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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, May 14, 2008

Edited by Greg Johnson

Manxman takes finest victory

Team High Road's Mark Cavendish, 22, took his first win in a Grand Tour
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Great Britain's Mark Cavendish (Team High Road) has labeled his Giro d'Italia stage victory as his finest to date. The Manxman timed his final move perfectly and easily over-took Daniele Bennati (Liquigas), thundering to his first ever Grand Tour stage victory in Catanzaro Lungomare.

"This the biggest win of my career," said Cavendish. "To come to the Giro and win is big for any rider and it's made sweeter by the way the team worked. The only thing I could do was finish it off with a win."

Cavendish revealed the team's tactics, which saw the youngster claim the Giro stage ahead of Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner) and previous stage winner Bennati.

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"I spoke to the team before the stage and said I need everybody with me before the climb," he said. "They did a perfect job to keep me at the front before the climb and then went full gas to get me back to the front."

The 22 year-old said that while a long way back, he wasn't affected by the crash which marred the finish. Cavendish also boldly claimed to be quicker than Italian rival Bennati due to his youth.

"I wasn't affected by the crash in the final kilometre but I was back in 10th place," he said. "Fortunately Tony Martin did a perfect job and took me to third. Bennati went at the right moment but I beat him because I'm younger and I'm quicker in the final 100 metres of sprints."

The victory was Cavendish's sixth of 2008 and takes his win tally to an impressive 18 since turning profession at the start of 2007. Cavendish took the cycling world by storm in 2007, amassing an incredible 11 victories in his first year which included winning the Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen and stages of the Eneco Tour, Post Danmark Rundt, Quatre Jours de Dunkerque and Tour of Britain, amongst other events.

Cavendish caused such a sensation in his debut season as a professional that the T-Mobile squad drafted him into its Tour de France roster. Despite his strong form Cavendish struggled at his Grand Tour debut, but is again proving his case for Tour selection with his first Grand Tour win.

The youngster is unlikely to get another shot at Giro glory until Saturday's sprint stage, with the next few stages not suited to sprinters. Stage five is one for a long escape thanks to its rolling parcours.

Those who make it free on today's stage won't have time to enjoy seaside views as the road winds along the shore in the first 42 kilometres to Praia a Mare, and it will only get worse when the parcours turns inland for the climb of Fortino. The arrival in Contursi Terme – a first time host of a Giro finish – suits a rider like Italy's Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner).

Leipheimer hopes to keep building form

By Shane Stokes in Catanzaro-Lungomare, Italy

Levi Leipheimer (Astana) will head into the Giro d'Italia's fifth stage in 23rd position overall, 40 seconds back. He's relatively satisfied with his performance thus far, saying that he expects to become stronger as the race progresses.

"I feel okay, we will see," he told Cyclingnews immediately after the finish of Stage four. "I definitely need some time to...well, I am a rider who usually does well in the third week, when everybody else gets tired."

The race is a new experience for him, and he's already noticed that the pattern is quite different to events such as the Tour de France.

"It is my first Giro so I am kind of learning," he said. "It really is nervous at the end – we go pretty easy most of the day, then that climb that we had [near the end] was pretty hard. I am surprised so many riders got over it. That is because everybody is fresh.

"We went up really fast," he added. "So far, it has been pretty dangerous due to the roads, although today wasn't too bad."

The United States of America National Champion also confirmed that he is one of many riders who are unhappy with the amount of post-stage travelling. However he was diplomatic, choosing not to elaborate. "The transfers have been hard," he said. "I am not going to say much more than that, though – we are happy to be here."

Astana had just one week to prepare a squad for the Italian race and arrive at the event's start in Palermo. The squad had been left out of the event as Giro organiser RCS Sport stood with Tour de France organiser ASO in boycotting the team following a tumultuous 2007.

RCS Sport changed its stance against the team following a string of early season successes that has seen the squad take the ProTour teams ranking lead. Astana took the place of NGC Medical-OTC Industria Porte, which had originally been named to compete in the event.

Riccò's Giro hopes ride on hand improvement

Riccardo Riccò signs autographs
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Scott) continues to battle with a hand injury at the Giro d'Italia. The Italian rider is hopeful the injury will improve before the event enters the mountain stages, in order for the rider to be a contender for the maglia rosa when the race arrives in Milano on June 1.

"My hand hurt during the race, but I overcame pain and reached the finish line," said Riccò after stage four. "I hope I'll get better; otherwise I'll have a rough time in the mountains, when I have to stand on my bike and press hard on the handlebar."

The Saunier Duval-Scott rider was concerned he would become involved in another crash on Stage four. Riccò was able to avoid a bunch of riders that came down ahead of him on the 183-kilometre stage to Catanzaro-Lungomare.

"When I saw the crash ahead of me, I though I'd wind up on the floor again, but I easily dodged the falling men," he explained.

Riccò has been critical of the route for this year's Italian Grand Tour. He hit out at the amount of curves, holes, ruts and train crossings in the 2008 course which has caused frequent crashes on nearly every stage of the event to date. Team CSC's Brad McGee and Stuart O'Grady were forced to withdraw, both with broken collarbones, after being involved in crashes on the same stage as Riccò.

Saunier Duval-Scott sports director Pietro Algeri said no new examinations would take place on his team leader's hand unless the injury got worse. Riccò was cleared of any break to his hand after having x-rays on Monday night.

"Riccò suffered today, but we'd expected this to happen," said Pietro Algeri. "I'd told him he'd feel the pain for a couple of days. If things don't get worse, no new X-rays will be taken of his hand."

O'Grady to come back bigger, better

Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC) jumped back on
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC) has vowed to bounce back bigger and better after breaking his collarbone at the Giro d'Italia this week. While O'Grady was critical of others riding, he said the setback was just another challenge he will conquer.

"It's just bad luck and there's nothing you can do about it," he said. "Some guys just make stupid mistakes and ride like idiots and when they go down they take you with them and you can't do anything about it.

"I keep coming back from these things – it's like a little challenge," added O'Grady. "Everything happens for a reason because each time I come back bigger and better."

O'Grady said he would re-align his focus on the Tour de France following the injury. The Australian's 2007 season ended prematurely at last year's Tour, with an accident leaving the Paris-Roubaix winner with multiple rib fractures, a punctured lung and broken right shoulder.

"It's frustrating because my form was great and I was feeling good," said O'Grady. "I was looking forward to riding it [Giro] but will now go back to the original plan of [Tours of] Luxembourg and Switzerland then the team training camp before the Tour [de France]."

The 34 year-old described his broken collarbone as a good break. He expects to return to training later this week with the aim of racing again in a few weeks time.

"I've busted them all a few times [collar bones] and this one is a good break if you can call it that," said O'Grady. "I got to the finish on pure adrenalin and then it kicked in but I should be back training in a few days."

The South Australian's compatriot, team-mate and fellow Olympic Games hopeful Brad McGee also broke his collarbone on the same stage but in a separate incident. O'Grady, who has contested the last four Olympic Games, won't know what August's Beijing Olympics will hold for him until June, when Cycling Australia nominates cyclists to the Australian Olympic Committee who will select the cycling team for Beijing.

McGee could sit out for a month

Brad McGee (Team CSC) receives some medical attention
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Brad McGee (Team CSC) is expected to miss at least four weeks of competition after breaking his collarbone on the Giro d'Italia's fourth stage. McGee was disappointed with the injury, which has come at time when he was in top but is hopeful it won't hinder his plans for the Tour de France and Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

"This time it's my right collar bone which I last broke when I was a junior," said McGee, who was on his way to catch a flight back to his European home in Monaco. "I'll limp back and get the doctors there to have a look at it."

The Australian rider crashed in the final 20 kilometres of the stage to Milazzo. The 32 year-old withdrew from the event immediately and was transported to a nearby hospital by ambulance.

"Sitting in the ambulance going to hospital I was not in a good state but as soon as I cleaned up, put a sling on and stood up I thought okay that's done, let's move forward," said McGee.

"I was in super form and I was feeling fantastic," said McGee. "It was my time to 'make hay' and now I've been sat on my arse a little bit.

The Olympic champion hopes the doctors will pun the break, allowing him to race again in a few weeks time. If the doctors decide against pinning it, McGee could be out for a month.

"So it's not so bad and I know the process with these sorts of injuries," said McGee.

It's not the first time McGee has experienced a broken collar bone during an Olympic year. He broke his left collarbone just weeks before claiming an individual pursuit bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

Triple Crown announce women's teams

InaYoka Teutenberg
Photo ©: Team High Road
(Click for larger image)

Organisers of the Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling have announced the 20 professional women's teams that will contest a three-race battle in southeastern Pennsylvania in early June. At stake is a $34,000 prize purse that includes $5000 for the overall series winner.

Battling for the big payday will be a talented field of six-rider squads that includes three of Europe's top teams, plus the cream of the crop from the American racing scene. As usual the marquee event of the series will be June 8's Liberty Classic, which is celebrating its 15th running on the historic streets of downtown Philadelphia.

The overwhelming favourite to capture Liberty gold will be defending champion and two-time winner Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Team High Road). The German sprinting sensation is on fine form once again, already taking an impressive third at the season opening World Cup in Geelong, Australia. Teutenberg will be backed by the powerful Team High Road squad, sister outfit to the dominant men's team and No. 1 in the most recent World Cup rankings.

"Ina will definitely be our plan A," confirmed Kristy Scrymgeour, High Road's communications manager. "Our main concern is making sure no one gets away on the last trip up Lemon Hill. If we can keep the race together Ina will be hard to beat in a sprint."

High Road also boasts American stars Mara Abbott and Kim Anderson. A year ago, the 22-year-old Abbott was the revelation of pro peloton, winning a stage of the Redlands Classic, the national road race championship, and scoring a silver at the Montreal World Cup. All that happened while she was still devoting time to swimming and college. This year, the young American is fully focused on cycling, with her eyes trained on the Summer Olympics in Beijing.

The biggest threat to High Road will be Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung, and its own fast finisher, Deutschland native Regina Schleicher. Schleicher was world champion on the road in 2005 and won the Liberty Classic a year later. Nürnberger was second in the most recent World Cup standings.

Swiss-based Cervelo-Lifeforce are the newcomers to the Liberty Classic, but that doesn't mean they're coming only for the experience. Led by 2006 world time trial champion Kristin Armstrong, Cervelo-Lifeforce has the best chance of derailing another German blitzkrieg.

Since 1996, only two non-Germans have won this prestigious women's event, the last coming in 2003 when Canadian Lyne Bessette snuck away during the final climb of Lemon Hill and held her advantage all the way to the finish. Armstrong, a non-sprinter who was second in this year's Tour of Flanders, will need a similar scenario to unfold if she's to become the first American to win the Liberty Classic.

Webcor Builders could also make some noise during the Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling. The California-based team started 2008 with a bang when team rider Katheryn Mattis scored a breakthrough win at the Geelong World Cup in late February. That victory celebration was muted a week later when Mattis broke her collarbone after crashing at the Tour of New Zealand. Nonetheless, Webcor's international aspirations remain. The 2007 National Racing Calendar team champion spent much of its spring campaign in Europe, helping team leader – and rheumatology doctor – Christine Thorburn pursue a spot on the U.S. Olympic Games team.

Women's teams for Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling: Team High Road - Women (GER), Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team (SUI), Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung (GER), Webcor Builders Cycling Team (USA), Aaron's Women's Professional Cycling Team (USA), BMW-Bianchi (USA), (USA), Cheerwine Cycling (USA), Colavita/Sutter Home p/b Cooking Light (USA), HPC Powered by Altarum (USA), Hub Racing (USA), Jazz Apple Cycling Team (NZL), Juice Plus+ Women's Cycling Team (USA), PROMAN Racing (USA), Team Advil/Chapstick (USA), Team Kenda Tire (USA), Team Tibco (USA), ValueAct Capital Cycling Team (USA) and Vanderkitten Racing (USA).

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