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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for May 29, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Ullrich: "A very good Giro"

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

T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich left the Giro two days before the finish, pulling the pin at the foot of the final climb in stage 19. Following his abandon, he gave a press conference at the team hotel to explain the reasons, as well as his name being linked with Dr Eufemiano Fuentes in the Spanish doping investigation, and his racing program prior to the Tour de France.

"I would have liked to ride it through to Milan," said Ullrich of the Giro. "However, Friday's stage was brutally tough. Rudy Pevenage and I agreed already a couple of days ago not to do the final two stages any more. So the plan was to abandon on Thursday. But after Thursday's shock, when my name was mentioned in the context of the anti-doping operation in Spain, it would have looked ill-timed. Besides, I felt quite good in the morning and decided to continue. But as the stage progressed, my back started to hurt. As a consequence, I called it quits – and now I'm glad I did."

Spanish radio station Cadena SER alleged that Ullrich had been in contact with Eufemiano Fuentes, who was arrested on Wednesday. Ullrich responded, "I've been working together with the Italian Luigi Cecchini for several years now. The names mentioned in the context of the anti-doping operation are not known to me. I learnt about the whole thing shortly before the stage finish on Thursday. Rudy Pevenage told me about it on the radio. Frankly speaking, I think it's a travesty to link my name with this thing. I never worked with Fuentes and I have nothing to blame myself for. It's a sad issue, which is not limited to cycling only. Supposedly, there are other sports involved, too."

Overall, Ullrich had a good feeling about the Giro: "It was a very good Giro for me. I won the time trial, which I never expected. And I didn't just roll along, but tried to get involved in the action. For example, on Thursday's stage 17 my plan was to be in a lead group. Unfortunately, I was reeled in each time. Most likely, because my name is Jan Ullrich. (laughs). Overall I was able to further build up my form. I'm very content with the result."

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

When asked where he could improve before the Tour, Ullrich replied, "My right leg is currently weaker than my left one. That's what causes the back pain. So I have to work on that. I'm starting to feel pretty comfortable in the mountains. I will continue to build up my form in the next weeks, by reconnoitring some tough Tour stages and doing the Vuelta Ciclista Asturias. I will sharpen my form for the Tour and hope I will put in a good performance in July."

Giro winner Ivan Basso will enter the Tour as the big favourite. "He makes a strong impression," commented Ullrich. "And his CSC team is well-balanced. Ivan is on top of his game. However, I don't think he will win the Tour. The competition is Italy is distinctively weaker than the one in France. And I want to have a say in it, too. (laughs)"

How do you assess your form compared to 2001, when you also rode the Giro? "This year things went better than in 2001. Back then I started out sick and struggled on the first stages. This year I won the time trial and was active. I felt very comfortable at the Giro."

Finally, Ullrich was asked to comment about the latest German talent Stefan Schumacher, who won two stages. "He showed a very strong performance here and won the stages deservedly and in style. He's a big talent. On Thursday he was lucky to get away on the descent. For Stefan this was a very successful Giro."'courtesy of

ProTour rankings: Basso moves up

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

Thanks to his victory in the Giro d'Italia, Ivan Basso (CSC) has moved up a few places in the ProTour rankings. 45, to be exact, as he now sits in second behind Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne). But there is still a 40 point difference between the top two, with Tom Boonen now moving down to third place.

The Giro's other top riders moved themselves up the scale too: Jose Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak, 2nd on GC) entered the rankings in 13th place, while Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval, 3rd on GC) starts in 23rd place. Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital, 4th on GC) jumped from 29th to 9th in the rankings, while Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery, 5th on GC), moved from 31st to 10th.

In the teams rankings, CSC has maintained the number one spot, with Phonak climbing to second place ahead of T-Mobile, thanks to a solid Giro. In the nations, Italy has finally passed Spain, with Germany a very distant third.

Rankings as of May 28, 2006

1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse D'epargne-Illes Balears     178 pts
2 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                            138
3 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step - Innergetic                             129
4 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                              105
5 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC                                         100
6 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                  90
7 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi                     89
8 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC                                      87
9 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                                  86
10 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team            85
1 Team CSC                                                             177 pts
2 Phonak Hearing Systems                                               161
3 T-Mobile Team                                                        159
4 Illes Balears Caisse D'Epargne                                       158
5 Lampre-Fondital                                                      154
6 Rabobank                                                             149
7 Liberty Seguros - Würth Team                                         146
8 Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                                   141
9 Davitamon-Lotto                                                      141
10 Quick Step - Innergetic                                             137
1 Italy                                                                498 pts
2 Spain                                                                483
3 Germany                                                              232
4 Belgium                                                              221
5 Netherlands                                                          205
6 Switzerland                                                          158
7 United States of America                                             148
8 Australia                                                            111
9 France                                                               102
10 Luxembourg                                                          100
Full rankings: ProTour, Teams, Nations

Phonak's Fate: 2007 future hinges on Landis and Tour

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Jose Gutierrez Cataluna (Phonak)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

RAI-TV cycling commentators Auro Bulbarelli and Davide Cassani had a lot of positive things to say about the surprise of the Giro d'Italia, Phonak's Jose' Gutierrez Cataluna and the team as a whole, which took both team prizes home to Switzerland. And there was a lot of speculation about what role 'il Bufalo' Gutierrez Cataluna might play in support of Phonak's team leader Floyd Landis, who also gained a lot of praise from the RAI-TV commentators.

Cassani said, "Landis is one of the favourites for the Tour de France, along with Basso, Ullrich and Vinokourov", while Bulbarelli, mistakenly calling Landis a Mormon, also had praise for the American. In an interview with Phonak DS Adriano Baffi, RAI-TV's Alessandro Fabretti asked Baffi about Phonak at the Giro and he explained, "We're very happy about how Gutierrez rode at the Giro and are looking forward to the Tour, where Landis will be our leader."

As for the future of the team in 2007, when Phonak will not return as a sponsor, Baffi explained "nothing has confirmed yet, but we have been talking to some companies, so we are hopeful."

Cyclingnews sources have revealed that Phonak's current second sponsor I-Share has an option to become title sponsor in 2007 and that USA Cycling president and Phonak team consultant Jim Ochowicz, who brought in I-Shares as a sponsor, will take over management of the the squad should I-Shares chose to exercise their option. But nothing is currently confirmed as to Phonak's fate, and may not be until after the Tour.

Jaksche unsure as to future

"I'm training, without knowing when or where my next race will be. I don't know what will happen." said Jörg Jaksche to dpa. The German, who rides for the scandal-plagued Liberty Seguros team, says he doesn't know if the team will ride the Tour de France, but at least, "We have been assured that we will paid through the end of the season. But after the withdrawal of the sponsor, its name on the jersey will be removed."

When asked if he had had contact with Dr. Fuentes, he replied, "Of course I haven't had the kind of contact that you mean. But Fuentes was our team doctor last year. Like every other rider, I consulted him whenever I had a problem."

As to whether he was one of those riders who was videotaped visiting the doctor's apartment, or taped calling him on the phone, Jaksche said bluntly, "That is impossible."

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

Klöden has a "good feeling"

Andreas Klöden has a "good feeling" after finishing third in Saturday's Bayern Rundfahrt time trial. It is his first race after a training crash in March and a subsequent shoulder operation. He found the time trial "very positive. In spite of the light pain and the higher handlebar position that this necessitated, I came in in third place - one place better than last year!" he wrote on "I will use (Sunday's) Queen stage of the Bayern Rundfahrt as an optimal preparation for the Tour de France."

Klöden is also satisfied with how the race started. "After an intensive training program in the last four weeks, I was able keep up with everything in the first three stages with no problem. I still feel a few twitches in the shoulder, but I am still getting physical therapy, even here at the race."

After the Bayern RF, he plans "a week of regeneration," to be followed by the Tour de Suisse. "And now I feel, even more so than a few weeks ago, that I will be able to present myself in good form at the Tour de France."

Leukemans out for several weeks

Davitamon-Lotto's Björn Leukemans crashed out in the final stage of the Tour of Belgium, and broke his shoulder blade. The accident happened about 80 km into the stage (won by Leukemans' teammate Gert Steegmans) when Leukemans went back to the team car. Apart from his shoulder, he was also injured on his elbow, and was taken to hospital in Tienen, then transferred to Herentals. Doctors decided not to operate, as he had a previous fracture close to his shoulder, and a new operation would be very difficult.

Leukemans must rest for three weeks, and he will not be able to take part in the Tour de France.

New president for Cycling New Zealand

Cycling New Zealand has elected a new president at its 73rd annual general meeting held in Invercargill over the weekend, which coincided with the opening of the new ILT indoor velodrome. Mark Ireland, from Mt Maunganui, has been named for the top job, while Wayne Hudson, who had been president since 2002, will remain on the Cycling New Zealand Council as immediate past president. Hudson announced 12 months ago that he would stand down at this year's AGM.

As well as the election, the Malayan Cup was awarded to Stephen Canny, Chairman of Cycling Southland, for his vision, leadership and dedication to the opening of New Zealand's first indoor velodrome. The Malayan Cup was originally awarded to a successful NZ representative team that included among others the great Warrick Dalton and Ron Ulmer (Sarah's grandfather), and has been subsequently presented each year since 1959 in recognition of outstanding service to the Sport. Sarah Ulmer won the award in 2005.

Top women's sprinters at CSC Invitational

Defending champion Laura Van Gilder will lead a long list of the USA's strongest female sprinters at the 9th Annual CSC Invitational Pro/Am bike race on Saturday, June 3, 2006. The women's race will cover 50 laps on the 5-turn, 1 km course.

Van Gilder of TEAm Lipton is a two-time winner in Arlington. She will have to contend with top crit specialists like current US National Criterium Champion Tina Pic (Colavita Cooking Lite), Laura Yoisten (Victory Brewing), Shannon Hutchison-Krupat (Aaron's Corporate Furnishings) and Charm Breon (Diet Cheerwine). All of these women have had consistent podium finishes at the top criteriums around the USA this year, and have also placed in the top three in Arlington in previous years.

"I love this race!" said Van Gilder. "There is no doubt it may be the hardest crit on the calendar, but good team tactics will be rewarded. Both times I've won here my team controlled the field while I was able to stay away up front."

Teams: TEAm Lipton, Victory Brewing, Diet Cheerwine, Colavita Cooking Light, Aaron's Corporate Furnishings, Travel Girl, Team Tamarack, Charlottesville Racing, Team BBC, NCVC/INOVA Health System, Hub Racing, US Armed Forces, Gear Works/Spin Arts Cycling, Verducci Racing/Break Away bikes, McGuire Cycling, Tripower, Team FUJI/Bolt Brothers

Racing begins at 8:00am with two amateur men's races, followed by the women's race. The kids' race (free to all children 9 and under) begins at 11:35 am. Then the CSC Invitational men's pro race will begin at high noon, and will feature 100 laps on the tight course.

Landbouwkrediet-Colnago for Tour du Luxembourg

The Landbouwkrediet-Colnago squad has been named for the Tour du Luxembourg, which runs between May 31 and June 4. Nico Sijmens, Bert Dewaele, Steve Cummings, Johan Verstrepen, Jean Claude Lebeau, Sven Renders, Andy Cappelle, and Jean-Paul Simon . D.S.: Claude Vancoillie.

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