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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for May 3, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Fothen aims for Tour de France

Markus Fothen wins the sprint
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

"The Tour de France represents my major goal of the season," said 25 year-old Markus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) after winning stage 1 of the Tour de Romandie. The German escaped late in the race with Francisco Pérez (Caisse d'Epargne), who he out-sprinted for the win.

Fothen was already given the nod by the German team for the Tour but yesterday he showed that he has what it takes to be part of its nine-man team. "Before Romandie, I was already selected for the Gerolsteiner [Tour] team but this win is an important confirmation to the directeur sportifs that their confidence is well placed.

"This is a great team with a lot of good elements and one that allows freedom [in certain races]."

A close second in last year's young rider classification, he reckons the Tour is made for him. "I am not a racer for the spring; I need a certain amount of time to come into form, and I do well to prepare myself for races of two to three weeks."

He will race in Spain and France before July's Grand Boucle. "I am scheduled to participate in the Volta a Catalunya and the Dauphiné Libéré before the Tour de France."

Teams look at Romandie's first stage

By Susan Westemeyer

Chris Anker Sørensen was a last-minute addition to CSC's line-up for the Tour de Romandie, but the change proved worthwhile for the team in the race's first stage Wednesday.

The 22 year-old was part of an escape group that managed to stay away for over 100 kilometres. He was absorbed back into the peloton on the last climb.

"Chris made a great effort today and it was perfect to have him up front so the rest of the team could take it easy in the peloton. Unfortunately he had to give up at the end, but it was brilliant the way he showed initiative and had the strength to make the attempt," said Directeur Sportif Scott Sunderland on the team's website,

Rabobank placed five riders, including Denis Menchov, in the large final group, which finished with the same time as winner Markus Fothen. After Astana lost control of the peloton and the sprinters had been dropped on the final climb, "This resulted in a chaotic and disorganized finale," according to Directeur Sportif Erik Dekker called the last 50 kilometres "The Wild West".

Dekker also explained why his team had not sent any riders planned to ride the Giro to the Swiss race. "The cyclists need to report their presence for the start in Italy on Wednesday. Such a difficult stage race is not an ideal preparation. Additionally, most of the teams that participate in the classics are done, so one competes against an entirely different set of riders. That does not make it easier to win here, but it does make it easier to move around in the pack."

T-Mobile had three riders in the final group as well, but unfortunately captain Michael Rogers was not one of them. Serhiy Honchar, Giuseppe Guerini and Michael Barry were able to keep up the tempo and finish with the same time as Fothen. Rogers ended up coming in 13'26" down.

According to Directeur Sportif Jan Schaffrath, "We will take a day-to-day approach. Serhiy Honchar is in good shape and he could go for the GC, but we also want to go for stage wins." He added, at, "We have looked at the different stages, and we will adapt our tactics to succeed on those days."

Kohl starting off at Romandie

Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

The Tour of Romandie got off to a great start for Team Gerolsteiner, with Markus Fothen winning the first stage. But the stage itself didn't get off to a very good start, Berni Kohl reports on his website,

"After only two kilometres the field had to go over a train crossing. As half the filed was through it, suddenly the gates started closed and the field was divided in two. Something like that shouldn't happen so close to the start. Someone should have known that a train would come through at that time."

Kohl praised his winning teammate, saying "he rode a super race. He showed his class, especially in the finale. He had the courage to attack at the right moment and enough patience at the finish to gamble with Francisco Pérez."

The Austrian climber hopes to add to the list of Gerolsteiner stage wins in the race. "The stage win motivated the whole team even more. I am looking forward more than ever to the first real mountain stage on Saturday. When my legs are as good then as they were today, then I can surely ride quite far forward."

Critical situation for T-Mobile doctors

By Susan Westemeyer

The situation is getting critical for two team doctors at T-Mobile Team. Doctors Andreas Schmid and Lothar Heinrich were both named by former soigneur Jef d'Hont in his book as having provided illegal doping products to Team Telekom members during the 1996 Tour de France.

The two are facing an investigation by the Freiburg, Germany, prosecutor's office. German anti-doping crusader Werner Franke filed a complaint against the two, which has led Oberstaatsanwalt Wolfgang Maier to open an investigation. "The information available to us has encouraged us to pursue the investigations," said Maier to the AFP news agency. Franke charged that the two had violated laws concerning prescription medicines and cause bodily injury.

In the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Maier said, "We will now try to investigate whether these violations actually occurred and whether the statute of limitations has passed. The statute of limitations for such actions is five years," he said. However, the newspaper indicated that investigators thought it possible that they could find further violations which had occurred within the last five years.

The doctors are also being investigated by their employer, the Freiburg University Clinic. Hans-Hermann Dickhuth, head of the clinic's Sports Medicine department, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung, "I can't deny that the charges against the two doctors has become a big problem. These are relatively specific charges and when even one-tenth of the story is true, then it is a 'worst case' scenario for them both." He told the AFP that "Doctor Schmid gave me the impression that these revelations could be a problem."

The clinic has called for an independent commission to investigate the allegations.

Dickhuth said that he was surprised that Schmid apparently does not plan to sue d'Hont over the allegations, which T-Mobile team manager Bob Stapleton had suggested he do. T-Mobile spokesman Christian Frommert said that the team would "acknowledge and respect" the doctors' decision not to sue, adding, "Possibly they will choose another way to defend themselves."

Frommert added that the two doctors will not be working with the team for the future, and that, in fact, Schmid had not been "directly with the team" for a while.

Suspended medical services

T-Mobile Team Manager Bob Stapleton announced early Thursday afternoon that Heinrich and Schmid will not provide medical services to T-Mobile Team while doping charges against the two are being investigated. "We look forward to the independent review and resolution of the unproven allegations recently detailed against the University of Freiburg," Stapleton said on the team's website,

"After discussion with Doctors Heinrich and Schmid, we have mutually agreed to discontinue their personal provision of medical service during the course of these inquiries so that no further distraction or confusion is created for our athletes," he added.

The team will "develop alternatives that will provide our athletes with the best possible medical support. We are fully prepared to take action as needed based on the conclusion of diligent and fact-based evaluation."

Rodríguez, Not your average domestique

Joaquím Rodríguez
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

Joaquím Rodríguez is a handy domestique and right-hand man for Caisse d'Epargne team captain Alejandro Valverde. In 2006 he helped Valverde to two wins in the Ardennes - the Amstel Gold Race and La Flèche Wallonne - and he's back at Valverde's side again this year. Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown sat down with the Spaniard on the eve of Liège-Bastogne-Liège to talk about the Ardennes and the 2007 season.

Rodríguez and Valverde aren't just teammates, and after 15 years of riding together, their companionship extends beyond the races. "We have known each other for a long time, not just as riders but as friends. I think that last year we really accomplished a good thing the way we worked together for those wins."

"This year is going well," said the friendly Rodríguez as we sat down by the pool at the Post Hotel in Herstal, Belgium. The 27 year-old had hit his season's first target right on the bull's eye; he had won the one-day Klasika Primavera on April 15, and arrived in the Ardennes one week later to help Valverde to sixth place in Amstel Gold and second in Flèche Wallonne.

"I have won a race early on and now, in this Ardennes week, I feel very strong," confidently noted Rodríguez on the day before Liège. "I am going really well. I did well in Flèche but I lacked a little bit of strength in the finish but I think that that I will be able to ride a spectacular Liège.

Read the entire interview with Joaquím Rodríguez, Not your average domestique

Asturias: Five days, 12 mountains

By Monika Prell

The 51st Vuelta a Asturias starts today in northern Spain and will cover twelve mountains in its five stages (May 3 - 7). Today, the cyclists will face 150.6 kilometres from the capital of Asturias, Oviedo, to Llanes. The difficulties of the day are the Alto de la Tornería (2nd category) and the Alto Rales – Los Carriles. The wind could also play an important role; half of the stage will direct the peloton along the coast of the Costa Verde.

The second stage between Llanes and Avilés (168.0 km) is totally flat; only at the very beginning of the stage will the cyclists will have to cover the Alto de La Robellada (3rd category), and, so, this stage should end in a mass sprint.

The third stage will be decisive. From the Instalaciones Cafés Toscaf the peloton rides the 180.2 kilometres to the Alto de Acebo. Along the way the parcours will reveal three mountains; the Alto del Pozo de las Mujeres Muertas (1st category at 97.9 km), the Puerto del Connio (hors catégorie at 139.7 kms) and the mountain top finish on the Alto de Acebo (hors catégorie).

Stage 4 should offer some respite. The favourites should have an eye on eventual breakaway groups, as the course has got two difficulties, the Alto del Rodical (2nd category) and the Alto del Pito (3rd category). Also in this stage, from Cangas del Narcea to Gijón (158.4 km), the wind could be important, as half of the route will be along the coast.

The fifth stage on Monday, May 7, will be another back-breaker, with three mountains of the 2nd category (Alto de la Campa, Alto de La Faya de los lobos, Alto de Colladiella and Alto San Emiliano), from Gijón to Oviedo (149.8 km).

The Vuelta will consist of 16 teams, amongst them three ProTour teams (Euskaltel–Euskadi, Saunier Duval-Prodir and, and 123 riders. It does not only attract Spanish teams, but also foreign ones; besides, there will be Portuguese teams Benfica and Liberty Seguros, British team Barloworld, and the Italian teams Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo and Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia.

The favourites are Koldo Gil (Saunier Duval-Prodir), especially after his win of the Subida al Naranco on Tuesday, and last year's winner Oscar Sevilla (Relax-GAM), who will be supported by a strong team that includes Francisco Mancebo, Santiago Pérez and Ángel Vicioso. Other important riders are Eladio Jiménez and Ezequiel Mosquera (Karpin-Galicia), David Bernabeu (Fuerteventura-Canarias) and Pablo Urtasun (Liberty Seguros), as well as the Portuguese José Azevedo (Benfica) and the Colombian Félix Rafael Cárdenas (Barloworld).

Rest time for Wrolich

His Gerolsteiner teammates are riding and winning in the Tour de Romandie, but sprinter Paco Wrolich is taking a break. After a busy early part of the season, the Austrian is pausing most of this month, spending most of his time at home with his family.

"I'll get back in to the racing scene the end of May with the Bayern Rundfahrt," he wrote on his website, "Next week I'll start with some intensive endurance training. That is very important, since I couldn't train much the last few weeks because I had so many races."

After the Bayern-Rundfahrt, Wrolich is scheduled to ride the Dauphiné Libéré.

Volksbank goes all out

By Susan Westemeyer

Team Volksbank will be stretched to the limit this coming weekend, as it participates in four races. The Austrian Professional Continental team has only 16 riders, one of whom is out sick, so literally all of the other team members will be in action.

On Friday, Mariusz Witecki will lead five teammates at the Szlakiem Grodow Piastowskich in his native Poland. Another six riders, under captain Florian Stalder, will ride the GP Larciano and Giro di Toscana in Italy. The remaining three team members will ride Wien-Lassnitzhöhe.

The only rider missing out on the action is Gerhard Trampusch, who is recovering from Lyme disease.

Volksbank for Szlakiem Grodów Piastowskich: Josef Benetseder (Aut), Gerrit Glomser (Aut), Christian Lener (Aut), Philipp Ludescher (Aut), René Weissinger (Ger) and Mariusz Witecki (Pol).

The men for GP Larciano and Giro di Toscana: Pascal Hungerbühler (Sui), Andreas Matzbacher (Aut), Harald Morscher (Aut), Christian Pömer (Aut), Patrick Riedesser (Aut) and Florian Stalder (Sui).

The men for Wien-Laßnitzhöhe: Tyson Apostol (USA), Werner Riebenbauer (Aut) and Mathias Ladner (Aut).

Bettini leads Quick-Step in Giro

Current World and Olympic Champion Paolo Bettini will lead Belgium-based Quickstep-Innergetic for the 90th Giro d'Italia. The race starts May 12 in Sardegna and ends three weeks later in Milan.

Bettini has two Giro stage wins to his credit. The 33 year-old Italian also spent four days in the Maglia Rosa in 2005.

The complete Quickstep-Innergetic team will consist of Paolo Bettini, Addy Engels, Mauro Facci, Leonardo Scarselli, Hubert Schwab, Andrea Tonti, Mauro Tosatto, Jurgen Van de Walle and Giovanni Visconti.

Chris Baldwin third in Gila's opening time trial

Chris Baldwin
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

Led by Chris Baldwin's third-place finish in Wednesday's Dan Potts Memorial Tyrone Time Trial, five Toyota-United riders placed in the top 25 on the opening stage of the 21st Tour of the Gila.

Baldwin finished one minute and 29 seconds behind Nathan O'Neill (Health Net), who won the 16.15-mile (26 km) race against the clock in 33 minutes and 13 seconds. Ben Jacques-Maynes (Priority Health Cycling Team) finished second, 1'15" behind O'Neill. Baldwin is the race's defending champion.

Stefano Barberi was Toyota-United's revelation of the opening day. Starting his second National Race Calendar stage race of the season, the Brazilian finished 10th, 2'14" behind.

The third-year pro, who makes his home in Boulder, Colorado, already has one win to his credit this season. He captured the Stazio Criterium in Boulder on March 25 and rode to a pair of runner-up finishes in challenging mountain road races in Colorado in mid-April.

"It's good to see him come out and have a good ride like that," Toyota-United Team Director Kirk Willett said.

Toyota-United's other riders all finished within four minutes of the winner; Burke Swindlehurst, 13th and 2'29" behind, Ivan Stevic, 17th at 2'48", Justin England, 23rd at 3'03" and Jose Manuel-Garcia, 38th at 3'49". In the team standings, Toyota-United is second behind Health Net.

Nathan O'Neill
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

Willett said the cancellation of the Tour of Utah – originally scheduled for a late June start – has bolstered the quality of competition in the 121-rider field.

"This is probably one of the deepest fields that have ever come here," Willett said. "O'Neill will be very well-supported by his team and he's been on form since the Tour de Georgia. But this race has so much climbing and wind that anything can happen. We're optimistic that our guys can climb well and go after stage wins, which would move them up the general classification."

Two Toyota-United riders who were pencilled in on the team's original eight-man roster for the race did not start Wednesday. New Zealander Heath Blackgrove continues to recover from a leg injury sustained in the Tour of California while American Chris Wherry was bothered by stomach problems earlier this week.

Thursday's stage is the 94.1-mile (152.3 km) Silver City to Mogollon Road Race, a race that finishes with a gruelling 2,100-foot climb.

"The last five kilometres are really steep all the way to the line," Willett said. "The course itself pretty much goes one direction (northwest). What we don't know is which way the wind will be blowing. The forecast is for it to be rather windy, so the race could be really wide open early."

Team CSC to meet with fans

Team CSC is offering a "meet and greet" with team members at the Grand Prix GLS in Herning, Denmark, on May 5. Fan club members will be allowed to meet with the riders and Directeur Sportif that morning before the race at the team camper.

The race will feature at least one team star, sprinter Fabian Cancellara. Also scheduled to appear in the race are Kurt-Asle Arvesen, Matti Breschel, Allan Johansen, Anders Lund, and Luke Roberts.

The team is also offering a special treat to a limited number of fans on the day before the race. Members of the team's fan club wil be allowed "to hang out with the line-up for the GP GLS" at the team's hotel.

More information is available on the team's website,

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