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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, May 7, 2008

Edited by Greg Johnson and Paul Verkuylen

Arroyo wants Giro top five

David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne) will be chasing a top five finish when the Giro d'Italia gets underway this Saturday in Palermo, Italy. Arroyo held a press conference in Talavera, Spain with the local mayor Jose Francisco Rivas before leaving for the first Grand Tour of 2008.

"This year I'm going to raise the bar," he told AP. "I would like to be among the top five, thereby improving on the 10th position I achieved last year."

While Arroyo will be riding for Venezuelan team captain José Rujano, much will depend on the way the Giro unfolds. In the mean time, Arroyo is also hoping to claim a stage win while at the three week Grand Tour.

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"I think this year is very important for me, so I'll look to break away and want to finish among the best," said Arroyo. "All support in principle [goes] to Rujano, since it has been decided by management. But then the road will decide the patterns and strategies to follow."

"In the Giro you have to start at 100 percent because there are no stages which can be used to take shape, from day one you have to be ready," he added.

The Giro starts this Saturday with a Team Time Trial in Palermo. The 21 stage race carries through to June 1, when it will conclude with an Individual Time Trial to Milano.

Arroyo finished in the top 20 at all three Grand Tours in 2007. After finishing 10th at the Giro the Spaniard claimed 13th place at the Tour de France before going on to take 19th at his home Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España.

Rabobank makes preliminary Tour selections

Oscar Freire (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Denis Menchov, Oscar Freire and Thomas Dekker top Rabobank's preliminary selection for this year's Tour de France, but sport director Erik Breukink warned that nobody had a definite start place. Included in the 14 rider list is eight Dutch riders.

"Everything depends on the shape," said Breukink on "If shortly before the Tour the shape is not what it should be, then that rider will not start. It doesn't matter who; there are not exceptions."

Among the Dutch riders is one surprise, Pieter Weening. The 27 year-old has not raced yet this season because of a knee injury. "He is still hindered by it," Breukink said. "Pieter cannot put pressure on the knee, but he can do endurance training. Progress is being made."

Weening is scheduled to make his season debut at the Volta a Catalunya, May 19, to be followed by the Dauphiné Libéré. Weening may be on the Tour list, but Breukink doubted that he would make the final cut.

"It will be tough and Pieter knows that very well, but he has always been of solid and useful value during the Tour," he said. "We will first see how he fares in Catalonia and the Dauphiné."

One name missing from the roster is Robert Gesink, but Breukink explained that the team and 21 year-old rider had agreed over the winter that he would not ride the Tour this year.

"We are not going to reverse that decision," he said. "Robert has had a heavy spring season. Right now, we are going to take things a more slowly. At any rate, the Tour still comes too early in his career. His next test will be the Dauphiné, followed perhaps by the Olympic Games and for sure the Vuelta."

Rabobank's preliminary Tour de France roster: Denis Menchov, Oscar Freire, Thomas Dekker, Joost Posthuma, Juan Antonio Flecha, Laurens ten Dam, Bram Tankink, Sebastian Langeveld, Koos Moerenhout, Grischa Niermann, Pedro Horrillo, Bram de Groot, Mauricio Ardila and Pieter Weening.

Breschel abandons Dunkerque

Matti Breschel (Team CSC)
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

Matti Breschel's 4 Jours de Dunkerque campaign lasted just 50 kilometres, with the Team CSC rider abandoning the race. Breschel pulled out of the event on the first day after knee problems hindered his efforts.

"Matti felt a sharp pain in his knee during the sprint in the final stage of Tour de Romandie and it kept hurting the days following," explained sport director Dan Frost on "But when he was out training on Monday he was fine and not in any pain at all so he thought he was good to go today.

"But already early in the stage he fell back to the sports director car and reported that the pain had returned," added Frost. "The official doctor for the race gave him something for the pain but it didn't help so he had to abandon at the feed zone."

The Danish rider has headed home for a rest. His next race will be decided once his knee is back to normal.

"It's too bad cause Matti was in great shape, which he demonstrated during Tour de Romandie where he was op against some of the best sprinters in the world," said Frost. "But hopefully this problem will blow over quickly and he'll be back in action again."

The outfit had a tough day in France, with its highest finishing rider Kasper Klostergaard Larsen in 35th place on the opening stage. Stéphane Augé (Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone) leads the event by over two minutes after breaking away with Clément Lhotellerie (Skil-Shimano) during the stage.

Nuyens has the world at his feet

Belgians Nick Nuyens and Stijn Devolder
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

After a successful Spring Classics campaign, which included a second place at the Tour of Flanders, Cofidis' Nick Nuyens has a luxury problem. Due to his good results he has a number of high profile teams chasing his signature for the 2009 season. His contract with French ProTour team Cofidis expires at the end of the season.

"Most of the big teams who are looking for a leader at the Classics have come knocking," Nuyens confirmed in Belgian cycling magazine Cyclo Sprint.

However the most successful Belgian team of the spring, with wins in Flanders and Roubaix, Quick Step is not among the teams Nuyens is contemplating. "If I signed for Patrick Lefevere it would mean taking a step backwards," he explained. "I don't want to do that. Riding for Lefevere means sacrificing your own chances for [Tom] Boonen and [Paolo] Bettini.

"I think that I have shown over the past few months that I can handle the role of leader," he added. "I have also shown that I can make a real team out of a bunch of individualists – which is what Cofidis was. Cofidis has become very strong, and many are scared of us."

Nuyens has not ruled out the idea of re-signing for Cofidis. "The process has already begun," he revealed. "We will see what comes of it."

If he were to stay, the Belgian would like to see a big sprinter come onboard. "Both Thor Hushovd and Wouter Weylandt will be available," he said. "I have asked the team to make them an offer. Now we are riding for bread and water in big Tours. A sprinter would change all that."

Lefevere denies new sponsor rumours

Quick Step Team Manager Patrick Lefevere denies Specialized rumours
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere has denied claims that Specialized will become co-sponsor of the team in 2009. He has spoken to a number of possible candidates, but is yet to reach a final agreement with any of them.

"I have read here and there the figures that the claimed deal is worth," he told Belgian newspaper HLN. "We have already had a commitment with Specialized. I have spoken with the firm, but that they will become cosponsor is incorrect.

"I have many other avenues," he added. "I have submitted a dossier to many other companies and am waiting."

Lefevere's team is riding under the Quick Step banner this year after losing joint title sponsor Innergetic.

"Nevertheless, negotiations may be sluggish; some people think that I already have a deal," said Lefevere. "I have a verbal agreement with some current sponsors, but as long as there is nothing on paper, there is nothing official. I hope to be able to have everything finalised for the Tour of Belgium [May 28 - June 1] so that I can announce the new co-sponsor."

Bayern Rundfahrt announces teams

The Bayern Rundfahrt can boast of five ProTour teams this year, including the two German teams Gerolsteiner and Milram, as well as formerly German-based Team High Road. The trio will be joined by two French teams, Credit Agricole and Bouygues Telecom. The race will be rounded out by seven Professional Continental teams and four Continental teams.

Stefan Schumacher of Gerolsteiner will look to repeat his overall win in the race, which runs from May 28 to June 1. Milram won't have Erik Zabel, who won two stages last year, as he will be riding the Giro d'Italia in place of the suspended Alessandro Petacchi, but it will send local rider Sebastian Schwager.

The race's organiser considers Team High Road to be a favourite to take the title this year. The team is sending its top German riders Marcus Burghardt and Gerald Ciolek to contest the event.

Teams for Bayern Rundfarht: Gerolsteiner, Milram, High Road, Credit Agricole, Bouygues Telecom, Ceramica Flaminia, Elk Haus, Acqua & Sapone, Topsport Vlaanderen, PSK Whirlpool, Volksbank, Benfica, Team 3C gruppe, Kuota Senges, Thüringer Energie and Mapei Heizomat.

Armstrong's shop grand opening this weekend

By staff

Lance Armstrong
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Seven-time Tour de France winner and Austin native Lance Armstrong is adding another project to his busy schedule: Mellow Johnny's, a new bike shop in downtown Austin, with a grand opening scheduled for May 10. The historic brick warehouse at 400 Nueces (adjacent to the soon-to-be-opened cross town bike path) is intended to catalyze Austin's urban revival and encourage people to look at cycling as a means of both transportation and fitness.

"It's more than a place to buy a bike," Armstrong said. "I want it to be a place where cyclists of all levels come in and are encouraged, inspired, and motivated to make cycling a daily part of life. And of course-a place where racers and enthusiasts can get the best equipment, service, and know-how to go faster-or farther-on their bikes."

The shop is envisioned as a one-of-a-kind concept facility, featuring a complete retail offering with bikes, equipment, apparel, and a professional service centre. In addition, visitors will find Juan Pelota's, an indoor/outdoor coffee house with healthy grab-and-go food, and a soon to be introduced power-based indoor training facility. With hours of operation from 8 am to 7pm, the shop is awake and ready for those riding into downtown early, or dropping off bikes for same day service. The shop is equipped with shower and changing facilities and free bike storage for commuters.

"It's pretty simple – we all love riding bikes, and want everyone from the beginner to the most experienced cyclist to find something here that puts a smile on their face, and gets them out on two wheels," Armstrong added. "You don't have to be training for the Tour de France. If you ride your bike, you're healthier; there is less car traffic, less dirty air. So, just get out there, on the trail, on the road, on the way to school or work, wherever, and ride your bike."

Customers will find a wide array of products-from vendors key to Lance's Tour de France victories such as Trek, Oakley, Giro, Bontrager and Nike-to niche bike builders and apparel lines that are not often seen inside bicycle retailers.

"We've consciously followed Lance's interests into the history of bike racing, as well as into new and emerging products from the US and abroad," said Craig Staley, general manager of Mellow Johnny's. "We have really concentrated on putting together a unique variety of product that fully captures the lifestyle and culture of cycling – from urban to mountain, to road- we wanted to take a 'surf shop' approach to bikes."

The shop will host a day of activities on Saturday May 10 to announce its Grand Opening with appearances by Oakley's R&D demo trailer, Trek's complete line of demonstration bikes, and book signings and appearances throughout the day by Chris Carmichael, Michael Ward, Gary Fisher, and Armstrong himself. The festivities will conclude with a private party that night.

Carney happy with KBS/Medifast improvement

Alex Candelario (Kelly Benefit Stratagies/Medifast)
Photo ©: Fj Hughes
(Click for larger image)

Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast team director Jonas Carney says he's delighted with the outfit's progress, after claiming four podiums in American races last week. The past week has been action-packed in the American racing scene, with team participating in the Tour of Gila, USA Crits Speedweek, USAF Cycling Classic and the Sunny King and Roswell Criteriums.

"Our guys are riding aggressively and we're only going to get stronger as the season continues," said Carney. "Crystal City was an interesting race. We made some last minute strategy shifts from Martin to Alex for the sprint. It almost gave us the win, but we're happy to be on the podium four times in the last week."

Alex Candelario took his third podium of the week at the Crystal City Classic in Arlington, Virginia. The result followed on from a win at the USA Crits Speedweek event in Greenwood and a third place at the Downtown Waterboro Criterium.

"It is important that our team can react quickly and change up the plan at such critical points of the race," added Carney. "In competitive racing the field can change in a second so it's crucial to be able to respond rapidly. It's also a real mark of our team that our guys can start with a game plan, switch strategies and still end up on the podium."

Keven Lacombe's third place finish in the Beaufort Criterium was the team's fourth podium for the week. The team's next races will be Bank of America Wilmington, Delaware and the Mt. Hood Stage Race in Oregon the same week.

Several other American NRC teams enjoyed a successful, albeit busy, week. Colavita/Sutter Home's Tina Pic was one example, winning the Beaufort Memorial Cycling Classic on Tuesday, Uptown Greenwood Pro Cycling Challenge on Thursday, Steadman Hawkins Cycling Classic on Friday, Sunny King Criterium on Saturday and the Sandy Springs Cycling Challenge on Sunday.

(Additional research and assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer).

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