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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, July 25, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo and Ben Abrahams

Détente in stage to Saint-Étienne

With reporting from John Trevorrow in Saint-Étienne

Fränk Schleck and Carlos Sastre (CSC-Saxo Bank)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The Tour's 18th stage to Saint-Étienne could have been a threatening one for Cadel Evans, but the expected assault from Team CSC-Saxo Bank never materialized. With the overall leader Carlos Sastre and his team-mate Fränk Schleck running out of days to put more time into the Australian before Saturday's time trial, the detente on Thursday was a bit of a surprise in itself.

Evans' team-mate Robbie McEwen said the team was prepared for an attack from CSC, but it just never came. "We were prepared for it. Obviously one minute 34 seconds is not a lot and I don't think it's enough for Sastre to hold Cadel off in the time trial," he said. "I was expecting them to do something today, maybe it will be tomorrow.

The Silence-Lotto squad had to be vigilant of a move by the Danish team, while also considering that other contenders like Rabobank's Denis Menchov and Gerolsteiner's Bernhard Kohl are also waiting in the wings as well.

"Every team is prepared for [CSC] to try - everyone is waiting. Rabobank and Gerolsteiner are both waiting also. The general consensus is that Sastre doesn't have enough time. Maybe they didn't attack today to give Carlos a mental boost – 'no you don't need to attack, you have enough time, you'll be right'. But I think deep down they will be a bit worried. And if I was them I would be too."

McEwen described the stage as straight-forward, despite the the fact that the first hour was contested at 55 kilometres per hour - the fastest hour of this year's Tour. "It was important to keep up front and out of the crashes. It's because everyone is getting so damn tired that stupid crashes are happening."

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Evans agreed that the day was nothing out of the ordinary, and said he was feeling OK after the effort he had to put in on the Alpe d'Huez. "But today doesn't matter," he said, "it's Saturday that's going to count. But we're not there yet."

The Rabobank team was also expecting an attack from CSC, but rider Bram Tankink said that the course was not as hard as it looked on paper. "That second-category climb was simply not difficult enough," he said.

Team manager Erik Breukink agreed. "It was simply not selective enough for the favorites to try something. We were not afraid of CSC, even though of all favorites it was Menchov who used up most of his energy yesterday. But, the climb was not spectacular; you could not hurt each other."

Breukink still thinks that Menchov can contend for at least a podium spot. "We will see how far we can get. The podium still is a realistic objective and it would be the first time in the history of the Rabo-team. That was the goal beforehand as well. Back then I already said that Evans, Sastre and Menchov are very equally-matched. The differences in the final classification of the Tour will also be small."

Tour of California heads to Palomar

The 2009 Tour of California will finish on an epic climb
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

The announcement of the Tour of California parcours for 2009 during the broadcast of the Tour de France in America was no accident, as the promoters of the race, AEG, have partnered with the Amaury Sports Organization. Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski spoke with AEG Sports' president Andrew Messick, who revealed that the race would see its first mountain top finish on Mt. Palomar.

The Tour of California is once again expanding – both in terms of quantity and quality. A recent partnership between promoter AEG and Tour de France organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) will allow the American event to get more worldwide coverage.

The race will be nine days long in 2009, something that Messick said was necessary to do what the promoters wanted to accomplish. "The nine stages allows a number of things. It allows us to cover the geography of California. It's so big and we are now able to get down to San Diego County and south."

One of the aspects left off the press release announcement is that the final stage near San Diego will actually be a mountain top finish, a first for the race. "The final stage is planned to be a mountain stage up Mt. Palomar. Whoever wins the race will have to have legs on the final day!"

"We want to reach out the cycling community in San Diego which is huge and to have a mountain top finish to the race will be exciting."

Running the race through more of southern California is just one the requests by the fans, the media and the riders themselves. Another item on the wish list was to utilize the bigger mountains of the Golden State such as the Sierra Nevada near Lake Tahoe. However, having the race so early in the season means the courses need to be adapted to the riders' level of conditioning – and that the roads of the upper elevations are often closed with snow. But Messick said the 2009 race will try to compromise between the two.

"Merced to Clovis will not be a central valley stage but head east and skirt the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada foothills. It will be beautiful and challenging, but not high enough that we will have to contend with ice and snow."

Continue to the full feature.

Dueñas denies doping knowingly

Spanish rider Moises Dueñas, formerly of Team Barloworld, has denied using banned substances in a statement released to the Spanish press on Thursday. Dueñas was removed from the Tour and suspended from his team after his A sample tested positive for EPO.

A Barloworld team representative told Cyclingnews that banned products were found in the rider's hotel room by a police search. Dueñas was taken into police custody following the search, and charged with "use and possession of poisonous substances" by a court in Tarbes last week.

However, Dueñas denied having admitted to the court that he doped. "At no time have I ever declared or admitted that I took drugs, as some media have stated, and neither have I said or admitted that I bought banned substances for doping," Dueñas said, contradicting the report of El Pais.

According to the Associated Press, the public prosecutor in Tarbes clarified that Dueñas "has admitted having bought and used products that improve performances, at the instigation of doctors on his team."

"He said he was unaware of the composition of these products, which he took himself, orally or intravenously."

Dueñas was the second of three riders to test positive in this year's Tour de France. He, fellow Spaniard Manuel Beltran and Italian Riccardo Ricco all tested positive for EPO following the stage four time trial in Cholet. Following news of Dueñas positive, the South African company Barloworld decided to cease its sponsorship of the cycling team after the Tour de France.

Pozzato signs with Katusha

After weeks of rumour and speculation, Filippo Pozzato has confirmed that he will leave Liquigas at the end of this season and ride for the newly formed Russian team, Katusha. The team, which has an annual budget of €15 million, is a continuation of the Tinkoff Credit Systems squad owned by Russian millionaire Oleg Tinkov.

Speaking on Italian television after stage 18 of the Tour de France, Pozzato said: "This is a wonderful opportunity for me. Katusha has great confidence in me and has made me a leader. We have a fantastic team for 2009."

Katusha has already secured the signatures of Quick Step sprinter Gert Steegmans and fellow Belgian Kenny Dehaes. The team is part of the €30 million Russian Global Cycling Project foundation, with financial backing from Russian companies Gazprom, Itera and Rostechnologii. It is rumoured to be signing more big name riders for next season, with the likes of Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre and Fabian Cancellara all thought to be possible candidates.

Pozzato began his professional career at Mapei in 2002, before moving to Fassa Bortolo in 2003. After winning a stage in the 2004 Tour de France, the Italian moved to Quick Step in 2005 where he took victories in the Giro de Lazio and HEW Cyclassics Cup. In 2006 he took arguably his biggest career victory at Milano-Sanremo. He has been with Liquigas since 2007 during which time he has notched up wins in the Omloop Het Volk and another Tour de France stage victory.

Dekker pulls out of Olympic squad

Dutch rider Thomas Dekker has pulled himself off of the Olympic team of the Netherlands. The Rabobank rider told coach Egon van Kessel that he was not in good enough shape to perform well in Beijing. Dekker was to have ridden both the road race and the individual time trial. "Thomas called me," Van Kessel told "He said he is not in shape and has no chance to medal."

Dekker will be replaced in the time trial by Robert Gesink, who was already scheduled to compete in the road race. Niki Terpstra will take Dekker's spot in the road race, with Stef Clement filling out the team.

Thomas Dekker is currently competing with Rabobank in the Sachsen Tour. He was not selected for the Rabobank Tour squad.

Sky announced as major British Cycling sponsor

By BikeRadar

In a multi-million pound sponsorship deal, satellite broadcaster Sky has been announced as British Cycling's 'principal partner' for the next five years.

The partnership will cover all levels of the sport from investment in the elite athletes' programme through to initiatives at grassroots level and will include disciplines ranging from BMX to track and road cycling. The aim is to help boost the development of the elite teams whilst accelerating the emergence of fresh talent

The deal, however, does not include the funding of the British national road racing team with which British Cycling hopes to compete at Grand Tour level in the next few years.

In addition to its financial investment, Sky will use its marketing expertise and relationships with one in three families across the UK to help British Cycling to encourage participation in cycling for sport and leisure among people of all ages and abilities.

"I believe this partnership will create a step change for cycling," said David Brailsford, British Cycling's performance director.

"Sky is a committed and passionate partner for British Cycling. Working together, we can take elite cycling to new heights and get more people involved in the sport at all levels."

Sky Sports is also sponsoring the London Freewheel cycling event on September 21.

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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