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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for September 18, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Sastre not happy with Vuelta race situation

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Sastre attacks during the Vuelta
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

Carlos Sastre lit up the Vuelta a España on the Monachil climb, but he did not manage to fulfil his goal: distance his general classification rival. Rabobank's Denis Menchov proved to be too resilient in stage 15, as the 32 year-old Spaniard of CSC realized after numerous attacks.

"The lack of difficulty in the climbs leading to the finish," Sastre reckoned as the 2007 Vuelta's downfall. He admitted that he had known since last year what the 62nd Vuelta route would be like. "We arrived here to dispute the Vuelta, knowing its route from the presentation in December."

The little climber stood out as the only GC man willing to try to put Menchov in difficulty. "My forces are what you see. In a certain sense, I am alone," he continued. "The first three of the general classification are happy with their positions, and on Monachil, the only ones to attack were those that wanted to take the stage; it did nothing to change the classification."

The rider from El Barraco (Ávila) tried three consecutive times to break the race on the Monachil climb. "I was successful in raising the pace, but I did not manage to drop any of the favourites."

Sastre questioned the race's parcours. "The Vuelta layout needs a Tour [de France]-type mountain stage; one with four hard climbs that leave a tired, select group. I am not saying this only on my behalf, I think that it is necessary for the race itself.

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"In the mountain stages I have not been able to recover the time that I lost in the time trial stage in Zaragoza," Sastre continued. With six stages left, he has not given up hope. "There is still the stage of Alto de Abantos left. I am going to continue giving it everything, awaiting an opportunity."

Devolder gives up on Vuelta classification

Devolder in stage 15
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Stijn Devolder of Discovery Channel has given up his ambitions for the Vuelta a España general classification, and the 28 year-old Belgian will use the rest of the race as preparation for the upcoming World Championships, September 30. "Eleventh or fifteenth, what difference does it make?" questioned team leader Dirk Demol on "He might try to give it his all again on Saturday in the time trial, but that will be it. Give him a week's rest afterwards, and then I am sure he will be at top level in Stuttgart."

Devolder took over the leader's jersey after the stage eight time trial, in which he finished third. He lost it the next day to Denis Menchov, and dropped to sixth overall. He is currently in 11th place, over eight minutes behind Menchov, who still leads. The Belgian went down hard in the 14th stage, hurting his knee. "I can't say that it is entirely in order," Demol admitted. "Stijn is still in a lot of pain. He can't walk normally, but he doesn't believe in giving up. As it stands now, his Worlds participation is not in danger."

Marchante does not feel at his best

By Antonio J. Salmerón

José Angel Gomez Marchante of Saunier Duval-Prodir arrived at the Vuelta a España as one of the main candidates for the overall, but now, two weeks later, he questions his preparations and acknowledged the strength of the current race leader, Denis Menchov.

"The Vuelta has been decided," stated Marchante, who is currently in 36th overall, at 31 minutes behind Menchov. He believes that Menchov has proved to be stronger. "He has controlled his rivals. He defends his leadership from the confidence that comes from believing he is the strongest."

Marchante believes his preparations were not ideal. "I worked too much coming into the Vuelta, as well as the possible consequences of my health problems, and the time out of competition. After overcoming my health problems, I have felt mentally stronger, but the morale falls when you see that you are behind."

Wegmann: one second

One second is not very long, but it is enough to make the difference between winning or not, as Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann discovered over the weekend. He finished off the podium Saturday in the Tour of Poland, missing out on third place by one second, but on Sunday he won the Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt race by exactly one second.

Wegmann had been fifth overall going into the final stage in Poland, only 15 seconds down. Johan Van Summeren of Predictor-Lotto won the stage from a long solo escape. Wegmann attacked frequently out of the following group, but his competitors wouldn't let him get away. "At least we tried, and showed our competitive spirit," said his older brother and directeur sportif, Christian Wegmann. In the end, Wegmann finished eighth on the stage, two seconds behind third place finisher Kim Kirchen of T-Mobile, who used the bonus seconds to leapfrog from 30th to third place, exactly one second ahead of Wegmann.

Writing on his website,, the 27 year-old said, "Since, as expected, the flat stages didn't lead to a decisive winner, it was clear that on Saturday every second would count. So, like on the previous day, I took part in all the intermediate sprints and won several bonus seconds." It wasn't enough in the end, though.

The German road champion had his next chance the very next day in Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt. The peloton stayed together for most of the race, hauling back any escape attempts in an effort to set up a bunch sprint. However, on the last climb of the last lap of the city course, Wegmann made his break. He got away and stayed away, although his lead at the end was registered as only exactly one second.

"After numerous attacks on the final climb I was finally able to get away and win the 17th Nürnberger Altstadt race, in front of beautiful scenery. That was great, and of course gives me self-confidence for the World Championships, which start in Stuttgart in two weeks," he concluded.

Spanish federation to appeal to CAS and to Swiss justice

By Antonio J. Salmerón

The Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) will take up its legal actions against the International Cycling Union (UCI) with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and the Swiss courts. The RFEC is insisting that 27 year-old Spaniard, Alejandro Valverde, be allowed to take part in the World Championships in Stuttgart, September 30. This decision was announced in a press conference after the conclusion of a meeting yesterday morning in Granada of national federations and the Grand Tour organizers.

RFEC President Fulgencio Sánchez said that "the Federation is going to take the Valverde's affair to its end. So, we are going to take immediate legal actions in the courts of Switzerland, as well as in the Court of Sport Arbitration."

Sánchez indicated the legal actions against the UCI were going to be "immediate," although he said that he has not yet filed the cases. Sources consulted by Cyclingnews advised that the actions could come early in the week, taking into account that Valverde's manager, Sánchez Sabater, will travel by plane to Brussels this week.

The matter is in the hands of the RFEC and not Spain's Superior Council of Sports (CSD), "Since the CSD does not have power to make the request," RFEC Secretary Eugenio Bermúdez explained. "We continue counting on the unconditional support of the Spanish Government."

The RFEC noted that there is enough time, but that the subject has to be resolved soon as the Worlds take place at the end of this month.

Pérez is close to contract renewal

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Francisco Pérez is close to a contract renewal
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Francisco Pérez is expected to sign for an additional year with Team Caisse d'Epargne "We are close to signing for one more year, in spite of other interesting proposals," Angel Buenache, Pérez's manager, commented to Cyclingnews.

The 29 year-old Spaniard has been one of the most active Caisse d'Epargne members. "It has been an intensive season for me, but it is good, that means that I have had total confidence from my team directors, and that is not easy in such an quality group," Pérez noted to Cyclingnews.

His only regret for 2007 is "not to have been as strong as I would have liked in the Tour de France," said Pérez, who is considered as one the most important riders of his country.

Pérez joined Caisse d'Epargne in 2005, after disputing the Volta a Portugal as Milaneza Maia's leader. In fact, Pérez debuted with Caisse d'Epargne in the 2005 Vuelta a España. In 2006, Pérez won the Clásica de Almería. This year, Pérez has had strong performance in the Vuelta a Burgos, the Clásica de Alcobendas and the Tour de Romandie.

"It has been a good year for me, but one is not always totally satisfied. I worked too hard for my team; it is what I had to do. However, I would like to have more freedom," Pérez concluded.

Lastras renews contract with Caisse d'Epargne

By Monika Prell

Pablo Lastras in the pre-season
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

Earlier this year, the directors of the Team Caisse d'Epargne communicated to Pablo Lastras that they would not renew his contract, however, times have changed, and the 31 year-old Spaniard has renewed.

Lastras had already spent ten years in the team's organization, and he was keen on continuing. His desires resulted in a winning the queen stage of the Eneco Tour and sixth overall in the Tour of Poland. The opinion of Caisse Directeur Sportifs José Miguel Echavarri and Eusebio Unzúe changed, and a contract renewal was offered.

"We reached a satisfying agreement. Eusebio [Unzúe] congratulated me for the attitude I showed in the last races, and I believe that continued the affection that has existed for the many years of our relationship," commented Lastras. He was reported as "very satisfied" to be able to continue in the team where he has spent his entire sporting career.

Australia announces team for World Championships

Cycling Australia announced today its elite men's team for the upcoming Road World Championships, September 26 to 30 in Stuttgart.

The elite men selected for the road race are Allan Davis, Simon Gerrans, Mathew Hayman, Matt Lloyd, Trent Lowe, Michael Rogers, William Walker, Cadel Evans and Bradley McGee. The latter two will also take part in the time trial with Cameron Wurf.

Cycling Australia previously announced its men's U23 and women's elite teams. The U23 men will be Simon Clarke, Zakkari Dempster, Wesley Sulzberger and Johnnie Walker. Dempster will also contest the time trial. The women's team will be Sara Carrigan, Nikki Egyed, Olivia Gollan, Lorian Graham, Emma Rickards and Oenone Wood. Carrigan and Wood will also contest the time trial, being joined by Vicki Whitelaw.

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