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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for June 13, 2007

Edited by Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen

Vinokourov ends Dr Heinrich relationship

By Jean-François Quénet in Saint-Etienne, France

Alexander Vinokourov (Astana)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

One year ago at the Dauphiné, in the midst of controversies around his then directeur sportif Manolo Saiz implication in the Operación Puerto, Alexandre Vinokourov had been questioned about his advisor in terms of training and medicine. His answer was: "When I was with T-Mobile, I was working with Dr Lothar Heinrich. I know pretty much what to do now but if I have a doubt, I call Dr Lothar Heinrich again."

One year later, his statement has taken a different direction after Heinrich's admission of having contributed to a system of doping inside the Telekom team, where Vinokourov rode from 2000 through to the end of 2005. Asked about his adviser by Le Parisien-Aujourd'hui en France at this year's Dauphiné, the Kazak made the situation clear. "Our relationship is over," he stated. "I'm gone. Now I'm alone. I don't regret this collaboration in the past. Heinrich is a good person. But you can never know what people do in life."


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Rabobank down to five in Dauphiné

The Rabobank team, currently contesting the Dauphiné Libéré in France, is trying to keep its spirits high after a turbulent start to the race. Prior to Tuesday's tough Stage 2 the team was struck an blow when Theo Eltink was unable to start due to the same stomach and intestinal problems that forced Marc de Maar to withdraw from the race after the prologue. Eltink and De Maar shared the same room in the first few days of the tour.

"It was also prevalent in the pack," explained team manager Erik Breukink. "Various riders already went home during the first couple of days due to illness. They all had similar symptoms as Marc and Theo."

Eltink will be hoping for a fast recovery as he has been selected to participate in his first Tour de France for the squad "Theo wanted to use the Dauphiné to demonstrate his skills in view of his pre-selection of the Tour," Breukink said. "Perhaps there are still some races scheduled that he can participate in. Switzerland? Could be, but it comes a little early of course. We will just need see what we can do."

Breukink hopes that his team will make it through the rest of the Dauphiné Libéré without any further illness, especially for captain Denis Menchov. "But you cannot prevent it," he added. "With a view to the future, but also because of this stage race, it is just a matter of hoping that they will be sufficiently protected against it. After all, we do not have a lot of options left anymore."

Of the remaining six cyclists, Rabobank will only be able to use five during the upcoming stages, which include major climbs such as the Mont Ventoux and Croix de Fèr. Graeme Brown, the team's designated sprinter, has complained about minor knee problems and was not able to keep up with the pace on the slightly uphill roads on Tuesday's stage. "Graeme was not doing as well as I hoped," commented Breukink. "That knee might have played a role, but the stage was harder than expected because the riders themselves made it a tough race."

Tuesday's stage saw four Rabobank riders in the main group, including Menchov who now sits in 21st place overall. While the team's leader is 33 seconds down on race leader Christophe Moreau (Ag2r Prévoyance), with only nine seconds separating riders from third to 21st he is still very much in striking distance. "That is something we can build on," explained Breukink. "We basically have five men for the upcoming days, but they are all in good shape."

Calzati back in business

By Jean-François Quénet in Saint-Etienne, France

After being one of the heroes of last year's Tour de France, aided by his stage win in Loriant, Sylvain Calzati has had a quieter season in 2007 having suffered a few setbacks. He's again in contention for Ag2r's Tour team and is currently contesting the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré where he seems to be on the right track to secure his place.

Calzati was the first man to attack on Stage 2 in the very difficult col de la Gachet, which commenced with 11 kilometres of difficult climbing. "I hoped some people would come with me," he explained. "When I noticed that the gap wasn't going beyond two minutes, I realized it wasn't worth continuing."

Calzati confirmed there was no team plan for Christophe Moreau's stage-winning breakaway. As the stage was held on Cyril Dessel's home soil, he also tried to break away after Calzati. "I'm happy to see that my legs are turning well again," Calzati added. "I was thinking of trying another stage for the win, but now we'll work for Christophe to keep the yellow jersey 'till the end."

As he was designated with back number 13, Calzati put his race number on upside down as he's afraid of the bad luck that comes with it.

Van Summeren wants Lotto numbers

Johan Van Summeren (Predictor-Lotto)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Johan Van Summeren wants to know what his future with the Predictor-Lotto squad holds but is waiting for the squad to add a dollar figure to its one-year extension offer. The Belgian's contract ends at the end of this season and other teams have already expressed interest in the Belgian according to Het Belang van Limberg.

"They asked me to tell them what I want, but I don't think that is the correct way to deal with it," explained Van Summeren. "If Predictor-Lotto wants to keep me, then they should make me an offer. They know my address - I will make sure there is food and drinks."

Van Summeren, who stands 1.97 meters tall, is best know for being a team work horse. He is down to ride the Tour de France this July having ridden all the Spring Classics this season. The rider, who won the Under 23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2003, explained why his palmares is so short as a professional: "I have only one problem - I am not fast, so I don't win much".

Predictor-Lotto has made the rider an offer of extending his contract for one more year, but hasn't given the rider a financial offer. "The ball is in his court," said team manager Marc Sergeant. "We made it clear that we want him for next season, but my budget is not unlimited".

Valverde's Tour artillery announced

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Spain's Caisse d'Epargne ProTour squad has finalised its Tour de France lineup, according to Belgian newspaper Het Laastste News. While the report is yet to be confirmed by the squad, it lists Spanish strongman and last year's Tour runner up Oscar Pereiro as the team leader ahead of its main hope Alejandro Valverde.

Russia's Vladimier Karpets also gets the nod in the squad's lineup. The 26 year-old time trial specialist has had a strong season with the squad, taking stage victories in the Vuelta a La Rioja, Volta Ao Alentejo and Veulta A Castilla Y Leon.

"I know the course for 2007," Valverde was quoted as saying. "Despite having two long time trial stages, the race will be decided in the Alps and Pyrenees - not necessarily in that order."

The article also lists José Vicente Garcia, Xabier Zandio, Luis León Sánchez, Francisco Pérez and French duo Florent Brard and Nicolas Portal on the Tour roster.

Despite having Pereiro in the squad, its expected that the team will ride for Valverde from the beginning and see how the tour unfolds. With both Valverde and Pereiro on its side Caisse d'Epargne is billed by many as the squad to beat at this year's race.

The Tour de France kicks off in London, England on July 7. It's the first time in the event's 94 year history it has visited the city, considered one of the world's financial capitals.

Walters says cheese in Beauce

Having left the Navigators Professional Continental squad at the end of 2006, Mark Walters has proven his worth to new teammates at the Kodak Gallery continental team by taking a dominant victory on the Tour de Beauce's opening stage. The 31 year-old rider flew across the 180 kilometre opening stage, breaking clear with 12 kilometres remaining to take a 26 second victory in a Kodak Gallery one-two.

"This is the first race I have won in a long time and I did it solo, which is the way I prefer to win races," he told Cyclingnews after the race. "It's a new team and I am showing what I can do with teammates working for me."

Walters, a six-time Canadian National Champion, took victory from teammate, countryman and current national champion Dominique Rollin. The only sprinter in the main bunch, 26 year-old Rollin sprinted to a comfortable second place over Jacob Erker (Symmetrics).

"This shows that I am going well and I am certainly no more fresh than any of the other guys that did Philly week," added Walters.

The convincing victory certainly commanded respect from his peloton rivals, with Symmetrics' Svein Tuft commenting: "I was happy for Mark to win - we weren't going to chase that back. He fought hard for the win."

"We'll take it day by day from here, but it sure is nice to see Mark take such a convincing solo win," added Kodak Gallery team manager Kurt Stockton. "Tough men win tough races and there is no doubt Mark is one of the toughest. With the conditions this week, hydration will be the key. There is a lot of racing ahead, we have to stay focused and get our work done."

The event continues with the 170 kilometre Stage 2 from Vallée - Jonction.

Predictor-Lotto's week of racing

Belgian outfit Predictor-Lotto has announced its rosters for this week's racing, starting with a squad built around Tom Steels for today's Veenendaal-Veenendaal. Steels, who had a reasonable Tour of Belgium, will be looking for a win in the Dutch semi-classic.

Following Veenedaal-Veenedaal is another Dutch Semi classic on Saturday. The Delta Profronde is a 192km race traditionally run in September. Predictor-Lotto will field a team that includes recent Tour of Belgium points and sprints classification winner Greg Van Avermaet.

That same day, the Tour de Suisse starts and Predictor-Lotto is sending Tour de France green jersey candidate, Robbie McEwen to hone his skills for the Tour. The Australian will be supported in the sprints by leadout man Fred Rodriguez. The team also features three other riders who have been pre-selected for the Tour - Leif Hoste, Wim Vansevenant and Chris Horner.

Veenendaal-Veenendaal lineup: Bart Dockx, Nic Ingels, Olivier Kaisen, Bert Roesems, Roy Sentjens, Tom Steels, Geert Steurs, Stefano Zanini

Delta Profronde lineup: Wim De Vocht, Dries Devenyns, Olivier Kaisen, Bert Roesems, Roy Sentjens, Tom Steels, Geert Steurs, Greg Van Avermaet

Tour de Suisse lineup: Bart Dockx, Chris Horner, Leif Hoste, Robbie McEwen, Fred Rodriguez, Jurgen Vandenbroeck, Wim Vanhuffel, Wim Vansevenant

Dumoulin to return in July

Ag2r Prévoyance's Samuel Dumoulin will return to racing next month after being sidelined since May. The 26 year-old will make his return at July's Tour de la Région Wallonne.

The Vénissieux-born Frenchman suffered a fine break to his collarbone at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. Dumoulin has since suffered a sprain to his wrist and bruising to the bone, which has pushed back his return to July.

Navigators join Tour of Ireland lineup

Hilton Clarke and David O'Loughlin
Photo ©: Casey Gibson
(Click for larger image)

Professional Continental squad Navigators Insurance has joined the growing list of squads confirming their participation at August's Tour of Ireland. The American squad's roster for the UCI 2.1 race includes two local talents in Irish duo Ciarán Power, and David O'Loughlin.

O'Loughlin will be looking to add to a long list of successes on Irish soil when he contests the August 22-26 event, having already won national titles at junior, Under 23 and Elite levels. The 29 year-old has also won the Irish championship triple crown - with national titles in time-trial, criterium and road race.

As a former FBD Milk Rás overall and multiple stage winner Power is no stranger to success on home soil either and will be looking for a good result. The pair will be accompanied by another Navigator close to home in Briton Kristian House.

Navigator's announcement comes at the same time the continental squad confirmed its participation in the event. The pair join an already impressive list of teams contesting the event, including ProTour squads T-Mobile and in addition to Ireland-registered Professional Continental squad Ceramica Panaria - Navigare.

Navigators Tour of Ireland roster: Ciarán Power, David O'Loughlin, Kristian House, Hilton Clarke, Valeriy Kobzarenko, Sergey Lagutin and Phil Zajicek.

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