First Edition Cycling News, April 30, 2008
Edited by Sue George and Laura Weislo
Astana gets Vuelta nod
The Astana team will be allowed to contest this year's Vuelta a España, the organiser Unipublic announced Tuesday. After being refused entry to the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia, the team of the 2007 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador was expecting to target the Vuelta in the latter part of the season. The team had received a word of support from the Spanish Tour director Victor Cordero in February, but had to wait for today's official invitation to be certain.
Of the 18 ProTour teams, only Team High Road is not on the list, having withdrawn its application for the race. Three wild card teams were invited, making a total of 20 teams for this year's edition. The Spanish Karpin Galicia team of the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey winner David Garcia Dapena earned a nod, as did the Andalucía - Cajasur team of sprinter Francisco Ventoso, a former Vuelta stage winner. The Tinkoff Credit Systems team rounds out the roster.
The Unipublic statement said that 33 teams had requested to be included in the 2008 edition and that the teams which were chosen "meet the necessary requirements in terms of ethics, image and administrative matters" and are categorized by the UCI as "wild card" teams – a label which requires teams to adhere to the biological passport program and other considerations.
Unipublic also explained that, due to limits on hotel capacities in some host towns and the conditions of some roads, the roster had to be limited to 20 teams.
Teams for 2008 Vuelta a España
* indicates wild card teams
Vino stripped of Tour stage wins, Kirchen and Evans named winners
By Susan Westemeyer
Alexander Vinokourov is no longer the winner of stages 13 and 15 of the 2007 Tour de France. Following his suspension in response to blood-doping charges, his name has been removed from the records and the wins have been awarded to Kim Kirchen of Team High Road (formerly T-Mobile Team) and Cadel Evans of Silence-Lotto (formerly Predictor-Lotto).
"Kim Kirchen and Cadel Evans have been informed by UCI, with two letters on April 8 and 9, that following the disqualification of Alexander Vinokourov they have been declared as winners of the 15th and the 13th stages of the 2007 Tour de France," UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani told Cyclingnews Tuesday.
The Luxembourg Sports Press Association released the e-mail letter to Kirchen, which read, "Following the suspension of Alexandre Vinokourov pursuant to an Anti-Doping Rule violation during the 2007 Tour de France I am writing to congratulate you on winning stage 15 of that event. Our records have been amended accordingly."
In the stage 15, from Foix to Loudenvielle, Kirchen finished second, 51 seconds behind Vinokourov. Stage 13 was a time trial, 54 km with start and finish in Albi, and the Kazakh rider finished an astonishing 1.14 ahead of Evans.
It was announced on July 25 that Vinokourov had tested positive after the time trial. Team Astana withdrew from the Tour and the rider was eventually given a one-year suspension.
Neither Kirchen nor Evans nor their teams responded to Cyclingnews' request for a comment.
Two Quick Step riders hit by car during training
Team Quick Step's Kevin Van Impe and Kevin Hulsmans were involved in an accident Tuesday near Oosterzele, Belgium. The pair was training near Van Impe's house, along with two other athletes.
"We were just riding along easily," said Hulsmans, "when at a certain point, a car coming from behind hit us and threw us to the ground. The impact sent Van Impe clear to the other side of the road. Luckily, there were no cars coming the other way."
"I ended up against a light post, and another one of our friends broke his clavicle," said Hulsmans. "The driver stopped, and help was there soon after. We were very lucky. Considering how fast the car was going, and by the look of our bikes, I must say that it could have been much worse."
Both Quick Step riders sustained minor scrapes and bruises on their arms and legs.
Barloworld finalises Giro picks
Team Barloworld selected its final team for the 2008 Giro d'Italia which will take place from May 10 to June 1. The team had previously announced a sort of long team for the Italian Grand Tour.
Climbing ace Mauricio Soler, who was the King of the Mountains winner at the 2007 Tour de France, will captain the squad. Christian Pfannberger will be one of the team's top riders. The 2008 Giro del Capo winner has proved himself in strong form with a recent fifth place finish this weekend at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and a ninth place at La Flèche Wallonne.
"We are feeling very confident, our cyclists are in top form and are ready to take on this major Grand Tour of 2008, especially as a build-up to the Tour de France," said Claudio Corti, team manager.
Pfannberger will be joined by GP Pino Cerami winner Patrick Calcagni and a stage winner at the KBC-Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde Enrico Gasparotto.
Barloworld for the Giro d'Italia: Patrick Calcagni, Enrico Gasparotto, Mauricio Soler, Francesco Bellotti, Stephen Cummings, Geraint Thomas, Felix Cárdenas and Carlo Scognamiglio. The team's reserve riders are John-Lee Augustyn and Giampaolo Cheula.
Tour Down Under breaks records as first-year ProTour event
In its first year as part of the UCI's ProTour, the 10th edition of the Tour Down Under, which was also the first ProTour event to be staged outside of Europe, broke all records. Run January 22-27, the South Australian event attracted record numbers of visitors and record media coverage.
Australian authorities have just released statistics. According to the South Australian police, 548,000 spectators lined the roads during the event, representing a 53.5% increase on the previous year's crowd figures of 357,000. Of those spectators, 15,100 were tourists who travelled to South Australia specifically for the Tour Down Under.
Fans around the world watched 84 hours of broadcast television programming, compared with 71.20 hours in 2007. To date, 618 media articles have been published online, 362 more than last year.
Under its existing license, the Tour Down Under will run as part of the ProTour for another three years.
Time to Bern in World Cup's Swiss leg
2007 Winner Edita Pucinskaite (Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung) heads the field as it moves on to Switzerland and the next round of the World Cup. The 1999 World Champion surprised the sprinters last year – and spoiled the 20th birthday of the then holder of the rainbow jersey Marianne Vos – on a predominantly flat course seemingly designed for them. This year, the far hillier profile ironically suits the characteristics of the Lithuanian far better; the riders will complete four laps of a 33.95-kilometre circuit, totalling 135.8 kilometres, and climb a total of 1680 metres.
The new parcours heads south instead of east – as it did previously – into the much hillier countryside and almost immediately begins the ascent of the big climb of the day. Despite being only 730 metres at its summit, the climb is almost five kilometres in length and will be enough to trouble the legs of the sprinters. The top of the climb does come with almost 25 kilometres still to go, including 10 kilometres that is predominantly downhill, but the fact that they will have to climb it four times may prove too much for some.
If any sprinters do manage to get to the final stages with the front group they will be rewarded with some long straight roads and an almost entirely flat roads – or even slightly downhill. The sharp final corner with less than 500 metres to go may be enough to disrupt a lead-out train – if one has made it that far – but if one of the fast women is there at the end they will be the favourite for victory. Nevertheless, the new course is definitely suited to the climbers and breakaway specialists than previously.
Pucinskaite leads a Nürnberger Versicherung team with any number of potential winners. If she herself misses out, the course is well suited to a rider like Trixi Worrack, and Suzanne De Goede will be well motivated to do well after losing the World Cup jersey in last week's Flèche Wallonne. For the sprint – if it comes down to that – the team is well accounted for in the form of 2005 World Champion Regina Schleicher.
World Cup leader and Flèche winner Marianne Vos (DSB Bank) will not be present at the start line, she is aiming for Olympic glory and this race does not fit into her preparation plans. The team will nevertheless be well equipped for this race with riders like Andrea Bosman and Adrie Visser, both of whom can perform well on a course like this.
Also missing is the Halfords Bikehut team of Nicole Cooke – twice winner of the World Cup and fourth here last year behind Pucinskaite. Like Vos, Cooke is preparing for Beijing and so the World Cup is taking a back seat for this year. Someone who definitely will be present though, is Cooke's Great Britain team-mate from la Flèche Emma Pooley. Back with her Specialized Designs for Women team, Pooley is well suited for a course like this, and her Swiss team will be extra motivated in what is their home World Cup race. The course profile is not dissimilar to that of the Trofeo Alfredo Binda – the second round of the World Cup, which Pooley won – but surely the field will not allow her to get away in such circumstances again.
Read the complete preview.
Nürnberger for the weekend
Trixi Worrack is facing a busy weekend in Switzerland. The Equipe Nürnberger rider will race the individual time trial Souvenir Magali Pache in Lausanne on Friday before helping to lead the team in the World Cup race Tour de Berne.
The time trial is an invitation race in memory of Swiss cyclist Magali Pache, who was killed by a drunk driver while riding to the showers after the final stage of the Trophee d'Or in 2000. It traditionally features the biggest names in women's cycling.
The Equipe will have three major threats in Sunday's Tour de Berne, the sixth World Cup race of the season: defending champion Edita Pucinskaite, Suzanne de Goede, who is currently second in the World Cup rankings, and Worrack. They will be supported by Eva Lutz, Claudia Häusler, and former World Champion Regina Schleicher, who won last week's GP Liberazione.
Swiss Gerolsteiner riders look to do well in Romandie
By Susan Westemeyer
Team Gerolsteiner is sending all three of its Swiss riders to the Tour de Romandie. Since the cancellation of the Züri Metzgete, there are only two major races in Switzerland, and naturally the riders want to do well in their homeland, they told Cyclingnews Tuesday afternoon before the start of the Tour's prologue.
Oliver Zaugg, of Arcegno, is a dark-horse candidate for the GC. "I want to build on my good performance in Paris-Nice in Romandie and continue to recommend myself for the Tour de France. We'll have to wait and see if we ride for GC or concentrate on escape groups."
Veteran Markus Zberg, of Oberhofen, will concentrate on those escapes. "My form is actually quite good. Perhaps I can play a role in one stage or another." The third Swissman is young neo-pro Mathias Frank, who said, "Of course I will primarily ride for the team. I am very much looking forward to the Tour de Romandie. I have always dreams of riding as pro in my own country."
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the prologue of the Tour de Romandie.
German teams for Henninger
One of the German ProTour teams will send a very strong team to Rund um den Henninger Turm in Frankfurt on Thursday, while the other has to scramble to find substitutes for its ailing stars. Team Gerolsteiner will feature Davide Rebellin, Fabian Wegmann and Stefan Schumacher, all three of whom shone in the recent Ardennes Classics.
Team Milram has suffered the loss of both of its star sprinters, Alessandro Petacchi to a severe bronchitis and Erik Zabel to a knee injury suffered in Flèche Wallonne. Zabel also skipped Liege-Bastogne-Liege and hoped to ride Henninger, but was forced to cancel his start on Tuesday afternoon.
Gerolsteiner for Henninger Turm: Johannes Fröhlinger, Sebastian Lang, Andrea Moletta, Davide Rebellin, Ronny Scholz, Stefan Schumacher, Fabian Wegmann and Peter Wrolich.
Milram for Henninger Turm: Christian Knees, Markus Eichler, Dominik Roels, Artur Gajek, Marco Velo, Alberto Ongarato, Martin Müller, and Dennis Haueisen.
Boston area supports new race
Inspired by the Boston Marathon's "Heartbreak Hill", the Boloco Heartbreak Hill Grand Prix will raise funds for the Lance Armstrong Foundation with an event in Newton, Massachusetts, on June 29.
Following 5km and 10km running races, pro and amateur cyclists will take to the 5.1 mile course for racing action as the second event of the newly formed New England Race Week, a five-event, eight-day series of bike races across southern New England with a combined cash purse of over US$75,000.
"We've wanted to bring an event of this caliber to the greater Boston area for a few years," said Race Director J. Alain Ferry of Psyclone Sports. "The City of Newton shares our vision; this will be a day for the entire family to come together for a good cause and cheer on the country's top runners and cyclists." In an effort to make the event parent-friendly, race organizers plan to offer free child care and kids' bicycle races.
For more information visit www.bolocorace.com.
(Additional reporting and research provided by Susan Westemeyer)
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)