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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for April 12, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo and Hedwig Kröner

Gent-Wevelgem: post-race reactions

By Brecht Decaluwé in Wevelgem

Burghardt: "The biggest moment of my career"

Burghardt hoists his trophy
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Young Marcus Burghardt of T-Mobile naturally was delighted with his first win as a pro, which he scored today in Wevelgem. "This is the biggest moment of my career," the 23 year-old German said. Burghardt is now a hot prospect for all the classics, after finishing third in the E3-prijs Harelbeke as well. "In Harelbeke I had too much respect for Boonen and Cancellara. This time I showed just enough respect," Burghardt commented.

On Sunday Burghardt will be a favourite for the win again as he's shown he knows how to take on the cobbles. "Paris-Roubaix has a different character and is 60km longer, but I'm certainly motivated and I have loads of confidence. T-Mobile will be good in France as we also have Eisel who did well last year," Burghardt said.

Freire praised the German

Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

Rabobank's Oscar Freire misjudged the situation in the finale when Burghardt attacked. "He [Burghardt] attacked at the right moment, he was too strong. Maybe I made a little mistake as I thought that Ventoso took him but it wasn't so. Then I tried myself but he was very strong - still this is not a bad result," Freire said about his third place.

Fellow countryman Francisco Ventoso was also in the winning breakaway, and the two helped each other - but in the end the German snatched the win. "As Spanish riders we talk, but you need good legs as well," Freire laughed. When asked about what was said between Ventoso and himself, the Spanish triple world champion said, "that wasn't very specific like: if we ride together it's better for us. But in the end we lost the race."

The race was marked by multiple crashes, taking out a lot of riders - especially the mass crash in the second descent of the Kemmelberg, which made for a lot of talk at the finish. But the Spaniard didn't have a negative word about the Kemmeldrama. "I don't know what happened as I was in the front. It's a dangerous part, maybe we need some more climbs before the hill. Anyway, it's even worse when it's raining," Freire said.

The winner of Milano-Sanremo explained it was part of the job. "Cycling is dangerous, in every race, every single day. There are more crashes than before as there is less difference between the riders. That's why everybody tries to be in the front," Freire explained and he offered a suggestion to the UCI and race organizers. "It's not normal that we ride here with 200 riders, it's better with maybe around 120 riders."

Freire is going very well this season but on Sunday he will not participate in the Hell of the North. "I prefer to watch it on TV," Freire laughed. "It's not a good race for me. Right now I will prepare for the Ardennes classics; there are some changed courses so I'll have to take a look at it."

Bernard Hinault always said he wouldn't race Paris-Roubaix until 1981, he did it once. Hinault came and won the pavé-classic, and in July that year he won his third Tour de France. "It true that if you don't go, you don't win. But I did it once as well in my first year as professional and I crashed. I prefer to do other races because if you crash you're out for a while. I'm healthy now and I prefer to avoid risks," Freire explained.

Ventoso: more than a sprinter

Five men stormed towards the finish line in the finale of Gent-Wevelgem 2007; T-Mobile had two men in there and managed to turn the numerical advantage into a win. The two Spanish riders in the group - Freire and Ventoso - decided to form a temporary coalition as well. The main surprise in the front group was Francisco Ventoso (or Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi if you want the full credentials of this Spanish sprinter), he finished fourth in Gent-Wevelgem. "I'm more than a sprinter because I can cope with these short climbs pretty well," he explained.

Ventoso twice led the peloton over the dreaded Kemmelberg and then launched an attack with Burghardt in an effort to come closer on the early breakaway riders. "On the Kemmel I felt I had strong legs and after that I opened the race," Ventoso said to Cyclingnews. Ventoso and Burghardt were caught by a big group with Boonen and McEwen, but when Freire attacked, both riders were there again.

The trio managed to bridge up towards the three leaders and after dropping Florent Brard the five weren't caught by the peloton. "I spoke with Oscar [Freire] to form a duo against T-Mobile," Ventoso said. Nevertheless this duo couldn't match the German power from Marcus Burghardt. "My legs said stop," Ventoso smiled.

During the Tour of Flanders, Ventoso was in the big bunch to hit the Muur van Geraardsbergen, eventually finishing at the back of the bunch in 71th place in Meerbeke. "Flanders was too long for me, my race was over on the Muur," Ventoso explained. "Anyway, I'm only 24 years old and with this experience I hope to do well within two years from now." The Spanish sprinter also talked about the Spanish revolution in the Spring Classics. "Ten years ago there was nobody here, but with guys like Freire and Flecha we're improving step by step," he added.

Wednesday's crash, injury and sickness report

By Hedwig Kröner and Susan Westemeyer

Gent-Wevelgem was won by a German rider for only the second time ever, and while T-Mobile's Marcus Burghardt celebrated, other teams and riders had no reason to smile.

The crashes on the second descent of Kemmelberg took out many riders: On the cobbled descent, a water bottle was jarred loose, and a Gerolsteiner rider swerved to avoid it, causing a crash that left Unibet's Jimmy Casper lying on the cobbles with blood pouring down his face. As riders braked to avoid Casper, several more nasty crashes occurred, taking out Wim De Vocht (Predictor), Tyler Farrar (Cofidis), Luke Roberts (CSC), Wilfried Cretskens (Quickstep), Andy Cappelle (Landbouwkrediet) and Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner).

French rider Casper was reportedly diagnosed with a severe concussion and a fracture of the bones that make up the eye orbit. The Unibet rider was transferred to the intensive care unit of the hospital in Ypres.

Tyler Farrar (Cofidis) was in good spirits at the start...
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

Cofidis' Tyler Farrar suffered severe damage to his kneecap, and will be out of racing for at least one month. Australian Luke Roberts, meanwhile, has been said to be "OK" by his team CSC and ready for this Sunday's final big battle on the cobble stones: Paris-Roubaix.

Wim de Vocht of Predictor-Lotto broke his thumb and suffered scrape wounds all over his body. He will not be able to start at Paris-Roubaix, where Björn Leukemans will replace him.

Wilfried Cretskens (Quickstep) is also out of racing for two weeks, as he wounded his right arm severely in the fall. He and team-mate Kevin Hulsmans, who abandoned Gent-Wevelgem with respiratory problems due to a bronchitis, will not be participating in the 'Hell of the North'.

Within team Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner, Andy Cappelle suffered a crack in the left shoulder and a fracture of the left elbow. His team-mate James Vanlandschoot broke his thumb, elbow and wrist - both riders will be out of competition for two months.

Milram broke some of its Colnagos
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

Three Milram riders also had to abandon Gent-Wevelgem. Alessandro Petacchi was lucky enough to only have his bike damaged enough to cause him to drop out. Team-mate Fabio Sacchi was taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg, but x-rays showed that he was only severely bruised.

Petacchi's important lead-out man Marco Velo wasn't so lucky. He broke not only his right collarbone and two ribs, but probably tore all the ligaments in his right knee as well. He'll be in the hospital for at least another 24 hours.

"A bad day for us," concluded Milram spokeswoman Sandra Schmitz succinctly.

"That was all pretty stupid today," said Marcel Sieberg, who was an eyewitness to his teammates' crashes and came to the finish line in a following group. "In the finale, I wanted to go with them on the final sprint but I didn't have the legs for it. Besides that our group was pretty hectic in the sprint and the barriers suddenly got closer and closer. I decided not to bother, I didn't want to crash again."

Gerolsteiner came off a little better. Heinrich Haussler was another Kemmelberg victim and was taken to the hospital with a suspected broken collarbone. It turned out that the young German-Australian had "only" severe bruising on his shoulder, knee and elbow.

Meanwhile, over in Pais Vasco, Haussler's teammate Ronny Scholz didn't even make it to the start Wednesday. He spent the night before in the bathroom with an intestinal bug, and even decided not to fly home on Wednesday, preferring to stay close to the bathroom.

T-Mobile came out of Gent-Wevelgem with no serious injuries, although Servais Knaven did hit the pavement at one point. They lost two riders in Spain, today, though. Adam Hansen dropped out after injuring his foot in a crash during the first stage, and Giuseppe Guerini dropped out, having come from the Settimana Coppi e Bartali in a weakened condition.

Finally, Canadian track cyclist Travis Smith, who crashed in a dramatic run-in with Chinese rider Qi Tang at the UCI World Championships in Mallorca, Spain earier this month will be undergoing surgery to repair two fractures found deep inside his hip joint. Initially, the doctors though he suffered a strain but upon further examination the fractures were discovered and surgery recommended.

Cruz in Flanders

By Gregor Brown in Deinze

Antonio Cruz (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

"It was good in Ronde," said Discovery Channel's Antonio Cruz in Deinze, before the start of the 69th Gent-Wevelgem. The 35 year-old American was in good spirits and looking forward to the day's Semi-Classic.

"The team went really well," he continued, reflecting on Sunday's Ronde van Vlaanderen, where his team saw to Vladimir Gusev's fifth place. "I tried to help Stijn Devolder as much as possible. I told him not to attack at silly points of the race. It worked out well, and now I am focusing on today."

Cruz is no stranger to the Belgian races, having raced here before with US Postal. He thought that De Ronde was a little strange. "The race was very unusual because there was no wind and so there were a lot more guys than normal, even at 200 plus kilometres."

Thinking about the 207 kilometre-race from Deinze to Wevelgem, he said it could be another wind-less day. "Today, I think there will not be much wind. This is usually the biggest factor in the Gent-Wevelgem, and then going over the Kemmel is the second selection point."

Discovery Channel went into the race with an open mind, which allowed Cruz to work how he saw fit. "I have a free role, so I will go for it. I will try to be in good position and make the selection." He finished the race in the third group, with riders like Graeme Brown (Rabobank) and Nico Mattan (DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed), at 5'02" back. His teammates, Vladimir Gusev and Volodymyr Bileka, finished in the main chase group, at 15 seconds back from winner Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile).

After the race, Cruz and his team-mates packed their bags, heading for Compičgne, the start of Sunday's Paris-Roubaix.

Zabel back on the bike

"You can't keep a good man down," according do the old saying, and Erik Zabel must be a very good man. Only three days after his nasty spill in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, the Milram sprinter was back on his bike training again, reported the sid sports news agency.

Zabel had to cancel his appearances in Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix due to multiple bruises and scrapes caused by his collision on Sunday. He meanwhile hopes to return to racing next week at the Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen, as preparation for the Amstel Gold Race a few days later.

Evans gets punchy in the Basque Country

Cycling fans watching the finale of the first stage of the Tour of the Basque Country might have been a bit shocked to see Australian Cadel Evans in a bit of a scuffle at the finish line in Urretxu. Evans explained on his personal website,, that the fight was precipitated by, well, precipitation, along with some slippery roads.

"A little tangle in the last kilometre and I found myself jumping out of a drain trying to get back to the group." his diary read, "Then, again, I nearly dropped it on the wet advertising banners covering the road after the finish line. I caught it, and bang straight into the back of the riders who had just finished. Fists flying everywhere! So I lost my temper AND time..."

T-Mobile for GP Pino Cerami

T-Mobile is sending a mixture of youngsters and veterans, all-rounders and sprinters to GP Pino Cerami Thursday in Belgium. The team is not nominating a captain for the race but will see how the race unfolds. "Each rider has the chance of getting a good result here," according to Directeur Sportif Brian Holm.

Stephan Schreck had hoped to make his season debut, but Wednesday afternoon decided not to start the race. He is recovering from a serious virus that has kept him out of action all season, and did not yet feel well enough to start.

T-Mobile for GP Pino Cerami: Mark Cavendish, Bert Grabsch, Greg Henderson, Andre Korff, Aaron Olson, MArco Pinotti, and Frantisek Rabon.

Jittery Joe's for Georgia

Columbian climber Cesar Grajales will be back in the Tour of Georgia this year. Grajales, who won the queen stage atop Brasstown Bald in 2004, was in doubt after crashing in the Redlands Classic's Oak Glen stage in March, where he suffered a separated shoulder and broken bone in his wrist. "I am feeling better every day," said Cesar, "I have done a couple of five hour rides and while my shoulder hurts a bit, I should be ready for the start next Monday."

Jittery Joe's for Tour de Georgia: Cesar Grajales, Trent Wilson, Neil Shirley, Matt Shriver, Cody Stevenson, Tommy Nankervis, Austin King and Evan Elken.

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