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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for April 30, 2007

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Teams 'relied on me to chase', according to Valverde

By Monika Prell

Second-placed Alejandro Valverde after the race
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

Alejandro Valverde, who finished second in yesterday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège, lamented about his lack of fortune after having finished second also in Wednesday's Flèche Wallone. According to Marca, he commented: "Today, like Wednesday, I had very good sensations throughout the day and in the Côte of Saint-Nicolas, I was really good."

But like the other day, "When Di Luca and Schleck attacked, the other teams relied on me to chase, but I could not do the entire job alone and bring everybody in front. When I realised that the pace was not sufficiently high and that it was not possible to catch them, I attacked in the last hectometres to try to get them alone and I finished very fast but not sufficient to catch Di Luca."

However, he was content about his performances in the three Ardennes Classics. "It is obvious that we came here with the intention of winning one of the three races, but I am happy with two second places and the sixth one in the Amstel Gold Race. Anyway, the balance is very positive. All of the team did a great job and personally, I think that I must be satisfied with because I was there fighting for the victory in each of the races and proved that my victories of last year were not due to chance."

Now that the Spring Classics are over, the Spaniard also gave an outlook on the next three months: "Now I will take some rest before concentrating on the Tour de France, which I will prepare by racing the Dauphiné Libéré."

More post-Liège reactions

By Gregor Brown in Ans

Evans 'a little bit behind'

Australian Cadel Evans finished 36th in one of the two Monuments that is best suited for his talents, the Liège-Bastogne-Liège (the other being the Giro di Lombardia). The Predictor-Lotto rider was not too satisfied with is placing but nonetheless enjoyed the day's racing. "It did not really go well for me today," he noted after finishing the 262-kilometre race.

The Australian helped his American teammate Chris Horner, both of whom are racing the Tour de Romandie. "Chris looked in a good position for a while. I was good enough to be there but not to be part of the winning moves.

"In the end I could not position myself for the last climbs, so when the race split I was just a little bit behind it. My race was over at that point but when you are not at top level that is what happens."

Commenting on the the warm weather, Evans added, "The temperatures suited me well but if you are not at the top it does not matter here."

Vande Velde, not Vandenbroucke

CSC rider Christian Vande Velde
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

"I was surprised at how I felt today," said American Christian Vande Velde (Team CSC) at the finish of the Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He worked hard for his teammate Fränk Schleck to ensure a team success.

Vande Velde was most impressive on the Redoute, where he split the field as the day's main escape was being pulled closer and closer. "On the Côte de la Redoute I wanted to ride hard for Fränk and then I looked back and I noticed I was on my own. I thought, 'oh shoot.' I kept going hard but I had been pulling all day and I was soon done.

"I was in the small chain ring going up the Redoute; I was not doing any Frank Vandenbroucke stuff," he said with a laugh when asked about his gear selection.

His work ensured that Schleck finished on the podium in Belgium's oldest Classic. "He got third and I think that is great considering the week he has had. He doubts himself a lot but he is always is good, and when he gets in sight of the finish line he is dangerous."

For a non-European rider, Vande Velde has experience riding Liège's côtes. "I think I have raced this seven or eight times. This year was spur of the moment, coming right after the Tour of Georgia. I had good form there and I got called up for Liège. Overall, this is a race where you always suffer."

Rodríguez to Romandie

"I did great race today but just lacked a little force at the end," noted Joaquím Rodríguez (Caisse d'Epargne) after helping his teammate Alejandro Valverde arrive in second in the 93rd Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

"I was very happy to see Valverde finish second," continued the Spaniard, who finished 75th. Rodríguez reckoned that the Italian winner, Danilo Di Luca, had a little something extra than his teammate. "Di Luca is an amazing rider and I think he showed that he was the strongest."

Rodríguez shepherded Valverde to his two Ardennes wins in 2006, and one year later, he was just as important in helping him achieve his podium places. "Alejandro said he felt really well during the race but it was just that Di Luca was going very strong."

The next race for Rodríguez is Romandie. The Spaniard will take a break and then rebuild his form to help Valverde finish, and possibly win, the Tour de France. "For me the legs were going well. I lacked some force at 15 kilometres to go. To win next year? I don't know but I do know I would like to win Liège some day. From here I will go to Romandie and I do want to win something there."

Freire builds for Tour after Liège

Oscar Freire
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

Oscar Freire (Rabobank) may have been out of his league in the rolling hills of the Liège-Bastogne-Liège but he he rode in support of Michael Boogerd and Thomas Dekker. After six-plus hours of racing, the three-time World Champion finished 78th.

"It was very very bad today," an exhausted Freire explained at the finish in Ans. "I think this race is too hard for me. The hills don't suit my characteristics; I need smaller climbs."

Freire will return to his home in Spain, where he will build for the Tour de France. "Now I will take a break in Spain, resting for a week and then build for the Tour de France," concluded the multiple Tour stage winner.

Rogers uses Ardennes form for Romandie

Michael Rogers (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Michael Rogers did not have a significant result in the three Ardennes Classics, but he ensured that his legs will have the proper amount of racing kilometres going into the remainder of the season.

After an exhausting 262-kilometre effort in Belgium he explained his race. "I tried to help get my teammates into position for Saint-Nicolas and then after that it was just a matter of surfing to the finish."

The Aussie who live in Italy finished 84th. "I was pretty good, not too super but I was happy," he continued. Rogers will travel to Switzerland for the Tour de Romandie, May 1 - 5. He will form part of the T-Mobile team with Marco Pinotti and Serhiy Honchar. "Just one more week of hard racing before I will be able to take a break. I hope to have a good go there after these three hard Ardennes races."

Holczer talks anti-doping, ProTour and Unibet

Gerolsteiner general manager Hans Michael Holczer
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

Although no firm decisions were made in Saturday's anti-doping talks between ASO and the ProTour team managers, Hans-Michel Holczer felt that things have the potential to move forward in the right direction. "We are in a situation which is still very difficult," the Gerolsteiner boss told Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes prior to the start of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. "However, I think we have some ideas... it was like a brainstorming session as regards what could be done. There will be a meeting on May 4 with all the big stakeholders, and I hope that there will be some ideas, some possibilities, some actions which could be taken and go ahead with clearance.

"Some ideas were talked about yesterday but it's still at the discussion stage. We have to see what the fourth of May is going to bring."

In recent weeks T-Mobile, CSC and Gerolsteiner have all taken big wins. Given that they are presently three of the teams most closely associated with the anti-doping push, did Holczer feel that this is a sign that the playing field has become more level? "I am always a little cautious to make such judgements," he answered. "I am pretty happy on a personal level because I saw that the work that we do seems to be successful in the end, and this makes me content. In general, it might be too early to say that [things are better across the board]."

As much as the anti-doping fight is a hot topic of conversation within the sport, so too the current uncertainty about the UCI's ProTour. The German felt that there have certainly been advantages to its introduction. "It is, in my opinion, a very, very important institution. Whatever about all the problems and other conflicts you can see with the ProTour, there are some things which you can't argue with. One thing is that we have got much longer contracts. We can do more solid work with that, and much more honest.

Click here to read the full feature.

Astana for Romandie

Paolo Savoldelli and Andrey Kaschechkin will prepare themselves for the Giro d'Italia by riding the Tour de Romandie. They will lead their Team Astana in the Swiss race, which starts tomorrow.

Astana for Romandie: Igor Abakoumov, Antonio Colom, Andrey Kashechkin, Eddy Mazzoleni, Andrey Mizurov, Steve Morabito, Paolo Savoldelli and Serguey Yakovlev.

Pigs fly for Abercrombie team in Athens

"Pigs flew today - yes they did - and I won the Athens Twilight Criterium", read the blog of race winner Mark Hekman, wherethehekismarkman.blogspot.com, "No joke, I can't believe it myself." The win came as no surprise to the North Carolinians who have had to race against Hekman´, since he moved to the state from Ohio two years ago, but the ever modest classical bassoonist turned bike racer handed his amateur team their biggest win of the season in Athens when he made the winning break which lapped the field.

The 29 year-old red-head survived the late race crashes that downed a large portion of the field and forced the race officials to halt the race and re-start it with 15 laps to go. When the field hurtled toward the finish line, Hekman made sure to stay up front, but he didn't even know he had won when he crossed the line. "AEG won the field sprint, and I was sure it was Artacho, who was in the break with me," Hekman explained to Cyclingnews, "so I thought I got second. But then Josh Thornton (Kodak-Sierra Nevada) told me I won."

"Then it was nice - the moto official told me to take a victory lap, so I got to put my arms up and everything." The magnitude of the win was just starting to sink in for the team, and for Hekman, who scored every amateur's dream win. "I could quit right now - take up mountain bike racing, cyclo-cross, and be satisfied," he said.

However, Hekman isn't about to hang up his skinny tires, because one of his Abercrombie & Fitch team's main goals is the SE Crit series. They went from Athens to the second race in Roswell, Georgia, and once again, the lanky rider found success. "There was a split of about 15 guys that rolled at around 9 to go - and my team made sure I was up there. I came around the last corner in fourth wheel, but kind of got boxed in and wound up 7th."

Josh Thornton, who was second in Athens, took third, and now leads the series with Hekman in a close second in a series normally dominated by the likes of Health Net and the Navigators. Hekman's team normally takes the racing more casually than their pro counterparts, and aren't afraid to enjoy the evenings following races, but this year is different, said Hekman, "Abercrombie & Fitch are really motivated to do well in the series, and our main goal of the season is the National Criterium series, so we didn't drink any beer after Athens. It's all business now!"

Cyclist remains in serious condition after Canberra Tour accident

By Greg Johnson

An un-named Sydney rider who participated in the Canberra Tour is in hospital in a serious condition after falling into oncoming traffic after a tangle between several competitors in yesterday's women's B grade final stage. The rider, who has not been named at the request of family members, was taken to hospital for treatment with Canberra cyclist Tara O'Brien, who has since been released.

"I believe a few girls touched wheels, had a collision and have gone in front of the car," event director Peter Gough told The Canberra Times. "The ambulance was on the scene very fast and they had medical support staff from us there. It's just a terrible accident."

Some confusion over the unnamed rider's condition was created from the local paper's article, which included news of a passenger in a separate road accident who passed away. A Cycling Australia representative confirmed to Cyclingnews that there was a misunderstanding as a result of the article, but that the person was still in a serious condition in hospital at 5 pm AEST on Monday, April 30.

The accident could see reforms taken, including the possible closure of roads, to further ensure the safety of the event's participants, according to race spokeswoman Tanya Sard.

"Cotter road and Uriarra Road is the main route - it's pretty much 'cycling world' out there and so if anyone belongs out there it's cyclists," Sard told ABC Radio. "The issue we'll have to consider further down the track is whether due to the fantastic participation number we've got in this race, whether or not we can close the road, and that's something we will consider and work with the local government on that."

The accident capped a tragic weekend for the Australian cycling fraternity, following the news the 15 year-old New South Wales cyclist Ben Mikic was fatally injured on Friday afternoon when he was struck by a vehicle at an intersection.

"The family of cycling is grieving the loss of a talented and popular young man who had many dreams and aspirations for his future in the sport," said Cycling Australia CEO Graham Fredericks. "We offer our sincerest condolences to Ben's parents, Darren and Andrea, his brothers Daniel and James, and all his family and friends at this tragic time."

"We also wish a speedy recovery to Alex Tomlinson, a very close friend of Ben, who was also badly injured in the accident," added Fredericks. "Alex is being released from hospital today."

Landis charges lab, wants USADA investigated

By Susan Westemeyer

Landis believes he is the victim of a conspiracy
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The French lab that has conducted tests on Floyd Landis's doping samples allegedly destroyed electronically stored data concerning those tests, the cyclist has charged.

In a statement released Sunday, Simon Davis, a technical consultant for Landis, said that "critical evidence stored as electronic data files had been erased from the hard drive and the original data destroyed at the Laboratoire National de Depistage du Dopage (LNDD). The existing data bears indication of alteration."

According to the French AFP press agency, Davis and representatives of the USADA were at the lab last week "to witness the extraction of the data files by an independent expert commissioned to retrieve and analyse the files," which "electronically preserved records of the Isotope Ratio Mass Spectometry tests conducted on Landis' stage 17 samples."

In the statement, Landis charged that before Davis and the independent expert arrived, the LNDD had destroyed the original electronic files of the relevant test results, "exposing the files to potential tampering."

In addition, Landis said that he was considering asking the US Department of Justice to investigate the use of government funds by USADA in his doping case. "I have every confidence that they can determine if any misuse of federal funds and any resulting criminal activity has taken place on the part of USADA in my case," he said.

Cyclingnews' coverage of the Floyd Landis case

May 29, 2009 - French authorities summon Landis and Baker
September 28, 2008 - Landis takes case to US federal court
September 10, 2008 - Landis signing with current Health Net-Maxxis team for 2009
July 1, 2008 - CAS delivers final blow to Landis legal challenge
June 30, 2008 - Landis loses final appeal
June 28, 2008 - Landis decision due Monday
March 12, 2008 - Landis' judgment day nears
October 21, 2007 - Landis files appeal with CAS
October 18, 2007 - AFLD takes another look at Landis case
Thursday, October 11 - Landis continues fight, appeals to CAS
Saturday, September 22 - UCI officially names Pereiro 2006 Tour champion, Landis case raises issues
Friday, September 21 - Landis' appeal denied, two year suspension levied

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the Floyd Landis case

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