Latest Cycling News for September 24, 2007
Edited by Bjorn Haake, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer
3-Länder Tour: Dekker, Burghardt ready for Worlds
Thomas Dekker (Rabobank) and Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile) have dominated the five-day long 3-Länder Tour, a stage race in Germany that goes through three states. This race used to be the Hessen-Rundfahrt. Both Dekker and Burghardt each won two stages. The Dutchman took the time trial victory and secured himself the overall win by being part of the lucky-six break on stage two. That break came to the finish over 11 minutes ahead of the peloton and reduced the number of potential overall winners to a half dozen.
But the race wasn't over for Dekker there, as Jens Voigt, who never gives up, and Frank Schleck were in the break also. Luckily for Rabobank Michael Boogerd had also made the cut, giving them more options than their four other opponents for the final stages. Dekker showed that his good form in the Eneco Tour was no fluke and his disappointing performance in the final time trial was only due to the problems he had following the crash on stage six that also spelled the end of the race for then-leader Nick Nuyens.
Dekker will not ride the time trial, a decision he already took in late August. With this win it showed that the Dutch team had lost a very good podium candidate for the Worlds, but Dekkers health goes first, of course.
As for Burghardt, whose biggest win is Gent-Wevelgem to date, he is in great shape and ready for the Worlds in his home country. Burghardt will only be there for his captain, which will be either Erik Zabel or Stefan Schumacher, depending on who you ask. He has no ambition of his own, but a domestique like Burghardt can make the difference in the end of such a tough race. And getting a German to win the Worlds at home would of course be great for the hosts.
Cordero on Vuelta's future
By Antonio J. Salmerón
Victor Cordero, the general manager of Vuelta a España organizer Unipublic, has summed up the race. Cordero told Cyclingnews that there weren't any riders that could animate the race. He analysed that the race had two phases. "The first one was marked by physical exploits, until the Pyrenees. The second part was more tactical, where the same riders would start the races very relaxed. Although the last week was excellent," the manager added to indicate that it wasn't too passive at all times.
There were times for spectacle, and it was very apparent when Luis Pérez attacked en route to his stage win in Ávila. "That even shook up the overall," Cordero showed himself content with adding the popular stage finish on the cobbled rises into the old town with its ancient walls that always make for a spectacular finish. Cordero also said "the Abantos played out well and we need to repeat that [in the future]," but recognized that "we are at the end of the season," when everybody is a bit tired.
When the subject of Alejandro Valverde and the UCI's attempts to exclude him from the Worlds came up, Cordero indicated that he would not have excluded anybody from the race. "We simply asked the teams to comply with the Code of Ethics and then those [the teams] decide who will come." The race manager also clarified that they aren't judges.
Cordero is looking forward to this week, as it will be an important one, not only because it will be known if Valverde can race or not. "We will also know what the UCI does with us [the Grand Tours, Giro, Tour and Vuelta]. And we will know if what they do with us is correct or not." At this point he wasn't sure how serious the offer of the UCI to let the Grand Tours leave the ProTour was. "The UCI made proposals to each of the three organizers, that aren't valid for all Grand Tours. We have told them [the UCI] what kind of cycling we want and why we aren't OK with the ProTour. The UCI already told us that the director of the committee will make a decision in the subject matter and not just empty talk."
Cordero revealed that it is very difficult to explain to people outside Spain that even though Operación Puerto happened in Spain, "we are more limited than anybody to make decisions because unfortunately we have a very rigid legislation, and the CSD, the reigning party in the government right now, needs to defend its citizens without identifying them."
Aerts first Belgian to finish all three Grand Tours in one year
Mario Aerts has done something that no other Belgian has ever done before. He has ridden all three Grand Tours to the end in one year, reported Sportwereld.be
Two other Belgians tried to do the triple in 1963, Frans Aernouts and Guillaume Van Tongerllo, but they were unable to finish all three races. The only other rider to start all three Grand Tours this year was Alberto Ongarato of Team Milram, who finished the Giro and Vuelta, but not the Tour, due to a crash in stage 12 and a broken collarbone.
The 32-year old Predictor-Lotto rider thus became only the 25th rider to join the "Club of the Triples".
Antequera believes in his team
By Monika Prell
The Spanish national selector Francisco Antequera is convinced that his team is the favourite for the rainbow jersey. He nominated a strong squad with José Iván Gutiérrez and Luis León Sánchez (both Caisse d'Epargne), who will dispute the time trial, and Oscar Freire and Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Alejandro Valverde and Joaquím Rodríguez (Caisse d'Epargne), Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel Euskadi), Carlos Sastre (CSC), Xavier Florencio (Bouygues Telecom), Carlos Barredo (Quick Step) and Manuel Beltrán (Liquigas) for the road race. In case of a potential non participation due to the UCI's efforts to keep him away from Stuttgart, Valverde would be replaced by José Iván Gutiérrez.
"I come to these World Championships with more aspiration than ever because--even if it's not very good to say it--I think that Spain is the favourite," stated Antequera according to El Mundo. He continued that "We have a great squad of workers and three riders who are in top form."
The national selector is convinced that the participation of Valverde won't be endangered. "The arbitral court of Sports (CAS) will declare him innocent because at the moment there is no evidence against him. The UCI will have to let him start. When I saw that the Federation and the Superior Sport Council supported him I was convinced that we will win."
But there is also doubt about Juan Antonio Flecha. "He told me that he has a cold. Today I will talk to him and if he is not better, I will call up another rider. Before, when the teams consisted of 12 riders, there was a bigger margin. Now, with nine riders you have to select riders in perfect condition."
About his two leaders, Antequera believes that "between [Oscar] Freire and [Alejandro] Valverde there is a good harmony. I know that it is harder to focus the [other] riders on supporting two leaders instead of one. So I decided that Freire will be our leader for the final sprint, meanwhile Valverde will have liberty in the last two laps. But if Valverde reaches the finish line together with Freire, he [Valverde] will have to launch for him [Freire]. At the moment Freire is perhaps the fastest sprinter of the world." He is conscious that "Now it's easy to talk, but later, in the race, it will be more complicated to fulfil this, but I want it this way."
The time trialists will travel to Stuttgart today, the street race participants will travel to Barcelona on Wednesday, where they will have a meeting until Thursday when they will fly to Stuttgart. In this meeting, Antequera will explain the tactic. "Samuel [Sánchez] will have to be with every breakaway intent when there are important riders. Both he and Valverde are the riders who will make us calm. The other ones know that they will have to work for the leaders."
The national selector believes that "Italy is without doubt the strongest rival. They have very good riders and their only debility is perhaps that they have too many leaders and few riders to work. Another difficult selection will be the German one, the host squad." Concerning the sprint he considers that "the withdrawal of [Tom] Boonen is not important, we saw in the Vuelta that he was not in a good form."
Leukemans and Devolder up in the air for Belgian team
Belgium is having a hard time putting a team together for the World Championships. Tom Boonen and Nick Nuyens have already had to back out because of injuries, and Stijn Devolder is to decide today whether his knee injury will prevent him from riding. If that's not enough bad news for national coach Carlo Bomans, he has now heard that Björn Leukemans (Predictor-Lotto) is now doubtful.
"Friday I suddenly had a migraine attack," Leukemans told hln.be. "I stayed in bed the whole day Saturday and was able to train a little bit yesterday. I now have to decide whether I will be able to ride on Sunday or not. Tomorrow or Wednesday I will have to see how it goes."
Bomans expected to hear sometime Monday as to whether Devolder would participate. "I trained some on Friday and the pain was bearable," the rider told Het Nieuewsblad. "I will discuss it with my doctor and then decide whether I can ride in the Worlds on Sunday."
"I know that Stijn will make his decision with honour and conscience," Bomans said to Sporza. "If he needs an extra day to be absolutely certain, then he will get it. I have told him that he must not endanger himself."
Exciting finale in Giro Toscana Femminile
The Giro della Toscana Femminile stage race in Italy was decided on Sunday by seconds. Going into the stage all eyes were on Italian Noemi Cantele (Bigla Cycling Team) and German Judith Arndt of the T-Mobile squad. The two were separated by only five seconds in the overall and with the bonus seconds on the line it was not impossible for Arndt, who is a strong sprinter, to move back into the lead.
However, Cantele had also proven that she can stay at least close with Arndt and another win for Arndt followed by Cantele, like in stage five, would not have been enough, with a net gain of four seconds.
So T-Mobile instead used a different tactic that and sent seventh-placed Dutchwoman Chantal Beltman up the road, into a break that contained seven other riders. Beltman was 1'47" back at the beginning of the day and was leader on the road, with the Bigla Cycling Team in the defensive. Cantele fought back, though, and the break eventually managed to get only 1'43". Even the two-second bonus during the stage wasn't enough and in the end T-Mobile was second and third overall, with Beltman only two seconds from victory and Arndt still five seconds back.
But the win belonged to Cantele, who had shown a lot of grinta during the race and deservedly took the victory in this stage race that is also known as the Memorial Michela Fanini, named after the Italian who tragically died in a road accident in 1995.
Boonen looks back at 2007
"The Tour de France was my biggest success this year, although that is not my favourite race," Tom Boonen of Quick.Step-Innergetic has said in looking back at his 2007 season.
In an interview with Sporza, he said that even though he won the Tour's green sprinter's jersey, "I had great difficulty finding my motivation again after the Tour. The Tour de France is a strange small beast that devours much energy. I barely touched my bike for days on end."
He vigorously rebuts claims that he is not a "real sprinter." "Nonsense!" he said, noting that he has beaten "the Freires and Petacchis". He added that "people want to put you in a box. I have won both Classics and sprints, and the people don't know how to classify me."
"I don't want to give up sprinting," the 26 year-old said. "I still enjoy it and my sprint is just now beginning to get good." He noted that "A good sprint preparation is actually of more value to me than the win itself. My second stage win in the Tour this year was a perfect example. But there is still a lot to improve."
He has had his difficulties this season, he noted. "I have fallen a lot this year, but luckily was never seriously injured. Some riders crash 15 times a year. If I fall and hurt my little finger, it's in the newspapers."
Boonen also had personal problems this season. "I had problems with my relationship but that happens to everyone. It didn't break me." He also said that he will be moving out of Monaco. "The move to Monaco was part of the problem. I won't stay here too long. When I left Belgium it was necessary because the 'Boonen mania' had broken out. Now that is over, fortunately."
Langeveld enjoyed riding for the leader
22 year-old Sebastian Langeveld of Team Rabobank has just finished his very first Grand Tour and said, "I am really glad that it is over. Those three weeks have passed quickly. You always have to wait and see how you will digest such a long tour, but I am pretty happy with how it went. I think that is the case because we as a team constantly had something to focus on. We went for Freire in the first week and after that for Menchov. Time passes much faster when you are constantly in the lead of the pack and riding next to the leader."
Writing on the team's website, rabobank.nl, he said "I thoroughly realize how unique it is to be on the team that wins the leader's jersey in your first major tour. Winning such a tour is something you might experience only once at all as a cyclist. And then immediately in your first time: it is just amazing. I am privileged."
The successful Rabo team ended the race with a small celebration. "On Saturday we celebrated it a little already; the entire team went for a nice dinner in a restaurant. A good moment, unwind for a while and have a few glasses of wine. I felt like standing upside-down after two glasses already because I am pretty messed up now," Langeveld noted.
But the partying is already over for the youngster, who now has a further assignment. "I have also immediately set my sights on the world championships. That is how seriously I take this sport."
Van Goolen to CSC
Jurgen Van Goolen is the next Discovery Channel rider to find a new home. He will ride for Team CSC for the next two years, as Sportwereld.be reported that he has an oral agreement with Bjarne Riis. "I will sign the contract next weekend," the 26 year-old Belgian said.
He finished the Vuelta a España in 31st position, 49'50" behind winner Denis Menchov, and also finished second behind Menchov in the mountain ranking. "Of course I am disappointed that I missed out on the mountain jersey at the final podium of the Vuelta. On Thursday I came in exactly 1000 metres too short on the Cat. 1 climb. Otherwise I would definitely have won the silver jersey. I have nothing to blame myself for. I used up my whole gas tank in the Vuelta."
"On the other hand, the world has gotten to know me here," he added. "A month ago I had absolutely no concrete proposal for a new contract."
Gerrit Glomser gets ready with home win
Gerrit Glomser of the Volksbank team has been getting a late invitation to the Worlds, but his form is certainly good. Sunday he won the GP Vorarlberg, the last race in the Austrian Tchibo-Cup. Glomser, who also won a stage in the Tour of Austria, finished the 175-kilometre race solo and 1'23" ahead of his closest rivals, Nico Keinath and Michael Franzl of Germany. Markus Eibegger got 30th, but had already secured the overall win of the nine-race series.
"A win in Vorarlberg in front of the home crowd is of course very important for us," a happy Glomser declared after the race, according to radsport-aktiv.de. "More is not possible. We dominated the race and were very active. And you can't motivate yourself better for the Worlds than with a win. My form is good, I am prepared 100%."
100 years for a million trees
Saunier Duval has participated throughout the season on a humanitarian project for reforestation in Mali, called '100 years for a million trees.' The Vuelta a España did want to pitch in and Víctor Cordero, the General Manager of the race, presented a symbolic cheque for 477,238 kilometres to the representatives of the project. In this way, the Spanish Grand Tour joined Saunier Duval's initiative by adding all the kilometres covered by this year's 145 riders who made it to Madrid. The ceremony was held at the control post in Rivas-Vaciamadrid, the starting point of the final stage, and it was attended by all the members of the yellow squad, as well as Francisco de Borbón, Duke of Seville and Honorary Consul of Mali in Spain, and Javier Santa Cruz, Marketing and Business Manager at Saunier Duval, who gave the Consul the cheque to plant almost half a million trees in the African country.
The "100 Years for a Million Trees" project commemorates the 100th anniversary of the heating solutions provider with a humanitarian initiative aimed at fighting desertification in Mali. During this campaign, each kilometre covered by the "red birds" equals one tree planted in the African country. One kilometre is worth twice as much when it's raced in a breakaway, and five times as much in stage wins. Moreover, different figures in the world of sports and culture, like Eddy Merckx, Miguel Indurain or Paolo Meneguzzi, are adding in their kilometres or making their own contributions to the project.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)