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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for June 12, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Astarloa sidelined with toxoplasmosis

By Susan Westemeyer

Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

The biggest name to drop out of yesterday's Dauphiné Libéré stage was Igor Astarloa, Team Milram's captain. Team spokesman Stefan Schwenke explained to Cyclingnews the 2003 World Champion came down with toxoplasmosis. "Nothing serious but it takes some time to get rid of it."

According to the US Center for Disease Control, toxoplasmosis is usually caused by "eating contaminated raw or partly cooked meat, especially pork, lamb or venison; by touching your hands to your mouth after handling undercooked meat, [or by] contaminating food with knives, utensils, cutting boards and other foods that have had contact with raw meat."

Most cases show no symptoms at all, while mild cases show flu-like symptoms. "If symptoms occur they typically go away within a few weeks to months," according to the CDC. It is not yet known how long Astarloa could be out of action.

Stomach problems knock Danielson out

Tom Danielson
Photo ©: Jon Devich
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Tom Danielson of Team Discovery Channel dropped out of the first stage of the Dauphiné Libéré, after 199 kilometres. According to the team's website,, "stomach problems" stopped the 29 year-old American rider. It is unknown if missing his last big lead-up race before the Tour de France could affect his chances in making the team's nine-man selection for the July race. Neither he nor the team could be reached for comment.

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It would not be his first stomach ailment of the year. He came down with a stomach bug just before the Volta a Catalunya, which knocked him out for three days. "That was it, no Volta for me," he wrote on "If anyone of you has ever had a stomach virus, you know how hard it knocks you out. For those of you who've been spared, count yourself lucky; the bad ones can reduce you to a baby's crawl. It's not exactly the best scenario for a pro cyclist in the middle of the season."

He recovered in time to ride the Tour of Belgium. "I pretty much lost any chance of placing well here after the first kilometre of the first day of this five-day stage race" because of the wind, he noted. Things got better though, and he finished third in the time-trial.

"It's a tired cliché, but the best way to train for racing is to race," Danielson noted. "My finish in the time trial was incredibly satisfying. It shows that all the work I've been doing this year on that discipline is starting to pay off. I know my climbing's dialled, but making progress as a time-trialist was my goal for this spring as I worked on making myself a more complete rider."

After that race, he returned to his home in Spain before doing some training in the Pyrenees and then heading to his short appearance in the Dauphiné.

De Maar departs Dauphiné

Rabobank's Marc de Maar, who finished near the bottom of the list in the Dauphiné Libéré's prologue, had to drop out of the first stage. The Dutch rider had been suffering from stomach and intestinal problems, and was actually feeling better Monday, but the effects of the sickness were too much for him.

"He could not keep his food down on Sunday. Things were better on Monday morning, but without sufficient 'fuel,' you cannot finish such a long stage," noted team manager Erik Breukink via the team's website,

De Maar fell behind on the first climb of the day, caught up with the group, fell behind again on another climb and then crashed during the descent. "That was it for him, and he decided to abandon. It is a shame for him because he was gradually getting back into shape. But luckily, he was already feeling better, so I do not think he will be bothered by this for too long," Breukink said.

Boonen not unhappy with second place

Tom Boonen
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Tom Boonen finished second in the bunch gallop of the Dauphiné Libéré's opening stage behind surprise winner Heinrich Haussler of Gerolsteiner. The 2005 World Champion didn't really mind too much, and said of the winner, "that boy has won the easiest sprint of his life."

Boonen was only three seconds behind race leader Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis) going into the stage, and normally a second-place finish should have given him enough time bonuses to move into the lead. But the Dauphiné stage featured no intermediate sprints, and therefore no time bonuses at the finish.

"Under the UCI rules, you can't offer time bonuses if there are no intermediate sprints," race director Charly Mottet told "For the intermediate sprints, there have to be few or no impediments, such as traffic circles, in the preceding five kilometres, and I couldn't guarantee that."

The Belgian wasn't really disappointed at not taking over the lead. "You have a leader's jersey like that for only one day. And then you have to wait around for the protocol, the doping control and so on and so on. I want to be able to prepare myself quietly here for the Belgian Championship and the Tour."

He does not anticipate another mass sprint in today's stage, with mountain only 15 kilometres before the finish. "If I can sprint, I will. But it's not a must."

Bradley Wiggins: An ambassador and a cyclist

Brad Wiggins (Confidis)
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

His win in the prologue of the Dauphiné Libéré has changed the status of Bradley Wiggins. In London, he was officially an 'ambassador for cycling', now he's even a serious favourite for July 7's Tour de France prologue. Cyclingnews' Jean-François Quénet spoke with the Cofidis rider on Sunday night, after the 4.2-kilometre run.

When Bradley Wiggins turned professional with Française des Jeux in 2002, he was already trademarked as a contender for prologues. "Everyone knew I had the potential for doing things like Bradley McGee did," he recalled. When he came to the end of his two-year contract with his second French team, Crédit Agricole, in 2005, he had the choice between a few different destinations but he had set his mind. "My priority is the team that will take me in the ideal situation for the prologue of the Tour de France in London." Cofidis was the one.

The French squad gave him the opportunity to have a first taste of the Tour de France last year but he wasn't happy with finishing 16th in the prologue in Strasbourg. "I didn't understand why I wasn't doing as well in the prologues as I could on the track for the individual pursuit," he explained. "Last winter my coach, Chris Boardman, told me I was wrong to prepare for the prologues exactly the same way I did for the pursuits. On the track, I can stay for four minutes between 195 and 198 pulses, but there are many more parameters to take into consideration for the prologues."

The improvement is obvious. Wiggins, who had never won a time trial as a professional despite being a successful track rider, finally took the benefits of his preparation by claiming the prologues at the Four Days of Dunkirk and the Dauphiné. "Before that, it was only drunk people in pubs in London who were telling me 'Brad, you can win the prologue of the Tour,' so it didn't count in my mind," the Englishman stated after taking the honours in Grenoble. "Now it's different. I can really target the top five but I'm not the only one able to win, there'll be David Millar, David Zabriskie, George Hincapie, and Fabian Cancellara also."

Read the full interview with Bradley Wiggins.

Andy Schleck takes bianca birthday win

Andy Schleck in Bianca
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Andy Schleck celebrated his 22nd birthday in style by winning the Pieve Vergonte criterium, yesterday. According to, the Luxemburger joined a late-race escape with Paolo Savoldelli and Alessandro Ballan and then attacked to win solo. He was taking part in the race dressed in the Maglia Bianca he won in the Giro d'Italia for being the best young rider.

The 64-kilometre event proved to be a great show for the public gathered in Pieve Vergonte (Piemonte) and of the rider many are saying could be a future Giro and Tour de France winner. Andy is the younger brother of Fränk, winner of the 2006 Tour's stage to Alpe d'Huez.

Ag2r signs young Moldavian Pliuschin

Ag2r Prévoyance has signed Alexandr Pliuschin, a 20 year-old Moldavian rider who won the Espoirs Ronde van Vlaanderen this year. He signed a two-year contract starting that starts next season.

He comes from the France's Chambéry Cyclisme Formation, and will be the second rider from that team to join Ag2r, after Blaise Sonnery.

Ag2r pre-selects Tour team

Ag2r Prévoyance has announced its pre-selection for the upcoming Tour de France, with six riders already having definite slots. The team will be led by John Gadret, who recently won the GP Kanton Argau - Gippingen, veteran Christophe Moreau and Cyril Dessel, who wore the leader's jersey for a day in the 2006 tour.

Also set to ride are Stéphane Goubert, Martin Elmiger and José Luis Arrieta. Competing for the remaining six spots are Ludovic Turpin, Simon Gerrans, Sylvain Calzati, Hubert Dupont, Jean-Patrick Nazon, Yuriy Krivtsov and Alexandre Usov.

Astana names preliminary Tour squad

Team Astana will go into the Tour de France with one of the strongest overall teams ever, with Alexander Vinokourov and Andreas Klöden leading the way as favourites for the podium. Andrey Kashechkin, who finished third in the 2006 Vuelta a España behind 'Vino' will play the joker. The trio will be further supported by Eddy Mazzoleni, who recently finished third in the Giro d'Italia, and Paolo Savoldelli, winner of the Giro time trial stage. Also assured of a place on the team is Klöden's lieutenant, Matthias Kessler, reports

The other three places on the Tour squad are up for grabs. The candidates are Antonio Colom, Gregory Rast, Maxim Iglinsky, Serguei Ivanov, Guennadi Mikhailov and Benoît Joachim.

Merckx unsure of Tour

Axel Merckx is still not sure of a place on the T-Mobile Tour de France squad, reported He had previously announced that he planned to Retire after riding the Tour this year.

According to the Belgian website, six places on the German squad are already set, with riders Michael Rogers as captain, Kim Kirchen, Linus Gerdemann, Patrik Sinkewitz, Marcus Burghardt and successful young sprinter Mark Cavendish. Merckx is one of eight riders fighting for the last three spots.

Petacchi returns in Veenendaal

Petacchi in Ciclamino
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Italian Sprinter Alessandro Petacchi will make his race return in the Dutch one-day Veenendaal-Veenendaal, tomorrow, June 13. The race was won by Tom Boonen in 2006, however, the Belgian sprinter will not be present due to his participation in the Dauphiné Libéré.

The 33 year-old Milram rider was last seen in action in the Giro d'Italia where he scored sprint victories from Cagliari to Milan, for a total of five wins, along with claiming the Maglia Ciclamino of points winner.

Yesterday, he showed off his purple jersey by winning a kermesse in Chieti (Abruzzo) over Giro's Maglia Rosa Danilo Di Luca.

Petacchi will use Veenendaal and Delta Profronde, June 16, to build for the Tour de France, which departs July 7 from London. Integrating in to Petacchi's train, with the Giro's Brett Lancaster and Mirco Lorenzetto, will be Elia Rigotto.

Vogels awarded Medal of the Order of Australia

Cycling Western Australia announced that Henk Vogels senior has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queens Birthday 2007 Honours List. Vogels is the father of current Toyota-United, an American continental team, rider of the same name. Cycling WA reported that, "It is a fantastic honour for Henk and cycling in WA that his contribution to the sport is recognised at the highest level."

Vogels is currently a Founder and Board member of the Henk Vogels Cycling Foundation, an active National level Commissar and Coach, Event Director of the State Road Championships and the President of the Southern Districts Cycle Club. His long involvement in the sport has seen him represent Australia at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964 and go on to take on roles as a Coach and Manager of National teams, National Selector, Event Promoter and Manager and recently Cycling WA Board Member.

He made special mention of the Southern Districts Cycle Club, Old Papa's, and his wife, Mary, in helping him earn this achievement. An Investiture Ceremony will be held in the Government House Ballroom on Friday, 7 September to present the award.

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