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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News, May 9, 2008

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

CSC targets team time trial & Best Young Rider

Danish Team CSC is lining up at the Giro d'Italia full of hopes for some good results. Indeed, sports director Kim Andersen is confident his riders (Michael Blaudzun, Gustav Larsson, Anders Lund, Jason McCartney, Bradley McGee, Stuart O'Grady, Nicki Sørensen, Chris Anker Sørensen and Jens Voigt) will bring home several victories.

"We have a good stable line-up with riders who're certainly capable of creating some exciting moments in this race," he said. "Not that I'm expecting us to win the entire Giro, but I definitely think we'll be able to make our mark on a lot of the stages, as well as be part of a lot of the breaks and maybe win a couple of stages."

Andersen also revealed that Team CSC has a special focus on the first stage of the three-week race, this upcoming Saturday. "I have a dream of winning the team time trial, which is the first stage," he added.

Chris Anker Sørensen (CSC)
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

The Danish team managed by Bjarne Riis has enrolled several young hopefuls in the event this year. Andy Schleck, who took a surprising second place last year as well as the white Best Young Rider's Jersey, is not part of the Giro line-up in 2008. Still, it remains one of the squad's main objectives.

"Gustav Larsson and Chris Anker Sørensen will both be trying for the overall result and I definitely think Chris has a chance in the youth competition," commented Andersen. "But we'll have to wait and see which of our young talents prove the strongest in the long run."

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Chris Anker Sørensen himself was cautious, even though his 19th place in last year's Vuelta a España provides a certain indication of his capabilities in a Grand Tour. The 23 year-old feared that his rivals could be hard competition. "The peloton seems stronger here in the Giro than in the Vuelta, but on the other hand I'll get entirely free hands here," he said. "My goal is to make the top 20 and while I'm out there battling for a good overall result of course I'll also have my eye on the White Jersey, but off the top of my head I think Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) will be extremely hard to beat."

Several team's expectations and tactics for the race probably changed not long ago, when Giro organisers invited the Kazakh-backed formation of Astana at the very last minute. With three Grand Tour specialists in its ranks (Alberto Contador, Andreas Klöden and Levi Leipheimer), the squad seems very competitive on paper.

"I don't think it's an advantage for us because [the race] might be more predictable with Astana participating," added Andersen. "We would like to try and open up the race as much as possible with aggressive tactics in order to win some stages and we'll still attempt to do so."

Nuyens looking for a stage win

By Shane Stokes in Palermo

Nick Nuyens (Cofidis)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Many of those who targeted the spring Classics have eased back on their racing with a view to building back up for the Tour de France, but Nick Nuyens will be competing in the Giro d'Italia and trying to take a stage.

The 28 year-old Cofidis rider was second on home soil in both Het Volk and the Tour of Flanders, and now turns his attention to three weeks of Italian racing. "I think I am ready but it is a really hard Giro," he told Cyclingnews at the teams' presentation on Thursday evening. "In the first week there are possibilities for riders like me, but it will be a difficult race."

Nuyens had an unscheduled chance to recharge his batteries after the Northern Classics. "I had some problems with my knee after Flanders and also in Roubaix. I took a break of one week... you lose a bit [of form], but not too much.

"I then started again in Romandie. I got my rhythm back, and I think now I am ready. I will have to see how long it will last, but I hope I have form for the three weeks."

After the Giro, he is likely to take a break and then do the Vuelta as preparation for the World Championships. According to Nuyens, he is unlikely to ride the Tour de France this year.

Australian champion motivated to ride well

By Shane Stokes in Palermo

Matthew Lloyd (Silence-Lotto)
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

One year after finishing 61st in his first Giro d'Italia, Matthew Lloyd (Silence-Lotto) returns to the race hoping to build on that debut. Previously third overall in the 2006 Baby Giro, the 24 year-old Australian national champion knows that the experience of finishing last year's Italian Tour will stand to him this time round, and make high placings on stages more possible.

"Obviously being such a long Tour, you have got to take it day by day," he told Cyclingnews. "The form has been pretty good leading into the race. I am looking forward to the mountain stages, obviously, and I suppose it is a pretty open book until we reach the stages where it is going to unfold."

Lloyd was seventh overall in the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali, then went on to place fifth on stage four of the Vuelta al País Vasco, 25th in both the Amstel Gold race and Flèche Wallonne, and 16th in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Those results plus a solid week of training after the Classics give him confidence.

"I am optimistic, and hopefully I can find myself in a good position and be strong enough to be there on at least a couple of the days. If not, we will see what happens leading in towards the end of the Giro.

"I would love to try to come in the top ten [on stages], but it is obviously one of those races where the variables and everything like the weather and crashes come into play as well. It should be good, I am optimistic about it and the team is really strong."

Wegelius: Liquigas will have more freedom

By Shane Stokes in Palermo

Last year the Liquigas team rode the race for Danilo Di Luca, helping the Italian take the Maglia Rosa and then defending it all the way to the finish in Milan. British rider Charly Wegelius was one of those and said that while Di Luca's departure to LPR meant that the race would be different this time round, the acid green squad are still aiming high.

"The goal for the team is still to win," he said. "I think we can win stages with several riders. I think we can do a good race because we probably won't have so much responsibility to control the race."

Wegelius is a decent climber and could have the chance to shine if he got into the right breakaway. He said he didn't know what to expect as regards any personal goals, but felt that his condition was solid. "My preparation for the race has been really good. I haven't been sick. I've raced less than before, but I think it has worked out quite well."

Following the race, he will go on to ride the Tour of Switzerland and the Vuelta a España. He's as yet unsure about his Olympics participation as he is waiting to hear from British Cycling about their plans.

Henninger Turm latest German victim

Doping at the heart of the problems

Doping - No Thanks is the underlying slogan for the 2008 Henninger race
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Judging by the throngs of people following the Henninger Turm - traditionally held on May 1, Labour Day in Germany - from the side of the roads, one would not imagine that the race is troubled. Yet, race organiser Bernd Moos-Achenbach has not found a main sponsor yet and his race appears to be the latest in trouble of continuing, as Cyclingnews' Bjorn Haake reveals.

The race Rund um den Henninger Turm ('around the Henninger tower') has been a mainstay in German cycling ever since its inception in 1962. The race has resisted pressure to move its traditional May 1 date in a quest to get added to the World Cup series in the past. And it still features not only a professional event, but races for all categories, all the way down to the under nine kids, which had an early start of 7:15 this year.

A total of 16 races make it a unique event and even a 'roller skater vs. bicyclist' competition has been incorporated to entertain the spectators while they wait for the professional cracks to arrive. It sounds like a no-brainer for sponsors to support the event, but the doping discussion has made potential money backers prudent, at least in cycling. Germany is currently feeling the brunt of it, with three races (Niedersachsenrundfahrt, 3-Länder Tour and Friedensfahrt/Peace Race) already cancelled and the Regio Tour having to go back to its original amateur format, starting with the 2009 edition.

Moos-Achenbach is currently lacking 250,000 euro in his budget. Despite the funding problems he reasoned, "The race is very important for the Rhein-Main area [urban economic area defined by the two rivers - ed.]. We also want to continue to ride through the Taunus [hilly area to the north east of Frankfurt - ed.]. That is why I don't think this race should vanish." He also pointed out after the event, "Today, we had again an unbelievable amount of spectators. It would terrible if this race wouldn't happen in 2009, but I am hopeful that we will find a sponsor."

He has plans to talk with a couple of potential supporters in the next couple of weeks, so the race is not completely scrapped yet.

Despite the fact that the race is trying very hard to support any anti-doping programme, it is very difficult to attract sponsors. The organisers for the Frankfurt race have launched a nine-point plan in the fight against doping and immediately reacted to the news that Liquigas had signed Ivan Basso, who was suspended in the connection with the Eufemiano Fuentes Operación Puerto affair. Moos-Achenbach revoked the invitation to the Italian team as soon as the news about the Italian's signing surfaced.

When Liquigas revealed it wanted to leave the International Association of Professional Cycling teams (AIGCP) in a recent meeting by the association, a strong discussion started, with Liquigas at the centre of the attention, having violated the voluntary rule of not signing a rider into the ProTour for four years from the start of his doping suspension. Liquigas Team Manager Robert Amadio then offered to leave the AIGCP, which Eric Boyer, president of the AIGCP, answered by saying, "You are excluded." Gerolsteiner's manager Hans-Michael Holczer added, "This was great [by Eric Boyer]. But that is all we can do. They have not violated any laws." The German explained the difficulty of the complete fight against doping, as long as there are teams who will not honour the Code de Conduite, referring to the voluntary ethics code of the International Cycling Union (UCI).

Find out more about the future of German's trademark one-day race.

Hoste to stay at Silence-Lotto

Spring Classics specialist Leif Hoste looks to remain with the Silence-Lotto team through the next two years. According to Sportwereld, the rider had "very productive talks" with the team management on Wednesday this week, and the signing of an extending contract is reported to be a mere question of details. The man who has three second places in the Tour of Flanders on his palmarès would thus continue to hope for a breakthrough in the team managed by Marc Sergeant, who reportedly also wants to strengthen his Ardennes Classics roster and is currently trying to sign Philippe Gilbert as well as Tom Stubbe from Francaise des Jeux.

Gilbert has been racing for the French team since 2002, and told La Dernière Heure that he was "not in a hurry" to make up his mind on his professional future. "I've had a lot of requests, even Saunier Duval contacted me," he said. "Now, I'm waiting for all the proposals to come in. Once I have received them, I will be able to think about it concretely. But that can still take some time."

Milram's Tour de France pre-selection

Team Milram has announced its 12-man pre-selection for the Tour de France, which will be led by German sprinter Erik Zabel. The pre-selection list, which was submitted to Tour de France organiser ASO Thursday evening, featured six German riders. Also on the list are two of the team's youngsters, U23 World Champion Peter Velits and Niki Terpstra, both 23 years old. The final selection of nine will be made at the end of June.

The 12 riders are Markus Eichler, Ralf Grabsch, Andrey Grivko, Christian Knees, Brett Lancaster, Martin Müller, Alberto Ongarato, Björn Schröder, Niki Terpstra, Peter Velits, Marco Velo and Erik Zabel.

Sydney accident driver on defense

The man who caused the latest major road rage accident in Sydney, Australia earlier this week, explained himself on radio station Macquarie Radio on Friday morning, saying he was "not a cyclist hater", and attributing the crash to an engine problem with his car.

The motorist braked suddenly in front of a group of around 50 cyclists, including professional cyclists Kate Nichols and Olympic hopeful Ben Kersten, on Thursday morning. The abrupt manoeuvre and the speed of the group sent more than half of the riders to the ground, injuring some 20 persons and causing considerable damage to the cycling equipment. The driver, whose action was considered as intentional by witnesses, then accelerated away from the scene.

The man, who only identified himself as 'Jason', said he was questioned by police on Thursday morning at 9am. But he claimed he did not provoke the accident deliberately, saying that an engine failure made him stop his vehicle. "I just got a car two days ago that is a gas and petrol thing - and it backfired, the airbox popped," he said, adding that his car "stalled", forcing him to pull up partly in the emergency lane and partly in the left-hand lane.

"I've pulled over, I had time to put my hazard lights on, put it into park, go to start it in petrol, half a dozen maybe 15 cyclists rode past me, and then all of a sudden one or two went bang bang into the back of my car," he said.

'Jason' and his girlfriend then drove off by switching the car from gas to petrol. "(They were) all looking at me like I'm an idiot and calling me names. I thought, 'I'm not getting out of the car with 50 blokes wanting to hit me.' I just drove off."

Injured rider Ben Kersten, whose Olympic preparation is seriously hampered by the accident, rang the radio station immediately afterwards and said 'Jason' was a liar. "You're a lying dog. You are a liar and you are going to get caught for it," he said, while Jason remained on the line. "You were doing 60 kilometres an hour and then stopped to zero ... what you did was ridiculous. Who takes off after they accidentally cause such damage - who isn't remorseful?"

Meanwhile, the cyclists involved in the accident are considering a class action against the driver to recoup the cost of their damaged equipment, according to the AAP. Speaking on another radio station, Fairfax, one of the riders said he estimated the damage to be over $50,000. Identifying himself as Glen from Cronulla, the man said he had been at the back of the pack when the driver swerved in front of them.

"We're really lucky the physical injuries weren't so much, but the cost has been - and I'm keeping a tally because there will be a class action in relation to this - is up over $50,000," he said.

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