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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for August 24, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Napolitano scores Bernocchi hat-trick

Napolitano made easy work
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Danilo Napolitano has now taken a hat-trick of wins at the Coppa Bernocchi by going three-from-three in the 2005-07 editions of the race, held in Legnano, Italy. The 26 year-old Italian from Lampre-Fondital took his latest victory yesterday over Paride Grillo (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare), Robert Hunter (Barloworld) and Luca Paolini (Liquigas) after 199.9 kilometres of racing.

He started his streak and raised awareness of his sprinting ability by winning the 2005 edition over Alessandro Petacchi, but yesterday, after a victory in 2006, he firmly put his name in the role of honours that includes the likes of Giuseppe Saronni, Francesco Moser, Felice Gimondi, Rik Van Loy and Fausto Coppi. "But the most beautiful victory remains the first, when I was in the LPR jersey and I successfully battled Petacchi," said the Siciliano to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

'Napo' reported that he did not feel well in the morning. His brother and soigneur for Lampre reassured him, and his parents, Giovanna and Francesco, encouraged him as he made his way over the race's key point, the Piccolo Stelvio.

"I ended the Tour [de France] very tired and, also, the Deutschland Tour was very stressing. In Hamburg I arrived in fourth, notwithstanding. It did not seem like a great day for me but this is a victory of important merit because the squadra had worked from the first kilometre."

'Napo' with thrid win
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Most of the Italians that are winning in the fall races have one dream in mind: to be selected by Franco Ballerini for the Squadra Azzurra in the upcoming world road championships, to be held in Stuttgart. "One percent," was how Napolitano saw his chances of travelling to Germany in October. "It is justified; I talked with [Paolo] Bettini and he told me that the course was very hard. Plus, Ballerini is thinking of [Damiano] Cunego and [Danilo] Di Luca, it is normal that I won't be there."

Even without the worlds and a freshly inked contract renewal with Lampre, Napolitano does have end-of-season objectives. "I will race Arona and Carnago, but they will not be finishes for me. Then I will go to the Tour of Poland, where the first few stages will be for sprinters; I would say there are five or six occasions for me. Then I will start to think of the Paris-Tours. In 2006, after the Vuelta, I was dead and yet I arrived with the first riders. This year I want to win it."

Nuyens happy to win

Belgian Nick Nuyens takes a comfortable victory
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

"This is my answer to the criticism that I could only win small races," Cofidis' Nick Nuyens said of his stage win the Eneco Tour. He also took over the general classification lead that he hopes to hold through the remaining six days.

"Am I already thinking of the last stage? Not yet, honestly," he told "I know it will be difficult. I am not looking forward to the 30-kilometre closing time trial with its difficult course and many turns, but I have such riders as Dekker, Gutiérrez and Millar, and that makes it more difficult, I fear.

"I am glad to start tomorrow in Antwerp as the race leader," he continued. "That is in my home province. And if I could still wear the leader's jersey Saturday night then that would be great for my fans. Bevel, where I live, is only 15 kilometres away from Putte," where the stage ends.

Iván Gutiérrez enjoys success in the Ardennes

Iván Gutiérrez (Caisse d'Epargne) was unable to race in the Spring Classics due to a crash in the Tirreno-Adriatico but yesterday in Eneco Tour stage one he had his chance at covering some of the famous Ardennes climbs in Belgium. The 28 year-old Spaniard finished third behind Nuyens and Dekker. Thursday's stage from Waremme to Eupen covered part of the parcours that are often found in the Ardennes Classics Flèche-Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

"This stage was a very beautiful one, very similar to a Classic," explained the overall winner of the Tour Méditerranéen after the stage.

"Yesterday, I was not lucky in the prologue, because I started in the second part and it was raining all the time, but I am in good shape and I hope that there will be other opportunities to win a stage in this tour that takes place between Belgium and the Netherlands. Today, all the team showed that it is very motivated and we will fight till the end to try to win something."

Gutiérrez is third overall behind Nuyens, at 17 seconds back, going into today's 199-kilometre stage from Anvers to Knokke-Heist.

Definitely no Vuelta for McEwen

Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen will definitely not be riding the Vuelta a España this year, Predictor-Lotto team manager Marc Sergeant announced Thursday. After a meeting on Wednesday night the sprinter and team agreed on the plan. "This is the last thing to be said on the matter, McEwen told us himself," Sergeant told Sporza.

"McEwen rode the Vuelta a España in 2006, because he wanted to win a stage in each of the three Grand Tours. But that went very badly, and we said, 'never again,'" Sergeant explained.

He has won three stages in both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, including one stage in each this year, but has never won a stage in the Vuelta.

Sergeant also confirmed that he has held talks with Levi Leipheimer, who is leaving Discovery Channel when it folds its operations at the end of the season, "but I cannot say when the discussions will be concluded."

Rabobank team changes to include Contador?

Contador's yellow jersey made possible
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Team Rabobank is considering its future without team captains Michael Boogerd, who is retiring at the end of this season, and Michael Rasmussen, who was fired during the Tour de France. Its future may be formed with Alberto Contador. The Tour de France winner is without a team for 2008 after Discovery Channel disbands at the end of this season.

The Spanish rider "has openly asked" about signing with the team, reported, but says that the Dutch team has its doubts. De Telegraaf reports that Rabobank denies that it has had any contact with the Spanish rider.

The fate of some current riders on the squad are more definite. stated that in order to make place for newly-signed riders Bram Tankink, Michiel Elijzen and "presumably" Laurens Ten Dam, three riders will be let go: Leon Van Bon, Max Van Heeswijk and Thorwald Veneberg, on the other hand, current riders Mauricio Ardila, Graeme Brown, Marc De Maar and Jan Boven will all be offered new or extended contracts.

Astana boss presents new anti-doping plan to UCI

"There was no organized doping" at Team Astana, Team Manager Marc Biver has explained to the UCI. The Luxemburger emphasized in a meeting with the international cycling union this week that the team is setting up new anti-doping controls to prevent the problems that arose this summer. The team was hit with three high-profile doping cases in Matthias Kessler, Alexandre Vinokourov and Andrey Kashechkin.

Biver was invited to meet with the UCI after his team's recent run of doping cases and the organization is expected to decide on its future in the coming weeks; at stake is its ProTour license.

Team Astana has been working on an effective anti-doping programme, which Biver presented on Thursday to the UCI at his meeting with Vittorio Adorni, Anne Gripper, Doctor Mario Zorzoli and Alain Rumpf. "I explained myself," he said. "I repeated to them that there was no organized doping in our team. And I took a lot of trouble to present them with a programme that we put together with the help of Swiss Olympic Committee.

"Our goal was to not only to catch any possible cheaters, but also to make clear to the riders that they shouldn't even attempt it in the first place," Biver continued. "There will be 10 unannounced blood tests, as well as 10 urine tests, for each rider, which of course are in addition to the usual controls of the UCI and the WADA." The new program will cost about 400,000 Swiss francs [€245,000 - ed.], a sum that Biver says he is happy to invest "to restore credibility again."

As to his future with Astana - or if he even has one - Biver said, "It is all or nothing. I have already explained my position. It all depends on the Kazakhstan federation.

"I would really like to offer our young riders a new perspective in pro cycling," he said. "They don't deserve to be left in the lurch. The whole team is determined to work together for a clean and credible future with a convincing and well-thought-out anti-doping concept."

Soler bruised but not broken

The 2007 Tour de France king of the mountains, Mauricio Soler, crashed out of the Coppa Agostoni this week after only 10 kilometres of racing. Team doctor Massimiliano Mantovani took the Team Barloworld climber to the hospital in Carate Brianza for x-rays. According to the team's website,, his right elbow was badly bruised but not broken. He is expected to start training again soon.

The Colombian rider became widely known by winning the Tour de France stage to Briançon and claming the Maillot Blanc à Pois Rouges of best climber. Showing continued good form, he recently won the Vuelta a Burgos.

Roger De Vlaeminck celebrates 60 years

Belgian Roger De Vlaeminck celebrates his sixtieth birthday today. The former cyclist was second only to Eddy Merckx in his world of cycling domination during the 1970s. In his palmarès are four Paris-Roubaix victories, three in Milano-Sanremo, two in the Giro di Lombardia, one Liège-Bastogne-Liège and one Ronde van Vlaanderen. Forming a part of his total of 259 wins, are also 22 stage wins in the Giro d'Italia, one stage in the Tour de France and one in the Vuelta a España, and two Belgian National Championships.

The 1975 World Champion today works with developing Zimbabwe cyclo-cross riders in Belgium.

Lars Bak extends with CSC

Lars Bak in the 2006 Vuelta
Photo ©: Unipublic
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The 27 year-old Dane Lars Bak has extended his contract with Team CSC for two more years. The Danish Time Trial Champion this year has showed good form recently by winning a stage in Tour de la Region Wallonne.

"I'm really happy to extend my contract with Team CSC, because there's no doubt it's my preferred team," said Bak via the team's website,

"I truly feel that the team has confidence in my abilities, which of course makes me very proud. I'm neither a mountain specialist nor a sprinter, but I've still got a lot to give as an all-round rider. I've had some good results over the last couple of years, but I'm always motivated to be a team player. As far as my career goes I think, I have my best years ahead of me yet and I look forward to going all the way with Team CSC."

Sports director Kim Andersen confirmed his ongoing contract at Team CSC. "Lars has improved tremendously during the last few seasons and I'm positive that he'll only get better still.

"He's very all-round and at the same time has the attitude of a winner, who can turn things around to his own advantage. He's slowly but surely become one of the very best Danish riders and he fits perfectly on the team. He has a great attitude towards his work so it was only natural to extend Lars' contract with us."

Double win again for Equipe Nürnberger

Trixi Worrack of Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung has won the Albstadt Frauen Etappenrennen for the second straight year, finishing eight seconds ahead of her teammate Eva Lutz. It was also the second year that the Equipe has finished one-two in the three-stage race.

"We congratulate the girls on this impressive double win," said Team Manager Jens Zemke. "Four of the five top teams were at the start, so that makes this win even bigger."

The team also won the team ranking, and not just due to the top two. "I also have to compliment our two young junior riders, Sabine Fischer and Corinna Thumm, who worked for the team here. And Claudia Stumpf's third place in the last stage was another good result for us in Albstadt."

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