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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for August 21, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Guerini to retire

By Susan Westemeyer

Giuseppe Guerini
Photo ©: AFP
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T-Mobile will be losing one of its mainstays at the end of this season – Giuseppe Guerini has announced that he will stop riding at the end of the season and is considering his options for 2008. The Italian from Bergamo has been with the German team since 1999, and won two Tour de France stages while in its magenta colours.

"I will be racing the Vuelta a España. Then, after that I will stop," he told Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown. "I am still thinking what I will do for 2008." Asked if he had talked with T-Mobile regarding managerial positions within the team, he responded, "I am still considering my options."

Guerini, 37, turned pro in 1993 with the GS-II Team Navigare and then went to Team Polti in 1996. While there, he finished third in the Giro d'Italia in 1997 and 1998, winning a stage in 1998. He transferred to Team Telekom so that he could further concentrate on the Tour. He came with the express purpose of helping Jan Ullrich win the Tour a second time, which never worked out.

He rode the Tour every year with Telekom/T-Mobile until this year, when he had to drop out at the last minute with stomach problems. Nonetheless, he has started 19 Grand Tours in his career. His most famous win is undoubtedly the 10th stage of the 1999 Tour de France, when he won on Alpe d'Huez in spite of being knocked off his bike by spectator.

Cyclingnews interviewed Guerini at the T-Mobile training camp last January.

Samuel Sánchez wants strong Vuelta start

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Many riders wish to win the Vuelta a España but very few have the talents to do so, however, Samuel Sánchez is one of those gifted riders. Euskaltel-Euskadi's leader will be accompanied by Haimar Zubeldia, Iñigo Landaluze, Igor Antón, Iñaki Flores, Koldo Fernández, Aitor Hernández, Dionisio Galparsoro, Juan José Oroz and Alan Pérez. The 29 year-old decided not to race in the Tour de France in order to prepare in the best possible way for the Vuelta.

Samuel Sánchez had a discreet performance In the Vuelta a Burgos. "I tried to find a good competitive level facing the Vuelta, where it will be advisable to begin as strong as possible because we will have to confront the first high mountains in the fourth stage, which will finished on the top of the Lagos de Covadonga," the Asturian rider commented for Cyclingnews. "It is a very demanding climb that favours the specialists. They must take advantage, thinking [that later there will be] the long time trial between Cariñena and Zaragoza."

Sánchez referred to this first time trial saying that, "it could be a very hard task for those who come from the Tour de France because, at this point so late in the season, to confront more than 50 kilometres demands an extra effort. The second one [the 20th stage, in Villalba-Madrid] will not be as decisive as the previous one because it is located in the end of the Vuelta but it will be more spectacular because people become bored with so long stages."

Sánchez is a pure climber and, in this way, his best options for gaining the Vuelta will be in the mountain stages. "I prefer go day by day. In this sense, I do not plan where and when I have to attack. When I feel well, I will [attack]. It is clear that it will be better in the mountains, so, there are two interesting stages for trying, in Celer and in Ordino," he summarized.

There are also other mountain stages in the second half of the Vuelta's route; the 15th stage, which will finish in Granada, before confronting the Alto de Monachil, where Alejandro Valverde lost the race lead in 2006, "with a very long and dangerous slope." Two other consecutive stages, Talavera de la Reina to Ávila and Ávila to Alto de Abantos, "when the general classification will be more or less defined."

Petacchi pushes forward

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

Alessandro Petacchi will return to racing tomorrow in the Regio Tour and he has promised to keep going for seven more years. A positive test for Ventolin (asthma drug) forced the 33 year-old Italian sprinter to skip the Tour de France while the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) pursued its investigation but a return this week and in the September's Vuelta a España shows his fight has not faded.

"I would not wish on anyone what I have passed through," commented the rider from La Spezia in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport, breaking a silence of two months. The doping control results of the rain-soaked Giro d'Italia Pinerolo stage were released on June 12 and since then his world has been spinning faster than he would like. "For me it was a nightmare. And even though I was acquitted, I am no longer calm. I don't consider this incident over with and it will not be forgotten.

"I was considered doped for an incident in which doping does not even come into consideration. It was a medicine and I had a prescription, taken with good faith and transparency for documented allergies. And if the limits were passed the experts have demonstrated why." He was asked if he could have done it all over again. "It was not an error or even a lack of discretion but a necessity. You are not able to breathe, you think twice, maybe three times, then maybe take the medicine, hoping that the conditions don't happen that make you surpass the limits."

He remarked on the bad publicity. "The magistrates know what they do, and do what they have to. The journalists, if they mistake an adjective, risk ruining your reputation. ... The suffering, physically and morally, lives you with more grit, more resolution."

Petacchi has no plans of stopping and will search for more wins, even going into his forties. The bike "I like. Like before; more than before. I have it in my blood. ... To win is a pleasure more than a necessity. And, if I am able to stay competitive, I will race until I am 40 years-old. ... I am looking for my best form, the right rhythm, an explosive sprint. Then the stages and jerseys that come, will come."

He will return tomorrow in the five-day Regio Tour and then race in the Vuelta a España (September 1 to 23, where he has already won 17 stages) and the sprinters' classic Paris-Tours (October 14).

Milram looking to make major changes

By Susan Westemeyer

Team Milram is going to continue but it may assume a different form than it presently has, losing its Italian influence. "I don't know why we shouldn't keep on," Director of Marketing for sponsor Nordmilch AG Marten Mischel told the Süddeutsche Zeitung but he indicated that massive changes may occur.

After the summer's many doping scandals the company said that it would review its sponsorship but had indicated that it would probably remain. The team itself has been hit twice, with Alessandro Petacchi's positive test for an asthma medication and by Jörg Jaksche's statement against team general manager Gianluigi Stanga, who holds the team's ProTour license.

"Our biggest problem at the moment is surely Stanga's past," Mischel said. "We want to change a lot of things for next year and I can imagine that the license will come to Germany." One possibility would be that Nordmilch would pay out Stanga's contract and buy the license from him, or the company could take over the license from another team which is ending at the end of the season, such as Unibet.

The new general manager would be Gerry van Gerwen, 50, who is now the team's business manager. "We will continue to work with him," Mischel said, and work with him beyond 2009. "It doesn't make any sense to plan a new project like this for only two years."

Changes in team management would be followed by changes in the make-up of the team itself. The SZ said that Erik Zabel will move back to rival T-Mobile Team, for which he rode most of his career and that he would serve as a mentor for up-and-coming young sprinter Gerald Ciolek. Zabel refused to comment to the newspaper but T-Mobile Sport Director Rolf Aldag said, "That is not out of the question. Athletically speaking, he would be the best to pull sprints for Gerald – if Erik would like to take over that role."

Mischel said that "at this point I cannot imagine" that the 37 year-old sprinter would leave but he added that, "what we are now planning is not Project Zabel." The newspaper suggested that the team would prefer to present a major German star to the German fans and it indicated that Andreas Klöden of Team Astana may take that role.

Boonen hurting

Photo ©: Sirotti
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Tom Boonen was back on his bike training again Monday morning, less than 24 hours after his crash in the Vattenfall Cyclassics but the ride didn't go well. "He has pains in his elbow, knee, shoulder, chest, back, just everywhere!" his mother Agnes told

He visited a specialist in the evening who diagnosed a muscle clamped between his ribs. "That will be treated this week," team manager Wilfried Peeters said. Boonen had planned to inspect the World's course in Stuttgart today. "Maybe that will be done later this week," Peeters said, "but the crash disrupted our plans a bit."

Boonen is expected to start racing again in the Vuelta a España, starting September 1.

Verduga out with broken rib

Preliminary reports indicate that Gorka Verduga of Team Euskaltel-Euskadi suffered a broken rib in his crash during Sunday's Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg. The team said that he would undergo more tests to determine the exact nature of the injury.

Verduga had been scheduled to ride the Eneco Tour, which starts Wednesday, so the team has had to juggle its roster. Aitor Galdos will not take his place, and join Mikel Astarloza, Unai Etxebarria, Rubén Pérez, Jorge Azanza, Beñat Albizuri, Joseba Zubeldia and Ivan Mayoz at the race.

Riis critical of Rabobank's handling of the Rasmussen case

Bjarne Riis has questioned the decision of the Rabobank team to send the Dane Michael Rasmussen home during this years Tour de France, according to an interview with the Danish newspaper B.T. The CSC team manager believes that the case regards the team's trust of the rider.

"I think that Rabobank has some things to clarify," Riis told the paper. "If you select a rider for the Tour, you have trust in him. There is no sense in suddenly, half way through the race to question that. The team should have just left him at home in the first place if the warnings that he received about the missed doping controls were so serious," he explained.

Rasmussen was fired four days before the end of the Tour by Rabobank. He apparently lied to the team about his whereabouts in the weeks leading up to the Tour. Currently, there is an on-going investigation, by the bank surrounding the exclusion of the Dane.

Riis is extremely active in the fight against doping with his team, CSC. During his own career, however, Riis had a different view on doping. In May this year, he admitted to using the banned substance EPO on his way to winning the 1996 Tour de France.

Milram to Eneco

Team Milram announced Tuesday that it is sending Alessandro Cortinovis, Carlo Scognamiglio, Mirco Lorenzetto, Dennis Haueisen, Marcel Sieberg, Andriy Grivko, Mirko Celestino, and Matej Jurco to the Eneco Tour, which starts Wednesday.

MTB rider Näf guest by Wiesenhof

Swiss mountain biker Ralph Näf will ride the Regio Tour as a stagiaire for the German Professional Continental Team Wiesenhof-Felt, the team has announced.

The 27 year-old has the same trainer, Thomas Schediwe, as Steffen Wesemann and Peter Velits. The team signed him as a stagiaire at the trainer's request. "The challenging stages should suit him. Maybe he will be good for a surprise. It wouldn't be the first time that a mountain biker does well on the road," said Wiesenhof Directeur Sportif Ronny Lauke.

Näf normally rides for the Multivan Merida Biking Team and he was both world and European champion in the MTB marathon last year. He finished sixth in the Olympic Games in Athens.

T-Mobile goes Irish

T-Mobile Team will be at the start of the first Tour of Ireland that starts this Wednesday. The team will look to sprinter Bernhard Eisel for stage wins. He will be supported by stagiaire Ian Stoddard.

The team has not designated a GC leader, but will give Aaron Olson, Frantisek Rabon, Thomas Ziegler and stagiaire Marcel Beima their chances.

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