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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, December 14, 2008

Edited by Peter Hymas

Home-grown reactions to Giro route

By Gregor Brown in Venice

The route gets presented
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Giro d'Italia organisers RCS Sport presented an innovative route for 2009 Saturday at the Teatro Fenice in Venice, Italy. The Italian stage race, May 9 to 31, will confront high mountains in the first week and a 61.7-kilometre time trial, before finishing in Rome three weeks later. It was a route that raised many eyebrows from the attendants. The home favorites noted a diverse route that will present pressure from the first stage team time trial in Venice to the final timed-test in Rome.

"I would have liked to have a Giro like this when I was young -- heading straight into the Dolomites. It is a little bit different to what I am used to, but I will look to be on form earlier, starting in Venice. Any Giro is good for me now," said Team Diquigiovanni's Gilberto Simoni, two-time winner of the Giro.

The 2006 winner Ivan Basso is back from suspension and will compete in his first Grand Tour in three years. "It is a very important Giro for me and I’m coming back after some difficult years," said Basso. "It is a special Giro in all senses, I have to look closer, but every day there seems to be critical points."

Lance Armstrong will be the race's star participant but he made Basso the number one favorite two weeks ago at his team's training camp.

"It is an honor that Armstrong considers I am the favorite, but I think at the beginning there are six or seven favorites that can all win."

Danilo Di Luca won the Giro in 2007 with the support of Team Liquigas. For 2009, Team LPR will support the rider from Abruzzo for the overall and his teammate Alessandro Petacchi for the sprints. He pointed to the mountains in the first week and the long time trial mid-race as the key battlegrounds.

"It will be difficult in the first three stages, but also in the long time trial... the gaps gained there may be unrecoverable," he said.

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"I think that it will be an important time trial for the classification," added teammate Petacchi, winner of 19 Giro stages. "You start right off with the Passo del Bracco and then the descent is very tricky and won't be easy. You will have to be careful."

Petacchi will face competition from foreigners Mark Cavendish and Robbie McEwen, but also from fellow countryman Daniele Bennati. Their chances will be limited.

"It is a Giro that has stages that can finish in sprints. With the high mountains first we might be less tired and we can defend ourselves better."

"You’ve got to have the legs," Team Liquigas' Bennati said. "I will try to do the best possible, especially near my home in Toscana. I will have a few teammates for me and they can also help them, [Franco] Pellizotti and Basso, because I am not thinking of taking the maglia rosa home."

Pellizotti held the leader's pink jersey for four days this year and won the mountain time trial up to Plan de Corones. He will co-captain Liquigas' general classification fight with Bass.

"I hope that Ivan Basso will be working for Pellizotti, and I am sure he hopes for the other way around. The most important thing is that maglia rosa stays within the Liquigas team."

Garmin's Vaughters looks for second pink jersey

By Gregor Brown in Venice

Vaughters hopes to repeat this scene in 2009
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Jonathan Vaughters, team manger of Garmin Chipotle, hopes his team can take the Giro d'Italia leader's jersey for a second year. At the 2009 route presentation Saturday in Venice, he gave the team's goals for the Italian three-week race, May 9 to 31.

"Our objective in the race is to win the team time trial and try to win another stage along the way. Maybe we have guy, Tom Danielson or Trent Lowe, to try and do well in the overall classification," Vaughters said to Cyclingnews.

Vaughters prepared his team specifically for the team trial that opened the 2008 Giro. He succeeded and saw American Christian Vande Velde take the maglia rosa.

He will have another opportunity in 2009 with the 20.5-kilometre team time trial in Venice on the opening day. Vaughters also noted that the 61.7-kilometre individual time trial in stage 12 suites his rider perfectly.

"It is like a miniature road stage. It is a time trial for Christian Vande Velde. It is ideal for his motor -- it is technical and hilly. I don't know that he will be ready to fight for the GC in the Giro, but he can win that time trial."

The stage from Sestri Levante to Riomaggiore is the longest time trial in 13 years and nearly double the longest time trial of 2008. Vaughters will not limit his team to the time trials, though.

"We will send a team to try to win the team time trial, but this year we will stick a climber on the back of the train to try to win the Giro. We don't have a lot of climbers on our team, but it could be Lowe, Dan Martin or Danielson."

He will observe his riders as the 2009 season unfolds before deciding on who to send to the Giro d'Italia and who to send to the Tour de France. He will likely travel to Madrid on Wednesday to see the Vuelta a España route unveiled.

Bruno Roy regains lost jersey

By Laura Weislo in Kansas City, Missouri

Maureen Bruno Roy (MM Racing)
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

Maureen Bruno Roy blew apart the women's 30-34 national title race from the first lap in Kansas City, snagging the masters champion's jersey she took home last year but later lost when USA Cycling ruled that she had been ineligible to race. Riding for MM Racing/Seven Cycles, Bruno Roy took the lead coming off of the paved starting straight and quickly put daylight between herself and the rest of the field in the technical sections on the grass.

The Massachusetts native finished 1'36 ahead of Emily Van Meter (River City Bicycles) and nearly two minutes before Anna Milkowski (Velo Bella-Kona). Defending champion Josie Jacques-Maynes (Specialized) came in fourth.

The result made the third time Bruno Roy crossed the line first in the masters championship, although only her second official title. She won the race in 2005 before placing third in the elite race. She rode the UCI World Championships in 2006, and was then not eligible for the masters category at the end of that season.

"This is the last year I qualify for this age group, so I decided to race and take back what I didn't get to keep last year," Bruno Roy said after the race, referring to the "snafu" which saw her give up the title to Jacques-Maynes.

In 2007, she won the 30-34 race but nearly two months later was informed by USA Cycling that because she raced a World Cup, she was not technically eligible to race masters, and she was forced to give up her jersey. "It was my fault for not reading the rules, and USA Cycling's fault for not stopping me! I wish someone had told me sooner, because Josie Jacques-Maynes [who was second behind Bruno Roy -ed.] didn't get to have a podium ceremony. It was really unfortunate, I felt bad for her and for my sponsors."

Shimano joins the 24 hours of Le Mans

By Jean-François Quénet

The organization of the 24 hours of Le Mans cycling event in France has welcomed Shimano as its technical partner for the first edition of the event due to take place on August 22nd and 23rd, 2009. Former Crédit Agricole team manager Roger Legeay is involved with the new race in the same town where the famous car race takes place.

Managing director Romain Gasnal was delighted by the news. "They have a rich experience with the Shimano Suzuka Road challenge in Japan. They will provide technical assistance to the participants as well as energy bars and recovery products."

Legeay has presented the project to a few professional and ex-professional riders, who likely will take part in the mass participation event open to the public. Teams of eight, six, four or two cyclists as well as individual cyclists are welcome. The goal is to cover a maximum number of laps on the 4,185 meters of the famous race track of the Bugatti circuit. The smooth surface is great for riding a bike fast. Inscriptions have begun on the race website on November 1st.

"We already received many requests and not only from France but also from Belgium, Holland and Switzerland," Gasnal added.

Slovenian champion goes Japanese, expects debut in Malaysia

By Jean-François Quénet

After the late announcement of dissolving the Continental team Perutnina-Ptuj during the last week of November, Slovenian time trial champion Gregor Gazvoda thought his career was in limbo. But now it looks like an opportunity for him to show his talent to more cycling fans around the world as he secured a start with high regarded Japanese squad Meitan-GDR.

The 27-year-old Gazvoda was a pure product of the Cycling Team Perutnina-Ptuj, which he joined when he started cycling at the age of 14. After finishing ninth at the U23 world time trial championship in Zolder, Belgium, in 2002, he developed his skills against the clock and became the national champion in 2007 and 2008 in a country where cycling talents aren't rare birds nowadays.

"I was devastated when I heard that my team was no longer existing at the international level", Gazvoda explained. Akira Asada, the manager of Meitan-GDR, had other plans. "As soon as I heard he was free, I was very interested to hire him." Asada found out about the availability of Gazvoda at the same time as he lost his best rider, Yukiya Arashiro. Arashiro's transfer to French ProTour team Bouygues Telecom was seen as a huge achievement for the Japanese squad that has put a lot of efforts into developing their riders on the European scene in the past few years.

"I wanted to find a team with a solid international program and Meitan-GDR exactly offers me that opportunity," Gazvoda said. He expects to debut his new career in Malaysia at Le Tour de Langkawi from February 9 to 15. "This is the kind of race I've always dreamt to take part in," said the amicable Slovenian. He came third in the 2.1 Tour of Slovenia's second stage and sixth in the Chrono des Nations in France in October, beating riders like Vladimir Gusev, Andriy Grivko, Philippe Gilbert and Thomas Voeckler.

Rujano in search for third Vuelta al Táchira

José Humberto Rujano hopes to win the Táchira for a third time, after 2004 and 2005. He will arrive in San Cristóbal, Venezuela, next week and meet with his new team, the club de ciclismo Gobernación del Zulia – Alcaldía de Maracaibo. He will reunite with his new teammates, who are already training in the state of Táchira.

Rujano assured he wants to close the deal with the team for the tour in his native Venezuela and collaborate with director Alexis Méndez. "I come here in the hopes to once again participate in the Vuelta al Táchira en Bicicleta. I only hope to find a solution with the few legal details of the contract, then I want to meet up[ with the rest of the guys, who have already done phenomenal work."

The team will have to other double champions, Manuel "El gato" Medina (who won in 2006 and 2008) and Noel Vásquez (2000 and 2001). Rujano confirmed that all three are physically prepared to become tricampeonato or triple champion.

"Returning to Táchira to race is always an honor for me. Without a doubt the biggest rivals will be the teams of Lotería del Táchira and Rock Racing. Fortunately the directors of Gobernación del Zulia have confirmed a squad at the highest level to tackle this race," Rujano said.

Rujano will not be part of the team that will race in the Vuelta a Bramón, which starts on December 19. Instead, he will continue his preparation in the mountains.

Rujano was racing for Caisse d'Epargne in 2008. The Vuelta al Táchira takes place from January 6 through 17, 2009.

Tigros will satiate Liquigas

Grocery store chain Tigros will be a co-sponsor for Liquigas in the next two seasons. Tigros entered the world of cycling in 2007, with Ivan Basso.

"Ivan ... represents the strength that characterizes our territory and our daily operations," said General Director Paolo Orrigoni.

The chain was founded in 1979 and is located in three provinces, with a total of 60 stores. "Now we can extend the cooperation to his new team, Liquigas, the symbol of serenity, competitiveness and it is also very Italian; we will work together to always confirm these values," said Orrigoni.

Team Manager Roberto Amadio confirmed the collaboration for the next couple of years. "We expect an ambitious and richly satisfying season in 2009. Tigros will be in the first line with us."

Now online: 2008 Cyclingnews reader poll

(Click for larger image)

It's that time of year again... the 2008 Cyclingnews reader poll is now online. Each year, we give you the chance to select the riders, teams, races, moments, equipment and photos that have really stood out from the pack in the last 12 months or so. To keep things simple, we'll be asking you to vote from a fixed selection in each category, as well as some 'free text' fields, so the survey should take you less than 10 minutes to complete.

As an incentive, we'll be giving away a pair of Zipp's 81mm deep 808 tubular wheels on the new 88/188 hub to one lucky entrant... So if you want to fly like Fabian Cancellara this Christmas, let us know your thoughts on the rider of the year!

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