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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, July 24, 2008

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Sánchez squashes bad Alpe memories

Sánchez was happy with his race
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Samuel Sánchez finished second in Alpe d'Huez in stage 17, behind an unstoppable Carlos Sastre. He came closer to one of the team's goals, a top 10 finish in Paris. Sánchez is currently ranked eighth in the overall standings. But once again the team came up short on a stage win. Sánchez' second place is quite a change from his past experience up the famous climb in the Alps, though

"In the last five years I never thought of coming back to Alpe d'Huez and today I finished second – that's not a bad turnaround. In the 2003 Tour I went through hell and I was outside the time limit. Today the feeling was very different, and even though I really suffered, it was worth the pain."

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In Euskaltel's quest for a stage win and a top 10 in the final standings, the odds are even. Sánchez looks set to finish within the first ten riders in Paris. But the stage win eluded them once again and Sánchez was realistic about it. "I know that a second place will not be remembered, but for me it was an important event and I am very satisfied. In the general classification I moved up one spot and I am now in eighth."

Nothing much was to be done today against an outstanding Sastre. His tactics were very simple, according to Sánchez. "Carlos Sastre was by far the strongest. He attacked right at the bottom and made the most of the lack of strengths of his rivals to win the stage and get yellow."

Sánchez is now looking to survive the final hilly, but not mountainous, stages before the time trial on Saturday. "Tomorrow [Thursday] will be a nervous stage. I suffered a lot today and I don't know how my body will respond. The most important is to recover now."

The second rider within a chance of a top 10 was Mikel Astarloza, but he had a jour sans. Astarloza lost more than a quarter of an hour. He dropped from 13th to 18th. "That's the Tour. You have one bad day and you lose it all. But frankly, I didn't expect that. I couldn't go with a large group in the Croix de Fer. That demoralised me a bit. I lost a minute over the top. Now, I don't feel like thinking about much."

The lead of Sánchez over tenth placed Vladimir Efimkin is 2'32. But danger does present itself from even outside the top 10. Kim Kirchen in 11th is 2'43 back. Sánchez lost 1'13 over the Luxemburger, who finished stage four in second place. The time trial on Saturday is 53 kilometres long, compared to the relatively short 30.5 kilometres of stage 4.

Sastre under 40 minutes

Carlos Sastre stormed the Alpe d'Huez in 39'31, almost two minutes slower than the course record set by Marco Pantani in 1997 (37'35). But for Sastre the stage win and the yellow jersey was worth much more than a debatable record. Sastre stormed away virtually from the bottom of the climb. His closest rival, Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), was 2'03 back.

There has been (and always will be) discussions about comparing Alpe d'Huez performances. Besides the obvious differences each year in distance, terrain, weather and other factors, there has been a constant change where the timing starts. See the note at the bottom of Armstrong's 2004 time trial win.

Sastre's time would rank in 17th in the 'official' standings. The top 10 are:

1 Marco Pantani      37'35 (1997)
2 Lance Armstrong    37'36 (2004)
3 Marco Pantani      38'00 (1994)
4 Lance Armstrong    38'01 (2001)
5 Marco Pantani      38'04 (1995)
6 Jan Ullrich        38'23 (1997)
7 Floyd Landis       38'34 (2006)
8 Andreas Klöden     38'35 (2006)
9 Jan Ullrich        38'37 (2004)
10 Richard Virenque  39'02 (1997)

Greipel wins in Sachsen

André Greipel (Team Columbia) celebrated his eighth season victory by winning the opening stage in the Sachsen Tour. His decisive win came in a bunch sprint. He put two bike lengths between himself and his closest competitor. The 26 year-old Greipel beat young talents Ben Swift from Great Britain and Dennis Pohl of Germany.

The day was dominated by a three-man break. Tobias Erler, Malaya van Ruitenbeek and Ingmar Daßler were only caught three kilometres from the line.

Greipel was happy that a sprint materialised in the end, even though it was hard. "With the head wind it was tough to organise the train."

Erler will wear the sprinters' jersey, while Roger Kluge (LKT Team Brandenburg) is leading the mountains classification.

The race will finish on Sunday.

Brixia with double header

The first stage of the Brixia Tour was split in half. The sprinters battled it out in the morning, while the afternoon saw a team time trial shake up the overall.

Danilo Napolitano (Lampre) won the first half stage in a mass sprint. He beat his Italian compatriots Mattia Gavazzi (Preti Mangimi) and Bernardo Riccio (Tinkoff Credit Systems).

Dutch outfit Skil-Shimano then won the team time trial by 14 seconds over NGC Medical-OTC. ProTour teams Milram and Quick Step landed in third and fourth, while Tinkoff finished 24 seconds down in fifth.

The team's win handed Skil Shimano the top six in the general classification standings. Two Japanese riders, Yusuke Hatanaka and Yukihiro Doi, are in the lead. In third place is breakaway specialist Albert Timmer.

In the sprint earlier in the day, Napoliatano celebrated his third season victory. Several breakaway attempts were nullified by the peloton, especially under the work of Lampre. Napolitano's team had control of the situation and set up the sprint to perfection.

Doppmann escapes for stage and lead

By Susan Westemeyer

Priska Doppmann (Cervelo Lifeforce) took the overall lead with a bold solo attack
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

Priska Doppmann of Team Cervélo Lifeforce used an 18-kilometre long solo escape to win the second stage of the Internationale Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen and took over the leader's jersey as well. Former leader Angela Hennig (DSB Bank) won the field sprint 17 seconds later for second place in both the stage and the overall, with Anita Valen-de Vries (Flexpoint) finishing third on the day.

"I knew I wouldn't have any chance against the good sprinters in the field," Doppmann said, "so I had to take my chance with a solo flight. And when they hesitated in the field, I gave gas. Up until nearly the finish, I thought, if they work together, they would get me. But today it all worked out."

An 11-rider strong group formed after 35 kilometres, which included favourites Judith Arndt, Hanka Kupfernagel, Noemi Cantele and Suzanne de Goede. But after reaching a lead of 1'10, the gap melted away and the peloton caught up.

Get the full scoop of the second stage.

Bettini and Boonen race in Wallonia

Quick Step's duo of Paolo Bettini and Tom Boonen, who won the first and last stage of the recent Tour of Austria, respectively, go at it again. Both will participate in the Tour De La Region Wallone, scheduled to run from July 26-30.

The Belgian-Italian duo will be accompanied by Wilfried Cretskens, Kevin Hulsmans, Andrea Tonti, Wouter Weylandt and Maarten Wynants. Directeur sportif Luca Guercilena will be hoping for another double from his captains.

Sulzberger to race Tour of Murray

Bernhard Sulzberger (Virgin Blue) would like to win Murray River
Photo ©: Mark Zalewski
(Click for larger image)

Tasmanian Bernard Sulzberger will be racing the Tour of the Murray river this year. The 24 year-old is having a real good chance of winning the event. Racing in the United States has been a good preparation for Sulzberger.

Sulzberger was delighted that the Swan Hill region is back in the race. Sulzberger, 24, currently racing in America with his Virgin Blue team, won the Swan Hill–Manangatang stage when the tour last visited Mallee headquarters in 2005. "Naturally, I have pretty happy memories of Swan Hill," Sulzberger said after just completing a 100-kilometre criterium in Milwaukee, where team-mate, Queenslander David Kemp, finished third. "I'd love to win the Tour of the Murray, and the way I've been racing in America I reckon I've got a real chance."

Sulzberger won the overall in the 2005 Murray River event to promising Victorian Simon Clarke. Both Clarke and Sulzberger are tipped to be in the next batch of young Australian road cyclists to gain Tour de France selection.

Sulzberger, from Flowery Gully in Tasmania's north, emerged as a cycling talent when he won the Sid Patterson rider-of-the-future award in the 2002 Tattersall's Cup series.

His ability went on display again with a third placing in the 2007 Tour of Tasmania, beaten only by the amazing West Australian teenage brothers Cameron and Travis Meyer.

Cameron will represent Australia at the Beijing Olympic Games and Travis will do battle again with Sulzberger in the Tour of the Murray.

Sulzberger has recorded five minor placings in Chicago and Milwaukee in the past two weeks and has revelled in the intensity of the racing in the United States.

Sulzberger and Kemp will contest the Lakes Oil Tour of Gippsland from July 30 – August 3, then the Australian Cycling Grand Prix at Ballarat from August 15 – 17.

One of his prime aims is to win the Scody Cup (formerly the Tattersall's Cup) which operates on an accumulative points system for Gippsland, Ballarat, Murray River and the Tour of Tasmania from September 30 – October 5.

"I'm going to have a real crack at the Scody Cup," he said. "My brother Wes won it in 2006, and I'd like my name up there too because the cup series has terrific prestige attached to it."

Tour of Murray route announced

The Timbercorp Tour of the Murray route has been announced for 2008. The event runs from August 31 to September 7. The event is comprised of 14 stages. Almost every day the riders will have two stages to tackle.

The tour starts in Echua, with a short criterium. The race goes over a total distance of 857 kilometres. A staggering 133 sprints will be fought out by the peloton. The hill climbing is less sever, with only nine KOM's long the route to Mildura.

Last year, Peter McDonald won the overall classification.

The Murray River Tour will gain elevated status this year as one of five events on Cycling Australia's new national teams series.

Competitors will be grouped together in teams of up to seven riders. Cycling Australia's chief executive officer Graham Fredericks described the teams competition as the most exciting innovation to be introduced into Australian domestic road cycling for many years.

"Teams racing will help prepare young cyclists for major overseas events like the Tour de France and will also provide added incentives for sponsors to capitalise on involvement in this booming sport," the Sydney-based Mr. Fredericks said.

Mr. Fredericks also praised Swan Hill councilors for their initiative in hosting the Murray River Tour, which started out as a three-day event in the Sunraysia region in 1996.

"It is most pleasing that Swan Hill is re-included in the tour itinerary," he said. "I am sure the stages in Swan Hill, Manangatang and Robinvale will be wonderful spectacles."

The stages:

Stage 1, August 31: Echuca crit - 25.5km
Stage 2, August 31: Moama to Barham - 112.9km
Stage 3, September 1: Kerang - 33km
Stage 4, September 1: Kerang  to Cohuna - 74.7km
Stage 5, September 2: Swan Hill - 45km
Stage 6, September 2: Swan Hill to Manangatang - 88.4km
Stage 7, September 3: Balranald - 63km
Stage 8, September 4: Robinvale - 60km
Stage 9, September 4: Euston - 52km
Stage 10, September 5: Ouyen - 36km
Stage 11, September 5: Ouyen-Patchewollock-Ouyen - 86.5km
Stage 12, September 6: Merbein - 33km
Stage 13, September 6: Merbein to Wentworth - 81km
Stage 14, September 7: Mildura - 66km

Perez suffers career-ending car accident

Pedro Pablo Perez, five-time winner of the Vuelta a Cuba, was injured severely in a car crash two weeks ago. His goal was to retire after the Olympic Games in Beijing. Perez suffered severe injuries and was in a coma for more than a week.

Details of the crash are unclear. Perez is said to have driven the car near Pinar del Rio, the most-western Cuban province, where he's from.

Perez won his country's national Tour five times. His latest win came last February, adding on to successes in 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2006.

Perez was the only Cuban male cyclist to qualify for Beijing. His wife Yoanka Gonzales will participate in Beijing in several track events.

Courtesy of Sue Garcia

Your chance to win in the Cyclingnews-Felt TdF competition!

You can win this!
Photo ©: Felt
(Go to the competition page)

Here's your chance to win some great prizes while the 2008 Tour de France is underway, featuring a prize roster of kit that is being tested in the world's greatest bike race by some of the world's leading cyclists.

Our lead prize is the 2009 model Felt AR road frame, currently being ridden in the Tour de France by members of the Garmin-Chiplotle professional cycling team, as well as supplementary prizes from Craft - manufacturer of team clothing to CSC-Saxo - and eyewear from BBB, supplier to Team Barloworld.

The US-based Felt Bicycles is becoming one of the world's leading bicycle manufacturers, with its bikes now being raced by the USA's Garmin-Chipotle in the 2008 Tour de France. The team are riding the 2009 model Felt AR, which combines Felt's expertise in time trial and track bike technology, while maintaining the necessary ride and handling characteristics of premium road bikes.

But wait! There's more. All entrants in the Cyclingnews-Felt 2008 TdF competition will also go into the draw to win great supplementary prizes from our friends at Craft and BBB. Cyclingnews also has four 2008 model Team CSC jerseys, designed and made by Craft, one of the world's leading technical clothing manufacturers, as well as 10 sets of BBB's BSG-29 Attacker eyewear, the exact eyewear used by riders from Team Barloworld in this year's TdF.

Our thanks to our friends at Felt, Craft and BBB for providing such awesome prizes. Hurry and enter now to be in the draw. Good luck!

Stage 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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