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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for May 23, 2006

Edited by John Stevenson and Jeff Jones

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 15 wrap-up: Bettini makes the most of his chance

Yeah, that was good...Paolo Bettini celebrates
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

After several opportunities in the Giro so far, Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step) has finally triumphed in a stage, winning the 15th leg in Brescia in a bunch sprint. Bettini was pushed all the way to the line by German Olaf Pollack (T-Mobile), but in the end he got it by a rim. In third place was Robert Forster (Gerolsteiner). There were no changes to the GC, and Ivan Basso and his CSC team enjoyed a fairly easy day in the back seat behind the Quick.Step, T-Mobile, and Milram drivers.

The dead flat stage was perfect for the sprinters, even if both Alessandro Petacchi and Robbie McEwen are no longer in the Giro. After 23 km, a group of four riders got clear with Christophe Edaleine (Credit Agricole), Ivan Mayoz (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Gustav Larsson (Francaise des Jeux) and Gabriele Missaglia (Selle Italia) becoming the day's protagonists. But after riding out to a maximum lead of 5'15 after 80 km, the peloton controlled the situation until 9 km to go, when the four were brought back. The sprint saw Milram leading it out for Ongarato, before Robert Forster jumped early. Bettini and Pollack were quick to react, and it was Bettini who got the win by a small margin.

See also: Stage 15 full results, report & photos and Live report.

Basso: "I'm not interested in football"

By Anthony Tan in Brescia, Italy

When maglia rosa Ivan Basso was asked about the difference in popularity between football (or soccer, depending on where you come from) and cycling, he simply replied: "I'm not interested in football."

"This Giro is beautiful and thanks to people like [Luis Felipe] Laverde and [Leonardo] Piepoli, it makes it so. This Giro is beautiful because of all the protagonists, not just me. I think people who like cycling will continue to like cycling, and those who like football will continue to follow football. The symbol of cycling is not only me, but all the protagonists."

28 year-old Basso's popularity has skyrocketed since taking the maglia rosa roughly a week ago, and each day seems to bring new fans. While he's said previously that anyone who doesn't enjoy the limelight is a liar, he added yesterday this year's Giro is a lot like the Tour de France, and that there's only one maglia rosa that counts.

"This Giro is very similar to the Tour; the stages are very fast, there is a lot of competition, a lot of battles, a lot of breaks... the Giro is becoming a big show, a very big show. It's difficult for us, but I think for people on the road and people who like cycling, it is a great Giro.

"My first maglia rosa was filled with emotion because it was the first, but for me now, only one is important - the one on Sunday in Milano," said Basso.

But with Germany hosting the 2006 Football World Cup this year, how does cycling compete, he was asked again.

"I had a friend who came to watch a race one day and now loves cycling, so maybe the first step is to bring people to cycling [races]... when you come to watch cycling, you'll grow to love it."

Who is Luis Felipe Laverde?

By Anthony Tan in Brescia, Italy

Born July 6, 1979 in Medellin, Colombia, Giro stage 14 winner Luis Felipe Laverde Jimenez only began cycling at 16 years old. His father, a farmer, didn't come from a cycling background but his cousins were keen cyclists, and it was his uncle, Bengemeno, who gave him his first bike and shoes to start pedalling.

After one year as an amateur, Laverde landed a contract with Italian team Formaggi Trentini for the 2002 season, unusual in that most young up-and-comers were (and still are) picked up by Selle Italia team manager Gianni Savio. The following year, the team became known as Formaggi Pinzolo Fiavé-Ciarrocchi Immobiliare, where he took a victory on the fourth stage of the Settimana Ciclistica Lombarda.

"My first win was a surprise because I thought there was a break at the front and I didn't know I had won. But today I knew I was in the break and going for the win!" Laverde exclaimed at yesterday's press conference in Domodossola.

Again with Formaggi Pinzolo Fiavé, he finished 15th overall in the 2004 Giro d'Italia and fourth at the Giro dell'Appennino, which led to a change of teams at the end of the season. The next year, riding for Ceramica Panaria-Navigare, Laverde finished third in the Colombian road championship on April 9, but from then until yesterday, he was without a result and badly needed one.

"It was a beautiful win today, the best of my career," affirmed Laverde after his victory on the 14th stage of the Giro d'Italia.

Asked if he prayed for the win, he smiled before answering. "No, normally I pray at the hotel during the night or maybe in the morning, but during the stage, I don't have time to do it.

"This win is really emotional for me... maybe I don't realise [the significance of what I've done] now, but it's great. It's difficult to be famous in Colombia; to be famous in Colombia for cycling, you have to be world champion, but maybe after today, I will be a little bit more famous," Laverde said.

Home roads for Saunier Duval in the Giro

Despite being a Spanish team, the Saunier Duval-Prodir squad is on home soil in the Giro - for two of its riders at least.

In yesterday's stage, Marco Pinotti, who is from Ossio Sotto, near Bergamo was allowed to slip off the front of the peloton when the race approached his home area, to greet his friends and fans and to pause to hug his young wife.

In today's stage, team leader Gilberto Simoni will have his friends and family at the roadside as he rides his home roads on the stage from Rovato to Trento - Monte Bondone. It remains to be seen whether the peloton will let Gibo nip off the front to spend a few moments saying hello. At 44 minutes down, Pinotti was in no place to take advantage, but fifth-placed Simoni is eight minutes behind race leader Ivan Basso on general classification and will be closely marked.

With the race entering its final mountains phase, this would be the logical place for Simnoni to make a move and the team says it's ready. "The team is in good shape: the men are relaxed and highly-motivated, ready to back their leader, Gibo," said team spokesperson Virginie Geinoz.

Italian cycling journalist killed

Valerio Riparbelli (l) in 2004
(Click for larger image)

Cyclingnews is saddened to learn that Italian journalist Valerio Riparbelli was killed while riding his bike with a group of other cyclists. Riparbelli, a fairly recent convert to cycling, was nonetheless an accomplished rider, finishing second (Veronello, 2004) and third (San Marino, 2005) in the Under 50 category at the cycling Journalists' World Championships.

Cyclingnews extends its condolences to the family and friends of Valerio Riparbelli.

TIAA-CREF on top in Ireland

TIAA-CREF rider Danny Pate took the stage win and the leader jersey in yesterday's 180km second stage of Ireland's biggest race, the FBD Insurance Rás.

Just 30 kilometres into the stage, Pate, the 2001 under-23 world time trial champion, escaped with a group of ten. The composition of the break changed over the next three hours as some original escapees dropped off and others bridged up from the peloton, but with 10 kilometres to go Pate was still out there, with three others.

Pate attacked and rode solo to the finish to win by 27 seconds.

Tour of Utah stepping up in 2006

By Mark Zalewski, North American editor

A new major road stage race is quietly but quickly building a foundation to become a major event on the road calendar in North America. The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah is a six-day stage race around the deserts, cities and ski resorts surrounding Salt Lake City.

Race director Jason Preston said that getting Miller to sign on made the difference in setting the race on course. Larry Miller is the owner of the Utah Jazz NBA basketball team - and arguably the most powerful sports name in the entire state. "Getting the Larry H. Miller group on board... they are such a player here in the state, once they came on board it opened up a lot of doors for us," said Preston. One of those doors was the Utah Sports Commission which has aided the race in securing permits for road closures and police protection.

While the race is not seeking listing on the NRC or UCI calendar this year, that is the goal for 2007. "No we don't plan on getting NRC this year," Preston explained. "But the goal is to go to the UCI next year. We want to come on the scene and take a course like Georgia took with a lower ranking UCI event. Eventually we want to be a high level UCI event."

Another indication that the race wants to walk before running is its limit to just North American teams and riders and a cap on the field size. "We are only allowing 16 teams and 100 riders -- we want to make sure it is quality," said Preston.

So far TIAA-CREF, Health Net-Maxxis, Toyota-United Pro and Navigators Insurance have committed full teams, and most others will send riders as well. "We have commitments from at least a few riders from most professional teams so we will have participation from every major U.S. team," said Preston.

The organization is committed to making this an event that lasts more than a year, and is working to build the local support to do so. "We have got huge media partners, especially locally," said Preston. "KJZZ is putting in a lot of money, so we will be able to blow the doors off locally. There is already a lot of excitement. That is what we are doing this year, getting local support."

But of course money is what drives large races like the Tour de Georgia and Tour of California, and the Tour of Utah is already forming the long-term partnerships necessary to gain substantial backing. "We also have the largest bank in the state sign on as a presenting sponsor," said Preston. "The title sponsor and presenting sponsor are both [committed for] multiple years as is the Utah Sports Commission. They all have the goal to create an international event for the future."

Doctor Armstrong addresses graduates

Doctor Armstrong, we presume.
(Click for larger image)

Lance Armstrong has a new title to add to his name: Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. Tufts University presented the degree to Armstrong who addressed the graduates at commencement over the weekend. The university awarded the degree for his accomplishments in the sport of cycling and his work fighting cancer.

In his speech Armstrong joked that he would attempt an eighth Tour de France title with the members of the Tufts University cycling team as he revealed wearing a team jersey. "You know, for a guy who barely made it out of high school, I find it incredibly ironic that I am standing up here as a doctor," Armstrong said in his speech. "Now I have graduated from cycling. My education has been on the road. My education has been through illness. My education has been on a death bed. I realized that the only way to live life and to lead life is actively and as active citizens."

Mirabella honoured for fair play

U.S. Olympic track cyclist Erin Mirabella was named recipient of the Jack Kelly Fair Play award for 2005. Mirabella placed fourth in the points race at the Athens Olympics, but was awarded the bronze medal when Maria-Luisa Calle produced a positive drug test. That positive was ruled to be false and overturned by the International Olympic Committee and Mirabella returned the medal without objection.

"USA Cycling is proud of Erin and the USOC's recognition of her as the recipient of the 2005 Jack Kelly Fair Play Award," said USA Cycling's CEO Steve Johnson. "As a talented competitor and role model on and off the bike, Erin has always exemplified a high level of sportsmanship and respect for her competition and the sport of cycling. Her actions following the 2004 Olympic Games were an inspiration for many."

"This is a real honor to be selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee and by a committee of my peers," said Mirabella. "As much as I and every other athlete would like to win a medal at the Olympic Games, the Olympics are a lot more than that. Fair play and being a good sportsman is really what matters."

Sandra Kelly will present the award that bears the name of her late husband to Mirabella at the 2006 U.S. Olympic Assembly in La Jolla, California in June.

Colavita/Cooking Light for Liberty Classic

The Colavita/Cooking Light women's cycling team has finalised its line-up for the Commerce Bank Liberty Classic, Philadelphia, PA, June 11. Tina Pic will lead the team, after a season that has so far seen her win the Redlands criterium, Garret Lamire, Sea Otter Classic, Sunny King Criterium as well as two stages at the Joe Martin stage race. Pic is currently the top individual rider on the US NRC rankings and Colavita/Cooking Light leads the team rankings.

Pic will be supported by track world championship silver medalist Gina Grain; current Canadian time trial champion Sue Palmer Komar; NRC number two Dotsie Bausch; new addition Meshy Holt, who finished second overall at the Geelong Tour in March; Iona Winter-Park; Sarah Tillotson; and Sima Trapp.

"The quality of riders we have assembled for the Commerce Bank Liberty Classic gives us many options that will allow us to compete for the win on race day," said team director Jim Williams. "Hopefully we can have a great race as a team and do our sponsors proud."

Team Biovail for Montreal & Liberty Classic

Team Biovail has announced its rosters for the Montreal World Cup on May 27 and the Commerce Bank Liberty Classic on June 11 in Philadelphia. The team will be led by Anne Samplonius, who is returning to Mont Royal after taking last year off. The 38 year-old recently finished second at Tour de Bisbee and the Teleperformance Tour of the Gila. She will again have support from Jennifer Stephenson and local Montreal rider Stephanie Bourbeau, plus Amanda Shaw, and 18 year Joëlle Numainville.

The team's Liberty Classic roster will be similar to Montreal, but with the addition of the sprinting legs of Anna Webb, who rode for the team in Redlands. Anna Garnett will also be rolling to the start line along with Martina Patella making the trip from Oakland, CA and Melodie Metzger rounding out the roster. Both Patella and Metzger are guest riders with the team for this event.

New title sponsor for Westside Cycling Classic

Vancouver, British Columbia's Westside Cycling Classic (June 18) has a new title sponsor in Formwerks, one of the Vancouver West Side's most prominent architectural and development companies.

The race will again take place on Father's Day, Sunday, June 18, 2006 as part of the Point Grey Fiesta Weekend celebration and be an important fundraising event in support of the BC Cancer Foundation for the Wedgewood Cycling Team.

As part of the Wedgewood Cycling Team's fundraising efforts for 2006, $5 from each riders entry fee as well as funds raised on the day will be donated to the BC Cancer Foundation.

For more information see

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