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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for September 11, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Vuelta stage 15 wrap-up

Surprise win for Förster

Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Team Gerolsteiner had something to cheer about on Sunday afternoon: just as his teammate Stefan Schumacher was battling it out for the overall victory in Poland, Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner) sailed to a surprise victory in the bunch sprint in Almussafes at the Vuelta in Spain. The German, who is regularly amongst the top ten in bunch finishes, outsprinted Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC) and Danilo Napolitano (Lampre-Fondital) in that order, taking advantage of a light left hand side turn just before the finish line, which he took on the outside. Milram's Alessandro Petacchi was one of the riders who got blocked in that final curve.

"It was so close, but when Robert has a good day it's extremely hard to keep up," Team CSC's directeur sportif Kim Andersen said after the stage. "But even though Förster's victory was very convincing, Stuart's second place was equally so and he has every reason to be satisfied with his effort."

No changes occurred on the top end of the general classification.

In the 182km-long stage taking the peloton from Motilla del Palancar down to the South-East Valencian coast, a breakaway of two challenged the bunch in vain. Escaped since km 7, Jorge García (Relax-Gam) and Kjell Carlström (Liquigas) tried to keep off the bunch on this all-downhill stretch of the race, but hard a very hard time to do so. After the duo saw its maximum lead of 6.30 melt away again, the man from Finland lost contact to his companion with 90 kilometres to go, and decided to sit up. The Spaniard then continued on his own, but was eventually caught with 15 kilometres to go.

Click here for the Full results, report & photos and live report.

An interview with Francisco Ventoso

Beating the best

At the finish of Stage 3, the big names were in Almendralejo - Erik Zabel, Robbie McEwen, Alessandro Petacchi and Thor Hushovd. The bunch sprint came but none of them prevailed. On that day, it was Francisco Ventoso who had his moment of glory. Hernan Alvarez Macias found out what it's like to beat the best.

Francisco Ventoso (Saunier Duval)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

From that moment on, his name didn't sound strange to many cycling fans. He is another rider who comes from the interminable youth categories of Spanish cycling, and in the future, Francisco Ventoso may be another great sprinter like Oscar Freire.

When Cyclingnews caught up with him after Stage 11 in Burgos, he said of day: "Today [September 6] it was what we call a transition stage," said Ventoso "but with the climbs at the beginning and the tension in the peloton, together with the wind, the stage wasn't very comfortable in the end."

He was also among the riders who made the right breakaway in Stage 10. "We arrived in Cantabria, which is my home town, and I really wanted to get in the right breakaway. I was lucky to get in it but I couldn't finish off the job in the finale," stated Ventoso. The Spanish rider finished fifth that day, 7 seconds behind the winner Sergio Paulinho of Astana.

Francisco Ventoso is having a good season; before his win in Stage 3, he had already been doing well. "I had good results during the whole season," he said. "In the Vuelta a Valencia, Paris-Nice... in the classics in Belgium, I did pretty well too. In the Tour [de France], I never went better than seventh place, but here in the Vuelta a Espańa, I was rewarded and I was able to win, beating all the big guns."

Click here to read the full interview.

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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Vinokourov and Kashechkin miss doping control

The two leaders of the Astana team, Alexandre Vinokourov and Andrej Kashechkin, missed the doping controls carried out by the UCI in the morning of stage 15 on Sunday. When the inspectors arrived at the team's hotel, the two Kazakhstanis had already left in the team bus to go to the start of the stage in Motilla del Palancar, some 80 kilometres away.

The inspectors asked for the bus to turn around and come back, but the team personnel refused. "The inspectors arrived too late for the two riders," team spokesman Jacinto Vidarte told Reuters. "The hotel was a long way from the start town, and the stage started at 10am in the morning. Everybody was due to ride in the team cars, but the two Kazakhs had breakfasted early and decided to go in the bus because it would be more comfortable."

It is not yet known whether this will have any consequences for the two riders, who are both within the Top 5 of the overall classification at the Tour of Spain. Their teammates, which still were at the hotel, as well as the riders of French team AG2R were all tested and declared fit to start.

Petacchi fractures hand

Milram's Alessandro Petacchi will quit the second Grand Tour this year because of a broken bone. The sprinter, who had just recovered from a knee fracture he suffered at the start of the Giro d'Italia - ruining his racing program from May to August - broke his hand after stage 15 on Sunday.

After the finish in Almussafes, Petacchi slammed his right fist into the team bus of Danilo Napolitano's Lampre squad, out of anger and frustration because he felt that Napolitano had obstructed him in the sprint earlier on. After unsuccessfully appealing to the race jury, Petacchi went to the Lampre bus to complain to Napolitano, and broke a finger of his hand when he burst out.

"I was very angry," explained Petacchi. "After being injured so many months, I had the concrete possibility to finally return to success. I wanted to give my season a sense at all cost, after I had to abandon the Giro d'Italia early because of my accident.

"In any case, I admit it was a stupid gesture. I'm sorry and I ask my teammates and the team management to forgive me. But the anger was so intense that I couldn't control myself. I condemn my gesture very severely, but I am just a man, not a machine, and sometimes men make mistakes. Today I made a mistake, no doubt."

Indurain: "Valverde very concentrated"

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Five times Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain visited the Vuelta in Cuenca yesterday - a perfect opportunity to ask the Spanish champion who was his favourite rider for the overall victory in Madrid. Indurain didn't have any doubts when he responded, "Valverde seems to be very concentrated on the Vuelta. He has demonstrated that he's very strong. Only Vinokourov could be able to beat him, but, after what we have seen today, Vinokourov has a lot of hard work ahead of him. Furthermore, we have to take into account that Valverde is on home turf."

Miguel Indurain warned that, "the last week of competition will be decisive for the overall classification." Indeed, the third week of racing one has as main difficulties two mountain stages finishing on the summits of Calar Alto and La Pandera respectively. In Indurain’s opinion, "both of them are very important for the GC."

But what did the Grand Tour specialist think about the time trial in Vaciamadrid? "It's not different to what happened before," he responded. Contrary to many people, Indurain think that there are "enough time trial kilometres" in the race, totalling more than 60 kilometres.

In addition to praising Valverde and Vinokourov, Indurain also had a word for Carlos Sastre (CSC): "He was able to finish both Giro and Tour, so now, in the Vuelta, it's normal that his performances will weaken during the third week of competition at the Vuelta," he added.

One more for Astana

Maxim Iglinskiy has signed a new contract for next year, binding him to the Astana team. The 25 year-old Kazakhstani was reportedly not offered an extension of contract by his current team Milram, but will be happy to join his fellow countrymen around Alexandre Vinokourov and Andrej Kashechkin next year.

Iglinskiy, a pro since 2004, won a stage in the Deutschland Tour last year as well as the GP Cittŕ' di Camaiore. This season, he became national time trial champion.

Melchers injured

Mirjam Melchers van Poppel (Buitenpoort-Flexpoint), who made her return to racing last week at the Euregio Ladies Tour, was injured in a crash on Thursday's stage three, which affected several riders. The crash in the closing kilometre to the finish in Aachen, Germany, occurred in rainy conditions.

According to an early statement by the Buitenpoort-Flexpoint team, Melchers van Poppel has been taken to hospital with a suspected broken hip, pelvis and jaw. Surgeons intended to operate as early as possible on her hip.

Twin Lights Ride on September 30

Nearly 1,500 cyclists are expected in New Jersey for Monmouth County's Twin Lights Ride on September 30. Taking place on a Saturday for the first time in its five-year history, the event offers cyclists of all ages and experience levels a choice of five routes: a guided 15-mile loop through Sandy Hook, a strenuous 100-mile "Monmouth Challenge", and middle-distance rides of 30, 50, and 75 miles. All rides will go off from Huddy Park, beneath the famed Twin Lights lighthouse, in Highlands, New Jersey, starting between 7:30 and 10:30 a.m. depending on distance.

All riders will receive meticulous directions, and routes will be clearly marked with signage and arrows painted along the side of roads. Support services such as bike repair, medical assistance, and strategically positioned rest areas stocked with snacks and beverages will be available along each route. The free post-ride festival, open to the public, will feature live entertainment, food, and massage at Huddy Park on Waterwitch Avenue between Bay Avenue and Shore Drive in Highlands.

Cycling enthusiasts are encouraged to sign up early, to ensure that they receive a free t-shirt by being one of the first 1,000 registrants. The cost is $40 for adults ($25 for children), with a $5 increase for people registering at the event. Registration and ride details are at

Cyclingnews online editing positions - applications have closed

Following on from the brief announcement in the News last week about openings for online production editors, Cyclingnews would like to thank everyone who applied for these positions.

The response has been overwhelming and we will attempt to contact all applicants this week. The standard has been very high and it's going to be a very challenging process to sort through the applications.

Please be patient as we attend to this over the next week, and thanks again to all who applied and expressed their desire to work for Cyclingnews.

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