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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for July 24, 2007

Edited by Bjorn Haake

The autobus

Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The tough mountain stages split up the peloton every time into a lot of smaller groups which eventually combine to the gruppetto or, if you are in France, the autobus. It's a large group driven by a common interest, arriving at the finish inside the time limit, which is a percentage off the winner's time. The percentage value used varies with terrain and difficulty as well as the winner's average time.

The Tour rules offer different percentage tables, called coefficients, depending if it's a mountain stage, a flat stage or even if accidents were involved. In yesterday's stage coefficient three was used - a stage with 'grand difficulté'. At the average speed obtained, 35.160 km/h, it was 13 percent off the winning time of 5 hours 34 minutes and 28 seconds or 43'29". Yesterday the autobus was in a hurry and despite last-placed man Wim Vansevenant of Predictor-Lotto telling Cyclingnews before the start that he expected it to be the toughest stage in the Tour, the gruppetto made it 35'45". In fact Vansevenant was in the next to last group, which came in almost four minutes earlier.

The reason for forming a large group is simple. If 20 percent or more of the riders are outside the time limit the organisers may decide to augment the time limit. There is also an unwritten rule that riders are let through the cracks if they had an unfortunate accident, but it does seem to be a rule that is mostly applied to French riders, such as Geoffroy Lequatre (Cofidis) in stage 5. It always helps to have a leader, and Mario Cipollini, the outspoken Italian who got more than one rule changed, was a master at it. He had the charisma to gather the fellow sprinters early and make everyone have a relatively relaxed ride up to the finish.

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The ride isn't free, but certainly easier, said Erik Zabel on his team's web site, "Altogether it was more relaxed to be in the gruppetto at a mountain stage, than to do a sprint stage," the 37 year-old conceded. Zabel is one of the best climbers of the sprinters and can easily make the time cuts, but he often prefers to gather the fellow sprinters and save energy.

The German continued that "the sprint stages were pure stress, needing constant concentration." So he prefers to spend time with the big group at the end of the race, where it's almost like a community. Riders help each other out with food, drinks and even fixing minor defects.

Suffering in the gruppetto

Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

The Tour de France is not going the way that Fabian Wegmann had thought it would -- and it just gets worse. Monday was a terrible day, the Gerolsteiner rider wrote on his website, "Why? No idea. I already had some stomach problems after the previous stage, maybe that's why."

"This time I thought after the first mountain: that was it. But then I fought my way over one mountain after another. At least I was able to stay with the very last group." He finished in the gruppetto, 35.45 down, with five teammates also in the bunch.

"At least the weather wasn't so bad. It was cooler, and it would have been a lot more difficult for me in the heat. Now I hope to have overcome my big crisis at this Tour."

Another member of the gruppetto was Grischa Niermann, but the Rabobanker was more satisfied with his day's work. "The first 130 km of the stage I shared the lead at the head of the field with Bram de Groot, Pieter Weening and Juan Antonio Flecha," he wrote on That wasn't easy because of having the chase the large escape group, but the last 50 km in the gruppetto weren't that easy, either.

"We knew that we would have to ride until the next-to-last mountain and that our work would be over then. But the gruppetto has to ride those last two mountains, too, even if a little slower than the first [group] in the field. I had concentrated myself so much on the fact that my race would be over after 140 km, that my legs really didn't want to do any more after that. My head was already over the finish line, so to speak, but unfortunately there was still 50 km to go. Somehow I made it."

Reus awakened

Kai Reus wins
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

Rabobank's Kai Reus has come fully out of his induced coma, the team has announced. He was fully conscious on Monday, slightly confused, but able to recognize and speak with family and friends.

He is still suffering from a lung infection. The 22-year-old will have to remain in the hospital in Grenoble for an undetermined amount of time, and there is no prognosis for his rehabilitation. He suffered a brain haemorrhage, three broken ribs and a broken collarbone in a crash while training alone.

Petacchi confident

The disciplinary commission of the Italian cycling federation will meet Tuesday morning to discuss the case of Alessandro Petacchi. CONI, the Italian National Olympic Committee, suspects a violation to WADA section 2.1 ('The presence of a prohibited substance or its metabolites') and is seeking a one-year ban for the sprinter of the Milram team.

As tuttobiciweb reports on its web site, Petacchi's lawyer has recently said to the media that they are trusting that the case "will have a positive" outcome. The sprinter himself is also confident, even though his morale is a little low after the unexpected exclusion from the Tour de France.

Trampusch looks to continue

Gerhard Trampusch has confirmed his dismissal from Team Volksbank, saying "I received a registered letter with my dismissal today." He refused to comment on the grounds for the action, but told that "I cannot accept it."

The 28 year-old, whose contract ran through the end of the year, said that he was not planning to end his career. "I don't want to stop this way. I am motivated and will continue to fight, keep myself fit and see that I find another team for next year."

The Austrian Professional Continental team said yesterday that it was terminating Trampusch's contract because of his behaviour contrary to contract provisions.

Irish happy with European champs result

By Shane Stokes

Mark Cassidy
Photo ©: Ken Farrar
(Click for larger image)

Mark Cassidy and the Irish team are leaving Bulgaria satisfied with his result in the European Championships held there on Sunday.

The Murphy and Gunn/Newlyn Group/M. Donnelly Sean Kelly team rider was one of four competing with the Ireland squad in the tough, 168 kilometre event. He crashed and broke his rear derailleur, necessitating a bike change with three laps to go. However team-mates Martyn Irvine and Isaac Speirs sacrificed their chances in riding hard to get him back up the peloton, and he crossed the line in 14th.

The race was won by Andrey Klyuev (Russian Federation), with Ignatas Konovalovas (Lithuania) taking silver two seconds later.

Cassidy finished 12th in the 83 rider sprint for third place, and may have fared better had he not had his fall and mechanical difficulties. His strong result follows on from a fine second place in the 1.2 ranked GP Hénin Beaumont Dourges last Sunday.

"It was a very good ride by Mark," said team manager Kurt Bogaerts on Sunday evening. "He had a hard chase back on after crashing and having to change his bike, but still finished 14th.

"Today was a big goal of the season and it was a good result for us. The race was really hot and was held over twelve laps. It was not super hilly but there was a really long drag and also a smaller one, plus sections of cobblestones. After last week's result it shows Mark is going very well."

Fellow Ireland team rider Daniel Martin was also prominent in the race. He went clear in a strong break in the second half of the race but lost his chance once that was hauled back by the main field. He said afterwards that he was suffering bad dehydration in the near-40 degree heat and retired from the race once his move was reeled in.

"I got in an eight to ten man break with all the strong nations," Martin said. "I didn't feel great, though, and never recovered after we were caught because of the heat. I had seven bottles but was still very dehydrated."

Cassidy will be part of the Murphy and Gunn/Newlyn Group/M. Donnelly Sean Kelly team for the Tour of Ireland. It starts in Kilkenny in one month's time.

Barloworld: From the Tour to Brixia

While Team Barloworld continues to enjoy success in the Tour de France with two stage victories and numerous placings, other riders in the team are getting ready for another race in Italy.

The Brixia Tour starts on July 26 and lasts four days in the Brescia area, with three stages and one day with two stages. The race was won by Davide Rebellin in 2006, with Team Barloworld's Félix Cárdenas winning a stage and finishing third, while Enrico Degano finished second on another stage.

Cárdenas and Degano both started the Tour, but while the Colombian is still in the race, Degano crashed in stage six and then abandoned in stage seven. He has recovered and will be able to start in Italy.

Directeur sportif Valerio Tebaldi will return from France for the race, with the aim of doing even better than in 2006. The team line-up includes Pedro Arreitunandia, John Lee Augustyn, Giosuè Bonomi, Diego Caccia, Enrico Degano, James Perry and Hugo Sabido.

Dominguez lights up Wells Fargo twilight criterium

Ivan Dominguez
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
(Click for larger image)

Despite the extensive gap in his 2007 racing calendar, Ivan Dominguez left no doubt during this year's Wells Fargo Twilight Criterium in Boise, Idaho that the 31-year old Cuban has returned to form. Dominguez flew out of the final corner of the 25,000 spectator-lined course after having been given a textbook leadout from Toyota-United teammate Caleb Manion. It was his second NRC-level victory and his first win in this year's USA CRITS Series after having been sidelined from racing following a crash during May's Tri-Peaks Challenge. Dominguez says he's finally feeling like his old self again.

"I was feeling good the whole race. It was very exciting. We did a great job," Dominguez said following the race.

The Wells Fargo Twilight Criterium started in 1987 as a local effort to advance the sport of cycling.

Dominguez and the rest of his Toyota-United squad controlled the final 10 laps of this classic race, keeping the speeds as high as possible in order to prevent any attacks coming from the rest of the field.

"My guys took the front with about 10 laps to go, and it was very easy to control because when you're going 60 or 65 km/h, no one's going to start attacking because they know that no one's going to go anywhere. The last lap was super fast and I came through the last turn behind Caleb and from there I went."

Giving chase behind Dominguez was an elite group of sprinters, that included current USA CRITS Series leader Mark Hekman, Jittery Joe's rider Jeff Hopkins, Successful Living's Ricardo Escuela, and AEG-TOSHIBA-JetNetwork's Frank Travieso.

"Escuela was coming closer, and he came to my rear wheel. I went and started with a lot of speed, but I was having trouble with my gears and finally my 11 came through and that's when I got a little bit more acceleration.";

Dominguez said he's now eager to forget his lost time on the bike, and getting as many races under his belt as possible between now and the World Championship Sports Network (WCSN) USA CRITS Finals in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 27th which coincides with this year’s Interbike, North America’s largest bicycle trade show.

“(The crash)” is something I have to put in the past and forget about. I’m looking forward to Vegas. Do you have to ask? I’m going! I think the whole team is going to go.”

While Mark Hekman maintains his lead in the USA CRITS Series, Health Net rider Jeff Louder took the evening’s Most Laps Led prize.

The women’s race was dominated by Team Tamarack Resort’s Jenn Hallady who took not only the win but also the day’s Most Laps Led competition in front of current USA CRITS Series leader Laura Van Gilder.

The next stop in the USA CRITS Series takes place on August 4th with the Presbyterian Invitational Criterium in Charlotte, North Carolina. Formally known as the Bank of America Criterium, the race consists of a 1.25 mile course at the heart of the city and is often referred to as "The Worldss Richest Criterium".

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