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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for April 2, 2007

Edited by Hedwig Kröner & Sue George

Voigt wins third Critérium International

Jens Voight
Photo ©: Jean-François Quénet
(Click for larger image)

Team CSC's German powerhouse Jens Voigt has claimed his third overall title in the Critérium International this weekend, equalling Sean Kelly's total of three victories in the 2.HC ranked French event. Kelly won the race in 1983, 1984 and 1987.

"This is a big deal for me, because growing up Kelly was a big hero of mine," said Voigt on "Of course winning is always nice, but this particular race is special to me. It's short but still tough, it carries with it a lot of prestige and it never gets boring."

Voigt won the hilly 98.5km stage two on Sunday morning after escaping early on the first climb up Mont Malgré Tout with Gorazd Stangelj (Lampre) and Sébastien Joly (Française des Jeux).

The German ended the stage with a relatively comfortable overall lead of 48 seconds and kept most of it, finishing a solid seventh in the final stage time trial. Swedish rider Thomas Lövkvist (Francaise des Jeux.) Lövkvist won the 8.3-kilometre test ahead of Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne).

"I didn't relax at any point - I gave it everything I had in me, but of course I was more careful in the turns than I would've been if the margin hadn't been that big," said Voigt. "And I have to admit that I was a tiny bit tired after being in a break for such a long time this morning."

Also see:
Stage 3 - Full results, report & photos
Stage 2 - Full results, report & photos

Valverde on track for April races

Alejandro Valverde
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

Alejandro Valverde is satisfied with his current form, just a few weeks ahead of his big objectives in Belgium this April. After finishing third overall at the Criterium International this Sunday, the rider known as 'El Imbatido' (the unbeatable) was happy with the result even though he had been rated as a favourite for the victory.

In the second, hilly stage of the race on Sunday morning, it was CSC's Jens Voigt who took control, putting an incredible 48 seconds between himself and the other contenders just before the short, sharp time trial in the afternoon. Caisse d'Epargne spent many kilometres trying to bridge the gap to the German rider but Voigt's effort was simply too impressive and he was not to be caught.

"I want to thank my teammates because they did a great job to try to catch Voigt," said Valverde after the stage. "The Astana riders helped us in the finale but it was already too late against a rider like Voigt who is so strong and so skilled. He really deserved his win. Personally I am satisfied with my condition considering the fact that the Walloon classics are getting closer. They are my great objective in April."

In the final stage time trial, Valverde showed that he has greatly improved his skills against the clock, finishing second behind an astonishing Thomas Lövkvist (Française des Jeux), who was three seconds faster. "I am satisfied with my time," Valverde noted. "It confirms that I have improved a lot in this discipline and to be faster than some specialists like Julich, Klöden and Voigt is very good for the future. I have good reason to be confident."

Pendleton makes it three golds

Victoria Pendleton (Great Britain)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Victoria Pendleton helped Great Britain collect three of its seven gold medals at the UCI World Track Championships in Majorca, Spain this weekend, scoring wins in the women's individual sprint, team sprint and keirin.

Her third victory came in the keirin at the end of the final night's session despite two significant distractions. The keirin was stopped not once, but twice. The first time occurred when defending champion Christin Muche came down on top of Pendleton, clashing shoulders and nudging her onto the Cote d'Azur line. The race was immediately halted and after several minutes deliberation, the German was disqualified.

After the restart, the derny began malfunctioning and was unable to accelerate. The crowd started whistling while the riders had to try to maintain composure and focus while waiting for a second machine to be brought onto the track for the second restart. Pendleton came from quite far back in fourth place with one lap to go and finished ahead of Shuang Guo (People's Republic of China) and Anna Meares (Australia).

"I was a little bit concerned," admitted Pendleton about her positioning in the final. "I knew there was a lap to go. I just waited for things to close up a bit, because it got a bit wide [between riders] in places, and then I just went for it. It was a bit of a risky manoeuvre, but I didn't know what else to do."

Pendleton was confused about the initial stoppage. "In the first one, I was holding the line and the German bumped into me. I couldn't hold the track, I was fighting to stay on it, and I got a bit of a nudge and it swung me off. I wasn't sure if we had to stop because I came off the bottom of the track, or whether it was anything else. I was concerned, I was just waiting for the decision. I couldn't understand what was being said. I just hoped that I was still in the race."

But she kept her concentration, even after the dying derny forced the women to ride an impossibly slow pace leading up to the second stoppage.

"After that, I kept focused on trying to get the third gold, to do something really special. Everyone in the team now has got a medal, practically, I didn't really stand out from the crowd so I really wanted to get that. I am delighted - I entered three events and have got three goals now."

Pendleton will now prepare for a well-deserved holiday and break from racing in Japan.

Her medal was one of seven golds for Great Britain, Chris Hoy was the team's only other triple medalist, with two golds and a silver. Great Britain compiled an astonishing medal haul of seven golds, two silvers, and two bronzes.

Click here for full coverage of the World Track Championships.

Australian team secures second spot in Worlds medal count

Anna Meares
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
(Click for larger image)

Australia was one of only two nations to claim more than one victory at the World Track Championships in Palma de Majorca this weekend. Behind Great Britain, the Aussies tallied the second highest medal count with two golds and four bronze medals.

The final two medals came from 24 year-old Kate Bates and 23 year-old Anna Meares. Bates collected gold in the 25km points race and Meares earned bronze in the keirin. Bates won her 100 lap event with 35 points, six clear of second placed Mie Lacota of Denmark with New Zealander Catherine Cheatley claiming the bronze with 27 points.

"I still can't believe it, I'm so excited I've finally got a stripey jersey," said an ecstatic Bates after being presented with her jersey and singing a hearty rendition of Advance Australia Fair from the top step of the podium. "I can't believe I've got it on."

Bates, a two time Commonwealth Games points race champion, was also excited about the prospect of buying a pair of Manola Blahnik shoes, made famous by the television program 'Sex and the City', a reward she promised herself only if she won a world title.

"I've earned them because I've never worked this hard before and I just can't believe it's paid off," said Bates who wore a gold stilleto pendant around her neck during the race. "My Auntie bought it for me and said 'one day you'll get the stripes honey but this is for you in the meantime'.

"I only wear it when I feel good because I don't want to curse it and today I had a feeling and aaaahhhh!"

For Bates the victory was even sweeter coming as it did after a disastrous start to the championships when the night before Friday's individual pursuit she fell victim to the stomach bug that swept through the Australian team and posted a disappointing performance.

"It hurt my pride after being so fit and then underperforming but it also spurred me on," she said. "I rested and I ate a lot of what I had lost in that day and to get this gold just shows that if you're determined enough you can do anything."

In the women's keirin, an exhausted Anna Meares won her way through to the final where she claimed third place behind Victoria Pendleton (Great Britain) and Shuang Guo (People's Republic of China). Meares had already won a bronze medal in the team sprint with Kristine Bayley, a bronze medal in the individual sprint, and a 500 metre time trial gold medal in a world record time.

The other medal of the championships for the Australians was a bronze for Katie Mactier in the 3km individual pursuit.

"Thank goodness for the girls, they were just tremendous," said Australian High Performance Director Shayne Bannan. "We've gone away with a lot to think about and we'll be sitting down to analyse this championships as we had always planned to do.

"We're going away from this with our feet on the ground and we know there's room for improvement but more importantly we know where that improvement needs to come from," Bannan explained. "It's about the process, about what we believe, about the team unity and about putting out plan together and sticking to it to get the results in Beijing.

"No Olympic medal is easy to win and if you go to an Olympics thinking otherwise you'll have problem so we're going to Beijing with a big challenge ahead of us and we're preparing for that challenge."

Click here for full coverage of the World Track Championships.

Hushovd resting

By Katharina Schulz

Last week, Norwegian sprinter Thor Hushovd came down with intestinal troubles which made it impossible for him to train the day before Milan-San Remo and consequently he had to skip the race.

Even though his health is now restored, the illness has weakened him, and his result in Saturday's E3 Prijs Vlaanderen was not very satisfying. Therefore, the Crédit Agricole rider decided to go home instead of riding the Brabantse Pijl on Sunday.

"I'm a little worried now. I have no strength left," Hushovd told NTB. "I'm going home to relax for a few days before the Easter classics. I need to take it easy now."

This was also the advice of his trainer, Atle Kvålsvoll, after consulting with the experts on the Norwegian Olympic team. "With regard to Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix (taking place in the next two weeks), it would be better to recover some strength by training at home rather than racing," they said.

Back problems for Baguet

Quick-Step rider Serge Baguet is currently suffering from severe back pain and will not be able to race in the upcoming Ardennes Classics in Belgium. The 2001 Tour de France stage winner will be ending his career after this season and hopes that his health problems will still improve.

"I'm going to be 38 years old [this season]," he told Sportwereld. "I therefore don't have a problem to conclude my career, but not in this way.

"I've been racing under pain for a while, but this week I also felt it during training," he continued. "I was scheduled to take part in the Tour of the Basque Country (April 9-14), but I don't see that happening at the moment. It doesn't make any sense."

The Belgian will instead rest for a few days and try to race again at the one-day races Rund um Köln and GP Pino Cerami on April 9 and 12 respectively. Fortunately, his team management hasn't put any pressure on him. "The team lets me do it my own way," he continued. "[Patrick] Lefevere let me know that I can decide myself when I'll be ready to return to racing. That's really nice of him."

Baguet's objectives this season include the Belgian Championships, which take place in Ronse this year. "That's where I rode my first Belgian Champs - I'd like to come full circle on July 1," he concluded.

Millar to lead Saunier Duval in Driedaagse De Panne

Saunier Duval-Prodir has announced its line-up for the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde, a three-day stage race in the North of Belgium, taking place next week from April 3-5. The last preparation race ahead of the Tour of Flanders on April 8 will see David Millar lead the charge for the Spanish squad, joined by the following teammates: Manuele Mori, Luciano Pagliarini, Raúl Alarcón, Peter Mazur, Ángel Litu Gómez, Raivis Belohvosciks and Jesús del Nero.

Millar scored a stage win in the 2.HC race in 1999, while Belohvosciks won the overall classification in 2003. The Latvian will thus particularly focus on the final stage time trial of 11km along the flat coastline between the Belgian sea resorts Koksijde and De Panne.

Quick-Step Innergetic for Driedaagse De Panne

Fresh from victory at the 50th E3 Prijs Vlaanderen, Tom Boonen is ready to lead his Quick-Step Innergetic team in the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde where he will be joined by the following teammates, all riding under the guidance of Wilfried Peeters: Wilfried Cretskens, Steven De Jongh, Kevin Hulsmans, Sebastien Rosseler, Gert Steegmans, Peter Van Petegem, Wouter Weylandt.

Fantasy Ronde van Vlaanderen Spring Classics 2007!

With a Specialized S-Works Roubaix bicycle up for grabs
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

The Ronde van Vlaanderen this Sunday marks the second of the Fantasy Spring Classics games on offer this year. There's still plenty of time to enter your teams. All you need to do to take part is register and select eight riders before the real live race starts. The provisional rider list has been uploaded to our servers. If you've played the game before you'll notice we've also added some new features to the game this time around. We've improved the online stats so you can now see which riders scored best in the game last year in detail. You can also look up previous players' winning teams. We've also added new ways to communicate with your fellow players from around the world. Have a look and see now!

Why should you play this year? - You can win a Specialized S-Works Roubaix bicycle in Quick Step - Innergetic colors equipped with Shimano Dura-Ace components and S-Works FACT over-sized carbon crank and bottom bracket worth $6,000 USD! That's not all you could win in this year's Fantasy games. To celebrate our fifth year of Fantasy games the Spring Classics will also be featuring some top runners-up prizes.

Hed Bastogne wheels join prize list

Win Hed's Bastogne wheels
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

In reverence to a historic town... in honor of those that race there each spring... and designed and built by masters with over 20 years experience who realize that most of us don't have the luxury of a broom wagon or team car trailing us everyday; HED created the "Bastogne" wheelset. In our latest addition to the prize list, we have three pairs on offer for the lucky runners-up.

More runners-up prizes

The first runner-up prize this year is a Cycleops Powertap 2.4 (wireless) worth $1499 USD. Cycleops upgraded the world's most accurate, lightest power meter to be the world's first wireless meter, meaning you can easily switch it between bikes.

Speedplay is back behind the fantasy game
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

A pair of BBB's "Winner Team" glasses are on offer for the highest scoring Fantasy team in every Classic. You don't have to take part in all seven races to stand a good chance of winning this prize. The highest score per classic wins a pair of the official sports-glasses of the Quick-Step Innergetic professional cycling team 2007.

We are proud to announce the continued support from Speedplay in this year's game. We have three sets of Speedplay's Zero stainless steel pedals - the same style of pedal used by ProTour teams such as Team CSC.

We are also pleased to confirm that Descente will be joining the list of runners-up prize sponsors. Produced in conjunction with Team CSC, the Descente Optima Bib Short is the culmination of hundreds of hours of research and testing. Constructed of two different textiles, the main body features Aero-X fabric, a dual-denier Nylon with spandex for great moisture-management, durability, comfort, and fit.

Play this year's fantasy
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Cyclists depend on good nutrition to meet the demands of the sport. That's why Nutra Fig developed the organic Cheetah Bar. It contains the right combination of carbs, protein and fiber to give you long lasting energy and it is moist and tastes great. Cheetah bars are loaded with potassium, sodium and calcium—all found naturally in the ingredients so no chemical additives are needed. Cheetah Bar is the official energy bar of the Colavita/Sutter Home Pro Cycling Team. We have 10 boxes of Cheetah Bars on offer this year.

The proCOOL Mesh from Scandinavia's leading high-performance clothing company, Craft, is the professional's choice when it comes to base layers. The proCOOL Mesh is a warm weather base layer that combines the latest in fabric technology with Craft's signature fit. Even as temperatures soar, proCOOL keeps you dry and comfortable. For the 2007 Spring Classics Fantasy Game, we have 10 of these great base layers on offer.

In the next few days we will be releasing more details of the prizes on offer this season with 46 prizes available for 18 lucky winners, and some major improvements in the game engine coming soon, now is the time to sign up to the Fantasy Cyclingnews Games.

How to play

The highest scoring Fantasy team in each classic
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Yes, you too can be a professional team manager. Based on the live racing action, you will take up the challenge using your knowledge and tactical skill as a race team manager to compete with fantasy managers from around the world. Remember all you need to do to take part is to register and select 8 riders for each of the following races:

Ronde van Vlaanderen, April 8, 2007
Gent-Wevelgem, April 11, 2007
Paris - Roubaix, April 15, 2007
Amstel Gold Race, April 21, 2007
La Flèche Wallonne, April 25, 2007
Liège - Bastogne - Liège, April 29, 2007

For more details on how to play, rules section of the site for more info. To register your teams for the game, go to

It's a great way to follow the Spring Classics.

Good luck!
The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team

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