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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for March 30, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Alberto Contador: "I had orders to win"

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Contador wins again
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Alberto Contador took his fifth victory of this season in stage four of the Vuelta a Castilla y León in a hard-fought sprint against Saunier-Duval's Koldo Gil, and gained the leader's jersey from Caisse d'Epargne's Vladimir Karpets. After the race, the Discovery Channel rider said that, once the two were clear, Gil wanted to make an agreement to work with Contador to deliver him into the leader's jersey in return for a stage win, "But I had orders to win this stage because Discovery Channel had worked very hard."

Indeed, the Discovery Channel team put in a strong effort to take control of the race from the Caisse d'Epargne team, setting a scalding pace on the slopes of the Navacerrada that had Karpets losing time with three kilometres to go. Contador's stellar finish surprised him, because, "I have had doubts, because after Paris-Nice I did not know if I was going to recover my best state of form. In fact, these past few days, I had finished with pain in my legs". At the end, Contador was faster than Gil. "I believe that we are more or less equal in the sprint, and in addition, we each put in several attacks. Koldo started to sprint, but I overtook him."

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Contador will tackle the fifth and last stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y León on Friday with the full support of his team, but it will not be an easy task, because there are two major climbs. "My rivals will attack me from the beginning to the end, so it will be very difficult to control", said Contador. How have you seen to Ivan Basso these last days? "I think that he will reach good results soon"

Contador does not know his presence in the Vuelta al País Vasco: "I have to talk about it with my director, but I begin to notice the fatigue".

Hondo goes back to court

By Susan Westemeyer

Hondo will be wearing ties for a bit longer
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

Danilo Hondo's never-ending doping-related story is moving into the next chapter. The Schwiezer Kantonsgericht in Kanton Waadt has scheduled oral arguments for April 17 on the question of whether he will be allowed to ride again as of April 1.

A small amount of the drug Carphedon was found in Hondo's system during the Vuelta a Murcia in March 2005 while he was riding for Gerolsteiner In June that year, the Swiss Cycling Federation issued a two year ban, but with one year to be suspended followed by a five year probation period. The CAS said later, in January 2006, that Hondo deserved a two year ban, thereby extending his ban by one year per the advice of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

A Swiss court subsequently overturned that ban and allowed Hondo to return to racing, but the Swiss Supreme Court reinstated his suspension in January 2007. Earlier this month, the CAS issued a clarification that the ban must be "effectively" served, and the UCI subsequently ordered the suspension to run through January 2008.

Hondo has now further appealed that decision in the Swiss courts, and hopes that the hearing "will clear up which legal opinion is correct," he wrote on his website,

"This is not a good situation for me or for my team. But we are confident and will master this situation professionally. After all, there are many great races this year in which I would like to present myself," he said.

Meantime, he will participate in a two-week training camp in Tuscany with team-mates from Team Tinkoff Credit Systems, "to keep in touch with competitive conditions."

GB aiming big in Majorca

By Shane Stokes in Palma

The British team sprint pair
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

In recent years British Cycling has taken major results on the track and is now a real force in world cycling. The expectation now is that the team will be fighting it out for medals in all major competitions. Olympic and world championships golds have all been achieved, and this has resulted in ongoing - and considerable - financial investment from the UK lottery and others.

The set-up is consequently one of the most professional in world cycling, offering a very significant support and coaching structure for the riders concerned. Shane Stokes spoke with British cycling performance director Dave Brailsford about his hopes for the British team this weekend and beyond.

Dave Brailsford has seen a very strong start to the track world championships in Palma, with Bradley Wiggins taking gold in the individual pursuit and the duo of Victoria Pendleton and Shanaze Reade winning the women’s team sprint. The men’s sprint equivalent also resulted in a big result, although the trio of Ross Edgar, Chris Hoy and Craig Maclean lost out on gold by the heartbreaking margin of two thousandths of a second.

Brailsford spoke to Cyclingnews on Wednesday, one day before racing got underway, and said then that he was very happy with how things had gone. "We are ready now, we want to get racing. All the preparation has gone well. The key thing for us is to sit down the night before, which we will do tonight, seeing if there is anything else we could have done to prepare the team. Have we left any stone unturned? I am pretty sure we are going to get to that meeting tonight and say no, we have done everything we can, we are ready to race. We are relaxed, very relaxed. It couldn’t be better, really."

Read the full feature.

Newton hoping for two golds

By Shane Stokes in Palma

Chris Newton
Photo ©: Mike Gladu
(Click for larger image)

British rider Chris Newton knows what it is like to stand on the top step of the podium, having won world points race and team pursuit titles in the past. He will compete in both events here and was in a confident mood prior to the start of the championships.

"My expectations are pretty high, really, especially for the team pursuit," he said. "We are expecting a lot there."

He wants to win gold, but sees it all as a stepping stone to the Olympic Games. "We are just aiming to go fast in both rides [qualification and final] and see how we get on, really. Almost like a training exercise, really. I suppose you can do that in training efforts, but if you can do it in competition it gives you a more realistic picture. That is something we have to work on, and that is what we are doing.

"I expect Australia to be up there, I guess, and maybe the Spanish will creep up. The Dutch have gone off the boil a little bit, but the Danes seem to be going reasonably well and obviously the Russians. There are always a few people who crop up, though, and things don't always go to plan."

He said the team has been working hard in the run up to the races. "All our training has been at or above world record pace. But when you go into competition and have to do full distance there is always a tail off. We have been doing rolling three kilometre sessions or rolling four, so you have got the distance but not the start. Then you start adding in things."

His second event is on Saturday and he will play it by ear, to an extent, but a second career gold in that discipline would be very special.

"As regards the points race, I will see how it goes, really. The form is good. I won it in 2002 and I have had three fourth places since then, missing a medal by a couple of points each time. I am confident that I am always in the mix. If it doesn't go my way, it doesn't."

He agreed that it is a bit of a lottery. "It is a bit harder to predict, it is like a criterium. Unless you have got somebody leading you out for the specific sprints, you have got to try to cover moves and that. There is not one particular point in the race where it is an obvious race decider, so you have got to watch everything and just see how it goes, really.

"The [GB] staff are really good and they have put no pressure on me. I know I can race well and will just leave it at that. I will do my best, that is what it is all about."

Valverde aiming for Critérium International

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Alejandro Valverde is looking forward to a good performance at the Critérium International. This weekend's three stage race could provide the Spaniard a chance to add to his already brilliant palmarés. Valverde is confident going into the race, "because I have a great motivation and very good sensations".

Valverde assured that, "I am improving my form, so that I hope to reach my maximum in the Classics in April, which are my first great objective this season". Valverde has been studying the Critérium International route, and said that he likes the route. In this sense, Valverde is aware that "this race will be decided on the first sector on Sunday morning, because this stage is very short, and also very hard; something that suits my characteristics. "

The Caisse d'Epargne team for the Critérium International is composed by Imanol Erviti, Fran Perez, Mathieu Perget, Nicholas Portal, Sébastien Portal, Vicente Reynes, Luis Leon Sanchez and AlejandroValverde.

Good news for Moletta

Andrea Moletta (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Andrea Moletta had probably the most spectacular crash of the early season, slamming into a lamp post and stone wall during Milano-Sanremo. He came out of it with a broken right thigh, with doctors warning before the operation that they couldn't say when he might return to racing.

Moletta had a metal plate put in to his thigh on Tuesday, and it went well, Gerolsteiner spokesman Jörg Grünefeld told Cyclingnews. "The doctors are quite satisfied with the operation. They said if his recovery will go on at its best, Andrea may get out of the hospital in two or three days."

"They are also optimistic that Andrea can do some races in the late season," he continued. "The Vuelta probably would be too hard for him, but hopefully any other race in September or October could see Andrea at the start."

"Christian Henn (Sports Director) said that it would be perfect for him if he could still do some races this year," Grünefeld concluded. "Then the start in the 2008 season would surely come easier for him."

Rojas hoping for early return

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Jose Joaquin Rojas (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: Caisse d'Epargne
(Click for larger image)

José Joaquín Rojas, the young and promising Caisse d'Epargne rider who was injured after being hit by a car while training earlier this month is recovering well from the injuries he sustained. His team announced that he had fractured his 3rd and 4th vertebrae, but Rojas is very optimistic and wants to get back on the bike "as soon as possible".

Rojas told Cyclingnews that he only feels small pains when he gets up or lies down, and that this gives him hope that he can return sooner than expected. In fact, Rojas considered starting training again "this next Monday". The proximity of Classics such as the Gent-Wevelgem on April 11th, makes him think that he could possibly start racing then. "I could arrange to be there, but mainly, in Paris-Roubaix (15 April), which is a special dream for me."

It is likely that his doctors will balk at the idea of him racing on cobblestones with a fractured spine, however. The Amstel Gold Race, Fleche-Wallone or Liege-Bastogne-Liege seem a more likely return for the young Spaniard.

T-Mobile for Belgium

Marcus Burghardt will lead T-Mobile Team in the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen in Harelbeke on Saturday, while Kim Kirchen and Axel Merckx will share the honors in Sunday's De Brabantse Pijl. Only Frantisek Rabon and Bert Grabsch will ride both races this weekend.

T-Mobile for E3: Eric Baumann, Marcus Burghardt, Mark Cavendish, Bernhard Eisel, Bert Grabsch, Roger Hammond, Servais Knaven, and Frantisek Rabon.

T-Mobile for De Brabantse Pijl: Michael Barry, Bert Grabsch, Adam Hansen, Kim Kirchen, Jakob Piil, Axel Merckx, Frantisek Rabon, and Thomas Ziegler.

McEwen to ride E3-Prijs

Robbie McEwen will ride the E3-Prijs Saturday despite the back problems that forced him to drop out of Dwars door Vlaanderen Wednesday. "I went to the chiropractor Thursday afternoon and everything is in order again," he told

"Now he is 100 percent," said Predictor-Lotto spokesman Fillip Demyttenaere. "On Thursday the doctor put everything right. Robbie told me that he feels great again."

Demyttenaere added that, "We want to play a role in all the spring races, not just in the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix. In the E3 Prijs we have two leaders: McEwen and Leif Hoste. The latter is also 100 percent fit."

Astana for the weekend races

Team Astana has announced its line-ups for the upcoming weekend races. Alexander Vinokourov and Andreas Klöden will lead a team featuring five Kazahki riders in the Critérium International. Rene Haselbacher and Serguei Ivanov top the team in the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - Harelbeke Saturday in Belgium.

Astana for the Critérium International: Benoît Joachim, Andreas Klöden, Alexey Kolessov, Julien Mazet, Andrey Mizurov, Yevgeny Sladkov , Alexandre Vinokourov and Sergey Yakovlev.

Astana for the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke: Igor Abakoumov, Koen De Kort, René Haselbacher, Sergueï Ivanov, Aaron Kemps, Gennady Mikhailov, Dimitri Muravyev and Michael Schär.

Saccarelli-EMU women's team

Monia Baccaille (Saccarelli Emu Sea Marsciano)
Photo ©: Sebastiano Cipriani
(Click for larger image)

The Saccarelli-EMU team presented their 2007 squad this week. The team has been one of the women's UCI pro teams to steadily work it's way up the UCI rankings over the last few seasons, finishing their 2006 season ranked 14th in the world. The team's success has been built around nurturing young home-grown Italian riders and bringing in experienced foreign riders to support them. Based is the beautiful town of Marsciano on the Umbria/Tuscany border, the team rides a mix of the Italain UCI races and the women's World Cup, as well as the big European classics.

Saccarelli-EMU is built around its team leader Monia Baccaille. Baccaille is a strong sprinter was rarely outside the top ten in the sprint finishes in last year's women's Giro d'Italia. She also won the 2006 Coppa de Laghi Italian classic, a stage of the Trophee d'Or Feminin and came 3rd in the Tour of Flanders.

Supporting Baccaille is Alessandra D'Ettorre (Italy), the 2000 European road race champion, Leda Cox (Great Britain), Giovanna Trodli, a three-time Italian national time trial champion and former world champion on the track.

For the full roster, please visit the Cyclingnews teams database.

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