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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for September 23, 2007

Latest Cycling News for September 25, 2007

Edited by Bjorn Haake, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Worlds Squadra Azzurra finds rhythm in Treviso

By Gregor Brown

Franco Ballerini
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The men that form Italy's team for the World Championships are finding their rhythm in Treviso. Today the nine-man team and its reserves will train for five hours, tomorrow a similar session before departing for Stuttgart at 18:00. The Elite Men's road event, 14 circuits totaling 267.4 kilometres, is scheduled for Sunday, September 30.

The area, Bandie di Spresiano (Treviso), selected by National Directeur Sportif Franco Ballerini, will host the 2008 Cyclo-Cross Worlds, and it is also near to the homes of Squadra Azzurra members Marzio Bruseghin and Alessandro Ballan. "We are like the Indian guides; I am for the area left of Piave, Ballan for the right," commented Bruseghin to La Gazzetta dello Sport yesterday.

The team found its rhythm, but also its camaraderie with group dinners and visiting wives and girlfriends. Bruseghin, or 'Il Asino' (the mule, he has 21 mules on his farm - ed.) is comfortable with the team, and he knows his role will be as domestique deluxe. The complete Squadra Azzurra is Paolo Bettini, Ballan, Alessandro Bertolini, Bruseghin, Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Filippo Pozzato, Davide Rebellin and Andrea Tonti; Giovanni Visconti and Vincenzo Nibali are the reserves.

"These are complete riders," Bruseghin said of the team's large number of potential captains. "Men like Ballan come from the ranks; he knows what it means to work. Bettini knows how to explode the race, attacking from far out. So too, Rebellin, Pozzato, Di Luca. These five won't wait for the ball to be in front of the goal; they will make the hard and the easy goal. They are talented enough to make the opportunities occur.

"This is a Worlds with five-thousand metres of climbing, worse than a mountain stage," he continued. The winner of the Giro d'Italia mountain time trial to Oropa thinks that the high captain to domestique ratio will work in the team's favour on a demanding parcours. "The selection is inevitable. It is better to have three, four men after 220 kilometres in the small group that can vie for victory. It is necessary to have solid riders, and our team has this."

Ballerini is expected to lead the team on a reconnaissance of the Stuttgart circuit on Thursday and Friday. It is a 19.1 kilometre circuit; 405.7 metres of climbing that includes the steep Herdweg (700m long at km 4, max of 13%), the long Birkenkopf (1100m at km 9.2, 8%) and the finish of Am Kochenhof (2800m at km 19.1, 7%). (Read the complete World Championships preview.)

Germany's final selections

Germany has announced its final men's line-up for its "home" World Championships this week in Stuttgart. Erik Zabel and Stefan Schumacher will lead the mean's team in the road race on Sunday.

That team will consist of Zabel (Milram), Schumacher (Gerolsteiner), Gerald Ciolek (T-Mobile), Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile), David Kopp (Gerolsteiner), Ronny Scholz (Gerolsteiner), Christian Knees (Milram), Jens Voigt (CSC) and Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner). Replacement riders are Marcel Sieberg (Milram) and Stephan Schreck (T-Mobile). German champion Bert Grabsch (T-Mobile) and Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) will ride the men's time trial.

The U23 selection will be headed by Alexander Gottfried, who is the most experienced. Tony Martin, who will be riding for T-Mobile next year, finished a convincing second at the Tour de l'Avenir, even having had the yellow jersey for a couple of days. Coach Bernd Dittert can also count on Mathias Belka, Simon Geschke and Dominic Klemme. The individual time trial will be contested by Marcel Kittel, who has won two world championships titles as a junior in the discipline and Stefan Schäfer, who won the junior's bronze medal in 2004.

For the women's time trial national coach Jochen Dornbusch will be able to count on Hanka Kupfernagel, who has always a chance of winning, no matter if it's on the road, in the time trial or in the cross races. Charlotte Becker will also wear the red jersey of the national team in the race against the clock.

In the road race Kupfernagel will be accompanied by Judith Arndt, who said she would give up own ambitions if another woman on her team would have better chances. Her recent second place in the Ladies Expert Tour however showed that she is on form. Additionally there is current German champion Luise Keller and her predecessor, Claudia Häusler. The team is completed by Eva Lutz and Trixie Worrack. Sprinters like Regina Schleicher or Ina-Yoko Teutenberg were not nominated.

"We have good teams on the start with the men as well as the women and the U23 squads, and want to contest for the medals in all three classes," said the German federation's sport director Burckhard Bremer to the sid news agency.

Hans-Michael Holczer of Gerolsteiner and T-Mobile's Jan Schaffrath will serve as sport directors. Gerolsteiner's Christian Henn and T-Mobile's Rolf Aldag were specifically excluded from participation, because of the doping confessions this past spring.

Aldag told the dpa that "I wouldn't have done it anyway." As an alternative, he proposed the nomination of former sprinter Marcel Wüst as the team's sports director. "Wüst is independent, knows the scene from his active days and from the perspective of a TV commentator. He would surely be accepted by everyone."

Devolder and Leukemans fit for Belgium

Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel) was going a bit better
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

Belgian national coach Carlo Bomans finally got some good news. Both Stijn Devolder and Björn Leukemans will be able to start in the road race on Sunday. Leukemans confirmed that he has fully recovered from his migraine attack of last weekend.

"Stijn called me to say that he trained well, that it is all coming in order again. The swelling on his knee is gone, and he feels a lot less pain. We still have to wait and make sure it stays that way the next few days," Bomans told

Devolder said, "I had an easy training without too much strain on the knee. It has been getting better since the weekend. The doctor said however that the cartilage is not yet fully healed after my crash 11 days ago. If it all goes well, then I can do a last heavy duration training on Tuesday or Wednesday. Then I will give it my all on Sunday for the very last time this season."

Denifl and Graus out of TT for Austria

The Austrian national team has lost two riders for Wednesday's U23 and women's time trials, leaving Christiane Soeder as the country's lone representative on that day. Both Stefan Denifl and Andrea Graus have had to cancel their appearances due to colds.

Denifl would have been the only U23 time trialist for Austria. "He was a little under the weather the last few weeks," said national trainer Franz Hartl. The youngster will now concentration on Saturday's road race, as will Graus. Both will now arrive in Stuttgart on Thursday to prepare for the road races.

Klier's dream is Flanders

Klier triumphs in the Vuelta!
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Andreas Klier of T-Mobile has recently won a stage in the Vuelta a España. But usually the German, who has been living in Belgium for the past nine years, excels in the spring classics, where he feels the most pressure to perform. He told that "from February until April I have to have good results. In previous years the pressure wasn't so high, as I had strong captains who I was riding for."

The lack of pressure may have helped the win in Spain along, but Klier revealed that he had targeted this exact stage in advance. "In the sprints we were riding for Greipel and in the mountains I don't stand a chance anyway. That left three stages and that one was the best for a rider with my characteristics."

The horrifying weather that day with torrential rain falls and hail didn't bother him too much, as it reminded him on the Belgian classics. And while he didn't want to say that it's the reason he won he admitted that "I was happy I didn't have 50 degrees centigrade under my helmet. That isn't really what I like."

A day after his win he dropped out to prepare for the Worlds, but already knew his chances were slim. He ended up not being nominated and was not disappointed about it. "If I were the national selector I would have preferred a skinnier rider also. The course is so difficult." And while he can't judge how the top riders on the team, Wegmann, Schumacher, Zabel and Ciolek are doing right now, he hopes for a medal at least for the German team. His take on the course is that riders who can done well in Liège-Bastogne-Liège or Lombardia will have the best chances, "riders like Di Luca or Bettini."

The remainder of his year will consist of the Circuit Franco Belge, where he is hoping to do well, and Paris-Tours, where he wouldn't mind riding for Ciolek, should the new sprinter star take the start. Klier really likes to have this feeling again "to ride from the front. I am really looking forward to ride for Gerald Ciolek and Mark Cavendish next year."

Not that he doesn't have ambitions for himself and he will be again targeting the springs classics, the six weeks from mid-March through April. "The Tour of Flanders I would really like to win. I was three times in the top ten and I think I have at least two more years where I can contest the race for victory. I am 31, the best age for the spring classics."

The German, who used to live in Munich, would like to end his career with T-Mobile, but should that not be possible he wouldn't mind moving to a Belgian team. He likes the country where "I have been living since 1998. I feel great here and certainly wouldn't negotiate with an Italian team."

Moncoutié returns to peloton

By Hedwig Kröner

David Moncoutie (Cofidis)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

French climber and Tour de France stage winner David Moncoutié will be back in the peloton next season. Moncoutié, after fracturing his left femur at the Tour de Romandie this year, was out of competition for the rest of the 2007 season and even thought about quitting the job altogether, as 2006 had already been a blank year for him because of injury. But the 32 year-old has decided to give it a go once again and re-signed for another year with his team Cofidis.

"I just started to train on the first little climbs around my new home in Lyon," Moncoutié told L'Equipe. "It's hillier here than in Toulouse. I still miss a bit of power in my leg, but mechanically speaking, everything works fine. I might even feel the tendon [his 2006 injury] more than my femur."

The rider started cycling again only in the beginning of August, but it was watching the television in July that triggered his decision to come back. "Watching the races on the telly, I realised that I still wanted it," he explained. "Even before getting back on a bike, it was very clear: I have an enormous longing to pedal, I still have the passion for the bike. I would have been frustrated to stop my career like this. If I had started my career like this with two injuries, I would have asked myself a lot more questions. But I never had a problem in my first five years as a pro, so I know that this is just some bad fate. And I want to take revenge on that fate..." To be continued.

A successful Vuelta for the German teams

By Susan Westemeyer

The German teams can look back at a reasonably successful Vuelta a España. Milram took three stage wins and T-Mobile two, while Gerolsteiner placed a rider in the top 15.

Milram is technically an Italian team but has a German sponsor. It was looking to star sprinters Alessandro Petacchi and Erik Zabel, and they didn't let the team down. Zabel was the first to strike, winning the seventh stage.

Petacchi won two stages in the Vuelta, maybe helped by the fact that triple winner Oscar Freire had quit the race to prepare for the Worlds. The Italian took stage 11 and stage 12, but then couldn't get another one, finishing third in the 17th stage and narrowly getting second in the finale in Madrid in a drag race against Daniele Bennati, who was the other rider besides Freire to get three sprint wins.

Milram also achieved a success in that it was the only one of the three German teams to finish with all nine riders.

T-Mobile had come into the race with minimal expectations, saying it had no rider for the GC and would look to escape groups. It suffered two unexpected losses in the race. Lorenzo Bernucci was removed from the race after the third stage and dismissed from the team after a positive test for an appetite suppressant. The team's other Italian in the race, Giuseppe Guerini, dropped out due to illness after the 16th stage. It was the 37-year-old's last race before retirement.

The team had good news, too, though, as German time trial champion Bert Grabsch surprisingly won the first time trial by 34 seconds. The team would have been happy with that, but Spring Classics specialist Andreas Klier added to the total. He got in the right escape group in the 13th stage, and out-sprinted Gerolsteiner's Tom Stamsnijder of Holland to win the stage. T-Mobile finished with only five riders in the race.

Gerolsteiner's best stage finish was Stamsnijder's second place in that 13th stage, when his move was answered by Klier and the German out-sprinted him in the final few hundred metres. Its biggest surprise in the race was a pleasant one, the emergence of Oliver Zaugg. The little (168 cm) Swiss rider finished 15th overall. "That is really a great result," said Directeur Sportif Reimund Dietzen. "Oliver just got stronger as the three weeks went along and constantly showed a good performance." The team's two captains, Davide Rebellin and Stefan Schumacher, both were using the race as training for the World Championships and dropped out about halfway through, leaving Gerolsteiner to finish the race with seven riders.

Brett Aitken back in Tassie Tour

Brett Aitken in the centre again
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Sydney Olympic Games gold medalist Brett Aitken has entered the Jayco Tour of Tasmania and has his eye fixed firmly on winning the criterium championships.

The Adelaide-based Aitken, 36, said today he was fitter than he had been for the past four years and was eagerly anticipating the challenge of the six-day tour which starts in Devonport on Tuesday, October 2. "I'm not in super condition, probably about three kilograms too heavy, but I am looking forward to having a go in the criteriums," he said. "I'll probably struggle in the hills but there are enough flat stages for me to hopefully have a pretty good tour."

Aitken will contest the tour with his Savings and Loans team which also contains the in-form David Pell, of Bendigo. There are five criteriums in the 11-stage Tour of Tasmania and all of them should provide superb viewing for spectators. Criteriums will be held in Devonport, Ulverstone, Burnie and Westbury before the grand finale street race at Launceston's Brickfields Reserve on Sunday, October 7. The criterium championship will be sponsored by the Country Club Tasmania which has linked with the Launceston City Council to host an entertaining range of family activities in the Brickfields Reserve on the final day.

Aitken teamed with Victorian Scott McGrory to win the Madison gold medal at the Sydney Olympics but has struggled for form and motivation ever since. He showed glimpses of his true class in winning the opening criterium of the Tour of the Murray River in Echuca on August, 26 and finished a close second to fellow Olympian gold medalist Peter Dawson in the event's final street race in Waikerie, South Australia. "I gained a lot of confidence from the Tour of the Murray River," Aitken said.

The Jayco Tour of Tasmania is the final leg of the four-part Timbercorp Cup National Cycling Series. The Timbercorp Cup series began with the Tour of Gippsland in early August, followed by the Australian Cycling Grand Prix in Ballarat and the Tour of the Murray River. Sydneysider Peter McDonald leads the series by 11 points from Queenslander Grant Irwin, with Victorian Patrick Shaw in third place.

Successful Living extends sponsorship for three years

Successful Living, a company based in Southern California promoting wealth building, motivation, and healthy living, has extended its sponsorship for the domestic US team for another three years. The sponsorship started last year. The team's director is Steve Hegg, former racer who won a gold medal in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, among many other things.

"The team definitely displayed true team work through out the season and we plan on building it further for 2008 and beyond," said Hegg. "Our goal is to keep the momentum going and become the number one team in the US in the next three years."

Based in Ventura, California, Team Successful Living Pro Cycling, managed by Lemire Racing, LLC enters its third year of competition under the continuous title sponsorship of Successful Living. The team is comprised of 12 full time professionals who earned over 30 victories including five NRC wins in 2007. The team will wrap up its season at the USA Crit Finals in Las Vegas on September 27.

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