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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News for August 20, 2007

Edited by Bjorn Haake

León Sanchez is ready for the Vuelta

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Sánchez posts it
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

After training in the Alps, Luis León Sánchez arrived at the Deutschland Tour as Caisse d'Epargne leader, but it was David López who assumed that role when prevailing in the 'queen' stage, when the rider of Mula in the Murcia region lost contact with the lead group. "I let go of the group when the road got steeper again, but I didn't want to suffer rather than recuperate the good sensations in competition; this is what happened and therefore, I am very satisfied with my condition," Luis León Sánchez evaluated for Cyclingnews.

His start at the Vuelta a España is all but reality, according to Directeur Sportif Eusebio Unzúe, who decided to leave out the young and promising sprinter, Jose Joaquin Rojas. Rojas declared to Cyclingnews that he accepted the decision with "resignation, because I have demonstrated that I am in very good condition to compete in the Vuelta a España." Rojas assured to have overcome the disappointment of being left out of the Vuelta "with the optimism of the recent good results," and he hopes that he can continue to do well in his races all the way through October.

For León Sánchez it was "not a surprise to be in the Vuelta," and added that "given the route, I hope that it will be a very good occasion for me to do as well as possible." The 24 year-old didn't like the lack of time trialing kilometres, "mainly the one of Villalba [penultimate stage - ed.]," which is only 25 kilometres long. The first race against the clock between Cariñena and Zaragoza in stage eight measures 49 kilometres in length.

It is the mountains that really worry him. The arrival on the top of the Lagos de Covadonga, in stage four after 182 kilometres, is preceded by two category three climbs, the Alto de la Falla de los Lobos and the Alto de la Llama, and can be first decision maker between the favourites. "I do not know this climb [to the finish], but I know that, although it is a tender slope, the section of the 'huesera' is very demanding, and that in the end there can be [some time gaps]."

Between Huesca and Cerler it's the continuation of the high mountains, "but perhaps not as demanding as in previous editions", Luis Leon Sanchez, emphasized. During 174 kilometres two second category climbs are in the way, the Serrablo and the Foradada, before the final ascent to the ski resort of Cerler, an HC climb.

"In this stage, it will be necessary to go steady, because the following day ends on top of the Ordino Arcalis climb, which I already know from the Vuelta a Cataluña, where I lost around a minute to the favourites."

In Cerler, Roberto Laiseka took a solo win in 2005. Ordino will mark the highest point of this year's edition, at 2,220 metres of altitude. The last three times up to Ordino the winners were Roberto Laiseka (2000), Jose Maria Jiménez (2001 in a race against the clock) and Francisco Mancebo (2005). Finally, León Sánchez emphasized the trickiness of the stage which finishes in Granada and that passes by the Alto de Monachil. This is where his team-mate Alejandro Valverde lost the leadership in 2006.

Boonen banged up

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step-Innergetic)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

"A cruel accident" is how Tom Boonen described his crash at the Vattenfall Cyclassics, 19 kilometres before the finish line. The TV cameras lingered a long time on the Quick.Step-Innergetic star as he remained on the ground, nursing his injuries. But he was eventually able to get back on his bike and ride over the finish line.

Everything hurt, he said, but there was another reason he took so long to get up. "Probably a bike or something hit me in the head, because everything was spinning," he told And really everything did hurt: "My left elbow, my right knee, my toes, my thigh, my hands, my shoulders."

But he evidently suffered nothing worse than bumps and bruises, and in fact, on Sunday evening flew home. His plan for the week was to check out the Worlds course in Stuttgart. "That was the plan, yes. Now I don't know."

Niermann and the Hannover ranking

Grischa Niermann (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Hedwig Kröner
(Click for larger image)

Grischa Niermann of Team Rabobank was hoping to do well in the final stage of the Deutschland Tour, because it was on his home turf. He was born in Hannover, and the race course ran over his usual training route.

He took his chance and attacked, getting away with three other riders. They were never able to get more than 2'45" ahead of the peloton, though, and were absorbed back into the field with 8 kilometres to go.

But there was also an important "race within the race." Three Hannoverian riders and training partners -- Niermann, Thomas Ziegler of T-Mobile and Christian Leben of Team Wiesenhof -- had made a small bet as to which of them would finish highest in the race, Niermann noted on his website,

Going into the final stage, he was so far in front that the other two had no chance. That is, until "Jury member" Roman Jordens of Team Heinz von Helden, another training partner who was not in the race, changed the bet conditions at the last second. The winner of the "Hannover ranking" would no longer be the highest in GC, but the first of the trio to cross the line at the intermediate sprint only one kilometre before the finish line, on the next-to-last lap of the round course.

"Since I knew I wouldn't have the least chance against Thomas in a sprint, there wasn't really anything left for me to do but to attack. So if you saw me on TV and wondered why I celebrated so much when we passed the one-kilometre marker, now you know why."

Pedro Delgado is angry

By Antonio J. Salmerón

The Spaniard Pedro Delgado, who won the Tour de France in 1988, told national press agency Efe that the Vuelta a España and the Tour de France are wrong when they are "fighting more against doping than promoting the sporting aspects of the race."

Delgado, who is now a cycling commentator in the public national television TVE, considered that the grand three-week races will have to consider their attitudes, "because there are many sponsors that are leaving cycling."

After participating in a cyclo-tourist event in his honour, the ex-professional affirmed that these types of cycling events, open to anybody, "are something rewarding for cycling, because what it is happening in professional cycling is a pain and a small disaster.

"Nobody says that it is not necessary to fight against doping, but I do not believe it is the high-priority thing in this sport," he continued. Delgado declared that "doping must be fought without any publicity, because all of that hurts sponsorships."

Irish sprint hope out of Tour of Ireland

By Shane Stokes

Ciarán Power
Photo ©: Emmanuel Isnard
Click for larger image

Two days remain until the start of the Tour of Ireland and at the same time several big names are flying in to the country prior to taking part in the event, one of the home favourites, Ciarán Power, has been forced to scratch from the race.

The Waterford rider was due to co-lead the US-based Navigators Insurance team with fellow Irishman David O'Loughlin but will now miss out on one of his year's big targets due to illness.

"I won't be doing the Tour of Ireland this week," he said on Sunday. "I got a test done in Belgium last week and it turns out that I have a virus. I will be off the bike for the next week, unfortunately missing the race."

Power had hoped to do a good ride in the Irish road race championships but suffered cramps and pulled out. At the time he said that the Tour of Ireland was his big goal for the second half of the season. "It will be fantastic to ride the race," he said then. "As a kid I used to watch the Nissan Classic. I went to Cork to see it and it was fantastic. I really want to do well in it."

A good field has been lined up for the 2.1 ranked race, with the Schleck brothers Andy and Frank leading the CSC outfit, Baden Cooke heading the challenge and Marcus Burghardt and Bernhard Eisel likely to be the main players in the T-Mobile team. Maximiliano Richeze's sprinting ability should see the Ceramica Panaria Navigare rider fight it out for stage wins, while talented 20 year-old Edvald Boasson Hagen (Maxbo Bianchi) and Rabobank's Europe Tour leader Martijn Maaskant will also be in the hunt.

Chief Irish hopes will rest on the shoulders of Nicolas Roche and Philip Deignan (Ireland national team). National champion David O'Loughlin (Navigators Insurance), David McCann (Colavita Sutter Home) and the riders from the Murphy and Gunn/Newlyn Group/M. Donnelly Sean Kelly team will also be determined to show well.

A full preview of the race will follow later today on Cyclingnews.

Worrack looks to repeat

Trixi Worrack (Équipe Nürnberger) in control
Photo ©: CJ Farquharson
(Click for larger image)

Trixi Worrack of Team Nürnberger Versicherung will look to defend her title at the Albstadt Frauen-Etappenrennen this week. It is a national tour which this year has been elevated by the UCI to a 2.2 category race.

The Worlds runner-up will be supported by a strong team of veterans Claudia Häusler, Andrea Graus and Claudia Stumpf, as well as young riders Sabine Fischer and Corinna Thumm.

The race opens Tuesday evening with a four kilometre long prologue. It then continues with stages of 100 kilometres on Wednesday and 92 kilometres on Thursday, with both stages starting at 16:30.

Nürnberger took three of the top four positions in the race last year, with Worrack first, Tina Liebig (now with Getränke Hoffman) second and Eva Lutz fourth.

Eneco Tour looms as next ProTour race

Only days after the end of the Deutschland Tour and the Vattenfall Cyclassics, the ProTour moves from Germany to the neighbouring Benelux countries and to the Eneco Tour, which will run through Belgium and the Netherlands from August 21 to 29. It opens with a 5.1-kilometre prologue in Hasselt, Belgium, and ends with a 29.6-kilometre time trial in the Netherlands from Sittard to Geleen.

CSC will race with Lars Bak, Matthew Goss, Juan Hose Haedo, Allan Johansen, Kasper Klostergaard, Anders Lund, Martin Pedersen and Luke Roberts.

Predictor-Lotto Lotto also has a fast sprinter in the lineup with Robbie McEwen. The Aussie will be accompanied by Leif Hoste, Olivier Kaisen, Pieter Mertens, Fred Rodriguez, Greg Van Avermaet, Jurgen Vandenbroeck and Johan Vansummeren.

Michael Boogerd of Rabobank will be in one of his last races on home turf before stopping his career as a professional cyclist. He will be joined by Thomas Dekker, Juan Antonio Flecha, Mathew Hayman, Rick Flens, Leon van Bon, Graeme Brown and Gerben Löwik.

Steegmans recovering from pneumonia

Gert Steegmans of Team Quick.Step-Innergetic will not be riding the Eneco Tour as originally planned, since he is recovering from a bout with pneumonia. A control X-ray on Friday showed that his lungs had cleared up.

"I could start a light training for the first time and I stopped taking antibiotics," he told the Belgian newspaper Nieuwsblad. He had to cancel his appearance in two criteriums as well as the Eneco Tour, which passes through his home region. "That's too bad for my supporters, but my health comes first." He expects to ride again in the Tour du Poitou Charentes et de la Vienne from August 28 to 31.

Tour du Limousin starts tomorrow

The 40th edition of the Tour du Limousin will start tomorrow in France, with all the French top teams in attendance as well as American outfit Slipstream.

The event, created in 1968, started out as an amateur event, but after seven years was opened to professionals as well. Bernard Hinault was one of the first famous winners, in 1976 and 1977. This is when its reputation started to take off. Subsequently other famous winners followed, including Marc Madiot (1981), Thierry Marie (1985), Charly Mottet (1987), Andrei Tchmil (1995), Laurent Brochard (1995) or Patrice Halgand (2000 et 2002). The race often sees a French winner, but last year it was the Colombian Léonardo Duque of Cofidis who took the honours.

This year, Patrice Halgand (Crédit Agricole) will try to win the mountainous event for a third time. But Cofidis is also sending a strong team, with Sylvain Chavanel and Stéphane Augé, who wore the polka dot in this year's Tour de France. French Champion Christophe Moreau will be there as well as John Gadret, who just won the Tour de l'Ain.

From the foreigners, Oscar Pereiro has to be considered one of the hot favourites for the title. The event always has big names at the start and even makes some ProTour events jealous.

The race starts in the Limousine's capital of Limoges on Tuesday and finishes in the same town on Friday, after having covered more than 700 kilometres.

Gerolsteiner wins team classification in Hamburg

Gerolsteiner was very happy with its team performance at the Cyclassics, having placed two riders in the top ten and winning the teams classification. Directeur Sportif Christian Henn was content after the race. "That is a good result for us - I am very much in accordance with it." He added that "Davide [Rebellin] was among the top sprinters."

The Italian finished the race in sixth, behind fast men like Freire, Ciolek, Napolitano and Zabel. Peter Wrolich ended up in ninth and Fabian Wegmann was 26th, which gave Gerolsteiner the team win. Henn subsequently declared that "The whole team presented itself strongly."

Wiesenhof not satisfied in Hamburg

The German Professional Continental Team Wiesenhof-Felt was looking for good results in the Vattenfall Cyclassics, not only to justify its wild-card invitation but also in the hopes of attracting a new sponsor or at least new employers for the riders. The sponsor had announced that it will stop at the end of the season. But a series of crashes put an end to the hopes of the team's stars, Steffen Wesemann and Olaf Pollack.

"It's too bad. Steffen Wesemann and I were really doing well. But after they crashed in front of us for the third time, there was no more chance for a podium place," said sprinter Pollack on the team's website, "That was irritating for me, since I was in very good position and would surely have ended quite far forward."

"I had good legs today and at the Waseberg was in a good position," Wesemann noted. "Unfortunately I got held back in the last few kilometres by the crashes in front of me, so I couldn't attack by myself or get away with a group. That's why I prepared the sprint for Olaf Pollack, as promised. But another crash stopped us and then we couldn't get to the front."

The two managed to avoid going down in any of the crashes, which is more than their young teammate Martin Velits could do. The 22 year-old went down about halfway through the race and had to be taken to a local hospital for stitches on his right elbow.

Paris-Brest-Paris Randonneur kicks off today

Paris-Brest-Paris, the 1200-kilometre long event for cyclotourists, starts today in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, on the outskirts of the French capital, near Versailles. The event started in 1891, but is not held every year. For a while it was only twice per decade, but has been going on at a four-year interval since 1971.

More than 4,000 riders will be at the start and will have a maximum of 90 hours to complete it. The event is more a struggle against oneself than against other fellow competitors. There is no podium and know list of 'winners,' to keep it a non-competitive environment.

The riders will head through the Bretagne and Normandie and will not be alone, as traditionally many spectators and admirers line the route and shout encouragement.

The event really depends on the behaviour if its riders, as the permits are hard to come by and too many mishaps may spell the end of a tradition. The organisers emphasise the importance of following the traffic rules. Last year some riders were penalized two hours for running red lights and also for urinating in cities.

Paris-Brest-Paris started in 1891, organized by a paper called Petit Journal, and had already 400 sign-ups. 206 ended up starting the race on September 6, 1891, including ten tricycles and a couple of tandems. Even though it is not meant to be a race, the fastest time was recorded, 71 hours and 22 minutes. At an average speed of 17.590 km/h on the way out and 16.780 km/h on the way back, it is clear that even back then, with bikes that are a far cry from today's light-weight carbon or aluminum frames.

At 100 finishers the drop-out rate was roughly 50 percent.

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