Latest Cycling News, August 25, 2008
Edited by Bjorn Haake
French stars race to cycling's heartland
By Ben Atkins
French hero Thomas Voeckler returns to defend his Ouest-France title at the head of a Bouygues Telecom team packed with rouleurs of similar quality. The rider from the Alsace is aware that his 2004 Tour heroics are growing long in the memory, and that other French riders like Agritubel's Romain Feillu are appearing to steal his place in his nation's hearts.
He knows, however, that victories in races such as this in France's cycling heartland will keep his place in the sun that bit longer. Riders like former French champion Pierrick Fédrigo, and 2006 Clásica San Sebastian winner Xavier Florencio are at hand though to make sure that the Bouygues Telecom challenge is more than just a one man show.
The race covers 12 laps of the same 19.1km course as last year to make up a total of 229.2km. Despite never looking too challenging on paper, the race seldom finishes in a bunch sprint; the final drag inside the final few kilometres offers opportunities to the breakaway riders, as happened with Voeckler last year. The sprinters were not too far behind the French echappeur though, and with a strong determined team behind him one of the fast-men could yet do it.
The rest of last year's podium is missing from the start of this year's event, though. Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole), last year's second place, was sick during the Tour and missed the Olympic Games as a result. The rest of the team will be eager to impress, as Directeur Sportif Roger Legeay has yet to find a new sponsor for the team. A good performance may either help to attract one, or more likely help the individual secure a contract with another team next year. Christophe Le Mevel leads the team, but local boy Sébastien Hinault (no relation to the five-time Tour winner Bernard) will be out to impress in his home region.
Also missing is last year's third place Danilo Di Luca as his LPR Brakes-Ballan team has not received one of the two wild cards for the race.
The ailing ProTour continues and we now have two races at once as the Eneco Tour of Benelux runs in parallel. The overall leader Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) is notable in his absence as he rests after the Olympic Games. In fact none of the top three in the season-long competition are racing in either of the current ProTour races, which perhaps shows the relative importance of the series. The highest ranked rider in either race is Andre Greipel (Team Columbia), who sits in sixth place and is riding the Eneco Tour; the highest ranked rider to start here in Plouay is 11th-placed Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi).
With such a rolling, winding course a sprint finish is something of a rarity here, and for that reason most of the teams are packed with escape artists and baroudeurs rather than fast-finishers. Looking to buck the trend and see a bunch gallop for the line are the aforementioned Feillu, Sébastien Chavanel (Française des Jeux), Columbia's Gerald Ciolek and Allan Davis (Mitsubishi-Jartazi). The latter name will be joining the Belgian Quick Step team at the start of next month and so will be looking to impress his new employers.
Ardila Cano wins mountains classification at Regio Tour
By Bjorn Haake in Vogtsburg
Mauricio Ardila Cano of Rabobank has won the mountains classification at the Regio Tour. Ardila Cano was in a break that dominated the first few laps of a 16-kilometre hilly circuit. The rider from Colombia took four out of the five KOM's at the top of the steep and windy roads through the vineyards.
Ardila Cano turned around his race somewhat, having had a quiet first four stages. He was happy receiving the blue jersey for the best climber, even if it wasn't an objective in the beginning. "I happened to be in the break and scored some points. Then I started to go for it."
Ardila Cano said that he was feeling better each stage and is hoping to achieve the same with regards to his season. "I am content with the first part of the season, even though I didn't get great results, especially in País Vasco and the Giro d'Italia. But things were definitely going better than the last couple of years. Now I am just hoping for the second part of the season."
Ardila Cano finished 20th in the Giro d'Italia. He admitted it wasn't a great result. "But I had two really bad years, so at the least I am satisfied."
Ardila Cano had a good return to racing, after taking a long break of three months. "My last competition was the Giro d'Italia," he confirmed to Cyclingnews. After the Vuelta al País Vasco he was just recovering when he raced the Henninger Turm race in Frankfurt, Germany. He made the front group and sprinted to a third place.
His biggest triumph to date is the win of the overall classification of the Tour of Britain in 2004.
Drought is over for Niermann
By Bjorn Haake in Vogtsburg
Grischa Niermann won the time trial at the Regio Tour, being the only rider who completed the 14.2-kilometre course in less than 18 minutes. His time of 17'59 gave him a two-second advantage of the surprise runner-up, U23 German time trial champion Andreas Henig (Atlas - Romer's Hausbäckerei). It has been seven years since he won a UCI race, the now defunct Niedersachsenrundfahrt in 2001.
It had been even longer since the 32 year-old took a time trial. "I used to be really good at time trials, but that changed after my mid-twenties. I don't know why." Niermann won the 31.5-kilometre test against the clock in the (now also defunct) Hessenrundfahrt ten years ago.
Niermann won the (possibly soon to be defunct, at least for professionals) Regio Tour in 1999. He had a bit of a regret after the time trial that he lost a minute in the first stage, preventing him from a repeat overall win. But he put all his confidence in his team-mates Paul Martens and Pieter Weening. "I hope that Pieter and Paul will do a good time trial. As long as they are not faster than I," he added with a laugh, a few minutes before Martens and Weening started their run against the clock.
Dekker feels damaged
Thomas Dekker feels that his release from Team Rabobank has damaged his image and reputation, and made it more difficult for him to find a new team. Not only did the Dutch ProTour team release him in the middle of the season, but press reports of possible blood value problems have added to the difficulties.
"In contrast to football, it is not normal in cycling that a rider and team split in the middle of the season," he said at a press conference over the weekend. Then there were those press reports about his blood. He has consistently denied that such problems existed and gave Cyclingnews a copy of an e-mail from the UCI, declaring him able to ride.
"Logically there are question marks attached to your name in that situation, especially in cycling in the year 2008. I am doing everything I can to prove to potential new teams that there is nothing against me."
As for that potential new team, the 24 year-old said that he is in discussions with several, but will not decide hastily. "I will take my time." Meanwhile, he is still training, although he will not race again this season. "I still ride every day but I am aiming at next year."(SW)
Elijzen out with cut knee
Michiel Elijzen of Team Rabobank had hoped to end the Eneco Tour in the top ten, but instead he ended the race Sunday, carried off in an ambulance to have his knee stitched back together.
"Belgian roads frequently have a slit in the middle, and I had to jump over it when someone swerved," he said on the team's website, rabosport.nl. "Unfortunately someone else rode into my wheel and I fell hard. I wanted to stand up but had an enormous gap in my knee. You could see the bone and the opening was big enough to put a Euro coin in."
The 25 year-old had gone into the fourth stage in 14th place, only 14 seconds down. But instead of continuing with the race, he will be home recovering. His girlfriend picked him up and yesterday evening "I was already in my own bed. I would rather it had been under different circumstances."(SW)
Worrack and Nürnberger dominate in Albstadt
Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung dominated the Albstadt Etappenrennen over the weekend, with Trixi Worrack winning two stages to take the overall title, for the third year in a row. Her team-mate Charlotte Becker finished second overall after being on the podium for all three stages. In fact, the Equipe finished one-two-three in the opening prologue, and took the top two spots in the first stage. Needless to say, it also won the team ranking.
Worrack laid the basis for her success by winning the four-kilometre opening prologue nearly two seconds faster than team-mate Larissa Kleinmann in second and 9.41 seconds faster than Becker. On Saturday's stage one, Worrack won after 90 kilometres in a solo effort, as Becker led the peloton across the finish line 44 seconds later. The Equipe rider had enough of a lead that she was able to finish 10th in the closing stage, two seconds behind the winner, and still take the win. Again, Charlotte Becker finished second on the stage.
Worrack's performance was all the more impressive in light of the fact that she had just returned from the Olympic Games. She finished 20th in the road race, but that wasn't her only appearance on a bike in Beijing.
The cyclists had been given tickets to the opening ceremony, and she and Judith Arndt of Team Columbia decided to sit in the audience. "To get there we borrowed a folding bike from one of the men [on the German team]. Judith took over the driving and I sat on the luggage rack. And so we made our way to the Olympic stadium!"(SW)
Tinkoff ready to close out season in style
Tinkoff Credit Systems is ready to tackle its final part of the season, with the Vuelta a España the biggest highlight. Directeur sportif Orlando Maini will guide the team, along with Dmitri Konychev and Claudio Cozzi. As always the team intends to do its part of an active race.
It especially sets its hopes on a stage win via Mikhail Ignatiev. "Ignatiev will start the Vuelta in his optimal form. He is coming from the Olympic Games in Beijing with high morale and a desire to battle," Maini said. "We also have [Vasil] Kiryienka and the trio of Pedraza-Petrov-Serrano who can race for the overall."
The entire team for the Vuelta will be Pavel Brutt, Nikita Eskov, Mikhail Ignatiev, Vasil Kiryienka, Walter Pedraza, Evgeni Petrov, Ivan Rovny Ricardo Serrano, Nikolay Trusov.
Before heading to Spain, a different team will tackle the Tour of Ireland, which starts on Wednesday. The race runs from August 27 to 31. Ilya Chernetsky, Alexander Gottfried, Massimo Graziato, Sergey Klimov Luca Mazzanti, Alberto Loddo and Bernardo Riccio, with directeur sportif Omar Piscina.
Vuelta a Venezuela with coastal kick-off
The Vuelta a Venezuela will kick off in the coastal of Maracaibo, in the western part of the country. The race runs from August 25 to September 7. Six foreign teams along side the 20 local ones will fill the roads. 152 riders will start the race. Besides Venezuela, riders come from seven different countries, Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Italy, Guatemala, Brazil and Uruguay.
The first stage is a circuit race of 80 kilometres along the Avenida 5 de Julio in Maracaibo.
Italian Gianni Savio, who is also the coach for the national team of Venezuela, will guide the Diquigovanni Selle Italia-Venezuela team. It contains two Italian riders, Emiliano Donatello and Manuel Belleti. Savio is also the General manager of the Italian Pro Continental team Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni - Androni Giocattoli.
The stages: Stage 1 - August 25: Maracaibo circuito Av. 5 de julio, 80km Stage 2 - August 26: Cabimas - Valera, 188.6km Stage 3 - August 27: Caja Seca - Mérida, 183.2km Stage 4 - August 28: Mucuchies - Guanare, 172.6km Stage 5 - August 29: Ospino – Nirgua San Vicente, 217.6km Stage 6 - August 30: Valencia Circuito La Isabelica, 80km Stage 7 - August 31: Puerto Cabello - San Juan De Los Morros, 139.6km Stage 8 - September 1: Ortiz - Valle De La Pascua, 161.4km Stage 9 - September 2: Las Mercedes Del Llano - Chaguaramas (ITT), 40km Stage 10 - September 3: Valle De La Pascua - Pariaguan, 159.1km Stage 11 - September 4: Cantaura Circuito Citadino, 80km Stage 12 - September 5: Cantaura Circuito Citadino - Barcelona, 147.3km Stage 13 - September 6: Piritu - Higuerote, 231.8km Stage 14 - September 7: Caracas Circuito Av. Bolivar, 80km
USA Cycling supports art from recycled bike parts
Recycled Bike Art announced a partnership with USA Cycling to promote its art from recycled bike parts program. USA cycling members will get a 10% discount on these art products. A portion of the sale will help support USA Cycling.
Recycled Bike Art transforms discarded bike parts and blends high quality stained glass into beautiful artwork. The list of Products includes clocks, belt buckles and fine jewelry. Also in the program and especially interesting for USA Cycling, are awards and medals.
Artist and owner of Recycled Bike Art, Angela Armstrong, was upbeat about the partnership. "I am very excited to partner with USA Cycling. To know that our work is going out to such an esteemed community of cyclists makes the opportunity all the more special."
Recycled Bike Art was founded in 2007 by lifelong cyclist and artist, Angela Armstrong. Recycled Bike Art specializes in a wide variety of bicycle art. Using recycled parts donated from various bicycle shops throughout the US, materials are cleaned and transformed into custom artwork and functional designs. For more information visit www.recycledbikeart.com
(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)
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