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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for February 11, 2007

Edited by Steve Medcroft

The two kings of Caisse d'Epargne

Anchored by Alejandro Valverde and Oscar Pereiro, the Caisse d'Epargne team are heading into 2007 with high hopes. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes got the details from Directeur Sportif Alfonso Galilea:

Caisse d'Epargne directeur sportif
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

The Caisse d'Epargne team headed to last year's Tour with what they thought was one potential podium-getter on their hands, but another rider may yet end up with the final yellow jersey of the race. After Alejandro Valverde crashed out, Oscar Pereiro lost a lot of time, then gained back even more and ended up wearing yellow for several stages. What's more, although he finished on the second step of the podium in Paris, Floyd Landis' positive may yet present the Franco-Spanish team with a race win that they never thought was possible.

As for Valverde, he bounced back from his broken collarbone to finish second in the Vuelta, third in the world road race championships and win the ProTour. The team are now heading into 2007 knowing that they have two big guns for the Tour de France. Importantly, this fact relieves pressure on both of their riders while increasing it on the other contenders. It is, clearly, an ideal situation.

Despite this, though, for now the team are talking about podium places rather than going for the win. Valverde has crashed out of his first two Tours but does have a stage victory in the high mountains – in front of Armstrong, no less – to show as proof that he has the class to win it sooner or later. He and his team stress that reaching Paris is the priority this season, with 2008 the likely timescale for him to go all out for the win.

According to Caisse d'Epargne directeur sportif Alfonso Galilea, Pereiro showed last year that he is a real contender. "We have to think in the most positive way [about what could happen in July]," he told Cyclingnews at the team training camp on Friday. "Last year was very, very strange. We had the problem with Alejandro due to his crash in the first week, and everything changed at that point. With Oscar, after a very strange day when he lost half an hour, he was able to get back that time. And, after that day, he was in the top ten every day and was very, very good.

Read the entire Caisse d'Epargne feature here.

Aus track nats: So was that a world record, or not?

By Gerard Knapp

Saturday evening at the Australian national track cycling championships saw a number of firsts, including the inaugural 3km women's team pursuit to be held at a national level. This led to some good-natured speculation: was the winning time a new world record, given the event had not been held before at this level?

On hand at Dunc Gray Velodrome in Sydney was the UCI's vice-president and track racing chief, Ray Godkin. When pressed on the question, he would only say to the best of his knowledge, he was not aware of any recorded time for this event being considered the world record.

NSW Team
Photo ©: John Veage
(Click for larger image)

The teams pursuit for women will be introduced into the UCI's Track Cycling World Championships in 2008, providing more opportunities for endurance riders, especially some of the world's leading road riders, to compete at an international track racing event.

While only three Australian states fielded squads, the new event was generally well-received by the crowd, riders and coaches. It also helped that the final ride-off for gold and silver between New South Wales and Western Australia was a very close, see-sawing race, with both teams holding down narrow leads over the 12 laps.

The winning time of 3.39.08 by the NSW team of Amanda Spratt, Skye-Lee Armstrong and Toireasa Gallagher, was fractions ahead of the WA U19 trio of Sarah Kent, Camille Pallett and Josephine Tomic, who finished in 3.39.34. But the new event was staged on Saturday evening, February 10, at the end of a very busy program for all the riders, and there was only an hour between the qualifiying ride and the final. The other state to enter a squad was that of Victorian riders Jessica Berry, Tess Downing and U19 rider Lisa Friend, who rode 3.41.3 in qualifying.

It's considered the winning time will be soon be improved, as Spratt had ridden a 3.42 for an individual pursuit silver medal over the same distance two days earlier, and the current world record for the women's 3km individual pursuit is held by New Zealand's Sarah Ulmer, with a time of 3.24.537.

However, within minutes the event had changed from something of a novelty to serious competition, as the young women rode to their limits and Spratt in particular put in a three-lap turn to bring home her team.

Each of the riders had been in many endurance events over the previous six days, and the teams pursuit was put at the end of the program to avoid affecting the riders' performances for qualification events for this years' world track championships, to be held in Majorca in March. Still, Spratt really anchored the NSW squad and rode the final three laps on the front without a break, as Gallagher's job was to ride until 1km to go and then pull out.

A challenge
Photo ©: John Veage
(Click for larger image)

In the women's event, the team's time is taken on the second rider to cross the line, and the NSW pair of Spratt and Armstrong still fanned out on the final bend, as did the WA trio, to ensure they got the best possible time as they crossed their respective finish lines.

So while it got off to a stutter - the first-ever qualification ride by WA was a false start - it finished with a bang, as the young women of NSW and WA really fought out the final and put on an exciting race. Afterwards, other female endurance riders were heard to be asking coaches to help put a squad together for next year.

And if it's anything like the mens' teams pursuit, there will be bragging rights and pride in the title for years to come.

"It was a bit of an unknown really being a new event and it was an exciting prospect," Spratt said of lining up in a teams pursuit for the first time. "We knew we had a good shot but WA has three juniors with world class times in the individual pursuit so it's great to come in and pull it off."

So was Saturday night's ride a world record? Well, if not a record, it's a benchmark and believed to be the first time the event had been held at a national level. However, a Cycling Australia official pointed out that for a world record to be ratified, it needed electronic timing equipment to one thousandth of a second, and for mandatory doping controls to be taken afterwards (neiother were available for the national titles).

For complete coverage of the 2007 Australian National Track Cycling Championships, click here.

Tinkoff scores first team win at Langkawi

By Anthony Tan in Seremban, Malaysia

Ever since they announced their entry into the professional peloton some months ago, Tinkoff Credit Systems have talked the talk. And it wasn't much more than that. But on a stinking hot Saturday in Seremban, 25 year-old Pavel Brutt walked the walk.

Held on a brutal up-and-down, 173 kilometre-long parcours, the super-strong Russian used a combination of determination and brute strength to first go away in the day's early move, open a lead that at one stage threatened the maillot jaune, before changing his tactics in an all-out assault for victory.

As Brutt crossed the line with his fist clenched low, three seconds clear of Sergey Kolesnikov ( and Pierre Drancourt (Bouygues Telecom), one could see from his facial expression that victory was significant. "It was a very difficult stage - I think it was nine and a half... no, ten," he smiled, asked to rate the difficulty of today's effort out of ten. "But to be the first Tinkoff rider to win a stage, I'm very happy."

For full coverage of stage 9 of the Tour de Langkawi, click here.

Simoni's Euro debut

By Gregor Brown

Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Gilberto Simoni made his 2007 European debut in GP Etruschi, an Italian race that is a stepping stone towards his season goal, Italy's big one, the Giro d'Italia. The two-time Giro winner hopes to make three this year and is preparing by competing in races that he enjoys.

"Now Donoratico, then [Trofeo] Laigueglia," said Simoni to Tuttosport before Saturday's race. "There is not hurry, I race where I like, it is my life, my passion. And before [Milano-] Sanremo I will also race in a mountain bike World Cup, in the Canary Islands, the first round of the Marathon competition; a new world that fascinates me."

Rumour is going around Italy that Simoni will want to close out his career with an Olympic gold in Beijing. Is this the case? "No, if I have to be sincere," the Saunier Duval-Prodir rider said. "The first thing I am thinking about is to win the next Giro d'Italia. It is also the desire of my team, which I trust in. It is a Giro that I like a lot. Last year was very difficult but, in many ways, this year is better. There are many mountain top finishes that really excite me; Le Tre Cime di Lavaredo. And Lo Zoncolan, will make for grand finale to the Giro.

Simoni was overpowered by a super Ivan Basso in the 2006 'Corsa Rosa' and for 2007 his rival looks even stronger, with the backing of Lance Armstrong's former henchmen. "I don't think much of Basso. He does not interest me. If he goes strong or slow, it really does not interest me. No matter what, I look after myself, I try to be my best, to be at the start in Sardegna at 110 percent efficiency. Then, there are the others, and not only Basso, that will also be in top form."

Challenge Illes Balears (Volta a Mallorca) opens Spanish season

By Shane Stokes

Some of the world's top professionals will get their seasons underway over the next few days in the Challenge Volta a Mallorca; five 1.1 events linked by an overall classification. The format of the race allows the riders to pick and choose which races to ride, ensuring a huge pool of entrants from some of the biggest teams in the sport.

The lineup is headed by last year's victor David Bernabeu, who will be fronting the Fuerteventura-Canarias team born out of the ashes of the Communidad Valenciana squad. Other big names include Alejandro Valverde and Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne), Tom Boonen and Peter Van Petegem (Quickstep Innergetic), Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Erik Zabel (Milram), Stefan Schumacher and 2006 stage winner David Kopp (Gerolsteiner), David Millar (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile) and Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas).

In all 11 ProTour squads are part of the 21 team lineup, namely Astana, Caisse d'Epargne, Rabobank, Quickstep Innergetic, T-Mobile, Milram, Liquigas, Discovery Channel, Saunier Duval-Prodir, Euskaltel-Euskadi and Gerolsteiner.

Read the full Challenge Illes Balears preview here.

IOC reprimands Pound for Armstrong remarks

By Susan Westemeyer

The International Olympic Committee has reprimanded World Anti-Doping Agency head Richard Pound for comments he made suggesting that Lance Armstrong had used doping products, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Pound publicly suggested in 2005 that Armstrong had "very likely" used EPO during the 1999 Tour de France. The cyclist subsequently filed a complaint with the IOC's Ethics Commission.

The IOC upheld the Commission's finding that the remarks "could have been regarded as likely to impugn the probity" of Armstrong, and went against the Olympic goal of "a spirit of friendshp, solidarity and fair play".

The Ethics Commission had released its recommendation on February 2, saying that the IOC should "remind (Pound) of the obligatin to exercise greater prudence ... when making public pronouncements that may affect the reputations of others."

McEwen 'developing' his future

By Susan Westemeyer

Robby McEwen
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

At 34 years old, Robbie McEwen only expects to ride three more years, but he is already planning what he will do when he climbs off his bike for good.

He is branching out in to the property development busines in his native Australia, according to The Courier Mail. "I realize as an athlete you have a certain lifespan and I don't want to get to the end of my career and say what do I do now," he noted.

The Predictor-Lotto rider said that he is using his fame and contacs to help establish himself. "You can use the networks and your profile to learn more. I get to meet many people and hear about a lof of things going on."

McEwen says he hoped to learn enough to move full-time into the deveopment business within the next few years.

It's Brad v Brad at Manchester World Cup

The battle of the Brads
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

Entries for the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Manchester 23rd -25th February have served up an intruiging match-up between Bradley McGee and Bradley Wiggins in Friday's men's 4,000m individual pursuit (similar to their head-to-head battle at the 2004 Olympics).

Olympic team pursuit champion McGee will be hoping for an early celebration by winning the event on the day before his 31st birthday on Saturday. Sydney's McGee was part of the world record breaking Aussie quartet that won the gold medal in the Athens Olympics leaving Great Britain with the consolation silver.

McGee is a world class act having led all three Grand Tours, taken stage victories in the Tour de France and Giro D'Italia and has been Commonwealth, World and Olympic champion. Wiggins rides the event as the current Olympic individual pursuit champion. He was also the first Briton in over 40 years to win three medals at the same games. The Cofidis professional has already targeted victory on British soil in the Tour De France prologue this year and victory in Manchester would certainly show that he can produce form when he needs it for key events.

Wiggins has been training in Manchester and Newport and feels that his preparation is going well. "I think once you come here on race day and you have someone on the other side of the track and the crowd behind you, that everything will come together," Wiggins told British Cycling. "I have put a lot of emphasis on doing this round of the World Track Cup because I can see it is such a big event. I was commentating on it last year and I was sitting there wishing I was riding. So I am looking forward to it being as big as it was last time."

The men's individual pursuit starts with qualifying on the afternoon of Friday 23rd February with the head to head medal rides in the evening. Chris Hoy will also be in action for Great Britain on Friday night in the men's kilometre time trial.

Tickets are still available for the event. Full details can be found on

Ernesto Colnago: Seventy-five and still going strong

Tim Maloney-European Editor

Colnago and Vanni Brambilla
Photo ©: Tim Maloney
(Click for larger image)

Ernesto Colnago was born on a cold February 9 morning seventy-five years ago to Antonio and Elvira at 8, viale Garibaldi in a small farming village just west of Milano on the Lombardy plain. This Friday, the man they call "il mago di Cambiago" (the wizard of Cambiago) treated his diamond anniversary like business as usual, working a full day in the office as always, with the exception that he had extra visits, faxes and phone calls from his many of well-wishers.

On a mild winters day, Cyclingnews joined the queue and was invited to sit down for an espresso with Signore Ernesto. At an age when many people are headed for retirement, Ernesto Colnago still has the passion of a teenager for racing bicycles and bicycle racing. "Tomorrow Petacchi will win," referring to the Milram sprinter's Italian debut in the GP Etruschi (and he did - ed.). "We are sponsoring two ProTour teams, and Landbouwkredeit, Panaria, Navigators and Tinkoff, as well as disabled champion Fabbrizio Macchi, the CAP Arreghini MTB team with Eva Lechner and amateur teams like Pallazago-Vellutex. It's a lot of work for us, but we love racing and this gives us the input we need to improve our products every year."

Colnago also said that his company was already working on some special new products for introduction later this year. "Come with me," he said and we went into the office next door, where Colnago's son-in-law Vanni Brambilla was checking a new generation of monocoque carbon fibre lugs for the Extreme Power. "We make the Extreme Power in 21 sizes as well as custom and each model has it's own set of one else in the industry has made this investment in tooling."

As another group of Colnago's friends arrived, we bid him "arrivederci" and headed out to brave the Autostrada, passing a new Colnago globe statue outside the museum wing of his Cambiago HQ. On the base is inscribed Colnago motto: "When the Bicycle Is...Art".

After over six decades, for Colnago, his passion still burns bright.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Tim Maloney/Cyclingnews

IPCT launches online PR initiative

The IPCT GIE, (the Economical Interest Group of 17 cycling ProTeams), launched a Web site this week. to communicate their goals and objectives to the public. The site contains the organizations mission and contact information as well as links to the team Web sites of all the member teams.

The Web site will also be used by the organization's members for internal communication. The Web site can be found at

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