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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for September 5, 2007

Edited by Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen

Russian fighter takes important win

By Greg Johnson

Vladimir Efimkin was victorious
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

Caisse d'Epargne Vladimir Efimkin was delighted with his victory on the Vuelta a España's first mountain stage, the 185.1 kilometre Stage 4 to Lagos de Covadonga. The Russian rider labelled the victory as being important to his future, after breaking away solo some 11 kilometres from the finish line and holding off his former breakaway companions all the way to the summit of the mountain-top finish.

"This victory is very important in my sporting career," explained Efimkin, who now leads the Grand Tour. "I had a very difficult beginning of season and the victory of today is the proof that one never should give up the fight. I crashed at the beginning of the season, in the first stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, where I broke my collarbone. Rehabilitation was very long, requiring a lot of patience. I did not start racing again before the Euskal Bizikleta, where I won the second stage. That was one very difficult, but at the same time very important period in my life, because I realized that I could count on the support of my family and all my team, and that gave me courage not to give up. The victory of today is not only mine, it is that of a whole team."

The victory is by far the biggest of the 26 year-old's career and the Russian hopes to continue the form through to the Grand Tour's finish. "I prepared very well for this Tour of Spain," he said. "I do not have much experience in the major Tours, because until now I took part only in one Giro d'Italia, but I feel well and we are present here with a very strong team, with various options. Oscar Pereiro and Vladimir Karpets are the leaders of the team and I will continue working for them, but it goes without saying that we will defend this jersey."

Italian Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval - Prodir) took second place on Stage four, with the rider leading in a group that included third placed Belgian Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel) some 1.06 minutes behind Efimkin. The Caisse d'Epargne rider leads the Vuelta overall by 1.06 minutes from fellow Russian Denis Menchov (Rabobank) and Spaniard Carlos Sastre (Team CSC).

Efimkin's team leader Oscar Pereiro, who sits 1.57 minutes behind on general classification, was delighted with his team-mate's result. "I am pleased for Vladimir, because he is a good mate and today he rode a great stage," said Pereiro. "But not only him, also all the other riders of the team, as well those which worked in front in the breakaway, as those which made the job behind.

"Personally, I am rather satisfied," added Pereiro of his own 14th place on stage and 13th on GC. "I tried to make a little jump, in fact to see what I was able to do compared with riders like Sastre and Menchov, but my way of climbing is not theirs and it is useless that I try to follow their rhythm. It is better that I climb at my own rhythm. That's what I did, which enabled me not to lose too much time."

Holczer not surprised at Gerolsteiner's departure

By Susan Westemeyer

Gerolsteiner general manager Hans Michael Holczer
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

Gerolsteiner Brunnen's decision not to extend its naming rights sponsorship contract with the German ProTour team beyond 2008 hasn't surprised team manager Hans Michael Holczer. "It is not a surprise to us, it is 90 percent based on financial aspects," Holczer told Cyclingnews. "In the last 10 years not only has the team changed and grown enormously, the product portfolio of Gerolsteiner has grown, too. It is understandable that our sponsor has to change his methods of communication."

"We are now on the market ourselves with a 'complete package'," he continued. "Never in the last few years has there been a chance for potential sponsors to enter cycling so economically as now: a perfect, future-oriented young team with a perfect infrastructure in a time in which the big chaos is behind us. I am optimistic that we will also be on the road as a ProTour team in 2009."

The riders have reacted "calmly", Holczer told news agency dpa. "They know they can rely on their 'erstaz Papa'."

The German cycling federation, Bund Deutscher Radfahrer, said that it was sorry to learn of the company's decision to leave. "[BDR] has a major interest in the continuation of this team, which is a good example of credible cycling, with the right mix of young and experienced riders," the cycling body said. "In addition, Team Manager Hans-Michael Holczer is a very important partner for the BDR, which he has especially shown the last few months with his uncompromising support of the BDR's fight against doping."

Gerolsteiner's closest 'rival', fellow German squad T-Mobile, was lucky enough for its sponsor to announce that it would continue its sponsorship through to 2010. "Every company has to take a decision of its own, based on its goals and the facts," Christian Frommert, Vice President for Sponsoring Communications at Deutsche Telekom, told Cyclingnews. "We respect Gerolsteiner's decision. They did a lot for cycling in Germany. They made their decision, we made ours. I think Hans-Michael Holczer is such an excellent manager that he will find another sponsor for the team."

T-Mobile won't lose sponsor over Bernucci positive

German ProTour squad T-Mobile won't lose its telecommunications company backing, despite another of the squad's riders testing non-negative. On Tuesday the team announced that Lorenzo Bernucci had tested non-negative for an appetite-suppressant during the Deutschland Tour, and was consequently released by the team.

The dismissal of another rider for breaking the team's tough anti-doping policy hasn't deterred T-Mobile enough for parent company Deutsche Telekom to use its right to terminate the sponsorship arrangement, according to Vice President for Sponsoring Communications Christian Frommert.

"You can see how fragile the engagement is," noted Frommert. "You have no total control over the riders. We support the hard and clear line of the team-management. Four weeks ago we were talking about responsibility and we think part of that responsibility is to differentiate the various cases, as we do now."

After a tough year of doping confessions from past riders, and non-negative tests in its current roster, T-Mobile announced in August it would remain in the sport. The sponsor's renewal did however come with a certain clause: "the right to immediately terminate the commitment in the event of further doping cases."

Cavendish wants Ghent six call-up

Sprint revelation Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile) has stated that he would like to take part in the Ghent six day this winter. Speaking to Sportwereld after taking part in the Derny criterium in Wetteren, the Isle of Man neo-professional said he would prefer to take part in the event with fellow country man and future team-mate Bradley Wiggins.

For the event's organiser, Patrick Sercu, the British duo may well be exactly what the event needs to attract an even larger number of British spectators than the event already experiences now. For Cavendish the event, which takes place from November 20 to 25, could serve as good preparation for the Track World Cup event in Beijing, which he is intends on contesting with Wiggins in order to qualify for the 2008 Olympics Games in China.

Predictor-Lotto signs Popovych

Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©:
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Yaroslav Popovych has signed a one year contract with an option for a further year with Belgian squad Predictor-Lotto, according to The Ukrainian was forced to search for a new team in 2008 when Tailwind Sports decided to leave the sport having been unable to secure a new sponsor for the 2008 season following the announcement Discovery Channel would not renew its title sponsorship deal at the end of 2007.

For Popovych it marks a return to a Belgian squad after starting his career with Landbouwkrediet-Colnago in 2002. After three strong years with the squad he made the decision to move to the Discovery Channel squad in 2005 and was touted as the next star of the team.

In 2003 he finished third in the Giro d'Italia and followed that up with a 12th place overall and the white jersey in the 2005 Tour de France. This year, while working for Discovery Channel team-mates Alberto Contador and Levi Leipheimer, he finished eighth in the Tour. The Paris-Nice stage winner's arrival at Predictor-Lotto bolsters the team for the 2008 Tour. Following Cadel Evans' strong second place behind Contador at the Tour in July, Predictor-Lotto will be looking to place more strong riders around the Australian in the hope of going one better in 2008.

Bennati confirmed at Liquigas

Daniele Bennati
Photo ©: AFP
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Liquigas has confirmed the signing of Italian sprinter Daniele Bennati for the following two seasons. The Tour de France final stage winner's move has been speculated in the press in recent weeks, but until now hadn't been confirmed by the Italian ProTour squad.

Bennati has had a great season so far this year, taking two stage victories at the Tour de France, as well as taking the Vuelta a España's first leader's jersey after winning the opening stage. Along with Filippo Pozzato, Bennati will be the team's captain in one day races well as the sprints at the major tours

Liquigas has also signed 22 year-old Polish rider Maciej Bodnar to the team, commencing on September 1 this year. The two time national time trial champion of Poland will make his debut with the team at the Tour of Poland which starts this Sunday.

The 2008 line up for Liquigas includes: Michael Albasini, Manuel Beltrán, Leonardo Bertagnolli, Eros Capecchi, Kjell Carlström, Dario Cataldo, Francesco Chicchi, Mauro Da Dalto, Murilo Fischer, Roman Kreuziger, Aleksandr Kuschynski, Vladimir Miholjevic, Matej Mugerli, Vincenzo Nibali, Andrea Noè, Franco Pellizotti, Roberto Petito, Filippo Pozzato, Manuel Quinziato, Guido Trenti, Alessandro Vanotti, Charles Wegelius and Frederik Willems.

Euskaltel-Euskadi transfers

By Monika Prell

Euskaltel-Euskadi has confirmed a total of seven riders who will leave the squad at year's end. The Basque team's management has decided not renew the contracts of Unai Etxebarria, Andoni Aranaga, Iban Mayoz, Iban Iriondo, Unai Uribarri, Joseba Zubeldia and Aketza Peña, who is still awaiting B-sample results after testing non-negative for Nandrolone at the Giro di Trentino.

So far the squad's 2008 roster will encompass 23 riders who have rode for the team this season. Additions to the squad next year include Egoi Martínez, whose current team Discovery Channel won't continue in 2008, and Javier Aramendia, who currently riders for Euskaltel-Euskadi's subsidiary Orbea Oreka.

The team is currently reviewing the future of some of its other riders and will decided whether they renew more contracts over the coming months.

DFL-Cyclingnews wants more Belgians

Eric Vanderaerden
Photo ©: Gerry McManus
(Click for larger image)

Professional Continental cycling team DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed, which is run under the guidance of ex-professional and Belgian Eric Vanderaerden, is looking to incorporate more Belgian in the team for next season. The team already features a mixture of Australian, British and Belgian riders, but the squad would like to have more Belgians featured on its roster next season.

20 year-old Michael Vanderaerden, the son of Director Eric, has just signed a contract with the team. "We would like the team to take on more young riders, to help their development" the elder Vanderaerden told Sportwereld.

Although the 36 year-old Nico Mattan is busy planning his retirement, Vanderaerden would welcome the experienced Belgian to stay on for another year. "He can use his experience to guide the youngsters on the team," he explained.

Any talk of Frank Vandenbroucke joining the squad is not yet a possibility, according to manager Rudy Dubois. "If we find some regional Belgian sponsors that absolutely want him in the team, and then we can begin negotiations with him," Dubois said.

Contador keeps on crit-ing

Tour de France champion Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel) continues his criterium tour in Spain this weekend with the announcement of more appearances. The Spaniard is expected to contest to ride in a mass-participant event this weekend with some 4,000 other people expected to get the chance to ride alongside Contador. The Grand Tour victor will then contest the second Criterium of the Valencian Community with some fellow professionals on Sunday.

Wrench Science mechanic in time of need

Peter Togasaki, a 26-year-old bike builder at California-based Wrench Science, has recently been diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. Togasaki, who's been a bike mechanic for seven years, had been feeling ill for weeks, but never expected to be diagnosed with cancer of the blood and bone marrow.

Togasaki is facing a battle that will span approximately six months, receiving intermittent chemotherapy treatments in an Oakland hospital with the possibility of a bone-marrow transplant. Togasaki, who's also a part-time student at UC Berkeley, has the support of his nearby friends and family, but is also hopeful that others in the cycling community can pitch in. "I have a 2006 Triumph Speed Four motorcycle that's up for sale," he says. "Cancer kind of hits you in the pocketbook, too."

"We're hoping to rally around Peter and raise enough money to cover his medical/living expenses during this time of need so that he can focus on beating his cancer," says Tim Medina, Wrench Science's CEO. "We want him back as soon as he's able."

Togasaki is known as a quiet, efficient worker with a passion for all things two-wheeled, an insatiable appetite for lasagna, and a dream of someday racing motorcycles, according to his workmates.

Contributions to the Peter Togasaki Cancer Fund can be made electronically via a special page on Wrench Science's website.

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