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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News, May 8, 2008

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Road rage crash shocks Sydney cycling fraternity

By Greg Johnson in Sydney, Australia

Kevin and Kate Nichols pose for a photo with Ben Kersten
Photo ©: Greg Johnson
(Click for larger image)

Sydney's cycling community was rattled when over 50 riders in a popular training group became victims of a hit-and-run crash this morning. The group included Australian Beijing Olympic Games hopeful Ben Kersten, former Olympian Michelle Ferris and Kate Nichols, one of the Australian Institute of Sport riders injured in the 2005 training accident that claimed the life of Amy Gillett.

Riders have expressed outrage at the actions of the erratic driver, which they described as being deliberate and premeditated. Nobody was seriously injured in the accident however the equipment damage bill is expected to run into the tens of thousands of dollars and has upset the run into Kersten's Olympic trials in two weeks time.

While traveling south - the opposite direction to the morning's city-bound traffic - on Southern Cross Drive, Mascot at 6:30 AM, a grey sedan approached the bunch and demonstrated erratic behaviour as it passed. Once ahead of the group, the sedan pulled in front of it and braked hard, forcing the group to slam into the vehicle travelling at over 50 km/h.

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"It was intentional, I have no doubt about it," said Matt Bazzano of the incident. Bazzano, a highly experienced cyclist is an executive with Shimano Australia and former winner of the Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic. "The fact is that after he did it, he (the driver) then took off, which he shouldn't have done. But then I wonder what could have happened had he don't know what someone may do."

The crash caused traffic behind to take evasive action as riders spilled across the road, including a semi-trailer which jack-knifed under braking forces. The prime mover's driver skillfully brought the vehicle under control to avoid slamming into the fallen riders.

"I'm just glad nobody is dead," admitted Kersten, who was left with the imprint of a chain ring on his back. "I went flying through a group of about 20 people and 20 more hit me."

Bazzano, who's trained on the roads of Sydney for well over two decades, said it was the most extreme example of road rage he'd yet witnessed. "You'd have to go a long way to do worse than this," he said. "You know, things happen on the road and it can be accidental or careless, but this was intentional."

Kersten joined his fellow riders in saying the driver's actions were deliberate at a press conference called near the scene of the incident shortly after midday. "It's totally no accident, this guy is a psycho," he said.

Find out all the details about the horrible crash.

Bradley McGee eyes first win of the year at Giro TTT

By Jean-François Quénet

It's been a tough few years for CSC's Bradley McGee
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

At the age of 32, Bradley McGee remains a major player in modern cycling, although he hasn't won a single road race in three years – since taking stage three in the 2005 Tour of Switzerland. The Australian also loves his sport more than ever and looks at the Tour of Italy with the possibility of becoming a winner again in his lead up to his fourth Olympic Games as a track rider.

He collected one more medal (bronze in the team pursuit) at the track World's in Manchester and went back to road racing in April. "The Tour de Georgia was a perfect race to do before the Tour of Italy," he said. He started with a seventh place in stage one and pulled the sprints for his CSC team-mate Juan José Haedo. "I started to feel my good old sensations, things like a deep sleep and hunger that I hadn't enjoyed for years."

When he joined the Danish team, he asked to get nominated for the Giro d'Italia, the Grand Tour where he claimed his best overall finish with an eighth place in 2004, under the colours of Française des Jeux. In 2006, he was second in the prologue, but was forced to pull out because of sciatic problems. He started his new Italian campaign one week in advance, with a warm up at the GP Larciano and the Tour of Tuscany.

"I'm pumped! I love the Giro," he said, while looking at the marvelous landscapes of Sicily. "Six of us riding the Giro stayed together in Lucca for five days, training for the team time trial. The competition will be tight, with Slipstream and now Astana as well, but we have a big chance to win it." With the likes of Jens Voigt, Stuart O'Grady, Gustav Larsson, Nicky and Chris Anker Sørensen, Michael Blaudzun, Jason McCartney and Anders Lund around McGee, CSC will be hard to beat on the 23.6-kilometre flat course around the region's capital of Palermo.

"There's no way I'll put my hands up for GC but everything else, I'll have a crack," McGee promised. He won't be at the Tour de France for the third year in a row, but he'll ride the Dauphiné Libéré one week after the Giro. That will be his last road race prior to his Olympic track schedule. "The British riders [Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish from High Road] also have the same preparation plan with the Giro," he noticed.

Beijing will be McGee's fourth Olympics. In Atlanta, Sydney and Athens, he got a medal in the individual pursuit. He's also the defending champion with his Australian mates in the team pursuit. He might have been in search of a big result on the road for a long time now, but his days aren't over.

Rodríguez part of three-pronged Caisse team

Joaquím Rodríguez wants a stage win in the Giro
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Joaquim Rodríguez of Caisse d'Epargne assured to arrive at the Giro, which starts this Saturday, "in perfect condition, physically as well as mentally". He added that "the only fear I have is the last week. I am in form since March, and depending how things develop I could pay for that. But we'll see, with the desire to race that I have, I hope to finish well."

The Spanish team can rely on multiple strong players, with Rodríguez being joined by team-mates José Rujano and Vladimir Karpets in a shared leader's role. The reigning Spanish road champion explained that "This Giro is very tough and logically we don't have a clear leader for the overall, like Valverde or Pereiro. I think we each need to ride with liberty in our terrain and hope for the last week, which is hardest, to see how we are going."

His personal objectives are a stage victory and a good result in the general classification, but he made it clear that if having to choose, he would prefer to take an individual win over a decent GC ranking. "I would not change a stage against a place in the top five of the GC... This [a stage win] is what motivates the most – at least that's my belief. Logically, if you win a stage, it is comparable to get a great result in GC, like being in the top 10. But if you'd let me choose..."

Rodríguez will participate for the third time in the Giro, after 2001 with ONCE, in his first year as a professional, and he returned to the Corsa Rosa in 2005, with Saunier Duval. Both times he finished 80th in GC, but the GC wasn't an objective on either occasion. "I went into breaks and the intention was to win a stage," the Spaniard clarified his objectives at the time. First and foremost he wanted to "learn how to look after myself and how to recover [in a Grand Tour]."

This time, things are different, starting with the most obvious, his age. "During the Giro I will celebrate my 29th birthday, and I think I have changed a lot in those years. I consider myself a rider who knows himself much better than before and I know what I can achieve."

Going into the race he is not hiding his objectives and has already singled out some stages. And of course the pink jersey is an objective. "Let's not forget we have a good team and if we win or don't lose much time in the [team] time trial, I can fight in those finales [of the first stages] to wear pink."

Duggan finally home again

Tim Duggan is back from hospital and hotel, resting at home now
Photo ©: Rob O'Dea
(Click for larger image)

Slipstream's Timmy Duggan is finally home again, following his serious crash in the third stage of the Tour de Georgia. He suffered head injuries, as well as a broken collarbone and scapula.

The 25 year-old was released from the hospital April 28th and stayed in the Atlanta area until he was able to fly back to his home in Boulder, Colorado, on May 4. "I only raced three days at the Tour of Georgia but managed to extend my stay by an extra four days over my team-mates, who did the whole race," he wrote lightheartedly on his website, "I crashed on the third stage and promptly hitched an ambulance ride to Athens, where I hung out at the hospital for a few days and then at a hotel in Athens for another few days, until I was fit for travel."

In a more serious vein, he noted, "Dealing with travel and airports requires all my energy, believe me. I was lucky enough to have some guests take care of me in Athens. Upon hearing of my crash, my wife and my parents both hopped on a plane to Georgia to hang out with me for a few days, until I could return home. Once the race finished, one of our rock star soigneurs hung out with us in Athens for a while as well, waiting for one of our team cars to be worked on. In the meantime I slept most of the day."

His immediate plans are "for a week of sleeping and doctor's appointments. I feel well, although I'm definitely done taking pain medication…that stuff makes me feel terrible. I can barely get off the couch. I'll take some pain, at least I'll feel alive again!" (SW)

Clément Lhotellerie on the UCI's passport list?

Rumours dogging French rider

Clément Lhotellerie (Skil-Shimano) is rumoured to be one of the 23 riders who "warranted further scrutiny" as part of the UCI's blood passport scheme.

The Frenchman won the mountains jersey in Paris-Nice but has been out of action since then because of a knee injury. He returned this week for the Four Days of Dunkirk, placing second in the first stage and is currently lying in second overall.

But Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad wrote that his knee injury was a "classic excuse" to avoid falling foul of the anti-doping authorities. The paper anonymously quoted a team-mate as saying that Lhotellerie was putting the Skil-Shimano team in danger because of his "shady practices."

Skil-Shimano management say they don't know whether Lhotellerie is one of the 23 riders on the UCI's question mark list.

"Really, I can't say anything," said team manager Iwan Spekenbrink to the Dutch paper. "I'm not aware of any manipulation through one of our riders, let alone been informed or warned by the UCI that someone has been manipulating [themselves]."

In comments to AFP, Lhotellerie denied that he was one of the riders targeted by the UCI, reiterating that the reason he had missed the spring classics was because of a knee injury.(JJ)

Teams informed of suspicious riders, or not?

23 riders are under investigation for doping violations because of testing under the biological passport programme, the UCI announced last week, and the teams have been informed as to who they are. At least, one team claims that other teams have been informed, but UCI chairman Pat McQuaid has now denied that the riders are necessarily being investigated for doping, and no such notification has been sent.

"The teams involved have been informed," Gerolsteiner team manager Hans-Michael Holczer told the Suedwest-Aktiv newspaper. "Thank God, I didn't receive a letter." The two Dutch teams Rabobank and Skil-Shimano both confirmed to that they had also not received such a letter from the UCI. There's a good reason for that, McQuaid told the website, "That is correct, because we have absolutely not sent any team such a letter."

McQuaid continued, "Several tests have been done on all riders since the biological passport was set up. For these 23 riders, we found results which deviated from the normal results. That does not mean that they are suspicious. It is possible that there is a natural cause. That is why we have the biological passport, so that such things can be cleared up." (SW)

Barloworld commits to 2009

Barloworld announced the continuation of its sponsorship of Team Barloworld into 2009. The sponsorship of the professional bike team started six years ago. For its commitment, Barloworld had received numerous accolades, both in South Africa and abroad.

Chris Fisher, Head of Corporate Marketing at Barloworld, stated that "Our current team is now stronger than ever before and we have high expectations for 2008. With invitations to both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France, Team Barloworld has already achieved one of [its] objectives of being invited to two of the Grand Tours and with nine wins already under the team's belt, [it is] also well on [its] way to another successful season."

Fisher added that "Team Barloworld's focus for 2009 will be to compete for two of the four jerseys in each Grand Tour that we are invited to participate in. With this in mind, we have already secured Team Manager Claudio Corti and directeurs sportifs, Alberto Volpi and Valerio Tebaldi [for the next season].

"This sponsorship has become very public and accordingly we feel we owe it to our cyclists, employees and supporters around the world to communicate our continued commitment to the team," the Barloworld marketing head concluded.

New co-sponsor for Lampre

Lampre established an important relationship with NGC Medical Spa, a few days before the start of the Giro d'Italia. Staring with the Grand Tour around Italy, Lampre's official race jersey will spot NGC logo. There are plans to extend the sponsorship into next year.

NGC Medical is a leader in the health sector, specialising in the management of cardiology and heart surgery wards services. In addition, there are branches offering surgical devices, electromedical and telemedicine equipment and computer applications for hospital wards. NGC is also offering emergency air lifts as well as organ air transport.

"This agreement satisfies both parties," Giuseppe Saronni, Team Lampre's manager, said. "The team finds a sponsor that shows enthusiasm and passion for cycling; this is a good thing for us. NGC Medical will have the chance to live the Giro d'Italia's outstanding experience and, later in the season, support us in other races."

Berlin winner will not defend title

Michael Franzl won't defend his Tour de Berlin title
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Last year's winner of the Tour de Berlin, Michael Franzl, will not defend his title in 2008. The rider of the Mapei-Heizomat team has gotten sick and will not be able to line up at the start of the four-day race, which will start tomorrow. Franzl will be replaced by Jens Grewe.

The defending champion already felt it coming on. "I was already feeling weak and empty the last couple of weeks." After a thorough examination by the doctors, he was ordered to rest and not train for a few days. "Sure, I would have liked to started as last year's winner. But you can't pick and choose [when to get sick and when not ]," Franzl remained fairly calm about his non-start. By the end of the week he should have an exact diagnosis.

Already the race around the Henninger Turm did not go according to plan, and Franzl had to abandon, while the rest of the team rode very well. Robert Retschke was in the main break of the day for a ling time, and Kim Lachman and Sebastian Hans were able to get mountain points as well. Retschke finished in 18th place, while Hans ended up in 15th of the mountains classification.

Mapei-Heizomat will now send Sebastian Hans, Kim Lachmann, Jonas Schmeiser, Florian Völk, Daniel Westmattelmann and Jens Grewe to Berlin, hoping to take out the overall title anyway.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Bjorn Haake/

Juniors tackling Trophée centre Morbihan

Loïc Desriac won the 2007 edition of the Trophée centre Morbihan
Photo ©: Fabrice Lambert
(Click for larger image)

Le Trophée Centre Morbihan will take place this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, and will see the best juniors of France and Navarra, a province in northern Spain, as well as other foreigners. The race is held for the 15th time and is a UCI ranked event since 2002. The 2.2 juniors race will also be tackled by the US American outfit Hot Tubes.

Some of the riders who did well and are now professionals include Florent Brard (Cofidis), who won the time trial in 1994, Sébastien Joly and Benoît Vaugrenard of Française des Jeux, who won stages and Loyd Mondory (AG2R La Mondiale), who took the overall title in 2000. And another rider who ended up at Française des Jeux, who not only won two stages in 2004, but also the overall title.

The stages:

Stage 1 - May 10: Réguiny – Naizin 106.5km
Stage 2 - May 11: Réguiny Naizin(ITT) 7.2km
Stage 3 - May 11: Radenac – Locminé 95.3 km


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Fabrice Lambert

(Additional research and assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer and Jeff Jones).

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