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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News, August 28, 2008

Edited by Gregor Brown

Team Gerolsteiner to dissolve at year-end

Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann waves at the Tour de France as Hans-Michael Holczer (r) looks on and for future sponsorship
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Hans-Michael Holczer conceded defeat today, and announced that Team Gerolsteiner will officially end in December. The team manager has been unable to find a new sponsor, despite intensive efforts.

"We haven't been involved in any of the scandals. Despite the best references and promising perspectives, the trust and especially the willingness to take on such a project was missing in the interested parties, a project in which you could profit from a decade of investment and hard work," Holczer said on Radsport-news.com.

Gerolsteiner Brunnen GmbH announced in September 2007 that it would not renew its sponsorship contract which expires the end of this year. (SW)

Cyclingnews will have more on this story in the coming news editions.

Greipel happy with Eneco

By Susan Westemeyer

Team Columbia's André Greipel rides in an unsuccessful Eneco defence
Photo ©: Isabelle Duchesne
(Click for larger image)

Germany's André Greipel of Team Columbia had originally planned to leave the Eneco Tour early so that he could prepare for the Deutschland Tour. However having won the leader's jersey on stage four his focus shifted and he rode the race to the end.

"I rode into the leader's jersey thanks to my escape attempt," Greipel said to Cyclingnews. He won the rain-soaked second stage to move up into fourth place and took over the jersey after the fourth stage, when during a long breakaway, he picked up enough bonus seconds at the intermediate sprints to take the lead. He held on to the jersey until the final stage, losing it in the end to last year's winner Iván Gutierrez of Caisse d'Epargne.

"I didn't plan that, naturally, because actually I wanted, with the team's agreement, to leave the Eneco Tour early," he continued. "But for me it was a question of honour, to continue to support the team and to use our tactical advantage of having the lead.

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"I came to the Eneco Tour to win a stage – and thank God, I was able to accomplish that with the help of my team, on which I can always rely 100 percent. We have a super sprint train and everyone is willing to do the dirty work for each other. You can see the results of this in the team's success."

Greipel went into the final stage leading by 11 seconds but dropped to fifth overall. "It wasn't enough for the overall win. But we are nevertheless happy that we have one rider on the podium in Michael Rogers." Rogers finished third overall after coming in fourth in the time trial.

Greipel started the 2008 season in a spectacular fashion, dominating the Tour Down Under to take the first ProTour leader's jersey of the year. He went on to win stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia and won stages in the Osterreich-Rundfahrt and the Sachsen Tour.

Baldato bows out on low-note

By Gregor Brown

Lampre's Fabio Baldato, 40, closes his career
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Fabio Baldato's long and Illustrious career ended on a low-note in the Eneco Tour. The 40 year-old Italian of Team Lampre crashed 29 kilometres into stage four – fracturing his collarbone and hip – ending an 18-year career earlier than planned.

"It was the idea to end with a great race, like Paris-Tours, but with a fractured hip – requiring a rest of one month – it is not possible," said Lampre's press agent, Andrea Appiani, to Cyclingnews. "Unfortunately, the fourth stage of Eneco Tour was last race of his career. He said, 'I am sorry for myself and also for the team' to end in that manner."

Baldato, from Brendola (Veneto), spent many of his years riding for famed Italian directeur sportif, Giancarlo Ferretti. It was under his guidance that he made his Paris-Roubaix debut, with Team Del Tongo, in 1991. That year he remained at the head of affairs until the last 30 kilometres, there to help team captain Franco Ballerini. Fast forward 17 years, he was at the service of Alessandro Ballan, who finished third in Roubaix's velodrome.

"In the last two years the team has had faith in me; 39 and 40 years-old is a lot for most teams. ... I hope I have repaid them well, by giving my maximum," Baldato said in April.

Baldato's career includes 42 wins – twice second in Ronde van Vlaanderen, three stages wins in the Giro d'Italia, two in the Vuelta a España and two in the Tour de France. His best result in the Roubaix came in 1994, when he finished second, under snowstorms, behind winner Andrei Tchmil.

Baldato's teams: Lampre (2008), Lampre-Fondital (2007), Tenax-Salmilano (2006), Fassa Bortolo (2005), Alessio-Bianchi (2004), Alessio (2003), Fassa Bortolo (2000-2), Ballan-Alessio (1999), Riso Scotti (1998), MG-Technogym (1995-7), GB-MG (1992-4) and Del Tongo (1991).

Astana looks for a strong helper Klöden in the Vuelta

By Susan Westemeyer

German Andreas Klöden leads Astana's Vuelta charge
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The Deutschland Tour starts on Friday, but Germany's Andreas Klöden will not be there. Instead he will start his fifth Vuelta a España, looking to support his team Astana, rather than lead it.

Why he is in Spain and not in Germany is simple, team representative Philippe Maertens told Cyclingnews. "The team asked him. Andreas was so good in the Giro [d'Italia] that we hope he can be as useful and strong in the Vuelta. Andreas really would have liked to start in Germany, but for the team, the Vuelta is more important now.

"It would be great if the team, not invited in the Tour de France, could win the Giro and the Vuelta. However, a lot of things can happen in three weeks."

As to how the team will do in the D-tour, he added that, "Without Andreas it will be more difficult to win the Tour of Germany but we start there with a highly motivated Jani Brajkovic."

This week the German cycling federation announced its short list for the upcoming World Championships, with Klöden's name rather glaringly missing from the line-up. "For the moment Andreas will not react on the Varese matter. He wants to start the Vuelta as strong and concentrated as possible," Maertens said.

First Zaugg, now Oss and Guarnieri for Liquigas

By Gregor Brown

Team Liquigas are building its squad for the 2009 season with the addition of two neo-professionals, adding to yesterday's contract announcement of five-year professional Oliver Zaugg. Italians Daniel Oss and Jacopo Guarnieri will officially join the Italy-based team stating in January.

"Daniel Oss is one of the best dilettanti in Italy. He has always had good results," said Team Manager Roberto Amadio to Cyclingnews. The 21 year-old Trentino of Team Zalf-Fior secured solid placings this season, with a sixth place in the recent Trofeo Alcide Degasperi. "He is strong in one-day races – Classics. We could see him do well in Flanders and Roubaix and helping the sprinters."

Amadio explained the team monitors the young riders coming through the lower ranks. "We are following all the races here in Italy and we have a good relationship with Zalf-Fior."

Jacopo Guarnieri joined Liquigas this fall as a stagiaire. Amadio noted his fast legs. "He has taken 10 or 11 wins thus far."

Liquigas' biggest acquisition came in April when it signed Ivan Basso. Zaugg's arrival will build the team's stage race strength.

"Zaugg is a good climber and a complete rider. He had a great Vuelta [a España] last year. He can be a man for Basso, Pellizotti and Kreuziger, and have his own chances in the Tour de Suisse."

Ullrich still waiting

By Susan Westemeyer

Germany's Jan Ullrich is still waiting for a resolution from the Swiss Olympic investigation of doping charges stemming from Operación Puerto. Last spring, it was expected that the disciplinary committee would have the case closed by now, but that has not happened.

"I have not finished the report and therefore the case is not yet filed to the disciplinary commission.," Bernhard Welten, head of the Swiss Olympic anti-doping committee, said to Cyclingnews. "Hopefully this may happen within the next few weeks." He had previously reported that he hoped to submit the case by "early summer."

Roland Richner, the technical director of Swiss Cycling, confirmed to Cyclingnews that the investigation is still in Welten's hands.

Welten earlier noted that if Ullrich was convicted, it would be considered a second offence and would therefore entail a lifetime ban. Ullrich, who lives in Switzerland, was suspended for six months in 2002 after testing positive for amphetamines while recovering from knee surgery. Back then, amphetamines were forbidden in out-of-competition times, but the rule was changed in 2004.

Ullrich, team-mate Oscar Sevilla and advisor Rudy Pevenage were all suspended by T-Mobile Team the day before the 2006 Tour de France started for their alleged involvement in Operación Puerto. The team subsequently fired all three.

Ullrich never raced again and ultimately retired in February 2007. The 34 year-old has consistently denied ever having doped or having any connection to Puerto's Eufemiano Fuentes, but in April 2007, blood taken into custody during Operación Puerto was linked to him by DNA tests.

Tinkoff looks for Vuelta stage wins

By Susan Westemeyer

Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Team Tinkoff Credit Systems has announced its line-up for the Vuelta a Espana, and will be led by Mikhail Ignatiev, who won a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics in the Madison. "After the Olympics, I believe he is in good condition and has the right morale for a stage win," Directeur Sportif Orlando Maini told Cyclingnews.

This will be the team's debut in the Vuelta, after riding the Giro d'Italia in 2007 and 2008. This year, the team took two stage wins in the Giro. Pavel Brutt won the fifth stage, for the team's very first Grand Tour win, and Vasil Kiryienka won the 19th stage.

Both Brutt and Kiryenka will ride the Vuelta as well. The full roster is Pavel Brutt, Nikita Eskov, Mihkail Ignatiev, Vasil Kiryienka, Walter Pedreza, Evgeni Petrov, Ivan Rovny, Ricardo Serrano and Nikolai Trusov.

Olano: Sastre and Contador are favourites

The 2008 Vuelta route
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Abraham Olano expects the winners of the previous two Grand Tours to shine in the Spanish equivalent, the Vuelta a España, according to todociclismo.com. The ex-professional cyclist and now sports director of the Vuelta expects Astana's Alberto Contador, winner of the Giro d'Italia, and the CSC-Saxo Bank's Carlos Sastre, winner of the Tour de France, on the top of the final overall podium.

"Both have a great form and I know that they prepared exclusively for the win," confirmed Olano, winner of the 1998 Vuelta. He also mentioned another Spaniard as a favourite for the podium: "I don't want to forget Alejandro Valverde, who is also keen on winning the Vuelta a España and has already won various races in this season."

Olano conceded that this year's edition will be very difficult for the cyclists. The famous ascent of the Angliru, which is regarded as one of the hardest climbs, will create an extra challenge in this year's edition. He added, "There are also other stages where the mountains will be decisive." (MP)

Cordero: "The Vuelta will be the Tour"

Victor Cordero reveals the 2008 route
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Two days before the start of the Vuelta a España, Race Director Víctor Cordero gave his expectations. "This year the Vuelta will be the Tour. It will have the best participation of all three Grand Tours," he said to El Mundo Deportivo.

"There is an enormous interest in the fight between [Alberto] Contador, [Carlos] Sastre and [Alejandro] Valverde, the major favourites. But there is also attention of [Igor] Antón's progress, for example. And we can't forget Italian Damiano Cunego," said Cordero.

Cordero is pleased with the 2008 parcours. "In 2007, we had certain issues, mainly with the time trial of the first week, which almost sealed the general classification. This year the field is at the same level, and the Angliru adds an important factor for the race."

This year, the Vuelta and the Tour de France as French organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) are linked. ASO is the co-owner of the Vuelta, with a share of 49%. "This Vuelta will be unique, and only to the merit or demerit of [Spanish organiser] Unipublic. For the moment, ASO only helped us with global broadcasting. From next year on, there will become noticeable aspects..." (MP)

Bernucci with Team Cinelli-OPD

Lorenzo Bernucci closes out a one-year suspension by signing with Italy-based Cinelli-OPD. The Italian, suspended last year for his use of appetite suppressant Sibultramine, will make his return in the Coppa Placci, September 6.

"I can't wait to put a racing number on my back," said Bernucci in a press release. The one-day Coppa Placci starts in San Marino and ends in Imola.

Bernucci, winner of stage six in the 2005 Tour de France, was suspended by T-Mobile based on a test result following the Deutschland Tour. The Monaco Cycling Federation served him a one-year suspension, which end on September 3.

"Lorenzo has always raced in big teams, giving his all and his indisputable professionalism. ... You don't win a stage of the Tour by chance. He will have the entire team at his calling."

State of the Peloton: North America

Lucas Sebastian Haedo helped John Profaci's Colavita Sutter Home team move up the ranks, despite "missing an overall GC and a time trialist."
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

The North American peloton* will be undergoing some major changes after the 2008 season. The potential loss of two big teams could produce a sea change of sorts, flooding the market with top talent. Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski gives a 'State of the Peloton' report, including who is staying, who could be going and who might be growing because of it. In part two of this three-part feature, he looks at the mid-level teams that are surviving.

Also see part one, and check back for part three: the up and comers.

Moving down the NRC team rankings for the rest of the US peloton, the opportunities afforded to them with the amount of talent on the table ranges from a chance to step-up to the big leagues to the schadenfreude of a "Got Milk" commercial. Riders may be available but budgets do not magically increase just because of this. As well, teams often say they prefer to stay loyal to their own riders and maintain a strong and cohesive team core. Whether or not this is true or merely a result of not having a big enough budget to sign additional talent is a trade secret.

Take for example the Colavita-Sutter Home team, which sits third in the NRC rankings. Team owner John Profaci has been around long enough to see situations like this in the past. "After being in this for a few years now I don't enjoy the recruiting that goes on in August. I basically resigned the whole team and if there is room for a new player, great. But I am happy with the teamwork and morale we have now. I need to stick my guns and stick to my squad. We are very excited and they work great together."

Still the chance to fill a gap in the team is always a thought. "We are missing an overall GC and a time trialist, that is no secret there. I used to get e-mails, but no top names have come my way so far. If one comes our way I would be happy to take that call."

Read the full feature.

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