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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for May 22, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones and Les Clarke

Coming up on

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 14 wrap-up: Panaria succeeds on transitional stage

Luis Laverde (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Colombian Luis Felipe Laverde Jimenez (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare) has won the 14th stage of the Giro d'Italia, a transitional mountain stage between Aosta and Domodossola. Laverde attacked with Francisco Pérez (Caisse d'Epargne) with 5 km to go, and successfully held off the rest of the 11 man breakaway. Paolo Tiralongo (Lampre-Fondital) took third ahead of Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner). Apart from Sandy Casar, who moved into sixth overall, there was no-one threatening on GC in the break, and Ivan Basso kept his leader's maglia rosa for another day.

The 223 km stage began with the long climb of the Gran San Bernardo, where the break of the day was established after 27 km, 2 km from the summit. The 11 riders were: Francisco Perez Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), Fortunato Baliani and Luis Felipe Laverde Jimenez (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare), Ivan Ramiro Parra Pinto (Cofidis), Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux), Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner), Paolo Tiralongo (Lampre-Fondital), Johann Tschopp and Steve Zampieri (Phonak), Raffaele Illiano (Selle Italia) and Iker Flores Galarza (Euskaltel-Euskadi). CSC was content to let them go, and they gradually built up a 9'31 lead at the top of the day's final climb, the Simplon Pass, which came back to 7'44 at the finish.

Ivan Parra (Cofidis) tried a couple of times to get away in the finale, but was marked by Casar and the rest each time. Then Pérez attacked with Laverde with 5 km to go, and the pair got a gap. Pérez led out the sprint from 200m out, but Laverde passed him immediately to win the stage.

See also: Stage 14 full results, report & photos and Live report.

Pérez disappointed

Francisco Pérez (Caisse d'Epargne) was unhappy with his second place in the stage, but he could not get rid of Laverde. "I am very disappointed at losing that stage," he said after crossing the line. "I felt really strong and that’s the reason why I attacked at five kilometres from the finish. Laverde refused to take over. He just did it once, but that or nothing, it was just the same. I tried to drop him on the cobbles but it was not possible. He remained on my wheel. I will have to try again."

Strano exit for Rujano

By Anthony Tan in Domodossola

Jose Rujano (Selle Italia)
Photo ©: Makoto Ayano
(Click for larger image)

Attacking on the climb of the Colle San Carlo then abandoning before the summit in stage 13 were molto strano (very strange) circumstances indeed for Venezuelan climber José Rujano. Perhaps even stranger, still no-one knows what happened to him after yesterday's thirteenth stage of the 2006 Giro.

What is known, however, is that initial reports saying that he crashed on the descent and was evacuated from the scene are incorrect. Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni team manager Gianni Savio has told the media that Rujano complained of stomach problems and being frozen cold, but was encouraged to keep going. However, when he refused to move, the second team car picked up their rider and took him to the finish in La Thuile. There, 24 year-old managed a few words, confirming his abandon and that he felt very bad.

"It's still a mystery to me - I know we had a good plan for the Saturday," Savio said to Belgian television. "Rujano was with Belli for a while and then disappeared. When he didn't arrived at the finish I went back looking to him; when I found him, I spoke for three minutes to him. Then I lost him again. I think this was very stupid, but he has some bad advisers."

Today, last year's mountains winner headed back to his Italian home near Torino, before commencing his new contract with Quick.Step-Innergetic on June 1. His new employer, Patrick Lefevere, has already indicated he wants Rujano to ride both the Tour de France and Vuelta a España; though whether these future tasks premeditated his abandon is unknown. Rujano is also expected to return to his home in Santa Cruz de Mora, Venezuela for specific mountain training before the Tour de France.

Added Savio: "Now I must think only about our future of our team."

Scheirlinckx crashes out

Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Belgian Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis) will be out of action for several weeks after crashing badly in the 14th stage of the Giro d'Italia. The one-time mountains classification leader came off after 96 km, breaking his collarbone, a bone in his hand, and two fingers.

"An ugly line through my account," Scheirlinckx told Belga. "Calculated on the day after I learned that I had been selected for the Tour. I most likely write that off now. The crash was very stupid. A rider in front of me avoided an obstacle too late and I had no room to move. Up on the footpath, against a traffic sign, and taken to the clinic. A painful end to a Giro that I should satisfied with. Even today I felt good again. I'll wait and see how the recovery goes. I have to put this into perspective. There are worse things in life than this.

Scott Sunderland's Giro: Important stages

Maglia rosa mortgage
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Yesterday was an important stage [stage 13] and we expected some attacks. But the team and Ivan were strong enough to eliminate those, even to the point where Ivan was able to ride away with Piepoli on the climb. The descent was wet and cold and Ivan showed obvious prudence. Piepoli descended with high speed because he was going all out for the victory. For Piepoli the stage win was well worth taking risks on the wet and slippery descent. For Ivan there was just too much at stake.

We were surprised to see that Savoldelli, Cunego and Di Luca lost substantial time. For our team yesterday was more positive. Every time you can have a day like that it's welcome. Ivan is feeling good and the team is riding very well.

Today, the peloton chewed a lot of kilometres and a lot of them were uphill. It was on from the word go but our guys were able to keep it together. The peloton went over the top of the first climb with the whole CSC team in front. It enabled us to keep the tempo going all the way through the valley. We 'lost' two guys on the Simplon, but still went over the top with seven, and we were able to keep things rolling.

Both descents were fast today as there were hardly any corners. It was totally different to yesterday. I was following the peloton, and quite a few times we were flying down the mountain at over 100 km/h. I'd say that the riders would have had maximum speeds of between 100 and 110 km/h today.

Plan de Corones plagued by bad weather

And up we go
Photo ©: Igor Tavella
(Click for larger image)

Although the road has been finished in time for Wednesday's steep finish to Plan de Corones, there is still some uncertainty as to whether it will be rideable, given the recent wet weather. "The reason is the last two rainy days that slowed down the drying of the special gravel and cement layer," reports local Igor Tavella, who took another trip up the mountain today.

"For the first 1.5 km the riders will have it easier as they will ride on this really hard layer, and after that, in the forest for about 3.5 km with the road unpaved. And if it rains, this will be hard to ride up, as you feel the wheels sinking in by 2-3 mm."

Although Monday should be dry, the forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday is for more rain, so it's unknown whether the road will have dried out enough not to make it a quagmire.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Igor Tavella/

Meirhaeghe makes waves in Spa

Former MTB world champion Filip Meirhaeghe caused a little bit of a stir at the latest round of the MTB world cup, held on home turf at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday. Not that the Belgian did anything to bring it upon himself, but his presence at the race was a little too much for some, and he received some 'negative energy' from the crowd - and just a little from current world champion Julien Absalon, who won on the day.

Speaking to Canadian Cyclist's Rob Jones about sections of the crowd, who were yelling 'dopé, dopé', Meirhaeghe said, "The boos were expected, I knew they would happen. Those people have negative energy, and I don't accept that energy." He was confident that most people enjoyed him being there, however. "I think 99 percent of the people were supportive," he added.

Absalon, who extended his lead in the world cup standings with victory in Belgium, wasn't overly happy with Meirhaeghe being around when asked about his presence on the podium, and said that, "When he finished (retired) it was honest, and I thought that was good, but now he's back...and his suspension, I think it was so short, too short."

With the Fort William round of the world cup just a week away, sparks could be flying in Scotland; with both Absalon and Meirhaeghe in form, this little bit of flint from the Frenchman could liven the series up in a number of ways. Cyclingnews will have all the latest as the world cup makes its fourth stop for 2006 next weekend.

Ciarán comes back in Ras

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

Navigators rider and former Ras winner Ciarán Power is hopeful that he'll be a serious contender in the FBD Insurance Ras which started today in Tallaght, Co. Dublin. Power, who won this race in 1998 and 2002, is making his comeback from a serious injury and has shown excellent progress in recent weeks.

Last weekend he won the Kelly Pharmacy Grand Prix in Dungarvan and prior to that competed strongly in the Tour of Ulster and the Tommy Sheehan Memorial races. The ‘Ras' is his return to full scale racing in 2006, and according to Navigators manager Ed Beamon they'll be easing him back into full race mode carefully. "It was important that Ciarán wasn't under pressure of having National Team responsibilities," said Beamon. "He'll definitely make his play for a stage or two, but I don't expect a week long effort from him."

Beamon is looking further into the season as a time when Power will be challenging for race wins, not necessarily at this early stage in his return. "Equally important for the Navigator boys that he acquires the fitness and recovery for the events in the States in early June," said Beamon.

"I am happy that we have two team members of the Navigators Insurance riders competing in their 'national tour.' It should be fun to watch them compete against each other this one time," added the experienced team manager, speaking about his other Irish charge, David O'Loughlin, who will be riding on the Grant Thornton Irish National team against his pro team stablemates.

"Obviously both guys have very different objectives, and more or less that is exactly why they are competing on different squads," said Beamon, who is also happy to see what O'Loughlin is capable of, albeit on a different team. "David will be on the Irish National team, and he will be making every effort to make his team get a top result. Plus of course, he hopes to be competitive for the overall himself," he said.

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