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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News for May 23, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Lancaster eyes Tour de France prologue

By Jean-François Quénet in Genova

Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

As he has lived in Tuscany since he joined Panaria five years ago, Australian Brett Lancaster felt at home when his wife Ally and their baby paid a visit at the start in Camaiore. The Olympic champion from Shepparton, Victoria, is given extremely positive comments about his work at the service of Alessandro Petacchi, who has bagged two stage wins so far in the 2007 Giro d'Italia.

He proved strong by catching Fabian Cancellara, the last attacker on the car racing circuit of Mugello on stage 8. "I also waited a bit for catching him and avoided other attacks", Lancaster said.

He's the penultimate lead-out man, just before Alberto Ongarato, the Milram train and has replaced both Marco Velo (injured) and Fabio Sacchi (left at home). Lancaster has shown that he really has the power for preparing a bunch sprint. Now he'll also perform the finishing work since Ongarato has pulled out of the race.

After the Giro, he'll ride the Tour de France for the first time. Before leading out Petacchi for the first sprint to Canterbury, Gent and Compiègne, Lancaster has set his sights on the prologue in London. "I'll give it a go", said the winner of the 1.2-kilometre prologue time trial of the 2005 Giro, in Reggio di Calabria.

Di Luca shows 'The Killer' look

'The Killer'
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Anyone wondering why Danilo Di Luca is referred to as 'The Killer' should only look at the images from Giro d'Italia stage 10. The 31 year-old from Abruzzo stomped on the terra two times and both times he had that killer look in his eyes.

He was the first of the 'bigs' to let loose with an attack at five kilometres out but than he sat up when he thought he had gone at the wrong time.

"I understood that I had made a mistake," said the winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège to La Gazzetta dello Sport at the Santuario Nostra Signora Della Guardia. "I went on the hardest section of the climb, but then the road levelled and the finish was still a long way off. I realized right away and I waited for the best moment to attack [again]."

That moment came around 3500 metres later, 1400 metres from the line. Di Luca followed his Liquigas mates and then the attack by Andy Schleck (Team CSC) and Emanuele Sella (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare).

"Pellizotti pulled and then I attacked again. At that point Piepoli was already too far off. But it was more important to add seconds on my rivals than to win the stage. I showed myself to be the strongest, like at Montevergine."

Di Luca, 2'58" back on GC leader and teammate Noè, is the highest ranking of the Giro's 'bigs.' Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) is at 1'31" back, Paolo Savoldelli (Astana) 1'42", Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval-Prodir) 2'26", Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel) 2'29" and Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo) 3'26".

"I am also asking myself... If I continue with this condition and I don't have an incident or bad luck, will I be able to win the Giro," he proposed.

His rivals may doubt his form, saying that his willingness to show his cards so early on in the Giro might mean he believes he does not have the legs to contend for the three-week title. "The first exam of the Giro... I am very happy. After Montevirgine, I think the Giro is going very well. I don't think I won the Giro today but it was an important part of the overall."

Liquigas once again has the leader's jersey, this time on the shoulders of Andrea Noè. "I am happy for him, at 38 years-old he deserves this prize. We will defend it tomorrow along with the sprinters' teams. Then, when we return to the climbs, Noè will pull for me."

Remarking on his team, he added, "The difference is that Saunier was on the wheels all day and, instead, we pulled. On the climb we had Spezialetti and Pellizotti setting the rhythm."

Simoni "is still rising. I don't doubt that. On the other hand, Riccò always just sat on my wheel, and then he pulled for Simoni. Cunego? He will come about in the third week. ... My next objective will be the mountain time trial of Oropa; where I will attack again. From there on I will start to defend my lead."

Pink Pinotti fades

Pinotti gets encouragement
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The race leader's Maglia Rosa slipped out of Marco Pinotti's hands on the slopes of Santuario Nostra Signora Della Guardia. Pink Pinotti showed well over the last few days and confirmed his earlier prediction that the Santuario would be his last moment in the lead. Noè started the day 28" down and finished 3'39" up on Pinotti, enough to give the campaigner his second career Maglia Rosa and push the Bergamasco out of the spot light.

The first hours of yesterday's stage was run at a blistering pace. "It was a hard stage," noted Pinotti in La Gazzetta dello Sport. "There was never a flat metre. ... Before the escape of six went we were going around fifty kilometres per hour, and still at 170 kilometres to the finish. Then, luckily, there was some calm and the situation stabilized."

Pinotti, back in the magenta colours of T-Mobile, is now ninth overall, 3'11" behind Noè.

"On the last climb we were going hard right away, like the line was only two kilometres later, not nine," he continued. "At the start I tried to just float at the back, and then I took my own pace to come in without dying. The last two kilometres I backed off some; I was dead."

Pinotti spent four days in the Maglia Rosa. "The fans encouraged me and applauded. It made me really happy. I am a little sorry for them; it was an honour to be in the jersey. Everyday at the bus the people would say 'bravo' or 'grazie.' Maybe they saw and appreciated my suffering.

"But this is a strange Giro. We are half-way through and there have already been so many surprises."

Giro Diary Watch

Tuesday's mountain stage was a tough one for everyone, but especially for the sprinters and their helpers.

Gerolsteiner's Tim Klinger did his best to get into a breakaway group on Tuesday, trying it as often as he could. Unfortunately, in doing so, he forgot to eat and drink enough.

He made his final unsuccessful effort just before the first climb of the day, where he paid for it. "At first I could stay in one of the larger groups that had fallen back, and then I fell further and further back, until I finally landed in the McEwen group," he wrote on

He was able to swallow enough powergels and cola to keep him going, but it didn't help much. "I started feeling better after the long climb in the middle of the stage. But there were still 120 km to go. At first there were seven of us in the group, later 11 or 12 riders -- the gruppetto behind the gruppetto, trying desperately to finish within the time limit. In the end we made it with four minutes to spare."

Teammate Robert Förster did a little better. His main concern was having enough to drink. "Within five minutes you had sweated out the whole bottle you just drank." He fought his way through the race until he was saved, he wrote on

"At the foot of the next-to-last climb, someone timidly called out "gruppetto." Like a shot, 30 riders relaxed. Everyone was at their limit, all flat. I have seldom experienced anything like that. But a 250 kilometre long race with 4000 metres to climb and a temperature like at the Vuelta demands something from you."

Christian Knees of Milram had other problems. "My knee has not gotten better," he noted on "Now and then I had such pain that I thought I would have to drop out. Climbing was better than descending. But I wanted to force myself to finish no matter what. Tomorrow is flat again and I want to ride for Alessandro [Petacchi]."

Noè the oldest Rosa

Noè in pink
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Andrea Noè (Liquigas), who finished 10th on Giro d'Italia stage 10, now leads the overall classification by 1'08" over Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre-Fondital) and in the process has become the oldest rider ever to put on the Maglia Rosa.

"But not so old!" he said to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The rider, 38 years and 127 days-old, joked about his younger training partners. "Usually I go out with Marzano, Bailetti and Callegarin, who are all so clean shaven. But when it rains, if it was not for me to pull them out of bed then they would simply leave their bikes in the garage."

Finishing on the podium with Noè is Jens Heppner and Aldo Moser. In 2002, German Heppner put on the Maglia Rosa at 37 years, five months and seven days-old. The Italian, one of the brothers of Francesco, took the pink leader's jersey in 1971 at the age of 37 years, three months and 25 days.

Henn: "I used EPO"

"I can only say, that I used EPO myself and that what Bert Dietz said is pretty much the truth," said Christian Henn, former Team Telekom rider and current Gerolsteiner Sport Director.

Henn confessed yesterday to having used EPO, a day after his former teammate Dietz publicly confessed to having used the doping product while at Team Telekom.

In an interview with the Frankfurter Rundschau, Henn said that he used EPO "from 1995 until the end of my career." He retired in 1999 after testing positive for testosterone.

He refused to say how he came to take EPO, or name other riders who used it. "Each individual should say what is what. And I hope that will happen."

When asked if team manager Walter Godefroot gathered money from the riders for doping products, he merely answered, "Oh, nonsense." He also indicated that former soigneur Jef d'Hondt was "the key figure" in the scheme.

After retiring in disgrace, Henn said, he had pretty much given up on cycling. "At least then it was totally clear to me: If I do get another chance in cycling, then clearly without doping."

And what will he now say to his Gerolsteiner riders? "I will say, that's how it was at the time. Do it or else. But this system doesn't exist any more. Maybe it sounds silly, but I believe, despite Operación Puerto, that cycling is pretty clean now."

He is aware that sponsor Gerolsteiner could now kick him out because of his confession. "That's possible." And what would he then do? "No idea."

No yellow for Pereiro

By Monika Prell and Susan Westemeyer

Oscar Pereiro, who is currently riding the Volta a Catalunya, said that the Tour de France victory should be awarded to "those who should have it," according to todociclismo. Pereiro is disgusted about the Floyd Landis situation that is currently being fought-out in California before an arbitral tribunal.

He will not start the Tour de France in the yellow jersey nor will be wear the back number one, Tour organizer Christian Prudhomme has said.

Speaking at a visit to the Volta a Catalunya, Prudhomme commented, "The doping case of Floyd Landis is in the hands of the court. We must let the system do its work. Really, there is no doubt. According to the positive results, Landis can't be the Tour winner." He added, "In 2007 I want a credible final winner, with no doubts about his honesty."

"This is something anecdotic," said Pereiro about the possibility of wearing the number 1. "If anybody of my team has to wear it, may it be someone else, because it is something that does not motivate me. I prefer the number 7, my favourite number."

For the moment, he wants to focus on the Volta a Catalunya and the victory his team reached in the first stage. He rates it as "the best thing" that could happen after a "bad" week he has just passed, when he was also accused of being involved in Operación Puerto.

Pereiro straightened out that his goal is not to win the Volta a Catalunya, he will use it, especially the mountains, as preparation for the Tour de France.

The Spanish sports newspaper Meta 2Mil reported that Pereiro's dog is not named 'Urko,' as has been reported in the Italian media, but instead is called 'Zor.' According to the newspaper 20 Minutos, the Spanish rider wanted to name the dog for the Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe, but the veterinarian misunderstood him and registered it under the name Zor.

Tour of Belgium hopes for Boonen

The organizers of the Tour of Belgium haven't yet given up hope that Tom Boonen will ride the race. According to Sportwereld, his participation is in doubt not only because of a broken toe but also because of a dispute with the organizers. Race officials plan a meeting with Quickstep team manager Patrick Lefevere to try to convince Boonen to appear. Boonen's name is on the provisional start list.

The Tour of Belgium features six ProTour teams, six Professional Continental teams and five amateur teams. It runs from Wednesday, May 30, through Sunday, June 3.

Chérel joins FDJ two months earlier

By Jean-François Quénet in Genova

The injuries of Carlos Da Cruz, Ian McLeod and Tim Gudsell at the Giro d'Italia have left Française des Jeux with a long list of riders unable to be lined in the coming races. At the Tour de Picardie, Christophe Mengin also broke two ribs. "We've had 11 riders sent to hospital for serious injuries since the beginning of the year," Directeur Sportif Marc Madiot underlined.

Therefore, former junior French champion Mikaël Chérel will turn pro with FDJ on June 1st instead of August 1st, as planned initially. The 21 year-old from Normandy was supposed to start his career at the Polynormande nearby his house on August 5 but he'll ride the GP Plumelec and Circuit de l'Aulne in Brittany on June 2 and 3. Therefore, he'll skip the U23 Paris-Roubaix and the amateur French championship.

Under the colours of Team U Nantes-Atlantique, Chérel has bagged one win this year, the GP Super U Côtes d'Armor in April.

Lissavetzky afraid of junior high hematocrit levels

By Monika Prell

Jaime Lissavetzky, the Spanish State Secretary for Sports, is "afraid" about the high hematocrit level detected in a junior cycling race in Santander (Cantabria) that was competed this weekend. According to AS, 55 riders between 16 and 18 years were tested. Ten of them had a hematocrit level of between 48% and 50%. Normally boys of this age don't pass a maximum of 46%.

One of the riders was declared unfit to start; his level was at 51%.

Lissavetzky confined himself to say that in the ministry of Sports exists "a high level of anxiety for the health of the sportsmen and for this reason, a law was enacted in order to protect them and to act against doping."

Österreich Rundfahrt announces ProTour teams

The Österreich Rundfahrt will feature seven ProTour teams, nine Professional Continental teams and two Austrian Continental teams this year, the race organizers have announced. Among the riders expected is Danilo Napolitano, who just won a stage in the Giro, and who won two sprint stages in Austria last year.

"The negotiations with the top teams took longer this year, because the teams said, when we come, then we will bring riders who can ride for the victory. That promises interesting rider nominations," said Tour Director Ursula Riha.

The ProTour teams are Discovery Channel, Quickstep, Predictor-Lotto, T-Mobile, Lampre-Fondital, Milram and The Professional Continental teams include the two Austrian teams, Elk Haus-Simplon and Volksbank. The two Austrian Continental teams are Swiag Pro-Cycling and ARBÖ Resch & Frisch Gourmetfein Wels.

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