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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for September 5, 2006

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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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Edited by John Stevenson, John Kenny & Susan Westemeyer

Roche & Martin strong in Avenir & Italy

By Shane Stokes

Nicolas Roche at the Polynormand race in late July
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

Almost two decades after his father Stephen had his most successful season, Cofidis rider Nicolas Roche is moving to the next level of his own budding career with a strong ride in the Tour de l'Avenir. The 22 year old Irish rider registered his first pro win on Sunday when he won a three man sprint at the end of the 149 kilometre stage to Metz. He, Ivan Melero (Orbea) and René Mandri (Auber 93) were over two minutes ahead of the bunch, with Andre Cardoso (Portuguese National Team) sandwiched in between.

The result saw second-year pro Roche take over at the top of the general classification. He and his Cofidis team successfully defended the lead on Monday's fifth stage, which was won by Edvald Hagen (Norwegian National Team) ahead of Sergey Kolesnikov (Omnibike Dynamo Moscow) and Stef Clement (Bouygues Telecom).

"This is my first pro win and I am very pleased with that," Roche said on Sunday, "especially as I took the yellow jersey as well. I felt pretty good all day, but was nervous coming towards the end because lately I have not been the smartest coming to sprint finishes. But I am really happy that it worked out as it did today."

Roche was also clear in a long distance break on day two but was caught by the bunch inside the final kilometre. He had been racing for second on the stage.

"Today [Sunday], I said that if I could get into a little break, then maybe it can change things a bit," he explained. "The last time I was out the front, Cofidis actually put riders on the front of the bunch so that the break didn't get too much time. All the teams were represented so at one stage we had almost nine minutes. Everybody thought it was going to be over but the team wasn't confident enough to put the whole race on my shoulders. So the team rode a little bit to keep the momentum going.

"Today, because I was in the front I knew that it would confuse some people because they were waiting for Cofidis to ride again. Also, the rider in the lead lost two of his team-mates in a crash yesterday, so his team were not going to be able to ride and of course our team was not going to chase. So by the time those in the bunch realised who was going to ride and who was not going to ride, we had six minutes. We went full blast from there to the end."

Although Roche held on to the race lead on Monday's stage, he had said the day previous to that that he was unsure of his chances as regards the overall. "I have no idea yet because the race gets really hard after this. We are first and third on GC now, so they might give a chance to the other guy [Cofidis team-mate Amaël Moinard – ed.] still. They say he is a better climber than I am and I have already done 300 kilometres in the breaks, so I have lost a lot of power. But I think we have a nice advantage because we have three guys up there - Maxime Monfort is still up on GC. So we have three cards to play."

The race continues on Tuesday with a hilly 161.5 kilometre race from Nancy to La Bresse. A first category mountain comes close to the finish and so Roche's ability to defend the lead will depend on both his climbing strengths and how he has recovered from his breakaway efforts early on in the race.

Meanwhile his first cousin Daniel Martin also took a good win on Sunday when he triumphed on the final stage of the Giro della Valle d'Aosta in Italy. The VC La Pomme rider dominated the concluding 10.1 kilometre uphill time trial, finishing a full 43 seconds ahead of runner up Alessandro Bisolti (U.C. Palazzago Saclà Maiet Europea).

The performance saw him jump from eighth to second overall, finishing the six-day 2.2 ranked event 1'12 behind final winner Bisolti. He will target a strong ride in the espoir world championships later this month, while Roche must be a good bet to get a slot on the Irish squad for the elite road race.

Cavendish upbeat after London finale

By Gerry McManus

Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Gerry McManus
(Click for larger image)

Britain's Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile) was thrilled at taking the green jersey as the points winner in the six day Tour of Britain that finished in London on Sunday. Spectators got a small glimpse of the growing sprinting talent from the 21-year-old Manx man when he finished third behind world champion Tom Boonen (QuickStep-Innergetic). The tour marked his debut with a major professional team during his stint as a stagiaire with T-Mobile. He has been riding for the German Team Sparkasse outfit this year.

"On Sunday the team did a good job for me to keep the race together but I just didn't have the legs at the end," said Cavendish. "It was an amazing experience to go round London. I haven't been to London that often because I am based in Manchester. It was spectacular to come and finish in The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace. It would be great to come back here for the Tour de France," he continued: "But I think it will be a bit too soon for me as I'm only 21 but I hope to get back again for the Tour of Britain."

Cavendish has signed a two year deal with T-Mobile and will be eligible for team and race selection depending on his results and form. He has already shown that he can perform on the world stage when he won the world Madison championships in Los Angeles paired with the more experienced Rob Hayles (Team KLR) last year. He has also won gold medals at the European and Commonwealth track championships and is the first of a new generation of endurance cyclists emerging from British Cycling to get a professional contract. The performance of the young GB squad of 18 and 19-year-olds during last week's race was impressive to say the least.

Cavendish has already set himself some big targets: "I've got the world road race championships coming up and I need to make amends for last year when I only got 14th. I want get experience in my first professional year and to be able to start winning big races the year after."

GB Team for world road race championships

British Cycling has announced its squad for the senior and under-23 world road race championships in Austria, September 20-24, 2006. The team includes David Millar, back in a representative team for the first time since the end of his two-year ban for doping offences.

Millar will ride both the road race and the time trial. He is joined in the men's road race by Russell Downing and Roger Hammond, both fresh from recent high-profile road victories and strong showings at the Tour of Britain.

A superb win in the Overijse race in Belgium a fortnight ago led to DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed's Russell Downing securing a place in the three-man team.

Downing finished ninth in the Tour of Britain and wore green points jersey for three days. "I'm very happy to be picked," said the DFL team captain, "it's a nice reward for a good season, both for me and the team, and another opportunity to impress. I think David, Roger and I will work well together to put us in the position to achieve something for Great Britain on the day"

David Brailsford, performance director of the GB cycling team was clear about why Downing is the man for the job, "Going on current form, especially after the win in Belgium and such a good showing against big-name riders in the Tour of Britain, the selection panel for the world championships decided that Russell needed to be in the line-up for the road race. It's hard on Hamish [Haynes, who narrowly missed selection - Ed.] for sure but Russ is coming into top shape and exactly the right time… it was a very close and difficult decision."

The women's team is headed by Nicole Cooke, newly crowned World Cup series winner, who will ride both the road race and the time trial.

The under-23 men's team includes newly signed T-Mobile pro Mark Cavendish, another rider fresh from a successful Tour of Britain.

GB world's squad

Men's Road Race: Russell Downing, Roger Hammond and David Millar.
Men's Time Trial: David Millar.
Women's Road Race: Nicole Cooke, Rachel Heal, Tanya Slater and Helen Wyman.
Women's Time Trial: Nicole Cooke.
Under-23 Men's Road Race: Mark Cavendish, Ben Greenwood, Ian Stannard, Andy Tennant and Geraint Thomas.
Under-23 Men's Time Trial: Ian Stannard.

Kohl recovering from crash

T-Mobile's Bernard Kohl hopes to be back in action by mid-late September after his disastrous crash in Sunday's ninth stage of the vuelta a espana. Kohl was in the first group, as they came down a descent. He had the feeling that his front wheel was blocking. He tried to brake, and the next thing he knew, he was flying over the barricade and tumbling down the slope. "I was afraid for my life, since in the first moment I couldn't move and couldn't breathe properly," he said on the team's website.

No one had noticed his abrupt departure, and he had to call attention to himself. As soon as he could breathe again, he called directeur sportif Frans van Looy on his race radio and told him where he was. "I was amazed he could understand me, I could hardly speak," said Kohl. "Then I climbed up and a little later was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. I don't really know how I accomplished that."

He was released from the hospital later that evening, with the happy news that no bones were broken. He had severe back pain, but said that he felt better on Monday. "I'm doing better than on Sunday, but still not really good. I can feel my entire body, despite the pain pills."

The young Austrian will rest for a week to recover from the crash and then start training again. "My big goal is the world championships in Salzburg. I absolutely want to be there. Being able to ride the world's in your homeland is a once in a lifetime chance."

T-Mobile extends with Holm

T-Mobile Team has extended its contract with directeur sportif Brian Holm, signing the Dane to a two-year contract, according to Holm will reportedly be offered a larger role with the team than he had played before. "This is something that I had to think over, but it isn't every day you get an offer like this. I just had to say yes," said Holm. "My ambition is to contribute to building up a strong and solid team of young riders, plus a couple of experienced riders to do the donkey work."

Wiesenhof restructures for 2007

Wiesenhof-Akud will disappear from the cycling scene next year, but will be replaced by Weisenhof-Felt. The new co-sponsor is Felt Bicycles, a young firm that has already made its reputation with BMX and mountain bikes, and now wants to increase its presence in the street racing bike market.

"There will be a complete overhaul of the sponsors" in 2007, the team announced Monday. "Some sponsors are pulling out or are reducing their budget. Others are coming new to the team or are increasing their budget."

There will be many changes in the team itself, too. "Four young hopeful riders have made the switch to Pro Tour teams, which speaks well for the team's work with the youngsters," the team said. Gerald Ciolek is going to T-Mobile, Marcel Sieberg to Milram, and Tim Klinger and Carlo Westphal are joining Gerolsteiner. In addition, Lubor Tesar is ending his career at the end of the season.

Quick Step-Innergetic teams announced

Quick Step-Innergetic today announced riders selected for upcoming races.

The squad for tomorrow's GP Van Steenbergen in Belgium consists of: Serge Baguet, Tom Boonen, Wilfried Cretskens, Francesco Chicchi, Servais Knaven, Nick Nuyens and Geert Verheyen. Maxim Vantomme will ride for the team as a stagiaire and will be managed by Wilfried Peeters.

For Sunday's Paris-Brussels the GP Van Steenbergen squad will be bolstered by the addition of Steven De Jongh, Filippo Pozzato and Hubert Schwab. Wilfried Peeters will also manage this larger team.

Mayo Wheelers ride for charity

By Tommy Campbell

When it comes to cycling, Mayo Wheelers Cycling Club has no demarcation lines. Next weekend, September 9 and 10, club riders are off to Belfast on a two-day fund raiser for the Irish Association of Suicideology.

Mayo Wheelers has hosted four Irish Championships this year and ran several other cycling events including stage finishes of the FBD Ras and the M. Donnelly Junior Tour. As the competitive season enters its final weeks the club is engaging in fund raising for a cause that gets no government funding.

A year ago club members got together and decided that they should do more for charity. A number of options were put forward, but club secretary Joe McGuire made a case for IAS and last year they raised over 13,000 euros and club members are intent on beating that figure.

The fundraiser entails a two day cycle to Belfast. On Saturday the riders head to Enniskillen where they will stay overnight and finish off the cycle in Belfast on Sunday.

The benefit of their fund raising will cover the 32 counties. "The amount of suicides in this island of ours is on a par with the number of deaths on our roads," said John Ferguson, a spokesman for the association. "We know full well the amount of publicity that road deaths get and rightly so! For it is chilling, but the problems of suicide which are on par with the victims of road carnage are very rarely recognised," said Ferguson.

Pradera becomes a father

Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears rider Mikel Pradera became a father for the first time over the weekend. His wife Ainara gave birth on Saturday, September 2, at 6:45 PM to Haritz (3,045 kg - 50 cm).

In a team statement, Pradera said he was "Immensely happy! I feel very proud and at the same time it is a great responsibility! To have a child illuminates your life!"

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