First Edition Cycling News, April 29, 2008
Edited by Sue George
Racing between the lakes in Romandie
Mountainous course offers good Giro prep
By Bjorn Haake
The 62nd Tour de Romandie will take in 659 kilometres when it makes its way from Geneva to Lausanne between April 29 and May 4, once again serving as the final preparation for the Giro d'Italia, scheduled to start just one week after Romandie's conclusion. The parcours features a great mix of terrain, with a short, flat 1.9-kilometre prologue kicking off the Swiss race in Geneva.
The climbers will be tested right away, as the peloton will ride over 182 kilometres from Morges to Saignelegier, taking in two category two climbs as well as the category one peak in Saulcy, the final climb of the day. The highest point of the stage is the first mountain and while not terribly steep, Le Bugnenets is 1117 metres high. The decisive moment will likely come after Saulcy, when the mountain points are already awarded, but a false flat, paired with the final sprint of the day, will show who can deliver. Once the riders have really reached the top, there is another dozen of kilometres to go before the finishing banner.
The second stage goes from Moutier to Fribourg, host of the prologue last year. The altitudes of the stage are roughly between 500 and 800 metres the whole day. While there is one category one, two and three climb each, it is not quite as hard as the day before and could see a small break get clear.
The fourth stage is a time trial from Sion to Sion, which starts out pancake flat for the first seven kilometres, before gradually lifting upwards and then steepening substantially at kilometre nine. Over the course of almost three kilometres, the riders will gain 200 metres in altitude and reach the top at the 728-metre high Croisele. After that, it is almost all downhill, except a little bump a good kilometre before the finish. The total distance will be 18.8 kilometres.
The day after the time trial will see the queen stage, over 127 kilometres from Sion to Zinal, probably one of the most spectacular stages in the history of the tour. However, the riders may not enjoy the start so much. Right when the neutralisation ends the flat road does too and the peloton will have to climb to Vex (1024m) – the worst being that it's not even a ranked climb. The mountain points are given 15 kilometres later, at the 1432-metre high Saint Martin. The category one climb is followed by a high-speed descent towards the first sprint of the day, in Réchy (km 48.6). If a sprinter with climbing legs makes it to that point it is unlikely they can stay with the skinny riders over the 1332-metre high Vercorin. It is also a category one, again followed by a sprint once the bunch is back down in the valley.
From then on, the stage turns from bad to brutal, as the riders will climb over the third category one mountain of the day. Saint Luc stands at 1543 metres, and is only followed by a short descent, before the 1585-metre high Griemenz. It is the final mountain classification point of the day, but to get to the finish the riders will still have to go up to 1677 metres, to reach the comfort of the finish in Zinal. This incredibly hard stage will not only likely bring the decision in the overall, but may have some riders re-think their ambitions for the Giro d'Italia.
The final stage isn't exactly flat, but the biggest difficulty of the day, the 1445-metre high Col de Mosse, comes early in the 154-kilometre stage. After that, the climbing isn't too hard and the run-in to Lausanne is even downhill, so a dramatic finish like last year's time trial in Lausanne may not be on order this year. When the riders see the waters of Lake Geneva again, they know they are home.
Read the complete preview, including more information about the favourites including last year's winner Thomas Dekker.
High Road to use Romandie as Giro dress rehearsal
Fresh off Kanstantsin Siutsou's win at the Tour de Georgia and with less than two weeks to go until the Giro d'Italia, Team High Road is fine tuning its form for the Italian Grand Tour. "Romandie is like a dress rehearsal for the Giro, but a dress rehearsal where we want to win," said Team Manager Rolf Aldag.
"The opening prologue is very short and that's great for Bradley [Wiggins]. We know he can do well in those sorts of challenges. Then there are a couple of stages for the sprinters where Mark [Cavendish] will have a good opportunity. Basically, though, Romandie is a last chance for the team to go through their paces before heading off to the Tour of Italy."
Team High Road plans a line-up nearly identical to the one for the Giro d'Italia. "Romandie is a very complicated race because it's got everything a three-week major Tour has – mountains, flat stages, tough intermediate climbs – all packed into the space of a week," said Aldag. "Miss out on the right move at one point and you've probably not going to have a chance to get back into the action."
In particular, second-year pro Cavendish will get a chance to experience lengthy climbs in the high mountains. "Mark's already shown what he can do in the sprints, and he's got nothing to prove there at all. But Romandie is a chance for him to experience what it's like climbing for 15 kilometres in a 39 by 23 gear – before he does it all over again in the Tour of Italy."
High Road for the Tour of Romandie: Mark Cavendish, Scott Davis, Adam Hansen, Tony Martin, Marco Pinotti, Morris Possoni, Frantisek Rabon and Bradley Wiggins.
Saunier Duval - Scott for the Tour of Romandie: José Angel Gómez Marchante, Eros Capecchi, Rubens Bertogliati, Alberto Fernández de la Puebla, Josep Jufré, Manuele Mori, Ruben Lobato and Luciano André Pagliarini under Pietro Algeri.
Astana for the Tour de Romandie: Thomas Frei, Vladimir Gusev, Maxim Iglinskiy, Andreas Klöden, Julien Mazet, Steve Morabito, Dmitriy Muravyev and Sergey Yakovlev under D.S. Alain Gallopin.
Liquigas at Romandie: Daniele Bennati, Michael Albasini, Manuel Beltrán, Claudio Corioni, Murilo Antonio Fischer, Roman Kreuziger, Matej Mugerli and Ivan Santaromita.
Liquigas not allowed in Henninger Turm race
Team Liquigas has had its invitation to ride in Rund um den Henninger Turm revoked. The Italian team, which recently announced the signing of Ivan Basso for the coming season, told the race organiser that it would not sign the required Code of Ethics for the May 1 race.
"Our nine-point anti-doping programme includes a Code of Ethics for the team managers," said race organiser Bernd Moos-Achenbach on Monday. "This must be turned in by 5:00 pm [local time], Wednesday, April 30, or a team will not be allowed to start in Rund um den Henninger Turm. We had reached a financial agreement with Liquigas, but then they told us in writing that they would not sign the Code of Ethics. So in consequence we told Liquigas that its team would not be allowed to start in Frankfurt."
Moos-Achenbach noted the Basso signing, which goes against the guideline that riders suspended for doping not be signed to a ProTour team for an additional two years after their suspension. "Under these circumstances I find it right when Liquigas doesn't start here. Some teams still haven't understood how seriously cycling is in trouble."
Evans stays focused on Tour de France
After a week of ups and downs, Cadel Evans remains focused on his Tour de France bid. The Silence-Lotto rider finished an impressive second behind Kim Kirchen Team High Road) last Wednesday at the 72nd La Flèche Wallonne. On Sunday at the 94th Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Evans was part of a four man chase group including Christian Pfannberger (Barloworld), Damiano Cunego (Lampre) and Joaquím Rodríguez (Caisse d'Epargne). The chase effort did not succeed though he still finished just 40 seconds off the winner.
"I didn't have the legs for the distance today," said Evans to the AFP after the 261km Liège-Bastogne-Liège, in which he eventually finished seventh. Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde won the event. "The team did everything I asked of them and raced really aggressively... 261 km is a little bit different from the 200 km I did on Wednesday."
The Australian told the AFP that he was happy with his current form and he put his week of racing in perspective. "I hoped for more today [Sunday], but I'm just a part-time Classics rider so I can't be too disappointed. I was more surprised to be [so] good at Flèche Wallonne than I was to be bad today." He knows the real test of his form will come in July in France where all eyes will be watching to see if he can step up to the highest spot on the podium after his second-placed finish in 2007.
Barloworld looking for success at the Subida al Naranco and the Vuelta a Asturias
Although part of Team Barloworld is busy preparing for the Giro d'Italia which starts on May 10, another portion of the squad will tackle back to back races in Spain including the Subida al Naranco on May 1 and the Vuelta a Asturias from May 3 to May 7.
The team is hoping that Moises Duenas can do well in the overall standings of the Vuelta a Asturias after showing some good form in recent weeks. An important test for the Spanish rider, the race will indicate if he is in suitable form for the Tour de France. Among others, Dueñas will be joined by Paolo Longo Borghini, who impressed the team with his rides at the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix, and by Marco Corti, who will continue his effort to gain additional experience during his first full season as a professional.
Barloworld for Subida al Naranco and the Vuelta a Asturias: Moises Dueñas, Diego Caccia, Giampaolo Cheula, Paolo Longo Borghini, Marco Corti, John-Lee Augustyn, Hugo Sabido and Christophe Froome. DS Flavio Miozzo.
Team Type 1 happy with Tour de Georgia
After placing four riders in the top 20 overall and finishing third in the team classification at the Tour de Georgia, Team Type 1 was pleased with its performance. The first-year pro squad finished behind ProTour teams Astana and CSC and ahead of all of the seven domestic teams.
"We focused a lot of attention on this race and it paid off," said Team Type 1 Sport Director Ed Beamon. "I couldn't have asked of any more from these guys. It was absolutely amazing how well they rode, especially on Brasstown Bald."
Team Type 1's success was led by Moises Aldape who finished eighth, Valeriy Kobzarenko in 15th, Chris Jones in 17th and Glen Chadwick in 20th. Ian MacGregor finished 51st and Fabio Calabria, a Type 1 athlete and the youngest rider in the race, placed ninth in the Best Young Rider (Under 25) competition and 59th overall, out of 98 finishers (and 119 starters).
En route, Team Type 1 also registered three top 10 finishes, including two by Aldape. On the race's most decisive stage, the climb up Brasstown Bald Mountain on Saturday, four riders from Team Type 1 were among the first 17 finishers led by Aldape's sixth place.
"I didn't expect to be so high on the general classification," Aldape said. "I'm really happy, especially with the high-caliber talent here. This is a big step for the team to earn respect. I wanted to give something back to the team for signing me and having faith in me and this was my first opportunity."
In Sunday's final stage, a 62.6-mile (100.9 km) circuit race encompassing 10 laps of a course through Downtown Atlanta, the 29 year-old Jones made a valiant attempt jump up the GC as part of an early breakaway. Unfortunately, a flat rear tire and an extraordinarily lengthy wheel change prevented him from regaining his place in the break.
"It was a 45-second gap (between the break and the field) and I had a 55-second wheel change," Jones said. "By the time I got going after my rear wheel puncture, the lead commissaire's car was already on me."
WADA hosts symposium on anti-doping investigatory powers
World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President, the Hon. John Fahey, and WADA's Director General David Howman will host a two-day symposium on the investigatory powers of anti-doping organizations this week in Sydney, Australia. The conference follows up on forums previously held in Colorado Springs in 2006 and in London in 2007. Invited participants will review draft information-sharing protocols with a view to finalizing them for the benefit of enhancing strategies to combat doping.
New Minnesota track event to precede Nature Valley Grand Prix
The Minnesota Fixed Gear Classic track race, scheduled for June 7-8 in Blaine, Minnesota, will be held by organizers of the Nature Valley Grand Prix, just prior to the National Racing Calendar event on June 11-15. The racing program will include a mix of sprint and endurance events and an invitational flying one lap attempt for men and women to establish a track record for this effort.
"Partnering up with this major road event is a great opportunity to get serious media attention for track racing, something that our sport desperately needs," said Bob Williams, National Sports Center Velodrome Director. "We have commitments from some of the world's premiere track cyclists, including several Beijing hopefuls."
"We are especially excited that Roberto Chiappa, the perennial Italian National Champion and former World Champion sprinter, will be taking part in our events. He will bring excellent form with him, coming off a first place sprint effort at the LA World Cup and a fourth place finish at the recent World Championships."
The track races will take place at the National Sports Center Velodrome, just north of Minneapolis on an Olympic standard, 250m afzelia wood structure built by Ralph Schurman in 1990 and is part of the world-class National Sports Center campus. The venue previously hosted the 1992 Olympic trials and the 1999 and 2000 EDS Cups plus the 2001 US National Track Championships.
The event will piggyback off the local MS150 ride, a two-day recreational ride with over 3,500 participants ending on June 8 at the velodrome. "These people, who are largely unaware of track racing, will be delivered right to our event. They are very influential throughout the cycling community and will be great messengers to help spread the word about track racing if we can put on a good show for them," said David LaPorte, Nature Valley Grand Prix Director.
In addition to building the sport of track racing, event organizers are working to raise funds to support a major re-construction effort for the NSC Velodrome, a one-of-a-kind structure. The racing surface is in excellent shape but the substructure is constructed of untreated pine and only has three to five years of life left. Event officials hope to build a national event to position the track to raise the money for an upgraded substructure.
The event will be covered live on the web on Saturday at www.myfox9.com and on Sunday on www.nscsports.org/velo. Track race highlights will also be included in a TV program aired on Fox Sports Net and on Versus in August.
Racers will compete for US$5,000 over two days with a rain date of Monday, June 9. Organizers reported that host housing and low-cost dormitory housing at the National Sports Center are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Minnesota Fixed Gear Classic
June 8 Program
Professional bike racing returns to Toronto
Pro racing will return to Toronto, Canada, for the first time in 17 years with the downtown Toronto Criterium on May 30. The race will run through the city's historic St. Lawrence market district and is expected to draw many of Canada's top road racers to vie for the CAN$20,000 prize list.
"I am ecstatic that we have been able to bring this classic event back to this beautiful and historic venue," said Councillor Adrian Heaps, Chair of the Toronto Cycling Committee. "This is a showcase event in our Bike Month activities; it is a sign that the City openly embraces cycling both as a sporting event as well as a vital mode of transportation ."
The Criterium will build on Toronto's heritage of bike racing. From 1894 to 1927, the City hosted the annual Dunlop Trophy Race, attracting North America's top competitors. An expo will accompany the event. For more information visit www.torontocriterium.com.
Six days of racing in Fort Collins
The Fort Collins Velodrome Association will host the Associates in Family Medicine 6-Day Races at the CSU Oval in Fort Collins, Colorado each Sunday from May 11 to June 15 from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m.
"In support of our effort to bring a world-class community velodrome to Fort Collins, we created this race series to give people a taste of the thrill and excitement of track racing, on the closest thing we have at the moment," said Velodrome Association Director Tim Anderson. "We invite the community to bring a picnic supper and come out and enjoy the festivities with their family and friends."
In addition to free, family-friendly fun and fast-paced excitement for spectators, there will be a wide variety of race categories for all ages and abilities, from kids to novice racers to experienced cyclists, on everything from big wheels and tricycles to custom fixed-gear and freewheeling bicycles. The May 11 kickoff event will also feature a local "celebrity" race.
For more information on the race series, visit www.fcvelodrome.org.
(Additional reporting and research provided by Susan Westemeyer)
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)