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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News for February 2, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Fukushima disappointed with Langkawi loss

By Greg Johnson in Langkawi, Malaysia

Fukushima and Nippo team at presentation
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Hard-charging Koji Fukushima is disappointed he didn't take victory in the Tour de Langkawi's opening stage today, after leading from the start right through to the closing section of the 82 kilometre stage. The Nippo-Meitan Hompo rider attacked early to lead the first 70 kilometres of today's stage, taking the King of the Mountains and both sprint victories along the way, before being caught by the peloton in the closing 10 kilometres.

"Every year there are many, many great teams in the Tour de Langkawi, so I was very afraid to be caught," said Fukushima following the race. "I wanted success today, but I will still try to keep attacking through the Tour also."

Fukushima now leads the Mountains and Asian rider classifications and is equal on points in the sprints classifications but says he still wants to take a stage victory for his team in one of the remaining nine stages.

"For me, I'm proud of this," he said. "But I don't want to concentrate to only keep the Asian jersey, because if we could win one stage it would be great for us. Today, I was very lucky; from tomorrow, it will be hard but I will still try hard to attack."

The quirky Japanese rider enjoys rock-star status within the Asia region, aided by his fluency in most local languages. Fukushima, who recently finished fourth in the Tour of Siam, handed out hundreds of postcards of himself to adoring fans at both the start and finish of today's stage, before continuing his post press conference tradition of playing the harmonica.

Le Tour de Langkawi participants will now board a ferry back to mainland Malaysia, where the remaining nine stages will be held, starting with tomorrow's 166 kilometre Stage 2.

Van Avermaet makes pro mark

Belgian Greg Van Avermaet of the Lotto team poses on the podium
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

21 year-old Belgian, Greg Van Avermaet, made his mark early into his professional career by taking out Tour of Qatar stage five against some of the biggest names in the business of bicycle racing. Pitted against the likes of Kim Kirchen and Marcel Sieberg, the Predictor-Lotto rider had his work cut out for him, and, in fact, he held off one of Boonen's henchmen, Wilfried Cretskens, to win the stage.

"Watch out, he can win," said king of cycling, Eddy Merckx to La Gazzetta dello Sport. Had it not been for an accident in football we might not be watching Van Avermaet snatch victory in Doha. At 17 years-old he was already at the doorstep of Belgium's top-level football club, Beveren, when he switched to cycling for rehabilitation.

Cycling was in the family; his father raced in the amateur ranks, while his grandfather, Aimè, raced amongst the best of his generation. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Aimè achieved 10th, behind winner André Darrigade, in the 1956 Giro di Lombardia.

Van Avermaet had the confidence of a winner as the 160 kilometre stage unwound towards Mesaieed. "I did not know any of my escape companions, but I knew what I was capable of doing. From the amateur ranks, in arrivals like this, I often won," he said with pride post stage.

Friday, the peloton will contest the final stage of the 6th Tour of Qatar before flying back home to Europe. Van Avermaet will make the trip with a smile on his face before preparing to go confront the spring season. Certainly, like Merckx wisely noted, cycling fans will have a new name to "watch out" for in the finales.

Il Pirata-Marco Pantani airs Monday

Actor Ravello on Pantani's Bianchi
Photo ©: Sirotti
Click for larger image

A new film Il Pirata-Marco Pantani, based on the life of Marco Pantani, winner of the 1998 Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, will air Monday on Italian television Rai Uno. The fictional account of the last rider to win the Giro-Tour double was the work of Producer Bibi Ballandi and Director Claudio Bonivento, with 37 year-old Rolando Ravello as the leading actor.

"Sporting or not, it is important that the stories are worth recounting," said Bonivento. This February 14 will be three years since the death of the former cyclist portrayed in Bonivento's film. "I believe that Marco was a victim of prejudice ... and, at the end, abandoned."

"I rode 3500 kilometres, nothing compared to the professionals, but for a novice...," said Ravello of his preparations, Thursday, to La Gazzetta dello Sport during the films presentation.

"It was a beautiful and terrible voyage," Ravello continued. "I was fortunate enough to have the access to anything I needed for the part. We travelled all over Cesenatico and Madonna di Campiglio. I used Pantani's bicycles, I rode with his domestiques.

"The first day of shooting I felt the eyes of [Marcello] Siboni and [Fabiano] Fontanelli. Then, one time, I saw them spying on my gestures and one of them said to me 'You know that he did it this way?' It was the best compliment possible."

Local viewing time of Il Pirata-Marco Pantani is February 5, at 21:10 on Rai Uno.

2007 Saunier Duval-Prodir is ready

By Hedwig Kröner

2007 Saunier Duval-Prodir
Photo ©: Daniel Schamps
(Click for larger image)

The European heating technology group Saunier Duval has chose Paris as the location to present its pro cycling team. On Thursday, February 1, the predominantly Spanish ProTour team announced its 2007 roster to the public at the Club Med World Hall in the French capital, and also celebrated the 100th anniversary of Saunier Duval.

Tour de France stage finish announcer Daniel Mangeas presented the 29 riders, of which nine were absent due to the ongoing Tour of Qatar. The most important new signing for 2007 is climber Iban Mayo, who showed great strengths at the 2003 Tour de France and won the Dauphiné Libéré the year after, while riding for Basque team Euskaltel-Euskadi. Within the new squad, the 29 year-old will target victories at stage races like the Giro d'Italia or the Tour de France.

Team Manager, Swiss Mauro Gianetti, will also count on big names like time trial specialist David Millar as well as Italians Leonardo Piepoli and Gilberto Simoni. At 35 years of age, the two-time Giro d'Italia winner and his fellow countryman have a lot of experience to build on.

Moreover, the team announced its engagement in the French fundraising organisation 'Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque', which provides medical help to children suffering from heart malfunctions. And, last but not least, Saunier Duval made known that its commitment to plant trees in Mali, Africa - one for each kilometre raced by the team - still holds. "Just talking about global warming is no use, we have to act," said Gianetti.

The 2007 Saunier Duval-Prodir team roster lists as follows: Raúl Alarcón (Spa, Elite 2), Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat, Universal Caffè-CB Immobiliare), José Alberto Benítez (Spa), Rubens Bertogliati (Swi), Iker Camaño (Spa, Euskaltel-Euskadi), David Cañada (Spa), Juan José Cobo (Spa), David De La Fuente (Spa), Jesús Del Nero (Spa, 3 Molinos Resort), Arkaitz Durán (Spa), Alberto Fernández De La Puebla (Spa), Koldo Gil (Spa), Ángel Gómez Gómez (Spa), José-Angel Gomez-Marchante (Spa), Rubén Lobato (Spa), Iban Mayo (Spa, Euskaltel-Euskadi), Piotr Mazur (Pol), Javier Mejías (Spa), David Millar (GBr), Manuele Mori (Ita), Luciano Pagliarini (Bra), Leonardo Piepoli (Ita), Riccardo Riccò (Ita), Christophe Rinero (Fra), Gilberto Simoni (Ita), Guido Trentin (Ita), Francisco José Ventoso (Spa), Remmert Wielinga (Ned, Quick-Step) and Carlos Zarate (Spa).

See Cyclingnews' teams database for more team information.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Daniel Schamps

Testing route unveiled for 2007 FBD Insurance Rás

By Shane Stokes

2007 FBD Insurance Rás
Photo ©: FBD Insurance Rás
(Click for larger image)

The organisers of the 2.2 ranked FBD Insurance Rás have released details of what they hope will be another tension-filled edition of the Irish Tour this May.

The 2006 edition was laden with suspense, so much so that that final outcome was only decided in the final two hundred metres of the race. British rider Kristian House ( finished on precisely the same time as former world under 23 time trial champion Danny Pate (TIAA-CREF), but won out thanks to better stage placings.

In addition, three other riders were all within 40 seconds of the yellow jersey, with Morten Hegreberg (Norway Sparebanken Vest) 12 seconds adrift and Irish riders David O'Loughlin (Ireland Grant Thornton) and Tommy Evans (Dublin IRC Usher Insulations) just 21 and 38 seconds back respectively.

This year's contest runs from May 20 to 27 and has been designed to promote another tight battle. The route is almost 1200 kilometres in length, features 20 King of the Mountains climbs and with a tough 174 kilometre final stage; there should be flat-out racing right up to the end.

"Once again this year, through the generous sponsorship of FBD Insurance, the Irish sporting public will have the opportunity of seeing the very best Irish cyclists doing battle over Irish roads with national and professional teams from many parts of the world," said organiser Dermot Dignam this week.

"The racing will be tough, fast and highly competitive... Only the best man will receive the accolade of 2007 FBD Insurance Rás Champion at the finish in Skerries."

The race begins with a 157 kilometre stage from Naas to Templemore, the riders tackling two crucial bonus sprints and the second category climb of The Cut before hitting a 25.4 kilometre finishing circuit. Day two takes the field 147 kilometres over one second category and two third cat. ascents en route to a first-ever stage finish in Loughrea.

Sligo is the destination on stage three, the riders covering 171 kilometres to the home town of 1998 world junior champion Mark Scanlon. This stage and the following day's 138 kilometre leg to Dungloe will be fast, tactical and mainly flat, with both featuring just one third category hill.

However the big mountains make their appearance on the gruelling 131 kilometre fifth stage to Buncrana with six categorised climbs lying in wait, including the much feared cat. one Gap of Mamore. This is certain to shatter the field and up-end the general classification.

Days six and seven feature rare stage finishes across the border, with the 96 kilometre race to Derry and the 165 kilometre leg to Newcastle in County Down shaking things up further prior to the concluding stage to Skerries on Sunday May 27th.

As was the case last year, this is a full road stage rather than the traditional criterium and will feature six category three KOM climbs, including two steep ascents of the Black Hills on each lap of the finishing circuit. It promises to be a dramatic finale to the 2.2 UCI ranked event.

"Last year's result was incredibly exciting and was the perfect ending to the race," said Dignam. "The ideal situation for any Tour is that the result is undecided right up until the final stage and that was certainly the case. It was definitely one of the most competitive Rásanna ever held and we hope that this year's route will ensure another great battle."

2007 FBD Insurance Rás:
Stage 1 – Sunday, May 20: Naas – Templemore + 1 lap of circuit, 157 km
Stage 2 – Monday, May 21: Templemore - Loughrea, 147 km
Stage 3 – Tuesday, May 22: Loughrea - Sligo, 171 km
Stage 4 – Wednesday, May 23: Sligo - Dungloe, 138 km
Stage 5 – Thursday, May 24: Dungloe – Buncrana, 131 km
Stage 6 – Friday, May 25: Buncrana – Derry, including 10K loop, 96 km
Stage 7 – Saturday, May 26: Derry – Newcastle, 165 km
Stage 8 – Sunday, May 27: Newcastle - Skerries + 2 Laps of circuit, 174 km

Jaksche, Volksbank and the Deutschland Tour?

By Susan Westemeyer

Will Jörg Jaksche ride for Team Volksbank this season, and will Team Volksbank be allowed to ride in the Deutschland Tour if he does? Various reports yesterday from the team and the race indicated a certain amount of confusion; which is nothing new or unusual for anything having to do with the Operación Puerto.

Volksbank announced yesterday that it had broken off negotiations with Jaksche, because his presence could endanger their participation in the Deutschland Tour. Later, race organizer Kai Rapp said he could allow the team to start, although probably not Jaksche.

So how does this affect things between Volksbank and Jaksche? Team manager Thomas Kofler explained to Cyclingnews, "We are still interested in JJ. We have spoken with him about matters and think that we will be able to find a solution to this confusing situation in the near future, because he is taking matters into his own hand."

Belgian cycling league denounces Het Laaste Nieuws

Beligan cycling league, La Royale Ligue Vélocipédique Belge (RLVB), has denounced the practices of national newspaper Het Laaste Nieuws in reporting its recent doping news. printed the following statement by RLVB. "Independent of the content, the mode in which the newspaper and the journalist have published its hypothesis of presumed organized doping in Quick-Step and the rolls Patrick Lefevere and Doctor Yvan Van Mol could have played, is contrary to many professional ethics and objective journalism," noted RLVB.

"The voluntary prejudice against the team and cycling in general is unacceptable. In the event that the newspaper and the reporter have documented proof, then the RLVB invites them to hand it over as soon as possible to the federal prosecutor Jaak Fransen."

Friday, January 26, Lefevere outlined his documents that distanced him from the newspapers reports. "A newspaper – worthy of that name – would never use such methods," Lefevere responded. While Van Mol openly released his 1995 audio recording, saying to VRT, "because I knew that if I didn't Het Laatste Nieuws would have ... The newspaper wouldn't have published the whole interview, making things difficult for me."

The Ochoa judgment is closed

The Provincial Judge of Malaga has ratified the sanction of €1,800 imposed on the ex-director of the University of Malaga, Sebastián Torres, stemming from the February 15, 2001 collision with twin brothers and former professionals, Javier and Ricardo Ochoa, which caused the death of Ricardo.

The decision confirms the first ruling of May 2006, when the court ordered Torres to pay a fine of €1800 and to give up his driver's license for a year, according to newspaper El Mundo.

In May, Judge Isabel María Alvaz considered the accident to be "partly as a consequence to sunlight distraction, partially entered the road's right-hand shoulder," although it was indicated the defendant "did not exceed the maximum speed limit."

For this, Torres was ordered to pay €1800 and, with the insurer AXA, €363,768 to the parents of Ricardo and €1,574,962 to Javier for "the days in the hospital, the permanent disabilities, medical expenses and for pain and suffering.

The Ochoa family expressed their disagreement with the overall decision and its lawyers announced that they would appeal the sentence.

Javier, who won the Hautacam stage of the 2000 Tour de France ahead of Lance Armstrong, suffered a shattered left leg, five fractured vertebrae and severe cranial trauma, and he remained in a coma for 64 days. He was unable to return to professional competition but won a gold medal in the 2004 Paralympics in Athens.

3-Länder Tour just before the Worlds

The 3-Länder Tour in Germany will be held shortly before the Road World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, and claims itself as "the perfect preparation for the Worlds." Tour organizer Christian Bergemann announced Thursday that the race through the German states of Thüringen, Hessen and Baden-Württenberg will be held from September 19 to 23.

The race, which was formerly called the Hessen Tour, will feature a good starting field. "We will have the top teams at the start," Bergemann said, who recently returned from Australia where he negotiated with Bjarne Riis over an appearance by Team CSC. "The chances are good that, in addition to our German ProTour teams of T-mobile, Gerolsteiner and Milram, we will also have the other top international teams."

The tour route will be announced at a press conference in March.

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