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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News for February 19, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Neo-pro Donald nearly stages coup in California

By Laura Weislo in San Francisco, CA

Jason Donald (USA) Team Slipstream
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

Jason Donald, a 27 year-old neo-pro with Jonathan Vaughters' Team Slipstream squad never imagined that he'd be sitting in a press conference, surrounded by photographers and reporters with them all hanging on his every word, snapping photos and laughing at his self-deprecating humor, at the end of his first big professional race. "It's hard to believe you're all interested in what I have to say", the Winter Park, Colorado resident said. "I've never had so many people wanting to take my picture - ever!"

Instead of heading back to the team bus, getting a snack and a massage after his race, this previously unknown rider spent the entire afternoon sitting in the 'hot seat' at the top of the leader board at the Tour of California prologue, watching top name after top name try and then fail to unseat him. It wasn't until the very last rider, Levi Leipheimer, came across the line that he was knocked down to second place, by less than two seconds.

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Aided by favorable conditions, Donald was the seventh rider to roll down the start ramp, and as he approached the top and caught a glimpse of his time on the clock, he was shocked: Levi Leipheimer's time last year was 4:53 - and Donald said "I was coming into the last few metres and saw 4:48, 4:49 - I couldn't believe it would hold up!" About the rest of the race, Donald said, "I don't really remember much about the ride - it's all sort of a blur, and maybe it's better that way."

Spending two and a half hours waiting to find out if he'd win was "kinda hard", Donald said, but the fact that he had beat two world champions wasn't something he had even thought about. "For you to put me on that same level is a great honor - and hard to believe - it's so huge I just have to try not to think about it."

Read the complete Donald Tour of California feature.

Rabobank, T-Mobile surprises in California prologue

By Susan Westemeyer

Rogers for T-Mobile
Photo ©: Rob O'Dea
(Click for larger image)

T-Mobile and Rabobank were pleased and surprised with their finishes in Sunday's Tour of California Prologue. Pleased, because they were top-ten placings, but surprised at the riders who brought in those results.

T-Mobile's best rider was not former world time trial champion Michael Rogers -- who finished back in 12th place -- but newcomer Adam Hansen. In his team debut, the Australian finished only six seconds behind winder Levi Leipheimer. "Right after my ride I thought I had started out too fast, but naturally I'm very satisfied with my results," he said on the team's website,

Compatriot Rogers was also satisfied. "Based on my training stand at this time of the season, it was a good result for me," said Rogers, who came in nine seconds down.

Not satisfied with his performance was the youngest member of the T-Mobile squad, Gerald Ciolek, who had hoped that his debut in the magenta jersey would have turned out better. The 20 year-old finished 36 seconds down, way back in 110th place. "The prologue didn't go so well for me," he said. "I couldn't find a good rhythm in the flat part and then overdid it when I got to the climb."

Dutch squad, Rabobank, had a surprise seventh place finisher; little Columbian climber Mauricio Ardila, who is not known as a time trial or prologue specialist. The team's website,, noted that the course favoured him, as the final 700 metres featured an 11 percent climb.

"It was a terrific day from him as these races aren't suited for Ardila and to start the Tour of California this way is a great boost for his morale," said team manager Erik Breukink. He further noted that "Ardila had a difficult time when he joined our team last year and the boy wants to show us and the world what he is capable of."

Tight Méditerranéen sprint finish - Lorenzetto over Bennati

Close call
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Sunday, the final stage of the 34th Tour Méditerranéen resembled the parcours of March's Classic, and was sort of a pre-Milano-Sanremo parcours. The riders faced the 122 kilometre stage from Dolceacqua to Sanremo, covering the Cipressa and Poggio before arriving on the streets of Sanremo (with the only difference being a finishing along the water front versus the traditional Via Roma).

The stage came down to a sprint between Micro Lorenzetto from Treviso and Daniele Bennati from Arezzo, with the former, 25 year-old Milram rider, getting the victory by a whisker. The judges were forced to rely on a photo finish that gave the win by one centimetre to Lorenzetto; his first win after four years as a professional.

It was a bit of good luck following 2006 the Giro d'Italia, where he had the Milram train at his disposal after an early departure by team leader Alessandro Petacchi. "I had made my [pre-Giro] preparations for leading out. Less on the explosiveness and more on the ability to progress [in speed]," he explained to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The near misses in the sprints were finalized with an unfortunate finish; after three weeks of the Giro, Lorenzetto crashed out in the closing kilometres of the final stage into Milano.

Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The dedications where three-fold after the podium celebrations in Sanremo. "To Francesca, who I will marry this October 21. To Giuseppe, my dad, who always followed me from when I started riding. He would help me train for the sprints; him in the car and me on my bike [pacing]; at 60 kilometres an hour in his draft. There were days when we would repeat this 25-30 times; it was better if the road went up on a slight incline. Finally, to Michele Gobbi, who crashed last year at Beghelli; I hope that he returns soon with us."

Not so fortunate for Benna, who was looking for his second win of the season after winning stage 2 of the Tour. The Tuscan sprinter will have the Classics on his agenda, specifically Milano-Sanremo, but was still a little peeved in missing out on a close finish, where one judge had even opted for ex aequo et bono. "We were equal," he quipped. "On the computer, for me there was no difference, I swear. Both he [Lorenzetto] and his director, Vittorio Algeri, were in agreement for an ex aequo. Then one French judge... "

The two will meet again in Sanremo, but then the young Milram rider will be working for Petacchi while the full Lampre-Fondital squad will be muscling for Benna.

111 kilometres produces Cioni win

Yesterday, in the Ruta del Sol, Dario Cioni (Predictor-Lotto) went the distance to get his first win since 2004, when he rode for Fassa Bortolo. He was part of a two-man escape, with Basque Anton Luengo (Euskaltel-Euskadi), for the final 111 kilometres of the 146 kilometre stage; ditching his companion in the finale to arrive in La Zubia with one second over Luengo, and five seconds over the sprint, led by Oscar Freire (Rabobank).

"I did not think that the escape would arrive," the 32 year-old of Varese explained to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "But we went strong, and at 30 kilometres to go I started to taste victory, more so than the Spaniard. After Donoratico, it was only my second day of racing with the new jersey, and also for this, the victory is beautiful."

Cioni signed for Predictor-Lotto after two years of riding for Liquigas, and will be a valuable asset to Aussie Cadel Evans in the Grand Tours. "I made this change to have new stimulus. Right away I felt the trust from everyone, not saying that the last two years were terrible. I will ride the Giro and Tour, to do well and to help my friend Cadel Evans."

The race continues on Monday with a 156-stage from Vegas del Genil to Cazorla.

Kristin Armstrong recovering from knee surgery

By Mark Zalewski

Kristin Armstrong (USA)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Time Trial World Champion Kristin Armstrong (TEAm Lipton) underwent Arthroscopic surgery on her knee a month ago and is recovering at her home in Boise, Idaho.

The American road and time trial champion was training in the off season when she noticed a pain in her knee, which quickly progressed to the point where she could not even ride her bike. "I started out having pain at the end of December and it got to the point where I couldn't pedal my bike," she told Cyclingnews. "They went in four places and cleaned out the thickened tissue. They were only going to go in three places, but decided to do four just to make sure."

Armstrong was present at her team camp the other week in New Mexico, but was only able to coast along on her bike for the team pictures. However, she recently started back to riding out on the road, two weeks ahead of schedule. "I took a big step this weekend. I was doing indoor rides, but I was able to do a two hour ride on the road [this weekend]. They didn't expect it until six weeks after, and it was four!"

The surgery means she will not be able to race in the first World Cup of the season, the Geelong Tour or the beginning of the US season in March; an unfortunate outcome with the way the calendar is organized. "The women's calendar is interesting. There are a lot of races in March and nothing in April. I won't be able to race in March so we'll have to see when I will first race... probably in May."

Nonetheless, the major goals of the season remain unchanged, and the delayed start could even benefit her with the World Championships so late in the season. "I am going to stick to the schedule, since it's a long season with the World Championships. I am going to focus on the time trial at worlds again. The team expects me to be back and ready to go for Montreal, Liberty Classic and Nature Valley. I should be hungry by then!"

Actually, she's already getting her appetite back, with her teammates placing at the Tour de Tucson last weekend. "My teammates were first and third this weekend, so I am so fired up to race now!"

A region for Oscar Pereiro

By Monika Prell

Yesterday, February 18, hundreds of people participated on bicycles in the Yellow March that passed through the streets of Vigo (Galicia). According to the Spanish newspaper Marca, they called for the elevation of Oscar Pereiro to 2006 Tour de France winner. In the march were Galician government General Director of Sports Santiago Domínguez and Pereiro.

As a sign of their solidarity all participants – except Pereiro – wore yellow jerseys. The organizers will send some cards which were signed by the participants to the UCI. On those cards they claim the official nomination of Pereiro as winner of the Tour.

After the march, Pereiro thanked all the participants for their presence, "It's very great to see that so many people support me," affirmed the Galician, who has to wait for the end of the counterclaims of Floyd Landis, before being named as the winner of the Tour, where he finished second behind the American.

Gerolsteiner for Algarve

Davide Rebellin will start his season in the Volta ao Algarve commencing Wednesday, Gerolsteiner has announced. The five-day race from Albufeira to Portimao covers 949.4 kilometres and presents many climbs.

Gerolsteiner for the Volta ao Algarve: Thomas Fothen, David Kopp, Andrea Moletta, Davide Rebellin, Matthias Russ, Ronny Scholz, Stefan Schumacher and Marcus Zberg.

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