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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for August 28, 2007

Edited by Greg Johnson and Paul Verkuylen

TDU gets Škoda backing

South Australian Minister for Tourism, Jane Lomax-Smith
Photo ©: Rachel Burke
(Click for larger image)

Australia's Tour Down Under has announced the signing of Škoda Auto as the event's major sponsor for the next three years. The announcement of the Volkswagen-owned Czech Republic car manufacturer as title sponsor is the first in a string of commercial announcements anticipated over the coming months.

"Škoda is a big supporter of cycling in Europe, currently sponsoring nine ProTour teams, major events such as the Tour de France and is the official car of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI)," said South Australian Tourism Minister Jane Lomax-Smith. "The major sponsorship brings direct investment, a strong marketing leverage program and international relationships."

Škoda's title sponsorship of the Tour Down Under will be a brand awareness initiative, with the company formally entering the Australian market later this year. While there's currently a select number of Škodas available in Australia the manufacturer has never before formally entered the market, but plans to launch 14 dealerships nationwide following the anticipated unveiling of its Roomster and Octavia models at October's Australian International Motor Show in Sydney.

Under tight security, Oppey
Photo ©: Rachel Burke
(Click for larger image)

"Whilst over time we made the transition to cars, the romance of cycling has remained strong and continued," said head of Škoda Australia Matthew Wiesner. "We are looking forward to being part of the Tour Down Under. Our association should help strengthen the event's standing internationally and in turn showcase our cars to an Australian audience."

Škoda was founded in the late 1800s as a bicycle manufacturer by 26 year-old bookseller Václav Klement before moving into motorcycle production in the final years of that century and then car production in 1905.

The announcement comes just before UCI's decision over the Tour Down Under's bid to become part of the ProTour calendar, with the UCI ProTour Council expected to make its decision in September.

A Škoda Roomster was unveiled from a plywood shipping box addressed to the Tour Down Under from 'Oppy', the event's kangaroo mascot which recently did a promotional tour at the Tour de France, at this morning's Rundle Mall announcement in Adelaide, South Australia.

For more information on the January 20 - 27 event, visit


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Pagliarini dedicates win to wife and daughter

By Greg Johnson

Luciano Pagliarini (Saunier Duval-Prodir)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Saunier Duval-Prodir's Luciano Pagliarini has dedicated his Stage 5 victory at the Eneco Tour to his daughter, who he's only seen for an hour in her whole life, and wife. The Brazilian professional's wife gave birth to their daughter, Aurora, 10 days ago, but due to Pagliarini's racing schedule he's only had the chance to spend an hour with Aurora on the day she was born.

"Because I had to ride Hamburg and the Eneco Tour, I´ve only been able to see my daughter Aurora for one hour after she was born ten days ago," he explained. "So this victory is for her and for my wife, of course. They gave me strength after a hard season with many difficulties of all kinds."

Victory on the stage from Terneuzen - Nieuwegein in the Netherlands was Pagliarini's first big result of the season. The little known 29 year-old, who has dubbed this his most beautiful victory, started out as a stagiaire in 2000 with Lampre - Daikin.

"This is undoubtedly my most beautiful win, and my first in the ProTour," he said. "I felt very good in the first week, but was not able to succeed in the previous three mass sprints. For that reason, I carefully studied the final today and chose a large gear. The sprint went perfectly, and I am very happy that I won it."

Until now all of Pagliarini victories had been with Lampre, where he rode for four years until switching to Liquigas in 2005 and Saunier Duval in 2006. Pagliarini's victories include five stage wins in Malaysia's Tour de Langkawi, three in 2003 and two in 2004, as well as victory at the Clasica de Almeria in 2003 and Stage 5 at the Vuelta a Murcia in 2004.

Saunier Duval, Euskaltel Euskadi for Vuelta

By Monika Prell

The two Spanish teams Saunier Duval Prodir and Euskaltel Euskadi have announced their squads for the Vuelta a España. Under the supervision of Joxean Fernández Matxin and Sabino Angoitia, eight Spanish and one Italian rider will contest the Vuelta for Saunier Duval, with José Ángel Gómez Marchante leading the squad.

Gómez Marchante will be supported by the climbers Leonardo Piepoli, David de la Fuente, Rubén Lobato, Iker Camaño, Ángel Gómez and the three young riders in Javier Mejías, Arkaitz Durán and Alberto Fernández de la Puebla. It will be the first Vuelta for Mejías, Durán, Fernández de la Puebla and also for Iker Camaño. The Spanish squad, which arrives in Vigo today, will have Alberto Benítez, Rubens Bertogliati and Christophe Rinero on hand as reserve riders.

Euskaltel-Euskadi has announced Samuel Sánchez as the leader of its nine man Vuelta squad. He will be supported by the two strong riders in Haimar Zubeldia and Igor Antón, while sprint duo Iñaki Isasi and Koldo Fernández de Larrea are aiming for stage victories. The team, which will be under the direction of sport director Gorka Gerrikagoitia, will also include Iñigo Landaluze, Aitor Hernández, Dioni Galparsoro and Alan Pérez.

McGee to ride Vuelta

Bradley McGee (Francaise des Jeux)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Australian Bradley McGee will contest this year's Vuelta a Espana Grand Tour for his Française des Jeux squad and hopes he may have finally found the reason behind health problems that have kept him sidelined. McGee's racing program has been interrupted on numerous occasions in recent years, with the rider struggling to overcome pain from what was initially thought to be a back injury.

McGee was told during a trip to Brussels in May, where he met with Eddy Merckx and 250 of the world's best spinal surgeons, that there may be another issue at hand, and that an operation on the herniated disc was not likely to solve his problem. McGee then returned to Monaco to consult yet another doctor, Dr Pariseaux, who specialises in re-education of professional football players, he explained on his website

A knee scan found a cyst that was believed to be causing the foot numbness, which in turn caused the problem in his leg and into his glutes. All these issues lead to lower back pain and problems McGee was experiencing due to his muscles compensating for one another.

The list of injuries that have contributed to his back problems over the past few years include a slight herniated disc at L4/L5, a pinched nerve at alcochs canal, a heavily contracted piriformis muscle in glutes and a cyst on top of the left fibula.

Dr Pariseaux "dried out" the cyst and, with a slight change in his riding position, McGee has headed to the mountains to train at altitude and test himself for the up coming race. "The sciatica is now no longer raising its ugly head," confirmed the Olympic champion. "Quite possibly the now pulverised cyst was the major cause but I am not wasting any time reflecting on such issues."

Valverde content with los Puertos showing

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), who finished second at the weekend's Clásica a los Puertos, is content with his performance but admitted to having trouble getting the job done when it comes to winning. "I have the same [form] like in the past years, but I have problems to wrap the victory up," he told "It's always difficult to win, and in this race it was shown clearly. My team has made a great work, and at the end we stayed with a bittersweet taste, because we could not win."

The Spanish rider's plan for the next month is simple and clear, he will only contest the GP de Plouay prior to the World Road Championships in Stuttgart, Germany on September 30. Valverde, who will spend the rest of September training at home, has thanked the Royal Spanish Federation of Cycling and the Superiour Sports Council for their support after the World Championship organisers declared they didn't want the Spaniard to compete, due to his possible implication in Operación Puerto.

"I will go there head held high, I don't have anything to hide and my only goal is to reach the gold medal, that escaped me already in some occasions," he declared. MP

Gerolsteiner decision due in a week

By Susan Westemeyer

German ProTour squad Gerolsteiner and its manager Hans-Michael Holczer will know what the future holds in one week, with the naming-rights sponsor expected to announce its future sponsorship plans. The sponsor's decision on whether to continue beyond 2008 will be made on September 4, according to director of corporate communications for Gerolsteiner Brunnen GmbH & Co. KG Stefan Göbel.

"The firm still has not yet made its final decision," Göbel told dpa. "Cycling has right now an image which could hardly be worse, and Team Gerolsteiner has some fine young riders."

Gerolsteiner spends an estimated nine million Euros a year on the team, which features such young German riders as Sefan Schumacher, Markus Fothen, Fabian Wegmann and Robert Förster.

Uran on the mend

Rigoberto Uran ( has surprised his doctors by making strong progress in recovering from his injuries the Colombian obtained at the Deutschland Tour. Uran made a spectacular exit from the German race when he flew off the road during the descent from the Riedbergpass, smashing with both arms into a retaining wall. The horrifying crash left Uran with two broken elbows and a broken wrist, and a crack in the back of his neck.

"Additional examination also showed a crack in the back of his neck, but it's absolutely harmless," said team doctor Andrei Mikhailov. "The fractures are healing surprisingly well. Uran is visiting the hysiotherapist the next two weeks and may return to some road training within four weeks."

The Columbian youngster is recovering at his European home in Brescia, Italy.

Martínez back to Euskaltel

Discovery Channel's Egoi Martínez will join his former team Euskaltel-Euskadi in 2008, having signed a two year contract with the Spanish squad. The 29 year-old turned professional in 2002 with the Euskaltel team, spending three years with the Miguel Madariaga directed squad, before switching to American team Discovery Channel in 2006.

"[I'm] very glad about my return to Euskaltel Euskadi," announced Martínez. "I had a few offers, but the one of my home team was very important for me. Miguel Madariaga and Igor González de Galdeano explicated to me the actual philosophy of the team, the importance of the unit of the squad and the team work, and I am delighted to initiate a new route under their command."

Euskaltel-Euskadi approached the rider after Discovery Channel's management company, Tailwind Sports, announced it would close down the operation at year's end. The Spaniard's palmarès includes victory at the 2003 Tour de l'Avenir, in addition to victory on Stage 11 of last year's Vuelta a España and the overall mountains jersey at the same event. MP

Henninger Turm race loses sponsor

The Henninger Brauerei, the main sponsor of "Rund um den Henniger Turm" announced Monday that it would cease its involvement with the race after the next edition in 2008. Company director Otto J. Völker said that the company would put the money previously used for the race into a brewery fest for the city of Frankfurt. "This decision is not a decision against cycling, but a decision in favor of the beer-city of Frankfurt," he declared to dpa.

Race organisers will now search for a new sponsor for the race, which is traditionally held annually on May 1. The race has been run annually since 1962. SW

Van Petegem and Baguet set for Derny Festival farewell

Peter van Petegem and his best friend Serge Baguet have accepted an invitation to race the Derny Festival in Wetteren, which will mark the final race for the pair in their home Provence of east Flanders. The duo recently announced that they would be retiring from the professional peloton on the September 11, and will contest the Derny Festival as apart of their goodbye to professional racing.

Joining the two retiring riders will be Wouter Weylandts and Nick Nuyens. Organisers are hoping that the dernies will be quick enough for the riders.

Brown gets Eneco podium

Graeme Brown (Rabobank) has finally got a top 10 finish in the Eneco tour in Holland, finishing Stage 5 in third place behind Brazilian Luciano André Pagliarini Mendonca. The Australian rider, who was angry having missed out on previous sprints at the event, again experienced some of the same difficulties that have plagued him over the past few days.

Brown managed to place himself on the correct wheel of Pagliarini going into the final few hundred metres, however the Brazilian was able to slip right through a small gap in the final 150 metres, a gap that closed just as Brown tried to squeeze through. The Australian had to find the right balance to prevent himself from crashing, and subsequently have the entire pack fall down on him.

Director Sportif, Erik Dekker was philosophical about Brown's Stage 5 sprint. "He demonstrated today that he has great speed," noted Dekker. "Additionally, he put out all stops in order to achieve a good performance. It is unfortunate that the gap just behind Pagliarini was clogged. Brown cannot be blamed for that, although he should have perhaps started his sprint a little earlier. That is a skill that he still needs to develop. To be in the right spot at the right moment."

Sydney's Sutton wants Slipstream success in '08

By Jean-François Quénet

Christopher Sutton (Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone) took victory
Photo ©: Freddy Guerin
(Click for larger image)

Australian Christopher Sutton is hoping to take his professional career to the next level when he moves to American Professional Continental squad Team Slipstream. The Sydney-born Sutton claimed victory in France at the weekend's Châteauroux Classic de l'Indre Trophée Fenioux, a round of the French Cup, as a thank you to his French ProTour team Cofidis.

"I have improved at Cofidis and I wanted to thank them with a win before moving on to Slipstream," said Sutton. "I've trained a lot with Matt White. With him as a director [at Slipstream in 2008], I believe I can improve even more."

Sutton turned professional with Cofidis last season, having ridden for the squad as a stagiaire the previous year. The 22 year-old took victory at the 202 kilometre Cholet-Pays de Loire last season and has already stood atop the podium this season, having won Circuit de la Sarthe's 188.8 kilometre Stage 4.

Sutton joins a long list of high-profile signings to the Professional Continental team, which is aiming for a ProTour slot in 2009. His team-mates in 2008 will include Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt, Great Britain's David Millar, Team CSC duo David Zabriskie and Christian Vande Velde, Crédit Agricole Julian Dean.

Di Luca to lead Liquigas

Italian Giro d'Italia winner Danilo Di Luca will lead his Liquigas squad alongside Luca Paolini at the GP Rubinetterie Nobili Borgomanero and the GP Industria Commercio Artigianato Carnaghese, that will take place on Wednesday 29 and Thursday 30 of August.

At the GP Rubinetterie Nobili the duo will be joined by Michael Albasini, Eros Capecchi, Kjell Carlström, Francesco Failli, Murilo Fischer and Charles Wegelius. The Italian squad expects nearly an identical lineup to contest the GP Carnaghese, with Wegelius the only exception, according to team manager Mario Scirea. The British rider will be replaced by Italian Andrea Noè for the race.

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