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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for May 4, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo

McEwen finds 'extra gear' in Romandie

By François Thomazeau

Robbie McEwen (Predictor Lotto)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Predictor-Lotto's Robbie McEwen scored his first win since his stage one victory in Tirreno-Adriatico, sprinting to victory ahead of a crash in stage two of the Tour de Romandie, a 166.9 km stage between La Chaux-de-Fonds and Lucens.

Bunch sprints are scarce in the Swiss event, and most of the big-name sprinters are preparing for the Giro d'Italia elsewhere. However, McEwen showed his class with a late surge for the line that brought him in a bike length ahead of Slovenia's Burt Bozic and Italy's Enrico Gasparotto.

"I felt very bad all day and I was a little bit lucky. I only followed and I'm very happy because it was my only chance to win a stage this year," said the Brisbane rider.

Overall classification leader Paolo Savoldelli was held up by a spectacular crash which marred the finale, but still retained his overall lead for the third day running. The crash, which took place when Italy's Leonardo Duque hit the tarmac in the middle of the bunch, involved half a dozen riders, including Saunier Duval's David Millar, but despite the dramatic nature of the wreck, no riders were seriously injured.

Riders fall
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

At 34, McEwen is one of the very best sprinters in the world, with more than 130 victories behind him, including 11 stage wins in both the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia. He also clinched the prestigious green jersey at "La Grande Boucle" three times. But today's win was a spectacular reverse of fortunes for the Predictor-Lotto rider, who finished last in the prologue and again in the first stage.

"There was no point in taking risks," he explained. "In the prologue, I almost crashed in the first turn on the wet road, and I had cramps yesterday so I did not fight. I just put on the smallest gear and rode to the finish," he said.

But McEwen, who won stages in the Tour Down under and Tirreno-Adriatico this year, had enough class and experience left to outshine the rest of the field once he had made sure of finishing with them.

"It's a matter of instinct and making the right decisions at the right time," he also said.

McEwen's priorities have always been to win stages on the big Tours and it is what he intends to do again in the Giro, later this month. In the longer term, the Australian is determined to finish the Tour de France in the hope to win again the green jersey for the points classification.

"In a race like here, I know I have an extra gear. But in the Giro, I will be back with my friends Alessandro Petacchi or Thor Hushovd, and it will be a much different race," he said.

Iran to Make FBD Insurance Rás Debut

By Shane Stokes

With two weeks to go before the start of the FBD Insurance Rás, it has been confirmed that an Iranian national team will line out for the first time ever in the Irish race.

"We are absolutely delighted with the news that Iran has chosen the FBD Insurance Rás as one of its target events for this year," said race organiser Dermot Dignam this week. "It’s a huge tribute to the event and a sign of the growing popularity of the race throughout the world."

The Iranian team will be made up of riders Mahdi Fathi, Mohammad Rastad, Amir Shakeri, Mobin Bagherzadegan and Mahmoud Talei.

Ali Zangi Abadi, double bronze medallist in the 1982 Asian games and current vice president of the Cycling Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran, is expecting a good showing.

"This is a good time for our team and its riders to take part in the race. We hope we can have a good performance this year. We are aiming to finish in the top 10 on several stages, as well as reaching the podium on one of them."

The team’s visas have been approved and are expected to be issued shortly by the Irish Embassy in Teheran.

In addition to the Asian national team, Continental squads have been confirmed from the USA, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Denmark, Germany and Australia. More international teams are expected to be announced in the next fortnight.

The 2.2 ranked FBD Insurance Rás will get underway on Sunday May 20th with a 157 kilometre stage from Naas to Templemore. The riders will cover almost 1200 kilometres en route to the finish in Skerries on May 27th, with additional stage ends in Loughrea, Sligo, Dungloe, Buncrana, Derry and Newcastle. Last year's race was won by Kristian House of the Recycling.co.uk team. He finished on the same overall time as former world under 23 TT champ Danny Pate, making it the closest finish in the event's long history.

Nocentini to lead AG2R in the Giro

Italian Rinaldo Nocentini will lead his AG2R team in this year's Giro d'Italia, which starts on May 12 on the island of Caprera (Sardinia). Nocentini won the GP Indurain and a stage of the Tour Méditerranéen this season.

Team AG2R in Giro: Rinaldo Nocentini, Hubert Dupont, Julien Loubet, Laurent Mangel, Lloyd Mondory and Christophe Riblon, Yuriy Krivtsov, Rene Mandri, Alexandre Usov.

Tour of Denmark director frustrated over Unibet.com conflict

By Katharina Schulz

The Danish Sports Federation (Danmarks Idræts Forbund, DIF) has asked the Danish Cycling Union (Danmarks Cykle Union, DCU) to stop the Unibet.com cycling team from taking part in the Tour of Denmark. The tour, which is one Denmark's most important sporting events, takes place August 1-5, and was won by Fabian Cancellara last year.

Unibet has been excluded from the majority of ProTour events this season, even though it holds a ProTour license, on the grounds that its sponsor – an online betting service - is not allowed to advertise in certain countries due to anti-betting legislation.

However, the rules have not always been applied in such a strict manner in Denmark. "We have had Unibet on board four times already. Three times under the name of Mr. Bookmaker and as Unibet.com last year, and no one has ever said anything," said Jesper Worre, Tour of Denmark race director.

Worre alleged that Tour de France organiser ASO and the International Cycling Union (UCI) are leading their argument about the ProTour at Unibet's cost. "ASO is using the strictness of French advertising legislation for betting agencies as an excuse for opposing the UCI, and that is the only reason why they are taking up the issue here in Denmark."

Gravity racing set for Eastern US

Jamis racer
Photo ©: Rob O'Dea
(Click for larger image)

The Duryea Downhill, the fourth race on the 2007 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Gravity Calendar is set to kick off this weekend in Reading, Pennsylvania. The downhill, conveniently located near an urban area, is expected to attract 300 competitors who will compete in a range of pro and amateur categories in front of 6,000 spectators.

The Duryea Downhill also serves as the first race of the Gravity East calendar, an 11-race series of gravity-based events along the East Coast, which includes events in Virginia, New York , New Jersey, Maryland, and Vermont.

Other Gravity East events include the Massanutten Yee-Ha in McGaheysville, Virginia on May 12 and the Whiteface second-annual 5K Downhill in Wilmington, New York on September 3. Both are on the National Gravity Calendar, too.

US Collegiate Championships return to Kansas

More than 500 student-athletes will return to Lawrence, Kansas next week for the 2007 USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships. The racers will represent colleges and universities from across the country, and will compete to win one of 18 national cycling titles.

The competitions are divided into Division I and Division II Men and Women with championship titles in the road race, criterium and overall, as well as team titles for the team time trial overall classification.

In addition to the national title, the women's competition in Lawrence will also serve as a qualifier for the Ryan Collegiate Women's All Star Team - a collection of eight different student-athletes from eight different schools who will earn an invitation to the Nature Valley Grand Prix on June 20-24.

The final individual omnium standings at the Collegiate Road National Championships will determine the all-star squad that will compete alongside some of the nation's top pro women. In addition to an invitation to Minnesota, the team will receive housing, a travel stipend, clothing and the direction of a team manager throughout the week.

Competition begins Friday, May 11 with the team time trial event. On Saturday, schools will compete in the road race competition. Sunday will feature criterium racing in downtown Lawrence.

UCI Africa tour news

Tunisia moved up to second in the UCI Africa Tour nations rankings following the first international edition of the GP de la ville de Tunis, and Tunisia's Hassen Ben Nassir moved up into the top spot on the individual tour rankings with his fifth place finish, and now holds a slim four point advantage over Dukla Trencin's Jan Sipeky. Local rider Ahmed M'raihi gave the country a triple success by winning the event. Tunisia remains in second position behind South Africa on the UCI Africa Tour Nations Rankings.

The Tour of Morocco, originally slated to take place from April 13-22 has been postponed, and will now be held on June 8 -17 June. The race, along with the May 14-20 Boucle du Coton (2.2) will now be an important lead-up to the B World Track and Road Championships in Cape Town, South Africa.

American Velodrome Challenge gains sponsor

One of North America's premiere track racing events has gained a new title sponsor. The Northern California Velodrome Association and ThresholdPower.com have announced Keefe Team Realtors as title sponsor for the American Velodrome Challenge, which will be held at the newly renovated Hellyer Park Velodrome in San Jose, California on July 20-21, 2007.

The event boasts a $7,000 prize purse as of March, a list that is sure to attract top riders. "It is our commitment to bring track racing to the forefront in USA," said race director Robin Horwitz of ThresholdPower.com. "And it starts with bringing in the most competitive racers. In order to do that, we have made the event the most attractive in the Californian Bay Area. It will be a treat for both the athletes and the fans."

The Keefe Team Realtors American Velodrome Challenge will feature several races over two days, and will feature top riders such as eight-time UCI World Cup medalist Josiah Ng. Registration information and schedule details are available at www.thresholdpower.com/avc.html.

Virginia races to support troops

Two upcoming Virginia races will raise money for organisations that support the men and women of the U.S. military and their families. On May 13, the City Center and Oyster Point Criterium in Newport News will raise funds for the USO of Hampton Roads, and on June 2nd, the CSC Invitational will support the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA).

The City Center at Oyster Point Criterium, presented by the Hilton Cycling Club will donate the proceeds from the race to the USO of Hampton Roads, an organisation that aims to enhance the quality of life and public support for armed service members and their families.

Meanwhile, Arlington Sports, Inc., promoters of the CSC Invitational have announced that they will donate 100% of ticket sales from the race's 'Breakaway Club' to the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA).

The race, which will take place on a technical 1km circuit convenient to the Clarendon metro station in Arlington on Saturday, June 2nd, features the top professional men and women, as well as amateur, children's and handcycle races. For a $25 contribution, fans will gain entry to the 'Breakaway Club' - an area across from the main stage and with a direct view of the finish line, access to bleacher and tented seating, cow bells, and refreshments. . PVA works to achieve the best possible quality of life for veterans of the armed forces who have experienced spinal cord injury or dysfunction. PVA plays a critical role ensuring quality health care, veteran's benefits, and disability rights for its membership. In addition, PVA is a leading advocate for research and education on spinal cord industry and dysfunction.

"We are grateful that Arlington Sports has designated Paralyzed Veterans as the beneficiary of the upcoming CSC Invitational Bike Race," stated Maurice L. Jordan, PVA's Deputy Executive Director. "This support will help us continue to deliver the services that make a real difference in the lives of veterans with disabilities. And the handcycling event scheduled for this year is a bonus for the area's wheelchair athletes."

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