First Edition Cycling News for January 22, 2007
Edited by Steve Medcroft
Tour Down Under: perfect title defense for Ag2r
By Jean-François Quénet in Adelaide
French outfit Ag2r has broken their habit of winning the Tour Down Under every three years, which they did with Gilles Maignan in 2000, Mikel Astarloza in 2003 and Simon Gerrans in 2006. After leading a Frenchman to the overall victory, then a Spaniard and an Australian, they now have found a Swiss rider in the person of Martin Elmiger, who was Vincent Lavenu's first pick when his former team Phonak collapsed.
"In France, we don't have many good riders for the classics and we had to strengthen our team for the one-day races", Lavenu explained. Ag2r shined in the 2006 Tour de France with Cyril Dessel and Christophe Moreau. Sharing this honor with the more prestigious CSC, Quick Step and Discovery Channel, they also were one of the only four teams winning a stage in every Grand Tour - with Tomas Vaitkus in the Giro, Sylvain Calzati in the Tour and José Luis Arrieta in the Vuelta.
They started the Tour Down Under with mixed feelings. On one hand, they were reduced to six riders with Stéphane Goubert staying in France after the death of his father and Carl Naibo realizing he had a major knee problem that forced him to pull out of the race quickly. On the other hand, they wanted to win again. "There were some pressure leading up to the Tour Down Under as defending champions", noted Gerrans who was pleased to see new signing Elmiger taking over the team's captaincy after finishing 2nd on stage 1.
"This was the perfect position, Gerrans recalled. We never had to defend the jersey at all. It was much smarter than last year when the guys had to do a lot of work for me. So it was still a preparation race for us although we were in an attacking position all the time. We didn't miss any breakaway and we had someone for the win every day. For Martin, there was no better way to start with a new team."
For Ludovic Turpin, it was a nice way to re-start. He made a break as well in stage 2, something he hadn't experienced for six months since he won the prestigious stage of the Izoard in the Dauphiné prior to crashing and breaking his femur the next day. Turpin has ridden the Tour Down Under five times and he has won three of them as a domestique!
As for Gerrans on a personal level, winning as a domestique was also a nice feeling after winning himself with all the responsibilities on his shoulders three Australian stage races in a row - two Herald Sun Tour and one Tour Down Under. "My form this week was good enough to help out but not for winning, he said. My first big goal of the year will be Paris-Nice in March. I'll start in Europe with GP La Marseillaise, maybe I won't contest the bunch sprint [he crashed and broke his collarbone at this race last year, ed.] this time but I'll be there. Then I'll do the Tour of the Mediterranean and the Tour du Haut-Var. I'm very happy with the program Ag2r has prepared for me again. It's my third year with the team and they have always given me a lot of confidence."
Instead of the every-three-years win in mind, Ag2r will return to Adelaide next year with the idea of winning three years in a row.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the 2007 Tour Down Under here.
Vandenbroucke vows to tell all in new book
Publisher Borgerhoff & Lamberights is scheduled to release an autobiography by rider Franck Vandenbroucke on February 5th in which the ProTour rider is claimed to say "EPO? Everyone did it. Me too."
According to Spertwerld.com, the publisher quotes Vandenbroucke from the book (titled "I am not God) in a sales brochure publicizing the book to distributors and retailers as writing "It is the truth, and it takes nothing away from my victories."
The brochure goes on to say that the book is about "a man who dares to look at his own past through his own eyes and hints that the cyclist will offer a candid insight into doping in the sport of cycling.
Vdb is riding the 2007 season with Acqua & Sapone.
2007 Tour wraps up with a guarantee for the future
The Tour Down Under is helping to put South Australia on the world map and will remain as a major tourism event for the State into the future, Premier Mike Rann guaranteed today.
As the event gears up for its 10th birthday in 2008, Premier Rann says the Tour attracts thousands of tourists and generates the kind of worldwide media coverage that money cannot buy.
No-one can take this event away from us the State Government owns the Tour Down Under, we run the Tour Down Under and its ours to keep.
We have backed up this commitment with extra funding of up to $2 million over the next four years to make the event bigger, better and even more prominent on the world stage.
Mayo says he's after stages at the Tour
By Antonio J. Salmerón
The Saunier Duval - Prodir team are holding their training camp in the south of Spain, in Estepona. At the camp, team rookie Iban Mayo once again denied to Cyclingnews.com any involvement with doctor Eufeniano Fuentes (Operación Puerto), refuting recent media claims implicating him: "(Those reports are) totally false," he said. "Nobody has said to me that my name has appeared in all this (affair). I do not know doctor Fuentes. I have always worked with the team's doctor".
The Basque rider says he feels motivated by the confidence Saunier Duval-Prodir displayed by signing him. "The truth is that I do not aspire to reach the podium of the Tour, although I am going to fight to be there. What I have already demonstrated is that I am able to be protagonist in the mountain, so that I want to gain stages. On the other hand, I desired to made debut in the Giro. In Italy, the objective is clear: to help Simoni, who has already gained it twice. At the same time, if the race circumstances allow me to takes advantage of my options, I will do as well as possible".
See also: Saunier Duval - Prodir for 2007 in the Cyclingnews Team Database
Hammer scores second Gold in L.A.
After claiming a gold medal in Friday's points race, Sarah Hammer (Temecula, Calif./Ouch Pro Cycling) continued her streak of success with a record-breaking performance in the women's three-kilometer individual pursuit Saturday. Hammer earned her second gold medal of the weekend with a win over Verena Joos of Germany in the pursuit final after surpassing her own national record during the morning's qualifying session.
Hammer clocked a personal-best time and rewrote the ADT Event Center record books with a time of 3 minutes, 32.058 seconds on her way to earning the top seed before beating Joos in the head-to-head final to successfully defend her win from a year ago.
In the 12-lap contest for the gold medal, Hammer started strong, but slightly eased off the gas after realizing victory was imminent. She finished the race with a winning time of 3:37.607. Joos finished in 3:44.243. "Once I had her (Joos) in my sights, I just put it on cruise control," commented Hammer of her conservative second-half tactics.
With victories the primary objective, Hammer wasn't sure she'd produce record speed after riding an aggressive points race just 24 hours earlier. "I didn't expect a new record today after my effort in the points race yesterday. I knew I could do it on fresh legs, but the points race was really one of the events I wanted to focus on this year."
The victory was Hammer's fifth-consecutive significant win in major competition after earning back-to-back World Cup wins in Los Angeles, a World Championship and USA Cycling national titles in 2005 and 2006.
Aussie teen takes senior World Cup win
Reigning triple junior World Champion, Cameron Meyer, 19, stepped up to challenge for his first senior World Cup event on Saturday and immediately made his mark beating a host of World Champions to claim the gold medal in the men's 30 kilometre points race.
Meyer, who last year won the individual pursuit, Madison and teams pursuit crowns at the Junior World Championships, won three of the 12 sprints contested and placed in four others to finish on 24 points, four points clear of 2002 points race World Champion Chris Newton (GBR) and ten ahead of bronze medallist Sergey Kolesnikov (RUS).
"Basically I was in every breakaway," said the West Australian teenager who last weekend claimed the silver medal in the U23 men's road race at the Australian Open Road Championships. "At one stage I took half a lap and was away with the Madison World Champion (Spaniard Joan Llaneras). "Because I was away on lots and lots of breaks that's where I picked up my points I guess," said Meyer who admits he was a little intimidated by the quality of the field he lined up with. "Stepping into senior ranks for my first points race was a bit scary.
"The senior riders are just a lot more experienced and smarter bike riders and at a higher level than the juniors," he said. "They're fast, strong and smart and I guess tonight I was too. There were lots of World Champions in the race so to win in such high calibre company - I'm just over the moon."
Karpin-Galicia for 2007
By Antonio J. Salmerón
The new Karpin-Galicia Pro continental squad was oficially presented yesterday. It will be directed by Alvaro Pino, who won the Vuelta in 1986 when was professional rider and after that he was director of the Kelme-Costa Blanca and the Phonak. He assured that, "Karpin-Galicia team is a dream now made reality for many riders, for thousands of fans who love cycling and for future Galician riders. In this sense, Pino added that, "Karpin-Galicia are going to fight for obtaining victories in all races we take part in the name of Galicia (the Spanish region this squad was set up), although calm is necessary.
The president of the Karpin-Galicia team, the ex- Russian footballplayer, Valery Karpin, thanked for the support of the Xunta (regional goverment), in addition to other public and private institutions and sponsorships so that this cycling project could be carried out".
The Spaniard squad will be lead by Marcos Serrano (Liberty) and Santos González (3 Molinos Resort) and composed by David Abal, Serafín Martinez, Gonzalo Rabuñal, Xuan Francisco Mourón, Gaizca Lasa, Luis Fernandez Olibeira, Ramon Troncoso, Brown Carlos, Enrique Salgueiro, Gustavo Caesar Veloso, Gustavo Domínguez, Santos González, David Herrero (Euskaltel), Eladio Jiménez (Comunitat Valenciana), David Garcia, Isidro Nozal (Liberty), Ezequiel Mosquera (Comunitat Valenciana) and Eduard Vorganov.
The presentation act was presided over by conselleira of Culture of the Xunta de Galicia, Anxela Bugallo, who emphasized that, today is an historical date for our cycling, after many working hours, from the Galician Administration, in collaboration with many other insitutions. She remembered that the Galician Cycling Foundation was born to make reality this cycling project of future". Bugallo foretold cycling is living a very hard moments, but we will always count on a very special squad and many people that arrange to support to the Karpin-Galicia team.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Antonio Salmeron/Cyclingnews.com
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)