First Edition Cycling News for November 20, 2007
Edited by Greg Johnson & Paul Verkyulen
Tinkoff announces 2008 line-up
By Susan Westemeyer
Tinkoff Credit Systems has announced its line-up for the upcoming season. The Italian team and its Russian sponsor will once again have 19 riders for its second year as a Professional Continental team, but the big names with which it started last season have all disappeared. Danilo Hondo is serving his doping-related suspension, while Tyler Hamilton and Jörg Jaksche were dismissed during the season after being linked to Operación Puerto's Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes.
Returning to the team are Mikhail Ignatiev, Evgeni Petrov, Ricardo Serrano, Daniele Contrini, Ilya Chertnetsky, Ivan Rovny, Nikolai Trusov, Pavel Brutt, Alexander Serov, Vasil Kiryienka, and Sergey Klimov. They will be joined by Alberto Loddo, Luca Mazzanti, Alexander Gottfried, Nikita Eskov, Bernardo Riccio, Alexander Khatuntsev, Walter Pedraza and Yuhaen Sobal.
The team had a number of wins this season, with Ignatiev having five of them, including the Trofeo Laigueglia and stage wins in the Ster Elektrotoer, Tour Méditerranéen, Vuelta Ciclista a Burgos, and the Regio Tour. Other wins for the team include the GP Chiasso, the mountains classification in Tirreno-Adriatico, the overall win in the Circuit de Lorraine, and stage wins in the Tour of Britain, Tour de l'Avenir, Circuit de Lorraine, Tour of Georgia and the Tour de Langkawi.
Ballan: An unforgettable season
Alessandro Ballan has had one of the most successful seasons of any Italian. When pundits look back of the season it is the names of Paolo Bettini or Damiano Cunego that spring to mind, often they are overlooking the quiet but strong Veneto force that was crowned king of Flanders on Easter. Gregor Brown of Cyclingnews spoke with the Lampre-Fondital rider at the close of the 2007 season.
Thinking back to the sunny day in Harelbeke, Belgium, the season of 28 year-old Ballan was starting to take shape. The rider from Castelfranco Veneto was back on form in the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen after a crash in the beginning of March. He came to the finish line 10th behind winner Tom Boonen but was ready to cash-in on the previous season's learning experience and a winter of training.
April rolled around as Ballan's form began to rise. He won the overall of the Three Days of De Panne in Western Flanders, a race where he had secured his first professional win via a stage one in 2005, and was pinned as one of the hot foreign favourites for the upcoming Ronde van Vlaanderen on Easter Sunday, April 8. He did not let down as the finish line approached he blasted his main opponent, Belgian Leif Hoste to be crowned king of Flanders.
"Now, I feel I am at my top," he said after his achievement in Meerbeke. "Two years ago, when I finished sixth, I started thinking a lot about this race, and the Classics in general. I knew I could compete and one day win this race. It is a wonderful race: I grew up watching these races on TV in Italy."
To read the full interview with Alessandro Ballan, click here.
Savoldelli focused on '08 Giro
Two time Giro d'Italia winner Paolo Savoldelli is aiming to contest the famed Grand Tour, where he won in 2002 and again in 2005, when he joins his new LPR Professional Continental squad in 2008. The Italian, who announced his move from ProTour squad Astana to the powerful Swiss outfit last week, is hopeful that the team will be offered a wildcard for next year's race.
"My main objective remains the Giro d'Italia," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I am hoping for an invite from the organisers. "As far as the rest of the calendar is concerned, it is too early to make plans."
The 34 year-old enjoyed a successful year at Astana in 2007, despite the squad's troubled season. Savoldelli claimed victory at the Tour de Romandie's Prologue in May before taking another Individual Time Trial win on the Giro's Stage 20 in June. "We will be a small but high-level team," explained Savoldelli. "Leaving the Pro Tour doesn't scare me because by now the big races do not recognize it, and this situation plays in favour of a formation like ours."
Savoldelli also responded to reports in the Italian paper that compatriot Danilo Di Luca will join LPR next season as well. Di Luca, the reigning Giro champion, is currently serving a three month ban for a doping-related offence and is without a contract for 2007. "I would be very happy if he were to arrive," Savoldelli said.
Keisse favourite for 67th Gent Six
Iljo Keisse will start as the hot favourite for the 67th Gent Six Day, which starts tonight in his home town. The 24 year-old has already won the Amsterdam Six Day with German partner Robert Bartko. Keisse and Bartko will face stiff competition from a star studded field that includes the Dutch pairing of Robert Slippens and Danny Stam, as well as the British pair of Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish.
"The season so far has been going really well," Keisse told Sportwereld. "The win in Amsterdam was a surprise. We were actually only hoping to come into a bit of form in Munich with a view to the Gent six. Dortmund was with a sixth place good riding with the young Eric Mohs. In Munich we only missed the podium thanks to a flat tyre.
"We will be in top condition for Gent," he added. "Bartko is stronger than last year. Myself, I feel a lot fresher than 12 months ago too. I finished off the road season a bit easier because at the end of last season I felt too tired in Hasselt."
Despite being favourites to take out the title, the Chocolade Jacques - Topsport Vlaanderen road rider isn't underestimating the threat posed by his rivals. "I am expecting the most competition to come from Bruno Risi and Franco Marvulli, but we can't underestimate Robert Slippen and Danny Stam either," he said. "The biggest question mark is going to be Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish. Especially Cavendish, he is still young and has had a tough road season behind him."
Last year's Gent Six Day came to a tragic end when an accident claimed the life of young Spanish star Isaac Gálvez. Organisers announced last week the event would open with a commemorative lap to remember the cyclist, and Keisse added that the incident will be fresh in the minds of those present at this year's event.
"For nearly everyone the meet will bring back memories after the tragic accident last year with Isaac Gálvez," Keisse said. "That will make for a nervous start, but don't think for a second that the riders will start any slower. Everyone will stand still for a moment and remember what happened 12 months ago, but after that it will be back to racing."
In order to be one step of his competition, Keisse decided to train on Monday as though it was the first day of the event. "I want to have the first day of the six day behind me," he said. "The others will come good on Tuesday, and that's where I can get my advantage."
Valverde appears before CAS
Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde again appeared yesterday at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) with regards to the ongoing Operación Puerto doping affair. The Spaniard is facing a two year suspension that was demanded by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA).
Valverde's lawyers are planning on presenting the same arguments to that used at the World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany where the organisers tried to ban the Spaniard from competing, along with a host of other riders including eventual winner Paolo Bettini. At the time it was concluded that Valverde had not been sanctioned previously and was allowed to start with the blessing from the Spanish High Court.
"WADA and the UCI are trying to obtain now what they couldn't in September," Spanish Cycling Federation's Eugenio Bermudez told HLN.be. "Only they are trying to do it now via another avenue after it didn't work as a legal matter."
Valverde is opting to remain tight lipped about the affair. "I have very little to say about the UCI's assessment of my character," Valverde told the press at a recent criterium held in Murcia. "I am simply looking ahead to next season, where I want to win the Tour and to test my luck at the Olympics in Beijing."
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'
May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
Ride with Tour runner up Evans
Cycling Australia, Citi Group and Macquarie Group have teamed up to bring Australia cyclists their chance to ride along side this year's Tour de France runner up, Predictor-Lotto's Cadel Evans. The unique event will see 800 cyclists make their way from St Leonards to Centennial Park via one of the most iconic Australian landmarks, the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Evans was the first Australian to stand on the Paris podium this year when he finished just 23 seconds behind Spaniard Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel). Evans also took overall honours in the ProTour this year thanks to his consistency throughout the season. He finished fourth in the Vuelta a España, fifth in the UCI World Road Championships race and followed that up with a sixth place in the last round of the ProTour, the Giro di Lombardia.
The event is open to all riders who hold a current Cycling Australia licence, with the field being limited to 800 riders. All money raised will be donated to the David Peachey Foundation, which assists indigenous children from rural and remote areas to pursue their sporting dreams and provides support for their continuing education and development.
The Tour de Cadel will travel down Mount St on to lane eight of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and exit the Bridge onto the Cahill Expressway and onto Macquarie St. From Macquarie St the ride will join College St before turning onto Albion St, Flinders St, Anzac Parade and Lang Rd to enter Centennial Park and the finish area adjacent to the Federation Pavillion.
For more information and entry details visit the Cycling Australia website here.
Team CSC makes Van Goolen discovery
Team CSC has announced the signing of Discovery Channel orphan Jurgen Van Goolen. The 26 year-old is expected to produce some big results in 2008, having been a promising rider during his junior career but being hampered by injuries throughout his elite career.
"To join a team like Team CSC is a great opportunity for me," Van Goolen told team-csc.com. "I believe I can do better here than I have so far due to my problems with injuries. My winter preparations have been wrecked because of the injuries for the last two years,"
Van Goolen, who turns 27 next week, had a disappointing 2007 season due to the injury, but still managed to finish runner up in the Vuelta a España's King of the Mountains classification. The riders only other result of 2007 was his ninth place in July's Österreich Rundfahrt.
"In October I had knee surgery and I should be one hundred percent ready for next season," explained Van Goolen. "Right now my right leg is a tiny bit weaker than my left, but that's because I need to train and build up my form again, so it'll be ok in a week or two."
The Belgian says he's keen to learn what he's capable of achieving on a bike in 2008, after being held back from the ongoing injuries in recent years. "For example I don't know if I'd be able to make it among the top-10 in the Tour," he said. "A couple of weeks into the Vuelta I was 13th or 14th, but I had to work really hard to defend the mountain jersey – although I did manage to hang on to it until the last or second last mountain stage, so I lost a bit of time towards the end.
"During this year's Vuelta I wasn't really going for a result in the overall standings," he continued. "The mountain jersey meant a lot to me so I was going for that. I was also trying hard to land a contract for next season so I tried to be as aggressive as I possibly could. But I'm excited to see how far I'll be able to go, because I think that a team like Team CSC will definitely take me there."
The former Discovery Channel rider was forced to prove his worth at the Vuelta, with few runs on the board and the announcement his American outfit would close its doors at season's end. With the new deal done and dusted, Van Goolen's attention has turned to the 2008 Tour de France and selections for his national squad for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in China. "I'm hoping to get to do the Tour next year and my goal is also to be selected for the Belgian national team for the Olympics," he concluded.
An international season for Benfica
By Monika Prell
Portuguese team Benfica has an international schedule planned for next year. The team, directed by Orlando Rodrigues, will participate in all Portuguese races including the Volta a Portugal. The squad will be present in some Spanish races, including: Vuelta a la Comunidad Valenciana, Vuelta a Castilla y León, Vuelta a Asturias, Clásica de Alcobendas and the Vuelta a Madrid.
The little team will also contest the Tour de Luxembourg and Bayern-Rundfahrt, and also hopes to be granted a start at Tour de Romandie or Tour de Denmark, according to todociclismo.com.
The big objective for the team, which will have José Azevedo, Candido Barbosa, Javier Benítez, Mikel Pradera, José Antonio Pecharromán and Rubén Plaza on its roster next year, is an invitation for the Vuelta a España.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)