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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, May 17, 2008

Edited by Sue George

First mountain test for Giro contenders

Bosisio wins while Visconti holds on to Maglia Rosa

By Shane Stokes in Pescocostanzo, Italy

Italian rider Gabriele Bosisio (LPR Brakes) celebrates
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

After two days of shadowing each other, the race favourites finally threw down the gauntlet on Friday's 180 kilometre stage seven to the summit finish of Pescocostanzo in the Giro d'Italia. Defending champion Danilo Di Luca is from the area and had indicated days beforehand that he wanted to win, but instead it was his LPR Brakes team-mate and winner of the Giro d'Oro Gabriele Bosisio who triumphed. The 27 year-old won ahead of Bielorussia's Vasil Kiryienka (Tinkoff Credit Systems), Italy's Emanuele Sella (CSF Group Navigare) and Colombia's Félix Rafael Cárdenas (Barloworld).

The Italian was part of a large break which went clear very early in the day and he, Kiryienka, Sella and Rafael Cárdenas turned the screw on the day's penultimate climb of Pietransieri.

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Cárdenas was dropped inside the final ten kilometres, Sella suffered a flat tyre and Bosisio shed Kiryienka to finish 46 seconds clear. Behind, Di Luca, Riccardo Riccò, Leonardo Piepoli (both Saunier Duval - Scott) and 2007 Tour de France champion Alberto Contador (Astana) rocketed clear of the other favourites and finished in that order, with Di Luca and Riccò crossing the line two minutes and four seconds behind Bosisio and the other two three and six seconds back, respectively.

Race leader Italian champion Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Race leader Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) was dropped on the climb and conceded one minute and 48 seconds to Di Luca, but had enough time in hand to hold on to the maglia rosa. What's more, he extended his lead over Matthias Russ (Gerolsteiner) to nine seconds. The 25 year-old Visconti finished four minutes back from the winner.

"We didn't know that this break would take so much time, it was a surprise for us," said an elated Bosisio after the stage. "When I was in it, Di Luca asked me if my legs were okay. I said yes, so they let me make my race. They were very confident with me today."

He was asked about the fact that he won, thus denying Di Luca the chance to triumph in his local region. Bosisio said that the team's plan changed during the stage and the leader was happy with the final outcome. "It is true that Danilo wanted to win this stage but he has a bigger project, to win the Giro d'Italia," he said. "There was no problem, I had to go in the break this morning. Then Di Luca was to attack in the final of the stage. So we did as we were supposed to do.

"He let me ride for the win and I think he is happy with the result. Also he is satisfied because he realised his form is okay as he rode well. Now I will help him, the Giro is long."

Unfortunate puncture for Sella

Emanuele Sella (CSF Group)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

CSF Group Navigare's Emanuele Sella had an unfortunately timed flat during stage seven of the Giro d'Italia on Friday. Sella was in a break away with the winner and five others. However, with just seven kilometres to go, eventual winner Gabriele Bosisio (LPR Brakes - Ballan) attacked on the final climb when Sella punctured.

"It was a shame, because I had 180 kilometres to have a puncture, and unfortunately it happened at few kilometres to go," said a sad Sella who was tearfully disappointed after the race. "I felt very good and the victories in the KOMs [along the way] were a signal. I preferred my chances against Bosisio."

Bosisio, winner of the road race at the Olympic test event in Beijing last summer, was questioned about surging when the new KOM leader Sella had a flat. He denied that there was anything unsporting going on. "I didn't know he had a puncture just when I attacked. I was surprised that he wasn't with me, I knew only after the finish that he had a puncture. I don't know who would have won between us if we were together going for the win. We are very different."

Putting it in perspective, Sella said, "Anyway, my Giro doesn't finish today, and now I have a good GC classification, the green jersey. For a stage victory, there will be other days." Sella ended up third for the day, with a gap of 1'02" to winner Bosisio, and he sits in fifth overall at 7'36" behind maglia rosa Visconti.

Tinkoff trackie takes talent to the road

Vasil Kiryienka (Tinkoff Credit Systems)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Tinkoff's Vasil Kiryienka showed he track talent does in fact carry over to the road in Friday's stage seven of the Giro d'Italia with a second place finish behind LPR Brake's Gabriele Bosisio.

With 84 kilometres left to race, he found himself in a breakaway with Fortunato Baliani (CSF Group Navigare), Simon Spilak (Lampre), Félix Rafael Cárdenas (Barloworld), Gabriele Bosisio (LPR Brakes), Emanuele Sella (CSF Group Navigare), and Joan Horrach (Caisse d'Epargne). When Bosisio attacked the remnants of the break with two kilometres to go, he gained a 42 second gap on Kiryienka to claim the stage, but the Belorussian, who is the world champion in the points race, held tough to take second.

"We are here to win stages, and we will continue to do so," said Tinkoff Credit Systems team manager Orlando Maini. "Today, Kiryienka put in a maximum effort, and despite the attack of Bosisio, he continued to push himself to finish second. Vasil rode beautifully today, and proved that his talents on the track have translated to the road."

See Cyclingnews' complete coverage of stage seven of the Giro d'Italia.

Milram terminates contract with Petacchi

Italy's Alessandro Petacchi (Milram), 34, faces a one year suspension for excessive use of Salbutamol, an asthma drug
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Team Milram announced Friday evening that it has terminated its contract with sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, effective immediately, in light of the Court of Arbitration for Sport's ruling that he had violated doping regulations.

"Every breach of our team policy is going to be penalized," said Gerry van Gerwen, the team's general manager. At the team presentation in January, van Gerwen announced that the team policy was "An immediate suspension in case of a doping suspicion and an immediate dismissal in case of a confirmed doping case."

The CAS ruled on May 6 that Petacchi did not cheat or abuse his asthma medication Salbutamol, but that he was nevertheless in breach of UCI anti-doping regulations. It ordered him suspended for one year, with two months suspended. The ban runs from November 1, 2007, to August 31, 2008.

"Team Milram's policy regarding the breach of UCI rules by any team member is such that team Milram and Mr. Petacchi have decided to terminate the contract. The parties have discussed the consequences of the termination and came to a mutual settlement," according to the team's press release.

The team's sponsor, Nordmilch AG, supported the team's action. "Our position is clear: We explicitly disapprove of any kind of doping. We want clean sports and performance on a natural basis," Martin Mischel, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer said in a statement released Friday evening. "We have discussed the present judgement against Alessandro Petacchi distinctly with the team management and approve of the resulting separation of Team Milram from Alessandro Petacchi. The consistent compliance of the mutually passed anti-doping course is an important pillar of our sponsorship agreement."

Pursuiter Mactier excels at Tour de L'Aude prologue

By Ben Atkins in Gruissan

Katie Mactier (Australia) surprised herself by winning a blustery 3.9-kilometre prologue to take the first race leader's jersey in this year's Tour de l'Aude. The 2005 world pursuit champion found the distance to her liking and recorded a time of 5:02.78, just over half a second quicker than Dutch time trial champion and World scratch race champion Ellen Van Dijk (Netherlands), with 2007 Aude champion Susanne Ljungskog (Menikini Selle Italia) six tenths of a second behind her. Alison Powers (United States National Team) and Mirjam Melchers-Van Poppel (Netherlands) rounded out the top five.

The day began cloudy and overcast, but by the time the 3:00 pm start time arrived, the skies had cleared and first rider off Gabriella Day (Swift Racing) took the start in bright sunshine. The strong wind that has been present for the preceding days persisted, however, making conditions difficult in the back part of the coastal circuit. As the afternoon progressed, more clouds moved in causing some light rain to fall over the later starters, but there was nothing to worry anyone or make the conditions any worse.

Winner Katie Mactier was under the impression that she had been beaten into second place by someone until Cyclingnews told that she had won which completely took her by surprise. The pursuit specialist has no long-term personal goals in the race though, besides supporting the rest of the Australian team and preparing for the Olympic Games this summer, when she would like to go one better than her silver medal of Athens four years ago.

"The main emphasis for the rest of the tour is to help my team-mates," she said after the victory had sunk in. "We've got some really good talent coming through and so I'm hoping to just get out of the wind and help them.

"To be honest," she went on, "I've taken a good look at the profile tomorrow and we've got a few cards we can play in terms of overall, looking at GC riders. The main purpose of me to race the Tour is to get some good preparation in for the Olympics and that kind of thing."

As one of the earlier starters (number 10), it was almost an hour and three quarters before the last rider had finished and her victory was confirmed. This time difference made little difference to the conditions though, and the later riders had similar windy weather to contend with.

"I was early," continued Mactier, "so I rode to the accommodation and then I rode back. The wind is always going to be a factor and whether it was windier or less windy I couldn't really say, but you've just got to go out there and make the most out of the conditions and give it everything."

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Tour de l'Aude prologue.

Devolder to scout important Tour de France stages

Stijn Devolder, Belgian champion
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)
Belgian Champion Stijn Devolder will head on Saturday for Toulouse, France, for some training on the roads of the major Pyrenean and Alpine stages of the upcoming Tour de France. The 2008 Tour de Flanders winner will be accompanied by his Spanish team-mate Carlos Barredo and by Director Dirk Demol.

"This will be my first Tour [de France]," said Devolder, "and I'm curious to discover the roads. For me it's an honour and a great chance to race in the Tour with a group like team Quick Step, where I feel perfectly at ease. These workouts will definitely be useful for me."

The reconnaissance will start Sunday with stage nine from Toulouse to Bagnères-de-Bigorre, followed on Monday by the Pau - Lourdes to Hautacam stage ten. Tuesday will take the Quick Step riders to the Alps to check out the three Alpine stages in the following days.

"This training period," said Demol, "will serve to help Stijn get to know the roads of the Tour, but also to regain his confidence on the major climbs. Up until today he hasn't participated in a race with important climbs. This training period will be important; to do a good Tour you should leave nothing to chance."

Tour of Japan starting Sunday

By Miwako Sasaki

The 12th Tour of Japan will start Sunday, May 18 and run through May 25 over 879.8 kilometres. The UCI 2.2 event, part of the Asia Tour, features the same stages as last year, including a tough mountain time trial on Mount Fuji.

Sixteen teams will participate the race, including eight foreign teams. Skil-Shimano will be the only Professional Continental Team, but all of its racers will be Japanese. The Continental teams A- Style Somn from Cyprus and Stegcomputer-CKT-Cogeas from Switzerland may be unfamiliar to Japanese fans as those teams will be making their race debut. After dominating the race three times (1999, 2001 and 2002), the more familiar Polish Mroz-Action-Uniqa will be back to contest the race.

Tour de France stage winner Leon Van Bon (Trek-Marco Polo Cycling Team) is biggest name for this year's race. The Dutch racer recently won a final stage of Tour de Kumano in Japan last Sunday, and he is a favorite for the first stage of Tour of Japan, too. But for the general classification, the door is open for others, including Japanese racers, who excel at hill climbing.

Tour of Japan 2008
May 18 - Stage 1: Senboku Circuit, Sakai City (Osaka) , 140.8km
May 19 - Stage 2: Todaiji Temple - Nunome Dam Circuit, Nara, 146.2km
May 20 - Stage 3: Old Imai Paper Wholesale House - Mino Japanese, Paper Village Circuit, Mino, 164.7km
May 21 - Stage 4: Iida Station - Shimohisakata Circuit - Matsuo - Stadium, South-Shinshu, 155.3km
May 22 - Rest & transfer day
May 23 - Stage 5: Mount Fuji ITT, 11.4km
May 24 - Stage 6: Shuzenji Station - Japan Cycle Sports Center, Izu, 112.5km
May 25 - Stage 7: Hibiya city - Ooi Wharf Circuit, Tokyo, 148.9km

Teams for Tour of Japan: Skil-Shimano, A-Style Somn, Nippo-Endeka, Seoul Cycling, South Australia.com-AIS, Stegcomputer-CKT-Cogeas, Trek-Marco Polo Cycling Team, Mroz-Action-Uniqa, Meitan Hompo-GDR, Team Bridgestone Anchor, Aisan Racing Team, Matrix-Powertag, Pearlizumi-Sumita-Ravanello, Team Comrade-Giant, Narsima Frend, Team JBCF

Shortened Tour de 'Toona keeps equal prize money

Organizers of the 20 year-old International Tour de 'Toona, held in and around Altoona, Pennsylvania, announced in March that the 20 year-old race was taking a different approach for 2008. Instead of a multi-day stage race, a single-day criterium is scheduled for July 27. However, one aspect of the race that remains unchanged for this year is the race's approach to men's and women's prize money.

"This event has always treated racers equally. The Tour de 'Toona was the first to pay women racers the same as their male counterparts. Once again, in 2008, we will do that with a US$15,000 purse for each of the featured races," said Rick Geist, Promoter and Race Chair.

The host Altoona Bicycle Club (ABC) had previously stated that it was taking a year to rebuild its organization and the event. "This was a move to make sure that we could continue to provide a great racing environment for all classes of racers," said Larry Bilotto, Race Director and President of ABC. "This was not an easy call to make; by initiating just a one-year reduction, we feel we can produce an even stronger International Tour de 'Toona stage race in 2009."

The organization is in the process of replacing long-time steering committee members who have moved on or passed on. "We are working to fill vital steering committee spots with a new group of young people who can lead for the next 20 years," said Geist.

Favorites ready for Euro cross country championships

Jose Hermida Ramos (Multivan Merida) leads Julien Absalon (Orbea). Both are European Championship contenders
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
(Click for larger image)

After a week off following three consecutive cross country mountain bike World Cup events, favorites are getting ready for the European cross country championships this weekend. The competition kicked off Friday with the team relay, won by France's Jean Christophe Peraud, Arnaud Jouffroy, Laurence Leboucher, and Alexis Vuillermoz. Italy and Sweden finished second and third.

The always strong Orbea Racing team is bringing its usual roster of potential champions including Julien Absalon and Jean-Christophe Peraud with France, and Rubén Ruzafa and Iñaki Lejarreta with Spain. All will race in their national team colors.

Orbea team manager Ixio Barandiarán thinks Lejarreta is one of Sunday's favourites. "The course's features suit his skills and he really wants to win. He's made headway technically speaking, so I think he can have good results." According to Barandiarán, the German race is an easy one, "The parcours is not too tough, unless it rains and it gets muddy."

Of course, no one can discount reigning World Champion Julien Absalon, who has already won all three World Cups so far in 2008, and his team-mate Peraud won on this parcours three years ago. Of Abslaon, Barandiarán only said, "As he's won the first World Cup events, he can relax and slow down, but if he wants, this race is his."

Spain's Jose Antonio Hermida (Multivan Merida) will be there, too – he's the most likely rider to be able to keep pace with and challenge Absalon for the duration.

On the women's side, Russian Irina Kalentieva (Topeak Ergon) will be aiming for a medal along with German Sabine Spitz (Central Ghost International), Spaniard Marga Fullana (Maxxis) and Norwegian Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida).

"I am excited about the race and my performance following the long break," said Kalentieva. "All the same, I am aiming for the top three." The 30 year-old Kalentieva didn't ride at the last World Cup in Madrid two weekends ago because of illness, and as a result hasn't raced for three weeks. "Ira" is however once again at top fitness but "following my heavy cold my sinuses are still a little blocked."

The World Champion said the course profile does not exactly play to her strengths, but the memory of 2001 in the same location is reasonably fresh. Seven years ago the Russian won a bronze medal at the European Championships in St. Wendel. "The course is reasonably flat, but back in 2001 it didn't stop me from having a good race, why should it again?" Kalentieva asked.

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