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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News, April 23, 2008

Edited by Ben Abrahams & Greg Johnson

Evans testing form in Ardennes Classics

By Shane Stokes

Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Australian rider Cadel Evans has already had a great start to the season, taking four victories. He's riding this week's Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège Classics primarily to test his form and to see where he is in relation to some of his rivals for the Tour de France. However his success thus far in 2008 suggests he could find himself fighting it out for another big result.

After taking stage victories in the Vuelta a Andalucía/Ruta del Sol, Paris-Nice and the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali, as well as the general classification in the latter event, Evans recently placed second to Alberto Contador on the last stage and in the final overall standings of the Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco.

Since then he's been working towards the two Classics he will ride this week. A strong showing there is not crucial, given that he has still two months before his primary season aim, but it would be a nice boost to his morale.

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"Since País Vasco I've been training, mainly for Fleche and Liège," he told Cyclingnews on Monday. "I always do a bit of training towards those, I'm looking to see what I can do there. I want to see if I can be amongst the front-runners; that said, the success of my season is going to be judged by what I do in July and August, not now."

The 31 year-old has been pleasantly surprised by his form thus far. "It has been a good start to the year. I'm a little bit better than I anticipated, but I am a professional and it is never a bad thing to have some wins and for things to going well heading into the bigger races during the season.

"We tweak my programme every year but also each season you get a little bit older, a little bit wiser, and make some improvements and refinements. Things are certainly coming together for me now."

The Silence Lotto rider had an excellent 2007, with some of the top performances being his second overall in the Dauphiné Libéré, second in the Tour de France, fourth in the Vuelta a España and fifth in the world road race championships in September. His consistency earned him the final victory in the ProTour, and he headed back to Australia satisfied with how things had gone.

It's easy to jump to the conclusion that these performances boosted him psychologically and made him more determined while preparing for the new season. However he plays down this suggestion, saying that he has never had a problem knuckling down to what has to be done.

"I don't think that it affects my motivation much," he explained. "I am fairly self-motivated as it is and the external factors don't always have an effect on my motivation."

That said, he is clearly reassured by his strong start to the season. When asked what stood out as the highlight of those four wins, he valued each but felt that one in particular was a boost for Silence Lotto.

"Winning on the Ventoux was certainly prestigious," he said. "And winning the race in Italy changed a few things for me, being married to an Italian and so on. But, if anything, winning at the very start of the year was very good for the team, in terms of their motivation. That is probably the most significant, to be honest."

The team would be similarly psyched if he rides well in Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Last year he was 29th and 36th respectively; his performances so far this season suggest that he should fare better than that this week, putting him ahead of schedule in relation to his Tour de France preparations.

Haedo victorious despite broken hand

By Kirsten Robbins in Augusta, Georgia

Juan Jose Haedo (Team CSC)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Juan Jose Haedo (Team CSC) claimed victory on the Tour de Georgia's second stage, despite riding with a broken hand. The Argentinean sprinter was disappointed to learn of the injury after an accident during a motor pace training session in Gerona, Spain.

The high speed accident happened just a few weeks prior to the start of an important block of racing including the Castilla y Leon, Tour de Georgia and next month's Giro d'Italia. While preparing for the block of racing, Haedo crashed into the back of the motor cycle during a typical pacing session after it was forced to brake hard when a dog that ran out in front of the vehicle.

"It was a no win thing," said Haedo. "Either it was me with the motor cycle or it was me, either way I was going to crash."

As a result of the accident, Haedo has his road bike set up similar to a Paris-Roubaix style with thick handle bar tape. The additional padding, normally saved for the brutal cobbles of Europe, is being used to help absorb the road vibrations traveling from Haedo's bike to his hands.

Without realizing he had broken his hand, Haedo was forced to withdraw from the Castilla y Leon due to the acute hand pain where doctors ran a standard MRI that revealed a fracture.

"The doctors told me I had to use a cast for two or three weeks," said Haedo. "I used the cast for two weeks and I've been without the cast now, just tape for one week now. I think the bone in the hand is probably healing well but the tendons and muscles are weak and it's going to take longer to heal."

Haedo was to not thought to be in contention for Stage 2's field sprint because he dropped to the back of the field during the previous stage's sprint finale. "The reason I sprinted today and not yesterday was because yesterday was a shorter race and the guys were feeling more fresh at the end so it was more risky," said Haedo. "Today the race is longer and harder and so at the end there is less people to fight with and guys are a little bit more tired."

While the Tour de Georgia is a key event for Team CSC's Giro d'Italia preparations, there is no room for further injury to its sprinter. "I am preparing for the Giro right now and that all depends on my hand and my form coming out of this race," explained Haedo. "So, I have to decide not to sprint when it's risky, even if my legs were feeling good. To do that is really hard because I want to be there and I crossed the line yesterday feeling like I could have done something up there, it's not a nice feeling."

While his hand seems to be healing according to his doctor's expectations, Haedo said the pain swelled in his hand about two hours into today's 190 kilometre stage. "It started good today and I was surprised that it started hurting after the first two hours and then when we were two hundred meters to go I didn't feel a thing," said Haedo.

Haedo did not call on his team-mates for help nearing the sprint, as he was not sure he would be capable of contending. "[Brad] McGee was on the opposite side of the field so I had to find my own way a little bit," said Haedo. "Nothing was 100 percent sure for me in the sprint. I just tried to find a good wheel and worked my way up to a good wheel, once I did that I knew I could sprint. But, tomorrow we will help the other teams work."

Sanderson showing renewed promise in Georgia

Nicholas Sanderson (Jelly Belly) rounds the turn
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

The Jelly Belly squad is off to a good start at the 2008 Tour de Georgia after their new recruit from Victoria, Australia, Nic Sanderson, landed second place behind Toyota-United's Ivan Dominguez in the Stage 1 field sprint.

The Continental squad was something of an underdog coming into the race, but began with a promising representation in the Stage 1 breakaway, followed by Sanderson's US podium debut and the 23 year-old's subsequent lead in the best young rider competition.

"I think the events here are really good especially the Tour de Georgia - there are bigger teams here, which takes a bit of the pressure off of us," said Sanderson. "When you get on the podium or take a jersey that's a big bonus for us."

Sanderson confirmed that his colourfully clad team will not be defending the best young rider jersey, mainly because they have their eyes on bigger goals. "I think our main goals here are to go after stage wins and if we get points toward a jersey along the way, that's great too. We want to be able to get our name out as much as we can here. We've got two riders going for GC here, Michael Lang and Aaron Tuckerman who are our climbers. For me it's all about stage wins and maybe the sprint jersey."

The former track rider is no stranger to fast finishes, having won silver at the 2002 world junior track championships in Melbourne followed by a bronze medal at the world junior road championships held in Zolder later that year.

After a wealth of early success, Sanderson signed a two-year professional contract with the Davitamon-Lotto squad, but that quickly ended mid-way through the first season when he was diagnosed with epilepsy.

"I rode with the national team instead last year, but I had a knee injury too during the time after I was aware of having epilepsy," explained Sanderson. "It's a mild case that hasn't affected me too much so far. I think those last two years were pretty average years for me on the bike though."

Sanderson maintains that his European days may not be finished yet, but that the current employment market within cycling left many riders without contract to compete overseas. "There were a lot of guys without jobs so I was happy to get the spot on Jelly Belly over here instead," he said.

"Jelly Belly is great and they're very supportive. I'm taking American racing year by year and I'm concentrating on putting together a really good year, focusing on my racing here in Georgia and then in Philadelphia week." (KR)

High Road's hopes rest with young guns at Flèche Wallonne

With a team in both the men's and women's editions of Flèche Wallonne, Wednesday afternoon will be a busy few hours for Team High Road. While the women's squad will be looking to continue their dominance of this season's World Cup series, the men are looking to their younger riders such as Edvald Boasson Hagen and Tony Martin to animate the race's early stages. Team director Rolf Aldag is hoping the shorter distance of 202.5 km - compared to the 257.4 km at Amstel Gold on Sunday - will see his young team more of a force in the finale.

"In Amstel, as we expected, the younger riders couldn't really go the distance beyond about 200 kilometres," said Aldag. "Twenty or twenty-one year olds find those really long races tough. But Flèche is a completely different ball game. It's shorter and we're hopeful that Edvald and Tony will be getting in the breaks early on."

The team's Ardennes Classics leader, Kim Kirchen, will remain as the main draw card should the early be reeled in - a much more likely scenario considering Flèche Wallonne's recent history. "Kim was in a great little move at the end of Flèche last year with Joaquin Rodriguez (Caisse d'Epargne) that only got reeled in at the foot of the Mur." noted Aldag. "At Amstel he said his condition was good, and he's feeling confident for the weekend.

"But Flèche is a strange race in any case. Some guys who've seen they can do well in Liège after a good race in Amstel hold back a bit, others who feel they haven't got so good form go all out to win. Last year the winner, Davide Rebellin, calculated it perfectly, he sat in the peloton all day, and then went for it on the Mur."

After victories in the last two World Cup races, the High Road women's team will be closely marked on Wednesday according to directeur sportif Ronny Lauke. "We'll be in the spotlight," he said. "Everybody will be watching and waiting for our moves. Our aim has to be to continue with the great run of success we've had up to now.

"Judith [Arndt] finished third in Flèche last year, but we'll be looking at all our options, not just relying on one rider. That's the way we've found we work best. The good news is we've got great morale in the team after these wins."

High Road men's team for Flèche Wallone: Michael Barry (Can), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor), Adam Hansen (Aus), Kim Kirchen (Lux), Tony Martin (Ger), Marco Pinotti (Ita), Frantisek Rabon (Cze), Vicente Reynes (Spa).

High Road women's team For Flèche Wallone: Kim Anderson (USA), Judith Arndt (Ger), Chantal Beltman (Hol), Luise Keller (Ger), Linda Villumsen (NZL), Oenone Wood (Aus).

Leukemans' two-year suspension upheld

The disciplinary committee of the Vlaamse Gemeenschap (Flemish Community) on Tuesday upheld Björn Leukemans' two-year suspension for testosterone usage, rejecting his appeal of the sentence handed down in January. The Belgian rider had argued that a team doctor prescribed a substance which caused the positive test and therefore he was not responsible. Leukemans can further appeal the suspension to the Council of the State.

The 30 year-old tested positive at an unannounced, out-of-competition test shortly before the World Championships in Stuttgart last September. The team subsequently fired both Leukemans and the doctor whom he alleged provided the substance.

The former Silence-Lotto rider did not attend the session on Tuesday. His attorney, Johnny Maeschalck, told the Belga news agency: "I will first study the decision. Then I will talk to Björn and together we will discuss what we will do."

Athens Twilight Criterium kicks off USA Crits Speed Week

Seven races, in seven cities, over seven days with a total prize fund exceeding $100,000 - those are the numbers that make up the USA Crits Speed Week which kicks off Saturday, April 26 with the Twilight Criterium in Athens, Georgia. Around 30,000 fans are expected for the series opener, as well as band R.E.M. playing their new album 'Accelerate' to the crowd.

Last year's series winner Mark Hekman (Toshiba - Santo) also took out the Athens Twilight last year, and knows what it takes to repeat that success. "I won because I was consistent, raced hard the whole time, and didn't crash," said Hekman. Last year Hekman was a member of Team Inferno Racing, but has since joined the Toshiba-Santo Pro Cycling Team presented by Herbalife.

Two new venues will join the established South Carolina cities of Beaufort, Walterboro, Greenwood and Spartanburg this year: the historic Dilworth area of Charlotte, North Carolina will host the penultimate criterium, while Sandy Springs, Georgia will anchor the series.

The full schedule of USA Crits Speed Week:
Athens Twilight Criterium, Athens, Georgia. Saturday April 26.
Beaufort Memorial Classic, Beaufort, South Carolina. Tuesday April 29.
Walterboro Cycling Classic, Walterboro, South Carolina. Wednesday April 30.
Uptown Greenwood Cycling Challenge, Greenwood, South Carolina. Thursday May 1.
Steadman Hawkins Cycling Classic, Spartanburg, South Carolina. Friday, May 2.
Historic Dilworth Criterium, Charlotte, North Carolina. Saturday May 3.
Sandy Springs Cycling Challenge, Sandy Springs, Georgia. Sunday May 4.

McCann tops Lincoln GP entries

David McCann (Giant Asia)
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

The 53rd Lincoln Grand Prix Cycle Race has received 175 entries, including seven times Irish National Champion Dave McCann. Britain's top riders will face the challenge of tough foreign competition with teams and riders from Ireland, The Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Sweden and South Africa amongst the line up for the 86 miles race on Sunday, May 11.

The British teams and individuals represent the very best of the British riders, making it difficult to pick a winner. The Downing brothers from Rotherham have been on the podium twice in the last three years, Malcolm Elliott is back again along with other previous winners, Chris Newton, Mark Lovatt and Kristian House.

The race starts from the Yarborough Leisure Centre at 10 AM and covers 11 laps of the circuit before finishing in Castle Square at around 1.30 PM, where the winners will be presented with their awards. The eight mile circuit takes the riders out of Lincoln, through Burton Village and its twisting tricky descent to the A57 and back towards Lincoln via Long Leys Road and West Parade before the difficult climb of Michaelgate to Castle Square.

The course includes Lincoln's tourist areas along Bailgate and passes through Newport Arch, Lincoln's third century Roman Gateway and one of the few remaining examples of Roman architecture which is still open to traffic, but not on Sunday, May 11 when the roads are closed for the safety of the riders in this classic race.

For more information see

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