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Latest Cycling News for October 29, 2007

Edited by Bjorn Haake

CSC's year in review

By Susan Westemeyer

JJ Haedo (CSC)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Team CSC can look back at a highly successful 2007 season, in which it won the ProTour team ranking and had five riders in the ProTour's top-25. In addition, the team brought in 35 victories, including a world title.

The year's first wins came in the Tour of California, where sprinter Juan Jose Haedo took out stage two and stage six, while Jens Voigt beat eventual overall Levi Leipheimer in a small group sprint into San Jose, after crossing the highest point of the Tour on that stage.

Newcomer Alexandr Kolobnev took the team's first ProTour win of the year and his first ProTour win ever by initiating an escape group only two kilometres into the third stage of Paris-Nice. He broke away from the riders accompanying him with seven kilometres to go and won by 12 seconds.

Voigt scored again in April with a stage win and the overall victory in the Criterium International for the third time.

The highlight of the spring was Stuart O'Grady's win at Paris Roubaix, his first win in two and half years. "I was going to win today or die trying," said the first Australian to ever win the race. He was in an early escape group, which he broke out of to win by nearly a minute.

The Giro d'Italia was the next big success for the Danish team. Kurt-Asle Arvesen won a stage, but the real sensation of the race was Andy Schleck, who finished second overall.

Fabian Cancellara warmed up for the Tour de France by winning the prologue of the Tour de Suisse and holding the leader's jersey for three days, before turning it over to team-mate Fränk Schleck, who took over the lead for two days by winning the fourth stage.

The team continued its luck in the Tour de France, where time trial world champion Cancellara won both the prologue in London and the third stage, where he surprised all the sprinters. He wore the leader's jersey for seven days. When the race moved into the mountains, the team switched its support to Carlos Sastre, who ended up finishing fourth overall.

The team dominated its homeland race, the Tour of Denmark, with Arvesen finishing first, Matti Breschel third and Nicki Sorensen fifth. Both Breschel and Arvesen won stages along the way.

In August, Jens Voigt won the Deutschland Tour for the second time in a row. He took over the lead in the second stage, a team team time trial near Karlsruhe and held on to it until the end, cementing his lead with a strong individual time trial win and being able to fend off competitors on the Rettenbachferner.

In the Vuelta a España Carlos Sastre came close to winning, but could not topple Russian Denis Menchov (Rabobank), who was a class for himself. One member closed the season out in style, as Cancellara successfully defended his time trial title at the Worlds in Stuttgart, 52 seconds ahead of his closest rival.

Fränck Schleck narrowly missed out on a medal, finishing fourth in the road race.

Dessel inspired by Tour route

Cyril Dessel (Ag2r Prévoyance)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Cyril Dessel (Ag2r Prévoyance) is full of praise for the 2008 Tour de France. The last French rider to wear the yellow jersey told in an interview that "Le Tour de France 2008 inspires me. It's balanced, with stages that are very open." He especially liked the stage to St. Etienne (stage 18) because "that's close to home for me; but it may not be the easiest stage."

His inspiration also comes from the days in the Massif Central, where there are "beautiful stages, suited to my style." Dessel enjoyed the fact of fewer time trial kilometres and shorter mountain stages, "with three cols on the menu." Dessel drew hope from the route that "from the first week on there are cards to be played and surprises to be had. With, pourquoi pas, an escape staying away."

As for the mountains Dessel will have some hometown advantage. The race will stay in the Alps longer than in the Pyrenees and close to home for Dessel. "I prefer the Alps, even though in 2006 I did a great stage in the Pyrenees with the maillot jaune. There is a grand stage with the finish at Alpe d'Huez [stage 17]. And the arrival in Italy [stage 15]. I have done the Bonette (stage 16) before, during a vacation. It is long, but not very difficult. The problem is the altitude of 2,800 metres - there could be a bit of a lack of oxygen!" Dessel didn't think the first stage was made for the sprinters, "except for someone like Erik Zabel, who could win."

His difficult 2007 season he had put behind him. He had to abandon the Tour, but "had a good rest afterwards. I started training again beginning of September, with a couple of weeks where I took it easy. Given that I already had a break, I will cut down less in the off-season; but I don't want to inverse my season, either, where I ride from September through February. I want to prepare well for the beginning of the season and ride a good 2008 Tour."

Dessel felt he was back to normal health. "The blood values in mid-September were the best I had all year. It was very important to take a break." The Frenchman can now tackle the next season calmly, with the new bikes that he already tested. "Yes, new BH bikes. I love the technical stuff, so I was in a hurry to get it.... I have had mine since two weeks."

Contador wins his final race in Discovery colours

Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The winner of this year's Tour de France, Alberto Contador, has capped his great season with another win, the ACP championships. ACP is the professional riders association in Spain (Asociación de Ciclistas Profesionales). For the second time in a row the race was held in Boadilla del Monte, as reported by Spanish web site todociclismo. Contador won a tight affair, which is based on points rather than time, ahead of Carlos Sastre (CSC) and Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel), who won the event last year.

The race is held in two heats where 15 riders qualify for the final. Contador had no problems in the first heat and also received three points in the intermediate sprints. Sánchez received five points and also had no trouble qualifying. In the final race, which consisted of 16 laps around the avenida Infant Don Luis, it was Iñigo Cuesta (CSC) who took the initiative, and drew Luis Pérez with him. Pérez was on Cuesta's wheel, then attacked him to win the first intermediate sprint. Contador countered, thinking of the second sprint, and a front group of six established, with Oscar Pereiro, Sastre, Sánchez, Contador, Cuesta and Pérez. Sastre took the second intermediate sprint.

The final sprint was crucial, with double points on the line. Contador won the tight affair and ended up with ten points total, three more than runner up Sastre and five more than Sánchez.

Earlier in the day, Relax Fuenlabrada won the team time trial with Santi Pérez, Daniel Moreno and Raúl García. They beat Saunier Duval-Prodir (José Angel Gómez Marchante, Juan José Cobo y Rubén Lobato) by nine hundredths of a second, thanks to a strong acceleration in the last lap.

Final individual classification
1 Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel)         10 pts
2 Carlos Sastre (CSC)                           7
3 Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel Euskadi)            5
4 Luis Pérez (Andalucía Caja Sur)               3
5 Iñigo Cuesta (CSC)                            2
6 Angel Edo (Vitoria-ASC)                       1
6 Oscar Pereiro (Caisse D'Epargne)              1
6 Constantino Zaballa (Caisse D'Epargne)        1
9 Daniel Moreno (Relax Fuenlabrada)
10 Luis Pasamontes (
11 Manuel Beltrán (Liquigas)
12 Vicente Ballester (Fuerteventura)

Jaksche claims Riis threatened him

By Susan Westemeyer

Jörg Jaksche claimed that Bjarne Riis threatened him if he spoke out on doping, he said at the "Play the Game" antidoping conference in Iceland this weekend. "If you talk, you will never come back in cycling, Riis told me. And stated that he would organize that I could never come back," Jaksche was quoted on the conference's website,

In response, Riis said that he talked to Jaksche but denied threatening him. "I advised him not to involve others because nothing good could come of it. Maybe I told him that it would be hard for him to return to cycling after accusing others within the sport. But it is rubbish if he has said that it was a threat," Riis said.

This summer Jaksche gave an interview in the German news magazine Spiegel, in which he detailed his doping use during his career. The German, who rode for Riis' CSC Team in 2004, was given a one-year suspension by the Austrian cycling federation.

Joachim fights in Crocodile Trophy

Benoît Joachim
Photo ©: John Flynn
(Click for larger image)

Benoît Joachim of the Astana team chose an unusual end of season event. For the last week, he switched his road bike with a mountain bike and participated in the Crocodile Trophy in Australia. The race in the desert was a big change for the Luxemburger, who is used to road racing in Europe, never far from any accommodations. He is part of the team that is currently leading, aptly named Dream Team.

Joachim's efforts paid off yesterday, when he won stage 6.

Besides the team event they also have the overall leader, with Italian Mauro Bettin. Joachim lies in seventh overall and with his compatriot Max Becker the Dream Team is ahead in the teams classification, with an advantage of more than three and a half hours. The race ends on November 1.

Joachim was part of another dream team in the past and was on guard for several of Lance Armstrong's Tour de France wins.

French company to buy German race organizer

Upsolut Sports AG, a Hamburg, Germany, sports marketing company which organizes the Deutschland Tour and the Hamburger Cyclassics, is apparently going to be bought by the Lagardere Group, according to Spiegel magazine. The French company also owns one-fourth of the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), which organizes many cycling races, including the Tour de France.

Lagardere is said to be making a multi-million euro offer. Last year it bought the Agentur Sportfive, also of Hamburg, and Europe's largest sports marketer, for 865 million euro.

Lagardere has a yearly income of some 14 billion euro, with interests ranging from the EADS aircraft company, the CanalPlus television station, sports marketing and publishing, including the magazines Marie Claire and Elle.

Damiano Cunego ends season with fan club celebration

Italian Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) waves
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Damiano Cunego waved the season good-bye with fans at the Festa Internazionale dei Fan Club di Damiano Cunego yesterday. The popular Italian rider greeted about two hundred happy tifosi at the Hotel San Marco di Noceto, near Parma. With six season victories Cunego gave them joy throughout the season, and he ended with the prestigious win at the Giro di Lombardia.

Those who attended the event included national coach Franco Ballerini and also staff members of Lampre-Fondital, such as directeur sportif Maurizio Piovani, team doctor Carlo Guardascione, soigneur Inselvini, among others. Also fellow team members Danilo Napolitano, Morris Possoni and Paolo Tiralongo.

Cunego will also be available today for a fan chat at the website of La Gazzetta dello sport between 15:00 and 16:00 CET.

Steve Bovay signs with BMC

Steve Bovay (V.C. Mendrisio Pl Valli Casino' Admiral).
Photo ©: Valle D'Aosta
(Click for larger image)

Steve Bovay, who had been riding for VC Mendrisio and VC Montreux, will be turning professional in 2008, ending the rumours that had surrounded the rider. The Swiss hopeful, who will turn 23 on November 25, signed a two-year contract with American-Swiss team BMC Racing Team. The rider finished second in the GP Lausanne on roads that are well familiar to him. He lives in St-Légier sur Vevey, in the Vaud region, just east of Lausanne. He also got fifth in the Tour du Jura and ended up 14th overall in the Giro della Valle d'Aosta Mont Blanc. He showed his climbing abilities in the Tour du Gevaudan, getting third overall in the mountains classification.

Bovay first made an impression as a junior in 2002. He won the mountain stage in the Tour du Pays de Vaud. To date he is still the last hometown rider from the Vaud region to be able to win a stage in that prestigious junior stage race. He also showed his climbing prowess in the GP Tell in 2006, where he ended up in fifth overall, after getting fourth in one of the mountain stages.

He will join other Swiss riders on the team, such as Danilo Wyss and Martin Kohler. And of course the very experienced Alexander Moos, who made the switch when Phonak folded. While BMC will be mostly racing in the United States, there is an increase in international racing, with plans to participate in the Tour of Qatar, the Tour of Luxembourg, the Tour de Romandie – the hometown race of Bovay – and the Tour of Switzerland. John Lelangue will be the new directeur sportif for BMC.

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