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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for September 15, 2007

Edited by Sue George

A stormy day challenges Vuelta racers

By Susan Westemeyer and Hernan Alvarez

Klier winning Stage 13
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Inclement weather didn't stop 31 year-old Andreas Klier of T-Mobile from overpowering Tom Stamsnijder (Gerolsteiner) on the way to the finish line in stage 13 of the Vuelta a España. On a day when there were no changes in the overall standings, the two battled it out for the stage win, comfortably ahead of the main bunch which had more trouble negotiating the slippery roads in treacherous weather conditions.

Klier proved he was back in action and recovered following a training crash involving a tractor this spring. He had suffered a broken cheekbone and a severe concussion.

The two, plus their dropped break-away companion, Jérémy Roy (Française des Jeux), finished roughly four minutes in front of the peloton. Daniele Bennati of Lampre beat out Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) by a whisker to take the sprint of the field.

Although the forecast was for partly cloudy with only a chance of showers, much of the stage ended up being ridden in a heavy to torrential rain, with a little hail thrown in. The rain and wet roads caused a number of crashes and mechanical problems.

"Today there were so many crashes," said Rubén Lobato. "The rain made the road slippery. In a bend we touched the brakes, and I went down with De la Fuente. Fortunately, it was only the fall itself, as nothing serious happened to us. We all escaped the mass crash occurring later on. It was impressive. They'd said it would be a transition stage, but it's been one of the toughest days. It was so rainy that we couldn't see with our glasses and all, we couldn't eat either."

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Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse D'Epargne), a native of the region, told TVE, "I have never seen so much rain here. There were rivers of water; it was impressive. We were lucky because we didn't have to be sorry for any crash."

Karpin Galicia's Ezequiel Mosquera said, "The problem here is that it rains and the road is full of water and it's very dangerous. It doesn't rain much here, and when it does, the road is truly an ice field. There were moments when it was nearly impossible to stay standing on the bike."

"It poured down and riders were crashing left right and center," said Kim Andersen according to "A couple of our guys were involved and Michael Blaudzun suffered the worst damage with an open wound on one knuckle. It doesn't look good and we'll have to wait and see if he's able to carry on. Because of the storm the stage really took a dramatic turn for the peloton even though the break decided the winner. The terrible rain made it quite dangerous out there and although the riders tried to be careful a lot of them still ended up face down."

Saturday's stage 14 will run 207km, the longest stage of the Vuelta, from Puerto Lumbreras to Villacarrillo (Parque Natural Sierra de Cazorla). The riders will be going up and down all day, although there are only four ranked climbs, all category 3.

Navigators Insurance ending after 14 seasons

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

The longest running professional team sponsorship in American cycling will come to an end this season as Navigators Insurance will not renew for 2008, a team release said Friday. The global insurance company has sponsored the New Jersey-based professional team bearing its name for 14 years, making it the longest continuous team sponsorship in American cycling history and one of the longest running in the world.

Director sportif Ed Beamon told Cyclingnews that the search for a replacement sponsor has been unsuccessful, but that it is not over. "I'm still trying to put something together," said Beamon. "I'm going to go down with the sinking ship if I have to!" he said jokingly as a metaphor.

Numerous current riders have been announcing their departure for other teams next season over the past month, signaling that management informed riders well in advance of the likelihood of the end. "We have been trying to keep the program intact as much as possible, but it's beyond that," said Beamon. "We've been trying to help guys get contracts who don't have one yet too.

Beamon said he is being realistic about the chances for resurrecting the team for next season and is starting to look beyond. "If things go well we will have perhaps a smaller program and keep guys on the team. If it doesn't come together I'll just keep working towards 2009."

The current climate of teams and sponsors parting ways could be a symptom of the negative publicity, something that affected Navigators. "We had some really good opportunities in the last couple of years but it's been hard this year with all the negative publicity," he admitted. "It's a tough time to go out shopping right now."

The team is currently racing at both the Tour of Missouri and Tour of Britain this week - with both races serving as the final curtain call for the team.

Levi topped Missouri time trial, regardless of rules

By Kirsten Robbins in Branson, Missouri

Levi Leipheimer (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Discovery Channel's Levi Leipheimer won his fifth time trial this season during stage three of the Tour of Missouri in a twenty-nine kilometer time trial. The Californian spent his pre-season preparing heavily in the San Diego low speed wind tunnel testing the "praying mantis" time trial position that Floyd Landis invented and successfully used in the previous year. However, all that research and refinement was for naught as the UCI prohibited Leipheimer from using the adopted position one day prior to the start of the Tour de France, and again at the Tour of Missouri.

Leipheimer commented on the new regulation during the post-race press conference, calling the UCI ruling a little ridiculous. "I was forced to change it the day before the Tour de France!" he said. "It is very frustrating because they can't give a real reason why the riders arms can't be bent up as opposed to being parallel to the ground. I think they said that it creates an added support on the elbow. But I think that they have never been on a time trial bike before because it doesn't change how much weight you have on your elbow."

On July 4, the UCI's technical advisor Jean Wauthier clarified Article 1.3.023, which says that riders must have their forearms parallel to the ground. The article stipulates that the riders are allowed to have their arms extended and are permitted a "support" for the elbows and arms. However, justified by safety ergonomic considerations, when the arms are bent they become the physical point of support which is strictly prohibited by the rule.

"There are guys who ride with their arms angled down in the opposite direction but the UCI has never said anything about them," added Leipheimer. "It wasn't until Floyd Landis had his bars tilted up and I started training in that position in the wind tunnel that it became a problem with the UCI."

Preparations for a time trial have been increasingly costly and time consuming to find for the perfect position to maximize speed and power. "I spent two days in the wind tunnel -- spent a lot of time, a lot of money and we found a position that was incredibly fast, the numbers were very fast, the fastest that the tunnel had ever seen," said Leipheimer. "That was part of my motivation for this year, when I saw those numbers I lit up and I trained all year in that position; and the day before the Tour, the UCI decided that I couldn't ride in that position anymore. There is no explanation for it and I think that it is a little bit ridiculous. But I complied with all the rules and I put the bars down and you just do what you can."

Leipheimer proved in the Tour and again in Missouri to be as successful in the regulated position as he was in the "praying mantis" position, winning the Tour de France stage nineteen time trial and recently the Tour of Missouri stage three's time trial. "I still won a time trial at the Tour de France and I won here today with the bars down so I know the aero bike still works and I'm still fast," said Leipheimer. "And I'm sure that my drag was a little more, the numbers a little higher but those are the rules and I follow the rules."

Kodak Gallery and Sierra Nevada directors explain split

By Kirsten Robbins in Columbia, Missouri

The KodakGallery-Sierra Nevada team delivered a press release Friday announcing that its co-directors Robin Zellner and Kurt Stockton are parting ways at the end of this season. The two came together in 2004 when Zellner and Kodak Gallery’s parent company Eastman Kodak united with Stockton and Sierra Nevada to create Principle Sports Management Group LLC, combining their resources to strengthen the team. After eight years of cycling sponsorship, three of which were combined with Sierra-Nevada, Kodak Gallery has decided to end the sponsorship.

Zellner regarded the separation as a good opportunity to create two new teams in the US peloton. "As far as the split and the partnership goes it is a good opportunity for us to go in different directions and maybe it will work out better because we will both be able to bring on two separate teams," said Zellner. "The new situation with Kurt is good because our association has always been very good. Our association with Kodak has been great too."

After an eight year sponsorship contract between KodakGallery and Zellner’s company the possibility of letting go of the cycling team is a saddening situation. "It had nothing to do with what they got out of cycling and it was a heartbreaker for the marketing director to have to let us know."

There is still a possibility that the parent company, Eastman Kodak, will find the resources to continue their sponsorship from a different department. "Kodak is still considering the team so there’s a possibility that that could turn around. But overall our association with them has been really good the past three years. We didn’t expect this because we had one more year in our contract with Kodak. Currently we can’t sign some of the guys but nobody wants to leave - that is the heartache of it all."

On the other side Sierra Nevada will continue its sponsorship in cycling with Kurt Stockton as the director of a team. However the level at which the team will compete has yet to be determined and will likely be affected by the amount of funding they receive.

Stockton reinforced Zellner’s comments on the separation as a good opportunity to take Sierra Nevada in a new direction - leading the team into an pro-environmental direction and focusing on healthy living. "Robin and I combined teams at the end of 2004 and we wouldn’t have been able to do what we have done with out each other," said Stockton. "But it got to a point where we weren’t going to go any further. I had been looking for an opportunity for some change and that may have accelerated it a little bit. I felt that to a certain point I wanted to go in a different direction and do different things with the team and from my side I felt better about that if I were to be running my own program. It was good while it went but we have decided to move on."

Stockton added that the team has not confirmed any riders at this time because they are uncertain as to how much the new budget will entail and at what level the team will compete. "All of our riders were given the opportunity to go and do whatever they need to do because we realise we can’t hold them back by saying we might have positions."

The current team has more than a handful of strong riders, including rising star Dominique Rollin, who may be left little options for a team in the 2008 season. "We would love to hang onto guys, especially a rider like Dominique Rollin," Zellner said. "But they need to go cover themselves. We are hoping for the best for all of our riders. They are so strong that they shouldn’t have problems finding teams. It would be a shame, but even if they were without a team for one year, they are young and strong and that would be a small glitch in their careers."

1-2-3 for T-Mobile

By Susan Westemeyer

The T-Mobile Team is stretched thin these days, with squads riding in the Vuelta a Espana, the Tour of Britain and the Tour of Poland. But it can't complain about a lack of results. In fact, it was successful in all three races on Friday, giving it an unusual honor of filling its own podium.

On the top step was Andreas Klier, the 31-year-old veteran who turned a 150-plus km breakway into a stage win in Spain. On the second step was Mark Cavendish, the young sprinter who finished second on the day in the Tour of Britain, narrowly missing his 11th season win. And on the third step was the winner of this year's Gent-Wevelgem, Marcus Burghardt, who sprinted to a third-place finish in the Tour of Poland.

Piepoli's situation improves

Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval - Prodir) received some good news Friday. His wife left the Intensive Care Unit where she had been hospitalised after giving birth to her their first child, Yannis. Piepoli was leading the mountains classification and had won stage nine when he dropped out of the Vuelta a España to return home to be with his family. Piepoli reportedly feels relieved and is now staying with his son, whom he met this morning.

Boonen and Rebellin withdraw from Vuelta

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step - Innergetic)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Belgian Tom Boonen (Quick.Step-Innergetic) and Italian Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) joined Piepoli in withdrawing from the Vuelta a España, but it wasn't due to family emergencies or even the atrocious weather for Friday's stage 13.

Instead, both said that they were withdrawing to prepare very specifically for the World Road Championships in Stuttgart coming up on September 30.

Boonen crashed in the Vuelta, and was in ongoing pain afterward. He speculated at one point that he had broken a rib and his condition seemed to indicate that his participation in Worlds was in question.

Valverde visits team-mates

Alejandro Valverde visited his Caisse d'Epargne team-mates at the Vuelta a España where he discussed current events and his preparations for the Vuelta. Despite not racing, Valverde said he watches the Vuelta every day on TV. "I like to see all my friends of the bunch and to encourage my team-mates of Caisse d’Epargne behind the screen.

"We are seeing a beautiful race," said Valverde. "Denis Menchov is without any doubt the strongest man in the race, but he will have to reckon with a great adversary in the person of Vladimir Efimkin, who realized something great in the stage of Lagos de Covadonga, and which since then keeps on defending oneself very well. He is now the second overall and I believe that the podium is no longer just a dream for him."

When he's not watching his national tour, Valverde is training. "Now, I am preparing my third objective, which is the World Championship. I train between four and five hours every day."

The Spanish rider said he is happy with his season so far. "t is true that I did not win any classic, but I finished the second of the Flèche Wallonne and the second of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which proves that I was present and in condition. One cannot win every year. Then, and for the first time, I finished the Tour de France, which was to some extent my big objective of this season. I acquired the experience which will be useful to me in the future and the fact of having arrived in Paris in my third participation is something extremely important for me. What I learned this year will be very useful in the next editions."

Valverde said he is not distracted by recent events with the UCI as he prepares for worlds. "In reality, their position surprises me and I do not want nor should say something about the subject," he said. "To know that I am supported by the Spanish public as well as by the sporting authorities like the Higher Council of Sports, the Spanish Cycling Federation, and also by my team and the riders of the bunch, makes so that I am grateful for this show of support, and that reinforces my hope and my interest to give the best of myself on the occasion of Worlds."

Schleck crashes in Poland

The Tour of Poland has had its share of crashes, and Friday's stage 6 was no exception. Fränk Schleck of Team CSC was involved in a bad crash during the 181-kilometer from Dzierzoniow to Jelenia Gora.

"It was a pretty serious crash, which Fränk was involved in so he's badly bruised on one side of his body, but he made it through the stage and we're hoping he'll be ok for tomorrow," said Team CSC's sports director Alain Gallopin on "The doctors think he's okay, but of course the pain might take some of his energy for the final stage."

Stage 6 was won by Italian Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas).

Joseph to do Worlds double

Rosara Joseph (New Zealand)
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

New Zealand's Rosara Joseph is on her way to her second world championship in less than a month. After finishing an impressive fifth place at in the elite women's mountain bike cross country race last weekend in Fort William, Scotland, only 3'34" behind winner and new World Champion Irina Kalentieva (Russia), Joseph was named to the New Zealand team for the world road championships in Germany according to Radio New Zealand.

The race in Stuttgart will mark her world championships debut, and she will join team-mates Jo Kiesanowski, Toni Bradshaw , Michelle Hyland and Carissa Wilkes.

Milram for Rund um die Nuernberger Altstadt

Sunday, Team Millram will send six riders to the Rund um die Nuernberger Altstadt, where they'll face strong international competition while racing a 13km circuit through Nuernberg's Old Town.

Milram for Run um die Nuernberger: Enrico Poitschke, Dennis Haueisen, Marcel Sieberg, Ralf Grabsch, Luca Orlandi, and Luca Barla (the latter two are stagiaires) under Sport director Gianluigi Stanga.

Second annual Bike-A-GoGo set for October

The Pedal Queens, a women's cycling club in Santa Fe, New Mexico will be hosting this year's Bike-a-GoGo, a women's bicycle demo day and expo, on Oct 20 at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center. The club has invited manufacturers of women-specific products, local retailers and other women-oriented businesses in the bicycle industry to attend. Over 30 companies, including major bike brands such as Specialized, Voodoo, Trek, and Kona, will be there to showcase their road and mountain bike products to the women gathering for the event.

There will also be seminars on a variety of bike-related topics, including a presentation on bike maintenance by a female mechanic from a local bike shop, a tire changing clinic by Betty Bike Gear, and a workshop on combining pilates core strength with bike fit by Cycling Essentials. Last year's inaugural Bike-A-GoGo drew more than 400 attendees from the southwest region, from those new to the sport to seasoned cyclists.

For more information, visit

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