Latest Cycling News for August 27, 2007
Edited by Gregor Brown
Hansen looking forward to the Vuelta
By Susan Westemeyer
"Vuelta, here I come!" T-Mobile's Adam Hansen proudly announced. The Australian will be hoping to make up for his Grand Tour debut in the Giro d'Italia that didn't quite go as planned, as he had to drop out after only the second stage with a serious hand injury.
"Yes, I'm doing the Vuelta, and I can't wait," he explained to Cyclingnews Monday morning. "It should be good. It's the end of the season, riders are tired and our team is a little short at the moment with such a big race program. They said they were happy with how I'm riding and wanted me to do it.
"It will be a good experience, I think," he continued. "In fact, I'm looking forward to it." His hand shouldn't present any difficulties. "I won't have any problems with my hand, either. It has come along very good."
Going into the Giro he said, "I want to walk away healthy and not dead. I want it to bring me on to the next level." (Read the Giro interview.) After celebrating his 26th birthday with his team-mates on the day before the race started, he rode the opening stage team time trial. But his great adventure finished on the very next day as another rider touched wheels with him, bringing him down hard on his right hand and smashing his right ring and little fingers.
He had surgery on the hand and sat out much of the summer, returning to action in the Österreich Rundfahrt. His best finish there was in the fifth stage, where he came in sixth as a member of a successful breakaway group.
Since then he has been racing steadily, appearing in the ProTour races Clásica San Sebastián, Vattenfall Cyclassics and the Eneco Tour, which he dropped out of to prepare for the Vuelta. He was the best T-Mobile rider in the Tour de l'Ain, finishing 19th overall and drawing praise from team management. "Adam did very well in this challenging race. He is finding his way back to his old form after his serious hand injury," said Directeur Sportif Valerio Piva on t-mobile-team.com.
Hansen joined T-Mobile for this season after riding for smaller Austrian teams. His nickname is the 'Crocodile Man' because he won Australia's legendary Crocodile Trophy twice. (Read related Hanson feature.)
Italy's Squadra Azzurra takes shape
There are only 21 days left until Franco Ballerini will announce the nine men who will compose Italy's Squadra Azzurra to compete in the World Championships, September 30. The National Team Directeur Sportif will announce September 17 the men who will vie to defend the 2006 title won by Italy's Paolo Bettini in Austria.
Five men already have secured spots on the team according to La Gazzetta dello Sport; defending champion Bettini, Ronde van Vlaanderen and Hamburg Cyclassics winner Alessandro Ballan, Damiano Cunego, Filippo Pozzato and Davide Rebellin. The other four spots (plus two additional reserves) will likely come from Gabriele Bosisio, Marzio Bruseghin, Danilo Di Luca, Vincenzo Nibali, Matteo Tosatto, Giovanni Visconti, Daniele Bennati, Leonardo Bertagnolli, Raffaele Ferrara, Alessandro Bertolini, Luca Mazzanti, Manuele Mori and Christian Murro.
"They have to do better as [the selection] approaches," confirmed Ballerini, who has guided the national team to three gold medals (including Bettini's Olympic win). "It is not only my request; they are the first to know because they are all honest. I am not only looking at the obvious signals; I want something extra."
Bettini only has one win this year, way back in the Tour of California, but Ballerini is not preoccupied and knows the depth of the 33 year-old Tuscan. "'Paolino' was born a domestique and grew into a superstar. This is more important than anything else. If he knows that he is not at his maximum then he would do his part [to help the others]. I am not worried; his condition is at the level of 2006, maybe a little better."
Di Luca won the Giro d'Italia in May but has been hampered with investigations since that time, however, Ballerini does not doubt the determination of 'The Killer.' "I want him to be more 'turned on.' I have not yet seen his eyes; the look that he gives and you understand how much determination he has inside."
Cunego "is very understanding of my project. And I am happy for it." Pozzato "is an artist. He understands masterpieces and how they are drawn. In his DNA there is the possibility to win the rainbow jersey but also to make sacrifices if it is needed."
Ballerini expects 'Tin-Tin' Rebellin and Ballan to be super domestiques and jokers for the Squadra Azzurra. "The Stuttgart parcours is strange; it is not easy. We will need more than one leader. We will need to stay on the front with men that strike fear. Those men are Ballan and Rebellin."
The DS indicated that he will travel to the Vuelta a España on its first rest day, September 11, and follow the following two stages to get a better indication of the form of the men that will possibly take part in the race on September 30.
Bennati a likely Liquigas man
Tour de France double stage winner Daniele Bennati is likely to ride in the acid-green colours of Liquigas for 2007. The 26 year-old rider from Arezzo is expected to join forces with Filippo Pozzato and ride under the guidance of Team Manager Roberto Amadio according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
This year with Lampre-Fondital 'Benna' has achieved seven victories, one of which was the sprint win after a 200-kilometre escape in the Tour's stage to Castelsarrasin. The rider who started his career in the services of Mario Cipollini in 2002 with Acqua & Sapone has also been linked to French team Ag2r Prévoyance but it is believe that he wants to stay with an Italian team.
Bennati's close teammate, Alessandro Ballan, will likely resign and stay with Lampre-Fondital.
Kashechkin may start legal fight against UCI
Andrey Kashechkin, who returned a positive reading in an out-of-competition control following this year's Tour de France, is hoping to use the legal system to prevent punishment by the UCI. The defence will be based on the UCI's lack of competence in issuing sanctions for doping and his lawyer, Luc Misson, also said that it's an intrusion in one's private life.
According to Belgian radio station RTBF the case will be filed in the court of Liège, Belgium, if the B-sample also comes back positive. The results are expected this Wednesday.
Kashechkin of Team Astana is fighting against the UCI's regulation of conducting blood and urine samples, and his lawyer added that those "cannot be carried unless one has a mandate from the law. A private organisation like the UCI cannot assume the right to monitor people."
Karpin-Galicia eyes Pereiro
By Iker Rioja
The government of Galicia (co-sponsor of the Karpin-Galicia team) wants a well-known leader for its team, and wants it now. They are looking for a wildcard for the 2008 Tour de France. When its project kicked off last year all eyes were set on Oscar Pereiro, the local idol, but he politely turned down the offer but they are knocking at his door one year later according to an article in Spanish newspaper Marca.
Alvaro Pino's squad is asking again although the 30 year-old rider seems to be near a contract renewal with current team Caisse d'Epargne, with which he has been negotiating since the end of the Tour de France. Pereiro reckons that his present team offers him the stability that his career requires, while the pressure of the riding for his home team will be huge.
The rider from Mos has ridden four editions of the Tour de France, having finished all of them in the top ten.
Brown angry at missing out
Rabobank sprinter Graeme Brown missed out on the top ten in the mass sprint that ended the stage in the Eneco Tour's fourth stage. In three sprint finishes in the race the Australian has finished 25th, 11th and 15th.
The team "again tried to perfectly position him," according to its website, rabobank.nl, "but the Australian passed the finish line shaking his head, outside the top ten."
"Graeme Brown is very angry with himself and of course extremely frustrated too, because he keeps stressing that he has the required legs to seriously compete in a sprint for the victory. But, Graeme continues to experience difficulties in the final metres. Anyway, he will get another opportunity tomorrow," said Directeur Sportif Erik Dekker.
"You never know, but it seems like that parcours can only end with a bunch sprint."
Monday's stage should provide him with another chance to show what he can do, as the race runs 179.9 kilometres from Terneuzen to Nieuwegein, covering a very flat parcours.
Haedo helps Goss
Juan Jose Haedo may be better known than Team CSC sprinter teammate Matthew Goss but he was willing to help the young Australian in the finale of the Eneco Tour's fourth stage Sunday.
It was a fairly last minute decision, Directeur Sportif Scott Sutherland explained on team-csc.com. "20 kilometres before the finish JJ said that he didn't feel one hundred percent up to it, so he'd rather help Matt in the sprint.
"JJ has a bit more experience in positioning himself ahead of a sprint so it worked out really well. I actually think JJ felt better than he thought. Unfortunately though Matt was boxed-in at the barrier just 200 metres before the line, which was too bad 'cause he might've won otherwise. But it's an important part of a sprint to know when to make your move."
Goss ended up third, behind Quick.Step-Innergetic's Wouter Weylandt and Thor Hushovd of Crédit Agricole.
Ignatiev and Tinkoff close out Regio
Mikhail Ignatiev is steadily demonstrating that he will be one of the riders of the sport's future. The 22 year-old Russian took stunning early season wins and has gone on to show that those not just one-offs with his ride in the 23rd Regio Tour. He won the race's time trial while helping Tinkoff Credit Systems go on to win the team general classification with his second place overall.
"We cannot be more satisfied with how the race went here in Germany," explained Tinkoff Credit Systems Directeur Sportif Orlando Manini. "Certainly the overall victory would have been the icing on the cake but I have to admit that the boys were great and, in particular, Ignatiev, who once again showed his talents."
Ignatiev has claimed victories this year in the Tour Méditerranéen, Trofeo Laigueglia, Ster Elektrotoer and the Vuelta a Burgos. For more about the Olympic Points Champion read The first of many more to come.
The team was also pleased with its stagiaire Alexander Gottfried who finished ninth in the final overall classification, the attacks of Vasil Kiryienka in stage five and the Nikolai Trusov second place to Petacchi in opening stage.
Skil-Shimano releases Müller
The Professional Continental Team Skil-Shimano announced that it has terminated its contract with Christian Müller.
It is "with immediate effect. The reason is the rider's conduct and attitude as part of the Skil-Shimano cycling team, which are harmful to the team's interests and potentially to Skil-Shimano's reputation. A constructive, professional collaboration within the guidelines formulated by the team has often proved impossible this season."
The team emphasized that "this decision is completely unrelated to any suspicions of doping."
Müller, 25, joined the Dutch team this season after riding for Team CSC for two years. He won the German and European U-23 Time Trial Championships in 2004 and the German U23 road title in 2003. While with the CSC, the young German won the ProTour team time trial in Eindhoven.
Flat tyre stops Wood
A flat tyre kept Oenone Wood from fighting for the stage win in the second stage of the Trophée d'Or Sunday. The T-Mobile rider was in an escape group with Team Bigla's Nicole Brändli and Noemi Cantele but the mechanical problem threw her back and she finished third, about four minutes down.
"Of course Oenone is disappointed. But something like this can always happen," said Anna Wilson, the team's sporting director on t-mobile-team.com. "But I am happy to see her doing so well in such a difficult and demanding race like this after her injury and the stressful trip to Peking."
Wood crashed out of the Women's World Cup race in Vagarda, Sweden, earlier their month, but persisted with a visit to the Beijing Olympic course with the Australian National Team. She won a stage in the Trophée d'Or in 2003 and finished third overall.
Cantele retained the leader's jersey which she won in the first stage, and Brändli, who won the second stage, is second, with Wood third overall. "As far as the top two places in GC are concerned, the Trophée d'Or is over," Wilson said. "The other riders are just too far back. We will try to defend our third place and go for stage wins."
T-Mobile and the others will have two chances for stage wins on Monday, with a morning ride of 75 kilometres followed by half stage of 70 kilometres in the early evening.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)