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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, July 9, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo and Greg Johnson

Big names lose time in Cholet

Cadel Evans (Silence Lotto)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The Tour de France's 29.5 kilometre time trial in Cholet, France wasn't expected to turn up big time gaps between the general classification favourites, yet Australian Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) was able to put more than one minute into Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne). Evans might not have won the stage, but he took fourth place behind stage winner Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner), and came in six seconds ahead of World Time Trial Champion Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC-Saxo Bank).

Evans only took seven seconds from Rabobank's Denis Menchov, who lost 38" on Stage 3, but he put 1'07" into Valverde, around one minute on Damiano Cunego (Lampre) and Andy Schleck (Team CSC-Saxo Bank), and 1'17 on Carlos Sastre (Team CSC-Saxo Bank). Evans was pleased with the outcome, but was surprised as well.

"They said go and I went," he laughed. "It was a difficult start, actually. There was a lot of wind - a lot of wind which normally doesn't suit me so well. I am a little bit smaller and it suits the heavy guys like Cancellara. To be first of the general classification favourites, well that's the most important thing, but it is more important to look at where you finish compared to the other general classification contenders.

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Evans credited his strong showing to the work he did on improving his aerodynamic position on the time trial bike. He said that it was a bit short for him, but that the wind was an advantage. "That helped with the new position that we worked on this year," he said. "I am much lower and it is more of an advantage in fast time trials than in the hills."

Now just 21 seconds away from the yellow jersey, Evans could well take the lead from Schumacher, who gained the overall lead with his stellar time trial. He now faces a tactical question - does he take the jersey on Super-Besse and have to defend it over both the Pyrénées and Alps? Or does he try to fly just below the general classification radar.

"I think that going into the next few stages and if Schumacher wants to keep the jersey up to Super Besse, well that will be good. For us it's so far so good. Tactically it's a good position to be in," Evans said, indicating that he might not want to take yellow just yet.

Riders shocked by Schumacher win

By Shane Stokes in Cholet, France

German Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) grimaces
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) said that he rode tempo during yesterday's Tour de France time trial in Cholet, no doubt keen to chase his second stage win of the race on the following day. The Norwegian finished 116th in the test, 3'36" behind the winner Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner).

"It's still possible to win stages and so I had to control things today," he said. "It was very long. It was a stage for the big rouleurs today."

Hushovd, like several others, didn't expect Schumacher to beat world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC-Saxo Bank). "It is a surprise that Schumacher finished ahead of Cancellara, but he is a very good rider," he stated.

Team Columbia's George Hincapie echoed Hushovd's statement. Hincapie managed to crack the top 10 on the stage, with the American finishing in ninth place. "I am a little bit surprised by Schumacher, that is an awesome ride," he said. "But it is the Tour and anything is possible. As for me, I did what I could there."

Former Tour winner Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) had a solid-enough ride, being nine places further back in 18th spot. "I am satisfied with my time," he said after the stage. "The fight between Schumacher and Cancellara is not for us…Cancellara is the world time trial champion. I am content because I am close to the other riders for the general classification."

Pereiro's team leader and general classification favourite Alejandro Valverde was also happy with his efforts on the time trial. The Spanish rider seemed happy with his time, despite losing time on general classification to Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) and Denis Menchov (Rabobank).

"I am personally satisfied with my time," said Valverde. "It is true that Stefan Schumacher posted a great time, but for me the most important was not to lose time compared with the other favorites for the general classification and I achieved what I wanted to. The course was not totally flat and that was a good point for me but if you look at the stage classification, you can see that it was really a race for specialists, for powerful riders," added Valverde.

Compatriot Manuel Beltran (Liquigas) was 74th, biding his time until he gets to his ideal terrain. "I think my time trial was not bad for my condition - I am not a specialist there," he said. "I hope I go well in the mountains."

As regards his overall goal in the race, Beltran didn't want to set a specific target. "A stage win would be difficult, it is the Tour de France," he responded, when asked if that was what he was aiming for. "I think I will give my maximum to ride well, both for the team and for me."

Cunego pleased with first time trial

By Gregor Brown in Cholet, France

Cunego is not a specialist
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Italy's Damiano Cunego (Lampre) was pleased with the first true dose of force delivered in the 95th Tour de France on yesterday's time trial in Cholet, France. The 26 year-old from Verona limited his loses to overall favourite Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) and gained time on Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne).

"It is only the fourth day and I can't yet spend all my energy. As the days go on, I will be able to use more of my forces," Cunego said after finishing 37'10", 59 seconds behind Evans, but eight seconds up on Valverde. "It was a decent time today.

"In the first part there was such a strong wind, but I kept going at my pace," he added. "You had to be careful, or you would end off the street. In the second half we were flying; the specialists were going 70km/h."

Cunego has made huge time trial improvements since the 2006 Tour de France where he successfully defended the maillot blanc of best young rider in the final time trial. The lessons paid off for the fourth stage of the Tour de France, as did the specific trained he did at home for this time trial.

"I tried to give all, it was a fundamental test," he said. "I tried to defend myself."

Cunego is now 1'05" behind Evans on general classification and 14 seconds back on Denis Menchov (Rabobank). "Tonight, I will have a good look at the classification and see how the combinations are," he said.

Vasseur talks prize money, ASO vs UCI

By Shane Stokes in Cholet

Since taking up his new role as President of the CPA (Association of Professional Cyclists), former French pro Cédric Vasseur has had a busy time in the job. Non-payment by ASO of some of the prize money from last year's Tour de France plus the ongoing political struggles between the organisers and the UCI are two of the big issues, and he spoke about both to Cyclingnews this week at the Tour de France.

Vasseur said that the issue of prize money has more or less been resolved, but was complicated by the removal of several riders from the race who tested positive or were removed from the Tour. "I think most of the prizes have been given to the riders," he stated. "The situation was a little bit bad because there were five guys who were not in the classification, and so there was trouble.

"I think in the future there is going to be something better," he added. "I hope there will not be a positive like in the past years. We will try to set up a new system which will pay the riders within 90 days, which is the rules. Everything is in order now."

A bigger issue this year has been the UCI/ASO struggle, which has seen the riders threatened with sanctions if they rode Paris-Nice. The situation then grew worse when the organiser announced that it would run the Tour de France outside the aegis of the UCI.

Vasseur's stance is that this is something for others to worry about, not those he represents. "The situation is complex, but as far as I am concerned in relation to the riders, we don't need to go in this kind of discussion," he said. "What is important for the riders is to have races that are really well organised, with good prize money and with security. The rest - politics, organisation, is not really the problem of the riders.

"I know it is a problem for the teams who would like to have a kind of stability," he added. "For example, in the next years, nobody is sure to do this race or that. They are not really concerned about this kind of thing.

"ASO is organising the best of the year," he continued. "The UCI is also trying to organise good races in countries like Russia or Asia. So what would be really good for the riders is to do races like the Tour de France in all the countries. It doesn't matter if it they are from the UCI or ASO. I think it is also really good for cycling that the level is going up."

Vasseur does however see one benefit of the ProTour, namely the guarantee that teams know beforehand where they will be racing and can say this to their backers. "The situation now is not a problem for the [individual] riders," he said. "For cycling it is a bit of a problem, and I think it is really more of a problem for the sponsors and also for the teams. You know, when a team asks for eight million Euros, you want to be sure that this team is going to do the Tour de France, the most important event in the world.

"But at this moment this is not set up, so now we have to fix a system with ASO and the UCI on the other end," he added. "We need to make a guarantee for the sponsors giving money for the teams that they are going to be in the Tour, they are going to be in Russia, they are be everywhere... so we can have an international circuit.

"That is really concerning the teams, though. As regards the riders, as soon as there is security, prize money and lots of people like here, it is a pleasure to race."

Some observers have said that until the riders themselves get involved and demand a resolution to the problem, that it will persist. They are the stars of this particular show, after all, yet they haven't yet used that leverage to demand a lasting solution.

Vasseur isn't convinced that they should exercise this power. "I think that is something that is going too far for the riders," he said. "The riders have really enough problems with the roads and the battle in the races. We saw today [Saturday] that there was a really nice race. They are really focussed on this kind of race, and I think the rest of the other issues are not really interesting them.

"I mean, you cannot take care of everybody in life," he added. "What the rider has to do is take care about is his race, and try to get the best results as possible there. The rest is the business of the teams, the organiser and the UCI."

Sørensen claims Austrian mountain stage

Danish climber Chris Anker Sørensen (Team CSC-Saxo Bank) repeated his solo victory at last month's Dauphiné Libéré with a brilliant ride on the Tour of Austria's 170-kilometre second stage from Toblach to Kitzbühler Horn (Alpenhaus). Sørensen was able to gain enough time to take over the race lead at the mountain-top finish, on the same day he was named in his nation's Olympic Games squad for Beijing, China this August (see seperate story).

"This morning we'd agreed that Chris Anker was going to be captain for the day because he seemed the strongest and had the biggest chance of winning this stage. It was great for him to show that his victory in Dauphiné Libéré wasn't just a one-off," said Team CSC Saxo Bank sports director Torsten Schmidt.

"Tomorrow we'll have to try and defend the Yellow Jersey in another mountain stage and after that the next two stages should be sprinter stages ahead of the time trial on Saturday. If Chris still has the jersey by then we'll see, because he's improved his time trial a lot so it's not unthinkable that he could win the whole race," concluded Schmidt.

Sørensen's closest competitors on the stage were Thomas Rohregger (Elk Haus-Simplon), who finished 12 seconds behind, and Rusland Podgornyy (LPR Brakes), who was 27" back. Astana's Vladimir Gusev brought up fourth place, and the general classification looks the same.

Columbia claims Italian hat trick

Race leader, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Columbia)
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

Team Columbia's Ina-Yoko Teutenberg has claimed her third consecutive stage victory in the Giro d'Italia Femminile, and continues to hold the event's leader's jersey. Teutenberg claimed the first and second stage victories, after posting a soild top 10 finish in the opening prologue.

"It feels pretty unreal to get the hat trick," said Teutenberg. "I can't believe it but I'm definitely happy about it."

Teutenberg bested Bigla's Monica Holler and Australian Rochelle Gilmore (Menikini - Selle Italia) in the bunch sprint. The bonus seconds awarded for the stage win extended Teutenberg's lead in the overall classification, where she now leads Kirsten Wild (AA-drink) by 17 seconds.

The German sprinter was clearly delighted that she continues to lead the event, however she expects that to change today. The women's Giro faces the first mountain stage today, which culminates in a category two finish atop Monte Serra

"For sure though, it will be a different story tomorrow and another girl will be in pink," said Teutenberg.

Today's stage will likely be a duel between Teutenberg's team-mate Judith Arndt and Susanne Ljungskog (Team Flexpoint). The duo are tied on time 31" behind on general classification, while last year's winner Edita Pucinskaite (Equipe Nürnberger) is only a further two seconds back.

Chadwick named to Olympic team

Glen Chadwick will go to the Olympic Games
Photo ©: Glen Chadwick
(Click for larger image)

Earlier this season, the idea that Team Type 1's Glen Chadwick would be chosen to represent New Zealand at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China would have seemed far-fetched. After all, in February, he was hospitalized with such a severe case of Epstein-Barr virus that his internal organs had begun shutting down and he questioned whether or not he would survive the illness.

Now, the 31 year-old has become the second rider from his Team Type 1 to earn a trip to Beijing. Moises Aldape learned last month that he will represent Mexico.

"It sure does feel awesome to become an Olympian," Chadwick said. "I have represented New Zealand at the world championships before, but this is a sportsman's dream. It comes once every four years, so there are fewer chances to go."

Joining Chadwick on the Kiwi road team will be Tim Gudsell (Française des Jeux) and fast-finisher Julian Dean (Garmin-Chipotle presented by H30). Team Type 1 Sport Director Ed Beamon said Chadwick will work unselfishly for Dean, just as he has for the team-mates on his current squad.

"It's a tribute to Glen's individual ability and his teamwork ability that he got the selection," Beamon said. "I can't think of a guy who would be a better team-mate than Glen. From our perspective, he's been one of those guys who has done an incredible amount of work for the team."

Chadwick has experienced his own success this season, winning two stages and the overall title at the inaugural Tour of Arkansas in May. In 2007, he was New Zealand's national time trial champion. '

More countries announce Olympic teams

As the Beijing Olympic Games draw closer, countries are finalising their rosters for the cycling events. Tour of Austria stage three winner Chris Anker Sørensen was chosen to represent Denmark along with CSC-Saxo Bank team-mate Nicki Sørensen. Brian Vandborg will participate in both the road race and the time trial.

Slovenians Borut Bozic (Team Collstrop) and adej Valjavec (Lampre), Jure Golcer and Simon Spilak will contest the road race, with the latter racing the time trial as well.

Estonia will be represented by Rein Taaramäe and Tanel Kangert, while Algeria's sole participant will be 20 year-old Hichem Chabane.


Even more Tour: Video highlights and podcasts

Just can't get enough of the Tour? Well fear not because Cyclingnews has expanded its coverage once again this year to bring you video highlights of every stage plus daily podcasts courtesy of and Procycling magazine. Our video comes directly from Tour de France owners Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), and will be online shortly after the finish of each stage. We've also got highlights from classic Tours of the past so click here to see the full archive.

Check out the podcasts page in our Tour de France section for a full round-up of news and views from the Tour.

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