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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, May 22, 2008

Edited by Sue George

Frenchman seizes lead in crash-marred Catalunya

Frenchman Cyril Dessel
Photo ©: JF Quenet
(Click for larger image)

Frenchman Cyril Dessel claimed the "queen" stage of the Volta a Catalunya in a spectacular solo bid which also earned him the overall race lead after stage two. On the 191.9 kilometre mountainous journey from Banyoles to La Seu d'Urgell, the 33 year-old climber from the AG2R-La Mondiale made a select group of contenders from a peloton shattered by the hors categorie Alt de Pedraforca and the short, steep ramp of the Alt de Josa del Cadí. He then used the final descent from to launch his race-winning move after the two remaining riders of the day's breakaway crashed.

"For my part, I wasn't feeling too bad, a bit lukewarm, but was keeping an eye on the action in the peloton," Dessel explained of his finale. "When we approached the two leading men there were a lot of attacks including that of Vladimir Efimkin (AG2R) and the Colombian [Rigoberto] Uran [Caisse d'Epargne]. Behind, on the descent, things exploded a bit. I knew I can descend well and I decided to attack.

"I caught Uran, who couldn't hold my wheel. I then descended rapidly, taking risks to try to widen the gap. I held the advantage, and was then able to make an effort without taking risks in the last kilometers. I finished with courage and with cramps," he continued. "This victory rewards a beautiful day for the team. And for me to win a mountain stage, alone, and a ProTour event, it's beautiful and it is essential for confidence.

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With the race's toughest stage out of the way, the wearer of the yellow jersey for one day in the 2006 Tour de France now has a strong prospect to win the overall classification. "Nothing is won; some very hilly stages remain, but I have confidence in the team and it will be up to me to have the legs to win," Dessel concluded.

The victory concluded a day of strong riding by the AG2R La Mondiale team, whose director Julien Jurdie was pleased. "It is foremost the satisfaction of winning in a ProTour race. But it is also the satisfaction of seeing the group work well and turn up the volume," said Jurdie. The team had Christophe Riblon in the early breakaway, and when that move came back had Efimkin to counter before Dessel descended his way to the win.

"The team has never really been put in difficulty. Now, the goal is to defend the jersey," Jurdie explained. "We can be optimistic even though we know we'll face a tough battle. It would be nice to win, no Frenchman has managed to prevail in Catalonia for over 10 years."

Losada & Mosquera break collarbones in dangerous Catalunya stage

The nervous second stage of the Volta a Catalunya featured several crashes and broken bones, including the withdrawal of two riders due to broken collarbones.

Alberto Losada was one unfortunate crash victim. On the final descent, about 12km from the finish, Losada crashed and broke his right collarbone. The Caisse d'Epargne racer is expected to undergo an operation at the Clinic Dexeus of Barcelona, Spain.

Karpin Galicia's Ezequiel Mosquera was another downed rider forced to withdraw from the race. He suffered a broken collarbone and index finger. Director Sportif Álvaro Pino explained what happened, "The fall took place when Ezequiel looked back and touched his front wheel to the parapet of the edge of the highway and crashed to the ground. Despite this, he has been lucky because it was possible to have fallen off a precipice. The collarbone fracture in principle seems clean, and they have fixed the index finger, and we are hopeful until we know the true extent of the fractures."

Other racers were affected, but with less serious consequences, by the conditions at the end of the race where riders tackled narrow, curvy roads.

"There was a very dangerous descent after the final climb and a lot of riders crashed, which meant a serious separation of the peloton. There were a lot of turns and many of them were gravelled so it was not a good scenario," said Team CSC Sports Director Dan Frost after the stage according to

"...Our guys took it easy on the descent in order to avoid crashes, which luckily we did – but of course we paid the price because we had to slow down," said Frost referring to his team's results for the stage.

Two riders Christophe Riblon (AG2r) and Alexandre Botcharov (Caisse d'Epargne) were left with a narrow lead in the race leading the race going into the final climb. The pair held a 2'50" lead on a much reduced peloton, but a crash on a gravel-strewn turn took both of them down on a technical descent. They were eventually caught and Cyril Dessel went on to stage victory.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of stage two of the Volta a Catalunya.

Gerolsteiner places Moletta on inactive status

Andrea Moletta (Team Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: Mani Wollner
(Click for larger image)

Team Gerolsteiner has removed Andrea Moletta from the Giro d'Italia and placed him on inactive status, following his father's involvement in an anti-doping action. He did not start Wednesday's 11th Giro stage "for private reasons", it was said Wednesday morning.

Moletta, 29, informed the team Tuesday evening that his father was one of several passengers in a vehicle en route to the Giro, when he was controlled and questioned by the Italian Guardia Finanza (which is responsible for anti-doping enforcement).

Team manager Hans-Michael Holczer immediately got in touch with Italian authorities but was unable to obtain any further information. Moletta denied any involvement but agreed to being removed from the race.

"Even if the presence of Moletta senior is proved to be totally coincidental, we handled immediately as required by our strict Code of conduct," Holczer said in a press statement. "Andrea will not ride any further races until the circumstances are explained."

Teutenberg fends off chasing field for Aude win

Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (High Road) at the prologue of the Tour de l'Aude
Photo ©: CJ Farquharson
(Click for larger image)

High Road speedster Ina-Yoko Teutenberg kept the opposition at bay by a handful of seconds to clinch the win in Wednesday's stage five of the Tour de L'Aude. At the end of a 60 kilometre attack, Teutenberg and her breakaway companion Charlotte Becker finished just four seconds ahead of the field.

"It was truly spectacular," said sports director Ronny Lauke. "With ten kilometres to go, Ina had an advantage of just 50 seconds, but she managed to hold on by the skin of her teeth."

"I didn't think we'd make it," said Teutenberg after the stage. "At 2.5km to go they were right on us. But there was a bridge that really hurt and I think that messed up the chase a little. I just put my head down and went as hard as I could. It seemed like such a long way. When I saw the 500m to go mark I accelerated and managed to hold it," said Teutenberg.

"The bunch could see Ina all the time from about six kilometres to go," added Lauke. "They knew she was out there, they knew they had to catch her, but they couldn't do it. It was really exciting. What’s great is that Ina enjoyed herself. She loves getting away in breaks like that and seeing what happens."

Teutenberg's move was planned from the start. In a pre-race meeting, the High Road squad had decided to go with the breaks. "She attacked after the second climb of the day, just when Becker decided to make a move as well. Charlotte's a great time triallist, so it made sense to keep going, even though the wind kept changing direction and making it very tough for the two of them."

"There was a technical section after the climb which suited Ina's bike handling skills well and meant they could build up a big gap quickly on the bunch. It was close at the end, but she still managed to do it!"

Last year Teutenberg won the final stage of the Tour de L'Aude in a similar long, two-rider, break.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of stage five of the Tour de L'Aude.

Esparza to be released from hospital soon

By Kirsten Robbins

Fausto Esparza (right) on the podium at the 2006 Univest Grand Prix
Photo ©: FJ Hughes
(Click for larger image)

Fausto Esparza, who was seriously injured more than three weeks ago in a descending crash during the final stage of the Tour of the Gila, will be released from the hospital in a few days. The former Mexican national champion was air lifted to Thompson Hospital in El Paso, Texas where doctors diagnosed him as paralyzed from the waist down.

The 33 year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, had travelled north to Silver City, New Mexico where his team Tecos-Trek registered to compete in the seven-day stage race. He, along with twelve other riders, crashed on the last stage's high speed and technical descent.

Esparza's wife Paty and sister Monica Plascencia gathered at the Thompson hospital in El Paso shortly after doctors notified his family of the accident. Family members remained with him for three weeks before travelling home to Guadalajara.

According to Plascencia, Esparza is still in the hospital but in much better condition and was removed from the ICU into a regular hospital bed where he is expected to stay for a few days longer. "He is in much better condition," said Plascencia who recently flew back to her California home. "I spoke with Fausto this morning and he will be leaving for Mexico City soon where he will work on his recovery. He is in a wheel chair but he's working on his health and happiness right now."

Esparza will be taken to CONADE Hospital, a national physical and athletic rehabilitation centre located in Mexico City. "It's going to take a long time for him to be rehabilitated and the doctors did not say that it would be possible," said Plascencia. "He has no movement from the waist down. His spirit is very high and positive so believe me, that high spirit has him wanting to go back to his bike, and that is his goal. He is up and down since the first day. As he continues healing and putting strain on his arm muscles he gets more motivated each day."

According to Plascencia, the family's priority concerns are with the wellbeing of Esparza; however they will soon need to consider the financial strain from the accrued hospital expenses that will inevitably need to be paid. "Fausto's wife Paty and I are not concerned with finances right now," said Plascencia. "Day by day Fausto will have support from all of us at home. But it is something we will need to think about in the near future. As of today he is no longer on ICU and that is good news for us."

The Tour of the Gila organization set up a donation fund for Esparza immediately following the accident at the Wells Fargo Bank in Silver City, New Mexico. According Tour of the Gila race director, Jack Brennan, the Fausto Munoz Esparza Donation Fund has raised under ten thousand dollars to support Esparza in his recovery, an amount that covers approximately one tenth of the accumulated hospital bills, not including his need for long term rehabilitation and care expenses.

Brennan encourages people to continue to donate funds to the Wells Fargo Bank in Silver City, New Mexico. "He is determined to ride again," said Brennan. "He seems very focused and he told me that he has a goal and now wants to obtain."

Many have donated to Esparaza's recovery fund, including Team Toyota-United which contributed five thousand dollars. Furthermore, letters and cards have been streaming in to Esparza's hospital room. According to Brennan, The Silver City High School Spanish classes sent over sixty handwritten and painted get well cards.

"We want to make sure that people know that they can still donate the much needed funds to Fausto," said Brennan. "My feeling is that Fausto is a very strong guy, very determined and focused, probably coming from his bike racing background. His family seems very supportive, a really great family and I think they are going to be very helpful with his recovery.

Private donations can be submitted to the Wells Fargo Bank, Attn: Fausto Munoz Esparza Donation Fund, 1201 N. Pope St. Silver City, New Mexico, 88061, USA.

Letters of support and get well cards may also be sent to the Thompson Hospital, 4815 Alameda Ave, Patient: Fausto Esparza, 4815 Alameda Ave, El Paso, Texas, 79905, USA.

First ever Napa Downtown Gran Prix

On the summer solstice June 21, cyclists will take the streets of Napa for the first ever Napa Downtown Gran Prix in California. The criterium, with its five-turn course and 270 degree turn through the newly opened Veteran's Park and Riverwalk, will benefit the Stone Bridge School.

Professional and amateur races will run from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Registration will open Friday, May 23. For more information, visit or contact Jess Raphael at 707-815-4828 or

(Additional research and assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer).

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