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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for May 27, 2006

Edited by 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 19 wrap-up: A gift for Garate

Juan Manuel Garate (QuickStep) wins
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Ivan Basso's CSC team has again showed its generosity in the Giro d'Italia, with Jens Voigt conceding the 19th stage to Juan Manuel Garate (Quick.Step). The two riders escaped from a leading break of 12 on the finishing climb, and although Voigt looked strong enough to sprint against Garate for the win, with 200m to go, he patted his breakaway companion on the back and told him to go for it. Garate didn't hesitate, and crossed the line as the victor. Four other members of the early break stayed ahead of the fast finishing maglia rosa, who, together with Gilberto Simoni, rode away from the rest of the favourites on the San Pellegrino, with Simoni finishing 7th at 2'15.

After the finish, Voigt explained his decision not to sprint for the win - a very rare thing in such a situation in modern pro cycling. "I didn't take any leads for a long time in the break, so I didn't want to sprint for the victory," he said to "That's simply not who I am. If I'm to win it has to be because I'm the strongest, not because I've been sitting on someone's wheel and letting them do all the work.

"But I felt strong and we did have a great stage. I feel like I've come out on the other side of the mountains still feeling strong, and that's a good feeling to be able to sit up front in a tough mountain stage in the Giro. And in the bigger picture things look great for us with Ivan safely in the jersey and the team in perfect shape all the way till now."

The breakaway was initially composed of 20 riders, who escaped after the 110 Gazzetta sprint at km 68. Paolo Bettini led the charge, seeking more points for the points classification, but he eventually dropped off the pace on the Passo Pordoi with some 80 km to go. That left a group of a dozen riders in front: Emanuele Sella, Fortunato Baliani, Luis Felipe Laverde Jimenez (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare), Ivan Ramiro Parra Pinto (Cofidis), Evgeni Petrov, Tadej Valjavec, Francisco J. Vila Errandonea (Lampre-Fondital), Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas), Johann Tschopp (Phonak Hearing Systems), Juan Manuel Garate (Quick Step-Innergetic), Jens Voigt (Team CSC), Patrice Halgand (Credit Agricole). The group reached a maximum lead of 6'48 at the top of the Pordoi with 63 km to go, before Saunier Duval started chasing behind and brought them back to around five minutes at the foot of the last climb, the Passo di San Pellegrino.

In front, Tadej Valjavec was the first to attack, and was quickly joined by Voigt. Then at approximately 8 km to go, Garate bridged up and attacked, with only Voigt able to follow. The pair worked together until the top, where Voigt sat up and allowed Garate the win. In the peloton, Leonardo Piepoli worked hard for his team captain Simoni to shred the field and put second on GC, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, in difficulty. Eventually, Basso and Simoni dropped the rest, with Gutierrez and Cunego coming in some 20 seconds behind them at the finish.

See also: Stage 19 full results, report & photos and Live report.

Basso a dad again

Giro leader Ivan Basso had some good news before the start of stage 19, as his wife Micaela gave birth to the couple's second child on Friday morning. "It's been a fantastic day for me and my family," said Basso. "I have to admit it's a very special feeling to be sitting in the middle of a big race wearing the leader's jersey and knowing that my wife has brought a child into the world. I'm very happy right now and I have a lot to be thankful for.

"Tomorrow will be tough, but of course I have a comfortable lead at the moment and a team of riders, who are all capable of accomplishing great things. Jens is an exceptional rider, and what he did today deserves the utmost respect."

Ullrich abandons

Jan and Rudy have a chat...
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Jan Ullrich's Giro d'Italia has come to a close in the 19th stage, after the T-Mobile captain pulled out on the final climb with back pain. Shortly before the climb began, Ullrich was seen in discussion with team director Rudy Pevenage, and the signs didn't look good.

"I had planned to ride it through to Milan, but I have also always pointed out that I wouldn't finish the Giro at any price," said Ullrich to

"Due to the tough race profile, the final two mountain stages in particular, we took the decision that Jan would pull out of the race and not overdo things," says Pevenage.

Ullrich added that the allegations emerging from Spain on Wednesday linking him to doping investigations surrounding Eufemiano Fuentes did influence the timing of his abandon, although not in the way one would normally think. "Even though there is nothing behind the allegations, it would have looked ill-timed if I had abandoned on Thursday", said Ullrich, who agreed with Pevenage, that "we wouldn't let the reports coming out of Spain dictate our training program. The sporting demonstration has to take priority. We don't want to jeopardise the Tour build-up."

Both Ullrich and Pevenage were happy with the rider's progress during the Giro. "My form improved from day to day," said Ullrich. Looking ahead to the Tour de France Pevenage said "everything is going to plan. Jan was racing very actively and he impressed in the time trial. We are on the right track and we will continue to follow our race program."

Ullrich will return home to Switzerland on Saturday and will continue to train there in June, as well as reconnoitring a Tour stage and doing one more stage race before the Tour.

Schumacher looking towards la classifica

By Anthony Tan at Passo Di San Pellegrino, Dolomiti Stars, Italy

Two wins and feeling strong
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Demonstrating his versatility on two occasions at the Giro d'Italia, first atop the Citadel de Namur and again yesterday in Gemona Del Friuli, Stefan Schumacher says he is also keen to test himself by targeting the general classification in a few years' time.

2006 not only marks his maiden Giro voyage, it also is the 24 year-old's first Grand Tour, so it was better to use the occasion as an experiment, rather than immediately target a high position on the classifica generale, says Schumacher. "I didn't know how I would go in the high mountains; this is my first big tour and my first race in the high mountains, so maybe I can be better there in the next few years," he said after his victory on Stage 18.

"For me, I don't know how I'll go at the end of three weeks, but I try to do this next year," he declared. "I will do Paris-Nice, then prepare for the Ardennes Classics, and if I have good condition [after that], I will do the Giro."

With two stage wins to his name, Schumacher not surprisingly says it's been a dream run so far: "It's an incredible Giro for me; it's my first Giro and it's a dream at the moment.

"The win in Namur was great for me, it was my biggest victory in my career. I had some good feelings in the last days, and I tried again to be in a breakaway to win a stage. On the second category mountain, I felt really strong and after that, I was really confident; after that, I knew I was in good shape to win a stage again."

Speaking about what the future may bring, he German is already looking at next year's world road championships, where he will start as a home-town hero. "Ya, for sure; next year, it will be in my home in Stuttgart, so the world championship is really important to me," he said.

Michele Ferrari absolved of all charges by Italian appeals court

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

In a decision earlier this week, an Italian Court of Appeal in Bologna absolved Dr. Michele Ferrari of the sporting fraud charges related to accusations by Filippo Simeoni, as well as charges of abusing his medical license to write prescriptions "because the facts do not exist" to support these charges.

Ferrari was the preparatore for many top cyclists, most notably Lance Armstrong. On October 1, 2004, Ferrari was convicted of sporting fraud and abusing his medical license to write prescriptions and sentenced by Judge Maurizio Passarini to suspend his medical license for one year and a fine of €900. One of Ferrari's main accusers was Simeoni, who Ferrari worked with from late 1996 to late 1997, claimed that Ferrari had given him erythropoietin (epo) and Andriol (synthetic testosterone). But the appeals court found that Simeoni's accusations against Ferrari had no basis in fact and threw out Passarini's judgement.

After the successful appeal, Ferrari's attorney Dario Bolognesi said, "We're satisfied with this verdict, but we are still awaiting the full text of the court's decision that will shed light on why they overturned the original decision, because we have requested that the previous decision is removed from Doctor Ferrari's record. And we may also sue for damages."

MTB World Cup preview: Wet, but not as wild in Scotland

By Rob Jones in Fort William, Scotland

How do you stop the upstoppable...?
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

The Mountain Bike World Cup moves to the Scottish Highlands for round number four in the cross-country series, and number two for the gravity riders. The cross-country and 4-Cross events take place on Saturday, with the downhill on Sunday. Friday's weather was cold and raining non-stop - making for a less-than-enjoyable day of training; but the weather forecasts all call for it to clear overnight and warm up considerably for the rest of the weekend. Everyone has their fingers crossed.

The cross-country circuit is almost identical to the one used in past years - about the only change is a small bridge put in to get over a section that is under water. Despite the rain and mud, riders report that the whole course is rideable. "I just finished a lap without unclipping once" said Kiara Bisaro (Team R.A.C.E.), adding that, "It is muddy, and some of the descents are pretty slippery, but it's not like last week; everything is completely rideable."

Bisaro was commenting on the race in Spa, Belgium, which turned into a running circuit, with thick gluey mud forcing riders to run even on some downhill sections.

Liam Killeen (Specialized), the local favourite (even though he is British, not Scottish), also has praise for the circuit. "It's a riding course so, no matter what, the race will be a real mountain bike race. I don't think it favours any particular type of rider - there are fast bits and technical sections - so it will take a good all round rider to win here," he said.

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