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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, July 13, 2008

Edited by Sue George

Double double for Columbia

Bert Grabsch (Columbia) celebrates his win
Photo ©: Klaus Titzer
(Click for larger image)

While Team Columbia's Mark Cavendish and Gerald Ciolek were busy scoring a one-two finish in the stage eight sprint finish of the Tour de France on Saturday, their team-mates German Bert Grabsch and Norwegian Edvald Boassen Hagen were doing the same by finishing one-two in the individual time trial in the penultimate stage of the Tour of Austria.

In the 26km time trial in Podersdorf, Grabsch finished 43 seconds ahead of his team- mate Boassen Hagen and 45 seconds ahead of Dane Michael Blaudzun (Team CSC - Saxo Bank).

Referring to Mark Cavendish's victory and Gerald Ciolek's second place in the Tour de France stage to Toulouse, Grabsch said, "It was a very special day for Columbia - it's not often a team wins in two races at the same time, even less frequent to get the top two placings in both!"

Time trialling success is not new for either Grabsch and Boassen Hagen; both are their respective reigning national champions in the speciality. Grabsch also won a time trial in the Vuelta a España last year, and Boassen Hagen the time trial in the Criterium International this March.

"It was my kind of course - flat, wide roads and not technical at all," said Grabsch, who rode with a 56x11 gearing and caught three riders en route to victory. "The only problem was the heat - 33 degrees. Normally I have problems with that but I seemed to be able to handle that ok."

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Grabsch was not surprised by his win, saying, "after all, I'm national time trial champion and it was a good course for me. It was so short there were no tactics and no time references for me - just going 100 percent from start to finish. My time trial bike, a new one, was also perfect for the job."

Grabsch said the race was good preparation for the Olympic Games which he will be targeting in August. "I'm going to rest for 10 days after this, ride the Tour of Saxony which has a 35 kilometre time trial in it, then I'll be focussed on Beijing."

"It's hilly for sure, but my form is good, and last year in the Worlds at Stuttgart I got fourth, so I know I can do well on tough circuits as well as flatter ones," said Grabsch.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Tour of Austria stage six.

Fabiana the Wolf secures fifth Giro

By Ben Atkins in Montevecchia

A smiling Luperini on the podium
Photo ©: Giro Donne
(Click for larger image)

Fabiana Luperini (Menikini-Selle Italia-Master Colors) won the seventh stage of the Giro d'Italia in a similar fashion to the way she won the fourth, and assured – barring accident – her fifth Giro d'Italia victory. The Italian champion attacked breakaway companion Amber Neben (Flexpoint) with two kilometres of the final climb remaining to finish alone at Montevecchia high above the plains of Lombardia.

"It was hard after yesterday," said la Lupa (Italian for Wolf) after the finish, "but I felt good today. Amber made me work hard for the win."

"Yesterday was a difficult day and I had a bit of a stomach problem," she continued. "There were some brutal descents, but the stage today was better for me."

"I am very happy, we dreamed it was possible. Today I have given everything; for me and all of the team. I would like to than everybody that has been around me this week.

"To [win while] wearing the tricolore is beautiful; to represent my country in cycling."

Luperini and Neben escaped on the second climb of the day, at Giovenzana, the American started the day in fifth place and was keen to move up in the classification. The two worked together – Luperini occasionally escaping on the climbs and Neben using her time trialling power on the flat – until they arrived together at the foot of the steep climb to Motevecchia.

"It was a good day again," the American told Cyclingnews. "It felt good – felt good to ride like I should be riding, the form's starting to come around and, yeah, it just felt good; I had a good day. I was trying to get on the podium. I was riding for the podium – I didn't have anything to lose, so I went for it on that second climb with Luperini. She was just super-good today on the climbs, so I knew she was better on the climbs and I was riding for GC so I kind of just towed her in between climbs, which was fine it kind of helped me – I moved up which was what I wanted to do.

"I don't know if I had enough, but hopefully I had enough to get into the top three and get onto the podium," said Neben. In fact the American had successfully gained enough time on the three riders ahead of her – Tatiana Guderzo (Gauss RDZ Ormu), Nicole Brändli (Bigla) and Claudia Hausler (Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung) – to move up into second place overall.

As Luperini attacked at the base of the climb to Montevecchio, Neben was thinking of nothing but her position compared to those behind her, not wanting to overstretch herself in pursuit of the Italian climbing specialist. "I'd been riding hard the whole time in between," she explained. "I was just committed to try and move up on GC versus going for the stage.

"I didn't [try to follow her], I just tried to ride my own temp, I'd been time trialling in between the climbs there – and she was sitting in – really there was no chance I was going to be able to follow. I was trying to just maximise my gap by keeping a steady effort all the way up."

After losing a lot of time on stage four's final climb to Monte Serra, Neben was pleased to have regained so much time on the rest of the field. "It's good," she nodded. "It's awesome to be on the podium again – the top three of the Giro – it's a big race and my form's coming around, I'm happy with things. It just feels good to ride well and just go out and take a risk and ride hard all day; it's fun when that goes well."

Claudia Hausler finished the stage in third place and, although she lost her second place to Neben, the young German was pleased with the way her race had gone overall. "It was so hard and I was so dead, because yesterday I gave everything and today it was really hard," she told Cyclingnews.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Women's Giro d'Italia stage seven.

Sevilla ok and racing

By Paul Verkuylen in Qinghai Lake, China

Oscar Sevilla (Rock Racing)
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)
After a nasty crash with a spectator in the final 300 meters of the second stage of the Tour of Qinghai Lake, Oscar Sevilla (Rock Racing) evaded serious injury and will take to the start of the third stage.

The Spaniard came down hard when a spectator stepped out onto the road in the finishing straight and brought him down. The impact snapped Sevilla's De Rosa's fork and it was first thought that he had broken his wrist and damaged his hip.

"He seems to be fine, he is pretty sore but he is going to start tomorrow," Haldane Morris, Rock Racing's General Manager told Cyclingnews.

"Tomorrow's stage is fairly flat so he will just ease into it and keep the legs turning," he said.

It was initially thought that Sevilla's injuries were much worse. After he was treated on the spot it was decided that a trip to the hospital was unnecessary and that had suffered mainly from shock.

Sevilla was given the time of the second bunch to cross the line, just three seconds behind the leaders. He currently holds third place in the general classification.

Pezula racing miss prologue but still racing in Qinghai

By Paul Verkuylen in Qinghai Lake, China

The peloton
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)
After missing the prologue of the Tour of Qinghai Lake, the Pezula racing team from Ireland were awarded the time of the last rider on the general classification and were allowed to start the second stage of the Tour.

"Our flights from Dublin to Heathrow were delayed and because of that we missed our connecting flight to Beijing," Brian O'Loughlin, Pezula's manager explained to Cyclingnews.

"They were having problems with the radar so as it turned out no flights came in or out the entire day."

The team eventually arrived in Xining at 9:00 pm the night of the first stage, after catching the Thursday flight to Heathrow and a connecting flight the Beijing. The Chief commissaries allowed the team to start and awarded the entire team the time of the last placed rider on GC.

"We are happy to be here," O'Loughlin said. "It could have been a lot worse. We didn't come here for the overall anyway, we came to get up there in the stages and blood some of the young guys on the team."

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Tour of Qinghai Lake stage two.

Vasseur unhappy with procedures

By Brecht Decaluwé

Rider representative Cedric Vasseur is displeased with how the Manuel Beltran doping case has been treated up thus far. According to Vasseur, since the results of the positive A-sample test were made public by the French newspaper L'Equipe, a verdict on Beltran has already been decided.

"The only thing we know right now is that the A-sample is positive," Vasseur said. "It's not bad that Beltran left the Tour de France, but before we consider him guilty, we should await the analysis of the B-sample. If it is positive as well, then it's a pity for the guy. Then he will have to give an explanation."

Vasseur made an appeal to reinstate the normal procedures in case of a positive A-sample. "If an A-sample is positive, then you ask for a B-sample, and when the B is positive, and only then, you're guilty," Vasseur said. He referred to tennis player Martina Hingis who tested positive for using cocaine. "Even though we had problems with doping in the past, I think we should look at other sports to see how they're dealing. For instance Martina Hingis...we only learned that she was positive after the B-sample and that's normal."

"Now Beltran is already considered guilty... There is certainly something wrong with him, but just imagine if the B-sample isn't positive. It wouldn't be the first time," said Vasseur, referring to the Iban Mayo doping case. The Spanish rider tested positive during the Tour de France, but afterward, his B-sample came back not positive.

"Then it's a complete mess," said Vasseur. "It's bad for him, for his team, for the Tour and for cycling."

Riis on Beltrán's "scandalous" dismissal

By Gregor Brown in Toulouse

Dane Bjarne Riis, head of Team CSC-Saxo Bank, looked at the positive side of Manuel Beltrán's "A" sample test result which resulted in the dismissal of the "scandalous" Spaniard from the Tour de France. He said the sport's anti-doping controls were working.

"It is bad for cycling, without saying it is a 'scandal' – he is the 'scandal,'" said Riis to Cyclingnews the morning after Beltrán was asked to leave the Tour de France for his positive Erythropoietin (EPO) test. "The controls work. The system works. Those who don't understand, like him, have to leave."

The classification rider of Team Liquigas was caught in a French anti-doping agency (AFLD) control following stage one that led to a positive EPO result. All the Tour de France controls are being carried out by the AFLD, which is different than in past years when handled by the International Cycling Union (UCI).

It is believed that AFLD is carrying out more controls than in past Tour de France editions. Riis could not confirm the reported additional visits from the AFLD, but rejoiced in the added checks.

"I like that, I think it is good. The more the better," Riis said.

Riis faced EPO problems of his own in the spring of 2007. He admitted to using the drug EPO on his way to claiming his 1996 Tour de France win. However, despite past and current problems in cycling, he is ready to continue to focus on what has been an exciting Tour de France.

Riis said he believes the system works and the sport is headed in the proper direction. "Return the focus to the racing? We can and we have too."

Vande Velde disappointed in Beltrán

By Gregor Brown in Toulouse

Christian Vande Velde gets interviewed
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

After hearing the news that Manuel Beltrán tested positive for Erythropoietin, American Christian Vande Velde said he felt "disappointment".

"It brings everyone back into that focus," Vande Velde, Garmin's GC leader, said to Cyclingnews the following morning. "The whole media caravan is in front of the Liquigas bus and those guys have not done anything – the guy that did something is gone."

Team Liquigas's Beltrán was caught as part of an anti-doping control following stage one. The news came out the night after stage seven in Aurillac that his "A" sample was positive for Erythropoietin (EPO).

"It is hard because it has been a great race and one animated by teams that have an anti-doping programme within them." Vande Velde is part of one of those teams, Team Garmin Chipotle presented by H30. Both he and Beltrán raced for Lance Armstrong's US Postal, although during different years.

Vande Velde disagreed with the Beltrán/Armstrong connection that was immediately made in many reports. "That is wrong. That was years ago," he said. "'Triki' was a really strong rider before he came to Lance Armstrong, so I don't think there is any association."

Beltrán, at age 37, was considered one of cycling's old-guard. The newer generation coming up the ranks may have a different take on how to participate in the sport.

"I hope that the [young] guys don't even think about it," Vande Velde said. "We had never thought about it and that is maybe why we were blindsided by it. You would not think that someone would be doing it at this point in time."

Vande Velde sits fourth in the general classification and is ready to give his rivals trouble in the coming two high-mountain stages of Sunday and Monday.

"I am giving all my power for tomorrow, Bagnères de Bigorre, and then everything for Hautacam. These last two days have been tough, but they have been tough for everyone."

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