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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for September 13, 2006

Edited by Anthony Tan

Brown a worthwhile investment?

By Anthony Tan

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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Graeme Brown triumphs in the fourth stage of the Tour of Germany on August 5
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

"They said: 'We're not re-signing you because we don't believe you can win ProTour races within the next two years, and therefore wouldn't be a worthwhile investment.'"

More or less, these were the words from Rabobank team management to their Australian sprinter Graeme Brown before the start of the Deutschland Tour (Tour of Germany) on August 1 this year.

"They basically didn't think I was good enough, so they didn't give me any [races] to ride," said Brown in a recent telephone interview with Cyclingnews - a few weeks after he won two stages of the aforementioned race, beating riders by the likes of Erik Zabel, Danilo Napolitano and young German sprint sensation Gerald Ciolek.

"I wasn't even going to Germany to race," Brown said, "but to my luck, one of the team got sick and they pulled me in at the last minute. So I guess that's why I'm not doing the ProTour races like these ones [referring to the ENECO Tour and Vuelta a España]... or the Tour of Poland, either."

To be fair to Rabobank, up until the Deutschland Tour, the 27 year-old New South Welshman had not notched a win for the team all year. In fact, despite turning professional for Ceramiche Panaria - Fiordo in 2002, Brown hadn't notched a win in Europe.

Brown admits the harsh words were fair words: "It's not so nice, but I have to respect the fact that they did say to me in July - which is plenty of time to get a new contract - we don't think you're up to our standards.

"So it sounds harsh, but it was good on the other hand, I've stepped up another level with a little bit of extra pressure... I had plenty of time, I've come out and just proven everybody wrong and they're reconsidering their situation," he said.

In his first stage win at the Tour of Germany, Brown told the team he'd prefer to do it by himself. However, by the final stage, the team had confidence in him, and team manager at the race, Adri Van Houwelingen, put everything on the line for Brown to win - which he did.

"Basically, at the end of the day, they need results as well, and it's a good reflection on him [Van Houwelingen] to get a result for the team," said Brown.

So why stop a sprinter on a roll by leaving him off every ProTour race roster since then, regardless of whether he was been signed next season or not?

When contacted on August 30, Brown said he hadn't raced at all since August 9 - the final day of the Deutschland Tour. "I've watched on TV eight sprint stages," he said.

A last-minute call-up to the Vuelta was on the cards when Oscar Freire relinquished his spot due to injury. But Rabobank threw in another Australian instead, neo-pro William Walker, a somewhat unusual choice for a rider who only went professional a few months prior, midway through the season.

Said Brown: "I was a bit disappointed, but they thought the start of the Vuelta was too hard. And as it turned out, there was three sprint stages [in the opening week], so... "

Proving his wins in Germany were no fluke, Brown also won the Tour de Rijke a fortnight ago. Form or fitness isn't the problem, though. The problem is he can't race.

Look out for the complete story soon on Cyclingnews.

Janez Brajkovic: Man for the future

With the Vuelta currently in the mountains for three tough days of high-altitude racing, many eyes will be focussed on the battle for the maillot oro. However those with an interest in the future of the sport will also be keeping tabs on the progress of the highly promising Slovenian rider Janez Brajkovic, who showed promising form earlier in the race. Shane Stokes caught up with the Discovery rookie.

Brajkovic smiles in the gold jersey
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

Janez Brajkovic has been the relevation of the Vuelta, finishing second to Danilo di Luca on the first mountain stage to the Estacion de Esqui La Covatilla on day five and then later leading the Vuelta. At the time of his ride to La Covatilla he told Cyclingnews that the performance was an unexpected one. "I was actually very surprised, as for the first couple of days I didn't feel good," he said. "But yesterday my legs were starting to come around. In the first few climbs today I didn't want to push too much, but rather save as much energy as possible. The plan was to help Tom [Danielson] on the final climb. When Di Luca attacked I tried to follow…in the beginning there was a little gap which I managed to close, and then I just followed the wheel.

"Obviously Tom is our leader here," the 2004 under-23 world time trial champion continued. "That is my first priority - I don't think I am going to be capable of maintaining this kind of shape for the whole race."

Brajkovic didn't take long to make another big impression. Two days after the La Covatilla stage he went on the attack with Alexandre Vinokourov on the final ascent to the stage 7 finish of Alto de El Morredero. He ultimately finished fourth on the stage, seven seconds behind Alejandro Valverde, but crucially took over the race leadership from Di Luca.

Click here to read the rest of the feature.

Sinkewitz leads T-Mobile in 3-Länder-Tour

Patrik Sinkewitz will be leading the T-Mobile Team at the 3-Länder-Tour, starting today (Wednesday) in Efurt, Germany. Formerly known as the Hessen-Rundfahrt, the race has expanded its territory to also take in the states of Thüringen and Baden-Württemburg on its 695 kilometre spin over rolling terrain in central Germany.

Joining 25-year-old Sinkewitz in his home region are two of T-Mobile's Tour riders, Andreas Klöden and Matthias Kessler. After a prolonged break through illness, Bram Schmitz starts his first stage race since returning to fitness. The lanky Dutchman already made his race comeback on Sunday at the Nuremberg classic.

For bunch finishes, sporting director Mario Kummer has André Greipel and new British signing Mark Cavendish. At the Tour of Britain, 21 year-old Isle of Man rider was in great form, sprinting to three podium finishes and securing the points jersey against a strong field.

The race opens with its longest stage today of 190 kilometres through the Thüringer Wald hills. However, with the final 50 kilometres raced over flat roads, a bunch sprint is expected in Kassel. A day later, the peloton tackle the race's queen stage, which takes riders over five categorised climbs from Kassel to Battenberg/Allendorf.

However, the general classification is likely to be resolved after Friday's 25 km time trial in and around Griesheim, before the riders tackle the final two relatively flat stages into Wiesbaden and Frankfurt over the weekend.

18 teams in total will be in action at the five-day tour, including the T-Mobile Team, Gerolsteiner, Milram and CSC outfit.

T-Mobile roster: Patrik Sinkewitz, Matthias Kessler, Andreas Klöden, André Greipel, Mark Cavendish, Bram Schmitz. Sporting director: Mario Kummer (44)

The Stages

September 13 - Stage 1: Erfurt - Kassel, 190 km
September 14 - Stage 2: Kassel - Battenberg/Allendorf, 170 km
September 15 - Stage 3: ITT in Griesheim, 25 km
September 16 - Stage 4: Griesheim - Wiesbaden, 160 km
September 17 - Stage 5: Mannheim - Frankfurt, 150 km

Total: 695 km

Rebellin for Italy - at last

After a number of years trying without success, and going as far as to change his citizenship in 2004 before relinquishing it, it appears Davide Rebellin will be part of Italy's 'Squadra Azzurra' in Salzburg.

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the 35 year-old Gerolsteiner rider is one of eight men who will line up for the world championship elite men's road race on September 24 wearing the famous azure jersey. The other seven is said to be: Paolo Bettini, Filippo Pozzato, Matteo Tosatto (all Quick.Step-Innergetic), Danilo Di Luca, Luca Paolini (both Liquigas), Marzio Bruseghin, Alessandro Ballan (both Lampre-Fondital).

Kessler forgoes world's appearance

Decision to change teams not difficult

After Gerolsteiner's David Kopp broke his arm in a training crash and abdicated his world championship spot as a consequence, another German, Matthias Kessler, has also decided to sit out this year's world's.

"I have ridden so many races this year," said the 27 year-old T-Mobile rider, who leaves for the Astana team next season. "My condition is simply no longer good enough that I would be able to be in at the finish of a 265 kilometre course. And that is what I would expect of myself, if I would start in a world championship [road] race."

About his decision to change teams in 2007, Kessler simply says it was time for something new, having started his professional career with Team Deutsche Telekom seven years ago.

"After eight years with Telekom/T-Mobile, it was simply time for me to try something new," is how Matthias Kessler described his decision to change teams.

"My decision to go to Astana was based on a lot of factors, and not just on the money, as has been said so often. I have been friends with Vino since his days at T-Mobile and naturally was pleased that he personally got in touch with me. And the whole team - which has nothing more to do with the old Liberty Seguros team - made a very good impression on me, so that it wasn't difficult to decide."

The Bund Deutscher Radfahrer (German cycling federation) has not yet announced which reserve riders will take the place of Kopp or Kessler.

Reinerink and Weissinger leave Skil-Shimano

Rik Reinerink and René Weissinger will be leaving Pro Continental team Skil-Shimano at the end of the season. The team did not offer 33 year-old Reinerink a new contract, and his position will be made available to a younger rider in 2007.

After one year Skil-Shimano, 27 year-old German René Weissinger declared that he wants to ride for a German or an Austrian team next season. The team is currently searching for a replacement.

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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