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Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for May 19, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones

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Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

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Stage 11 wrap-up: Ullrich stretches his legs

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

Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) has ridden to his first victory of the season, silencing a few critics en route to winning the 11th stage of the Giro d'Italia. Ullrich clocked 58'48 in the 50 km time trial starting and finishing in Pontedera, averaging over 51 km/h to beat maglia rosa Ivan Basso (CSC) by 28 seconds, with Italian TT champ Marco Pinotti (Saunier Duval) third at 1'01. Ullrich started well, but was not the fastest in the first two time checks. However, he picked it up on the return leg and no-one could match him.

The race for the GC was run behind Ullrich, and it went more or less as expected. Ivan Basso put time into all his major rivals, with Serguei Gonchar (T-Mobile) losing roughly 40 seconds, Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel) 50 seconds, José E. Gutierrez (Phonak) 1'10, Tom Danielson (Discovery) 2'00, José Rujano (Selle Italia) 3'45, Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval) 3'50, Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) 4'30, Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) 4'45, and Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) 5'00. All of these will be praying for a Basso implosion similar to last year in order to have a chance at victory.

"I'm amazed that I posted the best time - I didn't fire on all cylinders at first," said a surprised though exuberant Ullrich, who said he was simply using today's stage as a test of form more than anything else. "But when I heard that I was among the best [at the intermediate time checks], I gave it a hundred percent."

"I'm very pleased with my performance today," said Basso to post-stage. "It was a crucial stage for us, and I could tell afterwards that Bjarne was satisfied, which means a lot to me. It was important to gain as much time as possible on my closest rivals, who will all definitely be attacking some time in the remaining stages, so from that point of view it was a perfect day for us."

Team manager Bjarne Riis added, "Ivan did his best ever time trial. He did really brilliant, and I'm very proud of what he's accomplished in this discipline. Ullrich was in a league of his own and deserves great respect, even though the time difference would've turned out entirely different had he not had the advantage of the tailwind earlier in the day. But we have every reason to be satisfied with our result today. We increased the gap to our competitors, and we now enter the final and toughest part of the race with a solid margin."

See also: Stage 11 full results, report & photos and Live report.

Scott Sunderland's Giro diary

Stronger and stronger

Ivan Basso (CSC)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The transfer by plane after the 10th stage last Tuesday saw the riders get into the hotel by midnight. Allain Gallopin, myself and two mechanics and soigneurs, we arrived by car at 2:00am.

The rest day was welcomed by the riders. We were able to enjoy it, with the fantastic weather here. We stayed in the same hotel where we were for our January training camp, the Hotel Caesar on Lido di Camaiore. The beaches were all cleaned up and the deckchairs were out, and I had a fantastic view of the Mediterranean Sea from the third floor. I even got the chance to go out on the bike for a 50km spin with the boys; I haven't had too much opportunity to do that this season.

The boys just kicked back for the rest of the day. Ivan had to attend a press conference but for the rest, everyone was in cruising mode.

Yesterday evening, I went to a dinner organised by the CSC company in conjunction with their seminar in Florence. I drove across there and spoke about Team CSC and the Giro. The participants were very happy to get some inside info and feedback on the team. It was interesting for me to see the other side of the coin, from the sponsors' point of view.

Click here for the full entry

Caruso loses nine minutes

Liberty Seguros' best placed rider on GC, Giampaolo Caruso, plummeted down the rankings today after finishing 167th in the time trial, almost nine minutes behind Jan Ullrich. It was a poor performance for the climber who rode so well in the first mountain stage last Sunday. It cost him 14 places on GC, moving him from ninth to 23rd.

Team director Marino Lejarreta is looking forwards though. "It is necessary to take it day by day," he said. "This is the key. It is not possible to think what will happen at the end, because from now, anyone who has a bad day, can lose everything. Caruso is good, so we will see."

Rich looking forward to "his race"

They seem to have a special relationship - and Michael Rich doesn't deny it. The Bayern Rundfahrt simply does something for him. "It just turned out that way. The race is scheduled for the time of year in which I start coming into my own. You could almost say that I have specialized in this race." the 36-year-old has already won the race three times, and is looking forward to being on the start again next week.

He has an additional reason to look forward to it this year - it will be his comeback after sitting out for seven weeks with an injury. He crashed during Paris-Roubaix the beginning of April, injuring cartilage in his right wrist and severely bruising his left hand and ribs. The result: a cast on his right hand and "one week with no training at all." As of the first of this month he "can train again properly, pull on the handlebars again," and proved it with a 160 km training ride on Tuesday.

Until then, he kept himself in shape with the mountain bike and the rollers. To make it a little easier, he put triathlon handlebars on his bike, so that he could rest his wrist on it. And even though he is improving, he notes, "It's still not 100 percent. The hand still hurts."

What bothers him especially is the long racing pause. "I'm really missing a lot of kilometres, naturally I have a big loss there. I was actually supposed to start at the Niedersachsen Rundfahrt and in Rheinland-Pfalz. They would have been important races for me." And he is therefore not going into the Bayern RF with high ambitions. "This year I'll be happy just to finish," he said.

In the past, it has been different: since 2000, he was won not only four stages, but has also won the overall race three times, including last year. He lays the basis for all his victories with his specialty, time trialing. "After that I just have to defend against attacks and stay by anyone who is close to me on GC. Of course it's hard, but on the other hand it's fun when you're wearing the leader's jersey."

However, he is not the only one who can claim Bayern as "his race". CSC's Jens Voigt has also won it three times, but won't be riding it this year. "That would just make it easier to become the record all-time winner this year," Rich jokes. "I called Jens up and told him, 'too bad, without you there is something missing in Bayern. It's hardly a real race without you.' But we have arranged to have our annual comparison at the Hessen Rundfahrt, where Jens will also appear."

Does Rich also plan to ride Bayern in 2007? "Never say never," he smiled. "You never know what might happen."

Brandt can start training again

Christophe Brandt (Davitamon-Lotto), who broke his elbow during stage 3 of the Giro d'Italia, is already OK to train again. He has been given the green light by Dr Toon Claes to resume training on the road as early as tomorrow. He is the third Davitamon rider, after Wim de Vocht and Peter van Petegem, who has recovered quickly after being treated by Dr Claes.

Landbouwkrediet-Colnago injury update

James Vanlandschoot is currently resting as a result of his bad crash last Friday in the Tour de Picardie. Vanlandschoot injured his face, neck and ear, and also has back pain and four bruised ribs.

Andy Cappelle is doing better, and expects to start in Lochristi on Sunday.

The team suffered another setback, however, when its equipment van and camper were broken into in Metz, just before the Circuit de Lorraine. Other teams suffered break-ins as well.

Team manager Gérard Bulens is trying to keep a positive outlook. "I'm keeping the belief that the setbacks and bad luck is not happening: turn it all around and luck will smile on us.

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