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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for May 21, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Riccò arrives home angry

Rabid Riccardo Riccò
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

"They did not want me in the escape group," explained 23 year-old Riccardo Riccò after Giro d'Italia stage 8, which finished only a few kilometres from his home. The second-year professional found himself in a difficult situation where he could have used some of the hard-headedness of his team captain, Gilberto Simoni.

Riccò was in a power-move of 27 that formed on the backside of the Passo della Futa. (Read Cyclingnews' complete live report.) His presence, only 5'45" down on the GC at the start of the day, was a problem for the "senatori", experienced riders like World Champion Paolo Bettini and Lampre's Marzio Bruseghin who wanted the break to succeed. The other riders started to work over Riccò buy leaving gaps and forcing him out of the break. Eventually Riccò got the message and dropped back.

150 kilometres was not enough for Riccò's emotions to settle down. Upon crossing the line in Fiorano Modenese he rode straight for the team bus without saying much. "Finally, I was in an escape, they were not working well. It was constant attacking and counter-attacking. However, when I dropped back everything went with love and harmony," he stated, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Riccò spoke with the press after a 10 minute pow-wow in the Saunier Duval bus with Simoni and Directeur Sportif Pietro Algeri.

"I decided on my own to come back; the riders in general did not want me in that escape," Riccò tried to clarify. Due to the absence of a Saunier rider and several Liquigas and Lampre men up front, the yellow squad was forced to pull for the majority of the day. "I made a mistake to go back to the group," Riccò continued.

Algeri, a directeur since 1982 (with Del Tongo), and Simoni are guiding the fresh talent. "Riccardo is young," commented Algeri. "He found himself in his first complicated situation. As a matter of fact, a situation that overpowered him. Also, he found himself outside of radio contact [with the team car].

"The first thing I had said was to stay there and not pull. Anyhow, he made a mistake because before he let go he should have sought my advice, instead, he made the decision on his own."

Wise Simoni
Photo ©: Sirotti
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After Riccò joined the main gruppo his team was forced to chase so that the gap to potential GC-threats would not become insurmountable. "This situation [with Riccò] forced everyone to work hard all day. If he had remained in the escape then the other teams would have had to work to close.

"I don't understand how some of the other teams raced. The others want to win the Giro but did not help."

Simoni commented on the escape. "This stage could have finished the Giro," he noted. One's mind flashes back to the famous Oscar Pereiro 2006 Tour escape. "If Saunier did not pull then the classification would have been over. Now, some of the other riders will have to give a lot to rise back up the ranks, while others that arrived with the front-runners will stay high in the classification until the end."

The Giro should see a big GC-shake up on Tuesday when the stage finishes Nostra Signora della Guardia. "True," remarked Gibo. "But I have a debit to pay with the Izoard."

A side note is that Saunier Duval, directed by father and son, Pietro and Matteo, is the former team of race leader Marco Pinotti. While Saunier was working hard to protect the GC-interests of Simoni it was also helping its close friend. 'Pino' went to school with Matteo in Bergamo and credits the DS and his dad for his start in cycling.

David Arroyo is satisfied

By Antonio J. Salmerón

CSC's Kurt-Asle Arvesen won the eighth stage of the Giro d'Italia but one of the escape group members was the Caisse d'Epargne climber David Arroyo.

"It was a good opportunity to gain time on the principal favourites and it was necessary to seize this chance," he noted at the end of the stage. "For this reason, I collaborated until the end of the stage.

"I took the start of this Giro with the ambition of achieving a good general classification and the result of today is an important step towards my objective. Now it will be necessary to resist and remain in company of the favourites on the mountain stages, with the hope to win a stage too."

Caisse DS José Luis Jaimerena commented on the escape. "A 27-man breakaway started at the beginning of the stage," noted Jaimerena. "We had two men there, with David Arroyo and Mathieu Perget, even if one was dropped later on.

"It was an important escape, with riders who can play a part in the general classification, like Hincapie, Bruseghin, and Bettini, to mention a few. The course was hard and these men managed to make a gap of seven minutes with the main bunch, which caused the reaction of the riders of T-Mobile and Saunier-Duval.

"In spite of that, the escape still had an advantage of more than four minutes on the line. Arroyo is now the seventh on the general classification."

Walker, Klinger and Förster remark on Emilia Romagna Day

Sprinters find early climb challenging

Rabobank has lost two riders from the Giro d'Italia already in the first week, and both losses have had a direct impact on young William Walker. Sprinter Graeme Brown and Leon Van Bon have had to drop out with intestinal problems.

Brown's absence affects the young Australian because "My primary role in the team was that of Graeme Brown's helper. Since he is no longer in, we have to try through escapes." Van Bon had written a Giro diary for the team website,, and now the 20 year-old Walker has taken over authorship.

Förster followed Hushovd
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"That I am the best ranking Rabo cyclist at this point does not mean much to me," he wrote. "I am a part of the team and try to do by work to the best of my abilities. Like today (Sunday). We succeeded in breaking away with a group of 22 and I knew that if I was to stay until the end, I would have no chance of defeating those maniacs in the final sprint. So I tried to get away some five kilometres before the finish line. Unfortunately without success."

The second-year pro sees the Giro as a learning opportunity. "I am still new to the game and I try to learn as much from every moment as I can. Last year's Vuelta was my first introduction to a stage race of these proportions. At that time I was blown away, so to say, by some of the things that happened but I can now more easily put them into perspective.

"You encounter fewer surprises. I must say that, despite my serving role, I get plenty of support from everyone on the team and that they really know how to motivate me. Of course, you must be able to motivate yourself but all help is welcome."

Team Gerolsteiner's Klinger and Förster saw the stage as a hard work day. "As I had feared, there were attacks from the very start -- and, that, even though it was the first climb," wrote Tim Klinger on "That meant we had to go all out from the very start. I don't like it, though, when it goes directly from 0 to 100. I had to fall back, but was able to join the field again later."

McEwen dropped early on
Photo ©: Sirotti
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It was not only hard, it was hot. "Especially the heat cost us a lot. It was 30°, but felt more like 50°," said Robert Förster. He knew how to get over the climbs, though. "I oriented myself on Thor Hushovd, he's about my speed in the mountains. We came over quite well and in the descent joined the field again," he wrote on

Team Milram was even able to take it a little easy during the stage after the escape group had gotten away. "We quickly noted that the time difference was too great to allow a mass sprint finish. So we saved our strength -- there will be other days, and the Giro goes two more weeks," according to Christian Knees, "But it was still a taxing day and went by quickly. We weren't riding any slower than the leaders, that's what made the day so difficult. It was so fast today, there wasn't even time to stop and answer the call of nature."

A group containing sprinters Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto), Gabriele Balducci (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo) and Koldo Fernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi) finished 24 minutes down, just inside the time cut of 28'40". They had been dropped 190 kilometres before, on the ascent of the Passo della Futa, which started at kilometre zero.

Hansen's hand repaired

By Susan Westemeyer

Adam Hansen may have trouble getting through the airport metal detectors in the future. "It's amazing, I couldn't believe you could put so much metal inside someone!" he said after surgery on his broken fingers.

In an e-mail to Cyclingnews (typed one-handed), the T-Mobile rider said that the breaks of his right little and ring fingers were quite complicated and were "a huge jigsaw puzzle for the doctors here in Freiburg to put back together" -- with, apparently, lots of pins and plates.

He will be off the bike for four weeks, which doesn't bother him particularly as he was due for a break anyway. His next race will be the Tour of Austria in July.

The Australian crashed in stage two and is sorry to have had to drop out of the Giro d'Italia, his first Grand Tour, but not for his own sake. "The only bad thing at the moment was to see Pinotti fight so hard today to defend his jersey in the Giro. I have only wanted to be the best domestic and I would have loved to ride in front and to have helped him defend it. That would have been a great honour for me."

Fuerteventura-Canarias for Volta a Catalunya

Spanish Pro-Continental team Fuerteventura-Canarias has announced its line-up for the seven-stage ProTour Volta a Catalunya. For the race, May 21 to 28, the team of Oscar Guerrero will lead with David Bernabeu and Rodrigo García.

Fuerteventura-Canarias for la Volta will be Eladio Sánchez, Rodrigo García, Javier Ramírez, Mikel Artetxe, Iker Flores, David Bernabeu, Joaquín Ortega and Javier Cherro.

Slipstream-Chipotle for la Volta

Photo ©: Steve Cohen
(Click for larger image)

Team Slipstream powered by Chipotle will take yet another significant step in its development, taking part in the Volta a Catalunya - the team's first-ever ProTour event. The team received a wild-card invitation following some solid spring results.

"We intend to do the wild-card invitation honour by being an aggressive underdog, just like we've always been," remarked Directeur Sportif Jonathan Vaughters.

Team Slipstream's roster for Catalunya features Danny Pate, Patrick McCarty, Huub Duyn, Timmy Duggan, Mike Lange, Jason Donald, Lucas Euser and Tom Peterson. Despite being the biggest race to date in most of these young riders' careers, Vaughters feels that "it'll be a good experience for the guys, especially considering the direction this team in headed for 2008."

De Maar returning to racing

Marc de Maar is planning his return to the peloton today in the Vuelta a Catalunya, following a long spell off with a bacterial infection. I am 100 percent fit and healthy, that is the important thing," the 23 year-old Rabobank rider said.

In an interview on the team's website,, the second-year pro noted that he had been sick since the end of last season. His last race was the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, where he could not finish because of a return of the health problems.

He noted that he had not picked the easiest race for his return. "And it begins with a team time trial. That will be exciting, it is an interesting discipline. Normally, I should do well in it."

He is unsure, though, as to how he will do in his return. "I haven't had any pressure from the team, which was good. But I'm a little nervous about how I will react to the physical efforts; will I have a relapse?"

"Right now I am cautious," he said. "I hope to have a stabile level and then we will look at which races I will ride," de Maar continued. "During training you don't know how you stand. Therefore I have no idea what kind of return I will make the next few days."

Tour de France: Barloworld in, Unibet out?

The ASO is expected to announce the final three invitations to the Tour de France this week, with two expected to go to Team Astana and the Professional Continental French team Agritubel. And the third may well go to Team Barloworld, according to Sportwereld.

On the other hand, there seems to be no chance for Unibet to attend the Tour, the newspaper reports.

Traditionally, the ASO announces the last invitations to the Tour after the Tour de Picardie, which Barloworld's Robert Hunter won this year. The South African rider won the first stage and was able to hold on to the overall lead for all four stages for the Professional Continental team. It also helps that the team is registered in Great Britain, with its headquarters in London, where the Tour starts this year.

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