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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition News for June 2, 2007

Edited by Sue George

Team change rejuvenates Mayo's career

By Jean-François Quénet in Terme di Comano and Monika Prell

Iban Mayo might grow to like rain
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

One year ago, when Iban Mayo won the stage to La Toussuire in the Dauphiné, it looked like he had climbed out of the depths of the two dark seasons that followed his win over Lance Armstrong in a Tour de France Alpine stage in 2003. But it was false re-start to his career. Now, four years after his triumph at the l'Alpe d'Huez, the Basque rider found success in his first Giro d'Italia, winning Stage 19 on Friday. He said he was "very content, very happy about this victory," but even before Friday, his Giro was going well.

Mayo came to Italy overweight, something he confirms with numbers like three or four kilos. "I'm getting better after three weeks of racing," he said. "You can't start the Tour de France like that. It's really a different race. There's much less stress at the Giro than at the Tour. Every stage for sprinters is a recovery day here. At the Tour, it goes flat out every single day. At the Giro, you must work with your brain more than at the Tour as well."

"I said before the start that my form was a bit tight and that I hoped to get good form slowly, and it happened," said Mayo. "I had to work for the team because Simoni was declared our leader, and I knew this morning that it would be my last chance."

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The rain and the cold did not bother Mayo. "Days like this one are quite good for me. I went with in with all intentions of breaking away from the start, and in the first category mountain, we tried out the leader. Piepoli set a very high pace, but Di Luca showed that he is very strong and so we focused on the stage win."

Mayo described the break. "When I escaped together with Losada, I thought that they would gain on us. It seemed that he [Losada] was not willing to help me, but later I saw that he was not fine and I preferred going on my own. I did not believe that I would win the stage until the end, because behind me were riders of the highest level and the difference was minimal." He enjoyed his win on the home stretch, "because these are moments that normally will not be repeated."

Referring to a darker time in his career, he recalled "the bad things that happened to me in these [past] months and the people that always have been with me. This triumph is for them. For the team, my family, my fan club who followed the race during four days in the Dolomites."

Mayo's explanation for his comeback is his move to Saunier Duval after seven years with Euskaltel, where he faced problems with his knee and shoulder. "I'm happy with this change. I'm not in the Basque national team anymore, but I feel at home here. There's a good atmosphere. We work well. We get on well together. There's less pressure on me. After many years in the same environment, it becomes boring. Changing teams has been great for my motivation."

The 29 year-old said, "This win means something special to me, because it's the first one with this [Saunier Duval] jersey and because it was in a race like this. It gives me a lot of pleasure and it's a big moral boost for the future," finished Mayo.

He'll be the only rider from Saunier Duval to double up on Grand Tours this year. "We don't have a candidate for the overall win at the Tour de France," he said. "It's very different than at the Giro. So we'll take it day by day. We'll try and do our best."

UCI considering amnesty for riders who admit doping

Riis' confession has sparked much discussion
Photo ©: Cyclingworld
(Click for larger image)

Bjarne Riis is just one of several retired and current racer to admit to doping, but whether more confessions will follow remains to be seen. Erik Zabel has also recently confessed to doping, but will not suffer punishment for his 1996 offense because he is beyond the statute of limitations. However, many other current racers are implicated in the ongoing Operación Puerto scandal, which has already been going on for a year and has no end in sight.

However, according to the Associated Press, UCI anti-doping manager Anne Gripper doubts the string of cyclists' confessions will continue if they face possible punishment. Several groups, including the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC), have asked the UCI to consider amnesty for riders who admit to doping in order to encourage more riders to confess and allow the sport to move beyond current scandals.

"To create a new future you have to admit the past and learn from it. Only that way we can move on in a 'clean way,'" she said according to Berlingske Tidende on Friday.

"We hope that the latest statements from Germany and Denmark will be followed by other riders from other countries," Gripper said. "Let us be open about the past and confess what needs to be confessed."

UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani told the Associated Press Friday that the UCI needs "some time to decide" regarding possible amnesty.

MAN pulls out as CSC sponsor

Team CSC lost a sponsor this week, but stayed cool in light of statements out of France that its team manager Bjarne Riis might not be welcome at the Tour de France.

"Riis has done a lot for cycling in the last few years. If he isn't allowed to be there, then you have to ask, why is Bernard Hinault, who avoided a doping test, allowed to conduct the winner's ceremonies?," said Directeur Sportif Jorgen Pedersen, who is accompanying his team in the Giro d'Italia, to the dpa. "What about Laurent Fignon, who tested positive twice?"

Meanwhile, the team has lost its sponsor MAN, a manufacturer of trucks, buses, diesel engines and turbo machinery, "due to the current developments in professional cycling."

In a press release issued Friday, the company said, "MAN has been sponsoring professional cycling under the impression that this was an effective marketing tool but in the light of recent developments, the Company has decided no longer to pursue its sponsorship of this sport. Already after the doping scandals last summer, MAN had negotiated to end the contract with Team CSC however the team's anti-doping initiative persuaded the Company to remain a sponsor."

It concluded, "Now MAN has been disappointed again by the revelations about the use of prohibited substances in the 1990s and for this reason no longer considers it appropriate to employ professional cycling as a platform for corporate branding.

Di Luca wants Simoni on podium too

By Jean-François Quénet in Terme di Comano

Simoni keeps an eye on Di Luca
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

With 2'24" advantage over Andy Schleck (Team CSC), Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) is only afraid of the rainy conditions expected near the lake of Garda for the final time trial of the Tour of Italy Saturday afternoon. "It's not nice to ride in the rain," the Maglia Rosa commented. "I haven't seen the course yet. I'll do it in the morning, but I know it's a fast course despite two hills. It'll be a high average speed."

Many riders have seen American champion David Zabriskie (Team CSC) taking it easy for the past few days, obviously with the intention of winning in Verona as he did two years ago in Firenze prior to getting the yellow jersey at the Tour de France as a rookie.

Di Luca will not go for one more win but he'll try and maintain enough of a lead to stay comfortably in first overall. "It's not sure that Schleck will finish second in the Giro," he said. "Simoni is going really strong now. He's only four seconds behind Schleck. Cunego isn't far behind either, but Mazzoleni seems to be like their biggest threat for the final podium. They're all close to each other."

After winning up the Zoncolan, Simoni said he'd be very happy to see Di Luca - his former teammate on Team Saeco winning the 2007 Giro d'Italia. Not surprisingly, Di Luca said he'd be happy to have Simoni with him on the podium in Milan on Sunday. "To have near me someone who has been seven times on the podium of the Giro before and won it twice, it would add some value to my win, should I win," the leader stated.

Rich plans farewell race

Michael Rich (Gerolsteiner) at his last race in Nürnberg, Germany
Photo ©: Florian Schaaf
(Click for larger image)

Gerolsteiner's Michael Rich has traded in his bike for the team car this season. The 37-year-old stopped riding at the end of last season, after a ten years, eight of them with Gerolsteiner. He stayed with the team, and is now a Directeur Sportif, as well as scout for young talent.

The time trial specialist will be back on his bike at least one more time, though. He will hold his farewell race Friday, June 8, in Reute, Germany. Actually it will be two races: first will be a criterium, followed by a Derny race ridden by the top ten of the first race. Gerolsteiner riders Markus Fothen, Fabian Wegmann, Volker Ordowski, and Ronny Scholz are expected to participate, as is Jens Voigt of CSC.

If it were up to Rich, though, the farewell race might have been something quite, quite different. "I wanted a 50 km long individual time trial," he joked. "But I think I would probably have been the only starter."

It would have been an appropriate gesture, since Rich made his name and reputation through time trialing. He finished second in the World's time trial in 2000, 2002, and 2004, and was third in 2003. "Of course I would have loved to have been world champion. But there was always at least one rider faster than me." He also won a gold medal in the Barcelona Olympics for the 100 km team time trial. "That is something for eternity. And I'm very proud of it."

His favorite races were the Bayern Rundfahrt, which he won three time, and Paris-Roubaix, where he never finished higher than 14th. The cobblestone classic "is a mixture of luck and form. The last few years I never especially prepared for it. It just worked out for me."

Rich particularly enjoys this job as material scout, serving as a go-between for the team and the suppliers. He tests the material himself, saying "Training is still fun."

He is still working on his role as Directeur Sportif. "I didn't stop riding because it wasn't fun any more. No. All that suitcase packing and traveling just got to be too much for an old man." While he is willing to work shorter races, he would not be interested in accompanying a three-week Grand Tour.

He is currently leading his team at the Bayern Rundfahrt, and knows it won't be easy when he accompanies his riders -- in the team car -- during Saturday's time trial, which he won so many times. "I will figure out with each rider how I will cheer him on," he said. "But I think it would be best if I just kept my mouth shut.

Bartoli-Bettini legacy passes to Visconti

By Jean-François Quénet in Terme di Comano

2nd for Giovanni Visconti (Quickstep-Innergetic)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Stage 19 of the 2007 Giro d'Italia could have been a high point in Giovanni Visconti's young pro career. Coming second in Terme di Comano left the third-year pro a sense of regret because he didn't manage to regain the 43 seconds over Iban Mayo who went away earlier.

"I've given everything," he said at the finish line. "I had one moment of inattention. At the beginning of the stage, everyone wanted to break away because it was the last opportunity in the Giro before the time trial and the final sprint in Milan. When I saw that Stefano Garzelli was with us, I've thought we wouldn't make it, and that's probably when I missed the possibility to come across to the two Spaniards ahead."

He would never see Mayo again and ultimately finished second. Visconti has been in five significant breaks since the beginning of the Giro starting in stage 3 with Mikhail Ignatiev. He came eighth in Lienz at the end of stage 16. His captain Paolo Bettini finished second twice and third once. Although he's Sicilian, he has are located in Tuscany like Vincenzo Nibali. Visconti enjoys racing in the heat, which wasn't the case Friday when he wanted to log a win for Quick Step.

"Quick Step is the Sorbonne of cycling and Paolo the most prestigious teacher," he explained. Beforehand his tenure on the Quick Step squad, Visconti learned his job as an amateur under the guidance of Luca Scinto who was Michele Bartoli's righthand man. After two years with Gianluigi Stanga in the colors of Domina Vacanze and Milram, he rejoined Bettini at Quick Step this year with the intention of learning from the World Champion the secrets of the classics the same way Bettini did it in the shadow of Bartoli at the end of last decade.

The Giro is Visconti's first Grand Tour. "You need a three weeks racing to get formed muscularly," he reckoned. Visconti's only victory so far was the Coppa Sabatini last year. But he's improving and the second place in Terme di Comano is a step in that direction.

Arndt aims for Montreal repeat

Judith Arndt (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: CJ Farquharson
(Click for larger image)

Judith Arndt is looking to repeat her win from last year in the Montreal World cup race Saturday. Teammate Oenone Wood will also be a podium candidate, having finished second in the race in 2005.

"Judith is a strong favorite for the race as she is the defending champion, and she has come off a very strong showing at the Tour de l'Aude," said Sports Director Anna Wilson.

After the World cup race, the team will stay on for the four-day, five-stage "Tour du Grand Montreal" from June 4 to 7.

The team will have a participant in yet another race in Montreal. Mechanic Wolfgag Wölke will ride in the mechanics' race Wednesday night, to the cheers of his female riders.

T-Mobile for Montreal World Cup: Kim Anderson, Judith Arndt, Kate Bates, Chantal Beltman, Anke Wichmann, and Oenone Wood.

T-Mobile for Tour du Grand Montreal: Judith Arndt, Kate Bates, Chantal Beltman, Alexis Rhodes, Anke Wichmann, and Onenone Wood.

T-Mobile checks out London course

Mark Cavendish and Roger Hammond
Photo ©: T-Mobile Team
(Click for larger image)

Four T-Mobile riders checked out the Tour de France prologue course in London this week, weaving their way through the big city traffic. Team captain Michael Rogers, Linus Gerdemann, and the team's two English riders, Roger Hammond and Mark Cavendish saw the sights along the way as they took a first training ride.

They rode through Hyde Park and Whitehall, and by such famous sights as Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. The two British riders are hoping to recommend themselves for the Tour squad, which won't be announced for several weeks. Cavendish has racked up five wins so far this season, including two stages in the recent ProTour race Volta a Catalunya.

"It was fantastic, if a little scary, to ride through London on the roads that will be used to host the Tour Prologue," the 22-year-old Cavendish said. "I can only imagine how incredible the atmosphere is going to be on the seventh of July and it will be amazing to see the race back on British soil. I think this trip will do us a lot of good as a team - even if we do not make the team for the Tour we have invaluable experience and knowledge of the route which we can pass on to our colleagues."

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by T-Mobile Team

Caisse d'Epargne prepares for Tour stages

By Monika Prell

Even as rumors and allegations involving Alejandro Valverde circulate, the Murcian star is busy with his preparation for the Tour de France. Thursday he rode with some of his teammates who will support him in the Tour, including climbing the Plateau de Beille, the final ascent of the Queen stage in the Pyrenees set for July 22.

Caisse d'Epargne's Tour de France team consists of Óscar Pereiro (second last year with final results still pending), strong climbers Joaquím Rodríguez, Fran Pérez, and Xabier Zandio, the young Luis León Sánchez, who could aim for the white jersey, and Frenchmen Florent Brard and Nicolas Portal.

The team will also check out other mountains that could be decisive in this year's edition. Friday, they were set to ride more than 100 kilometers and scale the Col de Mente, the Col de Balès, and the Col du Peyresourde, all part of stage on July 23. Saturday, they head to the Col d'Aubisque.

Rous facing end of career?

Didier Rous
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

Suffering from a double cervical hernia, Didier Rous is still sitting out competition. The Bougues Telecom rider has not raced for a month. At 37-years-old, he had intended 2007 to be his last season.

"I expected 2007 to be my last season, but I do not want to stop like this," said Rous according to Eurosport. "I am resting now, and at this stage of my career, I don't want to undergo surgery." Rous will sit out the Tour de France and the French National Championships.

"I do not know if I will be able to compete again one day. It is very difficult," he said referring to the uncertainty.

T-Mobile debuts in Pennsylvania

Greg Henderson (Health Net)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

T-Mobile Team will be making its debut appearance at the Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling Series in the US this coming week. The team features Greg Henderson, who won two of the three races last year when he was riding for Team Health Net-Maxxis.

Roger Hammond and teammate Mark Cavendish will fly in Saturday evening, giving them the challenge of battling jet lag in Sunday's race, the 137 km Lancaster Classic. They should be back in shape by the second race on Thursday, the Reading Classic, which covers 120 km.

The last race is the most difficult: the 250 km Philadelphia International Championship, which has 10 rounds of a circuit featuring the brutal ascent of the 17% Manayunk Wall. Last year Henderson won both Reading and Philadelphia.

T-Mobile for US races: Eric Baumann, Mark Cavendish, Bernhard Eisel, Roger Hammond, Greg Henderson, Aaron Olsen, Jacob Piil, and Marco Pinotti.

1939 winner to attend U23 Paris-Roubaix

The Vélo-Club Roubaix will welcome the winner of the 1939 Paris-Roubaix Emile Masson on Sunday for the finish of the 41st U23 version of the Hell of the North. The winners of 1954 and 1960 editions, Raymond Impanis and Pino Cerami, will also be greeted by race organizers one hour before the finish of the 16th Mini-Paris-Roubaix which features 400 young cyclists from France, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Impanis and Cerami will be hand out the famous pavé trophies, given to winners since 1974.

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