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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for September 4, 2007

Edited by Greg Johnson and Paul Verkuylen

Bettini wants more Vuelta victory ahead of Worlds

Paolo Bettini
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

World Champion Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Innergetic) intends on adding more Vuelta a España stage victories to his palmares in preparation for this month's World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany after taking his third stage win at the Grand Tour on yesterday's Stage 3. Bettini took his first Vuelta stage win in 2005 on Stage 16 for his Belgian squad, adding a second victory on Stage 2 during last year's edition.

"We have decided to make the race hard, and I think we've reached our goal," he declared. "I won, but the whole team was super!"

The Italian sensation knew the 153 kilometre Stage 3 to Luarca would be to his liking having discussed the stage with team-mate Carlos Barredo. The World Champion was delighted with the victory, just the second in a largely unsuccessful season for the sprinter. While Bettini rode to two strong runner-up positions at the Giro d'Italia his only other victory this season was at the Tour of California's Stage 4 in February.

"I've talked to Carlos Barredo during the race," Bettini said. "His girlfriend lives in the neighbourhood and he usually rides in these roads. He told me that the final was perfect for me. Now I want to try to win another stage. I have missed the victory for a long time. The Vuelta is a perfect race to prepare for the Worlds. I hope that this race can help me in finding the right condition like I did last year."

The Stuttgart World Champions run from September 26 - 30 where Bettini will attempt to retain his UCI rainbow jersey.

Melbourne positioned well for 2010 World Championships

By Jean-François Quénet in Plouay

When the UCI meets in three weeks time one thing on its agenda is to announce the location of the 2010 World Road Racing Championships, and Melbourne, Australia is shaping up as a likely candidate. The prestigious event is hosted in a non-European nation every seven years, with the last outside the European Union's borders held at Hamilton, Canada in 2003.

Two bids have been placed for 2010 but the interest from Arab state Bahrain has been in decline over recent months, leaving a Melbourne debut for the championships as a strong possibility.

This year's world championships will be held in Stuttgart, Germany in the coming weeks, next year it'll be in Varese, Italy with Mendrisio, Switzerland slated to host the event in 2009. The 2011 venue has also already been locked away, with Copenhagen, Denmark to hold the event as a part of its 'Bike City' agreement with the UCI, which will see it host a cycling world championship of a different discipline every year for five years. The last time the world championships went to Scandinavia was in 1993 when Oslo, Norway crowned Jan Ullrich in the amateur ranks and Lance Armstrong as a professional.

France is expected to place a bid for 2012 with the French federation to collect projects by different towns over the coming weeks for consideration. The most serious of the French proposals is already widely known - it comes from Plouay who successfully organised one of the most popular world championships of the whole history of cycling with 300,000 people watching Romans Vainsteins win in 2000.

Australian and American teams likely for '09 ProTour start

Alain Rumpf
Photo ©: JF Quenet
(Click for larger image)

ProTour manager Alain Rumpf confirmed in Plouay on the weekend that neither Relax nor Barloworld Professional Continental teams have applied for a ProTour license, but that discussions have started for an Australian and an American team to enter the ProTour in 2009. The confirmation of ongoing discussions follows noises made by organisations from both nations regarding their future in the ProTour.

America's Team Slipstream has been actively working towards a ProTour licence in 2009, while a corporate backer in Australia has also pledged money towards a predominately Australian team in 2009.

"We have been enchanted by project presented to us by the Australians [ with national coach Shayne Bannan behind the project - ed.] and we have met the promoters of the Slipstream concept," Rumpf explained. "Jonathan Vaughters has told us that 2008 is too early for them. They reckon their sport level isn't good enough for the all calendar yet but they are determined to be there the following year.

"We have also met their financial supporter Doug Ellis," added Rumpf. "Their philosophy is very interesting. It fits into our intentions to globalize cycling."

In 2009 the UCI ProTour also might open its doors to a team from Eastern Europe, with Rumpf welcoming Oleg Tinkoff to bid for a ProTour spot. "He arrived in cycling not well informed," Rumpf said. "As he said himself, he made a few mistakes but with quality and transparency, he's more than welcome to bid for the ProTour."

Tinkoff admitted himself that he was wrong to sign controversial riders like Danilo Hondo, Tyler Hamilton and Jörg Jaksche and he has since changed the direction of his Professional Continental squad.

Time running out for UCI's 2008 plans

The UCI will hold its yearly congress prior to the world championships in Stuttgart, Germany in three weeks time. The meeting will be used to sort out the details of season 2008, particularly regarding the UCI ProTour. Speaking at the weekend's ProTour and Women's World Cup event, GP of Plouay, UCI ProTour manager Alain Rumpf admitted the governing body is still in a difficult situation. Rumpf revealed that no discussion have taken place between the Grand Tour organisers and the UCI since ASO announced at the end of the Tour de France that they "don't want to hear about the ProTour, nor the UCI anymore".

"We feel sorry about this situation but the UCI remains open to discuss," said Rumpf. ASO isn't expected to make an announcement on its intensions prior to the 2008 Tour de France presentation on October 25, a month after the UCI congress. The French organisation wants to be able to choose all the starting teams for its event, rather than be bound to the compulsory inclusion of all ProTour-registered trade teams. The organisation has indicated that some of the squads could even be national teams, leaving the trade outfits with a lot of uncertainties as they prepare for the coming season.

On June 18, an agreement was reached by the members of the ProTour council (CUPT) for keeping the regulations the same for 2008 - it wants all Pro Tour teams in all ProTour races.

Pereiro fully recovered from crash

Pereiro in agony after Stage 2
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Spaniard Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) has reported he's in good condition following a crash on Stage 2 of the Vuelta a España. The Spanish squad's top man believes he's almost completely recovered from the accident and even felt well enough to attempt an attack during yesterday's Stage 3.

"I feel well - much better than what I feared last night after my crash," said Pereiro after Stage 3. "I had a small discomfort during the first two hours of the race, which was absolutely normal, but as soon as the wounded zone warmed up I was okay. In the last kilometres of the stage I again felt this small discomfort, which remembered to me that I crashed yesterday, but nothing serious so that in the final difficulty I saw that there was an opportunity to go for the stage win and I tried to take advantage of it."

Pereiro is looking forward to today's Stage 4, the first of the Grand Tour's mountain stages, and likens himself as a possible victor of the 185.1 kilometre test which features a mountain-top finish.

"Tomorrow will be another day, completely different," he added. "The stage of Covadongas will be the first mountain stage, it is going to be an important for all the favourites. I am very curious to see how I will manage with this first appointment, but I hope to arrive first at the top."

Euskaltel-Euskadi positive despite Stage 3 blues

By Monika Prell

The Vuelta a España's Stage 3 should have been a great for Euskaltel-Euskadi. The team helped break the peloton up into small groups as it rode strong and fast, but suddenly the tactic was disturbed by Haimar Zubeldia, one of their strongest riders, crashing with 20 kilometres of the 153 kilometre stage remaining. Zubeldia's team-mates stopped their pace work because they did not want to lose the rider, allowing the peloton to push onto the finish line where Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Innergetic) was able to win.

Samuel Sánchez reached the finish line in 11th position as best Euskaltel rider. Luckily Zubeldia was able to finish the stage, but medical checks in the nearest hospital revealed that he suffered damage to his left collarbone in the crash. "The crash was a pity, I wanted to pass the peloton to supervise it, but I had bad luck and fell over a cone of the 20-kilometers marker," Zubeldia said. "I have strong pains in my left collarbone, but nothing is broken and I will take the start tomorrow if I don't have a bad night. I came very motivated to the Vuelta, after finishing fifth in the Tour I still was keen to compete. I felt good in the days we passed already in the Vuelta. It's really a pity, I hope it won't handicap me too much, so that I can overbear tomorrow's stage that has a very hard finish."

The squad's young hope Igor Antón said he was feeling good on the last ascent and is enjoying his Vuelta experience. "Sure, it was not very long, but the stage was complicated and being with the best motivated me," said Antón. "Here are very strong riders and you are always happy when you see that you can fight with the best riders of the peloton. Let's see if I can go on with this good performance and if I can help the team."

"I have never ridden Los Lagos in any race, it will be nice to scale one of the most historic ascents of the Vuelta," added Antón, referring to today's Stage 4. "I already heard of the hardness of Los Lagos, but I am keen on seeing it myself. Lets see how it will go for me. I hope to perform well, this could give me self-confidence."

The Basque team's leader, Samuel Sánchez, will ride tomorrow in his home region as he was born and grew up in Oviedo and offered some insight into what the peloton can expect. "The stage is flat and has as unique difficulty the ascent to Los Lagos," noted Sánchez. "The organisers preferred not to meet any other ascents like the Fito in the circuit, so that the emotion will be maintained until the final. I only ascended two times to Los Lagos, even though it is situated only 80 kilometres from my home.

"One time I trained and the other time was during the Vuelta in 2005, and both times I felt good," he added. "I hope that this time it will be the same, this would be a great sign."

Sánchez is satisfied with his men's effort on the third stage, despite the impact of Zubeldia's crash on the squad. "The profile was good for my characteristics, but in the Vuelta are always good riders and to reach a victory is very difficult," he explained. "I had to answer some attacks and I reached quite strong at the final. I knew the finish and I felt well, but in a race there are many factors that influence, like attacks of your rivals. You have to guess when they will do any thing…[Paolo] Bettini, [Óscar] Freire, [Allan] Davis or [Davide] Rebellin are great classic riders, and those stages are as well for them as for me.

"The team has worked very well," added the Asturian. "This day was great for us and we did what we had to do, to play our trump cards and to execute our strategy. We shall not depend on the others, but have our own strategy and go for a victory. I think that this is the best way to affront the races, with motivation and showing a courageous and resolute attitude."

Vos wins first stage in Holland

The amazing season for women's World Road Champion Marianne Vos (Team DSB Bank) continued yesterday when she won the first stage of her home tour, the Holland Ladies Tour.

With still a few kilometers to race, a lead group of three was doing its best to hold off the fast chasing peloton, lead by the DSB Bank team of Vos. By the time it entered the final few hundred metres the group had been reeled in and the sprinters were taking position ready to pounce on the finish. Vos was led out perfectly by her team and secured the win in front of Judith Arndt (T-Mobile) and Marta Bastianelli (Italian National Team).

The win was Vos' 25th win of the season on the road.

2008 Tour Down Under travel competition winner

- 'it could happen to you!'

By Gerard Knapp

Tour Down Under competition winner, Greg Merrick,
Photo ©: Kate Mahaits
(Click for larger image)

During the month of July - Tour de France time - Cyclingnews ran a competition in conjunction with the South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC) offering one lucky reader and his friend or partner a fully-expenses paid trip to Australia to see the 2008 Tour Down Under.

From the thousands of entries, the lucky winner was a Canadian, Mr Greg Merrick, a keen cyclist who will be boarding a plane next January, heading a long way south from his northern winter to take in the sights, sounds and roads of South Australia, not to mention the fine wines of the Barossa Valley and wildlife on the spectacular Kangaroo Island.

When we first contacted Greg, you could say he was a little wary but perhaps the Australian accent on the other end of the phone convinced him it was really his lucky day.

Greg lives in the small town of Vernon in the southern interior of British Columbia, Canada. "I'm an avid cyclist, and a regular at the local Thursday evening crit series just south of where I live. I also take care of the timing for our TT series that we put on Tuesday evenings near town here. I am fortunate to live in an area that has great roads for riding whichever direction you head out from town, and some good coffee shops for that post ride beverage!

"I was absolutely stunned to hear that I'd won the trip to Australia and the 2008 TDU, especially as I'd never won anything more than $10 in the lottery before! I'm thrilled to be able to be there to see some of the world's top cyclists participate in the year's first major stage race of the year! I've enjoyed Cyclingnews for several years now and always seen the names of contest winners that live thousands on miles away, never thinking that just by entering I could one day be one of those lucky winners," he said.

"To all those readers out there who haven't bothered to enter the contests, thinking they'd never win .... if it happened to me, it could happen to you! Fill out that entry, because you too might get that phone call one day!"

Rebecca White, the inbound marketing manager from the SATC, said, "the South Australian Tourism Commission is really pleased to be to bringing the lucky Cyclingnews reader and his nominated partner to South Australia for the fantastic cycling festival of the Tour Down Under 2008, and its 10th birthday celebration."

While in Australia, Greg and his partner will also have a pair of Teschner road bikes at their disposable, and they'll also get the chance to spend a full day in the team car of the South - AIS cycling team, providing a rare glimpse into the action of road stage of the Tour Down Under. They'll also get a trip to Kangaroo Island to commune with the furry locals, a trip to the famous Barossa Valley winemaking region, and also a trip to the spectacular Flinders Ranges.

Thank you to everyone who entered and we're sorry it wasn't your turn this time, but we're sure that in the future we'll be offering a similar chance for our readers to win other great prizes.

Cyclingnews extends its thanks to the SATC and its partners for combining to offer this great trip down under, and we're expecting next year's race to be a cracker, as the status of this event continues to grow. Just last week it was announced that the Volkswagen-owned Czech Republic car manufacturer, Skoda Auto, had signed on as the event's major sponsor for the next three years.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)