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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for July 15, 2007

Edited by Steve Medcroft

Gerdemann comes out atop on the bottom of La Colombière

By Brecht Decaluwé in Le Grand Bornand, France

Linus Gerdemann
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The 24 year-old German rider, Linus Gerdemann (T-Mobile), put on a stellar performance in the mountains on Saturday in Stage 7 of the Tour de France; exactly one day before the tenth anniversary of compatriot Jan Ullrich's stunning performance up to Arcalis in stage 10 of the 1997 Tour. Gerdemann won the stage to Le Grand Bornand after boldly attacking his remaining breakaway partners with the last man to succomb to the vicious teutonic attack being Dmitriy Fofonov (Crédit Agricole), some five kilometres from the summit.

Gerdemann pulled off a rare trifecta yesterday: a stage win (in the mountains), plus taking over the white jersey for best rider under 25, and of course, the yellow jersey.

There are many positive parallels between Gerdemann and the Jan Ullrich of ten years ago. They both won their first stage in the Tour at a tender age (Gerdemann is 24, Ullrich was 23), they earned the overall lead with their coup and they obviously took over the young rider's classification. However, neither one got to wear the white jersey. Ullrich couldn't because the maillot blanc had taken a hiatus at the time and was only brought back in 2000. And Gerdemann will for now wear yellow; the preferred colour for any Tour de France rider.

The white jersey may still be an objective later on, as he faces a real battle to wear yellow all the way to Paris, but although he has shown the ability to get through the mountains unscathed, even his young rider's classification ambition may fall victim to his designated workhorse role for team leader Michael Rogers.

Read the entire Linus Gerdemann feature here.

Junior riders injured in US Nationals crash

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newspaper reported Saturday that "At least eight people were taken to area hospitals after a bicycling accident Saturday morning near Seven Springs Mountain Resort."

The Seven Springs Resort is currently host to USA Cycling's National Festival. The riders were reported to have been just a few miles into their 56-mile Junior 17-18 category road race, but the report said that "two people were flown by emergency helicopter" while "six other persons were taken by ambulance to Somerset Hospital, and an undetermined number of persons were taken to Excela Health Frick Hospital in Mt. Pleasant." Other news reports say that as many as 30 riders were involved in the crash.

The USA Cycling National Festival is currently in it's ninth day of competition and runs until July 16th. The event runs through July 14.

40 years since Simpson death

By Cyclingnews staff

Jaques Goddet
Photo ©: John Pierce
(Click for larger image)

As Bradley Wiggins went off the front of the peloton on Friday for a massive 190 kilometre escape, a small group of people were gathering to remember another British rider - Tom Simpson. Friday marked the 40th anniversary of Simpson's passing on the climb to Mont Ventoux in the 1967 Tour de france.

A small group including Vin Denson, Ray Pascoe and most of Simpson's family travelled to Mt Ventoux on Friday for a service.

Simpson was the first British rider to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France and the only Briton ever to win the professional world road race championships, Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders and the Giro di Lombardia. Simpson's achievements on the bike were all the more remarkable for the time they happened. While English-speaking riders are now common in the European peloton, in the early 60s a lad from County Durham in the North of England was a rare bird indeed.

Simpson died of heat stroke and cardiac failure on the slopes of Mont Ventoux. He had amphetamine in his bloodstream and was reported by team-mates to have drunk brandy before the mountain to try and ease stomach pain.

Former Tour de France organizer Jaques Goddet laid a wreath in 1987 (pictured) at the foot of a memorial erected just off the road at the spot that the Brtish rider, who collapsed from his bike once on the climb but famously asked to be put back on his bike, finally succomed.

Klöden sore but fighting

By Susan Westemeyer

Klöden was injured in Thursday's crash
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Andreas Klöden struggled to make it to the finish line Thursday after the crash which left him with a hairline fracture on his coccyx, "at exactly the same place where I had this problem in 2003 at the Tour."

"I landed directly on the coccyx when I crashed, and it swelled up" he wrote on his website, andrea-kloeden.com. "This presses on a nerve and goes down my leg. Right now I have no feeling in parts of my foot."

The first night was not a comfortable one. "I only slept three hours," the Astana rider said, "since I could only lay on one side. Every time that I rolled over in my sleep, I woke up."

Things weren't much better on Friday. "I was pretty knocked out and could hardly move. It was to my advantage that the stage was flat and the tempo was kept down. As soon as I put pressure on the pedal, all the muscles in the affected area tense up. That presses on the swelling on the nerve, which in its turn causes great pain."

However, he is not giving up and says that he and injured teammate Alexander Vinokourov "are firmly committed to keep on fighting, as long as we can manage."

Mountains start went to Discovery plan

By Brecht Decaluwé in Le Grand-Bornand

Discovery Channel's team leader, Levi Leipheimer, says the start of the mountain's stages in this year's Tour de France are going exactly to plan for the American and his squad. Leipheimer was never in trouble on the stage to Le Grand-Bornand and seemed to have no trouble with the pace of the peloton.

"It went as planned," he confirmed. "There were about as many riders over the top as I expected, maybe a few less. It was a hot day so it was important to eat and drink a lot. It was a perfect day in the mountains and I'm sure there was a selection made but I didn't look around too much, I just focused on staying in the front."

Discovery Channel had around five of its riders in the main peloton, which contained all of the general classification contenders that made it over the Col de la Colombière. "That was the plan. Too bad that the breakaway wasn't within reach because I felt that Popovych had a good chance, tomorrow there's another day," Leipheimer stated, looking forward to another day in the mountains.

Horner watching over Evans

By Gregor Brown Le Grand-Bornand

Predictor-Lotto's Cadel Evans.
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Chris Horner is Cadel Evan's dedicated domestique in the 94th Tour de France. The American is joining forces with Italian Dario Cioni to help the Australian top the podium in Paris. Saturday morning, Bastille Day in France, he indicated that the team was ready for the mountain days to come.

"Everything is great. Today is a good day for me to keep an eye on Cadel," said Horner to Cyclingnews. Both Horner and Evans finished in the group of favourites in stage seven to Le Grand-Bornand, 3'38" behind stage winner Linus Gerdemann (T-Mobile). Tomorrow will be a more testing affair with the mountaintop finish to Tignes.

"I think that today and tomorrow you are going to see some really good action," Horner said. "The other directeurs are really going to take advantage of Klöden and Vino not being one hundred percent. ... It could be that these two favourites are a little off today or tomorrow but after the rest day they may come good again."

Horner explained that Team Predictor-Lotto is not built to make an all-out assault in the mountains. "We don't have the team setup to do that. The team setup for that is Christoph Moreau's team or another like that, where there are eight guys dedicated. That is where you can hit the climb with six guys going one hundred percent and then have two of them take you over the top, or something like that. But with our team we have Dario Cioni and me, and that is not enough guys to be burning guys up and then leave Cadel at the top with ten other riders."

The 35 year-old American is impressed with Moreau. "He always races the Tour de France with the motivation to win it. Now he is looking at it realistically. Without a doubt, you will see his team not letting things go up the road unless they for sure have someone good in it."

McEwen's jersey hopes over

Australia's Robbie McEwen realizes that the Tour de France's green jersey for best sprinter is far away, especially as the peloton is heading for the mountains this week. "I'm still watching at the jersey, but from a distance," laughed the Predictor-Lotto rider. "Seriously, 50 points is too far out. I was good in the last sprint but Zabel blocked me."

While his hopes of taking the green jersey may have been dashed, the Belgium-residing McEwen declared he's in the event for the long haul. "I've had nine Tour finishes so I'm not planning to step out," he said. "I'm just taking stage wins as my next goal. I'll have to get through the mountains first but next week I should be there again in the sprints." BD

Moreau is ready for the war

By Jean-François Quénet in Le Grand-Bornand

Christophe Moreau (AG2r) on the Dauphine podium just a few weeks ago
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

As the winner of the 2007 Dauphiné-Libere, which covers some of the same ground as several stages of the Tour de France, Christophe Moreau feels at ease for the day the Tour de France comes to the Alps. "These are my favorite mountains and I'm looking forward to it," he said.

Laying in 21st position, only 36 seconds down on best-placed favorite Andreas Klöden, the 36 year-old Frenchman is happy with his first week of the Tour. "It's my 12th Tour de France and I have the experience for avoiding the troubles," he said. "I kept myself out of the crashes this time. It hasn't been the case all the times in the past."

Moreau said he spoke to Alexandre Vinokourov the day after his big crash. "I had the feeling he was badly affected," Moreau said. "Of course this will change the scenario of the Tour. As for myself, I'm happy to hit the mountains. The Tour really begins now. It's less nervous. We're close to getting a clear hierarchy in the race."

Moreau was the only Frenchman finishing in the group of the favorites in Le Grand-Bornand. Although breakaway man Laurent Lefèvre stayed away and now stands in 4th place on GC, the French champion should have no problem getting the position of best Frenchman overall; something he has achieved four times in Paris already with a peak just below the podium (4th) in 2000.

With the loss of a few Tour de France contenders since the exclusion of five major champions one year ago in Strasbourg, the Ag2r rider aims for more than just being the first Frenchman in Paris. Since he won the Dauphiné last month, he says: "We'll see how things are in Tignes. From there on, we'll decide whether I ride for stages or GC."

The last Frenchman to make the top three was Richard Virenque, Moreau's team-mate at the time at Festina; the guy who made the French crowds crazy came 2nd in 1997. "I've stayed focused so far and this is the nerve of the war," Moreau said. "At the Dauphiné I realized it suits me better to go on the offensive."

Zabel calls for amnesty

Erik Zabel has called for an amnesty for those who confess to having doped. "I see an amnesty as the chance for cycling," he told the German magazine, Welt am Sonntag. "The International Olympic Committee, the UCI and the national federations could set a deadline, giving everyone until that date the chance to admit to doping without consequences and in the sense of overcoming the past," he said.

The German sprinter, who rides for Team Milram, showed understanding for his former teammate Jan Ullrich, who had criticized Zabel and Rolf Aldag for making their confessions in order to continue working. He noted that the principle of "Innocent until proven guilty" must apply. "Jan, Ivan Bassso, Michele Scarponi and Joerg Jaksche are so far the only ones being held responsible in Operacion Puerto. So I can understand why Jan is upset."

Zabel said that he would like to take part in the World Championship in Stuttgart, but realizes that the national federation may not feel that it can nominate him. "I know that the Bund Deutscher Radfahrer is under a lot of pressure, concerning the financing of the World's, and that the funding carries certain conditions with it," he said. "If this pressure, or the pressure on me, should become too much, or if I turn out to be problem for young riders, like Fabian Wegmann, then I would be glad to sit down and talk with the BDR management. We will be able to find a solution."

Reus remains in coma

Rabobank's Kai Reus remains in an induced coma in a hospital in Grenoble, France. The doctors said that he would remain so until his situation improved.

Meanwhile, the team released more details on how the accident happened. Police reported that he crashed while descending the Col d'Iserand, tumbling off his bike when he tried to pass a car and the chain on his bike broke, according to the team's website, rabobank.nl. Bystanders and police were able to provide first aid, and the cyclist was conscious at that time and when he was brought to the hospital. He was placed in the coma after surgery.

His parents are now with him in the hospital, as is team doctor Dion van Bommel.

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