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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News for October 5, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones and Gregor Brown

Boonen prepares for Paris-Tours

Tom Boonen
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Tom Boonen hasn't finished his season yet, as he will line up on Sunday for the Paris-Tours classic. The Quick.Step man opted for a lower key build up to the race by doing Wednesday's pro kermis in Zele, Belgium. Although the race might not have carried UCI points, Boonen still made the most of it. He got two teammates to blow the field apart so that only 20 riders finished. Boonen was the strongest, escaping with Hamish Haynes (Jartazi) near the finish, before being caught by three others, then winning the sprint easily.

"After the disappointing world championship I was really down in the dumps," Boonen told Sportwereld after his 23rd win of the season. "Last week I didn't really see the point in racing. Hulsmans dragged me out of it. He drove me to go riding again. That's why I came to Zele. I don't regret it."

T-Mobile for 100th Paris-Tours

The T-Mobile Team will be taking their sprinters to Sunday's 100th edition of the Paris-Tours (October 8). With Eric Baumann, André Greipel, André Korff and Olaf Pollack, the team management has four fast men for the season's penultimate ProTour race. Rounding out the roster are the classics' specialists Lorenzo Bernucci, Daniele Nardello (both Italy), Dutchman Bas Giling and the German Stephan Schreck.

"Our goal is to be in the breaks early and to ride on the offensive", said T-Mobile's DS Frans van Looy.

The 254,5 km predominantly flat race isn't called the "sprinters' classic" for nothing. Erik Zabel won it three times, the last being in 2005 in his final race for T-Mobile. But sometimes, breaks can stay clear, such as when Erik Dekker took a last gasp victory in 2004, and Philippe Gilbert and Stijn Devolder almost pulled off the same move last year.

Apart from Zabel, Italian Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital), Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC) and Tom Boonen (Quick-Step) are among the top favourites this year. In case of a breakaway win, Belgian Leif Hoste (Discovery Channel) or Spaniard Juan-Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) could be the men to watch.

Acqua & Sapone for Sabatini and Emilia

The Acqua & Sapone formation has been announced for today's Coppa Sabatini and Saturday's Giro dell'Emilia. The eight riders who will race today near Pisa and then travel to Bologna for Saturday's race are Alexandr Arekeev, Simone Masciarelli, Andrea Masciarelli, Rinaldo Nocentini, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Mauricio Soler, Andrea Tonti and Frank Vandenbroucke.

Director Sportif Franco Gini confirmed the end of season goals, saying, "Up to now we have done great work, the team is doing well to continue concentrating on making the results in this last part of the season. Simone and Andrea Masciarelli have been riding very well; they are able to be amongst the protagonists."

Giro dell'Emilia and GP Beghelli add Team Lamonta

This weekend's Giro dell'Emilia and GP Beghelli are growing in participation. Wednesday, the race organizers announced the addition of German Team Lamonta, including their star sprinter Danilo Hondo. The German, winner of two stage of the Giro d'Italia, will look to repeat his 2004 win in Beghelli.

The teams participating this weekend: Saunier Duval-Prodir, Lampre-Fondital, Team CSC, Quick-Step, Liquigas, Milram, Gerolsteiner, Ag2R Prévoyance, Rabobank, Naturino-Sapore di Mare, Panaria-Navigare, Tenax-Salmilano, Ceramica Flaminia, Miche, Acqua & Sapone, Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni, Androni Giocattoli-3C Casalinghi, Team LPR, Barloworld, Universal Caffè-CB Immobiliare, OTC Doors-Lauretana, Team Lamonta and, racing only in Sunday's Beghelli, Amore & Vita-McDonald's.

Gerrans ready for Sun Tour defence

Simon Gerrans (AG2r Prévoyance)
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
Click for larger image

Defending Jayco Herald Sun Tour champion Simon Gerrans has arrived in Melbourne to finalise his preparations for the defence of his title. Gerrans flew in from Europe late on Tuesday night and spent Wednesday re-familiarising himself with the conditions he can expect on the Tour as Melbourne put on a blustery 30-degree day.

The 26-year-old will be part of the powerful Jayco Australia National Team, which includes Tour de France green jersey winner Robbie McEwen. "You'd be able to take this team to any race in the world and be confident of success," Gerrans told Cyclingnews' John Trevorrow. The only thing is we've now got pressure on us every day. Whether it is leading Robbie out for the stage finishes or covering moves up the road. I have no doubt it's going to be an exciting race."

With two stars in the team, the question of team leadership could be a delicate one. "I reckon we'll work it out on the road but even though obviously Robbie has great form, he is more likely to go for stages than GC," said Gerrans. "We haven't had the chance to talk about it yet but I definitely want to defend my title. I guess we will be co-captains and we have an awesome team. One that gives us plenty of options."

Gerrans also talked about his season, which has been filled with highs and lows. "The year started out pretty good in Adelaide," he said. "To win Tour Down Under after winning Jayco Herald Sun Tour made me think it was going to be a pretty special year ahead, but I crashed down to earth in a big way when I smashed my shoulder soon after arriving back in France. It was a real bummer missing out on the Commonwealth Games but getting back into form and getting a start in the Tour de France was just reward for the hard work I put in."

During the Tour, the Australian was able to work for his team captain Cyril Dessel, who had the yellow jersey for a short time in the Pyrenees. Gerrans was one of the team's key pace setters in the mountains, and recalled the feeling. "I didn't realise how few were left until I went out the back myself. But I have to admit that being in the position to defend the Maillot Jaune gave the whole team a real buzz. Everyone definitely lifted it up a notch."

The Herald Sun Tour will feature 98 riders representing 14 teams and 13 countries, who will compete over seven days, seven stages and 820km. Besides defending champ Gerrans, the line up includes three Olympic gold medallists, four world champions, eight Olympians and ten former stage winners in what is one of the strongest fields in the history of the event.

More information:

Women's world cup for 2007

The UCI has confirmed the races in the women's World Cup for 2007. The season series has been cut down from 12 to 10 events, kicking off with the Geelong World Cup in Australia on March 3, and ending with the Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt in Germany on September 16. Nicole Cooke (Univega) won the World Cup this year by a big margin over Ina Teutenberg (T-Mobile) and Annette Beutler (Buitenpoort).

The schedule

Round 1 - March 3: women's World Cup - Geelong (Australia)
Round 2 - April 8: Ronde van Vlaanderen (Belgium)
Round 3 - April 14: Ronde van Drenthe (Netherlands)
Round 4 - April 25: La Flèche Wallonne Féminine (Belgium)
Round 5 - May 13: Berner-Rundfahrt / Tour de Berne (Switzerland)
Round 6 - June 2: La Coupe du Monde Montréal (Canada)
Round 7 - August 3: Open de Suède Vargarda (Sweden)
Round 8 - August 5: The Ladies Golden Hour (Denmark)
Round 9 - September 1: GP de Plouay (France)
Round 10 - September 16: Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt (Germany)

USA Cycling Professional Tour announced for 2007

On Wednesday, USA Cycling announced the creation of the USA Cycling Professional Tour, in an aim to recognise the top international-caliber UCI professional teams and riders. The series of 15 races will include all races on the current UCI calendar, plus three USA Cycling professional national championships for a total of 40 days of racing.

The goal of the Professional Tour is to acknowledge international competition in the USA and the events that have made the commitment to host UCI-sanctioned races that feature UCI-registered professional teams and riders. To that end, the USA Cycling Professional Tour will crown an overall champion based on points at the end of the 2007 series.

"We're thrilled that with the growth of world-class cycling in the United States, we're now able to recognize a season-long calendar of major international events," commented Steve Johnson, chief executive officer of USA Cycling. "The creation of this calendar signifies a major step forward in the evolution of our sport at the highest level within our own borders."

In the past, many of the events on the USA Cycling Professional Tour have been a part of the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar (NRC), however with growing demand for inclusion on the NRC and the continued increase in the number of internationally-sanctioned events in the USA, two calendars with two distinct purposes are now viable. The NRC will remain open to both professional and club-level teams to feature a "Pro-Am" atmosphere.

The separation of UCI-sanctioned events and the National Racing Calendar is a change welcomed by pro team managers, race promoters and riders alike.

"The new model created by USA Cycling simplifies racing in America and creates a nice synergy between the two calendars," explained TIAA-CREF team manager Jonathan Vaughters. "The USA Cycling Professional Tour creates a simple way to determine the best rider that competes in the United States while the retention of the NRC allows for a team manager like myself to identify up and coming talent."

"To ensure the depth of talent here in the United States continues to grow," continued Johnson. "Our riders need to compete against world-class competitors from around the globe. Continued emphasis on top-level international competition on USA soil through the development of the USA Cycling Professional Tour will help to make this a reality."

2007 USA Cycling Professional Tour

February 18-25: AMGEN Tour of California - California
April 14: USA Cycling Open - Richmond, Va.
April 16-22: Tour de Georgia - Georgia
June 3: Commerce Bank Lancaster Classic - Lancaster, Pa.
June 7: Commerce Bank Reading Classic - Reading, Pa.
June 10: Commerce Bank International Championship - Philadelphia, Pa.
June 17: Austin Men's Invitational - Austin, Texas
June 23: Saturn Rochester Twilight Criterium - Rochester, N.Y.
August 12-19: Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah - Utah
August 19: USA Cycling Professional Criterium Championships - Downer's Grove, Ill.
September 1: The Cliffs USA Cycling Professional Time Trial Championships - Greenville, S.C.
September 3: The Cliffs USA Cycling Professional Road Championships - Greenville, S.C.
September 8: Univest Grand Prix - Souderton, Pa.
September 11-16: Tour of Missouri - Missouri
September 15: Tour de Leelanau - Traverse, City, Mich.

Sarah Hammer breaks 11-year-old record

Sarah Hammer
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
(Click for larger image)

After breaking an 11-year drought with a world title in the women's 3000m individual pursuit in April, Sarah Hammer (Ouch Pro Cycling) eclipsed another 11 year-old mark Wednesday, setting a new national record in the same event during the opening session of the USA Cycling Elite Track National Championships at the ADT Event Center. Wednesday evening in California, Hammer added another national title to her palmarès, catching silver medalist Katie Compton six laps into the 12 lap race.

Hammer posted a time of 3 minutes, 32.865 seconds to smash the previous national record of 3'36.08 set by American Rebecca Twigg in Bogota, Colombia in 1995.

"I had hoped to break the national record," explained Hammer. "That was the goal. Obviously, being world champion, I wanted that record but I didn't want to think about it too much because it's only October and training has just started. My times in training have been consistent with what would be on pace to do that, but I didn't think I'd be riding a 3'32that's for sure. I was thinking maybe a 3'35."

The achievement by Hammer moves here closer to her ultimate goal: a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics. "It makes me confident and a little hungry for that gold medal in Beijing," Hammer continued. "I want that gold medal. That's what I would like to walk away with when I walk away from cycling - world champion, Olympic champion, and at some point, world record holder."

Thijs extends with Unibet

36 year-old Belgian Erwin Thijs has extended his contract with for another season. Winner of three races this year, Thijs said that he hopes to continue to show himself in the early season classics and would like to finish a grand tour.

Tizza joins OTC Doors

Italian neo-pro Francesco Tizza will join the OTC Doors team next season. Tizza rode for Pagnoncelli NGC Perrel this year, and won three races.

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