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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News, June 8, 2008

Edited by Sue George

Record-setting heat could factor in Philly

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The women's peloton at the 2007 Liberty Classic
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

While the first two races of the Commerce Bank Triple Crown in Allentown and Reading were held under warm conditions, Sunday's final race in Philadelphia is looking to be a broiler with a heat wave pushing temperatures up to 97 degrees Fahrenheit (36 degrees Celsius). This combined with the 156 miles (251km) and eleven times up the infamous Manayunk Wall could affect the dynamics of the race differently than in recent years.

Coming up on

Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

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The last time a breakaway survived to the finish was in 2005, also the last time this was the US Pro Championship race, when Chris Wherry won the stars and stripes over Chris Horner and Danny Pate. But that move came rather late in the race with Pate attacking on the last time up the Manayunk Wall. This year the race might not have a traditional "breakaway" off the front, but rather one formed by shedding riders off the back, as the temperatures and miles add-up.

One team to watch when it comes to keeping cool is the Slipstream-Chipotle team. Their physiologist Dr. Alan Lim developed an "ice vest" that the team used prior to their team time trial win at the Tour de Georgia in April. Some of the riders were joking on Thursday telling Cyclingnews that they were thinking of wearing them in the race on Sunday. It might not be a joke after all.

The race begins at 9:00 am EDT and is expected to finish around 2:30 pm. For comparison, on Saturday the temperatures were already in the upper 80s (30 degrees Celsius) by 11:00 am with humidity levels rising up to 70% and a UV index of eight to make it feel even hotter.

Tune into Cyclingnews for complete live coverage of both the men's and women's races.

Sevilla welcomes hot conditions

Oscar Sevilla (Rock Racing)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Commerce Bank Reading Classic winner Oscar Sevilla is prepared for the Philadelphia International Championships' lengthy 251-kilometre despite a local high heat advisory predicting hot temperatures and high humidity for Sunday's downtown race.

"I like this kind of racing. It's a race that is good for the racers who can suffer," said the Spaniard who is accustomed to training in similar weather conditions back home. "I love the heat; it's normal for me to train long training rides in this kind of weather.

"I also love the really long races, it is something that I do well at," said Sevilla. "It's the kind of race that if you are feeling good and able to deal with these conditions, you will do well. We still need to talk about our plan for the race tomorrow, but I will be a major factor."

Sevilla arrived at the Triple Crown fresh off of a fourteen-day stage race in the Vuelta a Columbia where he trained for more than four weeks in the notorious Columbian heat at altitudes as high as 13,000 feet.

"I was living at altitude for the about four weeks and raced in the Vuelta a Columbia which was very good preparation for these types of races because of the altitude, the heat and the mountains," said Sevilla who won stage nine in Caldes- Maizales. "My goal was to leave that race fresh and in good form and that is what happened."

After his Reading victory just two days ago, Sevilla expressed surprise at the speed of American racing and feels more confident of finding success in Sunday's final event of the Triple Crown.

"Reading was a victory that was important for me, but it is also important for our team. It is a race held in the home country of my team and for that, it was important for me to win. [It was important] for them for the staff for the team and for [owner] Michael Ball."

"I was very surprised at how fast the races were in Allentown and Reading," said Sevilla. "We were traveling a long way for speeds to be that fast." With anticipation, he added, "Philadelphia is a race that is very famous over in Europe. It is on TV, and I have always heard about it from the people I raced with. It is a beautiful race with so many people here to watch. It's a race that is going to be fast and hard and where there are a lot of riders ready to win – I am comfortable with that."

High Road hunts for stage wins in Dauphiné

André Greipel gets his first taste
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Going into the Dauphiné Libéré, High Road is targeting stage wins rather than the overall classification. The team has options for sprint, mountain and time trial stages.

"We don't have a rider for the general classification here," said Allan Peiper, who is co-directing the team with Jan Schaffrath. "Michael Rogers is still heading back into top condition and George Hincapie isn't yet in his best form either after his break after the Classics. But what we have got is a lot of options on the stage wins, starting with Michael and George for the opening prologue."

"George wasn't so far off the pace in the opening short time trial of the [recent] Tour of Catalunya, so we're reckoning he's got a good chance. And Mick's getting better all the time. Then we've got André [Greipel] for the two sprint stages that follow. For the Wednesday time trial Bert Grabsch, George, Adam Hansen – who did an excellent Giro – and Michael should all have strong options."

Moving to the mountains, High Road will look to Michael Barry. "He should have won a stage in Catalunya, he was in a long break through the hills that almost stayed away, and if he can shift up another level for the Dauphine he'll definitely be on the hunt for a stage victory," said Peiper. Young American climber Craig Lewis will join Barry in France after riding well at a recent training camp in the Pyrenees.

The team is anticipating a tough edition of the Dauphiné Libéré. "It is much harder than in previous years, with four difficult mountain stages. Even the two sprint stages have a lot of small climbs in them," said Peiper. "It really is going to be like the mini-Tour de France they always used to call it."

High Road for Dauphiné Libéré: Michael Barry, Scott Davis, Bert Grabsch, André Greipel, Adam Hansen, George Hincapie, Craig Lewis, Michael Rogers

Cunego back after break

Damiano Cunego (Lampre) tested his legs
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

After some time off competition, a second place at the Memorial Pantani - Trofeo Mercatone Uno marked a good first race back for Daniel Cunego (Lampre). The Italian finished behind winner Enrico Rossi (NGC Medical-OTC Industria Porte), who attacked after 25 kilometres and was able to reach the finish for a solo win despite bad weather conditions.

When the route became tougher, a chase group of 11 riders, including Cunego, preceded the main bunch, but they could not catch Rossi. Cunego crossed the finish line in second position, preceding Ukrainian Ruslan Pidgornyy (LPR Brakes) and Italian Leonardo Bertagnolli (Liquigas).

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Memorial Pantani - Trofeo Mercatone Uno.

Thieves hit Milram's Grabsch

Bike thieves have struck again. This time the victim was Milram's Ralf Grabsch. Someone broke into the basement of his home in Hürth, Germany, and took his bike. And not just any bike, but a special bike "Extreme Power," hand-finished for Milram by Colnago and worth 6,000 euro.

"You just stand there totally surprised and simply feel helpless," the 35 year-old said. "I thought I was in the wrong cellar. But I quickly realized that the bike was gone. It's as if someone steals a journalist's laptop during the Tour de France."

Grabsch is scheduled to start a local race in Hürth-Kendenich on Sunday. Fortunately, he was able to borrow a bike from his neighbour and friend André Greipel of Team High Road.

Gerdemann delays racing return until Tour of Germany

Linus Gerdemann (High Road)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

2007 Tour de France stage winner and yellow jersey holder Linus Gerdemann will delay his return to racing by at least another month due to the injury he sustained in a crash at the Tirreno-Adriatico time trial in March. The crash left Gerdemann with fractures on his left upper and lower leg and damage to the cruciate ligaments of his left knee. The extended recovery time will mean that Gerdemann will not ride the Tour de France this year or take part in the Olympics.

"Linus has worked hard since the accident and has done everything he could to come back to racing as quickly as possible," said Team Director Rolf Aldag, "however this week he has been in Hamburg at the Berufsgenossenschaftlichen Unfallkrakenhaus for a check-up and, unfortunately, his knee has not sufficiently healed and racing could cause further damage."

"Linus is still suffering under the consequences of the avulsion fracture of his front cruciate ligament and medial sideband and multiple bone bruises in his left femur and tibia," said Orthopaedic surgeon Helge Riepenhof. "In order not to damage other structures in the knee or to produce permanent injury to health, it is at this time not possible for Linus to bring enough mechanical load on the injured knee to prepare for maximum performances like the Tour de France."

"I had a good start to the season and I was on a good way to confirm my good result in the 2007 Tour, where I won a stage and wore the yellow jersey for a day," said a determined Gerdemann. "I'm sad not to do the Tour this year, but I am working hard to make a successful comeback and aim to compete in the Tour of Germany."

Quick Step withdraws from AIGCP

The Quick Step team joined in the exodus of teams from the International Association of Professional Cycling Teams (AIGCP). The team's director Patrick Lefevere, who was the president of the AIGCP until last December and is still the president of International Professional Cycling Teams (IPCT), announced the decision.

"The difference between the professional teams and those of the ProTour is too great. Both the budgets and the standards that the teams must meet are too excessive and difficult to cover," said Lefevere. Quick Step joins Liquigas, Milram, Caisse d' Epargne, Astana and Saunier Duval in leaving the AIGCP.

Earlier this week, all 20 teams invited to the Tour de France, including 17 ProTour Teams, signed a participation agreement with the organiser Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO). All members of the AIGCP agreed with clauses including a possible fine of 100,000 euro in case of a positive doping test occurring during the three-week Grand Tour.

2008 Nature Valley Grand Prix draws strong fields

Ivan Stevic (Toyota United) won the Nature Valley Grand Prix in 2007
Photo ©: Matthew Moses
(Click for larger image)

The Nature Valley Grand Prix, from June 11 to June 15 will feature a mix of urban criteriums, road races with finishing circuits and a time trial. Both the men's and women's races boast stacked fields this year.

The men's race was an invitational this year while the women's field filled with 147 women for the first time two weeks ago. Ivan Stevic will be defending his 2007 win and will be backed by a strong team, but he'll face a Health Net team which won five of the six stages last year, but could not take the jersey away from Stevic.

In the women's field, 2007 powerhouse Kristin Armstrong will also be returning, but she will have only one of her Cervelo-Lifeforce team mates for support. While she's still a favorite, the stacked women's field will be breathing down her neck.

Race 1: June 11, Downtown Saint Paul Criterium: This is a six-corner course in the artists' quarter of Saint Paul. The riders will pick up speed with a gradual decline on the backside and then fight to keep momentum in the gentle drag up to the finish. In 2007, the first year for this stage, Catherine Cheately (Cheerwine) took the sprint from a breakaway that had maintained a narrow lead over the chasing pack while Ivan Stevic, the eventual GC winner, claimed a field sprint.

Race 2: June 12, Cannon Falls Road Race: This 67-mile road race through gently rolling but wide open farmland countryside finishes with six laps on a circuit that includes a stiff but short climb to the line. A gentle wind can tear the pack apart. In 2006, a 17-man breakaway gained more than five minutes on the next group of a shattered pack, taking all of the other riders out of contention for the overall win. A short stretch of gravel road on the way into town adds another wild card to this stage. Winners in 2007 included Kirk O'Bee (HealthNet), who went on to win the USPro Criterium jersey later that year, and Brooke Miller (TIBCO).

Race 3: June 13, Saint Paul Riverfront Time Trial: A stiff, 0.7 mile climb has been added to the end of last year's flat time trial course, which now totals six miles. The finish at the top of the Mississippi River bluffs has a breathtaking view of downtown Saint Paul, but the riders will have little breath left after the tough 10%-grade climb to get there. Time gained or lost in this time trial has often proven to be the decisive margin of victory in the final standings. With the first two stages favoring sprinters, the yellow jersey can be expected to change hands at this stage. Kristin Armstrong (Lipton) claimed the win and the jersey in 2007, while Nathan O'Neil (HealthNet) won the men's race but Stevic reclaimed the jersey from O'Bee.

Kristin Armstrong (TEAm Lipton) wins in 2007
Photo ©: Frank Rowe
(Click for larger image)

Race 4: June 13, Minneapolis Downtown Classic: The most popular stage draws crowds to this criterium-style course in the heart of the entertainment district of Minneapolis. The pancake-flat, six corner course and pumped-up crowd make for very high speeds. Riders will attack throughout the race in the hope of establishing a breakaway, but the races often end in field sprints. O'Bee took the men's win in 2007, but could not take the jersey from Stevic, who finished second. Laura Van Gilder (Cheerwine) won for the women.

Race 5: June 14, Mankato Road Race: The Queen Stage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix, the Mankato Road Race totals 95 miles, with the first 85 played out in wide open farm lands where cross winds can devastate the pack. But the real selector awaits the riders when they return to the street of Mankato. The 2.5 mile finishing circuit includes the leg-breaking Main Street Hill, a three-quarter mile monster with an uneven grade that averages 14% but is steepest at the top. Riders must complete the hill four times. Even if the pack is intact when it arrives on the circuit, it will shatter on the Main Street climb and the race will be won, likely with significant time gaps, by a small lead group. Kristin Armstrong crushed her opposition with a solo win in last year while Rory Sutherland (HealthNet) won the sprint from a small lead group.

Race 6: June 15, Stillwater Criterium: Riders who have survived the first five stages will face a criterium course famous for Chilkoot Hill, the 20%-grade beast that climbs to the finish line. But this epic climb is followed by a false flat and then First Street Hill on the backside of the course, where most of the attacks take place because riders have had no chance to recover from Chilkoot. A four-corner, white knuckled descent brings the riders back to the foot of Chilkoot for the next lap. The race is usually a war of attrition, with only about 30% of the field of riders completing the full distance and most of the rest receiving pro-rated times. Armstrong won her third stage her last year, ahead of Mara Abbott after Abbott tried to attack her on the final climb, while Frank Pipp racked up HealthNet's fifth stage win but Stevic kept the yellow jersey.

US mountain bike team completed for worlds

US National Champion Mary McConneloug (Kenda/Seven) will represent the US at the worlds
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
(Click for larger image)

USA Cycling selected its full squad for the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Val di Sole, Italy, June 15-22 after previously announcing the junior and U23 cross country teams.

Six men and seven women have been nominated to the elite cross country squad. Adam Craig received the only automatic nomination to the men's team as a top-15 ranked American male in the UCI rankings. He is joined by Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, Todd Wells, Jeremiah Bishop, Michael Broderick and Sam Schultz, who all received discretionary nominations.

On the women's side, Georgia Gould and Mary McConneloug were automatically nominated – Gould by virtue of her podium performances at UCI World Cup events this year in Houffalize and Madrid and McConneloug due to her eighth-place UCI ranking. Heather Irmiger, Willow Koerber, Sue Haywood, Lea Davison and Kelli Emmett all received discretionary nominations based upon international results.

In the gravity events, Kyle Strait, J.D. Swanguen, Duncan Riffle, Cole Bangert, Cody Warren, Kain Leonard and Lars Steinberg received discretionary nominations to the elite men's downhill team. As the winner of the downhill contest at the Chile Challenge in Angel Fire New Mexico, Melissa Buhl received the only automatic nomination to the elite women's downhill squad. Kathy Pruitt will join her as a discretionary selection.

Due to their medal performances at the 2007 world championships, Brian Lopes and Buhl both received automatic nominations to the elite 4X teams. Ross Milan, Mike Haderer, Erik Nelson, Blake Carney, Neven Steinmetz, and Jessica Vogt received a discretionary selections although Vogt declined her nomination.

Kevin Aiello, Naish Ulmer, Joseph Schusler, Taylor Borucki, Dustin Belcher, Graeme Pitts and Geoffrey Ulmer were also named as additions to the previously announced junior and U23 cross country teams.

US National Team for the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships

Cross country
Elite men: Adam Craig, Todd Wells, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, Jeremiah Bishop, Michael Broderick, Sam Schultz
Elite women: Mary McConneloug, Georgia Gould, Willow Koerber, Heather Irmiger, Sue Haywood, Lea Davison, Kelli Emmett

Elite men: Kyle Strait, J.D. Swanguen, Duncan Riffle, Cole Bangert, Cody Warren, Kain Leonard, Lars Steinberg
Elite women: Melissa Buhl, Kathy Pruitt
Junior men: Kevin Aiello, Naish Ulmer, Joseph Schusler, Taylor Borucki, Dustin Belcher, Graeme Pitts, Geoffrey Ulmer

Elite men: Brian Lopes, Ross Milan, Mike Haderer, Erik Nelson, Blake Carney
Elite women: Melissa Buhl, Neven Steinmetz, Jessica Vogt

Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals for 2008-2009

After a successful 2007-2008 series with riders from a record eight countries competing, the Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals will return in 2008-2009, when they will be competing for the right to compete at the 2009 UCI World Track Championships.

Organizers announced that the UCI will again sanction level three sprint cycling events in Latrobe, Launceston and Devonport, but this year the Burnie New Years Day Carnival will also be on the UCI calendar. There will be four events held at each carnival and will include a sprint, team sprint, keirin and women's points events.

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