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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News, May 13, 2008

Edited by Gregor Brown

Riccò's rough day out

Riccardo Riccò, 24, after stage three, where he crashed with 72 kilometres remaining
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

After putting his stamp of dominance on Giro d'Italia stage two to Agrigento, Italy's Riccardo Riccò fell victim to the numerous crashes in Monday's stage three to Milazzo. However, the 24 year-old leader of Saunier Duval-Scott will continue racing Tuesday in stage four with a dislocated finger and a bruised morale.

The last time "The Cobra" took a spill on Italian soil was in the Tirreno-Adriatico and it proved to be disastrous. The crash on March 14 put paid to his Milano-Sanremo participation and lessened his impact on the Ardennes Classics. This time, with 72 kilometres remaining in stage three on the island of Sicilia, Riccò pushed on with his ego in check.

One day before, the rider from Formigine (Modena) had waved his arms in the air as if saying "Look at me, I have proved you wrong" to all the Riccò naysayers. "It is not important to have friends in cycling," he stated to the press after his win. "You have to fight with the others, the best have to win. Only your team-mates are your friends in the bunch. I have no friends during the race."

The next day he was in the dirt. "I did not see the crash, I know that I only have ended with my ass on the ground yet again," said Riccò to La Gazzetta dello Sport following the stage. Riccò's right index finger was cut deeply from what he claimed to be a wheel's spoke.

"I thought that it was over," he said. "I started to cry because I did not want to lose the Giro like this. It is absurd in a stage race like this. There are curves, holes, ruts and train crossings. With a few drops of rain the roads become like ice. It was not only me, everyone was complaining. There are anti-doping controls but the course is not controlled."

Riccò pictured himself as his idol Marco Pantani as he continued despite the pain. "I would have continued even if the finger was broken," said the young rider of Saunier Duval. "I thought my bad luck was over; instead it is better to be quiet. I console myself with the fact that I have already won the stage to Agrigento – and there will be others – first I have to get back on the pedals and attack. I have learned that I have to be like my friend Pantani, who would race at the back of the group and go ahead only when there was a moment to attack."

He concluded, "The Giro is not over, but what anger."

Giro's Bianca Possoni

Italy's Morris Possoni, 23, dons the maglia bianca
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The new leader of the Giro d'Italia's younger rider classification, 23 year-old Morris Possoni, hopes to keep the maglia bianca to the race's end and win his "home" stage along the way. The Team High Road rider from Bergamo, Italy, leads over Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) and Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Scott).

"Now I have the responsibility of carrying it as far as possible," Morris stated to La Gazzetta dello Sport following the Giro d'Italia's third stage. "In fact, I will try to take it to the very end even if I know it won't be easy."

The third-year professional rides alongside fellow Bergamasco Marco Pinotti, but spent his first two years with Damiano Cunego at Team Lampre, where he never had a chance to ride in his home race. "It is an emotional adventure," he said. "The Giro has just started and there are a lot of roads to cover, with all of their difficulties. I am curious if I am able to handle three weeks."

One of his goals besides the maglia bianca is a stage near his home town of Ponte San Pietro. "Maybe something on Pora [Presolana/Monte Pora, stage 19 - ed.] – on my home roads – that would be the best. I want to see how I am going for the classification and then return to strike big."

Catching the boat – or not...

After the Giro d'Italia's third stage on Monday, the riders faced a short transfer over to the mainland for Tuesday's stage. Nice and easy, right? Well, not really.

"We have a 90-minute transfer with the ferry and then have to drive to the hotel. It will be very late and our regeneration will, of course, suffer," complained Gerolsteiner's Johannes Fröhlinger on "So the riders are angry. Just hope that the ferry doesn't forget anyone."

Well, don't be surprised if you see David Millar, Ryder Hesjedal and Christian Vande Velde of Team Slipstream late at the start today. "After the finish we were supposed to get on buses and be taken to ferries," Millar noted on the team's website, "We showered in a building that resembles a prison. Then the buses are full so we're left there in a parking lot. They put me, Ryder and Christian in cars with the mechanics to go back with them as this will be quicker.

"So we thought. This proves to be a mistake as we end up going to another port and have no idea what's going on. Eventually we get going by which time the other guys are on a different boat from another port! It's now 22:11 and we're still in the car," he said.

Millar was involved in one of the yesterday's crashes, in a rather odd way. "Forty kilometres from the finish, there was a massive pile up. Miraculously I didn't hurt myself, but the impact was so great it ripped my foot out of my shoe. That was a first. I was left tiptoeing through the bodies and bikes looking for my shoe. Surreal."

At least one of Fröhlinger's Gerolsteiner team-mates was involved in the day's crashes, but that was a rider who has had more than his share of crashes. Andrea Molette went down early in the race. "Since his bad crash in Milano-Sanremo last year, where he broke his leg, he is always a bit worried when it starts to rain. Today's crash surely set him back mentally. We'll have to build him back up." (SW)

Giro d'Italia classifications demystified

The coveted maglia rosa
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Most seasoned cycling fans have a grasp on the major Tour de France competitions, but the classifications of the Giro d'Italia can leave even the most veteran commentators scratching their heads. With a dozen separate classifications, it's easy to get confused. Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo explains how each competition works and more!

To wear any special jersey in the Giro d'Italia is a great honour - one which all riders dream of gaining. If a rider takes the lead in one of the jersey classifications, they get to stand proudly on the podium, get flowers and trophies as well as kisses from the podium girls after the stage. But more importantly the riders who lead either the overall classification or points, mountains or best young rider competition at the end of the stage get to wear a distinctively coloured tunics on the next stage as they defend their position.

How exactly the jerseys are awarded can be a bit mystifying at times, especially when there is a tie, but your friends at Cyclingnews are here to decipher the regulations and give some insight as to why the riders battle so hard for each sprint and mountain.

It turns out that the overall winner takes home more in accolades than he does in cash: "only" € 90,000 goes to the man on the top step in Milan, compared to the € 450,000 on offer to the Tour de France champion. However, most of the competitions come with daily prizes as well as a bonus for winning the final classification – so in order to cha-ching that cash register, a rider needs to win a few stages along the way, too.

About two-thirds of the total prize purse comes in daily stage prizes - over half a million euros! Cash primes are awarded at each intermediate sprint, mountain sprint, and for stage finishes down to 20th place - starting at €11,000. The overall leader gets € 1,000 per day for the pink jersey, the other three jerseys are awarded € 500 per day, and there is money for the most combative rider, the "breakaway" rider as well as two team prizes each and every day.

So the fight isn't just for the overall win in Milano - it's a daily battle to bring home the bacon and to make the sponsors happy for all the special attention.

Maglia Rosa (Overall Jersey)

Pellizotti in pink
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Maglia rosa is the most sought after jersey in the Giro d'Italia. Signifying the leader in the general classification, the shirt inspires even the most manly of men to want to wear pink. But why pink? The jersey colour is the signature shade of the sponsoring newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sport, whose pages are printed on pink paper.

The jersey is awarded after each stage to the rider with lowest cumulative time. If the top riders are tied exactly on time (for instance, in the team time trial), then the jersey is decided by the riders' position in the stage finish. Should riders be tied on time on the final stage (highly unlikely!), the GC will be determined by the fractions of seconds in the individual time trials. If it is still a tie, the lowest sum of stage finishes throughout the Giro will break the time, and should that fail, the position on the final stage will be the definitive factor.

If a rider holds the lead in another classification other than the overall, he must wear the pink jersey. His other jersey will go to the second placed rider in that classification.

Maglia Ciclamino (Sprinter's Jersey)

The Maglia Ciclamino derives its name from the Cyclamen flower, which has a purple color. Similar to the Tour de France green jersey, the Maglia Ciclamino is the domain of the sprinters, and is determined by points earned on the finishing line of each day's stage. The rider with the most consistent finishes throughout the race is awarded with the final purple jersey.

Read the complete Giro d'Italia feature.

Valverde already thinking of the Tour

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Spain's Alejandro Valverde, 28, is ready to get serious
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Having won the Liège-Bastogne-Liège for the second time, and in such a dominating manner, is a more than ample reason for Spain's Alejandro Valverde to be happy. This weekend, at the Clásica Alcobendas, the 28 year-old Team Caisse d'Epargne racer noted that he spent the first half of his season at a little more relaxed pace than normal.

"I am very much satisfied with the results achieved and with the manner in which they have been, as well as how I have felt."

The Tour de France, the Olympic Games in Beijing, the World Championships and the Vuelta a España... Does it seem like too much? "I have already taken a break after contesting the April classics, and now I am ready to race the second half of the season with greater intensity... . I must be ambitious and take risks," he said to Cyclingnews.

Coming up on

Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

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Valverde will be a strong bet for a podium finish in the Tour de France when it concludes in Paris, but he is watching his potential rivals. "At the moment, I think that Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Denis Menchov and Damiano Cunego have demonstrated that they are capable of fighting in the Tour at a very high level. It will be an open competition, with great rivals and a very demanding route, especially with its passage through the Alps."

He will participate in the Dauphiné Libéré from June 8 to 15, before arriving at the start of the Tour de France. Oscar Pereiro, Xabier Zandio, José Vicente Garcia and Luis León Sánchez will be with him to give him support in the French Grand Tour.

First professional win for Bernardo Riccio

Bernardo Riccio took his first win amongst the professional ranks. The 23 year-old Italian from Napoli won stage three of the Clásica Alcobendas over Ireland's Nicolas Roche (Crédit Agricole).

"We had set up a good sprint, launched at 250 metres to go," explained the Tinkoff Credit Systems rider in a team press release. "The team did a huge about of work and they deserve this victory."

The win marks the Italian Professional Continental team's fourth win of the year.

Germans win for Austrian teams

Austrian teams provided the local winners for the German race Neuseen Classics "Rund um die Braunkohle" Monday. Elk Haus' Steffen Radochla took the win ahead of Team Volksbank's Olaf Pollack.

"It was simply wonderful to win here," said Radochla. "A lot of people were hoping and expecting that I would win, and I put a lot of pressure on myself. The team worked outstandingly all day and it is great that it all worked out with the win."

Pollack's second place was Volksbank's best season result to date. "Our first podium place this season, and with such a good team performance," said Directeur Sportif Gregor Gut. "Tactically it was a great race. We need to work on the details in the sprint, though."

"A great result, especially for me here at home," said Pollack.

An 11-man strong escape group stayed away much of the race, but they were never more than two minutes ahead of the peloton. The break was caught with 30 kilometres remaining, thereby setting up the peloton for a mass-sprint finish. (SW)

Australian team for junior road World Championships

Cycling Australia confirmed Tuesday the Australian road team which will contest the Junior World Championships to be staged in Capetown, South Africa, from July 12 to 20.

The riders are Rohan Dennis, Michael Freiberg, Michael Hepburn, Alastair Loutit and Michael Matthews. Freiberg, Hepburn, Loutit and Matthews will travel to Europe in late June for a number of races after which selectors will nominate the starting riders for the road race and time trial in South Africa. Dennis will join the track team training camp and has been selected for the road team to contest the time trial only.

Zoe Appel, Chloe Hosking, Lauren Kitchen and Sophie Ootes are the selected women.

(Additional research and assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer).

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