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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News, June 3, 2008

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Cummings looks forward after good Giro

Steve Cummings (Barloworld) during his stage 19 effort, where he finished fourth
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Great Britain cycling star and Olympic medal contender Steve Cummings is having a short rest after his great Giro d'Italia. Cummings finished fourth on the race's most decisive mountain stage on Friday, the 238-kilometre stage to Monte Pora, which also was the longest of the race.

Cummings was part of a six-rider breakaway that formed just after the start. His finishing position saw him become the highest placed Briton in a mountain stage in a major Tour since mountain climbing star Robert Millar in 1989, when the Scot won a stage in the Tour de France.

Cummings also topped this off with an eighth place in the time trial on the final day. He beat former team-mate Alberto Contador, who calls Cummings "The Motor Bike."

This performance made him second best Briton on the final stage, as well as second best Brit overall, only 3'45 behind time trial expert David Millar.

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Cummings said, "The mountain stage [stage 19 - ed.] seemed my last chance to win a stage; it wasn't originally planned, as my aim was to have a chance in the two previous easier stages but I didn't have the legs. A rest day messes me up a little, so I had to pick the hardest stage to have a go, clever of me, right? But it nearly worked out! I gave it everything – I couldn't have gone harder at the time but I am sure a better chance will come along. Back home they said the final time trial would be a battle just between Brad [Wiggins] and Dave [Millar]. I thought I was in good shape, although I suffered a lot in the last mountain stage on Saturday, but I expected that, after the day before, so I gave it a shot. Yes, I was pleased and I beat a lot of top riders, although Brad beat me by 11 seconds."

The next phase is marked by some rest before preparing for the big goal in Beijing. "My girlfriend Nicky is over here now, so a tiny bit of rest and then a lot of hard prep for the Olympics. I also hope to have a good end of season on the road in some of the big races."

Cummings plans for next year have been finalised and an announcement will be made soon.

Feillu's Tour participation on the line

By Jean-François Quénet in Châteaulin

France's Romain Feillu is back in winning mode, but it is unclear if he can get in Tour form before July, following a long break due to sickness
Photo ©: Freddy Guérin
(Click for larger image)

Romain Feillu was the French sensation of the 2007 season, with four significant wins as a rookie in the pro peloton. He took out the Boucles de l'Aulne, a stage in the Tour of Luxembourg, the overall of the Tour of Britain and Paris-Bourges. He also participated in the Tour de France, the World Championships and the Chrono des Nations.

But his 2008 campaign was in limbo in January, when he was diagnosed with toxoplasmose. "I was left with no strength at all," the ambitious Agritubel rider recalled. He tried to be patient but he couldn't resume racing before mid-May at the Tour of Picardie, where he managed a top 10 performance in a bunch sprint; he really didn't expect a sixth place.

His second win in the Boucles de l'Aulne in Châteaulin was another surprise. "Every now and then, I still feel the weakness from the disease," he explained. "Last week, I wouldn't have been able to stay in the bunch for 20 kilometres. On Saturday in Plumelec, I pulled out with one lap to go but I was feeling good and I found the rhythm of the competition again. After that, I spent the whole night thinking of another win in Châteaulin."

Feillu has recovered quickly enough that his participation in the Tour de France can't be ruled out anymore, with one month to go. Last year, he got three top-10 finishes in bunch sprints (twice fifth and a ninth place) before pulling out in stage 9. "It wouldn't be giving him a service to take him to the Tour this year with the little foundations he has now," Agritubel's directeur sportif Frédéric Mainguenaud said in Châteaulin.

"I wouldn't be able to finish the Tour this year, that's for sure," Feillu echoed. "I'll still be bitter if I can't take the start. I presume it all depends on how I go at the Tour of Luxembourg and the French Championships. If I can't make it, I'll focus on further goals. There are other races later on, especially the World Championships, for which the national director Patrick Cluzaud has already told me on the phone during my time off the bike that he would count on me in Varese in September. The Olympics in Beijing, I don't even think about it. I can easily have troubles breathing. With the pollution in China, it would be too hard for me anyway."

No Tour de France for Calzati

By Jean-François Quénet in Châteaulin

Sylvain Calzati is unlikely for the Tour
Photo ©: JF Quenet
(Click for larger image)

AG2R rode the Tour de France around one designated captain last year, but Christophe Moreau is no longer with the team directed by Vincent Lavenu, who is building a squad around four climbers for the July event. Cyril Dessel, Vladimir Efimkin, John Gadret and Tadej Valjavec are the men for La Grande Boucle. The other probable members of AG2R for the Tour will be the experienced Stéphane Goubert, José Luis Arrieta and Martin Elmiger, with two spots remaining open.

However, Sylvain Calzati seems out of the picture. The rider from Lyon who became famous for winning stage 8 to Lorient two years ago had a hard weekend in Brittany. He didn't have a good showing in Plumelec and Châteaulin. "My motivation is not right," he admitted.

His relationship with the management of AG2R is also not at its best. Therefore, his race program this year faced a lot of uncertainties. He might do the Tour de Suisse after his Breton weekend. "But I'm not going to ride the Tour de France this year," he predicted.

Calzati is clearly on the cycling market. "Some French teams are interested in signing me for next year, but I don't rule out an experience in a foreign team," said the 28 year-old. While he doesn't know yet where he will end up next season, he already has some ideas about his final year. "In a couple of years, I'd love to quit cycling after racing for one year domestically in South Africa. At the end of 2002, I was going to quit already because I couldn't find a pro contract and I was given one by Barloworld. I have fond memories of racing in South Africa and it would be great to take my family living there for one year and enjoy cycling the same way I've started, riding for a domestic South African team."

Calzati has more to show in Europe yet before heading south.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Jean-Francois Quenet

Silence-Lotto all for one in Tour

Silence-Lotto will put its money on an overall victory for Australian Cadel Evans in this year's Tour de France, just about one month away. While the final selection will only be made after the Dauphiné Libéré and the Tour de Suisse, some riders are likely to be included. Yaroslav Popovych, Dario Cioni, Johan Vansummeren, Leif Hoste and Mario Aerts have good chances to be the support riders for Evans.

Robbie McEwen will also have a spot on the team, albeit without having the luxury of fast men to prepare the sprints for him. Press manager Filip Demyttenaere confirmed to Cyclingnews that "McEwen understands that the Tour team is focused on the overall win and is OK with it." The Australian will have to count on other teams and their lead-out trains. Erik Zabel was in a similar situation in 2004, when the T-Mobile team was built around Jan Ullrich. The following year, Zabel was left at home completely, prompting him to switch to Milram.

One rider who has raised eyebrows in the Giro, Jurgen Van den Broeck, will not be at the start of the Tour. Demyttenaere explained that "he just did a very good Giro, but he is too young for doing both. Maybe he will do the Vuelta."

Some of the riders that still hope for a spot on the Tour team include Christophe Brandt and Maarten Tjallingii, but the two big races in June in France and Switzerland will answer the question who will finally make the cut.

Dietziker satisfied in Bavaria

Andreas Dietziker (Volksbank)
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Ten centimetres further ahead and Andreas Dietziker of Team Volksbank would have finished third in the final stage of the Bayern Rundfahrt, which would have given him the time bonuses to jump into first place overall. But he finished fourth on the stage and thus second overall, by a mere three seconds. But the 25 year-old is still satisfied with both his performance and that of his team.

The Swiss rider moved into second place with a strong showing in the penultimate stage time trial, in which he finished fifth. "Actually, I had expected only to be in the top ten after the time trial. I had never thought that it would turn out to be second place. But I felt good and time trialing is something that I can do well."

The final stage, in which he hoped to take over the lead from Milram's Christian Knees, was "an exhausting workday!" Interviewed on the website of his Austrian Professional Continental team, he said, "We were happy to see an escape group get away and take the bonus seconds at the intermediate sprints. We had agreed before the stage that we would concentrate on picking up the seconds at the finish line. The stage was very fast and nervous. Since it was the last state, everyone wanted to try something again. Milram, who was first and third in the overall, kept sending either Knees or Terpstra in the break groups. I always had to go with them or have my team chase them down."

He had gone into the race with the GC in the back of his mind, and it was made easier by Olaf Pollack's winning the second stage, only the first season win for the team. "There was a lot of satisfaction on the team after his stage win. Things got quieter and of course it took a lot of pressure off of our shoulders. One win was our goal for this race."

Dietziker now heads to one of his main goals of the season, the GP Gippingen in his native Switzerland. "The course is good for me and now I have the knowledge that I am in good form, and it is also good preparation for the Tour de Suisse. The self-confidence is there and I am dreaming of the win."(SW)

Nocentini extends with AG2R La Mondiale

Italian Rinaldo Nocentini has extended his contract with French team AG2R La Mondiale. The 30 year-old signed a one-year contract, with an option for an additional year.

Nocentini enjoyed a good season so far, winning the GP Lugano in March and ending Paris - Nice in second place.

The rider with 11 victories most recently ended stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia in third place.

Nuyens returns to racing

Nick Nuyens of Team Cofidis is ready to return to racing after breaking his right collarbone in the fourth stage of the Giro d'Italia. He will ride the Gullegem Koerse tomorrow, to be followed by the GP Correios, and possible Halle-Ingooigem, before taking on the Belgian National Championships on June 29.

The 28 year-old crashed near the finish line of the fourth stage on May 13, and suffered the first broken collarbone of his six-year pro career. He admitted to the Belga press agency that he was surprised at how quickly he had healed. "The collarbone is already in order, although I still have two or three days of therapy to continue strengthening the muscles. But it is going very well and that is a good sign. I do not have the impression that I have lost much of my condition. You can see that I am ready to race again."(SW)

Euskaltel-Euskadi scouts out home race

Embedded in the training programme for the Basque Euskaltel-Euskadi team was a scouting out of part of the route for the upcoming Euskal Bizikleta, which starts on June 6. On June 3 the team went to check out the second stage of the race, with riding most of the 162 kilometres, starting and finishing in Agurain.

Igor Antón, Koldo Fernández de Larrea, Amets Txurruka, Egoi Martínez, Aitor Hernández, Antton Luengo, Andoni Lafuente and Javier Aramendia went to check out the parcours.

Toyota-United wins six in Philly week preparation

Rollin wins the Ricola Twilight crit
Photo ©: Action Images
(Click for larger image)

The Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team showed they are on form and ready for Philly week by winning six out of the nine races they entered in the week leading up to the important US event.

The winning streak began with former USPRO National Road Champion Chris Wherry winning the Iron Horse Criterium on May 26th in his hometown of Durango, Colorado. "It's really nice to make my way up to the top step again" said Wherry after his win.

The next win came by way of "The Horse" Dominique Rollin, who won the difficult Ricola Twilight Criterium in Baskin Ridge, New Jersey, on May 28th. The 40-mile mid-week criterium is known as one of the most difficult criteriums in the country due to its technical nature and tough uphill finish on the one-mile circuit. "After crashing in the final two laps at the Tour of Somerville Criterium a couple of days before, I was really motivated for a win" said Rollin. "I followed the Team Type 1 lead-out train the final lap and just overpowered them up the hill for the win," continued Rollin.

Just days before the Ricola win, Rollin also took third place at the Kelly Cup in Baltimore , MD. The result came on the heels of finishing a strenuous training block, as he was in his final preparation for Philly week. Rollin was in a break of eight riders that went up the road and during the final laps – not sure he was fresh enough to out-sprint his breakaway companions – he decided to just ride hard and try and take the sting out of their legs for the finale and was able to reduce the break to four riders.

In the final race before Philly week, Rollin raced the very technical and competitive 100K CSC Invitational Criterium in Arlington, Virginia. As he has been all week long, Rollin was by himself with no team-mates as they were racing in the mid-west. Rollin marked moves from the big teams and he ultimately ended up in a 13-man breakaway with riders from High Road, Slipstream, Health Net, Colavita-Sutter Home and a few others. The break gained a lap on the field with 39 laps to go. Colavita delivered Luca Damiani for the win, with Rollin right on his heals. "I felt so good today compared to last year, where I struggled out of the turns with the speed. Today, I was floating all the way around but came up a little short in the end, but I'm happy and ready for Philly week," said Rollin.

Meanwhile, Toyota-United sprinters decided to sharpen their legs at the Tulsa Tough Omnium Series in Tulsa, Oklahoma, from May 30 to June 1. The three-race criterium series was contested by 84 riders, trying to claim their share of the $75,000 prize purse. On the opening night of racing with temperatures at 95F and windy conditions, Toyota-United's Hilton Clarke, Jonny Clarke and Caleb Manion lapped the field with two other riders, Jeff Hopkins (Team Inferno) and Daniel Holloway (VMG/Felt). However, in a rare sight in professional cycling, the entire Toyota-United Team led-out there three men that lapped the field to insure the win and in so doing, crossed the line with six Toyota-United men giving the team first, second, third, sixth, seventh and eighth place, with Hilton Clarke taking the top honours for the team.

On day two, it was yet again, Toyota-United taking charge and lapping the field with Ivan Stevic, Hilton Clarke, Caleb Manion and Jonny Clarke with three other riders. The quartet was able to gap the other three riders and with Henk Vogels winning the field sprint, take first – fifth place. A Toyota-United first, with Ivan Stevic taking the win that night.

On the final day of racing, the course would prove to be much more challenging than the two nights before. The course was hilly and conditions were hot. However, the results were the same as Ivan Stevic, Caleb Manion and Jonny Clarke formed a breakaway with three other riders and in the end it was Stevic and Manion attacking their breakaway companions and finishing one-two, respectively. Stevic also won the overall omnium as well, with Manion in second and Jonny Clarke in third.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Action Images

(Additional research and assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer).

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