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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latesty Cycling News for July 11, 2007

Edited by Bjorn Haake and Laura Weislo

Long, dull day for Gerrans

By Shane Stokes

Simon Gerrans (Ag2r)
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

At 236.5 kilometres in length, the Tour's third stage from Waregem to Compiègne should have taken less than six hours at typical Tour pace, but as it was, the peloton was content to let the breakaway soft-pedal their way to a steady lead and have a lazy summer day coasting on their machines. Australia's Simon Gerrans found the going tedious and difficult, even though the bunch hardly got their heart rates above 100 beats per minute in the first five hours.

"The day was quite boring," the Ag2r rider complained. "You see it quite often when they throw in these crazy long stages that nobody wants to race. It ends up being a bloody hard day at the office, nobody is interested in going that hard for that long."

The breakaway of Mathieu Ladagnous (FdJ) and Nicolas Vogondy (Agritubel) went clear just kilometres into the stage, and their attempts was one of the first ones of the day, without even having to try too hard to stay away. "There were a few attacks but not for too long. CSC was happy to let something go," Gerrans explained, "So the two guys got clear and were away. They were just playing a game. They were just riding easy in front of us. As soon as we sped up, they sped up a bit. And as soon as we lost time to them, they eased off again."

Riding as slowly as 30 km/h may be easy on the cardio, but Gerrans said it wasn't easy on another part of the body. "You get a hell of a sore butt out of a stage like that! At least it wasn’t hot today - then that would have been hard."

Gerrans' job is to work for Dauphiné winner Christophe Moreau, and he doesn't have any aspirations of repeating the exploits of Ladagnous and Vogondy. "If I see a threatening break go with half a dozen guys in it, then I have to try to be in those sort of moves. But I am not going to go up the road with two guys like today. It's more important to have something for later in the race."

T-Mobile has its own pool

Linus Gerdemann from T-Mobile is riding his first Tour de France, and he now got to experience one of the more bizarre tactics in recent years. "This was very tactical and the two guys tried something new. They started out relatively easy to see what the field was doing," the Tour de France newcomer observed. "So both sides said to themselves we only fast when you ride fast."

The tactic almost worked but Gerdemann pointed out that the sprinters's teams got it all together in the end. For him personally the day was quiet again, he wrote on his Tour diary for radsport-aktiv.de

The hardest part was getting up as the doping control personal came by for an unannounced test at 7:15. They gave us 20 minutes to arrive at the scene. "Then we had breakfast earlier than planned. Without the control the wake-up call would have come around 8:00." The German talent also made use of the little perks as a rider of the Tour de France and went to the Tour village, to "have a look around, drink a coffee and chat to other riders."

Gerdemann revealed that this year the team has a relaxation pool with them for the first time. "To be precise there are actually two pools, made out of plastic. One is filled with warm water and one with cold. After the stage we sit in it to relax the muscles." Gerdemann pointed out that this helps regeneration.

Förster: The others were dead, too

Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Gerolsteiner sprinter Robert Förster reported in his Tour diary for radsportnews.com that he slept very well but woke up stiff with his injuries from the previous day's crash now showing its after effects. "But the longer I rode the better it got. And in the end there is so much adrenaline that you don't feel anything anyway."

He described that in the final kilometre he was well-placed in the bunch, behind teammate Haussler, who was right on the wheel of green jersey holder Tom Boonen. "But after 230km and then going over cobble stones I didn't feel fresh and told Haussler to go. However, at 700 metres he was with them again, not having realized that "the others were just as dead." At 300 metres he was 'rested' again. But now he didn't want to tell Haussler he changed his mind, also the latter revealed after the race that he [Förster] should have said something about the need for a leadout. The experienced German sprint star added that "it goes so quickly in the end, you can't think much."

Förster was very impressed with what Cancellara, who had a "very strong showing."

Blazing speeds

53.7 km/h was the speed of chronoman Fabian Cancellara in the prologue in London. In a Tour, the fastest ever stage, excluding the prologues and time trials, was accomplished in 1999 when the étape from Laval to Blois in the flat Loire valley was ridden at an average speed of 50.355 km/h. That day, it was Super-Mario Cipollini who got the honours.

The Italian is still in the record books and riders were not in a hurry yesterday to try to wipe out his name. At 35.81 km/h the stage was one of the slowest one in modern cycling. However, it still is a lot faster than the early versions of the Tour, with their long 300- or 400-kilometre stages. The slowest ever average for a whole Tour was set in 1919, when Belgian Firmin Lambot clocked in at 24.056 km/h.

Yesterday's average speed also beat out the hour record stats of Henri Desgrange, the sports journalist credited for founding 'Le Tour de France'. On May 11, 1893 he went 35.325 km in one hour.

The slow speeds meant the peloton arrived after six o'clock in the evening for the first time since 1998. Of course back then they were on strike and sat on the roadway for an extended period of time on two occasions before riding a non-competitive stage as a protest to the police raids that were initiated due to the Festina affair.

Bike Babies Born!

By Gregor Brown

A Cyclingnews baby
Photo ©: Richard Kröner
(Click for larger image)

As the Cyclingnews team was working hard in London, we struggled somewhat with the absence of our colleague Hedwig Kröner, who was at home in France giving birth to her first child. Daughter Sofie was born to Hedy and her companion Richard on 5 July at 12:07, weighing in at 3020g and measuring 47cm . Mother and daughter are in excellent health and Papa has run out of cigars. Congratulations Hedy, from the Cyclingnews team.

In Spain, Stefano and Maria Garzelli became parents for the second time as Luca was born on on the evening of July 6th. "I am still emotional for this new event and I have to admit that the birth of a child makes you appreciate the importance of life and the incredibility of nature," said the 2000 Giro Champion and winner of two stages in the 2007 Giro of his new son, Luca.

And Cyclingnews' good friend Fulvio Acquati informed us that on July, Sunday 1st, 2007, Federica Algeri, the Export Manager of Bianchi, gave birth to a daughter, Anna, in Bergamo, Italy.

It was already reported yesterday that Andrey Kashechkin became a father during his quest to also become a Tour de France Champion.

Congratulations to all new parents from the entire Cyclingnews crew.

Accusations all around

At the same when Jörg Jaksche was invited by German public channel ARD to talk about doping practices and Jan Ullrich accusing Rolf Aldag of telling fairy tales in an exclusive interview to L'Equipe, the current German Champion, Fabian Wegmann, who is riding in the Tour de France, also added his opinion.

The Gerolsteiner rider felt it was "a big blow the way ARD presented Jaksche as a co-commentator. He cheated for years and made a ton of money with it. Now he is cashing in even more, talking about morale and that he wants to save cycling," the German told a paper in his hometown area, the Westfälische Nachrichten.

Jaksche is also facing the heat from Gianluca Stanga, the owner of the Milram team, who has confirmed he wants to sue Jaksche. "I have never animated anyone to doping," contradicting the accusations of the German who got his pro start with Stanga. Jaksche had said in a Spiegel interview recently that Stanga gave him a "crash course" on how to use doping.

Stanga did acknowledge to be partially responsible, but not alone. "If there is a responsibility then I share it with race promoters, sports organisations and journalists, who would also have to be convicted.

Medifast renews sponsorship of Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast pro team for 2008

Fast on the heels of the Nature Valley Grand Prix last month, and still part way through the Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast pro cycling team’s inaugural season, co-title sponsor Medifast Inc. announced plans to continue its sponsorship of the team, led by Jonas Carney, for the 2008 season.

"It's a very natural and healthy fit for the Medifast brand," said Mike McDevitt, chief executive officer of Medifast Inc. "Cycling as a sport attracts such an educated, health and nutrition-conscious demographic that partnering with a pro cycling team makes a lot of sense to us as a company. Plus, with the attention the team has attracted this season, it really was a simple and very rapid decision to continue our involvement into the 2008 season."

Details will be worked out in the coming weeks. Kelly Benefit Strategies is a Maryland-based group insurance consultant and brokerage firm. For now, the team is focused on the rest of the race calendar, highlighted by two top five placements at the Nature Valley Grand Prix.

"Medifast is a fantastic partner in our pro cycling team venture," said John Kelly, the president of Kelly Benefit Strategies. "With their deep knowledge and expertise in nutrition, they are a natural complement to our Total Benefits Solutions focus and message. Thanks to their continued support and involvement, as well as that of our partners, we're going to continue growing a healthy, winning squad for the new season."

The Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast team is managed by Minneapolis-based Circuit Global Sports Management.

"This is terrific news," said managing director Charles Aaron. "It's really still early in the year to be thinking about the 2008 season, but we're thrilled to have this validation of how our team has grown and what we've achieved for our partners' investment this year. We are facing a very busy couple of months as we race through the second half of our 2007 calendar, but we're also focused firmly on what's coming down the road next year. There will be big plans in place."

Omnium champs come to T-town

Following a hot weekend of racing for the tandems at the Lehigh Valley Velodrome, the 'concrete crater' will host another big night of racing with the the North American Omnium Championships on Friday, July 13. The UCI sanctioned international event will name the 2007 Omnium champion.

With events for the sprinters as well as endurance riders, T-Town fans will witness a strong international field battle for points to make the final 5 kilometre 'omnium shootout' with bonus primes every lap and big money on the line. Riders from the New Zealand national sprint team, Trinidad and Tobago, Australia and all the hometown favourites will mix with a host of riders from Canada, Norway, and Puerto Rico.

The gates will open at 6:30 p.m. and racing will begin promptly at 7:30. To view ticket prices for all Valley Preferred Professional Race Series events go to http://www.thevelodrome.com/tickets.php.

Most Germans would watch Tour despite doping

According to a survey conducted by Forsa, 53 percent of Germans would continue to watch the Tour de France, even with a new doping case revealed. 39 percent said they would not, while eight percent had no opinion. The German public channels, ARD and ZDF, are considering cutting their broadcast of this year's Tour de France, should doping be uncovered.

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