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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for September 16, 2007

Edited by Sue George

McCartney goes for broke

By Gregor Brown and Hernan Alvarez

Jason McCartney (Discovery Channel) powering to victory
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

American Jason McCartney dropped the hammer on his breakaway companions with just 10km to go in the 207km stage 14 of the Vuelta a Espa˝a. With an expression of strength and determination, he muscled his way solo to the finish line.

McCartney launched his attack against the 11 riders who had formed the break since kilometer 66 just as it was failing to work well together. Thomas L÷vkvist (Franšaise Des Jeux) followed in a solo chase effort that eventually netted him second place, and Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) brought home third.

The 34 year-old's win came just in time to put him in the spotlight as teams are in the midst of contract negotiations for the 2008 season. McCartney's Team Discovery Channel is set to disband at the end of the season. The Iowa native has a reputation for being a strong team player, although he also managed a third place at the Tour of California in February. McCartney's name became a familiar one in the cycling world after he won the Olympic trials road race in 2004 and earned a berth on the US Olympic team.

JosÚ Vicente Garcia (Caisse d'Epargne) attacked first, but McCartney later countered with Spaniard Juan Manuel Gßrate (Quick.Step - Innergetic), and soon after was solo. He committed firmly to his attack and did not succumb to the determined chasing of the 23 year-old L÷vkvist who would finish 28 seconds back. Schumacher ended up third, 50 seconds back along with the remnants of the break while the peloton was just over 10 minutes back.

Racers will tackle Stage 15 on Sunday from Villacarrillo to Granada over 201.4km. A leg-buster of a stage greets the riders before they can enjoy rest day number two. Two category three climbs and the final alto, the category 1 Alto de Monachil separate the finish from the start.

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Team Rabobank successfully defended the overall top spot of their leader Denis Menchov who sits two minutes in front of Vladimir Efimkin (Caisse d'Epargne) and a bit more still in front of Cadel Evans (Predictor - Lotto), who is clearly still going strong after his second place in the Tour de France in July.

Deignan's Grand Tour debut going well

By Shane Stokes

Philip Deignan (AG2r PrÚvoyance)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)
Young Irish rider Philip Deignan has been making a strong impression in his first three-week race, climbing well on recent stages of the Vuelta a España and riding aggressively on Saturday's 207 kilometre lumpy stage to Villacarrillo (Parque Natural Sierra de Cazorla).

The third year Ag2r Prévoyance pro was one of eleven riders who went clear roughly 66 kilometres after the start. He was in the thick of the action on the last of the day's four category three climbs, the Villanueva del Arzobispo, and attacked with approximately 18 clicks to go. Deignan was caught just before the top, after approximately three kilometres of freedom, and ultimately finished tenth on the stage after a jump close to the line was negated by the others who were racing for third place.

They crossed the line 50 seconds behind winner Jason McCartney (Discovery Channel) and 22 seconds after Thomas Lövkvist (Française des Jeux).

"The stage was good," said the 24 year-old after the finish. "I was supposed to try and get into the break today or tomorrow, because the break was probably going to succeed in these two days.

"I tried at the start and made it into the break. The hardest part was getting away, the first 70 km were very hard. Once we got the gap we pretty much rode tempo all day…it was just the last 25 or 30 km when they started attacking.

"Up until then I felt okay, as well as could be expected anyway. I then tried to get away on the last climb, but I was caught just before the top."

He had another go near the end but the flatter terrain didn't suit the 63 kilo rider's characteristics. "I didn't really have the acceleration on the flat. I tried to get away again with about 800 metres to go, but I didn't really have the power or the speed in the sprint. I think a summit finish would have suited me better than a finish like today. I will try again, though, there is still a week left."

Deignan missed much of this season due to injury and a very busy return to racing [he rode Polynormande, the Deutschland Tour and the Tour of Ireland prior to the Vuelta] saw him start the Spanish race a bit below par.

He felt off-form in the first week but deliberately finished with the gruppetto whenever possible in order to enable him to ride back into shape. The tactic worked well; he rode strongly on the two recent summit finishes, placing 16th on stage nine to Estación de esquí Cerler, despite waiting for Ag2r's GC rider Stéphane Goubert. He was then 12th the following day to Andorra Arcalis, crossing the line 51 seconds behind stage winner Denis Menchov (Rabobank). Saturday's 10th place continued that upward trend.

"I will maybe try to go for another break, if I can," he said, when asked what his goal was for the rest of the race. "It is all about how you feel when you wake up in the morning. Some days you are bad and some days you're good. I will go for it whenever I can.

"I have the world championships the week after the race ends, and then there are some other big races all the way to Lombardy. There are a lot of objectives to come."

Tour of Poland slightly shifts ProTour standings

The final day of the Tour of Poland saw Johan Van Summeren (Predictor-Lotto) win both the stage and the final general classification Saturday. Van Summeren finished ahead of Robert Gesink (Rabobank) and Kim Kirchen (T-Mobile Team), who also took second and third in the general classification. Murilo Fischer (Liquigas) had been leading before the last stage.

The end of the ProTour stage race brought with it only slight changes to the ProTour standings. Team CSC kept its overall team lead while Liquigas moved from third to second and Caisse d'Epargne from fourth to third because Team Discovery Channel dropped from second to fourth.

In the individual classification, there were no changes to the top six. Italian Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) continues to lead ahead of Alberto Contador Velasco (Discovery Channel) and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse D'Epargne). The latter are separated by just one point.

In the nations rankings, Italy preserved its lead over Spain and Australia in second and third.

Kessiakoff wins his first World Cup

Fredrik Kessiakoff (Sweden)
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Fredrik Kessiakoff (Cannondale-Vredestein) won the World Cup cross country final race and took his first-ever World Cup win today in Maribor, Slovenia. Kessiakoff was part of a lead group that formed at the end of the first lap. The group also contained Christoph Sauser (Specialized), José Hermida (Multivan Merida Biking Team) and Manuel Fumic (Fumic.Brothers.International).

The Swedish rider finished fourth in the cross country at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Fort William, Scotland, last weekend, narrowly missing the podium. That near-miss may have provided just the motivation needed to take the win in Slovenia.

An attack on the climb on lap two by Kessiakoff was the key to the win, as he steadily rode away from any challengers on the remaining laps of the seven-lap race. Kessiakoff finished with a comfortable 1'23" margin over Sauser. Fumic ended up third. Hermida looked to be on the way to a podium finish for quite a while, riding in second position for almost the entire race. But due to a cold the Spaniard lacked some of the necessary power in the final lap, so he had to settle for a fourth place at the finish.

"I wanted to win here, which unfortunately did not work out. But I managed to defend my second place in the World Cup's overall ranking and I'm very satisfied with that," said Hermida after the race.

World Champion Julien Absalon (Orbea) had already wrapped up the overall title for the World Cup earlier in the season and was not a factor in Saturday's race.

"It was a tough test. Julien wasn't much in the race because he had achieved his goal already, and he only was there to come to his team-mates' aid. It was a pity that Jean-Christophe (Peraud) couldn't step onto the podium," Orbea Team Manager Ixio Barandiaran remarked. Peraud finished sixth after suffering a minor mishap.

The next big test for top riders is the Pre-Olympic Mountain Bike Championship in Beijing on September 29. World Champion Absalon will also participate in Le Roc d'Azur in Fréjus, France, starting October 12, and besides his usual category, he will take part in a tandem race with his wife.

McEwen sprints to fourth Paris-Bruxelles win

Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto) at the Tour of Switzerland
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Australian Robbie McEwen (Predictor Lotto) collected his fourth win at the Paris-Bruxelles race Saturday. It was also his third win a row after also taking the 2002 edition. McEwen claimed victory by out-sprinting Jeremy Hunt (Unibet.com) and Honorio Machado (Tenax) at the end of 220km.

"The final was very nervous. It was very fast and it wasn't possible for one team to control the peloton," said McEwen to AFP. "(Thor) Hushovd took off strongly with 500 meters to go." But the CrÚdit Agricole rider made his break too early.

"The last meters were very difficult. I was dying ten times during the sprint. But good, I won, which was the important thing! To win four times on the same course, that's something improbable. It's fantastic."

Ten riders broke away mid-way through the race, but couldn't make their effort stick and were caught with 34 kilometers to go.

Arbitrators close Landis case

Decision expected within a week

Floyd Landis (Smith & Nephew)
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

The long-awaited decision following the Floyd Landis' arbitration hearing will soon be known. Arbitrators officially closed the hearing this week after one last meeting according to Sports Illustrated. Landis' public hearing occurred during two weeks in May.

The decision could determine whether Landis gets to keep his 2006 Tour de France title. He tested positive for high levels of testosterone during Stage 17 of last year's race. Landis has maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings and has spent the summer since his trial racing 100 mile mountain bike races and making other public appearances.

A ruling is expected no later than September 22; arbitrators are now formalizing their final decision in writing. However, the decision may not truly be final; the losing side may appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Mayo's B sample in Australia

By Monika Prell

Iban Mayo
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

After a long wait, there is finally some news about the counter-analysis of Iban Mayo's B-sample. The Saunier Duval rider was tested on the second rest day of the Tour de France, and his A sample came back positive for EPO.

The B sample was then sent to the laboratory of the University of Gent (Belgium), which finished its analysis on Friday, August 24. Since then, there was no news about the results, but Saturday, Diario Vasco announced that the B sample has been sent to Australia to comply with regulations that every EPO test has to be run in two laboratories.

Iban Mayo signed this year for Saunier Duval, but the squad's management has already announced they will not re-sign Mayo for 2008. The rider is now training in his home region of Bizkaia.

Posthuma only to time trial

Joost Posthuma will only race the time trial at the UCI Road World Championships coming up in Stuttgart later this month according to the Telegraaf. The Dutchman who rides for Team Rabobank won the Sachsen-Tour International in July.

Lampre recruits Murro

29 year-old Christian Murro is the newest recruit of the Lampre-Fondital team. According to L'Equipe, he signed for two seasons, 2008 and 2009. While riding for Tenax, he won the Trois Vallées Varésines. On his new team, Murro will help his compatriot Alessandro Ballan.

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