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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for June 21, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown and Bjorn Haake

Schleck's first day in yellow

By Shane Stokes in Giubiasco

Fränk Schleck (Team CSC)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Fränk Schleck has already amassed a very decent palmarès, including wins in the Amstel Gold and at Alpe d'Huez, but this Tour de Suisse marks another big step in his career.

"It is my first time to lead a stage race, so I am very happy with that," he said prior to Wednesday's stage. "Okay, I did it as an amateur but that is not the same thing as when you are pro. This morning I got up and started putting my numbers on, but realised that I was doing it with a normal CSC jersey. So I thought, ‘damn, you have to remember to take the yellow jersey today!' That was a nice feeling."

He and the team had a relatively straightforward day, due to the fact that the sprinters teams decided to get involved and pull back the two-man break of Rubens Bertogliati (Saunier Duval) from Switzerland and Dutch rider Laurens Ten Dam ( They went some 28 kilometres after the start, built up a maximum lead of over nine minutes before Ten Dam went on ahead alone on the run up towards the start of the first category Lukmanierpass. He was finally caught with some 13 kilometres remaining.

CSC directeur sportif Kim Andersen was pleased at the finish. "It was an easy day. We were calculating a little bit on the sprinters' teams getting involved. It was the last day for them. We know we have to work hard tomorrow.

"The start was a little bit hectic with a lot of attacks taking place. [Kim] Kirchen and [Michael] Rogers were away, but it settled down after a while."

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Schleck said yesterday evening that he is going to fight hard to retaining yellow. "Tomorrow [stage 6] will be a very hard day. It is important to defend the jersey, it is a very important one. I think that the Tour de Suisse one of the best races in the world. It is very, very well organised, with a good course, super hotels, and very, very warm people. I hope to keep the jersey. We will see how things go tomorrow."

O'Grady pleased with race, sees Schleck as a wildcard for Tour

By Shane Stokes in Giubiasco

Stuart O'Grady is building form for the Tour.
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

"We have had a great race so far," said a happy Stuart O'Grady before Wednesday's fifth stage. "We have had the lead each day and that is great for the team. Fränk is obviously in awesome form. Today the tactic is to keep the yellow jersey. I think the sprinters' teams will probably pull as it is the only stage left for them. We will get a bit of a tempo going at the start, a break is going to go and then it will be up to the sprinters' teams wether it comes back together for a win or not."

He said that Schleck's good form is not a big surprise. "We knew Fränk was going very well. I happened to be with him at the training camp in the Alps after the Bayern Rundfahrt and he was going pretty well there."

It bodes well for July. "I think we will have two cards to play in the Tour. Fränk has got fantastic form and there is no reason why he can't be up there in the Tour de France. He will be a wildcard. He has won a stage [Alpe d'Huez] in the past. I think there is a big difference between winning a stage and being on the podium, but Fränk has what it takes to be up there."

Hammond getting over jet lag

By Shane Stokes in Giubiasco

British rider Roger Hammond has had a tough time on the opening stages of the Tour de Suisse, but said on Wednesday morning that he was starting to come around.

"I feel okay and I am getting a bit better now. I was feeling very jet-lagged for the first few days as I was in Philadelphia [doing the Commerce Bank Triple Crown series – ed.]. I was feeling pretty messed up!"

He is hoping to be selected for the T-Mobile team for the Tour de France, especially as it starts in the UK this year. "I don't know if I have to do something here to make sure of the Tour place. I hope not, because it is not my kind of terrain! But I kind of have to show that my condition is okay.

"I couldn't show that on the first few days because I certainly wasn't going very well. Before I came here I went to Dunkirk and Rheinland-Pfalz and I was riding well there. Then I went to the States and I was smashed up for the first five days there, before coming good for the final race. It was the jet lag – some people can take it, some people can't. It just takes me a bit longer to get over it. I know I don't travel very well anyway, which is unfortunate for a bike rider! I have never been good on trans-Atlantic ordeals.

"I had only a very short time [to recover] to come here but I needed to come here if I want to do the Tour. I will just try to survive. Anyway, I felt so much better yesterday so I want to race again."

As Hammond pointed out, he is more a rider for flatter terrain than is found in Switzerland. He performed solidly yesterday, finishing 26th in the bunch gallop to the line.

The T-Mobile team for the Tour de France is likely to be announced after the Tour de Suisse.

Horner planning to attack

By Shane Stokes in Giubiasco

American rider Chris Horner has won a stage in the Tour de Suisse in the past and he would like to go hunting for another this year. Earlier this week he told Cyclingnews that he had been training well in recent weeks but due to a lack of racing miles, wasn't sure how he would perform. He said prior to the start of Wednesday's fifth stage that he was coming round nicely.

"I think my legs are pretty good. I had problems with cramps on the second stage and yesterday [stage 4] I was with the front group when we started the last climb. I could feel them coming back, so I just shut it down. Today we will look at possibly doing the sprint for Robbie if he can get over the climb.

"For me, I have a few more days to try to do something, in Thursday and Friday's stages. Hopefully I can get a rest day out of this [Wednesday], recover really well, and be better for those two days. I'd like to get in a break or something.

Freire not one hundred percent

By Shane Stokes in Giubiasco

Although he has amassed a hugely impressive palmarès, including three rainbow jerseys, Oscar Freire has also had to contend with many injuries during his career. He won a stage in last year's Tour de Suisse but will miss out this time due to a fall he had in the sprint finish on day two.

"I don't feel very good," he said prior to stage five yesterday. "After the crash I had pain in my back. Yesterday my back was very bad, we will see today. I think it is only one contusion so I hope to be okay in a few days."

Schumacher will wait and see

By Shane Stokes in Giubiasco

Gerolsteiner's Stefan Schumacher came into the Tour de Suisse hoping for a good performance prior to starting his first Tour de France, but things haven't gone to plan thus far. After five stages he is lying 80th in the general classification, 22'42 back.

"I was a little bit sick last week and that hasn't helped," he said on Wednesday morning. "Two days ago I made a mistake. The Flüelapass was so long and I didn't drink enough minerals. I was cramping on the climb and felt dead. I felt better yesterday but I didn't try to follow the best because I wasn't one hundred percent."

He said his strategy for the remainder of the race will depend on how the legs are. "If I feel good I could go [on the attack] but if I don't feel good I will stay in the bunch until the finish."

He was 11th on yesterday's stage to Giubiasco, finishing in the same time as winner Robbie McEwen.

Cunego aims for Suisse podium

"I know that here I am able to do much better," confessed Damiano Cunego at the Tour de Suisse. The Italian is currently eighth in the overall classification, 1'46" behind leader Fränk Schleck.

'Il Piccolo Principe' is looking forward to the next two stages. "They are very beautiful. Friday is more fitted to my characteristics," he explained to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "The arrival is after three big climbs. On paper it looks good."

Today the riders will finish on the Crans-Montana pass. "The Novena is far from the finish, so it will be like the Crans-Montana is the only climb, or almost. It will be an explosive finish that will suit the attackers."

He noted his sights are set on the overall podium. "Schleck has an extra gear. Then there is [José Angel] Gomez Marchante. I am a hair behind and I will have to fight for the placings. ... A good placing is better because it will give me more points for the ProTour classification. I am fourth and I want to improve myself."

He will ride the final day's time trial with the aim for a high GC spot and for testing purposes. "To be in the classification is important. I am motivated to do the time trial 'all out.' Every crono is an important test for the future." (For more on Cunego's time trial training read Damiano Cunego wind tunnel testing with John Cobb.)

A third second for 'Benna'

Daniele Bennati finished second yet again in the Tour de Suisse. The 26 year-old Italian got second in the prologue behind Fabian Cancellara, second in stage one behind Erik Zabel and yesterday, in stage five, he was second behind another great, Robbie McEwen.

The stage concluded after 192 kilometres in Giubiasco where McEwen clearly overcame Bennati, Zabel and then Fischer. "There is always one that escapes me," he said after the stage to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "At least I am always battling a champion. Robbie is a rival that is a little more difficult to confront; sometimes he anticipates the sprint and sometimes he waits. He is very explosive and more of a sprinter than I am. This time maybe I hesitated."

Both McEwen and Bennati are building for the Tour de France sprints. "I did not think that anyone would be so far along in condition," he continued. "It is too bad that was the last occasion." The race will now hit the high mountains and it then concludes Sunday with a time trail in Bern. "I can take a prologue but a time trial is another discussion."

Fröhlinger's short night and hot day

Young Johannes Fröhlinger of Team Gerolsteiner is getting to know that pro cycling is not necessarily as glamorous as it seems. The 22-year-old neo-pro had one of those experiences at the Tour de Suisse.

"That was a horror night," he wrote on "We couldn't get to sleep in our sticky, hot hotel room, and tossed and turned half the night. At 5:30 we were awake again and had the feeling that we were sleeping in the middle of a traffic circle. There was a huge intersection right outside our window. I wouldn't have thought that there are as many cars in Liechtenstein, as came by right past our room."

And then there was the race itself: "I overdid it in the opening phase and needed some time to recover. On a third-category climb, Linus Gerdemann showed me his cycle computer, which showed the temperature was 41°C. Crazy. We all took innumerable turns going back to get water bottles."

"The next two days are surely the hardest of the Tour," he concluded. "Since I have trained often in that region, I know the mountains and I am fully aware of what is coming -- which is not necessarily an advantage...."

John Gadret likes Swiss air

AG2R's climbing specialist John Gadret.
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

John Gadret (Ag2r) enjoys riding in Switzerland. After recently winning the GP Aargau/Gippingen he is doing well in the Tour de Suisse where he is currently 14th at 2'40", despite having some knee trouble, he told

"I was thinking about the overall classification before the race - getting the best place possible. And I also want to see if I can do something in the next couple of days when the race hits the mountains. Those stages will certainly show who is on form," the Frenchman concluded.

He feels well prepared for the Tour de France, where he will first and foremost "help Christophe Moreau, who has just won the Dauphiné," but also go for a stage win "if I get a green light on one of the stages." Gadret continued that "the team did some training in the Alps for a week recently and we especially checked out the stage to Le Grand Bornard."

Gadret reckons that his cyclo-cross racing in the winter does help to get him in a good condition early, rather than interfering with his road racing program.

The Ag2r rider is very happy with the progress he has made in the last few years, "from my beginnings at Chocolade Jacques to be able to now win my first road race as pro and make the Tour team, that is a great pleasure. But I don't want to stop here now."

Andalucia-Cayasur is very happy

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Antonio Cabello, Andalucia-Cayasur team manager, expressed his happiness today when he officially was notified that his Spanish Pro-Continental squad had received one of four 'wildcards' for the 2007 Vuelta a España. "It has been great news for all of us, because we have been working very hard during all these last few years," Cabello expressed to Cyclingnews. The second Spanish Pro-Continental squad selected was Karpin-Galicia.

Cabello announced, "Luis Pérez will be our leader." The 33 year-old rider debuted 1995 with ONCE, although in the last years has led the Cofidis in the Vuelta a España. He will also count one the very short (1.55m) climber Jorge Ferrío, José Luis Carrasco and 2007 Volta do Alentejo winner Manuel Vázquez.

"I have not still decided who will form the rest of the team, although it is true that we already sent Unipublic [Vuelta's organizer] a list of fourteen riders," Cabello explained. "We have a humble budget but we are very combative. We need to be sure to choose the most capable riders to confront such a demanding race as the Vuelta a España because we aspire to be in the top-ten with Luis Pérez, in addition to obtain a [stage] victory," he concluded.

There was bad news for Relax-GAM. The team, who had reinforced its roster with Oscar Sevilla, Jan Hruska, Santiago Pérez, Francisco Mancebo, Ángel Vicioso and Julián Sánchez, was looked over by Unipublic in its selection process.

Alessandro Petacchi: The phoenix

Wrapping up a victorious 2007 Giro
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

After a year of suffering the effects of a broken kneecap sustained during the 2006 Giro d'Italia, Italian Alessandro Petacchi rediscovered his Grand Tour stage winning speed on the third stage of this year's Tour of Italy. The relief of knowing that he still can win was so intense that it brought the Milram sprinter to tears. Cyclingnews' Hernan Alvarez found out just how much that one day meant to the humble Italian.

To watch Alessandro Petacchi winning bunch sprints in Grand Tours is something so familiar that it's almost predictable, especially in his favourite race, the Giro d'Italia. The man who holds the record for stage wins in a single Giro - nine in 2004 - had a disastrous 2006 Giro when he broke his kneecap in a crash on stage 3 and had to abandon. He had an operation on the knee days later, but what followed was a long and demanding recovery period.


For the full interview click here.

UCI goes after the "Men in Black"

The UCI has targeted "six or seven" top riders who are suspected of using doping products, by subjecting them to extra unannounced doping controls. Some of these riders have already produced "non-negative" results, according to Anne Gripper, director of the UCI's anti-doping program. "We have picked out six or seven riders who are considered high-risk cases because of their suspect behaviour and subsequent good performances in the Tour de France," she told the press agency Belga. Some of these riders "have already had three or four unannounced doping controls," although the UCI only requires one per rider per year.

Gripper said that "We have information that they train in strange places." The controllers refer to the riders as the "Men in Black", because they wear neutral clothing on their training rides, rather than their team kit, which helps them avoid attention by the UCI controllers.

"Some of the results may well be announced before the start of the Tour de France," Gripper said. "Several abnormal results have already come in. We are busy with those results and not all of them are negative," she said, "but it will take time, because we have to respect the process, the analysis of the B samples, before we can make any announcements."

CSC and T-Mobile riders in favour of new UCI charter

By Shane Stokes in Giubiasco

The coming days will give a clearer indication as to the overall feeling within the peloton about the UCI's new anti-doping charter, but some initial reactions have been received at the Tour de Suisse. Riders from the CSC and T-Mobile teams have already been subject to strict internal controls this year and they have welcomed the latest addition to the anti-doping fight.

"It has to be said that everything being done is in a good direction," said race leader Fränk Schleck at the post-race press conference in Giubiasco yesterday. "CSC has a very, very good anti-doping programme. I think that all that teams will accept this [the new charter]. It is necessary to work for the future. I also think it is a good thing for every team to have a programme like CSC does."

Read the full news feature.

ACCPI's Pozzato reacts to UCI's request

Filippo Pozzato, winner of the 2006 Milano-Sanremo and 2007 Omloop Het Volk, reacted to the decision by the UCI to require all ProTour riders to sign an anti-doping agreement prior to the Tour de France. The vice president of the Association of Italian professional riders (ACCPI) noted that the riders would decide in the coming days on how to react.

"Is it something fair or passes on a level below? The importance is yet one more time the UCI is taking us for a ride. Our opinion, the actors in their play, does not count for anything," said 'Pippo,' who refused to mince his words, to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "We will decide what position to take."

This morning, the ACCPI released a news latter titled ACCPI vs. UCI. It stated, "Unclear words, unilateral decisions, criminalization of the riders: Association of Italian riders, with the CPA [Association of Professional Cyclists], say no to the International Cycling Union [UCI]."

Francesco Moser, head of the CPA, noted his association's agreement. "It is a proposal that goes against all rights," he said yesterday.

Lampre-Fondital Team Manager Giuseppe Saronni explained that he would talk to his riders and the legal experts. "Good words but first we need to talk with the riders and lawyers, to understand if this document is permissible. It adds confusion to confusion," summarized Saronni.

The UCI request states that the riders must agree to pay a year's salary if they are found to have used illegal doping products. "Is it a move to protect our sport or to put money in the chest? The thing that is unbelievable is that the riders are left in the open, considered criminals; why not propose that they where electronic bracelets?"

Cavendish one of the first to sign

T-Mobile's Mark Cavendish was the first, along with Sandy Casar, to sign the UCI's rider's anti-doping declaration. He subsequently flew back to the Netherlands and raced in the prologue of the Ster Elektrotoer that evening. "A stressful venture, but I made it," he told Sportwereld.

"I really don't know why they chose me," he said. "Perhaps because I am British and have never been confronted with doping. And maybe because I'm an example of the new generation, right? I don't give a f**k what has gone on in the past," the 22 year-old Manxman declared. "I just want to build up my career without worrying."

Stressful photo-finish in Ster Elektrotoer

Wouter Weylandt had to wait ten minutes to find out that he had taken his fourth victory of the season yesterday in the Ster Elektrotoer. The Quickstep rider crossed the finish line simultaneously with Gerolsteiner's Robert Förster and Wiesenhof's Stefan van Dijk, and the three had to wait until the race jury had analysed the finish-line photos before they could announce who had won.

"Look! The hair on my arms is standing up!" the happy winner said. But he had known going into the stage why he had won, he told Before the start he had spoken with Cynthia, the race "Miss," and reassured her that he would see here again later on the podium. "You see, I have kept my word," he said.

He won the stage by approximately two millimetres. He crossed the line shoulder to shoulder with Förster, "but we didn't know who had won. I had to wait ten minutes to get the results after the jury analysed the photo. Very stressful. I can tell you, that was worse than the sprint," Weylandt said. "Usually the riders know who has won, but this time it was just too close."

"Who all did I leave behind me? Förster, Ciolek, Brown, Eisel, Guidi ... and Cavendish, also a man for the future. Something like this really does me a lot of good," he said.

"Of course Robert would have liked to have won," said Gerolsteiner Directeur Sportif Christian Wegmann. "It was damned close, really a photo finish."

'Dangerous' Stevic does it in Nature Valley GP

Despite crashing during the Nature Valley Grand Prix's opening stage, Toyota-United's Ivan Stevic has taken the opening stage victory and leads the event heading into tomorrow's Stage 2. The Serbian national champion recovered from the fall to take victory following an 'amazing' lead out from his squad, headed by Australian Henk Vogels.

"When I crashed today I thought, 'Come on, not again!' Because this is my second crash this year and I always crash because someone is crashing in front of me," explained Stevic after the race. "I was angry. When I'm angry, I'm really dangerous."

Stevic had been left with nowhere to go after a rider went down directly in front of him at the criterium circuit's first corner. Despite the setback the Toyota United squad worked hard to control the field while Stevic worked his way back to the front before executing a flawless sprint to the line.

"I didn't say anything... they know what to do," noted Stevic. "Henk is the ringleader of the lead-out. I mean he's amazing. He knows every second what we have to do... It's so easy."

Meanwhile, cyclo-cross world championship podium finisher Jonathan Page also put in a strong performance to take third after nearly missing the event completely. With his team having pulled out of the event, Page was thrown a lifeline with the assistance of race director Dave LaPorte, and is contesting the event under the Nature Valley banner.

"Actually, [the team is] doing me a big favour," Page said. "I thought I was racing for another team. That team decided not to do the race. So I called up LaPorte and [technical director] Andy Dahl and now I'm here racing for Nature Valley, and I'm happy to be here."

L'Etape du Tour down under

What the French created a decade ago is also part of the Tour down under. It is called the Mutual Community Challenge Tour and the reasonably fit non-racer can enjoy riding the same route as the professionals do on stage four of the 2008 edition of the week long stage race in Australia.

The route is 134 kilometres long and runs between Mannum and Strathalbyn. A less challenging route of 73.5 kilometres is also available for those who can't get their training miles up high enough.

Announcing the new race route today the Minister for Tourism, Hon Jane Lomax-Smith, called upon riders to start practicing soon. "I urge all potential participants seeking fitness and fun to don the lycra and begin training now," she said.

Lomax-Smith was impressed on how the community got behind the event last year and in announced that "this gives our regional areas near Adelaide a brilliant opportunity to throw a party and they always celebrate with a passion."

Last year almost 3,000 riders participated in the Mutual Community Challenge Tour.

Eric Granger, State Manager SA & NT, Mutual Community, indicated that "we are pleased to continue our association with the Challenge Tour, an event that ties in well with our objectives to promote physical activity and healthy living."

"The Mutual Community Challenge Tour is a must for all cyclists, and the new route against a backdrop of the River Murray will provide an exciting and challenging ride for participants," Granger continued.

The 2008 Tour Down Under features an expanded program of festivities, which will include an extra day of racing action.

Registration opens on July 12 2007 as part of the official launch event for the Tour down under, including the announcement of the stages and routes for next January's event. Registration for the recreational cyclists will be through

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