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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for September 13, 2006

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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Edited by John Stevenson, John Kenny & David Collins

Vuelta stage 16 wrap-up

Enterprising victory for Anton; Valverde still in the driver's seat

Igor Anton (Euskaltel)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Eusktaltel's Igor Anton capitalised on the poker game between favourites Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) to win the tough 16th stage to the top of the Alto de Calar Alto. Anton started attacking with 6 km to go, and despite being brought back and even dropped a few times by Vino and Valverde, he was able to put in the winning move with 3.5 km to go. Valverde easily won the sprint for second ahead of Vinokourov and Anton's teammate Samuel Sanchez, which meant that the GC leader increased his lead to 1'42 over the now second overall Vino.

The stage saw an early break get together on the Alto de Velefique, containing Egoi Martinez (Discovery Channel - best placed on GC at 9'30), Mauricio Ardila (Rabobank), Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Team CSC), Iñigo Chaurreau (AG2R Prevoyance), Pietro Caucchioli and Dmitriy Fofonov (Credit Agricole), Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), Sébastien Minard (Cofidis), Iñigo Landaluze (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Sébastien Joly (Française des Jeux), Alessandro Spezialetti (Liquigas), Daniel Becke (Team Milram), José Antonio Redondo (Astana Team). They were able to gain 6'00 lead before Caisse d'Epargne chased and reduced it in the lead up to the final climb.

Redondo was the strongest of the break, and lasted until 4.5 km to go when Anton and Landaluze caught him. Vinokourov placed several strong attacks, but couldn't shake Valverde, and was content to see Anton win the stage and take more bonus seconds.

Click here for the Full results, report & photos and live report from stage 16

Vino refuses to give up

Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Alexandre Vinokourov has refused to concede defeat to Alejandro Valverde in the Vuelta despite failing to drop the Spaniard on the steep slopes of Alto Calar.

"Today I had good legs and I have attacked, but Valverde also was very strong and it has been impossible to leave him," said Vinokourov. "The Vuelta is not finished, there are still two mountain stages and we will see what happens tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. There is terrain to attack and gain time."

Vinokourov refused to contribute to the pace-making when asked by Valverde on the final climb. "Valverde asked me to mark the pace, but I said to him that I would not and that I was only interested in attacking him."

Meanwhile, Andrey Kashechkin fared worse than his Astana team-mate Vinokourov and lost over a minute to the leaders and his second place overall. Astana directeur sportif Herminio Díaz Zabala explained that Kashechkin, now fourth overall, suffered a small hunger flat, but he recovered after a bad spell.

Valverde lands psychological blow

Alejandro Valverde is confident that he will now win the Vuelta after successfully marking the attacks of Alexandre Vinokourov and Carlos Sastre and putting time into his other rivals on stage 16.

"My performance today is a very important step ahead, especially from a psychological point of view because, of the three stages of mountain which remained before today, this was the one I considered the hardest and the one that I feared the most, more than the Pandera stage," said Valverde.

Valverde's Caisse d'Epargne's team-mates controlled the race early on and Oscar Pereiro placed himself in the main break of the day, which put pressure on the other teams to chase. On the second ascent of Calar Alto, Alejandro Valverde took advantage of the groundwork laid by his team-mates and easily matched the attacks of Carlos Sastre and Vinokourov.

"Vinokourov did what he had promised by attacking me, and he did it more than once, but I felt very good, which enabled me to answer the attacks of the Kazakh rider without difficulty ," said Valverde.

"Today like each day, I had the chance to rely on the phenomenal work carried out by my team-mates and I wish to take the opportunity to congratulate them once more. I did not suffer at all from the fall in temperature nor from the rain.

"Taking into account how I felt on today's stage, it goes without saying that I will approach the following ones with still a little more confidence. As for my rivals, a little less time in front of them to try to outdistance me, but I do not doubt that they will continue to attack."

Sastre aiming to hold place on podium

Carlos Sastre (CSC)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Team CSC's Carlos Sastre's fifth place on stage 16 has helped him to stay within striking distance of the lead, despite being dropped on the final climb ascent to Calar Alto.

Sastre initially split the group containing the Vuelta favourites, which resulted in Andrey Kashechkin (Astana) being dropped and thereby losing his overall second place, but the other main contenders, Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) and Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) managed to drop Sastre in turn.

Sastre almost bridged the gap during the final kilometres towards Calar Alto but is now 1.42 behind Valverde. "It was a fantastic stage. Unfortunately Carlos lacked the last bit of strength," said directeur sportif Kim Andersen after the stage. "But having said that, he deserves all the credit in the world for his courage.

"Bottom line is, we had a good result today and we're closer to the overall second place. Now the final stages will decide the podium. The team did a tremendous job for Carlos today, everybody showed great team spirit."

Armstrong reacts angrily to Andreu confession

Lance Armstrong has hit out at the New York Times over its story yesterday documenting former US Postal rider Frankie Andreu's confession that he has used EPO.

"I think it's a pretty nasty attempt by the New York Times to link me to doping through somebody else's admission. You have to read way down in the article until Frankie says, 'I never saw Lance do anything', Armstrong told the Associated Press.

"To me, this is a story about Frankie Andreu," Armstrong said. "The fact he took drugs has nothing to do with me."

Armstrong took the opportunity to once again stress that he has never taken drugs, saying that any suggestion he had doped was "ludicrous."

"I can't prove a negative. All I can say is what I said a million times: I was tested at races, in my house, in hotel rooms, airports -- you name it. I had a lot of pressure on me," he said. "My performances never did anything but get better and stronger amid all the pressure and the improved testing."

Late Tuesday evening Armstrong issued a statement refuting the implication that he had known about or requested drug use by Andreu and the anonymous US Postal rider mentioned in the NYT story.

"Today’s article in the New York Times was a blatant attempt to associate me and implicate me with a former teammate’s admission that he took banned substances during his career," said Armstrong in the statement. "The recycled suggestion that former teammates took EPO with my knowledge or at my request is categorically false and distorted sensationalism. My cycling victories are untainted; I didn’t take performance enhancing drugs, I didn’t ask anyone else to take them and I didn’t condone or encourage anyone else to take them. I won clean."

Click here for the full statement.

No operation for Petacchi

Alessandro Petacchi has avoided hand surgery after being checked over by Professor Mario Spinelli at the Livorno hospital in Italy. Petacchi fractured his hand in an incident at the end of the stage 15 of the Vuelta a Espana.

"Professor Spinelli told me that the fracture is okay and that I have to rest for a week. I will make another check next Monday and, perhaps I'll be okay to return to training," said Petacchi.

Tour of Puerto Rico cancelled

By Sean Weide

The second Tour of Puerto Rico (UCI 2.2) was cancelled Tuesday, less than 48 hours before it was scheduled to start after race organizers said sponsorship money could not be secured to hold the event.

Unfortunately, some of the more than 100 riders and 17 teams who were scheduled to start the four-day, five-stage event on Thursday learned of the development after they arrived.

Team Kaos of Nebraska, which competed in the inaugural edition of the race in April of 2005, found out the bad news as it was gathering its bags off the carousel at the airport.

Alexis Cruz, president of the Puerto Rican cycling federation, said race organizers failed to gather about $30,000 needed to cover expenses and prizes.

"The Tour cannot occur," Cruz said. "It's a financial responsibility that the federation cannot assume."

In its inaugural edition in April of 2005, the Tour of Puerto Rico was saddled by logistical problems - including last-minute course changes, inadequate housing for the racers after the longest (104 miles) stage and an opening time trial that drew the ire of San Juan's mayor for causing bringing the morning rush hour to a halt.

Mirjam Melchers begins long recovery

Mirjam Melchers (Buitenpoort-Flexpoint) has begun rehabilitation after her serious crash of the Euregio Tour and will undergo an operation today to insert a plate in her pelvis. Melchers sustained a broken pelvis, hip, jaw and thigh on a descent on stage 3.

"Hopefully she will heal quickly after this major operation," said Melchers' team manager and husband Jean Paul Van Poppel. "She must spend a considerable amount of time lying flat to recover and that will be difficult for an enthusiastic and driven sportswoman like Mirjam."

Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel suffers miscarriage

Olympic champion Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel has suffered a pregnancy miscarriage after three months.

The loss is an enormous setback for Zijlaard-Van Moorsel (36) and her husband Michael Zijlaard. The couple had been trying for two years for a pregnancy. Van Moorsel had passed up an opportunity in August to compete in the TV show Dancing on Ice due to fear of falling and harming her unborn child.

Australian world's team announced

Cycling Australia has confirmed the Australian team to contest the 2006 UCI road cycling world championships being staged in Salzburg, Austria from September 19 to 24. The team has been selected in accordance with the Cycling Australia road world championships selection policy.

The elite men's road race team will consist of Cadel Evans, Nick Gates, Simon Gerrans, Mathew Hayman, Robbie McEwen, Bradley McGee, Stuart O'Grady, Michael Rogers and Matthew White. Contesting the elite men's time trial will be Ben Day, Bradley McGee and Michael Rogers.

Representing the elite women's team, in the road race, are Katherine Bates, Natalie Bates, Olivia Gollan, Helen Kelly, Emma Rickards and Oenone Wood, with Kathryn Watt and Oenone Wood riding in the women's time trial event.

The U/23 men's team has also been announced. The road team will consist of Jonathon Clarke Simon Clarke, Matthew Goss, Shaun Higgerson, and James Meadley, with the time trial to be ridden by Mark Jamieson and Shaun Higgerson.

Barloworld signs young South African

Team Barloworld has penned a contract with the promising young South African rider, John-Lee Augustyn.

The 20-year old, who will join Team Barloworld in 2007, has had an impressive 2006 season after winning the under-23 South African road race title, the Tour de Lesotho title, and taking the award for the best climber in the Tour of Japan.

"I'm very excited to join Team Barloworld and this is one of my dreams coming true. They are a strong team and I look forward to riding with the experienced riders like Degano and Cox, from whom I can learn a lot," said Augustyn.

Augustyn, currently with team Konica Minolta, has also been selected for the South African under-23 men's team who will compete in the World Road Race Championships in Salzburg, next week.

Team Barloworld's 2006 stalwarts Enrico Degano, Ryan Cox, Alex Efimkin and Hugo Sabido have also signed their contracts with the team for the 2007 season.

Southland stager returns for last hurrah

By Alan Messenger

Among the most remarkable achievements in sport are those rare spells when on athlete dominates an event year after year. Lance Armstrong's seven-year reign over the Tour de France is probably the most famous, and then there's Sean Kelly's seven consecutive Paris-Nice victories. In New Zealand, Brian Fowler enjoys the status of 'local legend' for his eight wins in the Tour of Southland between 1985 and 1992.

Age hasn't wearied the Canterbury veteran. He's ridden the Tour 22 times and he'll be back this year for what will probably be his last, the 50th running of the race.

Fowler also won the national road championship twice and at Commonwealth Games he won a gold medal, four silvers and a bronze. He won the Wellington to Auckland Tour and has won or recorded fastest time in every classic in the South Island.

Fowler remembers well his first win in the Tour of Southland. "It was very cold but I think I won nine of the eleven stages," he said. He regards Southland as definitely his favourite tour. " It had everything that I liked. Short but hard stages and it was the only tour back then that had really good prize money as well. Even in the North Island Tour you were basically riding for pots and pans as prizes. As well the people down there and the crowds were really good."

Fowler is regarded or accused, depending on who you talk to as having introduced team riding into the Southland tour but he says that isn't so.

"There were always teams, even before I went there. There used to be Cox, Jack Swart, Stockwell and Cuff. They used to ride together all of the time and it was pretty hard for any of the young guys to break through," he said.

He describes how his own level of team riding evolved. " When I came along a lot of them were getting near the end of their careers. We learned a little bit from them and fine tuned what they were doing and it just worked out over the years."

Fowler acknowledged that he always had a good team around him and he regarded his friend Landry Burt as always having played a big part in his wins. Burt was rewarded with the tour win for himself in 1993.

How does Fowler rate the tour now with those of a few years ago? He has ridden the last two years so he is well qualified to comment. "The tour is actually easier now in a lot of ways. The average bike rider is better now so the bunches don't split up like they used to. Also when we used to ride in October it was a lot colder. Now you have to make up your time on the Bluff Hill, the individual time trial and the stage that finishes on the Crown Range," he said.

Brian Fowler doesn't expect to win a ninth Tour this year but he can look back with a lot of pride. After all there will have been fifty Southland Tours after this years race and he will have ridden close to half of them and with eight wins under his belt he's certainly written his name into the race's record book.

Research indicates drivers pass closer to helmet-wearers

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

An article by the Associated Press reports that a new study has found that drivers pass more closely when they overtake cyclists who wear helmets than those who don't.

Psychologist Dr. Ian Walker of the University of Bath performed a study using a bicycle with ultrasonic distance sensors and a video camera to measure and verify distances. The study collected data from around 2,500 vehicles in Salisbury and Bristol in the U.K. The results are being published in the Journal of Accident Analysis & Prevention.

The data reported that drivers will drive an average of 8cm farther away from cyclists without helmets because they are seen as less experienced. "This was something I had suspected, as many cyclists had told me of similar experiences," Dr. Walker told the Associated Press. "The perception is that those wearing helmets are experienced and more predictable. Drivers think, 'He knows what he's doing, he won't do anything surprising'. But that's really quite a dangerous thought, particularly as so many cycling novices are told to wear helmets."

Buses and trucks passes closer than cars, which on average gave cyclists 1.33m of room. Trucks passes 19cm closer and the average bus 23cm closer.

Dr. Walker also took a further step of wearing a wig to establish differences between male and female cyclists, finding that he was given more room by an average of 14 centimeters. Dr. Walker was also hit twice during the course of the experiment.

"I hope drivers will realise that they are making these assumptions about cyclists based on their appearance," he said. "If as a result of this study there were less injuries on the roads, then that would be a wonderful thing."

Dr. Walker, whose research is to be published in the Journal of Accident Analysis & Prevention, was struck twice during the course of the experiment. A brief of the research can be found at [].

Fancy Austria? See the 'worlds' competition launched

Win this great travel package from Salzburg Tourism!

This year the UCI Road World Championships take place in Salzburg, Austria, the home of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and some of the most idyllic cycling in all of Europe.   Cyclingnews - in conjunction with the Salzburger SeenLand Tourismus office -are delighted to offer a special accommodation package, plus guided cycling tour, in this picturesque and cycling-friendly part of Europe.  

And yes, did we mention the World's are on? Well, you will also receive VIP passes to see all the action as the world's bests cyclists compete for the rights to wear the rainbow jerseys for 2007. Click here to enter. Hurry - entries close September 16.

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