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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for September 13, 2007

Edited by Sue George and Paul Verkuylen

Petacchi avenges tough summer

By Gregor Brown and Hernan Alvarez

Petacchi barrels toward the line
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

With his win Wednesday in stage 11, Alessandro Petacchi took his 18th Vuelta a España career win. The win had the added benefit of helping him forget the troubles of the summer, during which he has been the subject of a doping related investigation. Petacchi tested positive for overuse of Salbutamol (an asthma drug) despite having a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) certificate on record.

Coming into Algemesí at the end of the 191km stage, Petacchi rode the wheel of Milram team-mate Erik Zabel. World Champion Paolo Bettini's charge fell short, as the Italian from Quick.Step finished second. Zabel retained enough speed from his lead-out effort to finish third, over André Greipel (T-Mobile) and Carlos Da Cruz (Française Des Jeux).

As he began working out his case with the Italian Olympic Committee, Petacchi did not participate in the Tour, but he's now finding his form in the Vuelta.

"I needed the win," said the exhausted 33 year-old Petacchi. "After the Giro, everyone knows the problems I had. I hope these problems are over soon. It's been a long time, since I didn't race the Tour [de France]. At the beginning of this Vuelta, I found myself in bad form. I felt very exhausted in this Vuelta since the very first day. After yesterday's rest day, today I felt a bit better."

It was Petacchi's first win since stage one of the Regio Tour in August. He won five stages in the Giro d'Italia in May.

"Today, my team did a great job. From the start of the Vuelta all my team-mates wanted me to win; they worked hard all day long, and I achieved the victory," said Petacchi.

Rabobank led Denis Menchov safely through the stage to keep his overall lead of one minute over Russian compatriot Vladimir Efimkin (Caisse d'Epargne) and Australian Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto).

Meanwhile Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval - Prodir) takes over the lead in the mountains classification after his ride Wednesday. He was part of the first group up the Alto de la Chirivilla and earned enough points to jump ahead of overalll leader Denis Menchov (Rabobank) in the mountains classification.

"Of course I'm happy to wear the KOM jersey," Piepoli said after crossing the finish line. "Leading the mountains classification in a Grand Tour is a beautiful thing, and it could be my goal for the rest of the race. But I'm not thinking about this. I prefer to take one day at a time and see how things unfold."

Thursday's stage 12 will cover 176 flat kilometers from Algemesí to Hellín.

Time gaps cause major headaches in Missouri

By Kirsten Robbins

Heading into the lush Missouri countryside. Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

An enormous sixteen minute time gap formed between the early break away and the peloton during the second stage of the Tour of Missouri Wednesday, causing race organizers much worry - primarily over the safety of the riders and lengthy road closures leading to frustration within the host communities.

When the time gap increased to nearly seventeen minutes the riders' safety became a factor because the number of police vehicles available to cover the front, rear and gap between the packs was stretched dangerously thin. At points the gap between the leaders and the peloton was largely un-patrolled with the security team relying on the fact the race traveled through sparsely populated areas.

Beyond safety, road closures are one of the primary concerns on the list during the preliminary discussions before a community agrees to host an event of the caliber of the Tour of Missouri. Though the community is often excited to have a bike race involving the highest ranked team in the world use their streets, they do not sign up to wait in thirty-minute traffic jams when a break and peloton are so far apart.

Race director Jim Birrell commented on issues at hand during the post race press conference, noting that the time and effort needed to manage the peloton while out on the roads is based largely on the expectations of the cyclists' estimated time of arrival. "When we go out and design these courses and work with the municipalities we have a pretty good idea of what type of ETA's we expect the riders to come into the host cities," said Birrell. "So when a break away develops and exceeds those expectations it requires a lot of management and care -- to stay in constant communication with the State Police and to inform them of that breakaway. Fortunately today there was a little bit of a chase at the end, which reduced the time gap a little."

The time gap also brought back memories of a similar race scenario from this year's third stage of the Tour de Georgia, where the break's gap increased to an unheard of twenty-nine minutes. The break in Georgia and here were not only similar in length but also in that neither involved a team member of the current race leader. As the leading team, Toyota-Untied started an immediate chase to reduce the gap to the leaders on the road but gave up shortly after not receiving help from the remaining teams with out representation in the break.

"I would hope that the teams would have spoken to one another," said Birrell."I don't know what happened with the four teams that weren't in the break. But it has been two tours back-to-back where teams didn't step up to defend their yellow jersey; the first with Tinkoff at the Tour de Georgia and now Toyota-United, and Toyota didn't even make an attempt to support the groups that started to formed later in the race. I'm left without words to describe what went on in the chase group today."

Toyota-United's team director Harm Jansen defended his team by citing previous races where they did their share of work at the front of the American peloton and giving a butcher's bill of his riders' unlucky circumstances. "We have two years of history of American Professional Tour stage races here in the US and we have probably been the ones who have been at the front the most of it," said Jansen. "Of course we have always had fast sprinters like JJ Haedo and Ivan Dominguez."

"We did a lot of work yesterday, too, with one rider cut because they [the organizers] qualified yesterday's stage as a flat stage, while it was hillier than today. Sullivan is sick with asthma problems, Stevic has a bad knee and pulled out of the race, Baldwin crashed twice, Dominguez is our leader and two of our riders left, England and Blackgrove are just spent from yesterday. So the only guy I had left was Wherry and I'm not going to finish off that last piece of bread I have left on my plate."

"We made the race yesterday and today we were the first team to start to chase when the break went up the road and I think that the other teams had an incentive to chase too. I think some teams gave away their GC with this break and they had an incentive to chase too. I even put the two guys I had left on the front for the last hour but I wasn't going to spend Chris Wherry, I have to keep someone."

Full results and report here.

Goss gets Team CSC first

The peloton at the Tour of Britain
Photo ©: Gerry McManus
(Click for larger image)

Australian Matthew Goss collected his first victory for Team CSC at the Tour of Britain's stage 3 on Wednesday. Goss won the 153-kilometre stage starting in Worchester and finishing Wolverhamton.

"It was great finally to win after a number of second and third places. It was a fantastic feeling," said Matthew Goss after the stage according to

Goss proved he had the best legs from a group of six riders that had arrived at the city centre altogether after 152km of racing from Worcester through the tough Malvern Hills. He sprinted from the front of the group to win ahead of Freddy Bichot (Agritubel) and Roger Hammond (T-Mobile).

"Nine of us escaped and none of the teams had two riders in the group and none of us were less than 11 minutes behind in the general classification, so it was a good group to be in. Towards the end of the stage there were quite a few attacks and three of us got away. One kilometer before the finish three other guys caught up to us so there were six of us sprinting for the victory, but it still turned out quite well though," laughed Goss.

Goss was cautious about his chances going into the final sprint. "Roger (Hammond) was one of the guys I was watching the most," said Goss. "He is a fast guy and certainly strong as well."

Hammond is tied with race leader Nikolai Trusov for the lead in the points competition, but he will wear the green jersey tomorrow since Trusov will be decked out in the yellow leader's jersey.

After the stage, Hammond said, "It was great to finish in the top three for in my home region... . There were lots of spectators out cheering along the route today and it was fantastic to part of a break-away full of so many Brits. The pressure is on for me now to continue pushing on the remaining stages and with my team-mate Mark Cavendish right behind me with twenty two points there could be a bit of inter-team British rivalry!"

The Tour of Britain continues Thursday with the fourth stage of the seven day race from Rother Valley Country Park to Bradford (163.3km).

Young Italian on a roll

Italian Dario Cataldo has been enjoying a successful Tour de l'Avenir. In Wednesday's stage seven of the under 23 race, Cataldo took his second win Wednesday. The rider who hails from Abruzzo, is a neo-pro for Liquigas and he's hoping to carry on with his winning ways when clad again in his pro team's colors.

"The first victory as a pro has left an unforgettable emotion," said 22 year-old Cataldo. "I wish these successes will be followed by a first win wearing the Liquigas team jersey."

In addition to his win in the 175-kilometre stage from Cérilly to Super Besse, he also won last Friday's stage two and finished second Tuesday in stage six. Going into stage eight of the Tour de l'Avenir, Cataldo is sitting in 12th place overall.

Ballan renews with Lampre

AlessandroBallan soloing at the Tour of Flanders
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Alessandro Ballan will continue to wear the blue-fuschia colors of Lampre - Fondital for two more years, thereby confirming previous news that such a signing was likely. Tuesday evening, he signed a contract for the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

Tuesday morning, Ballan's manager Mauro Battaglini and Team Lampre's Giuseppe Saronni met and reached an agreement.

"My aim was the permanence in this team and I got it," said Ballan "I'm very happy and I thank the team and the sponsors that still wanted me: I think I received from Lampre-Fondital great trust and I gave something good too. I will try hard to obtain other important victories".

So far this season, Ballan has won the Ronde van Vlaanderen, the Three Days of De Panne and the Vattenfall Cyclassics.

Griñán continues Spanish support of Valverde

By Antonio J. Salmerón

The dispute over the participation of Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) in the UCI Road World Championship in Stuttgart, Germany, later this month continued Wednesday with more words in response to the UCI.

"The UCI knowingly opened a file on Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) because they knew it would mean the rider would not be allowed to participate in the World Championships - even though the Spanish Federation would not open a disciplinary action against the rider because it can't find sustainable evidence against him," said Jose Griñán of the Spanish Cycling Federation said Wednesday to Cyclingnews.

However, Griñán pointed out that the rules to ban Valverde from Worlds "are only applicable to this competition," which leaves the door open to him to race other events even if the decision to ban Valverde from Worlds stands.

The UCI had previously asked the Spanish Cycling Federation to open disciplinary proceedings against the 27 year-old rider because it found indications in the Guardia Civil documentation that linked Valverde to the Operación Puerto. RFEC refused, citing no new indications for a possible implication and court ruling not to use Puerto documentation in legal proceedings against riders.

Valverde's participation in the World Championship may be unlikely given its date at the end of the month and remaining legal hurdles to clear the current ban, but Griñán proposed one way to get Valverde on the start line in Stuttgart. "[We could] resort to immediate the judicial or sporting courts, such as the CAS [Court of Aribtration for Sport], although it is evident that all these manoeuvres are consuming time -- just what the UCI wants."

Griñán reiterated the "unconditional support of the RFEC as well as the CSD for Valverde, because, of course, we understand that it [the case] is being compelled by the UCI as well as by the Organizing Committee of Stuttgart."

RFEC President Fulgencio Sánchez indicated a lack of recent response from the UCI. "We have not received answer from the UCI to our letter." He spoke of the ongoing battle as important not just for the rider in question. "Now we do not only defend the reputation of Valverde, but also all Spanish cycling." He added that the "UCI has based [its actions] on suppositions that justify nothing." Sánchez confirmed that the Spanish National team will compete in Stuttgart and called reports to the contrary erroneous.

UCI President Pat McQuaid acknowledged the governing body "had received a letter signed by Valverde, in which he explained that if [the UCI] did not allow [him] to participate in Stuttgart, he would resort to legal actions in order to be able to carry on in his profession."

Valverde's manager Sanchez Sabater said to Cyclingnews that UCI had sent Valverde "a concise, official note that said only that they'd received Valverde's letter of Monday, but would not decide on the matter until further information requested is received from the Spanish Federation."

Astana for weekend's races

The Astana Cycling Team has committed to two races this weekend. On Saturday, September 15, they'll race Paris-Brussels, a 219 km event between Soissons and the Belgian capital. Sergey Ivanov and Aaron Kemps will lead the team under the guidance of Sporting Director Adriano Baffi. Sunday, the same squad will head to France for the Grand Prix of Fourmies where they'll face an undulating race of 200 km.

Astana for Paris-Brussels and the GP de Fourmies: Maxim Gourov, Sergey Ivanov, Benoit Joachim, Aaron Kemps, Gennady Mikhaylov , Dimitriy Muravyev, Michael Schär and Yevgeny Sladkov with Manager: Adriano Baffi.

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