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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for September 30, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner and Jeff Jones, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Two world champions in Züri-Metzgete

By Jeff Jones

2005 winner Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

Sunday's 93rd Züri-Metzgete (Championship of Zurich) will feature both of the recently crowned men's world champions at the start: Paolo Bettini (road) and Fabian Cancellara (TT). The pair head a high quality field that also includes Vuelta a España winner Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana), a rider suited to the tough climb of the Pfannenstiel that is usually the key point of the race.

Bettini won the race last year in imposing style, riding away from the field in wet conditions on the last 42 km lap, putting 2'57 into second and third place getters Fränk Schleck (CSC) and Lorenzo Bernucci (Fassa Bortolo). Whether he can repeat that performance this year remains to be seen, but without a doubt, he will be one of the top favourites after his win in the World's last week. He hasn't been off the podium in Zurich for the last five years.

Fabian Cancellara heads a very strong CSC line-up, that includes 2005 runner-up Schleck as well as Stuart O'Grady (fifth at the World's) and Karsten Kroon. The Danish team seems to have plenty of options, and maybe can go one better than last year.

Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) is more of an unknown. After his Vuelta triumph, he won a bronze medal in the World's time trial and was certainly a factor in the finale of the road race, but did not manage to get clear in the end. He has Andrey Kashechkin as a co-leader in Astana.

Gerolsteiner has a past winner of this race in Davide Rebellin, and the Italian was a key man at the finish of the world's last week. His late attacks put pressure on the rest of the peloton, and gave the Azzurri a few more options at the end. His teammate Fabian Wegmann is also in excellent form: he was the only rider to go with both of Paolo Bettini's attacks on the last two laps in Salzburg, and would have finished with a better result had someone not destroyed his wheel on the final lap.

Live coverage

Cyclingnews will be covering the Championship of Zurich live, with coverage starting at 15:00 CEST (Europe)/9:00 EDT (USA East)/6:00 PDT (USA West)/23:00 AEST (Australia East).

Click here for the full preview, map, past winners, and start list.

Gerolsteiner, Saunier Duval, Liquigas for Zürich

Davide Rebellin hopes to repeat his 1997 victory in the Championship of Zürich this coming Sunday. "That's why Davide is our captain. He knows how you win in Zürich," said Gerolsteiner directeur sportif Christian Wegmann. But the team has another option, and that is his brother: "With Fabian, we have an ace in our sleeve, who can also be captain."

Gerolsteiner is sending an experienced team to Switzerland, with Wegmann and Torsten Hiekmann, both 26, being the youngest. Beat Zberg, Georg Totschnig and Rebellin are the other end of the scale, all of them being 35 years old - and all three of them rode in the World Championships.

The race also sees the end of an era at Gerolsteiner. It is Sven Montgomery's last race. He is retiring after nine years as a pro rider, and will work in the future as the coordinator of the Swiss women's team, Bigla Cycling-Team.

Gerolsteiner for the Championship of Zürich: Torsten Hiekmann, Andrea Moletta, Sven Montgomery, Davide Rebellin, Georg Totschnig, Fabian Wegmann, Peter Wrolich and Beat Zberg.

Saunier Duval has also announced its rider roster for the Züri-Metzgete. David Millar, who rode an excellent finale at the World Championships road race last Sunday, will be captain of the team further including Oliver Zaugg, Riccardo Riccò, Guido Trentin, Juan Jose Cobo, Alberto Fernández, Javier Mejías and Manuele Mori. Pietro Algeri will act as sports director at the classic in Switzerland.

Italian team Liquigas heads to Zürich with four riders who have taken part in the World Championships in Salzburg. Three of them have worn the Italian jersey: Danilo Di Luca, Luca Paolini and (in the time trial) Vincenzo Nibali. The fourth athlete will ride at home: he is Swiss Michael Albasini.

The squad is completed by: Franco Pellizotti, Dario Cioni, Andrea Noè and Alessandro Spezialetti. In the team car will be team manager Dario Mariuzzo.

Wegmann brothers look to win "their" race

Directeur sportif Christian Wegmann will be looking for his Gerolsteiner captain (and brother) Fabian Wegmann to take the first ever Münsterland Giro Tuesday in Münster, Germany. Why? "Fabian's form is great and he knows the area." The Wegmann brothers grew up in Münster, and Christian still lives there.

Even though F. Wegmann "knows the course like the back of his hand", the team isn't counting solely on him. "The race has the character of an Belgian spring classic. Sometimes it goes up and down, it has some narrow streets, there are even some cobbles... So there are others wearing the Gerolsteiner jersey who could - and want to - do well. We don't need to concentrate on one rider, which just shows the strength of our team," said C.Wegmann.

Gerolsteiner for the Münsterland Giro: Thomas Fothen, Johannes Fröhlinger (stagiaire), Nico Keinath (stagiaire). Sven Krauss, Sebastian Lang, Marcel Strauss and Fabian Wegmann.

Basso optimistic; officials need more time

Ivan Basso heard in Roma
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

It is not yet clear whether Ivan Basso's case - implication in the doping affair around Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes - will be dropped. Even after the second hearing since August 30 in front of the Italian Olympic Committee's anti-doping commission (CONI) on Friday, the currently suspended CSC rider will have to continue to wait for a verdict.

"It's been four months that I've been in this situation. For the time being, nothing has changed," Basso told AP after the closed hearing at Rome's Olympic Stadium. The 2006 Giro d'Italia winner, who was denied participation in the Tour de France this July as the so-called Operación Puerto broke, has requested that the inquiry into his alleged use of banned substances be shelved for lack of evidence. Francesco Cosenza, head of the Italian Olympic Committee's anti-doping commission said it needed more time to evaluate the case, possibly days or weeks.

"I'm awaiting the decision with confidence," said Basso, who continued to train through his suspension, even riding out with the Italian national team last week before the World Championships. "I've always been optimistic, I've answered all the questions."

Ivan Basso with his lawyer, Massimo Martelli,
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

Basso's lawyer, Massimo Martelli, said that the rider was not under investigation in Spain. "We proved that the documents sent by the International Cycling Union represent great discrepancies with reality," Martelli added.

As to whether he will immediately return to racing if he is cleared, Basso told Reuters, "I'm still a CSC rider and my contract lasts for another two years. After the sentence has been announced there will be a meeting between me and team to decide what happens in the future. I've talked to Bjarne Riis in the last few weeks but we haven't talked a lot because there hasn't been any need. There's a lot of confusion and speculation about my relationship with Riis but we've agreed to talk after the sentence."

A representative of Danish team CSC, which suspended Basso, also took part in the hearing, which lasted over an hour.

Photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by AFP Photo

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

Doubts cast on Vinokourov & Kashechkin

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

Astana riders Alexandre Vinokourov and his most valuable domestique Andrei Kashechkin have decided to call it a day for this season after the Züri-Metzgete, the pair announced. Even though the two could not participate in the 2006 Tour de France, they made the Vuelta a España a tough battle for Alejandro Valverde, and managed to turn the race around in the final week, to take home the maillot oro.

It is this achievement that French trainer Frédéric Grappe questions now in Vélo Magazine, saying that the physical progress Vinokourov achieved since the Tour de France last year was practically impossible. "He would have gained, in one year, between 35 and 40 watts on the verge of the anaerobic threshold? That's nearly impossible on that level of training. Even the best training in the world would not lead to this kind of performance increase," Grappe told the French magazine, speaking of those last two mountain stages where the Kazakhstani reversed the overall classification. He did not, however, explain how he estimated these figures.

"This remarkably fast performance imrpovement in the mountains needs to be explained precisely as to the methodology (of training) used. Moreover, this sudden explosion of potential in the mountains comes late - at the age of 33. Something's not right there," he continued.

"We are entering a new dimension to which only a few riders have the 'key'. The 2006 Vuelta leads to an irritating assessment. They're still racing as fast in the mountains; the only change concerns the incapacity of a team as a whole to control and regulate the race from a strong tempo in the first part of the climbs onward. This year, the main leaders fought it out on their own... except maybe at Astana."

Meanwhile, Vinokourov and his backers are assembling the squad for next season, with 27 riders already signed: Igor Abakoumov (Ukr), Assan Bazayev (Kaz), Antonio Colom (Spa), Koen De Kort (Ned), Thomas Frei (Swi), Maxim Gourov (Kaz), Rene Haselbacher (Aut), Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz), Sergey Ivanov (Rus), Benoît Joachim (Lux), Andrej Kashechkin (Kaz), Aaron Kemps (Aus), Matthias Kessler (Ger), Andreas Klöden (Ger), Alexey Kolessov (Kaz), Julien Mazet (Fra), Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita), Gennady Mikhailov (Rus), Steve Morabito (Swi), Dimitry Muravyev (Kaz), Gregory Rast (Swi), Jose Antonio Redondo (Spa), Joaquim Rojas (Spa), Paolo Savoldelli (Ita), Michael Schär (Swi), Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) and Sergey Yakovlev (Kaz).

The roster, featuring a few big stage race names such as Vinokourov himself, but also Former T-Mobile teammate Andreas Klöden or Giro d'Italia winner Paolo Savoldelli, will be directed by Marc Biver as manager and Walter Godefroot as technical director. Three directeurs sportifs will advise the team at races: Alexandre Shefer, Giovanni Fidanza and Adriano Baffi, all retired professionals.

Godefroot, who had retired after managing T-Mobile for many years, is now waiting for the UCI to announce its verdict on the attribution of a ProTour licence for the squad, scheduled for November 23. But Vinokourov himself has said in the past that the team did not depend on this; and that he was sure it would be invited to the Grand Tours and other important races through their powerful roster.

Giro dell'Emilia with Bettini

World Champion Paolo Bettini, as well as azzurri Danilo Di Luca, Davide Rebellin, Marzio Bruseghin, Alessandro Ballan, Raffaele Ferrara, Vincenzo Nibali and Marco Pinotti, are scheduled to participate in the 89th edition of the Giro dell'Emilia on October 7. The race will depart in Cento and finish at the San Luca sanctuary in Bologna.

Michael Boogerd, Michael Rasmussen and Franck Schleck are amongst the non-Italian contenders. 21 teams are expected to take part: Saunier Duval-Prodir, Lampre-Fondital, Team CSC, Quick Step-Innergetic, Liquigas, Team Milram, Gerolsteiner, AG2R Prevoyance, Rabobank, Naturino-Sapore di Mare, Ceramica Panaria-Navigare, Tenax-Salmilano, Ceramica Flaminia, Miche, Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo, Selle Italia-Serramenti Diquigiovanni, 3C Casalinghi Jet-Androni Giocattoli, Team LPR, Barloworld, CB Immobiliare-Universal Caffè and Otc Doors-Lauretana.

Benfica's back

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Road cycling team Benfica will return in 2007. Its directeur sportif, Portuguese ex-pro Orlando Rodrigues, commented in the Portuguese press on the ambitious international calendar that the team is currently planning, mainly including Spanish, French and Belgian races. In Spain, the newly-created squad will be participating in the Challenge de Mallorca, Subida al Naranco, Vuelta a Asturias and Vuelta a Murcia or the Vuelta a Comunidad Valenciana.

The new Portuguese continental professional cycling team will also be represented in Germany in April, at the International Niedersachsen Rundfahrt for example. But it is also hoping for an invitation to the Tour de Romandie (from May 1-6) or go to the 4 Days of Dunkerque instead. These races will not be the only appearances in central Europe, because the 3 Days of De Panne or the Tour of Luxembourg are also included in its current planning. Benfica will of course also race the Portuguese professional calendar, including the Tour of Portugal.

T-Mobile Team and Giant together again for four more years

By Tim Maloney, European editor

After some back and forth negotiations, T-Mobile Team and Taiwan bike colossus Giant announced this week that they are renewing their sponsorship relationship for a four year term, through the 2010 season. Giant's agreement with team sports management company High Road Sports Inc. The renewed accord was lauded by both Bob Stapleton of High Road Sports and Giant president Tony Lo for an agreement that will enable Giant and T-Mobile Team to have a long-term collaboration between Giant's product development staff and T-Mobile Team's world-class athletes to produce bicycle technologies that will eventually trickle-down to the retail showroom floor.

Bob Stapleton of High Road Sports, T-Mobile Teams new manager said, "We demand the best and most innovative bikes for our riders, and Giant's proprietary technologies and manufacturing capabilities have exceeded our expectations the past three years. With our shared commitment to success, it's exciting to embark on the next evolution of product development with Giant."

Tony Lo, Giant CEO, echoed Stapleton's remarks, saying, "Giant's spirit of innovation, technology leadership and passion for cycling lives on with our renewed long-term partnership with T-Mobile. Real world testing by world-class athletes is an important step in Giant's product development process, and our collaboration with the T-Mobile Team give us feedback straight from the peloton to our designers and engineers."

Giant cited its successful development of the new 2007 TCR Advanced Team as prime example of the collaboration and said that 2008 prototype design work for the next generation of Giants for T-Mobile Team has already commenced and team testing will begin in early 2007.

Zabel & Risi team up for Six Days

The tireless Erik Zabel, runner-up at the World Championships last week, will continue to race during the European winter - in Six Days. Starting with the 6th SixDayNight in Kaarst-Büttgen on October 13, Zabel chose to partner up with Bruno Risi in the event, and will race with Risi also in the more famous Munich Six Day later his year. Last track season, the German evergreen paired with former teammate Rolf Aldag, and now hopes to do just as well with the experienced Risi.

There will also be a Women's Cup in Kaarst. More information on www.sixdaynight.de

2007 US Open cycling Championships announced

Red Five Sports Group and NBC Sports today announced the inaugural U.S. Open Cycling Championships, a new event developed in partnership with USA Cycling. The race will run from historic Williamsburg to Richmond, Virginia on Saturday, April 7, 2007, and will be broadcast nationally on NBC Sports from 2.00pm to 4.30pm Eastern Time that day, making it the first national network coverage of an American road cycling event since 1996. There will be both men’s and women’s professional races on the Easter week-end.

Additional details about the U.S. Open Cycling Championships, including the race route, event partners, and the official web site will be announced in the coming weeks.

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