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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for May 31, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Di Luca: Schleck is "a phenomenon"

By Jean-François Quénet in Sutrio

Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The wearers of the leaders' jerseys increased their advantage on the Zoncolan Wednesday during stage 17. Danilo Di Luca had 1'51" advantage on runner-up Eddy Mazzoleni before the day; he now has 2'24" on Andy Schleck, who also extended his own lead in the white jersey competition from 43 seconds over Riccardo Riccò to 2'55". Finally, Leonardo Piepoli secured the green king of the mountains jersey. Of all the leaders, Schleck was again the most improved rider of the day.

"Today Schleck has impressed me a lot," Di Luca said. "I didn't think he could climb at such a high rhythm. He's really a phenomenon." The Luxembourger is the new runner-up in the Giro, a move he's made step by step. The next major battle in the general classification will come Saturday in a 43-kilometre individual time trial from Bardolino to Verona. "I gained 30 seconds over him in the hilly time trial," Di Luca said. "The next course will suit him better, but 2'24" is a good advantage."

The Maglia Rosa reckons he has an "80 percent chance of winning the Giro now. ... This is already a high percentage." He continued, "I feel much more secure now that Mazzoleni is two minutes further [back] than before this stage. Until Saturday evening, it's impossible to say more."

Di Luca has been known for suffering in the third week of a Grand Tour, but such a thing seems a part of the past. "I was also classified as someone who couldn't win the Classics because I was limited to 200 kilometres, and I've won a few [Giro di Lombardia, Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège]," Di Luca said.

"Maybe after this Giro, people will say that I'm not good for the fifth week of a stage race...?"

Simoni goes 1850 metres/hour

1850 VAM
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval-Prodir) conquered the 10.1-kilometre Monte Zoncolan in 1850 metres per hour according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The speed, 39 minutes over the 1203 metres, 1850 VAM (Velocity Ascended, Metres per hour Vm/h), was faster than that of Ivan Basso on the Maielletta Passo Lanciano in 2006, 1805 VAM. Marco Pantani blasted up the Alpe d'Huez with a 1791 VAM and Danilo Di Luca did the final four kilometres of Tre Cime di Lavaredo with a 1750 VAM.

Giro returns to Austria in 2008

The Giro d'Italia visited Austria this week with a stage finish and start in Lienz, and will do so again in 2008, going into the northern Tirol.

Josef Margreiter, director of the local organizing committee Tirol-Werbung, told sportpress.at that he had signed a contract with the Giro organization. "There are many people interested in having a Giro stage finish in their town. Kitzbühel has declared itself available, which makes me happy. But top priority goes to Innsbruck as a stage finish."

Tjallingii confident in Belgium

By Brecht Decaluwé

Tjallingii
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

The first stage of the Tour of Belgium was a windy fight where some favourites were surprised by the echelons formed, among the losers of the day were Belgians Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel) and Nick Nuyens (Cofidis). Last year's winner Maarten Tjallingii (Skil-Shimano) finished in the first group and looks able to repeat his 2006 surprise performance.

"There was one occasion where I was surprised, but I stayed cool and easily came back to the front," the former MTB'er said to Cyclingnews. The echelons that are formed when riding always cause problems in the peloton. Skil-Shimano and Quickstep were some of the few teams to lead the first echelon on multiple occasions, it showed that there is confidence within the Dutch team.

"It's not only about publicity or confidence but mainly about tactics, it's the best position to be at that moment. In the wheels you need to work hard as well, so it's better to work for a minute in front than risk to get dropped off the side," Tjallingii explained.

Sébastien Rosseler (Quickstep) showed his GC ambitions today by sprinting for the bonus seconds two times while Tjallingii wasn't spotted near the front. "Actually I tried to be there but that Quickstep train is pretty strong. You have to be in the wheel of Rosseler if you want to stand a chance, but surprisingly enough everybody wants to be there," Tjallingii laughed.

To win the Tour of Belgium again the 29 year-old will have to break down the Quickstep train, something that looks impossible when you realize that a certain Tom Boonen is a domestique in this race. "Impossible? Last year they said that as well," last year's winner said, smiling.

Still doubt over cyclo-cross world cup in USA

By Brecht Decaluwé

Even though the cyclo-cross season is far away the cyclo-cross riders are already training to build up to their most important months of the season. At the start of the Tour of Belgium (a 2.1 UCI stage race) riders like Tom Vannoppen, Niels Albert, Sven Vanthourenhout and Davy Commeyne were on the line. A lesser known cyclo-cross rider, Christophe Roodhooft, was unable to use his technical skills during the first stage to avoid a crash, he suffered some bruises and a possible concussion.

Peter Van den Abeele - the UCI cyclo-cross coordinator - was also in Oostende and talked to Cyclingnews about the upcoming season and more specifically about the World Cup event in the USA. "We signed a declaration of intent with the organization in Providence but we're still suspicious," Van den Abeele said.

He pointed out that it was unclear if the race would be held or not. "We're encouraging the organizers as much as we can. Right now the goal is to charter a plane with the best European riders for a World Cup race on Saturday and another non-UCI race on Sunday. Some other races in Belgium received another date on the UCI-calendar because the best Belgians are away. What I fear is that there will be a gap in our UCI-calendar if the World Cup won't be held, and that would be a shame," Van den Abeele explained.

Milram injury update

The crash on the Kemmel
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Team Milram was hit hard by crashes and injuries during the Classics season, and while most of those riders are now beginning to return to riding, the jinx continues. The team has lost two Giro riders to injuries.

Alberto Ongarato was involved in a mass crash in the fourth stage, hurting his knee enough to force him out of the race. The knee is doing better and, now, he is training again. Teammate Fabio Sabatini will have to wait until he resumes training, though. He was involved in the same crash, but managed to stay in the race until the stage 14, when a broken femur was diagnosed. Sabatini will have to rest for 15 days.

The Classics victims Fabio Sacchi, Volodymyr Dyudya and Björn Schröder have all recovered and are racing again. Marco Velo, who was most seriously injured during the infamous Kemmelberg crash of Gent-Wevelgem, is back on his bike again, but only for one hour a day. Teammate Dennis Haueisen, who underwent emergency stomach surgery, has also started up with light training again.

Cycling Center makes a round-up

By Brecht Decaluwé

Cycling Center General Manager Bernard Moerman is very happy with the season so far. "During the last month our team was never lower than fourth team in any significant UCI-race or stage race we started. Riders like Steven Van Vooren, Bruno Depoorter, Kalle Sandell, David Nelson, Jim Calmut and Aaron Pool are really showing their improvement - and the value of the program - with consistent top-10-results," Moerman said to Cyclingnews.

"We started our season with a very good training camp in our home-base Albuquerque, New Mexico, and that is for sure a big reason of our success. Our international selection with riders from USA, Belgium, Sweden, Bahrain, Canada and Colombia is for sure growing; also in the USA, CC-members like Peter Horn, Kiel Reijnen and Yarden Gazit did very well at Collegiate Nationals and we cannot forget that Koen Maris became Belgian Duathlon Champion last week."

"The sport results and the media attention because of our 'I support drug free sport' policy are very welcome at this point since we are in final negotiations with some sponsors to make the next step," Moerman explained.

Cyclingnews asked the Belgian manager if those negotiations were influenced by the actual doping-stories in cycling and Moerman was very clear. "What others did or do I cannot prove, I can only talk for myself and our programs. We can prove that since ten years we have a zero-tolerance policy and all test results and files are stored so that we can deliver coaching reports from several years per rider. This way we can prove our riders are working clean in a solid environment.

"In our negotiations with new sponsors these proofs have been on the table, so we don't need to be nervous," Moerman made clear that he doesn't fear that the current doping stories will influence the final decision of sponsors. "The improvement of our riders is caused by the combination of their talent and determination, and our professional guidance based on more then fifteen years of experience. So let's keep up the hard work and let's concentrate on what is coming," the experienced manager said.

"Although growing the program from our USA-base in Albuquerque, New Mexico is a big priority now, we still focus on the second part of the season with still more then twenty big UCI-races and six stage races in Europe to go in June, July and August."

Worrack leads Equipe Nürnberger in Montreal World Cup

World Champion runner up Trixi Worrack will lead the Equipe Nürnberger in the Grand Prix de Montreal this Saturday. The team is coming off a successful performance in the Tour de l'Aude, in which Worrack finished second overall and the Equipe took the team title.

"I hope that we will be similarly successful overseas as we were in the Tour de l'Aude," said team manger Jens Zemke. "After our World Cup win in Bern and the successes in France, our riders are highly motivated, even if they no longer have the pressure on them after the recent successes."

After the GP, the team will ride the Tour of Grand Montreal from June 4 through 7, before moving south to the Commerce Bank Philadelphia International Championship on June 10, which Equipe's Regina Schleicher won last year.

Equipe Nürnberger for Canada and the US will be Trixi Worrack, Claudia Häusler, Andrea Graus, Regina Schleicher, Marie Lindbergh and Claudia Stumpf.

Unibet supports Cleansports

By Brecht Decaluwé in Oostende

The Unibet.com riders at the start in the Tour of Belgium started with green bracelets around their wrist to support the Cleansports action.

"In this way we want to fight against the bad image cycling is facing recently with all the doping stories. So as a team we want to support the initiative from Willy Delabastita. The green bracelets are sold through the website Cleansports.com and hopefully it's becoming all the rage," team manager Koen Terryn said at the start in Oostende.

World Chapionships in Venezuela?

By Antonio J. Salmerón

McQuaid
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

While attending the Pan-American Cycling Championships, UCI President Pat McQuaid the likelihood that Venezuela could host the World Championships in the future.

"Approximately thirty years ago Venezuela was the host and now I hope that it can be again; any decision on the matter must be taken in the meeting that UCI will have in September", McQuaid noted, according to local website elimpulo.com.

San Cristóbal velodrome hosted more than 50 countries 1977, including Italian Francisco Moser and Japanese Koichi Nakana.

"The Venezuelan Federation and the Organizing Committee have done great work", the UCI president noted of the Pan-American Cycling Championships. "Certainly, here there exists great future cycling talents."

T-Mobile sponsor donates to NADA

Deutsche Telekom, sponsor of the T-Mobile Team, has donated €150,000 to the German national anti-doping agency (NADA). The agreement to make the donation was signed last week, NADA spokeswoman Ulrike Spitz told the dpa press agency.

However, the donation is not related to the recent doping confessions from former Team Telekom riders, as discussions about it had been started in December 2006.

In addition, Telekom pays the NADA €50,000 yearly for the doping controls carried out on the T-Mobile riders.

Sydney Italian festival goes cycling

The Sydney Italian Festival will feature some of Australia's leading cycling champions when they compete in a festival of cycling at Kempt Field in Hurstville on Saturday, June 2, 2007.

Hurstville City Council purposely built Kempt Field for major cycling events and was opened in 1993 when World and Olympic champion Jan Ullrich defied the best cyclists in the world to win a 40-kilometre criterium event. Ullrich, who later won the Tour de France, is just one of many international competitors that have won on this open but challenging circuit that is just 552 metres in circumference.

Many races have been beamed nationally and internationally from Kempt Field since 1993 with the opening stage of the internationally acclaimed Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic held there on six occasions.

Hurstville City Council along with the Italian Trade Commission and cycling importers from Italy are combining to ensure a successful event and are proud to have their event coinciding with the Giro d'Italia finale.

Steven Wooldridge, four-time World champion and Athens' Olympic Games gold medallist, is delighted with the news that a feature race will be staged at Kempt Field. "Italy and cycling is such a perfect fit. I have enjoyed my time racing in Italy and no body likes their cycling more than the Italian community," said Wooldridge. "I remember well racing against the best stars in world cycling and it is such a tough course but so great for the spectators."

Spectators are able to witness the entire circuit and the speed of the race ensures non-stop action from the start of the race.

Phill Bates AM, a prominent business person in the community, is one of Australia's leading promoters and will ensure maximum safety for spectators and cyclists. Bates has been staging major cycling events since the seventies and was responsible for staging the Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic for 19 years. He also has staged World Cup events, the famous Tour de Snowy and has been chairman of World Track Titles. For further information contact Phill Bates at pbates@cycleclassic.com.au

Mt Tabor Series

The annual six-race Mt Tabor Series, sponsored by River City Bicycles in Portland, Oregon, kicks off this Wednesday, May 30. Known as "Velo on the Volcano" the Mt Tabor Series is a circuit race that follows a paved loop around Mt Tabor Park in SE Portland.

Mt Tabor is a dormant volcano making Portland one of only two cities in the continental USA to have an extinct volcano within its boundaries; and cyclists get to race on it! Participants are faced with a challenging climb and a fast decent on a 1.3 mile (2.092km) course that is closed to automobile traffic.

For more information, please visit www.mttaborseries.com

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