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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, June 23, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

Swiss riders pile on the wins

The Swiss trio, Florian Vogel, Christoph Sauser and Ralph Naef
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Sunday was an incredible day for the Swiss: Not only did they take the top three spots in the MTB World Championships men's elite cross country thanks to Christoph Sauser, Florian Vogel and Ralph Naef, but Fabian Cancellara topped off the Tour de Suisse with a second stage win in his home town of Bern.

Sauser stormed to victory in Val di Sole, Italy, where his nearest competitor, Vogel, was nearly three minutes behind at the line. The triple podium follows a highly successful men's U23 cross country race where Nino Schurter took gold and his team-mate Matthias Flückiger scored bronze. The Swiss also scored silver in the women's U23 race with Nathalie Schneitter and bronze in the men's junior race with Matthias Rupp.

Sauser explained, "The Olympic selection process made us fast." The Swiss federation is making its final Olympic team selection based on Sunday's race. The Swiss qualified the maximum three riders for the Beijing Games.

Spartacus shows his muscles
Photo ©: Isabelle Duchesne
(Click for larger image)

At the Tour de Suisse, Cancellara had a different motivation to put in a near-repeat of his Tour de France stage win in Compiègne last July.

"The victory is great for me because I live just five kilometres from here, and because my my wife Stefanie and daughter Juliana were here at the finish," he said afterwards. "It was quite difficult to catch Philippe Gilbert but I got a huge push from the shouts of the public."

The world time trial champion powered away from the field to catch Gilbert in the final kilometre, won the race and then collapsed on the ground.

"For ages it looked like I wouldn't be able to catch up to Gilbert, but I kind of went beyond my limits and I was completely wrecked afterwards," said a very happy Cancellara. "I had lactic acid all the way up to my hair."

Absalon burned by Swiss inferno

Frenchman Julien Absalon, winner of the past four consecutive men's elite cross country world titles, could not withstand the heat nor the power of the Swiss riders in Val di Sole on Sunday. The 27-year-old withdrew from the race with heat exhaustion after suffering from an early mechanical and then trying to chase back on under the searing sun and the blistering pace of winner Christoph Sauser and his Swiss team-mates Florian Vogel and Ralph Naef.

Absalon told AFP that he was so focused on recovering from his early mishap that he did not stay sufficiently hydrated. He made it as close as fourth place on the circuit at the end of the first lap before fading to sixth and eventually abandoning the race.

He will have a chance to redeem himself at the Olympic Games in August, but said, "I will not be the only favourite there."

Schleck sore after stage five spill

By Shane Stokes in Bern

Although Frank Schleck was able to continue in the Tour de Suisse after his bad crash earlier in the week, he told Cyclingnews at the start of stage nine that he was feeling the effects.

"I have got a problem with my hip due to the crash, because my back was tight," he said. "I went really deep yesterday [in the mountain time trial] because I wanted to test myself. I was also super-motivated because Bjarne was here, he went behind me [in the car] and he told me the way I should ride. I gave it everything, I went really deep.

"This morning my whole back and hips didn't feel very good. However with a couple of days rest it should be okay. I will go and see my chiropractor, my neighbour...she is really fantastic and she always helps me a lot. It should be fine for the Tour."

Schleck finished fifth in the mountain time trial and expects to ride strongly in the Tour de France. Carlos Sastre will start as team captain but he and his brother Andy will also have protected positions.

Gilbert satisfied with form

By Shane Stokes in Bern

Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux) rode superbly
Photo ©: Isabelle Duchesne
(Click for larger image)

Philippe Gilbert may not have been able to hold off the Swiss steam train Fabian Cancellara at the end of Sunday's Tour de Suisse finale, but his second place showed that he is coming into top form in time for the Tour. He told Cyclingnews before the stage start that he was satisfied with his overall experience in Switzerland, even if one aspect of the organisation didn't appeal to him.

"My race went well. It was the first time here at the Tour de Suisse and it is nice. The only problem was the time of the finishes, they were very late...too late. It means recovery is not easy. Otherwise the race is perfect, not too hard.

"My condition is good and I was also climbing well. For me that is a good sign. Next week I will take it easy, do things slowly, and only ride the championship. I hope all will be perfect for the Tour."

He said that he will aim to ride strongly on the opening day of the French race. "The first day of the Tour is my birthday, so that is special for me. This year there are no bonifications, so it will maybe be very different. Everybody will do their best each day for the placings, and many riders can have the yellow jersey. So the racing will be hard."

Roche relative nets first pro win

Irishman Daniel Martin, the nephew of legend Stephen Roche, landed his first professional victory in the Route du Sud on Sunday, holding a lead he built up on the mountainous penultimate stage with the help of his Garmin-Chipotle team. The 21-year-old felt comfortable on the final stage with his 1'42" lead over the older and more experienced Christophe Moreau (Agritubel), and may not have fully realized the quality of his achievement.

"I mean, first you think - hey, it's just a bike race. In one sense, it's the same as if it was a junior event, guys with numbers on their backs," he told Cycling Weekly. "But then you realize who you've been racing against, what this race really is. Maybe afterwards when I read about in the magazines it'll really sink in."

Slipstream CEO and team director Jonathan Vaughters made sure his team controlled enough of the race to keep Martin in the lead, but a large breakaway gained 6'50" on the main peloton. Fortunately, the highest placed rider on GC was Ramon Troncoso (Karpin Galicia), who was 18'39 behind at the start of the day.

Despite the lack of threatening riders, the Slipstream squad had its work cut out to contain the gap. "Nobody made it easy for us today - and the sprinters' teams pretty much just gave up halfway through," said Vaughters on the team's website, "However, the guys did great and held the gap nice and even. Dan was comfortable and well protected. Winning our first race out for our new sponsor, Garmin, is pretty special."

Martin gave special praise to Tyler Farrar, whom he credited with pulling for a large portion of the 207 kilometre stage. "Even when he got dropped he came back again and then did some more work. He was amazing."

"Really I had an armchair ride - and it's all thanks to my team-mates hard work."

Swiss sprinter's jersey to Volksbank again

Team Volksbank won the white jersey for the best sprinter at the Tour de Suisse for the second year in a row. Rene Weissinger assured himself of the jersey by winning the first of two intermediate sprints in Sunday's final stage.

Weissinger was part of a five-man escape group, which stayed away 130 km and was caught again shortly before the finish line. Last year the jersey was won by his team-mate Florian Stalder.

The Austrian Professional Continental team didn't take the stage win it had hoped for, but was content with what it had. "The trikot counts," said Team Manger Thomas Kofler, who celebrated his 36th birthday on Sunday. "In the ProTour we have to adjust to them. We showed ourselves well, and were often in escape groups. The guys saw that they could ride with the best, which gave them confidence and hope for the next races." (SW)

Torrent out of Olympics

Spaniard Carlos Torrent will not be able to join his country's track team for the Olympic Games later this summer. The Madison partner of former World Champion Joan Llaneras crashed during the GP CTT Correios in Portugal last Friday, and returned to Spain on Sunday for surgery to repair a broken femur.

Didac Navarro, the national selector, has named Unai Elorriaga as Torrent's replacement in the country's Olympic pre-selection. He joins Sergi Escobar, Toni Tauler, Llaneras, David Muntaner, Asier Maeztu, Antonio Miguel and Leire Olaberría, the Royal Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) announced.

The news will come as a blow for Llaneras, who was grooming Torrent in the Madison after suffering the death of his long-time partner Isaac Gálvez in a crash at the Gent six day in November, 2006. Torrent had gone into the World Championships in Manchester earlier this year at less than full health after suffering another mishap, and the pair finished sixth in the Madison there.

Spanish cycling head acquitted of leaking Puerto names

Eugenio Bermudez, the secretary general of the Spanish Cycling Federation, was acquitted earlier this week of leaking information from the Operación Puerto investigation, AS reported Wednesday. The decision ends a lawsuit brought by members of the 2006 Liberty Seguros/Astana Wurth squad Aitor and Unai Osa, David Etxebarria, Giampaolo Caruso, Isidro Nozal, Joseba Beloki, Javier Ramirez Abeja, Allan Davis and Jörg Jaksche.

The riders of the then Liberty Seguros team were banned from the 2006 Tour de France after the Operación Puerto case erupted with the arrest of its directeur sportif Manolo Saiz and four other people in May, 2006. The authorities raided the clinic of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, uncovering hundreds of bags of stored blood and transfusion equipment along with performance enhancing drugs.

Jaksche later confessed to having been helped by Fuentes to blood dope, but five of the team, including Beloki, Nozal and Davis were cleared of any involvement in the affair by the the Spanish courts. However, the damage done by the information which was leaked to the press ended the career of Beloki, who could no longer find a team. It also threatened to keep Allan Davis out of competition when the UCI tried to ban him from the World Championships.

The judge also backed former Spanish Superior Council of Sports director general Rafael Blanco, who was accused by former Liberty Seguros manager Manuel Saiz of "prevarication, falsification of documents and revealing secrets."

Saiz blamed Blanco for forwarding documents to the Spanish Cycling Federation, which in turn sent them along to the International Cycling Union (UCI). He also claimed that the documents which reached the UCI were not identical to those from the court, and had some paragraphs deleted.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

Sorensen waits until 2009

By Shane Stokes

Chris Anker Sørensen after winning the stage.
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Chris Anker Sørensen took the biggest victory of his career when he won the mountainous sixth stage of the Dauphiné Libéré. While the 23 year-old CSC rider will miss this year's Tour de France, he is aiming to make his debut there in 2009.

"I hope to do the Tour next year," he told Cyclingnews. "My level has improved since the Giro... it was a really hard race this year but I got through it and it really improved me as a bike rider. I hope to be part of the selected team next season."

The Dane has already amassed some solid results as a professional, including second in the mountains competition of Paris-Nice and the Tour of Romandie, a team time trial stage win in the 2007 Deutschland Tour, plus 19th overall in the Vuelta a España and 28th in this year's Giro d'Italia. But it was his win ahead of some of the sport's big guns in the Dauphiné which confirmed his climbing ability.

"It was a great victory," he told Cyclingnews. "It was an unbelievable day to win a great mountain stage like that. I am really, really happy as it was my first victory as a pro rider. To win something like that is fantastic."

When asked if he sees himself evolving into a King of the Mountains contender or a GC rider in races such as the Tour, he refrains from making any predictions. "I think it is too early to say. I have done well in the mountains but I still need to improve my time trial. At the moment now I think it is better for me to do what I did in the Dauphiné – to go after one or two stages than go for the overall win there."

Next up for Sørensen are the national championships, then the Tour of Austria, the Sachsen-Tour, the Tour of Denmark and the Olympic Games. After that, he feels he is more likely to ride the Deutschland Tour and the end-of-season Italian classics rather than the Vuelta a España; the world championships is also a goal for him, but he said that his selection is not guaranteed.

"I hope to do the worlds, but I think that [his chances] also depends on the Danish team – we have a lot of strong riders now. Lars Bak is going well, Nicki Sørensen is going strong and also Matti Breschel has been in really good form this year. He just won a stage in the Ster Elektrotoer. So we will see.

$12k purse for Mt. Holly-Smithville GP

The 10th edition of the Mt. Holly-Smithville Invitational GP will be held on July 19th, 2008 in Mt. Holly, New Jersey. The 2008 edition will see some exciting new changes to the event, as it moves from a criterium back to a 112.5km circuit race on a exciting 3.75 kilometre course that will highlight Mt. Holly's growing downtown residential and business areas. The first eight editions were run as a road race through Burlington County, New Jersey.

This year's marquee event is open to UCI professional trade teams and a selection of elite amateur teams, who will compete for $12,000.00 in cash. The following UCI pro and continental teams have already confirmed their plans to participate:

Kelly Benefits Strategies/Medifast
Team Type 1
Rite Aid presented by Shebell and Shebell
Colavita-Sutter Home
Time pro cycling team
DLP pro cycling team

Proceeds from this event benefit the Prison Museum Association, a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to improvements, restoration and programs in Burlington County's historic prison museum. The Associations programs and projects focus on making the museum a family destination, where residents can indulge in the prisons rich history.

Teams wishing to be considered for participation in the Pro-I/II event can submit an application via the web at:

The team application/selection process will end on July 5th and selected teams for the 2008 edition will be announced on July 7th. The 2008 edition will see 27 pro and elite amateur teams invited with 6 riders per team. For additional information please contact the race organization vie email:

This year's event will also include additional racing for Master men 35+, Master men 45+, Senior Men 2/3 and Senior Men 4/5 as a prelude to the main event.

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