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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News, April 24, 2008

Edited by Hedwig Kröner, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Hendy takes yellow in Georgia

By Kirsten Robbins in Gainesville, Georgia

Greg Henderson (High Road) was a wanted man at the finish
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

After falling shy of a win the previous day's stage two field sprint, New Zealand sprinter Greg Henderson assured his fans he would claim a stage during the Tour de Georgia. Henderson, backed by his High Road teammates did not disappoint the stage three finishing crowd in Gainesville when his team entered onto the finishing circuits lined up front and delivered him to the line in a victory salute.

According to the race winner, his team took him safely around the finishing circuits and in good position to sprint over the final climb. His winning sprint time bonus also assured himself the race lead by nine seconds ahead of Tyler Farrar (Slipstream).

"Well, with Papa Georgio [George Hincapie] leading you out, you're too scared to fail," joked the new race leader Greg Henderson who felt his early track season helped in his seated sprint downhill to the line. "I was on his wheel for 30 kilometres yesterday and the last 15 kilometres today. He's great because he's so smooth. He never surges on the uphill and you can trust him to get you into exactly the right position on the circuits.

"Coming over the hill, George just nailed it and Greipel dived down inside of me in the last corner: It was a drag race between us to the line," continued Henderson, describing the final two 100 meters. "The sprint was deceiving because it actually ended at the top of the hill. Even though we were going downhill, I couldn't press any harder on the pedals and it's hard for people to pace you on a downhill. So the race was really to the top of the hill."

Hendy's team-mate Greipel also got some kisses
Photo ©: Kurt Jambretz
(Click for larger image)

Henderson's teammate from Germany, Andre Greipel, took the lead out's final pull to the line and picked up second place on the day. According to Henderson in the post race press conference, Greipel is in equally good form, but that he earned the opportunity to be the chosen sprinter in Georgia based on his pre-season efforts.

"I've come off of some pretty good form at the moment and I sacrifice myself a lot for the team over in Europe, so they decided that it was time to give me a chance to win and so I am happy to be able to do that," said Henderson who recently helped his teammate Mark Cavendish win the Scheldeprijs-Vlaanderen in Belgium, placing seventh himself.

According to Henderson, having a victory in the Tour de Georgia is important with regards to the team's American license and affiliation with the country's cycling sponsorships and community. "It's always very important for Team High Road to win here in America because we are an American bike team," said Henderson, who had competed four years with the domestique Health Net squad before signing a contract with the former T-Mobile in 2006.

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"It's important that we race strong and race well. Now, we have the stage win, we nearly had one yesterday and we have the yellow jersey and the sprint jersey, so things are going pretty good at the moment," continued Henderson. "I've raced in America, before I went to Europe for four years and I always get motivated when I come back here and race against the same guys I used to race with, catching up with old teammates, friends and not so friends in the peloton, it's good."

Winner of Philadelphia's formerly known USPro Championships in 2006, Henderson has his eyes set on a repeat victory later this season. "Philly is a really important race for our team and I'm on that schedule again, being a past winner there," said Henderson, who will be racing in the four days of Dunkerque and the Vuelta a Catalunya before travelling to Philadelphia.

Duggan badly hurt, but improving

Timmy Duggan of Team Slipstream-Chipotle is said to have suffered head injuries in his crash in Wednesday's third stage of the Tour de Georgia, but the last report indicated that his condition was improving.

Slipstream director Chann McRae had said that the rider was having convulsions when the team car reached him. According to Duggan's good friend, Ian McGregor of Team Type 1, who is also in the race, the Slipstream rider also suffered bleeding in his head. McGregor later reported that Slipstream manager Jonathan Vaughters told him that the brain swelling was going down. Duggan was conscious after the accident, but was said to be sedated and in stable condition in the hospital in Athens, Georgia.

Slipstream's Tyler Farrar told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper, "We were really worried. We were on the radio back with (team manager) Chann McRae just trying to get news. We had no idea. We saw him laying on the ground and that was it. We got word throughout the race, updates. It's scary, you know. Any head trauma's scary. Broken bones are broken bones, but head trauma is different. We're really thinking about him a lot."

Schumacher on the up despite Flèche crash

By Gregor Brown in Huy, Belgium

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Germany's Stefan Schumacher is on the up despite a crash in Wednesday's Belgian Classic, Flèche Wallonne. The 26 year-old of Team Gerolsteiner, winner of last year's Amstel Gold Race, is determined to leave the Ardennes Classics week with a high grade.

A 15th-place finish in last weekend's Amstel Gold Race and a 19th-place yesterday in the 72nd Flèche Wallonne were less than what was expected from Schumacher coming into the week of racing known as the Ardennes Classics; however, he felt his form was going in the right direction for this Sunday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

"My form is going up," said a polite Schumacher to Cyclingnews after crossing the line in Huy, following yesterday's 199.5-kilometre race. "I think for Liège I will be really good. I am motivated."

He had a setback during the final fifty kilometres of the race that was won by Luxembourg's Kim Kirchen (High Road). "I had a crash and a lot of pain," he explained, soaked with rain and road debris from the day. "I don't know, first I thought it was the collarbone but ahh... no. It is okay – I think. It is only pain and nothing broken for sure."

The incident did not leave him in an ideal position to battle on the race-ending climb, Mur de Huy. "I think it was not my climb, I did not feel so good in the finale," Schumacher added. His Gerolsteiner team-mate and last year's winner, Davide Rebellin, battled at the sharp end of the group, managing sixth spot.

(For more on Schumacher read Schumacher under pressure at Amstel.)

Hesjedal's hopes dashed by puncture

By Gregor Brown in Huy, Belgium

Bad luck for Ryder Hesjedal (Slipstream Chipotle - H30)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Despite strong support from Slipstream Chipotle - H30 team-mate David Millar, young Canadian Ryder Hesjedal had his hopes dashed in the finale of the 72nd Flèche Wallonne due to a flat tyre. The 27 year-old pressed on up the Mur de Huy through the throngs of cheering Belgian fans to come across the line a minute and a half following race winner Kim Kirchen.

"At three 'K' I was skipping around, but I thought it was the wetness," Hesjedal explained to Cyclingnews following the 199.5-kilometre race in Belgian's Walloon Region. He continued to explain that he was with one of the race favourites and front-runner, Australian Cadel Evans, who went on to finish second. "Then all of a sudden Dave [Millar] had me, I was right with Cadel [Evans] – no problem. I was in the front ten."

However, bad luck took its toll on the top-finishing rider from the US-based squad managed by former professional Jonathan Vaughters. Hesjedal faced the race-ending climb of Mur de Huy in good position before his race truly went pear-shaped. "Top ten coming into the bottom of the Mur de Huy, but I had a puncture right at the bottom of the hill.

"I can't believe that, right when it was 'go time' it just went 'waa waa,' and I was like 'what?'"

Great Britain's Millar continued to support his younger team-mate, offering his wheel. "He was getting me in good position today, thinking I could have a go. ... I yelled at Dave, he gave me his wheel and I rode up. It was kind of frustrating, but I was happy with that insane race. I was in the final until the very end."

It was the third participation in the Flèche Wallonne for Hesjedal, who now aims for this Sunday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

The Slipstream Chipotle - H30 team is mainly using the Ardennes Classics as form building for the Giro d'Italia, May 10 to June 1. Millar confirmed the post-Liège-Bastogne-Liège plans, "From here, the team goes to Girona for team time trial training."

Rabo youngsters show Classics promise

Gesink and Dekker both finished in the Top 5 of the race
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Team Rabobank was more than happy with the results of the Flèche Wallonne, as Robert Gesink and Thomas Dekker finished fourth and fifth. The team might not have won the race, but it can look to those two young riders as strong possibilities in future Classics. Gesink is 21 and a second year pro, while Dekker is 23 and in his fourth pro year, and both overtook a lot of their elder rivals in the finishing climb in Huy, failing to win only by a few seconds.

"Our youngsters performed amazingly well. Winning comes first, but looking at this field of specialists we can all live with this result," said team manager Frans Maassen after the race. Gesink said, "This was the best we could do. Maybe I could have ended up on the podium because I overtook Cunego on the finish, but he countered that. A shame. But otherwise I am definitely satisfied. Second-year professional and a fourth-place finish here. That boosts morale."

The two young Dutch riders stayed with the main group with the favourites throughout the race and powered their way up the final climb of the Mur de Huy in the pouring rain, outdoing many of their elders.

"I know that the rider who has saved most will win here. I held back as much as I could during the race and on the Mur I chose to let it go for a moment," Gesink explained. "I think that was a smart decision, because we overtook a bunch of guys at the end. But some of these men are still just a little too explosive for me on a climb like this."

There was no win for Rabobank there this year, but this may change in the future. "I am 21 and I am new to the game," Gesink said. "In a race like the Flèche Wallonne it also boils down to some experience and toughness. I am obviously mostly lacking in that area. But that also goes for Thomas. The men that finish in front of us are all quite a bit older. They will have to try and defeat us when we are that age."

Vos doubles in Huy

Marianne Vos (DSB Bank) is the
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

DSB Bank's Marianne Vos achieved her second consecutive victory in the Women's Flèche Wallonne yesterday. The Dutch rider was the one with the most juice left over her rivals at the dreaded Mur de Huy and distanced Marta Bastianelli and Judith Arndt (High Road) to second and third places. Vos, who also was second in the Ronde van Drenthe behind Chantal Beltman ten days ago, thus took over the World Cup lead once again.

"I already won this race in 2007, so it really wasn't that much a goal this year than it was last year," she soberly told in the finish. "Still, I like that climb and I know I can get out of the saddle pretty well here so I still wanted to do something with that potential."

Vos admitted her positioning in the finale hadn't been perfect, but she still was able to pull it off. "As everything came back together before Huy, I knew it was a question of sprinting to the foot of the last climb," she explained. "I was actually riding a bit too far back, but at the bottom of the ascent I made it onto Arndt's wheel. With 250 metres to go, I made my attack – it was far away, but nobody could follow me."

The victory showed Vos' good form this spring, but the Dutchwoman insisted it took more than that to make it to the top of the podium in Huy. "Of course you can't win here with bad legs," she said. "But you can't compare this course with anything else. It's actually about giving it everything within 400 metres using a ridiculously small gear. This hasn't got anything to do with [the Olympic Games in] Beijing, either."

Speaking of which, Vos re-iterated her desire to do well in the Olympic road race, concentrating on this goal rather than another Word Championship title. "Last year, it was [a season goal], and I also knew I could win it, but this year it just doesn't fit into the programme, as the Olympics are of course the main objective."

Rasmussen still hoping for come-back

Michael Rasmussen, who was taken out of the Tour de France last year because of his unclear whereabouts prior to the event and is currently suspended and without a team, still hopes to return to racing this year. The 33 year-old Dane, who was wearing the Yellow Jersey at the Tour when the scandal broke, was a spectator at the finish of yesterday's stage two of the Giro del Trentino, won by Stefano Garzelli.

"I'm waiting for the Monaco cycling federation to hear my version of the facts, but nothing happens," Rasmussen said to Gazzetta dello Sport on Thursday, insisting that he had been sacked by his former Rabobank team "without proper reason. I cannot – and I don't want to race before my situation is cleared up. I continue training, and I am convinced that I will be able to fight for victory again in a month's time.""

Volunteers needed for Commerce Bank Triple Crown

Planning is well underway for the 2008 Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling events in Pennsylvania, USA, and the organisers of the series have called for volunteers to help in the three races. Hundreds of volunteers will be needed in the following areas: course marshals, stage crew, foreign language interpreters, hospitality, marketing and public relations, and driver support.

The races are: Lehigh Valley Classic on Tuesday, June 3, Reading Classic on Thursday, June 5, and Philadelphia International Championship & Liberty Classic on Sunday, June 8.

For more information about volunteer opportunities, go to

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