First Edition Cycling News, August 26, 2008
Edited by Greg Johnson
Fédrigo is Plouay's new hero
Bouyges Telecom takes second successive Ouest-France
By Ben Atkins in Plouay
Former French champion Pierrick Fédrigo (Bouyges Telecom) has become Plouay's new hero after winning the Grand Prix Ouest-France in a three-man sprint over Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) and David Lopez Garcia (Caisse d'Epargne). The three riders were all that remained of a 17 man move that formed in the closing stages of the race.
Fédrigo's victory is the second in succession for the nearby Vendee-based Bouyges Telecom team after Thomas Voekler's solo dash for the line last year. It is also the Frenchman's biggest victory since his Tour de France stage victory into Gap in 2006.
"I have already won a stage of the Tour de France and been the champion of France [in 2005]," said Fédrigo. "So you could say that this victory in Plouay is the bronze medal in my palmares.
"I haven't completely recovered from the change in time zones," he said of his recent return from the Olympic Games in Beijing, China. "I still have concerns over catching up on my sleep. Luckily for me there was a big battle here today in Plouay."
Fédrigo, Ballan and Lopez Garcia arrived at the finishing straight together, despite attempts by the Caisse d'Epargne rider to escape in the closing kilometres. In the end, the Frenchman proved to be fresher than the other two riders and he won the sprint comfortably over Ballan. Lopez Garcia rolled in three seconds later having sat up after being unable to live with the speed of the others.
As expected, the race was punctuated by a series of attacks, the first of which went clear inside the first of the 12, 19.1 kilometre circuits. No break managed to get what one might regard as a decisive gap, and it was while the peloton almost had the leaders in sight on the penultimate lap that Fédrigo managed to bridge across to what turned out to be the winning move.
Alessandro Ballan was one of the strongest riders in the breakaway, able to stay with the leaders until the finish, but once again found that his sprint couldn't match that of his rivals. The 2007 Ronde van Vlaanderen winner found himself too tired to compete with the faster Frenchman in the slightly uphill dash for the line.
"It was a very hard race," the Italian said. "There were lots of attacks and we got away in the last lap and worked together until the final kilometres. Coming into the finish I was very tired and Fédrigo was very, very strong.
"There is nothing to say," he added later. "Fédrigo was the strongest today…I was too tired at the finish to be able to compete in the sprint. I paid for the efforts that I had made to stay at the front."
After trying to distance his two breakaway companions in the last few kilometres due to fears over their superior sprints, Lopez Garcia was indeed unable to compete and sat up in the final 100 metres. He coasted over the line to take third place after being one of the most aggressive riders of the race.
To read the full report, click here.
Westphal: A surprised surprise winner
Nobody was more surprised than Carlo Westphal (Gerolsteiner) himself when he won the Eneco Tour's fifth stage. Not exactly a household name, the 22 year-old didn't even realise at first that he had just brought in his first professional win.
"I was totally concentrated and just wanted to keep on going," he said. "And then I was the first over the finish line. Man, I am still beside myself and a little surprised that it worked out. But I know this for sure: I am very happy and totally overjoyed."
On his way to bringing in the team's 17th season victory, Westphal managed to get in the leading group when the peloton was split by the wind. "Carlo had the right instincts," said Directeur Sportif Christian Wegmann. "In the closing circuit I told him 'go ahead and try it and see what happens'. He obviously took that to heart. At any rate he has gained a lot of self-confidence from this win."
With the stage win Westphal moved up to 12th overall, but Monday evening he only wanted to enjoy "the thrill of victory". "This is an absolutely unaccustomed feeling for me," he said. "But a great feeling like this can happen more often. I wouldn't have anything against that!"
Westphal turned professional in 2006 with the Professional Continental Team Wiesenhof before moving to Gerolsteiner in 2007. The question remains as to where he will ride in 2008, since Gerolsteiner manager Hans-Micheal Holczer has still not made a final announcement as to whether the team will have a new sponsor or will have to fold.
"Whether I have an idea of my future? I still have no contact with any other team, at any rate," Westphal said.
Contador focused on Spanish glory
With both the French and Italian Grand Tour titles to his name Alberto Contador is focused on claiming his home Grand Tour when it starts later this week, according to the Astana rider. Contador is ready to battle at the Vuelta a España, having added the Giro d'Italia win in May to his Tour de France victory from last season.
"I have been focused on this race for a number of months," said Contador. "I've spent time with the rest of the team and I feel that we are prepared and motivated for the next three weeks. I am better prepared than I was for the Tour of Italy. Mentally, but technically as well. Right now we're not looking too far ahead, but our goal is to win another Grand Tour for Kazakhstan."
Contador will have the support of big names Andreas Klöden and Levi Leipheimer in Astana's roster for the Spanish event. The team is expected to enter the race as favourites to win, having been so strong in Italy despite only being invited one week earlier, and being hungry to prove the squad's strength after not being selected to defend the Tour de France title in July.
"Since early in the season, we identified the Tour of Spain as a major team goal," said Johan Bruyneel. "We've had an excellent season to date and our riders are extremely motivated to end in winning fashion. I think we've assembled a well-balanced team that can accomplish our final major goal of 2008. We have riders for the mountains and flat stages, as well as the experience of super champions like Alberto Contador, Andreas Klöden and Levi Leipheimer."
The Vuelta will also see one of the team's riders farewell his home Grand Tour, with 34 year-old José Luis "Chechu" Rubiera to retire at season's end. The rider is hoping to play a roll in a successful final Grand Tour outing. "This will be my 20th and last Grand Tour," he said. "I am very grateful to all the riders, staff, sports directors and fans who have supported me throughout my entire career. It is a true honour to have had the opportunity to race for Johan, Lance and now Alberto. It has been a dream and I would love to complete my career with another Grand Tour victory."
Astana has selected an experienced team in the hope of guiding Contador
to home soil glory, according to sport director Alain Gallopin. "It
was not an easy choice, which really shows the strength of our team,"
said Gallopin. "We have a lot of talented riders on Team Astana,
but Johan and I decided that certain intangibles, such as experience,
were very important. This group knows what it takes to win the big races
and I'm hopeful we can prove this in the next three weeks."
Valverde to lead Caisse d'Epargne
Alejandro Valverde will lead Caisse d'Epargne at this year's Vuelta a España, which commences this weekend in Spain. The Spanish squad is hoping for a strong Grand Tour, after its entry in the Tour de France as pre-race general classification favourites fizzed out, despite multiple stage victories.
Valverde will face some stiff competition in Spain, with reigning Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre leading the CSC-Saxo Bank team at his home race, while Astana's Alberto Contador is also keen on claiming the title.
Caisse d'Epargne for Vuelta a España: David Arroyo, Imanol Erviti, Vicente García Acosta, Alberto Losada, Dani Moreno, Luis Pasamontes, Joaquím Rodríguez, Alejandro Valverde and Xabier Zandio.
Germans announce long Worlds list
Only one day after the close of the Olympic Games in Beijing, China, the Bund Deutscher Radfahrer (BDR, German cycling federation) has announced its preliminary selections for the World Championships in Varese, Italy, September 23 to 28. For the men's races, the BDR may send nine riders for the road race and two to the time trial.
Nominated from Team Columbia are Marcus Burghardt, Gerald Ciolek, Linus Gerdemann, Bert Grabsch, Andre Greipel, Tony Martin, and Marcel Sieberg. From Team Gerolsteiner are Markus Fothen, Heinrich Haussler, Sebastian Lang, Ronny Scholz, Stefan Schumacher and Fabian Wegmann. Team Milram candidates are Christian Knees, Björn Schröder and Erik Zabel. Also nominated is Paul Martens of Rabobank.
BDR will look to do better in Varese than in Beijing, where it won no medals on the road. In the 2007 Worlds in Stuttgart the Germans won two medals, with Hanka Kupfernagel taking the women's time trial title and Stefan Schumacher finishing third in the men's road race.
One big name missing from the long short list is CSC-Saxo Bank's Jens Voigt. The rider, who played an important roll in Carlos Sastre's Tour de France win, indicated after his Olympic Games appearance that he would skip the World Championships this year.
The women's and U-23 teams will be named at a later, the federation said.
Lund gets CSC-Saxo Bank extension
Team CSC-Saxo Bank has extended its contract with 23-year old Anders Lund. The Danish rider began his career as a professional rider with the team in 2006 and has now had his contract extended for another year.
"Anders still has great potential and we'd like to keep him around and help him evolve," said Bjarne Riis. "He's still got his first pro victory ahead of him, but I know he's a major talent, who can go far - so it's only a matter of time. He managed to get through a tough Giro d'Italia fine this year and I think it has helped toughen him up and also provided him with important experience and these two things in combination might help him on his way to achieving the results his talent warrants."
Lund is looking forward to another year with his home squad. "I'm really happy to have my contract extended and I look forward to improving my game even further in order to achieve some great results," said Anders Lund. "I've been through an important learning process and I'm extremely motivated to live up to the faith the team has shown in me by extending my contract. Now I'll have to concentrate on getting better and I know I've got the best possible conditions to do so right here."
(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)