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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for April 23, 2007

Edited by Steve Medcroft & Greg Johnson

Bruyneel indirect regarding Basso, no comment on Prudhomme

By Mark Zalewski

Bruyneel at the '06 Tour de France
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Discovery Channel boss Johan Bruyneel declined to comment regarding the decision by Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme to request riders implicated in Operación Puerto not be included on teams' starting roster for the Tour de France. Specific to Discovery Channel is rider Ivan Basso who Prudhomme does not want included in his races.

However, Cyclingnews spoke with Bruyneel following Levi Leipheimer's back-to-back stage wins at the Tour de Georgia. Bruyneel said that Leipheimer was always set to be the leader at the Tour de France and Ivan Basso the leader for the Giro d'Italia, implying that the issue with Prudhomme was settled, but without answering the one question on everyone's lips: will Ivan Basso contest the Tour de France?

"Levi at the Tour has always been the plan - it's the only Grand Tour he is going to do," said Bruyneel. "[Levi] was very strong. His performance yesterday was already very impressive - with the difference between guys like Zabriskie and O'Neill. It definitely means he is on good form. He absolutely wanted to win the stage and when we came to the bottom of the climb we made sure Janez could stay with Christian [Vande Velde.] He said he was ok and we [let Levi go.]"

When asked to comment directly on Prudhomme's remarks, Bruyneel simply said: "No comment."

The sky is the limit for Schumacher

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

In 2006, Stefan Schumacher showed that he had the time trialing and climbing ability to be a potential new German contender for the Grand Tours. But on Sunday, he also showed that he is hard enough to take a classic. Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé caught up with Schumacher on the Cauberg in Valkenburg, Netherlands after the Gerolsteiner star won Amstel Gold.

Amstel Gold was once again granted a magnificent winner in Stefan Schumacher. "For sure this is the greatest win of my career," the 25 year-old German from Ostfildern-Ruit (near Stuttgart) said at the post-race press conference on top of the Cauberg.

It was on that very climb that Schumacher first tried to make his mark on the race; going 20 seconds clear. But he then suffered a problem with his gears. "I hesitated thinking if I would use my big or small chainring and eventually decided to drop my chain to the small but that didn't work out well." The rider lost some of his momentum and was only 700 metres from the finish. "I was in such a good position to win on the Cauberg I thought I blew it. Luckily, I got the chain back on the big chainring again."

It seems that if you want to win the Amstel Gold Race you need a disturbed preparation shortly before the Dutch classic. Last year's winner Fränk Schleck crashed hard in the Basque country and couldn't train for a week leading up to the race. Schumacher had a similar problem. "I crashed on my knee during the last stage in the Basque country ending up with a big wound," he said. "I needed 12 stitches and the next day my knee was twice as thick. I had to rest for four days while I couldn't do anything else than taking care of the injury. On Wednesday, I started training again and that went well.

Schumacher says he wasn't sure how much fitness he might have lost in the down time. " I thought I was maybe at 90 or 95 percent but it was clearly 100 percent," Schumacher laughed. "Cycling sometimes is such a crazy sport. When you're 100 percent things don't work out but when you're not 100 percent things can turn out great."

Read the entire Stefan Schumacher interview here.

Brajkovic's surprise in Georgia

By Kirsten Robbins in Atlanta, Georgia

Janez Brajkovic (Discovery)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

It's no surprise that Discovery Channel's 23 year-old Slovenian prodigy Janez Brajkovic won the best young rider's jersey for the second year in a row at the Tour de Georgia, after surprising the pro peloton by claiming the yellow jersey. His win marked his first stage race victory as a professional rider for the Discovery Channel team.

Brajkovic took over the leader's jersey during stage three's 13-man break away, that gained an unconventional 29 minutes over the peloton. The gap forced his teammates and general classification favourites, Levi Leipheimer and Tom Danielson into a domestique role that he regarded as an incredible feeling. "For me personally, this is a great success in my career so far and I am extremely happy," Brajkovic said. "I wasn't even planning to be here, so it is an amazing victory. To win this race by myself it would have been impossible. But with the team we had here they were amazing and did a lot of work in the last few days. I have to say thank you to them for helping me."

The Tour de Georgia was on the priority of races to win for Leipheimer and Danielson, because it is showcased on their native soil. However, riding for an American sponsor meant that the win was important for all of Discovery Channel's riders. Brajkovic admitted that while he is not American, winning this in front of his American sponsors was sweet enough. "For our team it's a great victory being a race in America racing for an American team, it is like winning a Spanish race for a Spanish team," he said.

The future of the Tour de France is waiting for a talent like Brajkovic to gain a little more experience to become a seasoned rider ready for such a victory. Brajkovic admitted that he does not anticipate being victorious in the Tour de France just yet, but that he is destined to go down that path given a few more years. "Obviously it is my first stage race win and hopefully not the last one," Brajkovic said. "Yes, it's going to be a long way for me to win a race like a Grand Tour but I have to be optimistic.

"I know it's not going to be possible with three, four or even five years but I am confident that I can do a good Grand Tour and I will give one hundred percent to achieve that," he added. "I can't say that I will do it but I would like to win the Tour de France one day. I know that there are two hundred other riders who also want to win the Tour so I am not alone training and I understand that there are some riders who are more talented than I am. With this team, with Johan and with the guys I think I have the best chances to achieve something like that in the future."

Boogerd reflects on final Amstel Gold

By Brecht Decaluwé in Valkenburg

Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) may have had the best record of all the riders at the 2007 Amstel Gold classic, with one win, four second places and two thirds since 1999, but his dream of scooping a second victory in what is his final appearance at his home event was dashed. He had to make do with fifth, while Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) and Paolo Bettini (Quickstep-Innergetic) both appeared slightly off their best form and they finished sixth and seventh respectively, 27 seconds back.

Boogerd was undoubtedly disappointed, but was also remarkably gracious in defeat. "It is good like this," he said, putting a positive spin on things. "I have never been fifth. Besides, I am happy that this was the last time I had to sprint up this hill. I am tired but I feel great." The Dutch rider noticed that there were numerous fans on the pavements to support his final Amstel Gold. "There were so many people, I've never seen that many in this race," Boogerd said.

Although he once again got into the crucial move, the composition of the break meant that it was going to be very tough to win the race. "The front group had the best guys in the world at this type of racing," he noted. "Actually I think this was the strongest front group of the last few years. Because of the speed there weren't any lesser guys returning. The ones that did come back were world class riders [like Valverde].

"I couldn't fight against three Gerolsteiner riders but with Schumacher, the best rider won because he had already attacked a few times and also because he opened the finale," Boogerd said.

At the foot of the Cauberg Matthias Kessler (Astana) was the first to react on Schumacher's final escape but by doing that he created the perfect lead-out for the Italians in the group. Kessler was clearly disappointed but looked at the result in a positive way. "Today was okay because I've been ill in the Basque country, I was ill for six days. This is moral-boosting and I hope to go even better in Liège," Kessler said at the finish.

Steffen Wesemann (Wiesenhof-Felt) was in the attack with Voigt and Righi just before the Wolfsberg with about 45 kilometres to go but the peloton didn't allow them to get too far. Just before the Kruisberg - with 24 kilometres to go - they were brought back by the peloton. "It was the good break with (Jens) Voigt (Team CSC ) there but we were caught back at the wrong moment. If we could've gone five kilometres further then we had a chance. But that's cycling, you need luck," Wesemann said.

Still a chance for the Züri Metzgete?

By Susan Westemeyer

Race organizers in Zürich still haven't entirely given up hope that they will have to cancel this year's Züri Metzgete, as they had previously announced. The search for a new main sponsor is continuing.

"Discussions are ongoing with possible sponsors, and we hope that things will change soon," Michael Ausfeld of RV Zürich, which owns the rights to the race, told the Swiss press agency SI. "Our organization is still ready and would be in the position of putting on the race."

The ProTour race, which is scheduled for October 7, has been held every year since 1910.

Voigt talks Amstel tactics

By Shane Stokes

Jens Voigt (Team CSC)
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

"Put me on the start line, point me towards the finish and I go!" said CSC’s Jens Voigt prior to the start of the Amstel Gold Classic on Sunday. Munching a carbo energy bar prior to the start in Maastricht’s markt area, he said that he would be taking an aggressive approach during the race.

"I have some freedom. We have the guys to work, Frank [Schleck] and Karsten [Kroon] for the final and then I am kind of in-between. There is always a decision: you see a group going and you say ‘mmm, this could be good." Then you go. It could be with 200 kilometres to go, or 40 to go. You can’t really plan it. I need to follow my nose. Of course, you need to have the right legs, too."

Voigt was as good as his word, going clear with Steffen Wesemann (Wiesenhoff) and Daniele Righi (Lampre-Fondital) prior to the Wolfsberg climb, catching an earlier break and then pressing on ahead. They were finally reeled in by a chase group after the Gulperberg, with less than thirty kilometres remaining. However, it goes without saying that the German will soon be on the attack again.

When asked if he is planning to target a specific race before the Tour, he played down such thoughts. "I will go for everything. I want to win as much as possible!

"As regards this race [Amstel Gold] versus Liege…I think that perhaps Liege suits me a little better," he said, speaking about the race he was second in two years ago. "It is less nervous, the climbs are different and I think it suits me a little better."

Valverde looks to Ardennes classics

By Shane Stokes

Alejandro Valverde leads
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

2006 ProTour champion Alejandro Valverde had targeted the Amstel Gold race as his major spring goal but the Caisse d’Epargne rider came up short on the objective of winning the race, finishing sixth.

He crossed the line 27 seconds behind Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner), who jumped away from the leading group of seven with three kilometres to go. Valverde and the other contenders were hampered by the presence of Schumacher’s team-mate Davide Rebellin in the break, knowing that if they chased, the Italian would have a free ride to the finish

Although he was undoubtedly disappointed with how things turned out, he put a positive spin on things. "In the first part of the race, my team-mates did a great job to control the breakaway," he stated. "Later, in the final, when the break with the favourites went, I was too far behind and I had to spend a lot of energy to come in front. That was surely the key moment of my race, but at the same time I have to admit that the Team Gerolsteiner was really strong today with three riders in front of the race.

"After Schumacher attacked, I was the only one to work to try to catch him. After that, when Kessler attacked, I understood that I had not even a chance to finish on the podium, but anyway I am satisfied before the Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Today I saw that my rivals are very strong, but not superiors."

Liquigas for Giro del Trentino

Just two days after finishing 39th in the Netherlands's Amstel Gold race, Italy's Luca Paolini will return to his homeland to lead the Liquigas squad in the Giro del Trentino. Among those accompanying Paolini at the Italian race is 25 year-old Enrico Gasparotto, who finished fourth in this month's De Brabantse Pijl.

Giro del Trentino roster: Dario Cataldo, Enrico Gasparotto, Matej Mugerli, Vincenzo Nibali, Andrea Noè, Luca Paolini, Franco Pellizotti and Alessandro Vanotti. Team manager: Dario Mariuzzo.

USA Cycling announces the Collegiate Tour Baby!

USA Cycling and filmmaker Scott Coady have announced plans to raise $500,000 for collegiate cycling and the Davis Phinney Foundation by visiting 21 college campuses in 21 days across the entire United States, in what is being billed as The Collegiate Tour Baby!

Mimicking the format of the legendary Tour de France, each stop will be considered a 'stage' of the 'Tour'. And, just like in the Tour de France, collegiate teams across the country will vie for the opportunity to host a stage.

"Scott's enthusiasm and proven ability to raise money for causes he believes in are unparalleled," said USAC CEO Sean Petty. "The athletes competing in collegiate cycling today represent the future of the sport here in America and can use all the support they can get."

"The Collegiate Tour, Baby! is also a wonderful way in which the collegiate athletes and their communities around the country can work together to support one of the true heroes and legends of the sport, Davis Phinney and his battle with Parkinson's," he continued. "Let's face it, without Davis, American cycling would not be what it is today."

Each stage of the Tour will be a fundraising event which will include a screening of Coady's cult film, The Tour Baby!, chronicling his adventures following the entire 2000 Tour de France, silent and live auctions, raffle and party with surprise guests from the pro peloton. Each collegiate team hosting a stage will be encouraged to work with the local cycling and Parkinson's communities to ensure each stage of the Tour is a success.

"I have learned that when you work to support a worthy cause, and do it with others as a team, anything is possible," noted Coady. "I am very excited to begin working with the collegiate athletes around the country to do something extraordinary to support the future of cycling and the Davis Phinney Foundation."

The 21-day tour will cover 5,000 miles as it winds around the country.

Perils for Pedestrians television show available online

The perils facing pedestrians and bicyclists on public roads are the subject of a public television program episode that is now available online. Bicycle racing in Maryland is just one of the subjects featured on Episode 107 of "Perils For Pedestrians."

John Z Wetmore, host of the television series, opens the new program with an interview with Mark Sommers of DC Velo. Sommers is the organizer of a criterium bicycle racing event in Silver Spring, Maryland. Sommers discusses the logistics of holding a race on closed-off streets in a dense downtown area. Wetmore also interviews Rebecca Larson, winner of the women's professional race.

Also featured in the show is a an interview is with Caryn Giarratano, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for the Missouri Department of Transportation. She is working to include bicyclists and pedestrians in planning and design at MoDOT, a process called "routine accommodation" or "complete streets".

"Perils For Pedestrians" is a public affairs television series that looks at problems confronting pedestrians and bicyclists in their communities, and solutions to those problems from across the United States, and around the world. John Z Wetmore, host of the series, has interviewed advocates, engineers, planners, and public officials in all 50 states and in 9 foreign countries. In addition to The Universityhouse Channel on satellite, "Perils For Pedestrians" appears on over 100 public access cable channels. Episode 107 can also be seen on Google Video at:

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