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First Edition Cycling News for August 20, 2007

Edited by Sue George

UCI rankings determine road World Championships starting spots

By Tomas Nilsson

The Italians were strong at the 2006 Worlds in Austria
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The UCI has issued rankings for August 15 which will decide how many riders each nation can start in the elite World road championships in Stuttgart, Germany, on September 30. Cyclingnews took an unofficial look at the rankings and came up with the composition of the field.

For the elite men's road race, the top ten nations of the ProTour may start nine riders. These nations are Italy, Spain, Australia, Luxembourg, Germany, Russia, Belgium, USA, Netherlands, and France. Luxembourg is, of course, the sensation. The question is whether the Grand Duchy can field a full team. Their choices are rather thin after the Schleck brothers, Kim Kirchen, and Benôit Joachim. In contrast to the ProTour, Luxembourg is ranked only 29th on the Europe Tour. After recent positive doping tests of its riders Andrej Kashechkin and Alexander Vinokourov, Kazakhstan dropped to eleventh.

From the Europe Tour, the sixteen best nations, excepting those already qualified from the ProTour, will be on the starting line. Six riders each will represent Poland, Slovenia, Portugal, Ukraine, Slovakia, and Croatia, while Denmark, Norway, Austria, Belarus, Estonia, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Latvia, Serbia, and Lithuania will field three riders.

But nations can also qualify from individual rankings. Great Britain and Sweden have riders in the top 100 in the ProTour, so they can also field three riders while Hungary and Ireland, with only one rider each with ProTour points, may start with one rider each.

Finally, Bulgaria has the right to start one rider since there are Bulgarians among the top 200 in the individual Europe Tour ranking.

Kazakhstan can field three riders thanks to its third place in the Asian rankings. Top Asian nation Iran may start with six riders and Japan with three. There may also be one Chinese rider since Li Fuyu has picked up points in the ProTour.

From the America Tour, top nations Colombia and Argentina may start six riders while Brazil, Canada, and Venezuela may start three. Also Costa Rica, Cuba, and Chile may start one rider each since they have riders in the top 20 of the individual classification.

South Africa may send six riders as the top-ranked African nation. Tunisia, in second place, may start three. There remains one spot for Libya, which has Mohamed Ali Ahmed in the top five in the individual ranking. However, Ali Ahmed is an U23 rider, and may profit by opting to compete in that division instead.

From Oceania, New Zealand will field three riders given that Australia qualified from the ProTour.

All in all, 215 riders from 48 nations are allowed to start the elite road race in Stuttgart.

The qualification process for the U23 and women's races are less complicated.

Women's peloton at 2006 Worlds in Austria
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The U23 nations rankings from the continental tours allows 26 European, 12 American, six Asian, four African and two Oceania nations to start the race. Teams are awarded five, four or three rider positions depending on their ranking. The five top nations in the nations cup are entitled to an extra rider. Other nations that haven't qualified by the rankings as above may start one rider if they are included in the nations cup final ranking after the Tour de l'Avenir that finishes September 15.

The qualified nations so far are Russia, Netherlands, Italy, France, Slovenia, Germany, Norway, Belgium, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland, Slovakia, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Estonia, Hungary, Moldova, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Serbia, Ukraine, Spain, Finland, Albania, Ireland, Romania, Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, Venezuela, US, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Iran, Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, South Africa, Libya, Egypt, Australia, and New Zealand.

China, Algeria, Kenya and Austria are qualified so far from the nations cup while Great Britain and Sweden are notable absentees.

The women's road race qualification is simpler still and stands in marked contrast to the men's qualification: Any nation may start six riders.

Finally, for all categories in the time trial, every nation may start two racers.

Ballan sprints ahead to win crash-marred Hamburg Cyclassics

By Gregor Brown and Bjorn Haake

Alessandro Ballan
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-Fondital) added another impressive win to his collection for the season at the 12th Vattenfall Cyclassics in Germany. The Italian rode off the front of the ProTour event seemingly unintentionally with 500m to go. Looking over his shoulder a few times, he held on to take victory ahead of Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Gerald Ciolek (T-Mobile).

Earlier this year, Ballan won the Ronde van Vlaanderen and the Three Days of De Panne.

"I was not really thinking about it," said the rider from Castelfranco after the win. "I was thinking about [Daniele] Bennati [for the sprint]. I really did not think I could do it, seriously."

But the victorious Ballan knew he was riding well before the race. "I left the Tour [de France] in good shape, then a fourth place in San Sebastián. I continued to ride well and came here with good form."

The day's main break was caught near the end, going toward Hamburg as key teams worked for their sprinters. T-Mobile was gearing up for in-form Gerald Ciolek. Rabobank for Freire, and Lampre for Daniele Bennati

A massive crash put paid to a 'bunch' sprint with two kilometers to go. Claudio Corioni (Lampre-Fondital) went flying on the right side of the road and came down tangled with Norwegian Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole). It wasn't the only crash of the day. Tom Boonen (Quick.Step-Innergetic) withdrew after crashing and injuring his arm with 20km to go.

Ballan is set to sign a big contract for 2008 and beyond, but there is still no indication if it will be a renewal with Lampre.

Despite being a ProTour event, the results of the Vattenfall Cyclassics caused no changes in the top six places of the ProTour individual rankings. For complete race coverage, click here.

Australians Evans and Rogers finish one-two in Beijing

Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) kept his Tour de France TT form
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

At the second stage of the Good Luck Beijing official road cycling test event on Sunday, Australians went one-two. Fastest was 2007 Tour de France runner-up Cadel Evans with a finishing time of 32'28.92" for the 23.65km course. Behind him by just under 25 seconds was three-time world time trial champion Michael Rogers. Alexandr Dyachenko of Kazakhstan finished third in 33'27.52".

"It's all good when you win," said Evans after completing one lap of the circuit which next year the men will cover twice for the Olympic Games event. "We are mainly here to collect information and be as prepared as we can be for next year, and we've certainly accomplished that so getting a result on the way is a nice little bonus."

The time trial circuit features a portion of the road race course, including a 10km climb straight out of the starting gate followed by a 10km descent all raced along the stunning backdrop of the Juyongguan and Badaling sections of the Great Wall of China.

Evans, who said the course suited him well enough, predicted that winds and humidity could make the Olympic race challenging next year.

Michael Rogers (Australia)
Photo ©: Sirotti
Click for larger image

In agreement, Rogers said, "It's certainly very hard from the start and it going to be a very challenging time trial," Rogers said. "You don't want to start too fast because you need a lot of energy for the last lap which will really make a difference. The downhill is very open with a lot of headwind and it's not a gradient you can roll down, you really have to pedal. There's no rest, not an inch of rest on the whole circuit."

Both Evans and Rogers were content with their results.

"It was alright (being beaten by Cadel)," said Rogers, who spent the last month recovering from a shoulder injury sustained when crashing into a metal guard rail at high speed during the Tour de France, and was racing in Beijing with a painfully cracked tooth. "He came here with super condition out of the Tour (de France), and I was quite happy with my ride."

Evans, who's time trial win along with fifth place in the previous day's road race, gave him overall victory in the two-day event, noted the time and effort to make the trip, when many other top competitors elected to stay home or take on other races, was well worth it.

"For me I'd never been to China before and to come in and get an idea of what it's like and what the people are like means we come into a slightly familiar environment which is a good thing," said Evans. "Also to have experienced the climb under race conditions is really helpful for next year."

For coverage the Good Luck Beijing test event, click here.

Bosisio takes important Olympic test

By Gregor Brown

Gabriele Bosisio (Tenax-Menikini) at the Giro del Lazio in early August
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Gabriele Bosisio turned his season up another notch by taking victory in the Good luck Beijing Invitational test Olympic road race Saturday in China. The 27 year-old Italian from the Lecco province successfully counter-attacked to victory in the 174-kilometre test, held on the same parcours as the 2008 Olympics, in the shadows of the Great Wall. Alexandr Dyachenko of Kazakhstan trailed in for second and Bosisio's squadra Azzurra team-mate Vincenzo Nibali finished in third.

"Thanks to everyone in the team, from start to end," said the recent winner of the Giro del Lazio after the race. "We had worked hard, taking the punches of the course, and our tactics awarded us the prize. The work of everyone was precious. I am very content for Nibali, after he had a long, solo escape, to come in third position."

Many nations sent teams to Beijing to race in the event as a reconnaissance for the 2008 Olympics. National Directeur Sportif Franco Ballerini led a team of six in the weekend race, held 70 kilometres from Beijing. Fabio Baldato (Lampre-Fondital), recent Giro de Lazio winner Bosisio (Tenax-Salmilano), Enrico Gasparotto (Liquigas), Raffaele Ferrara (Team LPR), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) and Fabio Sabatini (Milram) represented the Italian Squadra Azzurra while teams were also sent from Russia, Holland, Poland, United States, Spain, Kazakhstan, Australia and China

"The circuit was very good and extremely selective, even it was very particular with the climbs concentrated in the first half of the course," continued Bosisio of the 23.8 kilometres circuit. "While the second part is completely downhill and could have annulled the advantage taken on the climb. In the Olympics next year it will not be easier to make the selection."

"I am content that the team, which really did not know the parcours, responded well to the strains and it had read the critical moments very well. Everyone preformed their assigned roles well, and this enabled us to take control of the race.

"The actions of Nibali were important, he left at 70 kilometres to go and it strained our adversaries who were following and launched the action of Bosisio in the ideal moment, when the energies of all the rivals were exhausted from chasing. The good ride of Nibali was underlined by the fact that he was able to recover to control a rider of valour like Cadel Evans and then finish third."

The team will report back to the rest of the Italians who will try for a spot on the Olympic team. Nibali remarked on the course for next year and the team's likely leader, 2004 Olympic Champion Paolo Bettini. "The circuit is not easy to interpret and even if I personally liked it. Over the next year I believe that Ballerini will know how to form a squad able to compete for victory, and also because we are the reigning Olympic Champion and Bettini is able to do a double."

Klöden not looking to change

By Susan Westemeyer

Klöden at the Tour
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

"I was amazed, but also a little tickled, to see the speculation about me the last few days," said Andreas Klöden. "After I said that I would discuss my sporting future with my management, everyone started talking, even naming which teams I might be negotiating with."

"The fact is that this season, with all of its well-known events, has been anything other than satisfactory," the Team Astana rider said on his website, andreas-kloeden.com. "I have a two-year contract with Astana until the end of 2008."

He didn't entirely rule out the possibility of a new team, though, saying, "Even though the future of the team is unclear at the moment, I want to wait a few more days before I start thinking about making a change. So far I have always lived up to my obligations and my word."

"I am sure that the team management has learned a lot from the recent past," he continued, "and is now doing everything it can to present a persuasive and well-thought-out anti-doping concept, which will provide a clean and credible future for cycling."

"Therefore I, like all the other team members, would be happy if the Astana Team gets a second chance, and we could all together prove that we are serious about this."

Popovych to Quick.Step-Innergetic?

Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel) happy post-Tour
Photo ©: Cyclingnews.com
(Click for larger image)

Yaroslav Popovych may be close to a contract with Quick.Step-Innergetic. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, World Champion Paolo Bettini's team is interested in the Ukranian cyclist. The 27 year-old cyclist would be available to switch teams. His current Discovery Channel team announced last week it is disbanding at the end of 2007.

Popovych won stage five of Paris-Nice this year and finished eighth overall in the Tour de France, where two of his team-mates, Alberto Contador and Levi Leipheimer stood on the podium.

Farrar, Sutton and Elijzen depart Cofidis

Cofidis will not extend the contracts of American Tyler Farrar and Australian Christopher Sutton for next season according to wieleruitslagen.be; instead the two riders will have to look elsewhere for teams. Farrar won stage 2 of the GP CTT Correios de Portugal while Sutton won stage 4 of the Circuit de la Sarthe earlier this year.

Also not on the squad for 2008 is silver medalist in the Dutch national time trial Michiel Elijzen, who is departing after signing a two-year contract with Rabobank. Rumors of his departure had circulated, but the rider confirmed the news.

US hopefuls scope courses in Beijing

With a majority of Olympic hopefuls busy racing with their professional teams throughout Europe and North America, the US sent a squad of young, up-and-coming athletes to race in Beijing at the Good Luck Test Event.

The squad included Jon Garcia (BMC), Scott Nydam (BMC), Nathan Miller (BMC), Sheldon Deeny (VMG Racing), Zak Grabowski (VMG Racing) and Andy Guptill (Colavita-Sutter Home) for the men's road race. All six competed in the road race, but only Garcia and Nydam did the time trial.

The team's top road race finisher, Garcia, was ninth, 1'52" off the pace of winner Gabriele Bosisio of Italy, but the entire squad was there to do reconnaissance on the Olympic courses. The consensus was that road race in 2008 will be one of the most difficult in Olympic history.

"The one thing about the course is that there is no opportunity for recovery," said Nydam, who finished 12th on Saturday. "On the final circuits, you're keeping pressure on the pedals the whole time, even on the descent going into a headwind. It's definitely not easy. The climb isn't super-steep, but there are a few critical sections, especially about two-thirds of the way up where you hit a couple of switchbacks and it gets steep for about a kilometer. There is a lot of opportunity there because that far up the climb attrition has set in and it's a good time for attacks to go."

Jim Miller thought the road course was especially well-suited for American women. "I think it's a good course for the team that we'll have coming to Beijing next year," Miller said. "It's something that plays into our women's style of racing a lot more than Sydney or Athens probably did, so I think it's a great course for American women." Miller also thought the course offered a "super opportunity" for the American men.

Miller also pointed out that the seemingly steady winds will play a role, making it tough on any breaks that do escape. "Of course if there is a lot of wind, that changes everything, but we've been here for five days and the wind has been the same. I was here for five days in November and the wind blew the same direction and did the same thing every day."

Nydam, who complimented the high level of safety of the road course, predicted a race of attrition. "I think the numbers game is going to be a huge factor. Italy was the only team that had strong numbers on Saturday so they could send a guy and then the other guys could sit on until it came back, then they'd send another guy. They definitely had the advantage because of their numbers. It's also a course where if you are sheltered you could save quite a bit of energy, so if you're able to put yourself into a position to sit in, your chances of doing well are pretty high. If gaps start to form on the climb and separation happens, it's going to be difficult on the descent, so it's not easy for things to come back together. We had to chase pretty hard to bring back breakaways that normally would be easy for a big group to catch."

Cozza on road to recovery

Slipstream's Steven Cozza at the Tour of California
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Team Slipstream's Steven Cozza showed he is on his way back to full form by logging a record-breaking ride at the Marin Double Century on August 4. In it's four-year history, no one had broken the 11 hour time barrier for the 200 mile race with 15,000 feet of climbing. He finished in 10 hours, 50 minutes after riding alone for most of the distance.

Cozza, a Petaluma, California native, broke the previous best time of 11 hours, 13 minutes set by Graham Pollock last year.

"I set a goal to average 30 kilometers per hour," Cozza said. That translates to just over 18 mph. "I hoped people would stay with me, but I did 170 miles by myself. I started at five in the morning, and I got in just before four in the afternoon.

"I stopped for water maybe five times. They say it's not a race, but I went into it pretending that it was a race. I followed all the traffic laws. I wasn't an idiot."

Cozza hasn't raced in three months, since he suffered a major head injury while racing in France in May. The injury kept him off his bike for most of the summer.

"The crash happened 15 minutes into that race," Cozza recalled. "I went with an attack, and as I turned my head to see if I was clear of any riders, all of a sudden the guy behind me jumped to the right. He hit me and I landed right on my face, right on my head."

After returning home, Cozza found he couldn't ride. "Everything was off. I slept constantly, I didn't eat, and I was really depressed. Just the week before I was normal, then all of a sudden I had all these problems." It took three weeks for his appetite to return.

Cozza was given the green light to resume normal training some time ago, but he's only recently been cleared to race again.

Bøchmann signs as Team CSC stagiare

24 year-old Glud & Marstrand Horsens talent Lasse Bøchmann signed a contract as a stagiaire with Team CSC according to the team's website, team-csc.com. He'll tackle Italian category 1.1 races like the Grand Prix Nobili and Grand Prix Carnaghese.

Danish rider Bøchmann finished ninth in the Tour of Denmark. Notably, he took second in the mountainous Stage 3.

A son for Ullrich

Jan Ullrich became a father for the second time on August 7, when his wife Sara gave birth to son Max, he announced Sunday on his website, janullrich.de. The baby was delivered several weeks earlier than expected, but mother and child are doing fine. Ullrich has a daughter from a previous relationship.

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