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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for September 11, 2007

Edited by Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen

Efimkin: I will fight to the end

By Monika Prell

Vladimir Efimkin (Caisse d'Epargne) gets his bike ready
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Caisse d'Epargne's revelation of the Vuelta a España, Russian Vladimir Efimkin, has vowed to continue fighting for the leader's jersey when racing continues on Wednesday. Efimkin currently holds second place on general classification, 2.01 minutes behind race leader and compatriot Denis Menchov (Rabobank). "After I lost my golden jersey in the Time Trial of Zaragoza I said that the Vuelta was far from being finished," declared Efimkin. "And I still believe so, today more than ever. Life taught me that you should never give up and I will fight till the end."

After an active day in the Vuelta peloton Caisse d'Epargne's Xabier Zandio is looking forward to the Grand Tour's first rest day today, which he plans on utilising by recovering from a bout of gastroenteritis. The Spaniard was struck with the illness, which has also affected team leader Oscar Pereiro, prior to the event and says while he's nearly fully recovered the rest day will.

"After I crashed and abandoned the Tour de France in Stage 4, I took the start of the Vuelta very motivated," said Zandio." Things did not start good for me as I suffered from the same gastroenteritis as Oscar Pereiro did. Fortunately, things went a lot better for me and this morning I felt much better and very motivated. The rest day will be a very good thing for me to help me recover completely so that I can keep on working for my team in the next stages."

Two of the squad's riders were able to join the 18-strong break away group on Monday's Stage 10. Zandio and David López formed part of the escape that commenced on kilometre 21 and gained an maximum advantage of 5.09 minutes.

Caisse d'Epargne is also the best squad of the team classification, ahead of Belgian squad Predictor Lotto and Euskaltel Euskadi.

Brown happy with Poland win

Australian Graeme Brown (Rabobank) is happy with his Poland victory, despite admitting his condition isn't as good as it was during the Eneco Tour in Belgium and Holland. Brown out sprinted Belgian Wouter Weylandt (Quickstep - Innergetic) on the 202.4 kilometre Stage 2.

"I actually felt better in the Eneco Tour than I did here but, I could not pull it off there and now I did here," noted Brown. "I am very happy."

Brown was frustrated with his results during last month's Eneco Tour. Since then Brown has spent the last week with Mathew Hayman and the Australian track team training in Germany, something which Rabobank team manager Frans Maassen believes helped him to victory on Monday. "I think it benefited his speed," noted Maassen. "He was certainly unbeatable today."

Maassen added that Brown's win, which sees the sprinter take the ProTour event's general classification lead, has injected energy into the Dutch squad. "The boys are a little elated," laughed Maassen. "But what did you expect? Our tour here is already a success. I think we can win some more now that the pressure is off."

"It all went really well," added Maassen. "We can now defend the jersey with our complete team on Tuesday. Our morale is high, but everyone will understand that."

Cavendish wants one more

By Greg Johnson

Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Gerry McManus
(Click for larger image)

After claiming back-to-back victories at the Tour of Britain, Manxman Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile) has declared he's motivated to take another victory to reach his personal target of 11 wins. The 22 year-old successfully defended his yellow jersey on Stage 1 of the UCI 2.1 event with a lead out by team-mate and fellow Briton Roger Hammond. "It's fantastic because I am into double figures now, and I am just one win short of my target of 11 season wins," Cavendish told "It is a real motivation."

The neo-professional has taken the professional peloton by storm in 2007, taking victories in a variety of events including ProTour stage wins. "Roger did a perfect job in the sprint, leading me out to the last 200m," reflected Cavendish of his Stage 1 triumph. "That was even further than I needed, so I couldn't lose then!"

"I can take no credit for this win," he added. "It was down to solid team-work all the way. There were lots of attacks in the first 50km and the team worked really hard to control things, while I was able to sit comfortably out of the wind."

Cavendish's victories to date include Tour of Britain's Prologue and Stage 1, Tour of Eneco's Stage 2, Tour of Denmark's Stage 6, Ster Elektrotoer's Stage 4, Volta Ciclista a Catalunya's Stages 2 and 6, 4 Jours de Dunkerque's Stages 3 and 6 and Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen.

The Tour of Britain continues today with a 169.2 kilometre stage from Yeovilton - Taunton.

McGee to leave FDJ

After a decade at French ProTour squad Française des Jeux Australian Brad McGee has decided to leave the squad at season's end. After recently abandoning the Vuelta a España, McGee said that his decision to leave the team was not easily made. "Not without a little stress I have been lately, as to how I would break the news with my boss, Marc Madiot, as to my intentions for 2008 and beyond," McGee wrote on his website

"There comes a time when things just don't click anymore," he added.

As it turned out McGee needn't have worried about breaking the news to Française des Jeux's team manager, with the squad also feeling it was time for the pair to part ways. "The feeling is mutual as we both realise the time has come to call it quits, reflect over the past 10 years, remember the good times, shake hands and move on - so we did," explained McGee.

McGee is yet to announce exactly what his future holds, but described his time at Française des Jeux as a positive experience. "I could write a novel on my years at FDJ, on the friendships formed, the victories celebrated, the tough times etc but I think the content smile I carry with me now and surely for the rest of my days will be evidence enough of exactly what this experience has meant to me," he concluded.

The highly decorated rider has battled with a recurring back injury for the past three season, which has frequently prevented the 31 year-old from taking part in events the squad contested. Included in his extensive palmarès is stage victories at both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France and Olympic gold at the 2004 Athens games in the 4000 metre team pursuit.

Missouri ready for debut, Disco takes American curtain call

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Kansas City, Missouri

Lieutenant governor Peter Kinder presents the
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Six riders contesting the Tour of Missouri were on hand to answer questions from the assembled press corps, half of which were from the Discovery Channel team, potentially illustrating the organiser's belief in a power imbalance in the peloton. Tour de France champion Alberto Contador, new US champion Levi Leipheimer and former US champion George Hincapie were also joined by team director Johan Bruyneel for the start in what is turning into a farewell Discovery Channel tour. Also present were Nathan O'Neill (Health Net-Maxxis), Ivan Dominguez (Toyota-United) and Danny Pate (Slipstream-Chipotle).

Lieutenant governor Peter Kinder, who was the impetus behind bringing the event to the state and the largest source of funding, welcomed the riders and press.

Riders and event officials present the jerseys
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

One of the themes among the riders is that people are underestimating the difficulty of the parcours. Australia's O'Neill is likely the most knowledgeable of this, having come out here to recon the stages weeks in advance of the race. "I saw how few and far between flat roads are here," he said, putting to rest thoughts that this race might be only for the sprinters. "Friday's stage will be fairly solid and the Time Trial will be certainly decisive. Thursday's stage really surprised me based on the profile and the elevation."

"After hearing Nathan talking I think they sent the wrong book to my house, they told me it was going to be flat!" joked Dominguez.

Pate leads a strong Slipstream-Chipotle team and is still motivated to race in September. "I'm excited to do the race, I was a little disappointed to second in the time trial," said Pate. "I'm not over that yet."

Last dance...

Tour de France Alberto Contador will contest his first stage race
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Much of the focus was spent on Discovery - both in the fact that they are the clear superpower of the race and that it is its last race on US soil. "I thought it was our obligation to bring the biggest names because it is our last race on American ground," revealed Bruyneel. "It is a farewell week this week. We are super motivated of course, we usually do well like in the Tour of California and Tour de Georgia."

When Tour champion Contador was asked why he chose to race here, he replied saying that this is his first real race since winning in light of all the post-Tour criteriums. "I didn't compete in any real races after the Tour so I am hungry to race," he stated. "I also think our sponsor deserves us being here. I know this race doesn't suit me, I am a climber more. I think I can help George and Levi because I think they are candidates to win this race. I am happy that I can finally race here in the US."

Recently crowned US champion Leipheimer noted that he has been training for this season since last October and racing full-time since the Tour of California, so his fitness and motivation is not peaking. "That is one of the reason we brought such as strong team - we don't have to rely on just one person," noted Leipheimer. "The peloton will have a tough time deciding who to key off of. I'm not at my best but I am still going strong, which you saw last Sunday."

That was about the extent of Leipheimer's divulgence of the team tactics. "A tactic that looks obvious for us to do might not be what we are trying to do," he said.

Discovery Channel team manager Johan Bruyneel said the squad
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

But based upon what both Contador and Leipheimer said, a likely candidate for the overall is George Hincapie. "This year I missed the Classics and I have had the world championships on my mind - and a race that is not far from home is a great way to prepare," said Hincapie. "I felt strong last weekend and I hope I have good form here. It's harder to control a race with no major climbs so you have to pay attention. It seems like it is windy here so you won't be able to relax much."

Of course, everyone wanted to know what Contador and Bruyneel were going to do next year with both keeping to a vague response. "There have been some opportunities presented to me but I have not made my mind up yet," said Bruyneel. "One of my main reasons to step away was to spend more time at home with my family. So right now I am trying to decide what to do. But I can confirm there is an offer on the table."

If driving fans to cycling events in the US was not hard enough, the finish in St. Louis will have to compete with an American football game, hotly contested baseball game, preseason hockey game and another festival. But the lieutenant governor said he is remaining optimistic. "I've been talking it up for months," he said. "Not only are the Cubs in town which is always interesting, but the Rams have a game. I was reminded that the Blues also have their first home exhibition.. so it's going to be an unbelievable weekend in St. Louis. But I believe there is a certainly large enough fan base to cover all the teams and the tour. There actually is a web site attacking us for creating a traffic jam that weekend but I prefer to look at it optimistically!"

Follow all of the action live on Cyclingnews for every stage. Also see the Tour of Missouri preview, start list and stages.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Jonathan Devich/

Sánchez pleased with Vuelta standing

By Monika Prell

Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) was happy with his ride
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Euskaltel-Euskadi's Samuel Sánchez is happy with his sixth place on general classification at the Vuelta a España heading into today's first rest day. The Basque team's leader finished third to Denis Menchov (Rabobank) and Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) on Monday's tough mountain stage and currently sits 4.42 minutes behind Menchov on general classification.

"I am very satisfied about how things went on in the last three days," noted Sánchez. "After the Time Trial and the two Pyrenees stages I am sixth in the overall classification, so the balance has been positive. I feel good, today's stage was very complicated due to the kilometres and the mountains. I rose the entire ascent to Ordino equally, I am not able to go along with the accelerations that are imposed by [Leonardo] Piepoli or [Carlos] Sastre, I am not such a good climber like them and I have to do a lot to make a good ascent. I can't chase every attack because in a mountain as hard as Ordino I could pay for it. At the end I thought that I had some options to win, but Menchov showed again that he is strong and he did not forgive. He leaves the Pyrenees as clear favourite to conquer the Vuelta."

The Euskaltel-Euskadi squad had both Alan Pérez and Dioni Galparsoro in the main breakaway on Monday's Stage 10. Igor Antón and Sánchez followed a smaller group in pursuit of Menchov, with both attempting to take the stage victory. "The team has done great work," added Sánchez. "Dioni Galparsoro and Alan Pérez were present in the breakaway group, a fact that gives you calm when it's all about a question of who will work in the race, so you don't have to worry about the gap.

"In the final ascent, Igor Antón was not only able to reach us, he even attacked immediately," he continued. "He has a privileged genetics - he is a pure climber and is an even better person, really. I am very happy that he feels so good, together we are able to cause more damage and to have more options to win."

While the Spaniard has been enjoying the team's performance in its home Grand Tour, he's equally enthused about today's rest day. "We have the rest day, we need it really," said Sánchez. "We have completed half of the Vuelta and you feel the fatigue. A day without competition will be great for us to recuperate and to go about the second part of the Vuelta with joy. There are still some stages to go for a victory, to continue working and struggling."

Van Petegem and Baguet retire today

The careers of two great cyclists will draw to a close in the West Flemish town of Desselgem at the annual Kermesse race which takes place today. The event will mark the end of the careers of two of the region's biggest names; the Quick.Step-Innergetic duo of Peter van Petegem and Serge Baguet will take to the start for the last time, competing in the 17 lap event over 153 kilometres.

Van Petegem has had a successful career that included the 2003 Flanders - Roubaix double and a silver at the world championships in Valkenburg, the Netherlands. Baguet, a former Belgian national champion, set his career highlight in 2001 with victory on the Tour de France's Stage 17 while riding for Lotto-Adecco.

Flexpoint signs youngster

UCI women's squad Team Flexpoint has signed 18 year-old Dutch rider Elise van Hage for the 2008 season. Van Hage is the reigning junior women Dutch Road Champion and narrowly missed out on the Time Trial title this year as well, finishing in second place. "I'm very happy she chose our team," said team director Jean-Paul van Poppel. "She has from her [generation] the most potential; she can win races on both road an track."

Van Poppel believes the youngster will post strong results immediately in the Dutch races she contests, and has high hopes for her future. "I had offers from several teams, but Flexpoint was always my first choice," confessed van Hage. "I think I can learn a lot from an experienced former professional like Jean-Paul van Poppel. He can help me with my goal to become a good pro cyclist as soon as possible."

The addition of van Hage to Flexpoint's 2008 roster further firms up the squads line-up. Earlier this week Flexpoint renewed a bunch of contracts with its current riders including Mirjam Melchers, Loes Gunnewijk, Loes Markerink, Iris Slappendel and Suzanne van Veen.

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