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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for May 22, 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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Savoldelli improving

Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel) is looking forward to the final week of the Giro, and believes he has recovered from his allergy problems that plagued him last week. After stage 14, the two time Giro winner told tuttobiciweb, "Today is the first day that I felt good, and didn't have any breathing problems. It is true that the Giro ends at L'Aprica, but it is also true that I did not expect Basso to be so strong. That he could stay with the leaders on the climbs and in the time trials, I knew, but I really did not expect this difference. [I think he is] A lot calmer than last year and supported by a very strong team.

"It's a shame that I have to deal with this allergy, because I have never arrived at the Giro d'Italia so strong."

Valverde still tops ProTour rankings

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) is still well in command of the ProTour rankings, following the Volta a Catalunya, which finished on Sunday. The versatile Spaniard has a 49 point lead over Tom Boonen (Quick.Step), with Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-Fondital) in third place.

As the top three place getters of the Volta a Catalunya hadn't scored so far this season in the ProTour, there were no changes to the top 20 ProTour riders. Volta winner David Cañada is now in 21st place on 50 points, while second place getter Santiago Botero (Phonak) is in 27th, on 41 points, and Christophe Moreau (AG2R Prevoyance) is in 28th, on 37 points.

In the teams rankings, Team CSC continues to hold the top spot ahead of T-Mobile, and the position of the Danish team looks likely to be strengthened once the Giro d'Italia finishes. Third place is Rabobank, with Caisse d'Epargne and Phonak close behind.

The Spanish riders still top the nations rankings, followed by Italy and Germany.

Rankings as of May 21, 2006

1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse D'Epargne-Illes Balears    178 pts
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step - Innergetic                            129
3 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                             105
4 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC                                        100
5 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                 90
6 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi                    89
7 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC                                     87
8 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank                                       75
9 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Team Milram                                72
10 Jörg Jaksche (Ger) Liberty Seguros - Würth Team                     72
1 Team CSC                                                            164 pts
2 T-Mobile Team                                                       153
3 Rabobank                                                            148
4 Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears                                      147
5 Phonak Hearing Systems                                              141
6 Davitamon-Lotto                                                     139
7 Lampre-Fondital                                                     135
8 Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                                          134
9 Quick Step-Innergetic                                               130
10 Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                                 123
1 Spain                                                               463 pts
2 Italy                                                               348
3 Germany                                                             217
4 Belgium                                                             215
5 Netherlands                                                         203
6 Switzerland                                                         158
7 United States Of America                                            148
8 Luxembourg                                                          100
9 Australia                                                            83
10 France                                                              62
Full rankings: Individuals, Teams, Nations

CSC happy in Catalunya

Team CSC finished off the Volta a Catalunya on a positive note, with Stuart O'Grady sprinting to fourth in the last stage, and Christian Vande Velde retaining 15th place overall.

"We had Andy Schleck in a break away already on the first of the three climbs, and when they were caught, Marcus [Ljungqvist] was in a really good group," said sports director Kim Andersen to "I actually thought they'd make it all the way, but at the end the pace was extremely high in the peloton.

"All in all it's been a good race for us, as we didn't have any expectations to begin with. We had a couple of days with Cancellara in the leader's jersey and especially Marcus Ljungqvist and Stuart O'Grady are much stronger now than when we started. I believe Stuart will be on top form at the Tour de France."

Hoste to Davitamon

Leif Hoste (Discovery Channel) will return to Davitamon-Lotto, according to Het Nieuwsblad. He will sign a two year contract with his old team, with everything becoming official this week in the Tour of Belgium. After finishing second in the Ronde van Vlaanderen and second (before being disqualified) in Paris-Roubaix, Hoste's signature was sought by several teams, including Rabobank, Cofidis, Caisse d'Epargne and Quick Step-Innergetic. His current team, Discovery Channel, said it was prepared to let him go, as it did not want to be involved in a bidding war.

The 29 year-old Hoste chose Davitamon-Lotto, not only for financial reasons (his pay rise is reportedly €200,000), but also because he had ridden there before. "I know Marc Sergeant from Domo-Farm Frites," said Hoste to HNB. "When Lefevere indicated that it would be better to have a change of air, Sergeant offered my the chance with Lotto-Domo." Hoste also finished second in the 2004 Ronde van Vlaanderen, but left Lotto-Domo at the end of the year because he felt his performance was not sufficiently remunerated, according to HNB.

Meanwhile, Peter Van Petegem has yet to decide whether he will stay at Davitamon-Lotto next season.

Boogerd stays with Rabobank

Michael Boogerd has signed for another year with Rabobank, the team reported today. "It all went quite fast," said Boogerd. "I very much wanted to stay with the team and the team wanted me to stay as well. So that didn't take much time. Great! I'm really happy with another year!"

About his future, after the 2007 season, Michael Boogerd has not taken a decision yet. "First of all I want to race another year full force. Whatever happens in 2008, we will see."

Team manager Theo de Rooij was equally happy: "Michael Boogerd… need I say more?! He's a fantastic rider, of course we very much like to keep him on the team."

Together with Erik Dekker, Jan Boven and Richard Groenendaal, Michael Boogerd is one of four riders who have been with Rabobank ever since the start of the team in 1996. Boogerd contributed to Rabobank's success with 45 victories, including a stage in the 2002 Tour de France to La Plagne.

In 1996, Boogerd won a stage in the Tour de France as well: the one in the pouring rain to Aix-les-Bains. On top of that, he was national champion in both 1997 and 1998, and beat Lance Armstrong for the classic victory in the 1999 Amstel Gold Race.

On Boogerd's roll of honour are the overall victories in Setmana Catalana (1998 and 2001) and Paris-Nice (1999) plus victories in the semi-classics Giro dell'Emilia (1999), Milano-Vignola (1999) and Brabantse Pijl (2001 and 2003).

Michael Boogerd was voted Dutch Cyclist of the year in 1998, 1999, 2002 and 2003.

Hondo still in limbo

Danilo Hondo continued his winning ways by taking the sprint in the Neuseen Classics race Sunday in Leipzig, Germany. The Team Lamonta sprinter last week won two stages and the sprinter's jersey in the Peace Race. In the Neuseen Classics, he beat Krzysztof Jezowski (Team Knauf) in a two man sprint.

Hondo is momentarily more or less in limbo, awaiting a new hearing on doping charges. The former Telekom and Gerolsteiner rider is still hoping to sign with a Pro Tour team. "Right now I can only convince people with my performance, and I am doing that," he told But he doesn't rule out staying with the Continental team. "Maybe I'll stay here. Other teams have also started out small."

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Konica Minolta satisfied with Japan

The South African Konica Minolta team declared itself happy with its performance in the Tour of Japan, which finished on Sunday in Tokyo. The final stage saw Konica's Martin Velits finish second behind Raivis Belohvosciks after attacking with two laps to go. The team also finished second in stage two, first in stage 4, and was first in the king of the mountains and teams classifications.

"The Tour of Japan was one of our biggest objectives of the season, both Barry Austin myself and the riders put a lot of time and effort into preparing for the tour which has really paid off," said team manager John Robertson.

Konica Minolta's next port of call will be the South African Under 23 Time trial and road championships, together with three one day races In Slovakia.

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