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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for May 22, 2007

Edited by Ben Abrahams & Greg Johnson

Landis' former manager entering rehab

Will Goeghegan
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Floyd Landis' former business manager Will Geoghegan, relieved of his duties following the threatening phone call he made to Greg Lemond, is entering a rehabilitation program it was announced Monday. Geoghegan's role will be taken over in an interim capacity by Dr Brent Kay who has previously served as a personal physician to Landis.

In an email letter sent to Landis' publicity loop, Kay wrote that Geoghegan is in a "distraught state" following the fallout from his phone call to Lemond last Tuesday evening, which Geoghegan later said was the result of alcohol consumption. "While Floyd and the entire team find Will's actions regrettable and abhorrent, he is still a friend and we wish him the best in his recovery," wrote Kay, who is executive director of the OUCH Sports Medical Center.

"It is my hope that we can make a seamless transition and continue to work together in our mutual best interests. I know that Floyd is eager to get through the last days of his hearing and to turn his focus toward his business responsibilities," continued Kay.

"He is very excited about our anticipated victory and is anxious to support the very few that have supported him."

Pinotti feeling weight of the maglia rosa

By Jean-François Quénet in Lido di Camaiore

Marco Pinotti
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Giro d'Italia leader Marco Pinotti has admitted the added pressure which accompanies a maglia rosa is beginning to take its toll and that his days in pink look numbered. "In terms of intensity, because of all the tension before and after the stages, I feel like the nine stages we have done were like 18," he said at the Stage 9 finish in Lido di Camaiore.

The Italian time trial specialist, who is often outspoken on the subject of doping, thinks his experiences at the Giro won't change him. "I hope my speeches haven't hurt anybody," he said. "As a person, I'll remain the same."

"This is the first time I can race for myself," he continued. "So far in my career I've always had other duties, working for different leaders. Now I'm tempted to see how far I can go on GC. My situation is different from two days ago. My advantage is much smaller and many more riders are close to me now.

"For sure I will not be able to follow them all. There's a very hard stage to come with an uphill finish at the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora della Guardia. I'll try and climb the best I can. But the responsibilities will be on the shoulders of those who pretend to win the Tour of Italy."

Speaking of Stage 8, where he clung on the maglia rosa by a mere 28 seconds, Pinotti said: "There's nothing to regret about yesterday's stage. I'm aware that we gave it everything. Circumstances have made Riccardo Riccò drop back, otherwise it would have been a totally different story. But we can't do the race again. It's not a major issue for me to have the pink jersey for six days or four days.

"The most important thing was to keep it yesterday. Now I won't have any regrets. I'll do my best to keep riding the Giro in the front till the end and if it's not possible, I'm already happy with what I've done."

Napolitano: 'We all want a train like Petacchi'

By Jean-François Quénet in Lido di Camaiore

Danilo Napolitano (Lampre Fondital)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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After successfully out-manoeuvring Alessandro Petacchi and the Milram train to take victory on Stage 9 of the Giro d'Italia, Lampre sprinter Danilo Napolitano told the reporters that he wouldn't mind a train of his own. "Of course I'd like to have a train at my disposal for sprinting, everybody would," he said. "Even McEwen, who sometimes pretends the opposite. But in reality, Petacchi is the only one who can sprint comfortably. At Lampre-Fondital, it's normal that the whole team is built around Damiano Cunego for the overall win."

The Sicilian sprinter was almost left out of Lampre's Giro line-up following a dismal performance at the Tour de Romandie. "At the Tour de Romandie I was going really bad," he admitted. "I wasn't in a great shape for the Giro. But the Galbusera family [owners of Lampre] and Fondital supported me. Also the DS [Giuseppe] Martinelli told me: 'Napo, if you tell me that you'll improve during the Giro, I have no problem taking you anyway.' Here we are now."

Napolitano was then asked if winning without a train deserves twice the credit. "At the home of Petacchi, give me triple!" answered the 1.76m tall muscular sprinter who sometimes struggles to keep his weight where it should be. "78..." he said, when asked to put a number on it. "No guys, put 80... But I'm not the only muscular sprinter. I think Thor Hushovd is just as muscular as I am. He's just taller than me."

The Italian has sometimes been compared to Djamolidin Abdujaparov but insisted that, "I want to be myself. I was fortunate to be helped by my older brother Massimiliano who has been a pro for two years at the time of Marco Pantani winning the Giro and Tour. Now he is a masseur with Lampre-Fondital. He's the one to tell me when I do something wrong."

This stage win at the Giro is Napolitano's first at the ProTour level and his second this year after the last stage of the Tour of Murcia. "This was only the seventh sprint I took part in this year," he explained "I've done mostly hard races.

Crédit Agricole lead out improving

By Jean-François Quénet in Lido di Camaiore

Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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With the majority of Giro bunch sprints controlled by Alessandro Petacchi and his Milram train, Crédit Agricole's Thor Hushovd has been frustratingly close to a stage win on several occasions, and the Norwegian believes his turn for glory is not far away. Once again on Stage 9, New Zealand champion Julian Dean brought Hushovd to the front alongside Paolo Bettini and Robbie McEwen, then Angelo Furlan took over as the last lead out man but Hushovd could only finish a disappointing sixth.

"It was a really good try though," Hushovd said of his team's tactics. "We started too early, which was a bad choice, I had to wait, wait and wait before I was able to accelerate. Petacchi passed me but he wasn't any faster, I was just up there too early."

Furlan was also bitter. "In theory we did it well and we should have won," he said. "Unfortunately we faced a strong head wind and that played against us. It was the first time that Julian and myself formed this lead out. We must be patient. Next time we'll win it."

Initially Furlan joined Crédit Agricole as the team's sprinter for the Giro, but at the end of last year Hushovd convinced team manager Roger Legeay that he needed practice against the world's best sprinters before the Tour de France, something he has never previously had despite being a regular stage winner at the Four Days of Dunkirk, Tour of Catalunya and Dauphiné Libéré.

For the 2007 Tour de France, Crédit Agricole are once again focusing on two goals: sprinting and climbing. Directeur sportif Denis Roux hinted that Australian sprinter Mark Renshaw, who recently won Stage 2 in the Tour of Picardy, may get his first start in the Grand Boucle if he can ride convincingly through June.

Have the Italians underestimated Spain's Arroyo?

By Jean-François Quénet in Lido di Camaiore

Gilberto Simoni was the most bitter of the favourites after the controversial Stage 8, when teams like Liquigas, Lampre and Astana paid little attention to the quality of the riders in the front group. The incident has thrown the overall win door wide open with a number of riders, including David Arroyo Duran (Caisse d'Epargne), now poised to take victory.

The prementioned teams were represented in the break, although not by their captains, but Saunier Duval was absent after Riccardo Ricco dropped back to the peloton. "Some people have lost maybe a place on the final podium," Simoni said.

Most had mentioned the presence of Lampre's Patxi Vila and Marzio Bruseghin, and Discovery Channel's José Luis Rubiera but strangely not much of George Hincapie, although his climbing abilities are well known since he won the Pyrenean stage of Pla d'Adet in the 2005 Tour de France. Amongst the other threats that went un-noticed in the break were Emmanuele Sella (Panaria), who is a pure climber, Dario Cioni (Predictor-Lotto), a former top five Giro finisher, and Evgeni Petrov whose general skills are well known.

At the start of Reggio Emilia, the name of David Arroyo arose as a contender, as he's the designated leader of the Caisse d'Epargne team. His French teammate Eric Berthou had told Cyclingnews on the start line of Paris-Roubaix this year: "After the classics I'll do my first Grand Tour at the Giro and I'm excited because we'll ride for David Arroyo and we know he's able to do well in a three-weeks stage race."

Berthou was even more enthusiastic in Reggio Emilia, now that Arroyo lays in seventh position on general classification, with a 2.29 minute gap on Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas), who is the highest ranked of the favourites."It'll be difficult for them to get rid of him in the climbs!" said Berthou.

In fact, while Vila and Bruseghin finished 20th and 22nd of last year's Tour de France, in 21st position was Arroyo. The Spanish rider has also performed well in other major races, with an 18th at the Dauphiné and 19th at the Vuelta a Espana.

"He was always riding as a domestique for a leader," Berthou added. "Now we'll see what he can do for himself. We'll be there to help him. We just hope that he doesn't take the pink jersey too early. Even if he doesn't take it, we'd be happy to lead him to a good final result."

The 27 year-old Arroyo turned pro with ONCE in 2001 and went to Portuguese team La Pecol in 2004. After finishing second in the Tour of Portugal with two stage wins - his only personal successes as a professional to date - he returned to Spain under the sponsorship of Iles Balears and now Caisse d'Epargne.

Petacchi disappointed for fans

Alessandro Petacchi (Milram)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Milram's Alessandro Petacchi has said he's disappointed for his fans after failing to out sprint Giro d'Italia Stage 9 winner Danilo Napolitano (Lampre - Fondital) and second placed Robbie McEwen (Predictor - Lotto). The 177 kilometre stage, which saw Petacchi finish third, passes straight by the Italian's home, hence the desire to take victory.

"Certainly, I would have preferred that Napolitano had won Mugello and I here," said Petacchi, referring to his own victory on Stage 7. "I am however pleased with my ride. Unfortunately it did not suffice."

Petacchi currently holds 95th position on general classification, some 16 minutes behind leader Marco Pinotti (T-Moblie). The Milram rider dropped some 11 minutes on the fourth stage, largely contributing to his GC position.

"I also want to thank the fans," he added, "because today, from Cerreto to the finish, I have heard along my name. I thank them for the affection and [it] displeases me not to be successful to repay them with victory. Obviously, I will try again [for] us."

Track rider Wolff retires

Olympic team sprint gold medallist Rene Wolff announced his retirement from competitive cycling on Monday, citing a lack of international success during the past two years and early elimination from this year's World Track Championships as his reasons for the decision. The 29 year-old German had wanted to adopt a new training regime for the Beijing Olympics but said he was unable to reach an agreement with the German cycling federation (BDR).

"With my physical condition, I cannot develop myself under the BDR's concept," said Wolf, who was riding for German track squad Sprintteam Stadtwerke Erfurt. "My performance is miles away from the world's best. Under these circumstances, nothing will change before the Olympics."

Besides his Olympic successes, Wolff won the world team sprint title in 2003 followed by the individual gold in 2005. He will now finish his college studies of literature and philosophy, but did not give any concrete future career plans.

Kodak delighted with Rás opener

American continental squad Kodak Gallery Pro Cycling is delighted with the start to its first overseas foray at the FBD Insurance Rás in Ireland. After the opening two stages the squad holds the King of the Mountains, and points jerseys and also sits pretty on general classification with Jesse Anthony holding second place.

"I'm really excited to be leading the KOM competition," said Anthony after the second stage. "I'd like to be leading in the best young rider contest or in the overall, but this is great! I am feeling really good now and hopefully my form will continue to improve as the week goes on."

The squad's six-time Canadian National Champion Dominique Rollin holds the points jersey heading into tomorrow's 171 kilometre Stage 3. Rollin has had a strong season to date, with National Racing Calendar victories in Roswell and Walterboro in America.

"I feel great," said Rollin. "I am a bit disappointed because I couldn't be in the fight for the win today - I showed myself a bit too much leading out our climber today and everyone was watching me."

Team director Kurt Stockton was also excited by the team's showing in its first race in Europe, but cautioned that there's still many kilometres to cover before the event concludes on Sunday in Skerries.

"There is a reason why this race has not been won by a foreign rider since 1989," noted Stockton. "We know there is a long hard week of racing ahead on roads that will test our riders and equipment.

"We are concentrating on staying focused on the job at hand," he added, "and to making sure the team keeps riding at the front of the field where it can control the race and stay out of trouble."

Blythe stunned by Dutch success

Great Britain's Adam Blythe is "dead happy" with his performance at the weekend's Int. Junioren Driedaagse van Axel, which saw him dominate the Netherlands' junior men's UCI race. The Olympic Development Rider not only took two stage victories on his way to claiming the yellow jersey, he also took home the Points, Sprints and Combination jerseys.

"I think that is my best road win and I'm dead happy with it," Blythe told Britishcycling.org.uk. "You look at some of the past winners and Tom Boonen was third once, so I'm pleased."

If that wasn't enough to make the youngster smile, then knowing he finished second in the Pave category and third in the KOM standings should surely do the trick.

"I like the continental races a lot more," he added. "There is something about the racing there where everyone is racing. There are a lot more riders able to make the race. The race was dead hard but wasn't as hard for me as it has been before. I go into a stage and try to stay near the front and just watch what happens. If I can get into a move then great, if not, I'm happy to see what happens at the end."

Blythe and his British National Team teammates now return home for a stage race in Sussex.

Versus to air Jittery Joe's documentary

One Of A Kind Films has inked a deal with Versus Television (formally Outdoor Life Network) to air a one-hour television documentary following the Jittery Joe's Professional Cycling Team from its training camp in San Diego through the Tour of Georgia and the Athens Twilight Criterium. The documentary will focus on the ups and downs of a small professional cycling team traveling on the North American race circuit and is hosted by race announcer Dave Towle.

"When I started this project I had no idea how amazing it would be", said One Of A Kind Productions' Myles Berman. "These guys love their job and it really shows."

"This is a huge deal for our team and for our riders," said the squad's general manager Micah Rice. "We are very excited to be a part of such an exciting and professionally done project like this."

The program is scheduled to air on Versus Television Sunday, June 10 at 3:30pm EST.

Long donates winnings to scholarship fund

Muskego Park Criterium winner Jerry Long (Team Schwinn) has donated his race winnings to the Matt Wittig Scholarship Fund in honour of the fallen racer. The race, now known as the Matt Wittig Cup, awards the winning team with a silver cup, a memoriam to Matt Wittig, a 20 year-old student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and rider with the US amateur ISCorp team, who died after crashing during the Wisconsin Cup criterium race in Muskego County Park on May 6, 2006.

"It was an unexpectedly wonderful experience to win that particular race and to visit with Matt Wittig's mother afterward," said Long, of the race held on the eve of Mother's Day. "I decided to donate my race winnings to the Matt Wittig Scholarship Fund, and the team supported that decision."

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