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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for June 29, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown and Bjorn Haake

T-Mobile for Le Tour

Aussie Michael Rogers (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Germany-based T-Mobile has named its nine men that will start in the Tour de France this July 7 in London. It will send Marcus Burghardt, Mark Cavendish, Bernhard Eisel, Linus Gerdemann, Giuseppe Guerini, Kim Kirchen, Axel Merckx and Patrik Sinkewitz to support Michael Rogers' general classification ambitions.

Directeur Sportifs Valerio Piva and Brian Holm will conduct the squad over the three-week race that concludes in Paris on July 29.

German Bert Grabsch has been named as a reserve and he could be called into action depending upon the performance of Italian Giuseppe Guerini in this Sunday's national championships. The 37 year-old multiple Tour stage winner had to pull out of the recent Tour de Suisse after experiencing stomach pains.

"We believe we are sending a very balanced team. We have guys who are strong in the mountains and overall GC riders circled around Rogers," commented General Manager Bob Stapleton. "We have breakaway specialists and we have sprinters."

"The Tour is the hardest race of all in my books," 27 year-old Rogers, who finished tenth in 2006. "Every stage is raced like a one-day World Cup race. ... I hope it goes well. I have trained hard and prepared the best I can. I hope to finish in the top five."

"We are sending a very capable team with a lot of young guys," continued Stapleton. "The bulk of the team is 26 years or younger, there are a couple of veterans but overall it is quite a young team going to the Tour."

Guerini will join Belgian Axel Merckx, German Patrik Sinkewitz and Luxemburger Kim Kirchen as mountain domestiques for Aussie Rogers. Kirchen was very impressive on his way to second overall at last week's Tour de Suisse. "Kim has been consistently impressive since the start of the season, and he doesn't shy away from taking on responsibility either," said Piva on the rider who has this week signed a two-year extension with the team.

T-Mobile will field three first-timers: Germans Burghardt, Gerdemann and Brit Cavendish. Until a few months ago Mark Cavendish was very much a long-shot for a Tour start, but after an impressive string of race wins he forced himself into the selection.

T-Mobile's Bernhard Eisel ready for Tour
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

"The team believes in him, he believes in himself, he's won against other top riders already. The Tour takes all that up another notch though - the speed and the intensity at the finish is going to be something he hasn't experienced yet," noted Stapleton.

"It's like a dream come true for me to ride the Tour so early in my career. I will give it everything to repay the team management for their faith in me," Cavendish responded.

After steady development, Germans Gerdemann and Burghardt are ready to test themselves against the best. "It is my first Tour start and it will be part of the learning process", noted Gerdemann, "but of course I also want to race well." Burghardt will be under the watchful German-media eye as the winner of this year's Gent-Wevelgem.

Eisel has plenty of experience in the Tour's bunch gallops and the team will look towards the Austrian on flat stages. "We signed Bernhard with big races like the Tour in mind, and we never made a secret of that. He has great top-end speed, can win stages and he has shown his willingness to work for the team," said Aldag.

The team overlooked Roger Hammond in its selection process. The Brit expressed his hopes of riding the Tour de France in a recent interview with Cyclingnews.

Astana names nine amidst controversy

Team Astana has named its nine men that will be competing in the three-week Tour de France, July 7 - 29, amidst recent investigations of two of its potential tour riders. Kazakh Alexander Vinokourov will lead the Swiss team that includes compatriots Maxim Iglinsky and Andrey Kashechkin, German Andreas Klöden, Russian Serguei Ivanov, Spaniards Antonio Colom and Daniel Navarro, Swiss Gregory Rast and Italian Paolo Savoldelli.

Russian Guennadi Mikhailov and Spaniard José Antonio Redondo were named as reserves.

Under likely ASO pressure and the ProTour code of ethics the team left at home German Matthias Kessler (winner of 2006 Tour stage 3) and Italian Eddy Mazzoleni (super-domestique). Both riders were likely team candidates but Mazzoleni, third in the 2007 Giro d'Italia, is being heard by his federation as part of the Oil for Drugs investigation while recently revealed results from a test taken on April 24 listed the German's A-sample as positive for testosterone.

Nonetheless, Astana will have a powerful squad that can take a serious swipe at the overall classification with Vino and Klöden. In his sixth participation of the Tour 33 year-old Vino will make what could be his last attempt at the overall win. He will face strong rivals like Valverde, Leipheimer and Evans but with a third overall in 2003 and three stage wins he has the palmarès to be considered the Tour de France favourite.

Klöden in his fifth participation will be earmarked as a super-domestique for Vino but should plans be thwarted the German may battle for the overall win. He finished second in 2004 and arrived third last July, and many will mark him as a 'danger-man.'

Savoldelli and Ivanov, both past stage winners and in their sixth Tour participation, will provide strong support for Vino's overall bid, as will Kazakhs Iglinskiy and Kashechkin. Rast, Colom and Navarro will be staring in their first Tour.

Additionally, Astana announced that its riders led by Mario Kummer and Adriano Baffi will sign the UCI riders' agreement before the Tour de France.

Matxin envisions competitive Saunier Duval

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Iban Mayo (Saunier Duval-Prodir)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

After having a strong performance in the Giro d'Italia (four stage wins) with Simoni, Riccò, Piepoli and Mayo, Saunier Duval-Prodir is aiming for "winning a stage" in the Tour de France rather than focusing on the general classification, Joxean Fernández Matxin told today to Cyclingnews.

Iban Mayo is the only team member who is heading to the Tour after having done the Giro, while José Angel Gomez Marchante is the one rider who has the Tour's general classification in mind. "The most important thing for both riders is to have good legs and feel confident in order to be among the best; once we have reached that, and depending on the race development, we can think in taking a stage or in fighting for the general classification," the Saunier directeur sportif explained.

Saunier Duval-Prodir will arrive in London on July 7 with a squad that also includes David Millar, David De La Fuente, Juan José Cobo, Iker Camaño, Rubén Lobato, Christophe Rinero and Francisco José Ventoso.

"We have a great opportunity for winning the prologue in London with the Scot David Millar because we know that he will be very motivated at home," Matxin continued.

However, there are other interesting riders in the Spanish ProTour squad, such as De La Fuente, who played a very combative role last year in the mountains, as well as Juan José Cobo, who has won the 2007 Vuelta al País Vasco, or the young and promising Ventoso, who is becoming a top sprinter. On the other hand, Camaño, Lobato and Rinero will provide useful support to Mayo and Gomez Marchante.

"Maybe, winning stage could be more profitable from an advertising angle than to try for the GC, although it is true that in the Giro we were fighting for the podium while achieving victories, and it was successful. I won't say that the general classification is not as important for us as winning stages but I do not know how the Tour will unfold," Matxin concluded.

Luis León Sánchez is ready

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Caisse d'Epargne will count on three candidates (Iván Gutiérrez, Luis León Sánchez and Imanol Erviti) to take the medals this evening in the Spanish time trial championships in Cuenca, same town where the road race will be contested on Sunday.

Luis León Sánchez described the route of the time trial as "very hard, but not technical." He assured Cyclingnews that he feels "very well and motivated."

Sánchez hopes to have a good ride and then receive good news for his Tour de France participation. The Caisse d'Epargne staff has yet to decide between him and Gutiérrez for the Grand Tour. "Whatever the decision it will be accepted by me," he continued. "I have been training very hard for the Tour, so not to be there would be a bit frustrating for me."

The 24 year-old rider debuted in the Tour in 2005 with Liberty Seguros but he was unable to race last year. "I know that I need more experience but I think that I have already demonstrated to be able to defend myself on all types of terrain.

"I know that if I go to London that I have to do as well as possible. It would be a great pleasure for me to help to Pereiro, Valverde or Karpets to win the Tour, and I trust that they are able to do it," Sánchez added.

Milram hits German, Italian championships

Erik Zabel (Milram)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

This Sunday the national title road races will be held in Italy and Germany, as in most European countries. Milram has announced the teams for the respective races in those countries.

Nine team members will start the German championships, while six will be heading to Italy.

National championships have their own laws, underlined by the recent surprises in the German championships. "Title races are always difficult to figure out. In this respect, Germany doesn't differ from Italy," confirmed Oscar Pellicioli, Milram's directeur sportif for the race on the difficult Wiesbaden, Germany, course.

Pelliciolli continued, "Most of the teams are riding with completely different tactics than usual. This often leads to surprises. We saw this the past two years in Germany. However, we are confident that Milram will be in the mix for the title."

The days that the German championships were the Telekom/T-Mobile club championships are indeed over, as the wins of Gerald Ciolek and Dirk Müller have shown the past two years.

The team for the German race will be comprised of Erik Zabel, Marcel Sieberg, Ralf Grabsch, Christian Knees, Enrico Poitschke, Sebastian Schwager, Sebastian Siedler, Martin Müller and Björn Schröder.

At the Italian Championships in Genova, Alessandro Cortinovis, Sergio Ghisalberti, Alberto Ongarato, Elia Rigotto, Fabio Sacchi and Carlo Scognamiglio are going to start.

The following team members are also riding in their country's championships: Niki Terpstra in Holland, Volodymyr Diudia and defending time trial champion Andrey Grivko in the Ukraine and Matej Jurco, also last year's time trial winner, in Slovakia.

Hurt Dominguez to start racing again

Ivan Dominguez
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
(Click for larger image)

You wouldn't know it by the sound of his voice, but it has been a frustrating six weeks for Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team's Ivan Dominguez.

The Cuban sprinter has been sidelined since a bizarre crash May 17 during stage one of the Tri-Peaks Challenge in Arkansas. Dominguez had already crossed the finish line that day when his front wheel suddenly twisted sideways, tossing him head-first over the handlebars.

He landed squarely on his back, bruising his ribs. The Cuban was off the bike for more than two weeks and still has trouble sleeping at night. "If I am riding real hard, I feel the pain in my back," Dominguez said.

He has mixed feelings about his expectations on his return to racing this Sunday at the Chevron Manhattan Beach Grand Prix. "It's hard to say," he acknowledged Thursday. "I stopped for a month and although I feel good training, racing is a lot different."

The crash at Tri-Peaks forced Dominguez to miss the "Philly Week" races earlier this month. The series of single-day races have previously showcased his sprinting ability, including the second place he scored last year in Philadelphia.

Dominguez points out that the team has been winning without him, too. "Some teams only have one guy who can win. Our team has many," continued Dominguez. "It's made me feel more relaxed seeing them win."

The famous race in the LA area has seen its spot on the National Race Calendar moved up from the regular mid-August date. Last year's race was won by then-Toyota-United's J.J. Haedo, who is now riding for CSC. Dominguez finished fourth back then. In addition to Dominguez, Toyota-United riders Jose Manuel "Chepe" Garcia, Caleb Manion, Ryan Miller, Sean Sullivan, Henk Vogels and Chris Wherry will be racing in front of a traditionally large crowd.

The hot dog-shaped course for the expected field of more than 150 riders features a pair of long straight-aways, two sweeping 180 degree turns and 50-feet of climbing per lap. Making each 1.4-mile (2.2 km) lap most challenging is the 180-degree turn that comes 300 metres from the finish line.

"If you're not in the top two or three places coming around that turn on the last lap, it's going to be hard for you to win the race. Every year, you have people crashing and getting all crazy."

Verdict Released Following Inquest into Rhyl Tragedy

Following the tragic death of four cyclists on the January 8, 2006, North Wales Police carried out the biggest investigation into a road crash that they had ever undertaken, with the verdict delivered June 27, 2007.

The jury found there were a number of contributory factors to their deaths including a serious lack of communication between the North Wales Police, Conwy Borough Council and Denbighshire Council. The Coroner strongly criticised the decision of the Chief Crown Prosecutor not to prosecute the driver whose car collided with the cyclists.

After the hearing, the families' lawyer, William Hoskins, read out a statement on their behalf. "Following 18 months of unanswered questions and delays, which have added to the immense grief, and suffering caused by the tragic deaths of Dave, Maurice, Thomas and Wayne, the families are relieved that the Coroner and jury have conducted a thorough investigation into this tragic event. Our lawyers, on our behalf, made clear to the Chief Crown Prosecutor, our disbelief at the decision not to prosecute Mr Harris for driving offences.

"We remain unhappy with that decision in the light of the evidence heard by the Coroner. In fact, we feel badly let down by this decision and that Justice has not been served. We feel that in the light of the evidence that was available in the early hours of Sunday morning, the A547 should have been gritted before the fatal accident. However, we hope that this tragedy will cause lessons to be learned and that both the highway authorities involved and the Police will now take steps to ensure that protocols and procedures are revised to better protect the safety of all road users in the future."

British Cycling's President Brian Cookson and Chief Executive Peter King have both responded to the results of the inquest.

Brian Cookson described that "the whole of British Cycling was shocked by this terrible tragedy, and we were determined to do all we could as an organisation, to support the families. I'd like to offer our condolences and ongoing support to the families of Maurice, Dave, Thomas and Wayne."

Peter King mentioned that he is glad there was further investigation and that everybody involved had "a right to be concerned [with the initial finding]."

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