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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for May 12, 2007

Edited by Sue George with assistance from Jean-François Quénet in Olbia

Il Falco aims for podium spot

'Simoni and Cunego are the favourites'

By Shane Stokes

Paolo Savoldelli
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

Paolo Savoldelli has won the Giro d'Italia twice, but while he is confident he is in good form, the difficult course means that the Italian is uncertain if he can take the maglia rosa all the way to Milan this year.

Savoldelli showed he is in strong form when he won the prologue and finished second overall in the Tour de Romandie last week. He was a full five seconds clear in the opening race against the clock, then finished the same margin behind Thomas Dekker in the final stage time trial to end the race second overall, 11 seconds behind the Dutchman.

The 34 year-old Italian has now turned his attention to the Giro d'Italia, a race he won in 2002 and 2005, and said that he is happy with his form heading into the Grand Tour. He was however playing down his chances slightly at the pre-race press conference held in the Marmorata Village resort near Santa Teresa di Gallura on Thursday evening, saying that the profile of the route meant that he believed a podium place was more likely than the overall victory. Instead, he nominated Gilberto Simoni and Damiano Cunego as his main favourite for this year's race.

Savoldelli was one of three from the team who was presented to the media gathering, held in a large room overlooking one of the stunning bays of northern Sardinia. Also there were compatriot Eddy Mazzoleni and Swiss rider Steve Morabito, as well as directeur sportif Mario Kummer and a small number of Astana and BMC staff.

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Kummer, who moved to the team from T-Mobile at the end of last season, introduced the riders to the media and summed up their targets. "We are here to fight in the Giro for a good result," he said, looking relaxed with his new role. "Paolo Savoldelli is a rider who showed in the past that he can win the Giro, and he proved in the Tour de Romandie that he is in good shape.

"Beside him here we have Eddy [Mazzoleni]," he continued, speaking about the rider sitting to the left of Savoldelli. "He has prepared well to do a good Giro. He is also Italian and so he and Paolo are both very motivated to perform well at home, to fight for a good result.

To read the full feature, click here.

Giro pays tribute to Italian history

The creator of Tirreno-Adriatico Lillo Pietropaoli
Photo ©: Jean-François Quénet
(Click for larger image)

On Friday afternoon, the Giro d'Italia festivities kicked off with a unique opening ceremony. 198 riders took a few ferry boats for a gathering on an aircraft carrier owned by the Italian navy and called the Garibaldi. It's all about the "hero of the two worlds" at the Giro this year.

Garibaldi is the captain who unified Italy was born 200 years ago. The start of stage one is located on the small island of Caprera where he is buried. Stage 5 will start from Teano, close to the place where he met King Vittorio Emmanuele II. The race will visit Bergamo, the hometown of 216 of the 1090 soldiers who followed Garibaldi.

Stage 10 will visit Quarto, the rock where all the "red shirts" and their captain launched their campaign on their way to Sicily. Because this anniversary is being widely celebrated in Italy this year, the founder of Tirreno-Adriatico, former journalist Lillo Pietropaoli, came out of retirement, aged 76, to help forge connections between the island of Sardegna and the organizer of the Giro d'Italia, Angelo Zomegnan.

"Garibaldi means so much for the history of our country", Pietropaoli said. This name means a lot in cycling as well. In 1961, the face of Garibaldi was put on the front page of the road book of the Giro because it was the centennial of Italy, and for the past 46 years, journalists have named the precious road book 'the Garibaldi'.

Guess who makes the front page again this year.

No time trial bikes for the opening team time trial?

No time trial bikes needed
Photo ©: Jean-François Quénet
(Click for larger image)

Some of the teams have reconnoitred the course of the opening team time trial already while others will only do so in the morning prior to the race. But everyone knows it's going to be hard.

"For an individual time trial, it would have been a great course," Rabobank's Pedro Horrillo explained. "But for a team time trial, it's very strange. It's almost impossible to work as team."

The 25.6 km long race will feature a bridge, which in all likelihood means gusty winds, that takes the riders from the island of Caprera to the island of La Maddalena. And unlike most team time trials, the course is riddled with climbs. Most of the teams have already decided not to use their time trial bikes.

CSC is the favourite for the event with world champion Fabian Cancellara and American champion David Zabriskie in their ranks.

The youngest girino is 19 years-old

Ivan Rovny is the Giro's youngest rider
Photo ©: Jean-François Quénet
(Click for larger image)

Ivan Rovny was the junior world champion in Austria less than two years ago and now he's starting the Giro d'Italia under the colours of the Tinkoff Credit Systems team.

"It was decided in the past few days, and Oleg Tinkoff has insisted he be here," said directeur sportif Dimitri Konyshev while looking at the fabulous spectacle of Sardinia from a ferry boat on his way to the team's presentation. The Italian-Russian squad wasn't able to line up Tyler Hamilton and Jörg Jaksche due to their ties to Operación Puerto. The two riders were suspended this week, and the team had to fill up those spots on short notice. The team could not recruit Selle Italia's Wladimir Belli in time.

Not many cyclists have taken part in their first Grand Tour before age 20, especially in modern times. "He's not even 20 yet, he's 19," Konyshev said. "Of course we're not expecting him to win a stage, but he goes all right. I'm confident that he'll do the same as me when I rode. As I never trained much, I improved my condition during the Giro."

Rovny was chosen as a bright future road hope for Tinkoff. "Our riders will not do much track racing anymore," Konyshev added. "Maybe Mikhail Ignatiev and Pavel Brutt will continue track racing until Beijing 2008, but we're developing these young guys as road riders now."

Hushovd wants to leave Sardegna with a win

Thor Hushovd
Photo ©: Jean-François Quénet
(Click for larger image)

The Giro marks Thor Hushovd's big return to competition after an unsuccessful campaign at the classic due a stomach virus prior to Milan-San Remo. He hasn't raced since Paris-Roubaix, but he looks quite fit after training hard in Norway.

"I'm happy with my condition now, but I might need some racing in my legs before I can try and win a bunch sprint at the Giro," he said on the Garibaldi aircraft carrier where the Norwegian press was present to hear him.

"I hope it'll not take too long before I win a sprint though. I'd like to do it before we leave Sardegna."

The race stays on the island for three days, including an opening team time trial, but on Sunday and Monday, Hushovd, who is making his debut at the Tour of Italy, will be seen as a challenger for favourites Alessandro Petacchi and Robbie McEwen.

Otxoa signs with Saunier Duval

By Monika Prell and Antonio J. Salmerón

Ex-professional racer Javier Otxoa, who in 2001 was seriously injured in an accident in Málaga in which his twin brother Ricardo died, has signed with the Saunier Duval Prodir team. Otxoa rode for Kelme-Costa Blanca prior to the accident.

The incident left Otxoa in a coma and while his recovery was good enough to return him to normal life, it was insufficient to allow a return to the pro cycling ranks.

However, since the accident, the winner of stage 10 of the Tour de France in 2000 from Dax to Lourdes-Hautacam has participated in Paralympic competition. He has earned two Olympic medals, a Spanish national title, and two World titles. In March, he was nominated for the Laureus, the world's most prestigious sporting awards.

The Paralympic cyclist will use the same equipment, including clothing, bikes, and supplies, as the other members on the team. Otxoa will next tackle the Spanish championships in June and the World championships in Bordeaux in August, where he hopes to beat the tally of five medals he earned last year.

"For me, he's like any other rider on the team", declared Joxean Fernández Matxin, the director of the team, "and an example for all of us for getting over hardships. We will help him in everything we can."

Cecchini - Fuentes connection?

By Susan Westemeyer

Was Italian doctor Luigi Cecchini the middleman to Italian riders in the Fuentes affair? The Italian media is saying that his name has come up as a middleman.

According to the dpa, under questioning, both Ivan Basso and Michele Scarponi have given "useful evidence towards the identification of an Italian doctor" who introduced them to Fuentes. La Republica is specifically saying that it is Cecchini.

The sid press agency says that Ettore Torri, who is handling the investigation for the Italian Olympic Committee, now wishes to question Cecchini. The Italian doctor has worked with many big name riders, including Jan Ullrich.

T-Mobile doctor investigation could last years

By Susan Westemeyer

The Freiburg University Clinic investigation of former T-Mobile team doctors Andreas Schmid and Lothar Heinrich could take "one to two years," it has announced.

"I wish that it would be quicker," Matthias Brand, the Clinic's medical director, told the dpa press agency. "But I'm a realist, and believe that an independent investigation commission will need that much time.

Schmid and Heinrich were suspended by T-Mobile Team on May 3, in response to charges from a former soigneur that they had provided EPO to team members during the 1996 Tour de France.

The Clinic will introduce the members of the investigatory commission on May 15.

BMC Team wins Giro di Friuli Venezia TTT

BMC training
Photo ©: Mark Adkison
(Click for larger image)
The BMC Professional Cycling team recorded its first win as an all-American team at the Giro di Friuli Venezia in Italy Thursday.

Jonathan Garcia, Scott Nydam, Jackson Stewart, Ian McKissick, and Ken Hanson rode a near-perfect 24.2 km team time trial that resulted in the win and catapulted Jonathon Garcia to the top of the general classification. Scott Nydam jumped up to second place overall, and the BMC Team moved into first on the team GC.

"I spoke to Gavin Chilcott right after the race and he told me that our boys rode a near flawless race. We didn't know what to expect given that this was our first ever TTT, so you can well imagine how pleased we are. It's especially rewarding given that we have four neo-pros in the race. It's a significant result for the BMC and for USA Cycling," said team representative Charlie Livermore.

Gavin Chilcott was especially thankful to guest team director John Lelangue. "John's contribution to today's strategy was pivotal. His knowledge is invaluable."

The short stage wasn't without incident, however, as the final three teams to start (A.C.S. Gruppo Lupi, Finauto Neri Lucchini and Radenska Powerbar) were beset by punctures, apparently caused by a series of sharp objects being deliberately scattered across the road.

T-Mobile wants Berne World Cup win

Flexpoint & Menikini Selle Italia Gysko rosters announced

German legend Judith Arndt (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Ben Atkins
(Click for larger image)

Fresh off four successful days of racing at the Gracia Orlova in the Czech Republic, Judith Arndt will lead T-Mobile at Sunday's Tour de Berne, the fifth leg of the UCI women's World Cup on May 13. Arndt had dominated the race with a win on a tough mountain stage and time trial on her way to the overall win.

"It was very exciting to see Judith win Gracia and it shows that her form is still on the up and up, so I am very much looking forward to Berne," said T-Mobile sporting director Anna Wilson.

T-Mobile's other card to play is Australian Oenone Wood, who was the runner-up behind Zoulfia Zabirova (Biglia) in Berne last year on a course she is known to like.

The women will race three laps of a 28km circuit followed by two laps of a 20.8km circuit for 125.6km total and 890 meters of climbing. Although less hilly than the last World Cup, Flèche Wallonne, two hills on the second circuit could prove decisive in forming a lead group to go on for the win..

Suzanne De Goede (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: CJ Farquharson
(Click for larger image)

"We will be making sure that we have riders at the front on the climbs, or away in breakaways so that we are always in contention for the win," said Wilson of the team's strategy. She added that any of the team's riders could take the win - what's important is a team win.

The T-mobile women's team will contest the race with a strong field including defending champion Zabirova, World Cup leader Nicole Cooke (Raleigh) and the flying Dutchwoman Marianne Vos (DSB Bank) who will be buoyed by her Flèche Wallonne win last month.

Some women's squads will also race the Omloop van Borsele on Saturday, May 12.

T-Mobile for Berne: Judith Arndt, Chantal Beltman, Susanne de Goede, Alex Rhodes, Linda Villumsen, and Oenone Wood. Director: Anna Wilson (Australia)

Menikini Selle Italia Gysko for Tour de Bern: Sigrid Corneo, Olivia Gollan, Rochelle Gilmore, Miho Oki, Dorthe Rasmussen, Karin Aune. Saranno. Director: Walter Zini.

Flexpoint for Berne: Loes Gunnewijk, Luise Keller, Loes Markerink, Mirjam Melchers, Madeleine Sandig , Iris Slappendel. Directors: Jean-Paul van Poppel, Klas Johansson

Flexpoint for Omloop van Borsele (May 12): Mie Lacota, Amber Neben, Moniek Kleinsman, Trine Schmidt, Suzanne van Veen

Iturriaga undergoes operation

Last Sunday, Spanish racer Eneritz Iturriaga (Menikini Selle Itallia Gysko) fell during the time trial to Losanna and fractured her left collarbone. She underwent an operation a few days ago in Bilbao to repair the fracture. The intervention appeared successful, and the next few days will help determine how long Iturriaga will need before returning to competition.

Sea Otter moves to May for 2008

Georgia Gould (Luna) won the Sea Otter cross country
Photo ©: FJ Hughes
(Click for larger image)

Organizers for the Sea Otter Classic said Friday that the 18th edition of the race will move from mid April to early May for 2008. Event directors considered several factors influencing the move including probability of better weather conditions and the likely schedule of national and international racing and event calendars for 2008.

"In response to requests and recommendations from our athletes, fans, and sponsors, we have decided to host the Sea Otter Classic on May 1-4, 2008," said Frank Yohannan, president and CEO of the Sea Otter Classic, Inc.

[Editors note: The above information was correct at the time of publication. The event has since been rescheduled for April 17-20, 2008.]

Fantasy Giro Game is starting!

Register your teams now!

(Click for larger image)

There are only hours to go until the Giro game kicks off on Saturday, May 12 with the 24 km team time trial from Caprera to La Maddalena. There's plenty of time still to create your teams. You have until Friday, May 18 to finalise your teams. You can play for free for the first five 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 the rules section of the site. It's a great way to follow the Giro.

First Endurance and Nutrifig join prize list

In addition to the Grand Prize, the fantastic Wilier Triestina Izoard Lampre-Fondital team replica bicycle worth US$4,750, there are 39 other prizes on offer this year. Among other prizes, First Endurance's Optygen will be awarded to a few of the lucky runners-up in this year's game. Optygen is designed to optimize performance for endurance athletes. The two main adaptogens in Optygen were first used by Tibetian Sherpas to help them climb Mt. Everest. Optygen utilizes these unique adaptogens because clinical research (on elite endurance athletes) has shown them to increase oxygen utilization, increase the body's ability to adapt to high levels of physical stress, increase anaerobic threshold and reduce lactic acid.

Cheetah Bars
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

Nutrifig's Cheetah bars will also be awarded to a few of the lucky runners-up in this year's game. Nutrifig Cheetah Bar provide organic nutrition for optimal fuelling. A cyclist depends on good nutrition to meet the demands of the sport. That's why Nutrifig developed the all natural, organic Cheetah Bar. The right combination of carbs, protein, and fiber give you long lasting energy in a bar that tastes great. Cheetah bars are loaded with potassium, sodium and calcium--all found naturally in the ingredients so no chemical additives. This is the bar of choice of the Colavita/Sutter Home team. We have 10 boxes of Cheetah Bars on offer. Register your teams now!

Full Prize Roster

- Grande Prize Wilier Triestina Izoard Lampre-Fondital team replica bicycle
- Daily Stage Winner prizes of Tifosi Optics "Forza" featuring High Speed Red Fototec lenses
- Zipp SL handlebars, 145 Stem, 300 Crankset and 185 Bottom Bracket
- Shimano Dura-Ace WH-7801-SL Wheelset The WH-7801-SL scandium wheelsets
- Saris Bones Rack
- HED handlebars
- Giro Atmos helmets
- Cheetah Bars for optimum performance

There's plenty of 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 you can compete equally with players that have joined earlier in the tour.

To register your teams for the game, go to

Good luck!
The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team

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