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Mont Ventoux
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Latest Edition Cycling News for March 24, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo and Sue George ignored for Paris-Roubaix

Team Manager Jacques Hanegraaf
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

The Amaury Sport Organisation, which runs Paris-Roubaix, announced 24 teams for the 105th edition of the race according to AFP, and true to form, the team has been left off the list once again. Despite Unibet announcing that they would race under the name of their bike sponsor, Canyon bikes, for all races in France, and contrary to the agreement with the UCI to consider Unibet for wildcards, the ASO stuck to their decision to invite only the 18 original ProTour teams from the beginning of December.

Wildcard spots were given to Astana, Wiesenhof-Felt, Chocolade-Jacques, Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner, Agritubel, and Skil-Shimano, despite earlier reports that the American Team Slipstream had merited an invite.

While Unibet was invited to participate in Saturday's Milan-San Remo, but the lack of racing is affecting the squad, who have had to race in smaller races while the rest of the ProTour squads took part in Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico.

Even before the Paris-Nice announcement, Unibet manager Jacques Hanegraaf told L'Equipe, "We are the victims of the war between the UCI and the Grand Tours. All the classifications of ProTour from now on are distorted." Hanegraaf continued, "How do I explain to the riders that they cannot take part in the first important races of the season?

"We were excluded from the first two races of ProTour, all therefore all of the classifications are distorted. We have a ProTour licence for four years, but our riders have been until now excluded from competition. It is ridiculous."

The 18 ProTour teams are: Gerolsteiner, T-Mobile, Quick Step, Predictor-Lotto, Team CSC, Caisse d'Epargne, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Saunier Duval, Discovery Channel, AG2R, Bouygues Telecom, Cofidis, Crédit Agricole, Française des Jeux, Lampre, Liquigas, Milram, and Rabobank.

Wiesenhof happy with wildcard

Steffen Wesemann (Wiesenhof-Felt)
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)
Team Wiesenhof-Felt was pleased with their invitation to the 'Hell of the North'. The German Professional Continental team, which is heavily oriented to the spring classics, will now be able to take part in Paris-Roubaix, Ronde van Vlaanderen, Gent-Wevelgem and Amstel Gold Race.

The invite will likely give former T-mobile rider Steffen Wesemann another shot at the 'Hell of the North'. Wesemann finished on the podium in 2002, taking second place to Johann Museeuw, and one step above a then relatively unknown name - Tom Boonen.

"That is a great honour for us and a great compliment for our work to date," said team manager Raphael Schweda. "We may now start at four of the big Spring Classics of the ProTour, that gives us additional strength and will be a further motivation for our team."

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

Hushovd questionable, Cooke out of Milan-San Remo

Credit Agricole sprinter Thor Hushovd's Milan-San Remo may be in doubt after the big Norwegian was felled by a tiny micro-organism. According to AFP, he has succumbed to the intestinal troubles that are spreading through the peloton..

The Credit Agricole captain woke up with the illness early Friday morning, and has not been able to keep any food down. Hushovd will postpone any decisions regarding starting the race until Saturday morning, “But there is a 70% chance that he must abandon”, said Credit Agricole director Denis Roux. Hushovd's best finish in La Primavera was in 2005, when he took the last step on the podium behind Danilo Hondo and Alessandro Petacchi.

Unibet's Baden Cooke had to withdraw from Milan-San Remo, his team announced today. The Australian is suffering from back pain, and will be replaced by Sergey Kolesnikov. The Unibet team will now consist of Jimmy Casper, Arnaud Coyot, Sergey Kolesnikov, Jeremy Hunt, Gorik Gardeyn, Michal Golas, Laurens ten Dam and Marco Zanotti under the direction of Michel Lafis and Jacques Hanegraaf.

Backstedt passes cobbles test

Magnus Backstedt Photo ©: Olympia

After months of being plagued by pain due to a shoulder injury, Magnus Backstedt may at long last be back up to full speed. The Liquigas rider went out for a training ride on his beloved pavé to test out the newly healed joint for the upcoming April 15 Paris Roubaix, a race Backstedt won in 2004.

"I decided that Arenberg section would be the best section to test out how my shoulder is holding up. I've been treated by a new physio in London who has done wonders it. Unfortunately, the bike I was hoping to test didn't arrive, but at least I know my shoulder is fine," said Backstedt.

"I was slightly worried that I was going to get on the cobblestones, and I was not going to be able to cope with them. I hit Arenberg at full gas with no pain other than the usual sensations you get from riding them, but I love that feeling so I was like a kid on Christmas morning."

The big Swede continued from Arenberg taking in Wallers and Hornang among other sections, before calling it a good day in Orchies. He then spent the rest of the week training over the famous Belgian climbs that make up the Tour of Flanders even though this the race is not on his programme.

"I needed a day like that on the stones! I'm now ready for the second Sunday in April. I start racing next week in the Castilla y Leon, then the Settimana Bergamasca and Circuit de la Sarthe before heading up to Roubaix. The team and myself have taken the conscious decision to stay away from Flanders and the other cobbled classics to give me a full crack at my race," finished Backstedt.

Ciolek's Milan-San Remo dreams

Gerald Ciolek is nervous
Photo ©: John Pierce
(Click for larger image)

The young German sprinter Gerald Ciolek knows it's a long shot, but he really wouldn't mind winning Milan-Sanremo. "If I'm up there at the finale, then of course I will try for it," he told the Kölner Stadt-Anzeige.

Milan-San Remo "is by far the biggest race I have ever ridden," the 20-year-old T-Mobile rider said. "And I am very nervous, which I'm usually not. I'm here to learn. But of course that doesn't stop me from dreaming."

The biggest problem is that the race is 294 km long, "I've never ridden that much at one time before. I'll just have to see how it goes, how far I can come."

The youngster has a good idea what the race will be like. "It will be brutally hard. There will be attacks without end. And especially at the end is where it gets hard, the many climbs that are in the way, are really hard then. So I have a great respect for it. Especially this year, everybody wants to win. After all, Milano-Sanremo is 100 years old."

Crashes mar Oceania mountain cross opener

Caroline Buchanan (NSW) and rival Ziggy Callan (Vic)
Photo ©: Rachel Burke
(Click for larger image)

The first official event in the UCI Oceania Mountain Bike Championships kicked off in Thredbo, Australia, Friday with the men's and women's Mountain Cross heats and finals.

The final in the women's race saw not one, but two crashes. Two Aussies and two Kiwis lined up at the starting gates. Australian National Mountain Cross champion Caroline Buchanan took the lead early and ended up the clear winner, but lots of action happened in her wake. Jennifer Makgill crashed early in the run. Then Sarsha Huntington and Scarlett Hagen collided into each other on the double jump. The second crash opened the door for Makgill to come back to second place. Huntington reclaimed her bike to take third spot leaving Hagen to get fourth.

Winner Buchanan was oblivious to the mayhem. "I heard lots of people coming down. I didn't know who was up and who was down so I just kept riding." Going into the race, the 16-year-old Buchanan was concerned about the overseas riders. "I was worried about the Kiwis. I've never raced them before," she said.

The elite men's final went more smoothly with four New South Wales riders lining up: Alex Lloyd, Luke Strom, Bryn Aitkinson, and Terry Scarr. Lloyd and Scarr were side-by-side from the start, until Scarr pulled his foot allowing Lloyd to go ahead and win. Hot favourite Luke Strom couldn't regain any ground on Lloyd and finished in second place.

Racers will contest the downhill and cross country events today and Sunday.

Strong Czech team confirmed for FBD Insurance Rás

By Shane Stokes

2005 Race leader Chris Newton
Photo ©: INPHO
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The first of several strong overseas teams for this year’s FBD Insurance Rás has been named by race organiser Dermot Dignam.

The Czech Republic - AC Sparta Praha team has been confirmed for the 2.2 ranked event, which begins in Naas on Sunday May 20th.

Two years ago Rostislav Krotky finished sixth, tenth, eleventh and eleventh again on stages en route to a solid 14th place overall. He is now racing with AC Sparta Praha and is likely to be one of the squad for the Irish event, joining the other riders in targeting stage wins plus a high overall finish. The line-up will be confirmed closer to the start of the eight day race.

“This is one of the top pro teams in the Czech Republic and we are expecting great things from them,” said Dignam this week. “They will be coming with their sights set on being the first team from that country to win the FBD Insurance Rás.”

Dignam said he is looking forward to a high standard in this year’s contest. “I would expect most of the teams coming to this year’s race will either be UCI Continental teams or national squads. There is great strength in depth in these teams and the Irish riders will be up against it,” he said.

This year’s FBD Insurance Rás will be almost 1200 kilometres in length and will feature stage finishes in Templemore, Loughrea, Sligo, Dungloe, Buncrana, Derry, Newcastle and Skerries.

The 2006 event was the closest ever, with British rider Kristian House ( finishing on precisely the same time as former world under 23 time trial champion Danny Pate (TIAA-CREF) but winning out due to better stage placings.

Track Worlds line-ups solidified

Spanish, French teams for Track Worlds

With just one week to go before the start of the 2007 Track World Championships, countries have finalised their rosters and are already testing out the new velodrome in Palma de Mallorca. 36 nations will be sending 300 riders to the new facility, which was completed on a last-minute time table.

Motivated to perform well on their home soil, the Spanish team is fielding a strong team, headed by former World Champion pursuiter Sergi Escobar and Mallorcan Toni Tauler, and multiple world title holder Joan Llaneras for the points race and Madison.

Sergi Escobar (Spain)
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
Click for larger image

According to todociclismo, Spanish endurance team director Didac Navarro said that the team has an "excellent ambience. Last year we had some stresses due to the struggle of the start places. But this year the decision was made very early, everybody knows his job and that they have to give their very best in the championship, not before."

Pedro José Vera will compete in the reintroduced omnium which combines a mix of track skills - both speed and endurance are needed. "We chose him for this reason, but he surprises us [positively] in the tests against the sprinters, where we thought he could have the biggest difficulties." said Navarro.

Spanish team for Track Worlds: José Antonio Escuredo and Itmar Esteban for the sprint, Escuredo and Hodei Mazkiarán for the Keirin, Mazkiarán and Alvaro Alonso for the Kilo, and Alonso, Salvador Meliá and Rubén Donet for the team sprint. Escobar and Tauler will ride the pursuit, with Escobar, David Muntaner, Carles Torrent, Asier Maeztu and Antonio Miguel making up the team pursuit, while Llaneras will compete in the points race and Madison with Carlos Torrent. Unai Elorriaga will take on the scratch race.

Helena Casas will compete in the sprint, 500m time trial, keirin, and the team sprint with Leire Olaberria (with Ainhoa Pagola as reserve). Olaberria will also race the pursuit and scratch races, and Gema Pascual will compete in the points race.

Veteran sprinter Arnaud Tournant (France)
Photo ©: Larry Hickmott
Click for larger image

The French have also confirmed their team, according to the race website, Gregory Baugé, Mickaël Bourgain and Arnaud Tournant will be the team's sprinters, and Fabien Sanchez will ride the individual pursuit, and the team pursuit along with Matthieu Ladagnous, Kevin Lalouette, Alexandre Lemair and Nicolas Rousseau.

François Pervis and Didier Henriette will race the kilo, and Keirin Mickaël, Bourgain and Kevin Sireau will take on the Keirin. Endurance riders Matthieu Ladagnous and Jérôme Neuville will participate in the points and scratch races, respectively, and Andy Flickinger and Matthieu Ladagnous will make up the Madison pair. Michael d’Almeida will compete in the omnium.

For the women, Clara Sánchez will take on the sprint and the Keirin. Sandie Clair will also race the Keirin and team sprint with Virginia Cueff, and Cathy Moncassin-Prime will race in the pursuit.

Kiwi women win appeal to race track worlds

When the New Zealand track team was named for the upcoming World Track Championships next weekend in Majorca, the list did not include Christchurch racers Fiona Carswell and Jocelyn Rastrick

Carswell won national titles in several events including the women's keirin, scratch race, 500m, and sprint. Paired with Rastrick, she won the women's team sprint.

According to the New Zealand Herald, Carswell claimed an initial decision to include the duo on the team had been overturned - a result that got her thinking about resigning from the sport. However, the two team sprint partners appealed the decision, and they won, so they will now be representing New Zealand at worlds.

"We weren't looking to stir, we just wanted to be recognised for what we're worth," Carswell said to The pair will reportedly have to pay their own way.

O'Loughlin gets ready in Newport

By Shane Stokes

David O'Loughlin
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
Click for larger image

Navigators Insurance professional David O'Loughlin will arrive in Majorca on Saturday in order to fine tune his preparation in advance of the hosting of the world track championships there. The Mayo rider recently spent three days in the Newport velodrome in Wales honing his form, and will ride the pursuit and points races in Palma.

His entry marks the first Irish participation at this level since 1996, when Phil Collins and Declan Lonergan competed in the Olympics and world championships. O'Loughlin set a new Irish pursuit record on his debut last September and finished eighth in the recent World Cup round held in Manchester.

However, he had been going considerably quicker in training in the days leading up to the contest and so, providing he can modify his warm-up and get the best out of himself, he should be faster in Majorca. His longer-term goal is to qualify for the velodrome events at the Olympics, as well as continuing his road career with the US squad.

Irish women's series kicks off

By Shane Stokes

An incentive to encourage women's cycling in Ireland will get underway this Sunday with the start of the revamped Zoo Hair Salon/Velotex Women's National League series.

This year, the women will line out with the other riders in the senior 3/junior/veteran group rather than having their own separate race, as was the case before. Each woman will instead be given their own handicap in points, giving non-elite women an advantage over the others and thus encouraging them to take part. Where possible, race organisers will give non-elite women a slight head start on the road.

Orla Hendron of Cycling Ireland's Women's Commission said that she was happy with the backing of the league. "We are very pleased to announce the continued sponsorship by Shay Dempsey of The Zoo Hair Salon in Exchequer Street, Dublin 2 this year, and are also delighted to welcome on board Justin McGee of Velotex Sportswear Ireland. Velotex will supply the race leaders' jerseys for the league.

"It is great news for women's racing that these two companies are prepared to get behind us in our goal to increase the participation of women racing in this country."

The first race in the 2007 league is the Waller Cup in Bohermeen.

Only hours to join Fantasy MSR Spring Classics 2007!

Play this year's fantasy
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
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Only hours to go before the Milan - San Remo Game kicks of the 2007 Fantasy season. There's still time to enter your teams. All you need to do to take part is register and select 8 riders for this the first of seven Spring Classic races.

Why should you play this year? - You can win a Specialized S-Works Roubaix bicycle in Quick Step - Innergetic colors equipped with Shimano Dura-Ace components and a S-Works FACT oversized carbon crank and bottom bracket worth $6000 USD! That's not all you could win in this year's Fantasy games. To celebrate our fifth year of Fantasy games the Spring Classics will also be featuring some top runners-up prizes.

Runners-up Prizes

The first runner-up prize this year is a Cycleops Powertap 2.4 (wireless) worth $1499 USD. Cycleops upgraded the world's most accurate, lightest power meter to be the world's first wireless meter, meaning you can easily switch it between bikes.

A pair of BBB's "Winner Team" glasses are on offer for the highest scoring Fantasy team in every Classic. You don't have to take part in all seven races to stand a good chance of winning this prize. The highest score per classic wins a pair of the official sports-glasses of the Quick-Step Innergetic professional cycling team 2007.

Speedplay is back behind the fantasy game
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
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We are proud to announce the continued support from Speedplay in this year's game. We have three sets of Speedplay's Zero stainless steel pedals - the same style of pedal used by ProTour teams such as Team CSC.

We are also pleased to confirm that Descente will be joining the list of runners-up prize sponsors. Produced in conjunction with Team CSC, the Descente Optima Bib Short is the culmination of hundreds of hours of research and testing. Constructed of two different textiles, the main body features Aero-X fabric, a dual-denier Nylon with spandex for great moisture-management, durability, comfort, and fit.

Cyclists depend on good nutrition to meet the demands of the sport. That's why Nutra Fig developed the organic Cheetah Bar. It contains the right combination of carbs, protein and fiber to give you long lasting energy and it is moist and tastes great. Cheetah bars are loaded with potassium, sodium and calcium—all found naturally in the ingredients so no chemical additives are needed. Cheetah Bar is the official energy bar of the Colavita/Sutter Home Pro Cycling Team. We have 10 boxes of Cheetah Bars on offer this year.

The highest scoring Fantasy team in each classic
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
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The proCOOL Mesh from Scandinavia's leading high-performance clothing company, Craft, is the professional's choice when it comes to base layers. The proCOOL Mesh is a warm weather base layer that combines the latest in fabric technology with Craft's signature fit. Even as temperatures soar, proCOOL keeps you dry and comfortable. For the 2007 Spring Classics Fantasy Game, we have 10 of these great base layers on offer.

In the next few days we will be releasing more details of the prizes on offer this season with 46 prizes available for 18 lucky winners, and some major improvements in the game engine coming soon, now is the time to sign up to the Fantasy Cyclingnews Games.

How to play

With a Specialized S-Works Roubaix bicycle up for grabs
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Yes, you too can be a professional team manager. Based on the live racing action, you will take up the challenge using your knowledge and tactical skill as a race team manager to compete with fantasy managers from around the world. Remember all you need to do to take part is to register and select 8 riders for each of the following races:

Milan - San Remo, March 24th 2007 Ronde van Vlaanderen, April 8th 2007 Gent-Wevelgem, April 11th 2007 Paris - Roubaix, April 15th 2007 Amstel Gold Race, April 21th 2007 La Flčche Wallonne, April 25th 2007 Ličge - Bastogne - Ličge, April 29th 2007

For more details on how to play go to the rules section of the site for more info. To register your teams for the game go to

It's a great way to follow the Spring Classics.

Good luck!
The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team

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