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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for September 8, 2007

Edited by Sue George

Vuelta stage filled with crashes

By Susan Westemeyer and Hernan Alvarez

Erik Zabel (Milram) on the podium.
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Crashes marred stage seven of the Vuelta a España Friday and influenced the outcome for the day, but not the overall classification. Milram's Erik Zabel won the 176.3 mile race from Calahorra to Zaragoza, but some other riders didn't fare so well. Two kilometers from the end, a crash, due in part to curving roads and heavy winds, blocked the way for all but about 12 riders.

"Petacchi was the only one of us involved in the crash two kilometres before the finish, fortunately," the 37 year-old Zabel said. "There were five riders in front, including Marco Velo, who of course waited for us. Then Alberto Ongarato closed the gap, so I could move all the way up and take the sprint."

Daniele Bennati (Lampre Fondital) and triple stage winner Oscar Freire (Rabobank) were delayed by the crash, too. Tom Boonen (Quick.Step-Innergetic) and Bennati went down, and Bennati suffered a contusion on his right hand, the same injured in Sunday's fall.

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With 30 kilometres to go, the day's first mass crash had slowed the peloton's chase of break riders. Bert Roesems (Predictor-Lotto) had to be taken off in an ambulance due to a hip injury.

Saunier Duval-Prodir got some crash-related bad news, too. Alberto Fernández de la Puebla, whose right knee was in pain after a fall in Luarca, was forced to pull out Friday. In that fall, he had also cut his chin, which needed ten stitches.

Vuelta riders anticipate time trial

Efimkin is happy to not have been injured
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Stage eight of the Vuelta a España will feature a 52.5km time trial from Denominación de Origen Cariñena to Saragossa. It is downhill all the way, dropping from 560 metres to 210 metres. The exceptionally long time trial is expected to bring another major shake-up in the overall classification.

Overall leader Vladimir Efimkin (Caisse d'Epargne) analyzed his possibilities for tomorrow. "I know that it will not be easy, but I will start very motivated thanks to the golden jersey. Time-trials are not my specialty and until now, I disputed only once such a long one, last year during the Giro d'Italia.

"Earlier this year I lost the Tour of Switzerland on the occasion of the final time trial, but the conditions are different and I feel much better now than I felt then," said Efimkin. "The riders which follow me in the general classification are all more or less specialists, to begin with [Denis] Menchov and [Cadel] Evans, and I know that it will be difficult to fight with equal chance, but I will certainly not give up."

On the other hand, Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) is a known time trialist and evaluated his chances. "It is maybe the longest in the history of Vuelta a España. It is what we [have] got to ride," said Sastre to TVE. "It doesn't matter whether it is that long or shorter. For me, it is a time trial that needs too much power; it is not the most favorable for me.

"But if I want to succeed in this Vuelta a España, I have to ride it well," said Sastre. "I am willing to ride it. Tomorrow in the morning, we will see the route in order to know how it will be the race in the afternoon. It is a tough time trial. 50 percent of the Vuelta will be decided in the next three days. The second half of the race won't be so spectacular but there are stages with much tension and with much toughness."

José Ángel Gómez Marchante (Saunier Duval - Prodir) wasn't too excited about his upcoming effort. "It would be great if we had a tailwind tomorrow - and it seems we will - because there'll be smaller differences this way. I don't like the route at all - it's a fully flat course for time trialists only. We, climbers, will find it difficult. Last year I showed I had improved in time-trial tests, and I hope I can do good against the clock tomorrow too. 2 or 3 minutes behind the specialists would be acceptable, but even if I'm slower, I won't give up. I'll continue to fight for the GC, at least until the race hits Cerler."

His team-mate Leonardo Piepoli added. "I'm not worried about tomorrow's time-trial. I know I'll lose time, but to me it's ok if I am four or six minutes behind, as the GC wasn't and still isn't my goal. I came here to grab a mountain stage win. In Lagos, I was close to victory but I couldn't make it in the end. Tomorrow, my mind will be already in Cerler and Andorra. Moreover, in the last week, there's the mountain-top finish in Abantos. I'm perfectly aware that, in a sense, my Vuelta finishes on Monday."

Spanish federation registers Valverde for road Worlds

Alejandro Valverde
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

By signing up Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) for the World Championships coming to Stuttgart, Germany later this month, the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) operated contrary to the UCI's wishes.

Allegations that Valverde was tied to Operacion Puerto resurfaced in August after the UCI reported new implicating information. The UCI then banned Valverde from participation in Worlds and asked RFEC to investigate the rider.

"The RFEC would like to inform the UCI of its opposition to the disciplinary proceedings against Valverde, and that he will be present at the world championships in Stuttgart," said a statement from the RFEC according to AFP.

RFEC stated officially three criteria for its decision. First, it claimed the documentation sent to it by the UCI contained no new information while pointing out that the Civil Guard had already dismissed the case against Valverde. RFEC added that the Court had prohibited the use of its Puerto documentation to be used in disciplinary action against cyclists and therefore the UCI was disrespecting the Spanish judicial system.

Finally, RFEC said in its statement that it cannot follow the direction of the UCI to perform a DNA analysis because the Puerto blood bags for comparison are in the possession of the court, not RFEC. Based on permissive documents already signed by the riders, the Spanish federation indicated it was technically the UCI's responsibility to carry out such testing.

Valverde has consistently maintained his innocence.

Zabel supports Valverde's worlds participation

Erik Zabel, the German winner of stage seven of the Vuelta a España spoke out against the UCI's decision to ban Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde from the road world championships in Stuttgart, Germany.

"It's not good that the UCI or national federations say this rider or that rider is not welcome at a race," Zabel said to reports at the Vuelta according to Reuters. "Everybody should respect the rules, including the federations and the UCI. If a rider's positive, for example, then of course he should be excluded."

Zabel has cause to speak. In May, he confessed to the use of EPO in 1996, and his own participation in worlds has been a subject of controversy. Organizers eventually allowed him to plan to race based on his "good behavior" surrounding his confession.

Referring to the actions against Valverde, Zabel said, "It's typically German to want to make everything 120 percent good.The problem of doping exists, but at the moment, maybe in Germany there's an over-reaction."

No Contador for Worlds

There won't be any controversy about whether Spaniard Alberto Contador should compete at the Worlds this year. Tour de France winner Alberto Contador will skip the UCI World Road Race Championship set for Stuttgart, Germany, later this month according to the BBC.

"His head is elsewhere at the moment - he isn't ready to come back to racing," said Spanish coach Paco Antequera about Contador, who is busy looking for a new team. His Discovery Channel team comes to an end with the 2007 season. He's also spent some energy protecting his reputation in the Operacion Puerto case admidst various allegations.

Top British team launches "Race Clean" initiative

British team Plowman Craven / Evans Cycles announced a new anti-doping initiative "Race Clean" on Friday in Harrow, Middlesex just two days prior to the start of the Tour of Britain.

At the British Olympic Medical Institute (BOMI), the team announced that its riders will have their blood systematically tested regularly to build a "blood passport" to establish an independent test history that will highlight any abnormalities including haemoglobin and haematocrit levels. The tests will be carried out by Professor Greg Whyte and a team at the Liverpool John Moores University along with team at the BOMI in Harrow. The tests supplement those administered by UK Sport.

Simon Barnes, team founder and boss of Hertfordshire based Geomatics company Plowman Craven, said, "Everyone involved with Plowman Craven Evans Cycles including the riders, sponsors and management are committed to the fight against doping in our sport. The Race Clean initiative is designed to promote and ensure drug free competition and to help restore confidence in the sport of cycling."

Although the ProTour teams have adopted similar voluntary anti-doping programs, Plowman Craven / Evans is helping forge the way for European Continental teams to follow such programs. The team will wear a special uniform in the Tour of Britain, with the "Race Clean" logo emblazoned on their shirt sleeves and on their shorts. Penalties against any rider found with abnormal test levels include dismissal and repayment of salary.

Austria makes Worlds pre-selection

The Austrian cycling federation, ÖRV, has announced its pre-selection for the upcoming World Championships in Stuttgart September 23 - 30, with five men competing for three spots.

Austria can send three men to the elite race. They will be chosen from Gerrit Glomser (Team Volksbank), Rene Haselbacher (Team Astana), Bernhard Kohl (Team Gerolsteiner), Christian Pfannberger (Elk Haus Simplon) and Thomas Rohregger (Elk Haus Simplon). National time trial champion Rubert Probst of Resch & Frisch Gourmetfein Wels will ride the time trial race in Stuttgart.

The women's elite team will be made up of Andrea Graus (Team Nürnberger), Daniela Pintarelli (Team Uniqa Graz), Monika Schachl (Team Uniqa Graz), Christiane Soeder (Team Raleigh Lifeforce) and Veronika Sprügl (Team Uniqa Graz). Graus and Soeder will ride the time trial.

For the U23 men's road race, the ÖRV has at the moment been given only one starting place, and it has nominated Stefan Denifl, who will also ride the U23 time trial, and Clemens Frankhauser, both of Elk Haus Simplon. However, the ÖRV expects the UCI to revise its list and give the Austrians more starting places. In anticipation of that, it has also named the following riders for consideration: Franz Grassmann (Die NÖ Radunion), Stefan Pöll (ARBÖ Denzel Wien), Martin Schöffmann (ARBÖ Rapso Knittelfeld), Daniel Schorn (ARBÖ-KTM-Junkers), Christoph Sokoll (ASVÖ ÖAMTC Focus Kelag Völkermarkt) and Robel Tedros (Team Swiag Teka).

Teams set for Poland

Kim Kirchen (Fassa Bortolo)
Photo ©: Luczycki Maciej
Click for larger image

Team CSC is sending a strong line up to the Tour of Poland ProTour event from September 9 to 15. Fränk and Andy Schleck, Fabian Cancellara, Bobby Julich and Jens Voigt will go for the overall and the Danish trio Kasper Klostergaard, Allan Johansen and Matti Breschel will fight for stage wins. The team hasn't been particularly successful in any of its first two attempts on the race - no riders finished in the top 10 or collected stage wins.

"I think we have a very strong team here. Our chances of results in the various stages are good. Friday and Saturday will be quite decisive, because the stages are tough, but usually there is one day with side winds, where the pace is extremely fast so we gotta stay awake," said Team CSC's sports director Alain Gallopin according to

Team Liquigas will offer the debut of 22 year-old Polish racer and national time trial champion Maciej Bodnar and will look to favorites Danilo Di Luca, Filippo Pozzato and Vincenzo Nibali for strong performances.

Di Luca and Pozzato confirmed the race will be good preparation for road worlds. "I feel good. I go to Poland aiming at a result and to close for good the ProTour ranking matter. I've collected important points at Plouay, but an overall good placing this week could give me the definitive success. The decisive stages - continues Di Luca - are grouped in the last days: I will be ready, then I will think only of Stuttgart," said Di Luca.

29 year-old Luxembourg rider and Tour de France seventh-placed finisher Kim Kirchen will lead the T-Mobile Team charge at the race. Kirchen was the overall winner of the ProTour race in 2005 while racing with Fassa Bortolo, and he's looking for a repeat over the medium-mountains profile in central Europe which should suit the stage race specialist.

Fast men Gerald Ciolek and Bernhard Eisel will be hoping to make their top-end speed count in the sprinter friendly stages. "We have two options in the earlier stages: with Ciolek and Eisel we are well covered for bunch sprints," said T-Mobile director Jan Schaffrath. "And we have Kim Kirchen and Marcus Burghardt to go on the hunt for stage wins in breakaways."

Schaffrath will be looking to Gent-Wevelgem winner Burghardt to make his mark when the peloton hits the mountains for a tough final three days of racing. "Marcus has had a very heavy race schedule recently. But if he still has the form and energy to get into the breakaways and land a podium place that that will be terrific."

Quick.Step-Innergetic for Poland: Dmitry Grabovskyy, Mauro Facci, Giovanni Visconti, Hubert Schwab, Matteo Tosatto, Cedric Vasseur, Jurgen Van De Walle and Wouter Weylandt with directors Davide Bramati and Serge Parsani.

Lampre-Fondital for Poland: Fabio Baldato, Allesandro Ballan, Matteo Bono, Marzio Bruseghin, Roberto Longo, Danilo Napolitano, Daniele Righi and Gorazd Stangelj with managers Fabrizio Bontempi and Bruno Vicino.

Liquigas for Poland: Danilo Di Luca, Filippo Pozzato and Vincenzo Nibali, Eros Capecchi, Kjell Carlström, Murilo Fischer and Aliaksandr Kuchynski.

T-Mobile for Poland: Marcus Burghardt, Gerald Ciolek, Bernhard Eisel, Kim Kirchen, Jakob Piil, Marco Pinotti and Thomas Ziegler with director Jan Schaffrath and Tristan Hoffman.

Rodríguez looks toward Stuttgart from Poland

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Caisse d'Epargne Joaquim Rodríguez will race the Poland tour September 9 to 15, but he's already looking ahead to the road worlds.

The Spanish champion said, "I had wished to race in the Vuelta, as well as in the Tour, but you can't always do what you want." Rodríguez said his assignment to races was not a "punishment," but rather a tactical decision.

Regarding his appearance in the Poland Tour, the known one-day racer said, "It is a bit strange for me. I have only seen that the last stage will finish in slight but very hard climb, and all my options are for that last day," however, he explained, "There are very long stages, and that will serve me to prepare the World Championships in Stuttgart."

The Caisse d'Epargne will be directed by Jose Luis Jaimerena, and will be formed by Iván Gutiérrez, Pablo Lastras, Alberto Losada, Aitor Perez, Mathieu Perget, Nicholas Portal, Joaquím Rodriguez and Jose Joaquin Rojas.

Tinkoff for Tour of Britain

Tinkoff will head for the United Kingdom for the Tour of Great Britain from September 9-15. Under the guidance of director Claudio Cozzi and Dmitri Konyschev, Bernardo Riccio, Nikolai Trusov, Alexander Serov, Elio Aggiano, Daniele Contrini and Salvatore Commesso will race.

"The key will be to be assertive and go for one or more stages. As fundamental players, we have Commesso, Contrini and Trusov," said a spokesperson for the team. Patron Oleg Tinkov will also be there although Sergey Klimove will not; for the third time this year, he is suffering from a fractured clavicle.

Skil-Shimano extends with Maarten den Bakker

Maarten den Bakker signed a one year contract extension with Skil-Shimano. The 38 year-old's second season at Skil-Shimano will also be his last as a rider. Although Den Bakker's primary role has been to nurture his young team-mates, he has still found time to log his own top performances including victory in the Noord Nederland Tour at the end of June and a third-place finish in the Dutch Championships the following month.

"I feel very much at home here and I'm happy to ride for this team in my final year. This season has shown that I am still performing at a good level, something I certainly want to continue next year so I can end my career well," said Den Bakker

Saunier-Duval signs Capelli

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Promising young Italian Ermanno Capelli has signed for three years with Spanish ProTour team Saunier Duval-Prodir. The 22 year-old rider is transferring from the Unidelta-Bottoli-Arvedi team, and he's often raced with the U23 Italian national team.

Pennsylvania Lightning to gain experience at Univest GP

Besides featuring top teams, the Univest Grand Prix in Pennsylvania will showcase the developmental team Pennsylvania Lightning as one of ten elite amateur squads invited to compete Saturday in a 107 mile road race around Souderton and Sunday in a 55 mile circuit race in Doylestown. A total of twenty-six teams are entered in the two days of racing including ten registered professional teams and eight elite amateur teams from the USA plus international squads from Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Mexico.

In its first year as a registered team, the PA Lightning's four under 23 riders, Taylor Brown, Tucker Brown, Michael Chauner and Jackie Simes have competed successfully in over 40 American track and road events this season with a dozen top three finishes in elite and professional races from March through August. With an eye toward expansion for 2008, the team's entry in Univest will include Tucker Brown, Chauner, Simes and U23 National Time Trial Champion Nick Frey, European veteran Peter Horn and top Pennsylvania all-rounder Chris Ruhl.

"This is a good development team based in the local area," said Univest Race Director, John Eustice. "They will get valuable experience against the pros and a chance to show that we have good young talent coming up."

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