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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Edition Cycling News for July 22, 2007

Edited by Sue George and Paul Verkuylen

TdF 2007 - the Pyrenees await

By Paul Verkuylen

Alberto Contador - one of the riders likely to light up stage 14
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

As expected the Albi time trial yesterday shook up the general classification and presented the major contenders for the overall victory in Paris. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was the performance of Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), who not only held on to the yellow jersey, but caught his three-minute man and biggest threat on GC going into the stage, Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne).

Today's stage 14 to Plateau de Beille, is only the second mountain top finish of this year's Tour and with two steep hors catégorie climbs in the final 65 kilometres, is set to once again to light up the field and see the general classification contenders attacking each other. Only 3.37 separates the top five overall and with the top ten being dominated by team Astana with three riders, and Discovery channel with two riders, the stage will pose enormous problems for overall rac leader, Rasmussen.

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After showing the rest of the Tour field yesterday that he has recovered from his crash in the best possible fashion - by winning convincingly - Alexandre Vinokourov has said that his Tour is far from over. He plans on attacking in the Pyrenees, and with team-mates Andreas Kloden and fellow countryman Andrey Kashechkin both in the top six, Astana will most likely be the team that ignites the stage.

Australia's Cadel Evans finished second to 'Vino' yesterday after coming in 1.14 behind the flying Kazakh, but the Australian reduced his overall deficit on GC to just one minute even behind Rasmussen. It was a controlled ride by the Australian and puts him in an ideal situation. His team is not strong enough to help him defend the yellow jersey, but in second place he can watch the inevitable attacks from the Astana boys as they try to wear down Rasmussen. With minutes separating Evans from the other contenders, he can afford to keep an eye on all the strong GC riders and keep Rasmussen within a minute, which he should be able to peg back in the final time trial next Saturday.

Another rider that should not be discounted today is Alberto Contador, the Discovery rider who won Paris-Nice earlier this year has possibly the most explosive acceleration in the mountains, which he proved on the Galibier earlier in the Tour. With Rasmussen now being heavily marked, the Spainiard may well take his chances with a long range attack for the jersey.

This will only be the third time that the tour finishes atop the steep climb of the Plateau de Beille and if history is anything to go by, the winner of this stage may well go onto winning the tour overall, just as Macro Pantani did 1998 and Lance Armstrong in 2002 and 2004.

McQuaid applauds Gerdemann, disappointed with German TV

By Shane Stokes

Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

A week may be a long time in politics, but it seems even longer in cycling. Since 24 year old Linus Gerdemann took a good-news mountain stage win and the yellow jersey last Saturday, team-mate Patrick Sinkewtiz has tested positive, race leader Michael Rasmussen has been under a cloud and German television has withdrawn live coverage of the event.

UCI President Pat McQuaid may be frustrated with these latter developments but he feels that Gerdemann's victory and his ongoing decent debut in the race is a plus for the sport. "Linus is an absolutely superb representative for the sport of cycling now and what it is going to be in the future," he said on Friday

"What he did is absolutely very encouraging. I sat at home and watched it [stage seven] on television; I was thrilled to see him do that. I was also very happy with the comments that he came out with afterwards [in relation to racing clean], and also the comments that he made after Sinkewitz's positive A sample. I think he is a good example of the type of rider that we want in the sport in the future."

German television decided after that positive test to withdraw all live coverage from the race. McQuaid said that this is an over-reaction, and that it is unfair to penalise a sport which is doing more than most in this area.

"I think that it is a great pity that the German television stations have decided to do what they did. I think it is completely unfair to the sport of cycling that is doing so much in the fight against doping. There are other sports that are really doing very little. For instance, there was a big story in Britain yesterday about golf. The British media featured a statement from Gary Player saying that some top golfers are using human growth hormone and other doping products. Right now, there is no testing being done in golf, and yet the German media will cover the German Open golf and the British Open golf. They are not even looking for doping substances there.

"I feel it is unfair to pick on cycling, which does so much testing and which actually catches guys. I mean, Sinkewitz was caught in a test, which shows that the system works, and so to pull the coverage on that is unfair. It is unfair to the German public, it is unfair to all of the German sponsors who are putting so much effort into the fight against doping, and it is completely the wrong decision."

Future of the team and Puerto delay

As a result of the negative headlings, the T-Mobile sponsors have said that they will sit down after the Tour and decide whether or not to stay involved. McQuaid feels that any withdrawal of sponsorship would be a mistake.

"I think it would be a great pity if T-Mobile decided to pull out at this point of time," he stated. "I understand that this is political in Germany, there are politicians jumping in to get involved and I see that even Sylvia Schenk has made comments which are completely unnecessary.

"T-Mobile does have public money in it and there is a lot of pressure on them. I understand that, but I think it would be a great pity if it happened [if the sponsor pulled out]. I think that the team is doing the maximum possible to prevent doping, as much as you can do. But you simply cannot control guys 24 hours a day."

Cyclingnews asked McQuaid about the current situation with regards the Operación Puerto case, and when he thought that it might be possible to compare DNA samples from riders [as has been agreed in the new UCI charter against doping] and the blood bags found in Eufemiano Fuentes' clinic last May.

"You've got to bear in mind that the judge has closed the case in Spain," he stated. "We have appealed, as did [former Kelme professional Jesus] Manzano. His appeal was turned down by the judge but he had only appealed to him; the UCI, WADA and the Spanish prosecutor had appealed to the Madrid High Court.

"We are waiting on the result of the appeal, and have been told that it may not come until September or October. In the interim, nothing can move on that case. Everything is confidential and everything is closed. Nothing can happen at the moment."

Schumacher soldiers on

Birthday-boy reflects on Gerdemann's yellow-run

By Gregor Brown in Albi

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) passes spectators
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Stefan Schumacher is taking the Tour de France day-by-day but is not exactly having the success that he had earlier this spring when he rocketed to the finish in Maastricht to win the Amstel Gold Race. While celebrating his 26th birthday with a cold and wet time trial east of Albi during stage 13, he believes that he still has his chances in a Tour de France that has already seen German successes.

"I was sick in the beginning and the prologue was so bad," Schumacher explained to Cyclingnews how his Tour has not gone to plan. "I was first concentrated on the prologue and then the stage Pozzato won [stage five to Auton]. I was really focused on that stage but I had problems in the decent [of Croix de la Libération]. I had to brake and I had a crash; I could not make it to the front and I had no chance to fight for the win. I was unsatisfied after the stage, and that prologue was not my best prologue.

His mind reflected back to the warm Grand Départ in London. My goal was to be at the front of the prologue and fight for the jersey in the first week but we have more time...I think I will get my chance to win a stage." Instead, that Saturday went in favour of Swiss Cancellara who then went on to wear the jersey for seven days, even anticipating the sprint in Compiègne.

France's weather heated up in the Alps but it transitioned with the race towards the Pyrénées and now it is expected to be cold for the first Pyrenean stage to Plateau de Beille (forecasted to be 16°C at the finish). "The weather changes are not good for me," Schumacher reflected on the previous week's hot Alpine heat. "During the hot days, it is crazy and sometime I get problems."

The stage to Le Grand-Bornand was difficult for Schumacher while compatriot Linus Gerdemann went on to take the stage and maillot jaune. "I had really good legs and I was going really well towards the top and then 'puff' I was out the back. I could not go. It was an explosion. I think after a few days in the heat I get better and better."

In addition to the Amstel Gold, Schumacher enjoyed a successful 2005 with wins in the Giro d'Italia and the Eneco Tour. He does not mind dropping out of the spotlight in the Tour and reckons it is better for an escape attempt. He had wanted to have a go in stage 12 but ended the day in 59th after the peloton caught the early escape of Fédrigo and Txurruka.

He still receives respect in the peloton. "If you win some races then you get more respect from others, it is normal I think. It is the same for everyone but it is not special." Further, he is please with the media's attention. "We need the media, it is good for us. The only problem is when I have a bad day and then I have to explain what was wrong and it does not make it so fun. But, hey, it is part of the job."

"It was crazy and I am really happy for him," he said of Gerdemann's performance in the first stage of the Alpines. He has known the rider since their pre-professional days. "It is really good for us [as Germans]... I am happy for him and for us. Okay, Team Gerolsteiner also has to win something but I am really happy for Gerdemann, for Germany and T-Mobile it is a great, great success.

"I don't know if he is 'the future,'" continued Schumacher. "In the next years he will for sure be a rider for the classification ... We will see how he goes. It was a great Tour for him" even if he is now out of the yellow. "He does not have any pressure now.

Exciting Finale expected in the tour of Qinghai Lake

By Paul Verkuylen

Daniel Lloyd sitting only 2 seconds behind the leader
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

Eight stages have passed of the Tour of Qinghai Lake in China, the largest race outside of that Tour going on in France at the moment, and with one to go a pan flat circuit race around Xining, Discovery Channel has one more chance to make it six from nine. Alan Davis started things off for the Disco boys taking the first stage and the overall. The following day André Schulze got the better of the Aussie in the sprint, but it took just 24hours for Davis to relegate the German to second spot and get his second win on the tour.

The following day Davis lost the overall lead to Schulze Wiesenhofs team-mate, Joerg Ludewig, during the stage to Guide which include a climb toping out at 3,880 meters. The next two stages were again won by Davis as the lead passed from Ludewig to DFL Cyclingnews’ Daniel Lloyd and finally to Gabriele Missaglia (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia) of Italy, who has held a slender lead ever since.

Stage eight belonged to José Luis Rubiera showing the rest of the peloton that discovery Channel came to the tour with a full compliment of riders, not just Davis.

Heading into the final stage, Davis is surely the favourite to win the stage, although he is too far behind to challenge the overall.

DFL Cyclingnews British rider Daniel Lloyd, is sitting just two seconds behind the leader, and will surely be looking to take advantage of his team-mates strong showing in a series of Belgian Kermesse races before heading to China, and get in a break to take back those seconds in order to succeed in getting DFL Cyclingnews’ biggest victory to date.

Kelly Benefits Strategies/Medifast for 'Toona

Keven Lacombe, a newly signed 22 year-old Canadian talent, will be among the riders on the Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast pro cycling team at the Tour de Toona in his very first outing with the team July 23-29.

Lacombe will be joined by Martin Gilbert, winner of the Pan Am Championships road race and a second place podium finisher in stage two of last Month's Nature Valley Grand Prix. Also in the squad is Dominique Perras, who finished third in the Canadian national road race championship in the road race, and Dan Bowman, who took second place overall at the Tour of Virginia in April.

LaCombe suffered a broken femur in late 2006 but has made a rapid comeback, taking a third place podium in stage 4b of the Tour de Beauce last month. He finished first in a stage of the Six Days of Berlin UIV-CUP in Berlin, Germany, first in a stage of the six days of Copenhagen UIV-CUP, Denmark and took top ten places in the criteriums of the NRC Sequoia Classic, the NRC Merco Credit Union Classic, and the NRC Redlands Classic in California.

Kelly Benefits Strategies / Medifast for Tour de Toona: Jonny Sundt, Ryan Roth, Keven Lacombe, dan Bowman, Dominique Perras.

Sutter Home renews sponsorship commitment

Sutter Home deviated from the tradition marketing path of wineries when it decided to sponsor a men's professional cycling team three years ago, and their success is leading to an expanded sponsorship commitment for 2008. Already partnered with Colavita Olive Oil to sponsor men's and women's professional teams, Sutter Home pledge to renew sponsorship for the coming year.

"We've been so impressed by the determination and cooperation of the teams and how this program has helped us elevate the brand. Sutter Home is absolutely committed to renewing its sponsorship with both teams," said Wendy Nyberg, Sutter Home's senior director of marketing.

Other programs or events sponsored by the company include the Tour of California and the Recipe to Ride program, where the company's employees are encouraged to ride and eat healthy. They also support a program to support breast cancer awareness programs.

Young Aussie brothers leading the way in USA

By Paul Verkuylen

Two young Australian riders, Angus Morton and his younger brother Lachlan, have shown their climbing potential by taking 5th and 6th in the pro category of the Mt Evans Hill Climb won by Discovery Channel's Tom Danielson. Danielson fell one minute short of taking the record time in the event.

The Morton brothers are no strangers to the event having ridden the race every year for the past three years as part of the 'Real Aussie Kids' development squad, which was set up to help young Australian riders gain experience with top level competition and support. Angus, 18, represented Australia at the junior road world championships in 2006 as a first year junior. This year he was not selected for the squad opting instead to concentrate on his year 12 Higher School Certificate.

Younger brother Lachlan, 15, is also showing some potential for the sport, by matching it with the best professional riders in the gruelling hill climb. Just two weeks ago the young star got the fastest time in the Sunshine Boulder Hill climb, beating the pros by six seconds, just ten days after having surgery to pin a broken wrist.

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