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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for March 4, 2007

Edited by Steve Medcroft

Flecha, O'Grady get 'pipped' on the line at Het Volk

O'Grady and Fleche away in Het Volk
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

CSC's Stuart O'Grady and Rabobank's Juan Antonio Flecha almost succeeded in their final-kilometre breakaway at Omloop Het Volk on Saturday. Almost - they were swept up by three riders only 300 metres from the finish line. Flecha finished second to Filippo 'Pippo' Pozatto (Liquigas) with O'Grady having to settle for fifth.

After working well to build up a lead of 15 seconds from a quality chasing group that included Tom Boonen (Quick Step - Innergetic), the two riders seemed to slow and begin tactical games, allowing the chasers to reel them in on the wide open finish down the Bergendriesstraat.

Earlier, O'Grady had attacked with 13 kilometers remaining, "without actually giving it 100 percent," according to the CSC team website, Still, the Australian pulled a good gap on what was the final selection of the race. Sensing O'Grady's strength and the timing of his attack, coming as it did after a solid chase-down of another breakaway, Flecha bridged out of the pack. The Spaniard made it across and this prompted Boonen to als take leave of the peloton. However, the CSC website said O'Grady "even had to wait for the Spanish rider, so he wouldn't have to go solo for the remainder of the route".

However, according to CSC directeur sportif Scott Sunderland, "Flecha didn't work very hard at the beginning of the break and during the final five kilometres he even tried to pull free of Stuart several times, because he didn't want to risk a sprint against him at the end. So Stuart had to use all his strength to maintain the lead and of course he was a bit annoyed by this.

"Stuart was really strong throughout the day, but it's been a few years since he's done this particular race so he couldn't remember the route as well as his rivals, who joined him and Flecha at the end. This meant he used more strength than otherwise necessary in some situations, but still, he had the strength for a solo attack, and he was quite pleased with that afterwards," Sunderland noted.

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Flecha and Rabobank had a different view of things, with the Dutch team claiming that "O'Grady blew the chances to win in the finale". According to, O'Grady led less and less in the final kilometres, and finally did not lead at all. (This is not completely correct, Ed.) Flecha gambled that O'Grady would eventually open this sprint, which he did not do. "Flecha had no other choice," claimed directeur sportif Frans Maasen.

Rabobank was not unsatisfied though. "Everything went well, exactly as we wanted. The guys rode well in pursuit, and for example, Mathew Hayman was still strong enough to show something at the end," according to Maasen, who added that he was happy with Flecha's second place behind winner Filippo Pozzato.

See also: Full coverage of the 62nd Omloop Het Volk.

Zomegnan and Amadio respond to IPCT meeting

By Gregor Brown

Zomegnan (r) with Oleg Tinkoff at the Tinkoff team presentation in January
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Members of the International Professional Cycling Teams (IPCT) met Yesterday in Brussels to discuss the current disintegrating situation between the ASO, organizer of the Paris-Nice, and the UCI ProTour. The group, comprised of 17 ProTour teams, insisted that the two parties come together to reach a solution for the economic interests of the cycling teams and, thus, have requested a meeting on Monday in Brussels.

Angelo Zomegnan, events director of RCS Sport, has continued to back his fellow Grand Tour organizer. "If an invite arrives from them then you don't refuse it," he said to La Gazzetta dello Sport, referring to the teams who are considering not racing in the Paris-Nice. RCS Sport has maintained a low profile during the ongoing warfare, but its upcoming race, Tirreno-Adriatico, run almost simultaneously as the Paris-Nice, has also gone against UCI's wishes by not inviting For now it is a question of wait and see for the teams and RCS Sport; the meeting on Monday will have to bring about solutions.

Roberto Amadio, Team Manager of Liquigas and a strong figure in the IPCT, is not impressed with the ongoing battles between the two groups. "We constructed our teams for racing, but if Monday comes and there is not a solution then we will know who is to blame," said the Italian, who is currently in Belgium for the Omloop Het Volk and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne.

"We run professional cycling teams, in other words, our sponsors risk their money. We do not need these e-mail games between the UCI and organizers; we want that they see each other in the face and understand if the rules of cycling can be preserved. The ball is in our hands, but now they both have to be quiet and stop being arrogant, while ruining the forward progression."

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

Merckx fears for cycling's future

By Susan Westemeyer

Eddy Merckx
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
Click for larger image

"It is necessary to save cycling," said cycling legend Eddy Merckx, who sees the sport endangered by both recent doping scandals and the ProTour. "If all this continues, the risk of killing cycling exists," he told the newspaper La Derniere Heure.

"The ProTour is a closed system that can kill cycling," he said, noting that there are scheduling problems to the detriment of the smaller races. The sport "cannot live solely from the ProTour," Merckx noted, adding "the smaller races are necessary, too."

One problem with Operacion Puerto, according to Merckx, is that the names of cyclists allegedly involved were released, but not the names of athletes from other sports. "The other federations have kept silent .... but all the guilty have to be punished, in cycling and in the other sports." He hoped that there would be no new doping problems "to cloud this season."

Gerolsteiner satisfied with second place at GP Chiasso

By Susan Wesetmeyer

Davide Rebellin almost brought in Team Gerolsteiner's first season win in the GP Chiasso Saturday, but ended up in a close second place behind Tinkoff's Pavel Brutt.

"Second place in such a difficult race is really good," said Gerolsteiner Director Sportif Christian Henn. "Sure, we would have like to have won, but it was damned close. But sometimes it comes down to who has that little bit of luck. At any rate, I am content with with the performance of the whole team."

See also: results and photos from the 2007 GP Chiasse.

Spanish Court turns over OP documents to UCI

By Susan Westemeyer

A Spanish court has given the UCI "unlimited access" to all the documents it possesses concerning Operacion Puerto, according to The Audiencia Provincial of Madrad ruled that the UCI can become a party to the case.

The UCI can join the case because it is "an organization whose purpose is the direction, development, control, regulation, etc. of cycling in all its forms in the international arena". The court further said that the UCI "has a legitimate interest to be part of the present procedure, on the one hand because of its goals and on the other hand because the suspected persons are licensed by the UCI."

The UCI now has the right to receive all the court documents, and its attorneys will be able to ask questions during interrogations. The Court further ruled that Manolo Saiz cannot recover the money that was taken from him at the time he was arrested.

Javier Pascual unemployed in Puerto fallout

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Javier Pascual (ex Comunitat Valenciana former) says he is the latest rider to suffer from the devastating Operacion Puerto investigation; the veteran Spanish pro is now unemployed although, he says to local newspaper Diario de León, he has never tested positive in a anti-doping control and the only place his name appears in the investigation's paperwork is in the open judicial summary against the doctor Eufeniano Fuentes.

Pascual says the only people truly harmed in Operacion Puerto investigation are innocent cyclists. That simple mention, Pascual says, is the reason he is unable to contract with a new team for 2007. “Although the damage could have been avoided, it is already done," he said. “At the moment, I have no firm offers or any signed contract,” he said. “I still hope to earn a contract so I can begin to train more seriously,” the ex Comunitat Valenciana former confessed. But, he adds, "I have only a few proposals for continuing."

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

Tour of the North gets long-term backing

By Shane Stokes

The Tour of the North race has received a significant boost with the news that sponsor P&O Irish Sea has confirmed its commitment to the race until 2012. The shipping company has played an important part in the history of the race, backing it since the early 1990s.

The 2007 race was recently launched at Belfast City Hall and two former winners were in attendance. 1999 and 2003 victor Tommy Evans was there, as was current Tour champion Ryan Connor (winner in 2004 & 2006). The latter confirmed that he would be competing again this year.

"The Tour of the North is the big event in Northern Ireland, and with Sean Kelly a previous winner, it is an honour to be included in the list of Tour champions,” said Connor, who competes with the Giant Asia Racing Team. “I can confirm that I will be lining up on Good Friday in an attempt to win my third tour, and the news that P&O are on board until 2012 comes as great news that will allow the event to plan for the future."

Full route details will be released shortly. However stage venues have been confirmed as Belfast (Stormont) on Good Friday, Ballymena on Easter Saturday, North Down (Bangor) on Easter Sunday and Castlereagh (Carryduff) on Easter Monday.

Race director Anthony Mitchell was delighted with the news of P&O Irish Sea’s ongoing commitment. "This is a fantastic shot in the arm for the event, and having previously worked on a year by year agreement, this long term deal allows us to plan for the next five years. It is a great tribute to a small team of administrators that make this event happen each year."

The AA will continue to support the race’s King of the Hills competition.

Fay for Tour of New Zealand

By Shane Stokes

Jenny Fay has been racing for the past couple of months in Australia and despite her relative lack of international experience, the Irishwoman rode solidly in the Geelong Women’s Tour last week. She was 28th and 22nd on the first and last stages and finished 59th overall.

Fay was unable to do Saturday’s Geelong World Cup race due to UCI regulations relating to riders guesting on mixed teams. Instead, she will compete in the Tour of New Zealand for the Infinity Solutions team, alongside Sophie Ruderman, Cath Hare and Peta Mullens. The 2.2 ranked race runs from March 7 – 11.

In recent years she has competed with the Dublin-based Dundrum Orwell SC team, but in 2007 Fay will race with the Rapha Condor lineup.

Aussie junior to race Milan San Remo

CSC Team O’Grady & SASI Scholarship holder Christos Winter is set to ride in the junior version of the Milan San Remo on the 24th of March. Winter will ride for cycling team Vigili Del Fuoco under the guidance of coach Pierluiggi Terrinoni.

The 63rd running of the 110km “Sulle Strade della Sanremo” will be a great battle, with world junior road champion Diego Ullisi and Italian junior champion Alfredo Balloni both looking to win on the famed Via Roma, just hours before the professional riders come in.

A member of Stuart O’Grady’s development team, Winter hopes to follow in his idol’s footsteps. “Stuey has always performed really well in this race and I’d like to follow his footsteps. Hopefully I can get over the Cipressa & Poggio in good position and we’ll see how I go from there”

17 year old Winter will race in Italy for four weeks in preparation for the world championship selection races in Australia at the end of April. Although not confirmed yet, the team may also get a start in the junior Paris-Roubaix, also just hours before the pro race.

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