First Edition Cycling News, June 18, 2007
Edited by Laura Weislo
Dauphiné changes Vinokourov's plans
By Jean-François Quénet in Annecy
Vinokourov dismissed any speculation that this race bodes poorly for his Tour de France. "Moreau is the only rider who has amazed me by how strong he is. He put two minutes on the other ones on the Ventoux and yesterday, he attacked strongly again. He was the most impressive rider in this race. In my opinion, he's already in too good a form."
The race may, however, change his plans for the rest of his pre-Tour preparation. At the beginning of the season, Alexandre Vinokourov told Cyclingnews that his pre-Tour de France plan was all set, including a trip to Kazakhstan for the national championship and a return by private plane directly to London for the start of the Tour. "Our sponsors want all the Kazakh riders from the team to ride the championship. It's important for our country so we'll do it," he said in March.
Today in Annecy, he said the plan might change. "I'm not sure if I'll be going to the national championship. It depends on the sponsors. We still have to talk." Vino said he'll take it easy at home after the Dauphiné. "Maybe I'll go in the Pyrenees or the Alps," he said. He hasn't reconnoitred the mountain stages as Lance Armstrong used to do, but the Kazakh enjoys keeping an air of mystery about his preparation schedule.
While his Dauphiné wasn't a personal success, it certainly was a huge victory for his Astana team of. "I know I had worked hard and well before the Tour," he said. "But maybe I didn't have total confidence in my team. During this Dauphiné, these doubts have been eliminated. Even if only four or five riders from the team here will be at the Tour as well, now I know that I can trust them for La Grande Boucle."
CSC on course
By Shane Stokes in Luzern
With Fabian Cancellara determined to hold onto the leader's jersey in the Tour de Suisse, Stuart O'Grady took control to deliver his captain to the front of the pack in the sprint on stage two. Surprisingly, the Swiss rider took third place in Luzern and retained a comfortable lead over second placed Daniele Bennati, while O'Grady cruised in right behind. Prior to the start of the stage O'Grady said that he was pleased with how things had been going.
"I am feeling pretty good. The last few weeks were hard, with Catalunya, then going straight from there to Bayern Rundfarht and then a team camp. It is has been a pretty solid build-up after the Classics but I am feeling pretty good."
O'Grady's already had a fairly heavy programme this year, building form for April and succeeding in Paris-Roubaix as a result. He stepped back from racing for a while after that.
"I have been going pretty hard since the Tour Down Under. By the end of the Classics, I was not only physically stuffed but also mentally tired as well. It was always planned that I would have a good, long break and get the mind and body ready for the next part of the season."
He said that CSC are setting a high target for the Swiss race. "We have got a very competitive team in Switzerland and we are here to win. We have got a few pretty good GC riders in the group. I will just see how it goes [in relation to his own aspirations], as my main priority is to help the GC guys. But obviously if an opportunity arises I will give it a crack."
Sastre content with Tour preparation
By Shane Stokes in Luzern
With Ivan Basso long gone from the team, and the Schleck brothers too young to challenge for the overall classification, leadership of the CSC team for the Tour de France will fall upon the shoulders of Carlos Sastre this season. The friendly Spaniard proved in 2006 that he is deserving of this status, finishing fourth in the Tour and fourth in the Vuelta a España, despite having earlier ridden the Giro d'Italia.
"I am okay," he told Cyclingnews prior to the start of stage two. "I have had some good training and everything is going well for the Tour de France. This year I am doing a different programme. In 2006 we rode the Giro; it was important for the team. But this year, the structure without Ivan is different. I am the new captain of the team for the Tour de France and for sure I have built form more slowly and have done everything to arrive at the Tour de France in the best condition."
He's likely to push himself a bit harder here, although he feels that other riders on the team are more likely to figure in the general classification. "For me, this is an important race. After this we have only two weeks before the Tour de France, so it is important. We have a very strong team here and we have to start to get back into good condition.
"For me, my plan here is to go step by step. The team is okay with Fabian [Cancellara], and Frank Schleck is in good shape. I am building up a little more slowly than them."
Freire foiled in Suisse
By Shane Stokes in Luzern
Former triple world champion Oscar Freire was aiming for a strong ride in the second stage of the Tour de Suisse but instead finished back in 125th place. He was one of many riders who were delayed by a crash in the final kilometre.
Prior to the start he had told Cyclingnews that he was pinning all of his hopes on the race to Luzern. "I will go for the stage today. We are in a very hard race and we [sprinters] don't have a lot of opportunities. Today is the only one, really."
The Spaniard has had a career littered with injuries but thus far he has had no serious setbacks in 2007. He had a frustrating end to the season last year due to a mystery neck problem. That settled down and appears to be staying at bay. "Until now, my neck is not a problem," he said. "I have to wait and see how it is because I haven't done a very long race yet. I will see how it is here, but I am happy with things thus far."
Freire won Milan San Remo earlier this season. He's not sure what stage his fitness is at but should get an important insight this week. "We will see how it is. Right now it is not possible for me to know how my condition is for the sprints. But I expect I should be the same as last year in the Tour. I hope so anyway."
The Rabobank rider is one of the fastest sprinters around. Does he plan to chase the maillot vert? "This year, what is important is going for stage wins," he replied. "The green jersey well, perhaps if the team was based only around me I could try, but we also have a team for the general classification and the mountain stages."
Later on the season he will have his big goal. He has a chance to take a record fourth world championship title, surpassing Merckx and all the greats. "I didn't see the course yet but I heard about it. I think it is a good parcours for me," he concluded.
Gerdemann set for 'favourite race'
By Shane Stokes in Luzern
Promising young T-Mobile rider Linus Gerdemann has a good history in the Tour de Suisse - he took his first professional win here in 2005, taking stage seven on a brilliant solo attack from a fading breakaway. He came back in 2006 to take second on stage three and seventh overall.
Still just 24 years of age, he said prior to stage two that he was looking forward to the race. "We will see how my condition is in the next few days. It is difficult to say but it should be okay. This one of my favourite races, perhaps my favourite race. Switzerland is always nice with good roads and courses."
When asked if he would be aiming for a top GC place, he said that he wasn't sure what would be possible. He will be riding the Tour de France for the first time this year and so that will take priority. However if the legs are good, he'd be happy to ride well. "We will see how things go," he stated. "We have Michael [Rogers] here anyway... we will take it day by day."
Gerrans chasing tour slot
By Shane Stokes in Olten
Australian Simon Gerrans is, like last year, here in the Tour de Suisse aiming for a strong ride. He wants a place on the AG2R Prévoyance team for the Tour de France and knows that a good performance in the race could secure his selection.
"I am not certain yet for the Tour," he said while cooling down on the rollers after his TT effort. "I guess there are about half a dozen guys for the last spot. There are a few slots left but some of the guys aiming for them are in the Dauphiné and going well. I guess it is pretty tight for those last couple of places. If I am going well here I guess it will be all good. We will see."
Gerrans finished 89th in the prologue, 24 seconds behind stage winner Fabian Cancellara, but feels that he should have the condition to ride aggressively on the road race stages. "The form has come up good, actually. I will see how the first few days pan out. If I lose a lot of time on one of the mountain stages I will back right off and then have a go on a particular stage. Kind of like last year.
"It is obviously a real climbers race. It will be good to try to the legs and see where I am at."
The mood is high on the team following Christophe Moreau's determined march back into the Dauphiné lead on Saturday. This further fuels his desire to be one of the nine riders heading to France. "Cadel [Evans] was seemingly the only one who could follow him today when he went," he said. "Christophe is back in the lead now and that is very motivating for the Tour. It's great to know the guys are going that well."
Horner unsure of form
By Shane Stokes in Luzern
"I am going okay. I am a little too rested at the moment but hopefully after a couple of days of racing the legs will come good," said Predictor-Lotto rider Chris Horner prior to stage two of the Tour de Suisse. "I had two good, solid weeks of training after Romandie I was down in California, travelling around there and training up near my house. I got in two really good solid weeks, then had a week before this race where I was not doing so much because of travel. I feel really fresh at the moment. Hopefully a couple of days of racing will make the legs better, although sometimes that doesn't work!"
He's got a clear idea of what he wants from the race. "The goal here is to come out of the Tour de Suisse in better condition than I went in, and to be ready for the Tour de France. I assume I have a place on the team. I thought I had it in January but of course you have to get the final nod first, too. I don't think that is going to be a problem, though."
Horner has a pretty good record in the country and if things follow that pattern, he could do something big this week. "Any time I am in Switzerland lately it has been really good for me. Two years ago I won a stage and finished fifth overall here. I have won a stage in Romandie and had the jersey there, then this year I had the lead there again and was fifth overall. Switzerland has always treated me well; I don't know if it is the food, the hotels, the weather, or a mix of everything.
"If I have the legs I will go for something... I wouldn't turn down a result if the opportunity is there. But of course if it is not there, then it is a case of looking after the legs and being good for the Tour."
Swiss riders aiming for more at home
By Shane Stokes in Luzern
With CSC's Fabian Cancellara leading the Tour de Suisse, the fans have a hometown hero to cheer for, but there are no fewer than sixteen other Swiss riders in the race. Martin Elminger (AG2r) is one, and is motivated to perform well on home soil. He was best of the team in the prologue, finishing a fine seventh on the stage, and said on Sunday morning that he was hoping to find success during the nine-day event.
"I hope to win a stage," he stated. "I am not here for the general, but this is good training for the Tour de France. I am confirmed for the team for that already so I have no stress.
"The prologue was good. I didn't think I could be in the first ten but the legs were good. I hope today they are even better! I plan to ride hard on this stage as I would like to do well. Tomorrow [Monday] it is a lot harder but if the legs are good, I will also be there in the front."
Elmiger placed 23rd in the bunch sprint to the line. Stage three will provide an opportunity to attack, so he should be one of the protagonists if the legs are good.
Strauss plans to be aggressive
Another rider looking to perform well in Switzerland in order to gain selection for the Tour de France is Gerolsteiner's Marcel Strauss. He was 112th in the prologue but felt that the race against the clock didn't suit him very well.
"It has technical parts with some tough corners. It is hard to keep your speed there. I am probably too careful for this kind of race, there are other specialists who don't have this problem! It is too short for me, too.
"It is difficult to say what I can achieve here. It is a very hard Tour de Suisse, going over long and high mountains, and normally I am not so good there. It will be a hard tour but my form is very good and hopefully I can get one or two good placings on stages."
Strauss is a past silver medallist in the Swiss road race championships and would be delighted to perform well on home soil this week. But he has an additional motivation to ride strongly. "I am not sure about the Tour. There are other riders who want to go too so we will see after the Tour de Suisse. If I ride well here it will help."
Ljunskog racks up another win
Just a few short weeks after winning the overall classification at the Tour l'Aude, Swede Susanne Ljunskog headed to Spain where she came up with another big win for her Flexpoint team at the Emakumeen Bira. Ljunskog was able to hold onto a 25 second lead over reigning World Champion Marianne Vos - a lead she took in the opening team time trial and held through to the finish. "Last year I was second in both these races, but this year the balance swung in my favour,'' said Lunkskog after the race.
The former two-time World Champion credited her team with the win, saying, "I have to give thanks to them - you can't win this kind of race if you don't have a strong team at your side. For instance the team time trial that started the race - that gave me the margin that I ultimately was able to hold to the end."
"Furthermore, it was important that I rode a strong time trial and that I remained attentive every day," Ljunskog continued. "Marianne Vos, however, made it difficult." Ljunskog hopes the her form will hold out for the women's Giro d'Italia, which starts in three weeks. "This is also an important aim for me this season. I think that I can make top five in the overall classification, but I realise I that it will be something much harder to win. But I will try it, certainly."
Winners of Fantasy Giro 2007 confirmed!
There were 32 prize winning managers this year with over 66 prizes up for grabs. We are delighted to confirm the winners of the Giro 2007 game here at Fantasy Cyclingnews. It's been a tough battle each day at the top with an unprecedented amount of high scoring teams in this year's game.
Grand Prize & Top 10 Runners-Up
The following winning managers had the highest combined score of Stages Points, GC, MTN and PTS at the end of stage 21. Have a look at their team breakdowns and see what they won:
Won - Wilier Triestina Izoard Lampre-Fondital team replica bicycle equipped with Campagnolo's all-new Chorus Ultra Torque ten speed groupset, Fulcrum Racing 3 wheelset, ITM Visia bars & stem, Selle Italia SLR XP saddle, Look Keo Sprint pedals, FSA Carbon fibre seatpost and Vittoria tyres. Wilier says this beauty weighs only 7.9kg (17.4 lbs) and has a retail value $4,750!
Hillebrandite (Manager Tobermorit, DEN)
Xteam Final (Manager Konakaffe, DEN)
Frogfield (Manager Frogfield, NED)
Giorgino (Manager Giorgino, DEN)
joeybike (Manager CY-KOTICS, USA)
Velolions (Manager Mr. Hankey, USA)
racing lavanelli (VI) (Manager Racing Lavanelli, GBR)
orlando bernardini (Manager y barrankas, ESP)
Milikito Junior (Manager Eufemiano's syringes, ESP)
The Frequency (Manager Bjarne Bruynel, USA)
Daily Stage Prizes
Tifosi Optics "Forza" featuring High Speed Red Fototec lenses
Please note this score includes only the Stages Points accumulated daily, and does not include any points scored in the GC, PTS or MTNs elements of the game. For example the winner of stage 3 would be calculated by adding his Prologue, Stage 1, Stage 2 and Stage 3 Stage Points together.
They each win a pair of Tifosi Optics "Forza" featuring High Speed Red Fototec lenses!
Giro d'Italia 2007 Daily Stage Winners
Stage 1 winner - Team aussie (Manager - Slovensko, POL)
Note - there were three teams with the same Stage only points in Stage 1. This winner was picked at random from the three contenders. Please check the Fantasy site to see what prizes were on offer this year. The Le Tour game will be starting soon.
Fancy your chances as a Fantasy manager? Register now for the Le Tour 2007 to take part and we'll let you as soon as possible when everything is ready to race.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)