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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, February 22, 2008

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Rollin to victory

Dominique Rollin demolished the rest of the breakaway with 20km to go.
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

The Toyota-United Pro Cycling team hit the jackpot when they signed French-Canadian rider Dominique Rollin, nicknamed 'The Horse', who fell out of a contract when his team Kodak-Sierra Nevada folded at the end of 2007. Rollin proved he was ready to ride in the major leagues when he took third in the GC at the Tour of Missouri. He turned it up a notch in stage four of this year's Tour of California, initiating a break that stayed away for two hundred and four kilometres, to solo in for a stage victory. Rollin spoke with Cyclingnews' Kirsten Robbins about his drive to succeed in California.

"I knew I had it won when there was forty kilometres to go," said Rollin, regarding his nearly six-hour breakaway effort. "I looked around at the other riders and I knew I was the strongest in the break and then, with ten kilometers to go, I knew I had a forty-second lead and that they wouldn't catch me, so I started smiling."

The six-time national Canadian road champion from Boucherville, Quebec, pushed through epic wind and rain in an eleven-rider break he initiated. Then his competition pummeled when he broke away from them and soloed for twenty kilometres to the finish, holding off the chase behind that included 'big' George Hincapie and Ortuzar Camano.

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Rollin admitted that the wicked weather conditions suited his ability as an inspiring Classics rider, noting that the last time he remembered the weather being as bad he won that stage also. "I won stage two of the Tour de Beauce in 2005, where there were seventy kilometre per hour wind gusts and guys were blowing off the road," said Rollin. "Even today I was out there thinking, 'I can't stand this' and I was shivering and cold but I always seem to do well in that kind of bad weather. In fact, the worse it is the better I do. Today, when the wind came I told it to 'keep coming because I can do this.'"

Dominique Rollin overjoyed on the podium.
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

Rollin grew up as a soccer player in the summers and was a weekend skier in the winters, as a result of the harsh Canadian snowfalls. But cycling caught his attention after his older brother picked it up as a serious pastime. "My mom brought my brother to a bike race and soon after I started following him around, when I was ten" said Rollin, who started his racing career with the team Espoir Laval at the age of eleven. "There are country roads located five kilometres from my town, located on the south shore of Montreal."

With a considerable amount of success as a junior and an under 23 up-and-coming talent, Rollin took a leap and moved to the Champlain region in France to gain some experience on the European circuit. "France was difficult because of the travel for races," said Rollin, who trained under the guidance of team managers Guy Gallopin and Cyrille Guimard. "I liked the long one hundred and eighty kilometer classics and I was good at them, especially when the weather turned bad or there were some kickers, things that made the racing hard. I gained most of my experience from my team managers; different races at different levels, one weekend as an amateur and the next in the UCI events. I've seen a lot of different types of racing and different terrains and you can't avoid the cobbles."

The full feature is here.

Team Volksbank out to "bait the big guys"

Team Volksbank for the 2008 season.
Photo ©: GEPA
(Click for larger image)

There are three parts to Team Volksbank – four youngsters, seven "over-30s", and five in the middle, who have paid their dues as newcomers and are now ready to prove their worth. Ten of the riders are new to the team this year, and they are all ready to take on the challenge of "baiting the big guys," as Team Manager Thomas Kofler put it. Cyclingnews' Susan Westemeyer was in Bregenz, Austria, wherethe Austrian Professional Continental team presented its 2008 squad on Wednesday, against the beautiful background of the Bodensee (Lake Constance).

Three of the newcomers bring ProTour experience to the team. Daniel Musiol rode for Team Milram for one year, but André Korff and Olaf Pollack can look back on many years of experience. Pollack and Gerrit Glomser, who has been with Volksbank since 2006, will be the team's captains. Glomser, 32, has already gotten the season off to a good start, winning the climber's jersey in the Giro di Grossetto earlier in the month.

Sprinter Pollack, 34, who has worn the leader's "maglia rose" in the Giro d'Italia and brought in many wins for his former teams Wiesenhof, T-Mobile and Gerolsteiner, will be looking more to the track this season. While the Olympic games are a definite goal, "Beijing is not until August. The first goal is the track World Championships in March." Korff, also 34, has been a pro since 1998. The sprinter said, "I don't believe that I am one of the world's best, but I know how it goes. I can help Olaf and some of the younger riders. I am now one of the older ones and I will try to share my experience."

While Pollack will be looking to the track, another newcomer is looking more to cyclo-cross racing, and with good reason. Peter Presslauer has won the Austrian national 'cross title eight times, including this year (with Glomser finishing third). The 30 year-old will concentrate on helping the team in the spring and early summer, before he turns to training again for the upcoming fall and winter 'cross season. But in the meantime he is looking forward to the Spring Classics, the Dreidaagse van De Panne and Omloop Het Volk.

Gerrit Glomser wants to build on the success of last year.
Photo ©: GEPA
(Click for larger image)

One of the team's youngsters is actually a veteran, 21 year-old Philipp Ludescher, who signed with the team two years ago. The other three, also only 21 years old, are Alexander Egger, Elias Schmäh and Christoph Sokoll. All three said their goal this year is to help the team as much as possible and develop themselves further. Schmäh, only 164 cm tall, is a talented climber, who is also U23 Swiss road champion.

Then there are those "in-between" riders – the mid-twenties riders who have put in their time as neo-pros and now are ready to stake their place in the peloton. Three of the five are new to the team – Andreas Dietziker, Alexander Gufler, and Daniel Musiol – joining Josef Benetseder and Florian Stalder. Stalder probably spoke for all of them when he said, "Last year I was very close to my first pro win several times. This year I absolutely want to get it!"

The team opened the presentation with a minute of silence for Andreas Matzbacher, to whom it is dedicating the season. The 25 year-old died in an auto accident on Christmas Eve.

The team management is looking forward to the new season, for which the UCI has given it wild card status. "The team has a broader base, we have strengthened the team," said Patrick Vetsch, one of three directeurs sportifs. "I am not worried about the new season. The guys are very motivated, maybe even too motivated. Sometimes we have to stop them!"

Read about the rest of the team presentation.

Gerolsteiner's California woes

By Susan Westemeyer

The stomach problems that are sweeping through the peloton in California hit Team Gerolsteiner with a vengeance on Thursday. The team lost more than half of its riders on the day. "There's not much good to report, unfortunately," said Directeur Sportif Michael Rich. Oliver Zaugg and Bernhard Kohl both rode well on the day, "but when you lose five riders, then it's not funny."

Heinrich Haussler, Fabian Wegmann and Johannes Fröhlinger didn't even start, and Matthias Frank dropped out during the stage, all due to stomach problems. Sprinter Paco Wrolich also dropped out, but he had other problems, having fallen on his face in a crash. "He had to have six stitches on his temple," Rich said.

That leaves the team with Zaugg, Kohl and Markus Zberg in the race, and they will have to do the best they can with the situation. "That's not so easy. You have to take care of everything yourself, and that takes a lot of energy," Rich noted. "But despite everything, we will continue to do our best."

Soler out of action

Mauricio Soler headed home to Colombia and will return in March.
Photo ©: Cyclingnews.com
(Click for larger image)

Mauricio Soler (Barloworld) is prevented from racing by a knee injury. He has returned to his native Colombia. The knee problem is a consequence of a crash in the GP degli Etruschi on February 9. Soler was forced to change his race programme, after consulting with team manager Claudio Corti. Soler left for Colombia yesterday and will return to Europe in the beginning of March, on the eve of the Volta ao Distrito de Santarém (March 13-16). Before leaving Soler underwent a scan on his knee that showed a slight injury to the cartilage on his kneecap, with surrounding bruising.

Solar will continue to undergo treatment while in Colombia, with the aim of getting back in training in just a few days. "It's an unexpected problem, but one which we hope to resolve quickly," Barloworld team manager Claudio Corti said. "It would have been a mistake to take any risks to try and accelerate his return to racing. His trip to Colombia is related to Soler's problems in obtaining a visa for his time in Europe. As a consequence we decided that his trip to Colombia was the best choice."

Knee problems for Classics riders

By Susan Westemeyer

Marcus Burghardt gritting his teeth, due to knee pain.
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Knee problems are popping up at the Volta ao Algarve and took two riders out of Thursday's second stage. Marcus Burghardt of Team High Road and Kevin Van Impe of Team Quick-Step were not able to continue.

Burghardt, 24, who won Gent-Wevelgem last year, is looking doubtful for Omloop Het Volk and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. After dropping out of Algarve with knee pains, he went to Munich for treatment by a specialist. "He injured his knee in a training accident this winter," directeur sportif Tristan Hoffman told Sportwereld.be. "This problem must be cleared up first and only then can he think of the Omloop [Het Volk]."

Van Impe, 26, started having knee problems last season. He finished ninth in Paris-Roubaix, but the knee problems appeared after the Dauphiné Libéré, cutting into his season. "This is not the same problem," Van Impe told sporza.be. "It is the same knee, but the pain comes from my back and radiates to the knee." He was also going to a specialist for treatment. "I am not giving up. I think that it will be alright, but it is possible that I will not be able to ride in Het Volk."

Andy Rihs enjoys BMC racing at Tour of California

Andy Rihs, a Swiss entrepreneur, has been involved in cycling for several years now. His years nurturing the Phonak racing team brought him and his companies, Phonak and BMC, to prominence in the cycling world. Though Team Phonak had a much less happy ending than he would have wished, Andy Rihs realized that cycling is not only a beautiful sport, but an extraordinarily effective promotional tool. His love for the sport, and his business savvy prompted Andy to take the sponsorship plunge once again and threw his influence and enthusiasm behind the America-based BMC Racing Team.

Rihs has been following the race this week and was impressed. "You know, I hoped that we would do well, but I never imagined we would do so well," Rihs enthused after the team's performance through Stage 3 of the tour. "We had a few big chances and we took them; it shows how competitive our young guys are," Rihs continued. "Three days in a row we have exceeded expectations, and are having a fantastic time." Rihs also liked the chances for the team to retain the King of the Mountains jersey through the end. "You can't count your chickens [before they hatch], you know, but there are no more big climbs and so long as the boys are feeling well, there is no reason why we couldn't keep the KOM jersey through the end. That would be huge."

Rihs of course appreciates the lift sponsoring cycling teams gives to some of his businesses. However, the real reason he sponsors the sport is because he simply loves to ride his bike. "BMC has joined with Assos to promote what we are calling 'Squadra Mondo' [World Team - ed.], which essentially is our hope to help everyone who loves riding their bikes," Rihs said. "Look at our BMC team. They are aggressive, taking their chances, succeeding and looking great doing it! Our mission is to race bikes for fun, to promote the joy of cycling. The results will come with our passion for the sport," Andy explained. "We are cycling for everyone who loves cycling, who have not lost the pure joy and pleasure of the sport.

"I am part of this 'Squadra Mondo'. We are the billboards for our 'Squadra Mondo'," Rihs proudly proclaimed. "Our team is the test lab to help us and our future partners produce the highest quality materials possible," Rihs explained. "We will ride 1 million kilometres per year, and test all the products which will also be available to the consumer." Rihs is very happy with his young team. "We are a team of young, quality racers who ride because they love the sport." That quality makes Rihs a perfect match for this young, talented team.

Rainy days for Rory Sutherland

Only the tough guys ride in weather like this.
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Sutherland checks in with the readers of his diary from beautiful California, where it almost never rains.

Top day, really top day..... I mean, come on, who cannot like 7 hours and 20 minutes of racing in torrential rain, gale force winds, and near freezing temps, and the longest stage of the tour ... awesome. So, I know I say I don't whinge or whine, but this time I have decided that I am totally allowed to. That was crazy! Answer to the question that I'm sure is asked... Does everyone feel the same? Does everyone whine? Answer: YES. World champions, ex-world champions, national champions, everyone. That was without a doubt the worst day (weather wise) that I have ever had. I think the rest of the peloton will agree. ANYWAY....

Another insight that I can give you is "how do you get through such a long day?" Answer is that you just do. I know that sounds strange, but it's the truth. Let's be honest. There are people with cancer, there are people with so many other ailments, there are sick kids!! So, how do you deal with it? Again, you just do. I am able to ride my bike, I am able to ride in the biggest race in the USA, and I am paid to do something I enjoy. End of story.

So, why this attitude above? Well, to make a long story short, as part of our team sponsorship with Health Net, we're 'required' to do some media appearances, and also hospital visits. So, a few of the boys and I visited the children's cancer ward in Madera, CA before the tour. These kids are seriously amazing, some sick kids, some knocking on death's door. It's a great way to help you appreciate what you have! For the record, this is one of four hospitals in the USA that is actually free. For those of you who know the US health insurance issue, that's kind of a big deal. So, get on board with Health Net, support the Amgen ride against cancer, and try to appreciate what you have.

Read on here for the full diary entry.

Rock Racing to Belgium

Mario Cipollini wants to battle Tom Boonen in Gent-Wevelgem.
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Rock Racing's signing of sprinter Mario Cipollini has paid off. The team has received an invitation to the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen (March 7-9). "It's a fine offer and a sign of respect," Cipollini said, according to sportwereld.be, but he wanted more. "Certainly very worthy. But can't you ask someone if they don't want me in Gent-Wevelgem? I would really like to ride there one more time." He has won the race three times, most lately in 2002.

Rebellin leads Gerolsteiner in Haut Var

The Italians and Germans will share duty in Team Gerolsteiner's line-up for the Tour du Haut Var this upcoming Sunday. Davide Rebellin will lead the team, which features all three of his Italian team-mates. One of those is newcomer Francesco De Bonis, who will be making not only his Gerolsteiner debut, but also his pro debut. The four Italians will be matched by four Germans, including climber Matthias Russ.

Gerolsteiner for Haut Var: Francesco De Bonis, Thomas Fothen, Oscar Gatto, Andrea Moletta, Volker Ordowski, Davide Rebellin, Matthias Russ and Carlo Westphal.

Extremadura for Valencia

By Antonio J. Salmerón

The directeur sportif for Extremadura-Ciclismo Solidario's, Alfonso Rodriguez, has announced his team for the Volta a la Comunidad Valenciana, which takes place from February 26 to March 1. The riders will be Xabat Otxotorena, Francisco Terciado, Sergio Herrero, Gonzalo Zambrano, Carles Torrent, Jaume Rovira, Israel Perez and Enrique Salgueiro.

Three team members, Sergio Herrero, Israel Perez and Enrique Salgueiro, have already disputed all the races on the team calendar this season. But Rodriguez indicated that now the team can't afford to give rest to anyone, as the team is stretched thin.

The return of the pistard Carles Torrent after his injury will be very important. It is his debut as an Extremadura-Ciclismo Solidario racer. He will try to contest the sprints, but it is not known yet if his fitness level is up to par, after the injury.

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