our season has been incredible, with regard to the quality of the races we won, but also for the number of wins (17). It is so important to note that nine different riders won all those races."

Caisse d'Epargne – Illes Balears for the Giro: José Luis Carrasco, Vladimir Efimkin, Imanol Erviti, Marco Fertonani, Iván Gutierrez, Joan Horrach, José Cayetano Julia, Fran Perez and Mikel Pradera.

Lampre-Fondital in Belgium

Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The Lampre-Fondital squad has enjoyed two days in Belgium preparing for the start of the Giro d'Italia in Seraing. On Thursday morning, the whole team examined the parcours of prologue that will be ridden on Saturday. Marzio Bruseghin described the 6.2 km of the prologue as, "Not simple: there's a hard short climb, followed by a downhill where we'll ride very, very fast. Watch out for the corner at the end of the descent, because we'll get there with a lot of speed."

Afterwards, the team trained for a few more hours, taking advantage of the warm weather. In the afternoon, the official presentation of the teams that will take part at Giro was held in Place St Lambert in Liège. Damiano Cunego "The Little Prince" received warm applause, as well as being specially greeted by the Italian Consul in Belgium.

€50,000 for Giro winner

The winner of this year's Giro d'Italia will receive €50,000 in prize money, somewhat less than the €400K awarded for winning the Tour de France. The overall prize money in the Giro totals €1,35 million, compared to close to €3 million for last year's Tour. A team's prize money is usually split between the riders and staff.

Ciarán Power for FBD in Tipperary colours

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

Irish clubs that are mapping out their programs for the next fortnight and are looking for some silverware from the upcoming FBD Insurance Ras must be pleased with the racing over the May Bank Holiday weekend in the Tour of Ulster. The likes of Brian Kenneally ( MyHome.ieCycleways.com), Ray Clarke (WorldwideCycles), Ciarán Power (Navigators Insurance), Greg Swinard (Usher Irish Road Club) and Martin O'Loughlin (Dan Morrissey/Carrick Wheelers CC) all showed tremendous improvement, none more so than the American based Power.

Power has been out of action for the last six months, but came back to win the king of the mountains prize in Ulster and placed highly in the general classification. The Navigators Insurance man must be happy with his latest surgery in France for an injury that has plagued him for a number of years. Power will now line up at the FBD Insurance Ras with the Tipperary team, which has had a habit of winning the county title in the Ras in years past.

Tipperary team manager Paul Lonergan wasn't looking that far ahead though. "First things first," he told us. "I have an event on Sunday to get out of the way. It is the Tommy Sheehan Memorial and on the back of last weekend's result, I have a feeling that the lads will be up to it. Ciarán is participating. The course is a testing one! It is a fifteen mile circuit and it has a climb that will sort them particularly after five ascents and I would not be surprised if he'll be in the mix on Sunday.

"The fact that he has declared for Tipperary in the Ras is a bonus and I'm sure the opposition must be creaking in their boots. This guy has won the event in 1998 and 2002 and if continues the four cycle, it'll be his turn again.

"He'll be in opposition to his colleague in the Navigator's squad, David O'Loughlin, who will lead the Grant Thornton Irish team in the Ras which looks very formidable,"

The Tommy Sheehan Memorial in Carrick-on-Suir, raced over 100 kilometres, will be a real test as to what Ciarán's campaign is going to be for the rest of the year. Irrespective of the opposition in the Co. Tipperary town, Ciarán will be rated as one of the favourites.

New Zealand's Junior Track World's team announced

Cycling New Zealand selectors have named a squad of ten to represent New Zealand at the 2006 Junior World Track Cycling Championships being held in Gent, Belgium, August 5-8. The team includes three medallists from the 2005 Junior Track World Championships: Westley Gough and Jesse Sergent were part of the world champion teams pursuit team, and Rushlee Buchanan who was second in the points race.

Team roster

Shane Archbold - Timaru
Tim Bennett - Putaruru
Westley Gough - Waipukurau
Elijah May - Blenheim
Shem Rodger - Cambridge
Jesse Sergent - Feilding
Simon Van Velthoven – Palmerston North
Rushlee Buchanan – Te Awamutu
Lauren Ellis – South Canterbury
Malindi MacLean - Auckland

Sunflower Revolution III

Phinneys to ride for Parkinson's disease research

Retired top American cyclist Davis Phinney, diagnosed with Parkinson's disease at age 40, will continue to support Parkinson's disease research by taking part in the Sunflower Revolution III, from October 13-15. The event raises funds for the Davis Phinney Foundation, which supports Parkinson's disease research at The Neuroscience Institute at the University of Cincinnati and University Hospital. Phinney's wife, Olympic gold medalist Connie Carpenter-Phinney, also will attend.

Sunflower Revolution III will include a dinner gala and auction on Friday, October 13, at the Cincinnati Hilton Netherland Plaza and 25- and 62-mile bike rides on Sunday, October 15, in Loveland, Ohio.

A free educational Symposium & Expo for physicians, patients, and caregivers, a project of the Mayfield Clinic and The Neuroscience Institute, will be held from 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturday, October 14, at the Cincinnati Hilton. For reservation information, contact Brooke Cribbs at bcribbs@mayfieldclinic.com.

Proceeds from the Sunflower Revolution are earmarked for the Davis Phinney/Donald Krumme Fund, a research fund at the University of Cincinnati. The 2004-2005 Sunflower events raised $225,000.

More information: www.sunflowerrev.org

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