Cyclingnews - the world centre of cycling Cyclingnews TV   News  Tech   Features   Road   MTB   BMX   Cyclo-cross   Track    Photos    Fitness    Letters   Search   Forum  

Recent News

January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008

2007 & earlier

Recently on

Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, February 20, 2008

Edited by Bjorn Haake

The return of the Lion King

By Kirsten Robbins in Sacramento, California

Cipo was all smiles despite the rain, as he showed he still can keep up with the pros.
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

Conquering several obstacles that had to do with contracts and licenses finally allowed 2002 World Champion Mario Cipollini the passage to stand on the start line of the 2008 Tour of California. Three years into his retirement, the cycling world thought that the opportunity to watch a sprint involving the flashy Italian demolishing his competitors by several bike lengths was over. While he did not beat his rivals Tom Boonen or Heinrich Haussler, taking third place against the world's fastest young talents was considered a victory in its own right.

Cipollini's nearly two hundred race wins caught the attention of Rock and Republic owner, Michael Ball, and the pair entered into negotiations at a Las Vegas disco during Interbike in the fall of 2007. Conversation became official with paper work prior to the start of the Tour of California. According to Cipollini, he and Ball agreed that he would compete in the top ranked criteriums that the US is so recognised for. However, one thing led to another and the team asked that he start the Tour of California.

Coming up on

Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

WAP-enabled mobile devices:

"I thought he [Ball] was just another crazy person like all the others that I have met in my career," joked Cipollini regarding their initial informal discussions in Las Vegas. "At the time in the club there were a lot of beautiful women and I was more interested in them than in what Michael Ball had to say.

"But Michael was putting on more pressure on me and we decided to meet again," continued Cipollini, who took interest in Ball's team upon realizing the offer was a serious one. "Everything started from that point and everything was based on the idea that Michael Ball was going to create a high profile team by using my experience.

"I'm forty-one years old [he turns 41 on March 22 - ed.] so basically it is not a profession for me anymore, it's just my passion," said Cipollini in a post-race press conference. "Just sprinting here with riders that could by my kids is a victory – I'm very proud. I like to challenge myself with something that is almost impossible to accomplish. It is just a challenge against myself. Although it makes me sad to take away the space for the young riders, from an egotistical point of view, I like the challenge and for me it is very good."

According to the 'Lion King' his winter seems to be paying off and even if the jetlag from arriving two days before the start of the race is still sitting in his legs now, he plans on improving his performance from third to first place in a bunch sprint in time for the Pasadena finale.

Cipollini's sprint technique historically required an entourage style of lead-out train, delivering him to the two hundred metres to go mark. While racing in the USA may not require the extensive congregation to team-mates lined up at the front of the peloton, events like the Tour of California have attracted some of the fastest sprinters in the world, backed up by the horse power of their ProTour team-mates. "The big challenge right now is not having a team that can help me in the finish," said Cipollini regarding his under-manned lead-out train. "So I have to do things on my own and invent a new way to win. I believe that the technique of having a train is very important in a sprint."

Stage two winner and also former world champion, Belgian Tom Boonen, paid respect to the return of the patriarch sprinter, complimenting his tactical expertise and athleticism that has not changed since his retirement in mid-2005. "Cipo is a good rider," said Boonen. "If you look at him he's a good athlete, he always was, so why shouldn't he be good now? He has a lot of experience and he doesn't need to be the best guy to win a sprint, and he's compatible to win a sprint here and right now. Everything has to be going fine because he doesn't have the big legs from the best days, but I'm sure it's possible for him to win a stage.

"I would be honoured to lose to him," continued Boonen with respect to Cipollini's age. "It doesn't change anything that he is forty-one years old. Age is only what you make of it. He's a well-trained athlete and he is still 'the' Mario Cipollini. I know the first time I beat him I was very proud of myself and then the day after he beat me again. So, just because you beat him once doesn't mean you are going to beat him everyday. He's been doing this a long time and he has way more experience than I do."

RCS Sport names Tirreno and Sanremo teams – Garzelli "burned"

By Gregor Brown

Stefano Garzelli is less pleased now, knowing he won't get to ride his favourite races.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

RCS Sport, organisers of the Giro d'Italia, has named the teams that are invited to Tirreno-Adriatico and Milano-Sanremo, and, as it did for the Giro, it has left off the list Astana and Acqua & Sapone. Acqua & Sapone's Stefano Garzelli, winner of the 2000 Giro and two stages in last year's Giro, felt "burned" by the recent news.

21 teams have been invited to Tirreno, March 12 to 18, and 24 to Sanremo, March 22. On the list of invitees for both races is Team High Road, which was initially not invited to the Giro, but now appears to be racing after invitations to the recent two events and Monte Paschi Eroica.

"I feel burned," said Garzelli to Cyclingnews this morning. "It is truly unexplainable. I don't know what I will do now." In fact, Garzelli indicated that he was not sure if he would take part in this weekend's Trofeo Laigueglia as his morale was low.

The 34 year-old Italian tried calling RCS Sports Events Director, Angelo Zomegnan, a couple of times following the announcement of the decision, but his phone calls were reportedly refused. The team of Palmiro Masciarelli has been linked with riders under current doping investigations – Michele Scarponi (Operación Puerto) and Luca Paolini (Operazione Athena) – which may have had to do with RCS Sport's decision.

The teams were selected based on "ethics, quality, international character [and] the historical relationship with RCS Sport," and their invitations maybe withdrawn at any moment that the organiser wishes. The invited teams are Ag2r-La Mondiale, Barloworld, Caisse d'Epargne, Cofidis, CSF Group Navigare, Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Française des Jeux, Gerolsteiner, High Road, Lampre, Liquigas, LPR Brakes, Quick Step, Rabobank, Saunier Duval-Scott, Silence-Lotto, Slipstream Chipotle - H30, Team CSC, Team Milram and Tinkoff Credit Systems. Additionally, for Milano-Sanremo there will be the teams of Crédit Agricole, Bouygues Telecom and NGC Medical-OTC Industria Porte.

Adam Hansen, the disbelieving national champion

Adam Hansen, 26, during the Team High Road presentation inside the Cuberley Theatre in Palo Alto, California.
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Adam Hansen of Team High Road won the Australian national time trial title – much to his own astonishment. Actually, he was hoping to win the road title, but was disappointed to only finish second in that race. The Aussie has now turned his attention to the 2008 season, and Cyclingnews' Susan Westemeyer caught up with him in California before the start of the Tour of California.

"It's kind of funny, I still don't look at myself as national champion," the 26 year-old said in disbelief of his time trial win six weeks ago. "I find it hard to believe that it's something that I have accomplished. I've competed in many different sports in my younger years and never really thought to become a national champion because I thought it was not possible I could be one. So while I love it, I don't always seem to remember."

Hansen had actually gone into the nationals hoping to win the road race and, well, just to survive the time trial. "I will still enter the time trial, for experience, and there's nothing like an hour of pain, err, fun," he said the beginning of January.

Having won the time trial, he then hoped to repeat in the road race, but he finished second behind Silence-Lotto's Matthew Lloyd, and was, he said, "pretty disappointed, I really wanted to do the double, but a better man won. That's the way it is and I was not that man. The course suits me to the ground and I had the form, but it goes back to the problem, I was not the better man."

Hansen got off to a reasonably good start with the team last year, and was thrilled to ride the Giro d'Italia in his first ProTour season. However, that came to a quick and abrupt halt, as he crashed on the second stage, breaking his right ring and little fingers in four places. Surgery was successful – "for riding the hand is perfect, but for some other things it's not so easy. Shaking someone's hand firmly hurts. So it's a little tender."

To find out more about Hansen, read the rest of the interview.

Haussler in green

Haussler (c) was in-between two greats to take second on stage 2.
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

German-Aussie Heinrich Haussler has won the green jersey after sprinting to the runner-up position in stage two of the Tour of California, sandwiched between sprinters Tom Boonen and Mario Cipollini. After getting third in stage one, he got to step onto the podium in California's capital of Sacramento once again. Not only to be awarded along side Boonen, but also to receive the green jersey for the best sprinter in the race. "I am very happy. I was actually very far behind in the last corner, but fortunately there was still some way to go to the finish."

His directeur sportif, former racer Michael Rich, was equally happy. "That guy is a lot of fun. He got a lot of morale and confidence through his third place. You could see that today. Maybe he is taking another step forward here [in California]." Rich did not forget to mention Haussler's team-mates, Austrians Bernhard Kohl and Peter Wrolich, who helped their team-mate in the finale. "That was a superb job," said Rich.

Haussler was born in Australia, but moved to Germany in 1997 and is now a dual citizen. He won a stage in the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré against Tom Boonen last year.

Rory Sutherland and the cat-eyes

Rory Sutherland has an entertaining diary going throughout the Tour of California.
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Rory Sutherland is writing a diary from the Tour of California, and in his latest entry he writes about the state's roads.

This is my starting statement. Cat-eyes will be the end of me. What is a cat-eye? Those little lumps in the middle of the road that when you drive your car and your headlights hit them, they glow like cats' eyes. Hence the name.... When you're on a bike, with a tiny tyre, and it's raining.....Not good. I have no idea how nobody crashed on them today. It seems like California itself needs excessive amounts of them all over the road. However! If this keeps people from crashing cars, then I guess I/we will deal with them.

So, my little email address/competition that I have is gaining some serious momentum! There are even more sponsors onboard than ever before. Amazing. I am still yet to meet someone at a start or finish who has read my diary, but I am holding onto hope! Officially, I seem to have cracked the 40 people mark. This has surpassed every expectation. I've decided that either 40 people actually read it, or Tim's Mother has made up 40 different email addresses and is attempting to make me feel special. I have had some great emails, very supportive, and from people all around the world. I WILL email everyone back. It's just taking time.

It seems like the most commonly asked question is related to Cipollini. Yes, he is here. What is my opinion of his form/look/clothing/manner etc.? I don't pass judgement. Results speak for themselves, and if you see all the hype, then clearly what he is still continuing to do is answer enough. On his age, who cares? Really, why should your age stop you from doing something? This is pretty relative to everyday life, and also everything you choose to do.

To read the rest of the entry and Sutherland's other diary contributions, visit the Tour of California feature site.

Rojas back on the road

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Jose Joaquin Rojas (Caisse d'Epargne) is hoping to race again soon.
Photo ©: Caisse d'Epargne
(Click for larger image)

While Spanish rider José Joaquín Rojas (Caisse d'Epargne), who crashed earlier this month, evaluates his condition as "very favourable," he is still cautious enough to not set a firm date for his return to the peloton. "I was told that it is only a dislocation in the area that was initially diagnosed as a fracture. I should just train according to my sensations when I hop on a bicycle."

Rojas already left the trainer behind and is hitting the asphalt again. "I was fed up with being stuck at home, on the trainer. So yesterday I allowed myself to go out of the house and do 50 kilometres round trip. The sensations were very good," the young Spanish rider told Cyclingnews.

But he didn't go too fast, "that could cost me dearly later. I am starting to get going later, so I can be at the start of Paris-Nice." He wanted to ride the Volta a la Comunidad Valenciana, starting February 26, initially. The Vuelta a Murcia (March 4-8) may be a less competitive alternative, which Rojas "would like to race." It is a race where he won a stage and led the overall until the third stage last year. "I also don't think that I would be ready before that, especially if we are talking about an optimal level [of fitness], as I had it when I crashed in the Challenge of Mallorca," the Spaniard added.

At only 22 years of age, the Caisse d'Epargne rider is promising in demanding stages and in the sprints, making use of his power. That led to a stage victory in the recent race on the Balearic Island. As for his actual return to the peloton he mentioned that "the coming days will show if I can return to competition a bit earlier. I want to avoid starting too early, as I don't want to throw away all the work that I have done so far," concluded the student of Directeur Sportif Eusebio Unzúe, who still has a contract until 2010.

Astana can count on sponsors

The sponsors of Team Astana are not backing out and stand behind their cyclists. Despite the exclusions from races like the Tour de France, the sponsors have indicated their full support to Johan Bruyneel and his team, according to Bruyneel is happy about it, stating that "I really appreciate the unconditional support that the team has received from our Kazakh sponsors and Prime Minister Danial Akhmetov. Despite his frustrations with the political battle, he continues to believe in our project and in our new programme. Unfortunately, it appears that certain organizers do not want to recognise the fact that we are a completely different team than that of 2007 and that they need to let us participate in the biggest races of the world."

Contentpolis-Murcia starts racing

By Antonio J. Salmerón

The new team Contentpolis-Murcia shows off the jersey.
Photo ©: Antonio J. Salmerón
(Click for larger image)

New Spanish Professional Continental team Contentpolis-Murcia will have its first race at the Clásica de Almeria this Sunday, February 24. The team is managed by Ginés García, who was responsible for the national team at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. García is predicting a long and fruitful endeavour. After getting full economic support of the regional governments of Murcia and the city of Murcia, the riders showed off their clothing to Cyclingnews for the first time, just ahead of the race.

The team will take the start in the Volta a la Comunidad Valenciana on February 26, at Sagunto. A week later it will participate in its home race, the Vuelta a Murcia, which takes place from March 4 to 8. That race "is very special for us, for being at home and where our sponsors are," García stressed. Contentpolis-Murcia will be led by Manuel Vázquez, Adrián Palomares (who beat Alessandro Petacchi in the final stage of the Regio Tour last year) and Julián Sánchez Pimienta. Additionally, there will be the young hope Oleg Chuzhda, Ukrainian U23 time trial champion and José Herrada, who won a stage in the Tour de l'Avenir last year. Other strong riders are Javier Etxarri, Eloy Teruel and Sergio Domínguez. Teruel, in his third year as a professional, is a specialist in the race against the clock. Jesús Buendía and José Carlos López complete the team.

One of the goals was "to participate in the Vuelta a Andalucía, but eventually the bureaucratic hurdles prevented this plan. At any rate, we will be there for the Volta a la Comunidad Valenciana and we will offer an impeccable look from the team car to the clothing," concluded García.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Antonio J. Salmerón

Paris - Nice route announced

Paris - Nice, which will take place from March 9 to 16, will kick off with a short 4.6-kilometre prologue in Amilly, east of Orléans. The race then plots south via Nevers and Belleville to St. Etienne. The fourth stage is expected to bring a preliminary decision as to who the overall winner might be, when the race finishes atop the famous Mont Ventoux.

After that the race heads towards the Mediterranean Sea via Sisteron. As always, stage finishes in Cannes and Nice conclude the race to the sun, after 1230 kilometres of racing.

The stages:
Prologue - March 9: Amilly - Amilly, 4,6 km
Stage 1 - March 10: Amilly - Nevers, 184.5 km
Stage 2 - March 11: Nevers - Belleville, 201 km
Stage 3 - March 12: Fleurie - Saint-Etienne, 164.5 km
Stage 4 - March 13: Montélimar - Station du Mont Serein / Mont Ventoux, 176 km
Stage 5 - March 14: Althen-des-Paluds - Sisteron, 172.5 km
Stage 6 - March 15: Sisteron - Cannes, 203.5 km
Stage 7 - March 16: Nice - Nice, 122.5 km

World Cup race concludes Trittico Lago Maggiore

The women's World Cup race Trofeo Alfredo Binda – Comune di Cittiglio on March 24 will conclude the Trittico Lago Maggiore. The special individual standings will be calculated via races in Brissago (Switzerland) on March 8 and in the Cornaredo race near Milano on March 9. The World Cup race is held in the region of Varese.

German Cycling Cup

A new series of races for "Jedermann" has been put in place in Germany. Anybody without a racing license can participate in it. The races continue a tradition of being held close to the professional races, such as Rund um Köln or the Rund um den Henninger Turm in Frankfurt. The series is a successor of the T-Mobile Cycling Tour, which had a similar concept. For each race there will be points awarded. At the end of the season the overall winners for the respective categories are announced.

Uwe Schulz of the VDR (the organisation that puts on races in Germany) said that "only top events are part of the series." Hanns-Martin Fraas, who will be responsible for the German Cup Cycling series in particular, emphasized the lack of time after T-Mobile withdrew the sponsorship, but acknowledged that "T-Mobile was a fair partner and supported the idea of continuing the race series as the German Cycling Cup. We didn't have much time after T-Mobile left, but until the start of the series on Easter Monday with Rund um Köln we will have done our homework."

The nine races will be:
March 24: Rund um Köln Challenge - Köln
April 27: Tour d'Energie - Göttingen
May 1: Velo-Tour Rund um den Henninger Turm - Frankfurt
May 12: Neuseen Classics - Leipzig/Zwenkau
June 1: Bayernrundfahrt - Erlangen
August 3: SparkassenGiro - Bochum
August 23: Rad am Ring - Nürburgring
September 14: Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt - Nürnberg
October 3: Sparkassen Münsterland Giro - Münster

Previous News    Next News

(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)