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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, March 21, 2008

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Riccò skips Milano-Sanremo

By Gregor Brown

Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Scott) in pain after crashing in stage three of Tirreno-Adriatico
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Riccardo Riccò of Team Saunier Duval-Scott has decided to skip the Milano-Sanremo, this Saturday. The 24 year-old Italian, who formed an escape duo with Belgium's Philippe Gilbert in last year's race, is still suffering from pains resulting from a crash in Tirreno-Adriatico's stage three.

After a training ride of two hours yesterday, 'The Cobra' from Formigine confirmed that his form wasn't "good enough to guarantee a good performance" in the 298-kilometre race from the fashion capital to Italy's Ligurian coast. More tests are expected to be carried out on Riccò, who is still suffering pains in his right gluteal muscle.

Riccò's bad luck really started 24 hours prior to his crash in stage three; his bike bumped against Linus Gerdemann's in the stage two final and spokes were broken in his rear wheel. After crossing the line, clearly frustrated, he tossed his race machine through the air - a moment of "anger" that seemed to summarise his emotions this week. He is now expected to rest and concentrate on his form for the Giro d'Italia in May.

Riccò will be replaced by Javier Mejías for Milano-Sanremo, who will join Manuele Mori, José Alberto Benítez, Aurélien Passeron, Ángel Gómez Gómez, Eros Capecchi, Ermanno Capelli and Raivis Belohvosciks.

Three sprinters for Barloworld

Enrico Gasparotto will be one of Barloworld's leaders in the Classicissima
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Team Barloworld will be showing full sprinting power at the 99th Milano-Sanremo this Saturday, the first big one-day classic of the 2008 season. Saturday's team includes Robert Hunter, Enrico Gasparotto and Baden Cooke, who will be using their good form to counter the moves of the climbers before the race finish in Sanremo close to the French border.

"Milano-Sanremo is a fascinating race and can be very unpredictable, especially with the new finish on the Italo Calvino which adds an extra 500 meters and two corners. That extra distance and corners could end up deciding the race. We have got three sprinters who all have the potential to win and so we have structured our race tactics around giving each of them the opportunity to do so," said team manager Claudio Corti.

Robert Hunter will be going into this race just after his second Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour record victory. "I am looking forward to our first one-day classic of the season. I am determined to do well again this year," said the South African, who placed tenth on the Via Roma last season.

Enrico Gasparotto and Baden Cooke come to Milano after the recent Volta ao Santarem in Portugal and at the Tirreno-Adriatico in Italy. The team has studied every detail of the new Milano-Sanremo finish. "Gasparotto saw a video of the new finish of the race and we'll also make sure Hunter sees the video," Corti said on Thursday. "Cooke even went to see the finish in person a few days before Tirreno-Adriatico."

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Gasparotto, who finished second overall in Tirreno, is especially motivated to do well in the race as La Classicissima happens to take place on his 26th birthday. "I have worked hard over the past few weeks and I am really motivated and ready for the big day," he said.

"Sanremo is decided in a flash, nobody can guess what move will decide the race and even the weather can play a decisive role. We've got three leaders who are all potential winners and so we've already decided our race tactics so that each one gets a chance," commented directeur sportif Alberto Volpi.

"The finale of Milano-Sanremo always includes three clear phases. The first is the section between the Cipressa and the Poggio, the climb of the Poggio is the second and the finish is the third."

Volpi continued by explaining Barloworld's tactics in detail. "We've given carte blanche to Baden Cooke for the Cipressa. He's experienced and fast but also climbs well, so is ideal for an attack on the Cipressa. If the race is not decided on the climb, Gasparotto will get his chance on the Poggio. He showed his ability at Tirreno-Adriatico and could do it again on Saturday. If the attacks on the Poggio are caught it will be Hunter's turn. He is the fastest sprinter at Team Barloworld, as he proved by winning a stage in last year's Tour de France," he said.

The teams #1 climber, Columbian Mauricio Soler will also ride Milano-Sanremo. Soler is still recovering after his knee injury at the start of the season and wants to do well, even if the event does not really suit his style of racing.

"Soler hasn't got the fitness to be a contender at Milano-Sanremo, but he's not afraid of the distance and if possible he'll try and show his climbing skills on the Poggio. Of course, his biggest objective will be to do as well as possible without taking any risks," Volpi added.

The Colombian will leave Italy straight after the finish to head to Spain, where he will lead the squad in the Vuelta Castilla y Léon.

Bruyneel: ASO decision "unfair"

After Tour de France organisers Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) announced their team invitations for this year's event, leaving out ProTour team Astana and therefore the 2007 Tour winner Alberto Contador, team manager Johan Bruyneel reacted to the news.

According to Belgian Sportwereld, the former Discovery Channel sports director called the decision "unfair, illogical, ridiculous and arrogant."

ASO left out the Astana team because the squad had been involved in doping scandals in relation to the Tour de France twice in the last two years. "We cannot wipe away what happened," race director Christian Prudhomme explained in mid-February, when ASO already communicated that Astana would not be invited. "In 2006, a team came out of the ashes of Liberty Seguros. Within this team, half of the riders were linked to Operación Puerto and cannot take the start of the Tour. The next year, they explain to us that it's a new team, a new management, that everything about it is new. We trust them and invite them to the Tour. But we made a mistake to take them - and we don't want to make that mistake once again."

Boonen finds "fantastic" course in Varese

Tom Boonen rides through the city
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Quickstep rider Tom Boonen, as well as team-mates Andrea Tonti and Giovanni Visconti, have reconnoitred the parcours of this year's World Championships in Varese on Thursday. The 2005 winner of the event described the course as "fantastic. It's perfect for fast men like myself or (Oscar) Freire, and even for riders like (Danilo) Di Luca and (Paolo) Bettini." The Worlds course in Varese consists of 15 laps of 17 kilometres, adding up to a total of 255 kilometres. The race held on September 28 will finish in a horse race track, which will be converted to a velodrome in summer.

Boonen told Belgian News agency Belga that, "This year's Worlds will be a very open race, which will make it more interesting but also more stressful. There are a lot of turns and the climbs will be started almost out of a full stop. Which means that you always have to be in front to keep a chance of winning.

"This specific aspect will make the race completely different to Madrid, where I won, or to Salzburg and Stuttgart, where Bettini won," the Belgian concluded.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Roberto Bettini/

Davis eyes Olympics and Worlds

By Jean-François Quénet

The big absent on the start list of Milano-Sanremo is last year's runner-up Allan Davis who remained without a team for the 2008 season until Thursday, when he signed a one-year deal with Estonian-registered outfit Mitsubishi-Jartazi. The Pro Continental Belgian-based squad isn't participating at the Primavera, therefore the Australian will race under their colours for the first time in Belgium next week, either at Dwaars Door Vlaanderen or the GPE3.

Davis hasn't raced on the road since the Tour Down Under where he came second in January as a member of the Australian composed team UniSA. "I have been doing some different things than normal," he told Cyclingnews. "Straight after the Tour Down Under, I took part in two Six Days in Copenhagen and Hasselt, then I had a rest and some family time at home in Oiartzun in the Basque country, and started training again on the road two weeks ago.

"I'm happy so far with my new team and looking forward to racing", he added. But he'll feel frustrated to be forced to watch Milano-Sanremo on TV. "Every year it is the first major goal for me", he stated. "And it is a race where I think I can always do well as it suits my cycling characteristics. It is an unfair situation for me not to be there again, but I have lots more races now this year with my new team and I am still young."

Being sidelined by the world of cycling due to the appearance of his name in the Operación Puerto although he got cleared by the Spanish authorities and Cycling Australia, the 28 year-old from Queensland who rode for Discovery Channel last year will be a different rider following that bad experience.

"I will be back better than ever in years to come on the start line for the Milano-Sanremo", he promised. This is a new start for him. "For the rest of the year I am working on getting as many good results as possible in all races. Targeting all the big one-day classics and later on to the end of the year the Olympics and Worlds as well. These are my goals", a determined Davis said.

Team Type 1 happy with Georgia invite

Team Type 1, founded in 2004 by racers Phil Southerland and Joe Eldridge, will race the 2008 Tour of Georgia
Photo ©: Team Type 1
(Click for larger image)

Team Type 1, in its first year as a professional team after having won twice the Race Across America corporate team division, will be among 15 squads at this year's Tour de Georgia, slated from April 21-27.

"This is great news for Team Type 1, and it is a major stepping stone toward our hopes of getting to the Tour de France in 2012," team founder Phil Southerland said. "Being a native of Georgia, it means the world to me to be able to take part in the biggest race in the state, if not one of the most prestigious in the entire country."

Team Type 1 was founded in 2004 by racers Phil Southerland and Joe Eldridge to inspire people living with diabetes to overcome the obstacles often associated with the condition. Four of the 15 riders on the Team Type 1 professional squad - Southerland, Eldridge, Tim Hargrave and Fabio Calabria - have Type 1 diabetes.

"For the first time, we'll have riders with diabetes racing against guys who will be competing in the Tour de France," Eldridge added. "This is our opportunity to show the diabetes community, as well as fans of pro cycling, what we are able to achieve."

The eight racers who will represent Team Type 1 in the race will be announced at a later date by Team Type 1 sport director Ed Beamon and assistant sport director Vassili Davidenko. Beamon said the squad will have its sights set on a stage win and not necessarily the overall individual or team classification.

"With the terrain that Georgia presents - up and down and rolling - we'll put a squad together that will be good in that arena," Beamon said. "Field sprints won't be for us and realistically, with the climb up Brasstown Bald mountain (on stage 6) being such a decisive element in the classification, trying to win the race overall would be a real reach for us. However, that stage will be a good opportunity for Chris Jones to show what he can do."

Team Type 1 has already experienced success this season on the international stage, having finished runner-up at the Tour de Taiwan with Shawn Milne last week and second in the team classification at the Tour of Langkawi in Malaysia in February.

Next up for Team Type 1 is the San Dimas Stage Race in San Dimas, California, March 28-30.

UCI & Verbruggen sue Pound

The International Cycling Union (UCI) and Hein Verbruggen, UCI vice-president, have filed a lawsuit against Richard Pound, the former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) before Swiss courts. The UCI and Verbruggen allege that Pound made "continual injurious and biased comments against the UCI and Mr. Verbruggen, in the context of the efforts made by them to eradicate doping from the sport", according to a press release.

Indeed, Pound has publicly questioned the extent of the UCI's efforts in the fight against doping on several occasions.

Trampusch looks to settle at Elk Haus

By Susan Westemeyer

Gerhard Trampusch has a history of being dissatisfied and not fitting in with his teams, but he hopes to have a found a new home at the Austrian Professional Continental Team Elk Haus-Simplon. After being released from Team Volksbank in the middle of last season, he said that he was on the verge of leaving cycling because of the "lack of perspectives," according to

The Austrian was to be one of the leaders at Volksbank in 2007, but the team released him in July, citing behaviour contrary to his contractual obligations. He had missed much of the season due to illness. He claimed that "the chemistry was wrong. There were differences of opinion in all areas."

The 29 year-old has moved around a lot in his career. He turned professional in 2000 with Team Telekom, rode for Mapei in 2002, Gerolsteiner in 2003, and Acqua e Sapone in 2004, before joining Team Akud (later Team Wiesenhof) for two years and ultimately moving to Volksbank. Of those, he said, he only felt really well at Mapei and Akud/Wiesenhof.

At some of his teams, he said other riders conspired against him behind his back, or the teams didn't repay him for travel expenses.

Why did he have these problems? "Everyone has their own individual character," said the free-spirited Trampusch, and I think everyone should be as they are. Walter Godefroot, my team manger at Team Telekom, said to me then, 'there is a black sheep in every herd.' That's me. Because I swim against the current and was very young. The others simply couldn't accept it. But shall I change myself, just to please others?"

Team line-ups for Castilla y Léon

Although most of the attention in the world of cycling will be on Saturday's Milano-Sanremo race this week-end, another event starts in Spain with the 23rd edition of the Vuelta a Castilla y León. The stage race is divided into five stages for a total of 630km of racing, with all the action in the Castilla y León region.

Spanish team Caisse d'Epargne announced its rider roster for the event, with Arnaud Coyot, Joan Horrach, Oscar Pereiro, Fran Pérez, Marlon Pérez, José Rujano, Rigoberto Uran and Xabier Zandio taking part in the race. Australian Neil Stephens will be guiding the riders.

At South Africa's Barloworld team, Alberto Volpi will direct squad, with Mauricio Soler as team leader as he completes his recovery from his early season knee injury. Also in the line-up is Austrian national champion Christian Pfannberger who recently won the Giro del Capo stage race in South Africa. Felix Cardenas is also expected to be in the action in Spain, while the Barloworld squad will be completed by John Lee Augustyn, Francesco Bellotti, Gianpaolo Cheula, Marco Corti and Moises Duenas.

The Pro Continental Contentpolis-Murcia squad will also take part in the Vuelta a Castilla y León. It will be led by the climber Julián Sánchez Pimienta, who will be supported by Oleg Chuzda, Eloy Teruel, Jorge Sánchez Pimienta - his brother -, Rafael Serrano (national U23 time trial champion), Rafael Rodríguez, Alberto Rodríguez (Joaquim Rodríguez's brother) and Ruben Reig.

Team managers hope to continue obtaining the good results that Contentpolis-Murcia has reached in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and in the Vuelta a la Región de Murcia. But Manuel Vázquez, who finished second in the first one, suffers from tendonitis in his left knee as a consequence of a bad position on his bike. Veteran Adrián Palomares and young promising riders Javier Etxarri, José Herrada and Sergio Domínguez will have a rest to resume racing in April. In addition to Sánchez Pimienta, the Ukrainian Chuzda and the local Teruel will continue racing.

Antonio J. Salmerón contributed to this report.

Grandmothers cycle for charity

Two Scottish grandmothers are preparing for a 10,000 km charity cycling ride across Canada. Penny Weir, 70, from Aviemore, and Mavis Paterson, 69, from Dumfries and Galloway, plan the trip to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support, according to the BBC.

The women met 16 years ago after Ms Weir heard Ms Paterson on the radio, talking about a 8,000-mile cycle she had completed. Since then, the pair has been on a number of cycle rides together, but none of them were as challenging as their Canadian trip in May, during which they will be sleeping in tents.

"A lot of people tell us that we're crazy and maybe we are - but I think everyone needs a goal and this is ours," said Ms Paterson. "I'll still be doing trips like this in 20 years if I have my health - I don't really think we're doing anything special. Anyone could do it - it's just down to sheer willpower, stubbornness and discipline - and a desire to raise money for a great cause."

The grandmothers will set off from Vancouver, Western Canada, on May 18, and hope to finish in New Foundland in September.

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