First Edition Cycling News for May 6, 2007
Edited by Sue George
Rain, mountains, and a protest color Romandie stage four
New leader emerges
By Susan Westemeyer
Rain, mountains, and several crashes challenged racers in Saturday's fourth and Queen stage of the Tour of Romandie. From the difficult stage, emerged a new leader, American Chris Horner (Predictor Lotto).
Horner finished third on the stage, which was won by Igor Anton (Euskaltel), who out-sprinted Thomas Dekker (Rabobank). Yesterday's leader Paolo Savoldelli dropped back to fourth after he lost 16 seconds in the stage.
Dekker was not happy at the finish. He was overtaken at the last minute by Anton, and he gestured in disgust as he crossed the finish line before filing a protest that Anton had interfered with him in the sprint. The race jury turned him down.
On the other hand, Horner, the new leader, was quite happy to settle for the leader's jersey. "I always prefer to win stages, but the others wouldn't let me have both the yellow jersey and the stage win. At the finish, it was a very simple situation - if you want a slice of the pie, you can't go for the whole pie, you can't gamble as Pinotti did yesterday."
Horner doesn't see himself as a favourite in Sunday's time trial, saying, "If I had to pick someone now, I would pick Dekker. He looked incredibly strong to me today and he is an excellent time trial specialist. If I led by 30 seconds, I would be much more confident. But it's not the case and I will be happy to finish in the top five."
Before the day even started, eight riders had abandoned: Robbie McEwen, David Millar, Serhiy Honchar, Andrea Tonti, Davide Viganò, Jaime Castaneda, Julian Dean, and Fabio Sacchi.
Moncoutié crashes out with broken leg
The wet and mountainous conditions of Saturday's stage 4 of the Tour of Romandie meant crashes were almost inevitable. One victim was Frenchman David Moncoutié (Cofidis), who fractured his left femur according to L'Equipe.
Coming down the Cat. 1 climb on the Pilon, the Moncoutié and his breakaway companions faced awful conditions, with heavy rain, a wet road, and even fog. Although everyone was riding carefully, Moncoutié slipped, apparently on the stripe in the road, and fell.
It at first looked as if he was uninjured, but the 32-year-old was soon lying on the side of the road, waiting for medical transport. Moncoutié will undergo an operation Saturday evening in Lausanne, Switzerland.
There is no word yet on how long he will be out of competition as a result of the break; however his participation in the Tour de France and likely the rest of the season is now in jeopardy. Moncoutié won two stages of the Tour de France during his career: Stage 11 (Saint-Flour to Figeac) in 2004 and Stage 12 (Briançon to Digne-les-Bains) in 2005.
This injury marks the second year of misfortune Moncoutié. Last March, he wounded his knee in a fall during the Critérium International. A side effect of that injury, patellar tendonitis, put a premature end to his 2006 season, and he only recently resumed competition in the GP Indurain in April.
See Cyclingnews full coverage of the 2007 Tour of Romandie here.
Popovych to lead Discovery for Giro
Defending champion Ivan Basso was scheduled to lead the team until he resigned from the team last week. A press release today stated the team's new goal is to place team leader Popovych "as high up as possible in the overall standings."
Sean Yates who will serve as lead Sports Director for the three-week tour, is optimistic about the team's chances.
"[Ivan] Basso leaving our squad was certainly a loss but is not a disaster," said Yates. "Popo was always preparing to do a good Giro, and I think he is on form. If all goes right for him I think he can be on the podium like he has been in the past."
Popovych's best Giro finishes were third and fifth in 2003 and 2004 respectively. In 2005, he won the best young rider competition at the 2005 edition of the Tour de France, finishing 12th overall in the process.
"Aside from working for Popo, we will try to win at least one stage and wear the leader's jersey too, but that can be complicated and waste energy. We have a strong group of guys with a lot of experience in Grand Tours, and Popo will need all of their help and wisdom to get him onto the podium."
Popovych will be joined by teammates: Volodymyr Bileka, Steve Cummings, Pavel Padrnos, Jose Luis "Chechu" Rubiera, Tomas Vaitkus, Brian Vandborg, Jurgen Van Goolen, and Matthew "Whitey" White.
Amore & Vita McDonald's considers Basso
The Italian Continental team Amore e Vita McDonald's expressed interest in 2006 Giro winner Ivan Basso, now under investigation for his alleged involvement with Operación Puerto. Should Basso resolve his current legal troubles and position before CONI, he may find a place back in the peloton with a new team.
Polish Amore & Vita-McDonald team leader Ivano Fanini said to tuttobiciweb, "If Basso clarifies his situation with government lawyers and co-operates with CONI, we could imagine engaging him."
Signing someone like Basso would require the European continental team to have a much larger budget, but this is not a show-stopper as Fanini has already created the necessary financial framework.
"Naturally having Basso would blow up our budget," said Fanini. "That should, however, be no problem. I can count on financial support from main sponsor McDonald's."
Former Discovery racer Basso testified in front of Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) anti-doping prosecutors Wednesday, and after two hours, the hearing was "adjourned" for the time being. The Italian cyclist from Varese appeared in Rome to answer to questions of alleged involvement with Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. The recently re-opened case was originally opened last year and shelved two months later, in October.
No Danish classics for Unibet.com
By Katharina Schulz
As reported, Denmark's Sports Federation (DFI) does not want the Belgian-Swedish team Unibet.com to take part in the Tour of Denmark due to Danish legislation about gambling. Danish TV reported yesterday that the DFI is willing to follow that line in all sports, including where youth teams are concerned.
As of Saturday, Unibet.com had withdrawn from this weekend's two Danish classics, GLS Express Grand Prix Herning and Colliers Classic in Århus. The decision appeared to be a reaction to the conflict about gambling legislation, but according to Jyllandsposten and feltet.dk, the team withdrew a week ago and gave the reason "that a lot of their riders are ill or injured, and that they couldn't come to Denmark because of that."
"Later they offered to send their Continental Team, but on Thursday we learned that the Continental Team isn't coming either," said John van den Akker from Cycling Service in Belgium. Van den Akker had arranged for Unibet.com to race in Denmark.
Bono takes second pro win from San Giacomo to Châtel-Sur-Monsalvens
By Gregor Brown
Italian Matteo Bono has taken his second professional win by crossing the line of Friday's Tour de Romandie stage three to Carmey ahead of be Japanese Fumiyuki Beppu (Discovery Channel) and compatriot Marco Pinotti (T-Mobile). The 23 year-old has only won twice since turning pro early this year but the wins have been dramatic.
Back in March the Lampre-Fondital rider took win number one on Tirreno-Adriatico's queen stage. He finished first on the top San Giacomo, 1,105 metres above sea level, after an escape that was started at kilometre 16. In similar fashion, he joined yesterday's move after only five kilometres, however, he and Beppu had to chase down Pinotti, who attacked the smooth-working escape with 20 kilometres remaining.
"Right from the start there were attacks and counter-attacks," recalled the rider from Brescia to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "After five kilometres we were together. At first they would not let us go and then they resigned; and we took 18 to 19 minutes of an advantage." Bono and 'Fumi' had to pull back 'Pino.'
Bono explained that he had studied the finish. "I knew the arrival was a light ascent. Pinotti has used a lot of energy, and Beppu seemed to me to be tiring."
He now has two pro wins in two big events (both ProTour) but is not letting it go to his head. "Giro or Tour? No, not yet. I don't feel quite ready, I don't have the proper base," Bono continued. "I have to be a complete cyclist, 360 degrees, 365 days a year. I know in this sport there are no gifts."
In fact, in the Giro d'Italia, starting next week, he will be working for 2004 winner Damiano Cunego. "I am a domestique, and I will remain a domestique." He did not want to think of when the next win could come but only focus on helping his team. "I can't imagine the next. I will put my self at the disposal of the team."
(For more on Bono, read Matteo Bono makes mark in Tirreno.)
Loddo earns important victory for the team
By Monika Prell
Friday's stage winner of the Vuelta a Asturias, Alberto Loddo, considered his victory "very important" for him as well as for his team. He underlined various times that his triumph in Avilés has been possible thanks to the work of his team in the final kilometres of the stage.
The Italian, who defeated Francisco Ventoso (Saunier Duval) and Aurelien Passeron (Acqua e Sapone) in a sprint, declared that the last kilometres have been "very hard," even if his team helped make his success "facil" (easy).
"The victory comes in a difficult moment for the team Selle Italia, after not having received an invitation for the Giro d'Italia, but we still have time to go on working," added Loddo according to todociclismo.com.
The 28 year-old admitted that he was one of the favourites for the triumph on the third stage of the Vuelta a Asturias, running 168 kilometres between Llanes and Avilés. He explained also that in the straight ending, "I paid attention to Ventoso because he is very fast, and he is has got a very good competition form in the moment."
Valverde & Pereiro to battle Vinokourov in La Volta
By Antonio J. Salmerón
The 87th edition of La Volta a Catalunya, scheduled for May 21 to 27, will be contested by several favourites including Caisse d'Epargne leaders Alejandro Valverde, now ranked number one in the UCI Pro Tour and Oscar Pereiro. The two will take on Astana's Alexandre Vinokourov.
The Spanish ProTour race was officially presented in Barcelona, where it will conclude. 200 riders from 25 squads will take part, including other top racers Spaniards Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel), Igor Astarloa (Milram), Angel Vicioso, Paco Mancebo and Oscar Sevilla (Relax), German Erik Zabel (Milram), and Italian Daniele Bennati (Lampre).
Four pro Spanish squads including Andalucía Cayasur, Relax Gam, Fuerteventura-Canarias, and Karpin-Galicia and American Team Slipstream have been invited by organizers.
The race opens with a team time trial in Salou, where the second stage also starts. Another highlight is the tough 203.1km fourth stage with its three first category climbs including the Coll de Port (1,630 m), the Coll de Jou (1,480 m), and the Alt of Comella (1,365 m) and a finish at the Vallnord-Arinsal skiing station (1,950 m). The race also includes an individual time trial and several other road stages.
Balloon Festival Classic supports juniors
Cambridge area cycling clubs Farm Team Cycling and Cambridge Valley Cycling announced the fourth annual Balloon Festival Classic Cycling Race for June 9 in Cambridge, New York.
New for this year is a Lance Armstrong Junior Olympic Series (LAJORS) race, the Battenkill Valley LAJORS Grand Prix. The race will focus on the development of junior (age 10-18) & espoir (under 23) racers in New York State and the Greater Northeast. The junior race will include a 13 mile event for those aged 10-14. Juniors aged 15-18 will race 42 miles, and espoirs will complete 62 miles.
In conjunction, organizers will also hold several category, masters, and women's events. A Bike Bash dinner, complete with entertainment, will happen the evening before, on June 8. See www.farmteamcycling.org for race details.
Fantasy Giro Grand Prize announced
We are pleased to announce that the Grand Prize for the Cyclingnews 2007 Giro d'Italia Fantasy Game is a fantastic Wilier Triestina Izoard Lampre-Fondital team replica bicycle. It's equipped with Campagnolo's all-new Chorus Ultra Torque ten speed groupset, while the wheelset is the fast and strong Fulcrum Racing 3, ITM Visia bars & stem, Selle Italia SLR XP saddle, Look Keo Sprint pedals, FSA Carbon fibre seatpost and Vittoria tyres. Wilier reports weight at 7.9kg (17.4 lbs) and a retail value US$4,750.
There's plenty time to join in the fun at this year's Fantasy Giro game at Cyclingnews. You can join until stage 6 begins on Friday May 18, and there is no disadvantage in joining after the tour has begun. We have loads of prizes on offer this year. Here a sample of some of the most recent runner-up prize additions: Zipp SL handlebars and Zipp 300 Crankset, Dura-Ace WH-7801-SL Wheelset The WH-7801-SL scandium wheelsets, Saris Bones Rack, HED handlebars, Cheetah Bars for optimum performance, Giro helmets and each day of the Giro, a prize will be awarded to the points leader. That prize is a pair of Tifosi Optics "Forza" featuring High Speed Red Fototec lenses. These shades are a favourite of Toyota-United sprinter Ivan Dominguez.
Play for FREE in the Giro 2007 game
Remember you can play for free for the first 5 stages! Try the game out and see how best to play. It's easy to play the Grande Tour games - all you need to do is pick your dream team of 15 from the riders racing in this year's Giro start list. Then each day pick nine riders to race for your fantasy team from these 15. You'll need a good combination of climbers, sprinters and general classification riders. For more details, go to rules section of the site for more info. It's a great way to follow the Giro 2007.
To register your teams for the game go to fantasy.cyclingnews.com
The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)