First Edition Cycling News, June 22, 2008
Edited by Laura Weislo
Kreuziger stunning in mountain time trial
By Shane Stokes in Altdorf
Liquigas' Roman Kreuziger confirmed himself as one of the world's best climbers in the Tour de Suisse on Saturday, putting in a stunning performance to win the 25 kilometre test on the Col du Klausen and pull the leader's yellow jersey off the shoulders of High Road's Kim Kirchen. The Czech rider was thrilled to put in the best performance of his career in Switzerland.
"Until now, my win in the 2004 world junior title in Verona was the most important. But now this victory here in the time trial tops that result," said an elated Kreuziger after the race. "I hadn't done a mountain time trial yet with the pros, but I was very motivated because I was second overall going into today. This is my first big victory as a professional."
The 22 year-old has a long history of competing in the country. "I was racing as a schoolboy for a Swiss club called RV Sulz and as a junior I competed for the Groupe Sportif Schumacher, which also had its base in Sulz," he said.
With no major difficulties facing the riders on the final stage to Bern, Kreuziger looks well placed to take the overall title home. He leads by 49 seconds over Astana's Andreas Klöden, but could get help from Team CSC who will want to deliver Fabian Cancellara to another stage victory in his home town.
Kreuziger only came to Tour de Suisse to prepare for his first Tour de France, but surprised himself with his form. "I came to the Tour of Switzerland hoping to do a good preparation for that race, but when I learned I was in good condition, the overall classification came into my focus," he said. "For the first time, I am in the Liquigas team selection for the Tour de France. I will go there to learn and to stay there for ten days. Maybe I can do something in a stage."
Freire looking for strong finish
By Shane Stokes in Altdorf
Although the final stage of the Tour de Suisse is has a somewhat lumpy parcours, it is very possible that a bunch sprint will take place in Bern. If so – or even if the peloton is thinned down somewhat by the course and the heat of the GC fight – one of those who should be right to the fore is triple world champion Oscar Freire.
The Rabobank rider won the opening leg of the race and currently leads the points classification with a total of 72 points, 29 ahead of Kim Kirchen (Team High Road). He's one of the quickest sprinters in cycling and with Robbie McEwen (Silence-Lotto) having already taken an early exit, the Spaniard has a strong chance of adding to his past successes.
Freire has three goals this season; the Tour de France, the Olympics and the World Championships. He appears to be on the right track thus far. "I am happy with my condition," he told Cyclingnews. "Maybe I don't feel very good on the climbs but that is not my job. I feel really good in the sprints and so I am okay for the Tour.
"Later on, I will go to the Olympics. It is a different race to the worlds, though... the teams have five riders, so it is not a controlled race. There could be a breakaway."
The third target is to chase what would be a record breaking forth win in the pro world road race championships. Freire is both a strong sprinter and a decent climber on power courses, as exemplified by his two victories on the tough Verona course. He hopes to once again take the rainbow jersey in Italy. "I like Varese a lot," he said, "I think it is a perfect circuit for me. I hope to get the record this year."
A golden day for the Brits in Italy
By Sue George in Val di Sole, Italy
With three gold medals and two silvers, Britain made it a landmark day at the UCI's Mountain Bike World Championships in Val di Sole, Italy.
It was a day for the gravity racers – starting with downhill events for the junior men and women. Great Britain's team got the racing kicked off on a positive note thanks to Josh Bryceland and Sam Dale. The two earned a gold and silver and set the tone for their senior peers to follow.
Next up to the top of the podium was Rachael Atherton in the elite women's race. "After Josh and Sam killed it in the juniors, the pressure was off," said Atherton. After she crossed the line, she looked back toward the clock to see how she had done.
"You're down it before you know it. I couldn't believe it – that I'd won," she said after defeating not one, but three French women, who finished second through fourth. One of those was 2007 World Champion Sabrina Jonnier. "Well actually I could believe it," she admitted upon second thought and smiling widely for the many cameras surrounding her.
Gee Atherton brought home Great Britain's third gold medal of the day when he won the elite men's downhill. As the final rider down the mountain on a technical and steep, but completely dry 2.25-kilometre course, all eyes were on him. On a day of many small mistakes and more than the usual number of crashes, Atherton rode a consistent race to victory. On his way to the win, he ousted compatriot Steve Peat from the top of the leaderboard.
"It's been an incredible day," said Gee. "We've been working on this for quite awhile now. It's been an awesome day for both of us," he said, referring to the two wins in the same family. "Now it's done and I'm stoked!"
Peat would go on to claim silver. In fact, Sam Hill (Australia) was on track for a winning performance, by more than six seconds, when he crashed on the final turn. The agile Aussie was back up on his feet while the crowd was still gasping in shock. His crash clearly cost him the gold medal, but his hasty efforts to get back on track still netted him a bronze.
"I'm glad a few people were able to kick his a** this year," joked Gee at the press conference, before complimenting him. "I have no doubt Sam will keep pushing it and he'll be up there. Sometimes you get a guy who takes a few steps up from the rest of us. That's what Sam did."
Peat said he was happy for Gee's win, but said he would have preferred to win himself. When asked why the British did so well racing downhill, he replied, "I think the Brits have always been strong, but now we have more experience, and it's time for us to come through."
The only thing that might have made the day more perfect for Rachel and Gee Atherton would have been if their brother Dan could have raced too. "Dan broke his collarbone earlier in the week and isn't racing," said Gee.
Rachael said she was happy to see him return to the venue after going home earlier in the week. "I'm used to having him there," she said, "and this race is pretty special to me."
If the British keep racing downhill so fast, they just might get used to being atop the downhill podium.
Barloworld seals the deal in the Netherlands
The Barloworld team sealed the overall victory in the Ster Elektrotoer on Saturday, with Enrico Gasparotto rolling in with the bunch sprint to maintain his 17 second lead in the general classification over Tinkoff's Vasili Kiryienka. The team of Claudio Corti not only protected Gasparotto's lead, but placed second on the final stage with South African sprinter Robert Hunter behind stage five winner Mark Cavendish (High Road).
After serving mainly as a domestique for the Liquigas team in 2007, Gasparotto has began showing the consistency of a stage racer when he placed second in Tirreno-Adriatico and third in the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde earlier this year. After being considered a pure sprinter at the beginning of his career, the Italian has now added his first stage race victory to his palmares.
Gasparotto will now head to the Italian National championships before taking a well deserved break. Having raced the Giro d'Italia, he will not take part in the Tour de France.
Martin ascends to Sud lead
Keeping his cool despite the high heat and steep climbs of the Pyrénées, Slipstream-Chipotle's Daniel Martin rode himself into the overall lead of the Route du Sud on Saturday's stage three. The nephew of Irish great Stephen Roche, Martin attacked the final kilometres of the unrelenting Super Bagneres climb, to finish behind stage winner Przemyslaw Niemec (Miche - Silvercross).
A 12-man breakaway formed early in the stage, and led over the first climb, the Col du Tourmalet. Martin, who was 17 seconds behind Noan Lelarge (Bretagne-Armor Lux) in the morning, demonstrated his climbing talents on the Col du Val Louron, where he followed an attack by Christophe Moreau (Agritubel), and made the lead group over the top.
With riders still surviving from the early breakaway up the road, Martin's Slipstream team-mates Trent Lowe and Tom Peterson bridged across after the Col de Peyresourde with 10 kilometres to go, and helped him protect his position on the final climb. In the last four kilometres, Martin countered an attack from Luca Pierfelici (Acqua & Sapone) and dropped Moreau, and finished behind three riders who survived from the early breakaway: Niemec, Kevin de Weert (Cofidis) and Julien Loubet (AG2R), none of whom threatened his GC position.
The Irishman's attack put nearly a minute into the next best rider on GC, Moreau, whom he now leads by 1'42" with one stage to go. Team manager Jonathan Vaughters was proud of his first year professional. "Today Dan showed the rare calmness under pressure that defines the difference between good and great riders," he wrote on the team's website. "His physical strengths are obvious, but he's a bit like Taylor Phinney in the respect that he's enormously talented. What makes him great is his ability to relax, even when the stakes are very high.
"He won't ride the Tour de France this year, but he will soon enough. I'm sure he'll be one of the great climbers of the Tour when his day comes."
The final 207-kilometre stage from Saint Gaudens to Castres heads over three category three climbs before the finishing circuit in Castres.
Milram's injury woes continue
Team Milram's unceasing streak of injuries continued at the Ster Elektrotoer, where the team started with only five riders and finished just three. Before the race even started, Artur Gajek withdrew from the start list with muscle problems while the Ukranian Volodymyr Dyudya could not start due to a foot injury.
The squad's woes were compounded when Italian Luca Barla left the race on Thursday because of a shoulder injury. On Friday, Dennis Haueisen crashed in the feed zone and had to be taken to the hospital.
"Fortunately Dennis had only brusies and scrapes on his hips and back from the crash," said directeur sportif Raoul Liebregts, "We started the race with only five riders. In the last two days we have lost two of them."
Alberto Ongaroto made up for the bad luck by netting a solid fifth on the final stage behind winner Mark Cavendish (High Road).
Quick Step adds Kvist
Team Quick Step has signed the young Danish rider Thomas Vedel Kvist to the team beginning August 1. The 21 year-old currently rides for the Belgian amateur team Beveren 2000 as well as the Danish national team.
Riding for the Danish national team, his most recently victory came in the U-23 Nations Cup race in Saguenay, Canada. He won the final stage to take the overall win in the five-stage race
Teutenberg takes bonus seconds to win RaboSter
High Road's Ina-Yoko Teutenberg took the win in the final stage of the RaboSter Zeeuwsche Eilanden in the Netherlands, once more getting past local favourite Kirsten Wild in bunch sprint to take her second stage victory and the overall win thanks to the bonus seconds on the line.
After winning the first intermediate time bonus sprint, Teutenberg was in a position to win the overall, but needed to take the maximum bonus in order to beat Wild, who led the tour after taking the opening time trial on Thursday.
Wild started the sprint early, attacking around the last corner, but Teutenberg followed and was able to come around for the win. "It was a great move by Kirsten," said Teutenberg. "She is really strong and a good surprise attack like that could have worked. I had pretty good position though so I was able to jump right on her around the corner."
Teutenberg finished the short three day tour with the overall win plus the win in the points and sprint classifications. "I felt really good today," added Teutenberg. "I was pretty nervous for the final sprint. The team had done such a good job. It would have been real great for Alex for Kate to take the win but in the end it was still a good win for the team."
Knöpfle from mountain biking to cobble stones
By Bjorn Haake
Mountain biker Bianca Knöpfle traded in her knobbies for road slicks to race the Grande Boucle Féminine Internationale for the first time in her career. This tough women's Tour de France comes on the heels of a strenuous event in her other discipline earlier this month.
"I did the European Marathon Championships in Germany last weekend and finished fourth. It was a difficult race and I still feel my legs." Knöpfle was hoping to loosen the legs up in the first few stages, which are rather flat. As an experienced mountain biker she was not afraid of the Belgian cobble stones, but cautioned that "crashes always happen."
She did get to see the road book and admitted, "There are some quite tough stages that await us."
The German, who prefers to speak English with her Dutch team-mates at Team Flexpoint, loosened her legs after a few days of racing. In the time trial on Friday, she finished 13th, but the high heat and mountainous terrain spelled the end of the road for the 23-year-old, who abandoned on stage six..
Keough goes pro with Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast
The Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast team will add another rising talent to its ranks in time for the Tour of Pennsylvania, it announced Saturday. Jake Keough, a Massachusetts native who took podium spots in the Skyscraper Harlem and Uptown Greenwood races this season will don the green and gold of the KBS/M team for the remainder of the season, leaving behind the orange of his amateur Sakonnet U25 squad.
Keough, 20, is the oldest of four siblings who excel at bike racing, including his brother Luke, who is the reigning junior cyclo-cross champion. Starting out racing BMX bikes at the age of seven, Keogh brings those BMX handling skill and years of amateur racing to the team, specializing in technical, tight criteriums and fast finish road races.
"It has always been a priority for the Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast team to bring the most talented young racers into our program," said Jonas Carney, the team's performance director. "As a result, we are fielding a very strong team for the Tour of Pennsylvania. David Veilleux, Keven Lacombe, and Jake Keough should be extremely dangerous in the bunch sprints and we are hoping for some stage wins."
"We are fortunate to have such a great U25 event for our young athletes," added Carney. "Over the years, pro racing in the US has become very fast and it is difficult for young racers to make the leap from amateur to pro. The Tour of PA is a great opportunity for our best young racers to test themselves against their peers in a true stage race."
Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast Tour of Pennsylvania Roster: Mark Hinnen, Jake Keough, Ben King, Keven Lacombe, Clay Murfet, David Veilleux (CAN)
TIME Pro Cycling for Penn
The U.S. scene's emerging sprint talent, 22-year-old Eric Barlevav, is ready to test himself on the international stage at the upcoming American Eagle Outfitter's Tour of Pennsylvania. Barlevav will have another fast finisher, Mike Stoop, at his side to contest the bunch sprints. Stoop's pedigree includes multiple top tens in races like Athens Twilight and the the USA Crits Speedweek, while Barlevav launched his young carreer with a spectacular win at the Harlem Skyscraper Criterium in front of top-shelfers like Rahsaan Bahati, Freddy Rodrguez and Ivan Dominguez.
The Tour of Pennsylvania is the focal point of the season for TIME Pro Cycling, whose mission is develop young and talented riders and provide the spring board that they need to launch a career in cycling. "Being in this team has given me a lot of confidence. Erik [Saunders] and Pat [Raines] have changed the way I think of myself and my racing, and its starting to translate into me winning races, which is what I want to do," said Barlevav. Stoop added, "since Athens Twilight the team's morale and confidence has been building, the results have been coming more and more. I think now we know we can perform, and we are all ready to give everything for each other."
In addition to Barlevav and Stoop, TIME Pro Cycling will also bring fast finishers Dave Guttneplan (23) and Jackie Simes (20), first year senior and 2007 junior criterium national championships medalist Andy Baker (19), and the reigning U23 National Time Trial Champion Nick Frey.
Women's track fund donates bikes
World Champions Sarah Hammer and Jennie Reed, through the American Women's Track Cycling Fund (AWTCF), have awarded Felt TK2 track bicycles to Tara Both, an outstanding up and coming California junior cyclist, and to the DePauw University women's cycling team based in Greencastle, Indiana.
Recently crowned World Champion Jennie Reed was on hand with two-time World Champion Sarah Hammer to present the Felt bike to Both, who set a US National record for the 500 meter time trial. "When we saw her record ride, we just knew that her talent deserved and could be enhanced with better equipment," said Hammer. "Her new TK2 should be able to help Tara confidently set and pursue new and higher goals."
Both Hammer and Reed train twice a week with Tara at the ADT Event Center Velodrome in Carson , California . "We were really happy to be able to present Tara with a Felt bike, especially as she was out-growing her old one,"" said Reed. "After the Olympic games we will be sitting down and revisiting the mission of the AWTCF to see how we can best help other riders like Tara."
The American Women's Track Cycling Fund also donated three Felt TK2 track bikes to the DePauw University women's cycling team. DePauw, known mostly for academic excellence, has shown a long history of developing cycling talent for young women, placing more women on the start line per capita than any other university in the Midwest. Under the leadership of Coach Kent Menzel, DePauw hit the track for the first time last fall. Said Coach Menzel, "The Felt track bikes are the shot in the arm we need to raise our women's performance to an even higher level on the track. Because collegiate track competition covers multiple events, the Felt TK2 is particularly good for us as it races well in both mass start and timed events."
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)