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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News, May 22, 2008

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Leader for a year

Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) sees 2008 as his year to shine
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Italy's Franco Pellizotti, the Giro d'Italia's race leader for four days, has what could be his one chance to prove himself as a captain this year. As Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown found out, the 30 year-old, who rode for 2007 champion Danilo Di Luca and will have one Ivan Basso as team-mate next year, sees 2008 as his year to shine.

Franco Pellizotti has twice finished in the top ten of the Giro d'Italia. He finished ninth while riding in service of Danilo Di Luca last year, and was the team's highest finisher in eighth and took home a stage win in 2006 while Di Luca struggled in the mountains and was never in contention. This year, his four days in the pink jersey whetted his appetite to take home the final maglia rosa in Milano. However, he thinks that the last minute inclusion of the Astana team could make it difficult, not just for him but for any Italian to achieve an overall victory.

"The team's arrival really changed the outlook of the race," Pellizotti said of Astana, which was given a last minute invitation by RCS Sport, the organisers of the Giro d'Italia. "Without the team, it would be the Italians who would be battling it out over all the big stages. Even if they were called at the last moment they are prepared; I know Contador said that he came in unprepared, but he has been improving well in the last days."

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The stage ten time trial showed just how prepared the Kazakh-backed team was, and at the end of the day their trio of leaders had all placed inside the top ten on the stage, and all had moved ahead of Pellizotti. Despite putting in a solid performance to finish 18th, 2'09" behind stage winner Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre), the situation put his team in a difficult tactical situation.

"Astana, they are in there and are able to play the cards with Leipheimer, Contador and Klöden. They are all riders who have experience and can do some damage," the blonde rider from Bibione commented.

Pellizotti expects Saturday's first true mountain stage to Alpe di Pampeago to make a difference. "It is the first true stage and I will have to feel out the force that is in the legs.

We have still yet to ride the big mountain stages, 'un tappone.' Someone will want to attack to make a difference, for sure. Surely it will be Di Luca who will want to try; he has been distanced in the classification, so it makes sense."

In addition to Di Luca, he added that the teams of Astana and Saunier Duval-Scott would be forcing the pace. "Watch out for the Saunier duo of Riccò and Piepoli," he warned. Riccò "has gone strong in this first week and then demonstrated today that he can ride a time trial. So, if his condition holds then he will be the one who could do some damage."

Pellizotti was also impressed with Russian Denis Menchov of Team Rabobank. "Menchov, we can never count him out," he said of the 2007 Vuelta a España winner. "He has been there. He did a great crono.

"It will be hard for the Italians to win this Giro, but we can look at this Giro as one of the most beautiful in the last years, with more champions at the start of the race – more riders that want to take home the maglia rosa."

Find out more about Franco Pellizotti.

Australian Champion Lloyd changes Giro objectives

By Gregor Brown in Cesena

Aussie champ Matthew Lloyd has a bit of knee pain, but wants to finish the Giro
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Australian Champion Matthew Lloyd is backing off his plans for the 91st Giro d'Italia's overall and shifting his focus to a possible stage win due to knee problems. The Silence-Lotto rider, who will celebrate his 25th birthday this Saturday when the race hits the high mountains Manghen and Pampeago, does not want to risk further injuries.

He rolled in with the gruppo into Cesena to finish stage 11 and, like all 169 finishing riders, showed the signs of a hard day out. "It was pretty exciting at the start, the weather was incredibly bad," he commented to Cyclingnews. Intermittent rain showers made the 199-kilometre parcours even more difficult to manage, but luckily, Lloyd was not one of the day's many crash victims; however, he is nursing his knee as the race continues with two flat stages on Thursday and Friday.

"I managed to destroy the collateral ligament in my knee so I just can't do anything. We were climbing today and it was just ridiculous. I am not going to destroy my leg to try to keep up when I can try to fix it at least and may finish well in a stage later on [in the Giro d'Italia]."

Lloyd, 61st overall last year and third in the 2006 Under-23 Giro d'Italia, will now shift his focus from a high place overall to a chance at a stage victory. "There is no point in injuring yourself, trying to do stupid things when in reality you can try to make the situation better, not only physically, but mentally as well, for next week. Hopefully, it will turn out okay and hopefully there is not too much damage."

He is currently in 112th, at 21'54" behind the race leader, Italy's Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step).

Lloyd and his Silence-Lotto team's morale are bolstered by the performance of Jurgen Van den Broeck. The 25 year-old Belgian is the top ranked rider for his nation, holding 15th overall and fourth in the young rider's classification. Van den Broeck made sure he was present in all the key charges through stage 11, staying with the likes of Danilo Di Luca and Riccardo Riccò on the Monte Carpegna.

"Jurgen is dong a fantastic job," Lloyd added. "Everyone is stoked about that. If we can keep him going well... Everyone is still motivated; it will be good. And, the weather can't get any worse!"

CSF's Dall'Antonia comes close

By Gregor Brown in Cesena

Tiziano dall'Antonia (CSF Group Navigare) had a good race yesterday, but couldn't stay with the front group over the final rise
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Team CSF Group Navigare's Tiziano Dall'Antonia survived the climbs of San Marino, Monte Carpegna, Petricara and Sorrivoli, in addition to heavy rain showers, but fell shy of making it to the final with his escape companions in Giro d'Italia's stage 11 to Cesena. The 24 year-old Italian from Vittorio Veneto lost contact with only seven kilometres remaining, at the start of the Cippo Pantani.

Dall'Antonia, who helped form the day's move at kilometre 42, was left behind by three riders – eventual stage winner Alessandro Bertolini (Diquigiovanni), Pablo Lastras (Caisse d'Epargne) and team-mate Fortunato Baliani.

"I did not think to enter into an escape today, but from the start I was pedaling well and I thought there would be less fatigue in the escape than in the gruppo because you can have a more regulated rhythm," he explained to Cyclingnews after crossing the line in fourth.

"Up until the last kick it went well for me, but then the light was turned off," he remarked bluntly. "I am sorry, I put all the effort into the move and I really believed in victory."

Baliani crashed in the final 650 metres and left the door open for Bertolini's win; in addition, the team's climbing ace and leader of the mountain's competition, Emanuele Sella, crashed twice during the stage. Dall'Antonia's day was also marked with a crash. On the descent of the Monte Arena, midway through the race, his bike slid out from under him. He had scrapes on his left elbow as a result.

"It went this way today, but tomorrow we will have another day," Dall'Antonia declared in an upbeat tone. The team is bolstered by the win of Matteo Priamo in stage six.

Teutenberg takes one for the Road

German sprinter wins breakaway stage; Tour de l'Aude overall unchanged

By Ben Atkins in Toulouges

Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (High Road) takes her fourteenth career win at Aude
Photo ©: CJ Farquharson
(Click for larger image)

German super-sprinter Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (High Road) won stage five of the Tour de l'Aude after a 50-kilometre breakaway with compatriot Charlotte Becker (Nürnberger Versicherung). The pair broke away on the technical descent from the second climb of the day – the second category Col Fourtou – and they managed to stay away to the finish, despite the efforts of the rest of the peloton, led in the later stages by the DSB Bank team.

After building up a maximum lead of around two minutes and forty seconds, the German pair saw their advantage reduced to just a handful of seconds by the final kilometres. As Teutenberg took what proved in the end to be a simple victory over an exhausted Becker, Monica Holler (Bigla) led the rest home in almost the same time.

"I think we were lucky because I think DSB kind of lost everybody," a breathless Teutenberg told Cyclingnews after her victory. "At three K we had to go up this little bridge so I think they kind of lost their train. At two K to go they were nearly on us, and then all of a sudden I guess they stopped again with a kilometre to go."

"I had to pull the last two kilometres," she explained, "so I was worried Charlotte [Becker] would out-sprint me, but she was just really tired , too." In the end, Becker was too tired to put up much resistance and Teutenberg won an almost uncontested sprint against her compatriot.

"[We attacked] just after the second mountaintop, on the downhill," she continued. "There were constant attacks and then there was a lull in between and we kind of got the gap. That was perfect, really. We did everything we could, luckily we just [held] on at the end."

At no point during their breakaway did the pair's advantage reach an insurmountable margin, and with a concerted chase from an organised team it reduced rapidly to the point where they surely should have been caught. "I think [the gap went up to] 2'40," said Teutenberg, "but then DSB started chasing and it came down pretty consistently in the last 30 kilometres.

Susanne Ljungskog (Menikini Selle Italia) kept the yellow jersey
Photo ©: CJ Farquharson
(Click for larger image)

"I think my cold has gone!" she added with a laugh.

Dutch rider Adrie Visser (DSB Bank) described the team's chase to Cyclingnews and the reasons for its ultimate failure. "With 10 kilometres to go we heard it was just 30 seconds, so we decided to close the gap," said the winner of the 2007 Ronde van Drenthe, "only the sprint girls made a bit of a fault… so we just had one for the last 700 metres. Then the whole peloton took over…"

Once the rest of the peloton had come past, the DSB Bank team found itself swamped and Angela Brodtka was beaten to the line by Bigla's punchy sprinter Monica Holler. "Otherwise I think we'd close the gap," she said of the final kilometre mix up that so disrupted the team's chase.

"Work for nothing!" she said with a philosophical smile.

"Yes, it was a good day," stated maillot jaune Susanne Ljungskog of her first day in yellow. "It was a fast day. There was a lot of attacks from the girls, and it was quite hard."

A hard day chasing her rivals has emphasised to the former two-time World champion that, despite holding a lead of more than three and a half minutes over her nearest rival Judith Arndt (High Road), the race is far from won. "[They attacked] a lot," she continued, "so it's going to be a hard four days, I have to watch out."

Ever optimistic, Amber Neben (United States) was on the attack again, both to try to make up time on Ljungskog and maybe to make up a few places in the overall classification. "There's a few people in front of me [in the general classification] and then a bigger gap," she explained, "so I don't know, I was just looking for opportunities. I figured people would be a little bit tired from yesterday; you know what: you never know, so you give it a try."

Read the full report.

Kashechkin to return soon?

By Susan Westemeyer

Andrey Kashechkin is hoping to race again soon, following clearance by the Kazakh federation
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The UCI announced that it has sent the doping file on Andrey Kashechkin to the Kazakhstan Cycling Federation, which is scheduled to hold a hearing on the matter this week or next week. However, the Federation has already announced that the rider is free to return to racing, citing unresponsiveness by the UCI.

UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani told Cyclingnews, "I confirm that the UCI has sent three times (!) the entire file to the Kazakh Federation. As far as we are aware, the hearing should have started yesterday and should be finished tomorrow."

The former Astana rider tested positive for blood doping in an unannounced control last August while he was on vacation. He was released by the team after the analysis of the B sample.

The Kazakh federation had previously suspended Alexander Vinokourov for one year on similar charges.

Spanish website claimed to have seen a letter from the Kazakh federation, stating that "there are elements against opening a procedure against the cyclist Andrey Kashechkin," and guaranteeing that he "is free to return to racing." The letter is said to be endorsed by the Ministry of Sports and the national Olympic committee.

The letter details the case against Kashechkin. The rider had protested against the timing of the test and other irregularities in the testing procedure. Allegedly, the UCI did not send documentation to the federation explaining how the control had been conducted.

The website claimed that on February 13 of this year Kashechkin asked the federation to allow him to return to competition. This would be possible, according to the letter, since the UCI did not answer the outstanding questions, and his return would be supported by the federation, the government and the Olympic committee.

Burghardt looking forward to Bavarian race

Marcus Burghardt is looking towards the Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Team High Road's Marcus Burghardt remains pleased with his recovery from knee surgery. He has ridden several races lately and said that "I am satisfied and I am happy with the way things are going."

Writing on his website,, the 24 year-old noted that last week in the GP Buchholz, near Hamburg, Germany, he was in an escape group for much of the race. Although the group was brought back shortly before the finish line, Burghardt stated that "I am very satisfied with my performance. I even picked up enough points in the premium sprints to win the sprint ranking at the end of the race.

"With my racing and training kilometres, I am exactly on plan and I am well motivated," he continued. "I just miss the experience of stage racing."

He noted that he is particularly looking forward to the race in Bavaria, which features a number of Professional Continental and Continental teams. "I am looking forward to this race and find it great that many young riders get the chance to test themselves against the pros. That shows me that the organisers believe in the future of cycling. I want to honour that not only with my participation, but also with my respect and hopefully with a good performance, too."(SW)

The Rás has started!

Cyclingnews diarist Cameron Jennings checks in from Ireland, where the Rás race is hotly contested.

Hi all,

well, the 2008 Rás is definitely on the way and it has been a tough couple of days. Plenty of attacking, plenty of covering moves and plenty of time on the front, trying to keep things together and in check for the team – and not a lot to show for it has left its mark on me. After feeling great in The Netherlands the two previous weeks I was hoping to be feeling better than I am. But alas, that is not the case. Still four days to go, though, and anything can happen in this race.

Stage 2 Ballinamore – Claremorris 166km

This stage was marked by a number of attacks in the first two hours of racing with all of us playing our part. However, a group just seemed to fluff of the front with 50 kilometres remaining. Luckily, we had Kieren Page in it, so I just began to cover things again. All the major teams were represented and the gap began to increase, so Derek and I began to set tempo on the front with 40 kilometres remaining to prevent things getting out of hand. 10 kilometres to go Ciarán and Dave took over and I hung in there til the finish. The break was back to one minute on the line and Kieren was in the top 10 – on the day after missing out in the splits on the run into Claremorris.

Great night had in Cong, which was just down the road and a big thanks to Mary, Jill, Damien, Aileen for putting on a fine feed. We would have been the best fed team on the tour that night anyway.

Nys looks at Beijing, early to Landbouwkrediet?

Sven Nys has returned from checking out the mountain bike course for the upcoming Beijing Olympics. "It is a good one for me," he told Het Laatste Nieuws and the Gazet van Antwerpen. "It's not as easy as everyone thinks." It also looks like he will leave Rabobank next month to join his new team of Landbouwkrediet.

"On the approach to the finish, there is not one flat metre," he said. "There is a lot of climbing." Weatherwise, he didn't get a good feel. "It is spring there now, with a comfortable 27 degrees. But it doesn't rain now, as is the case in August. And as for the humidity.... "

Concerning the pollution, he said, "In the mornings, the air is good and there is beautiful blue sky, but in the evenings you can't see across the street because of the smog. I hope that we ride in the morning."

Nys announced in April that he would ride for with Landbouwkrediet in the coming season, after 10 years with Rabobank. However, it now looks as if he will transfer sooner than expected. The Gazet van Antwerp reported that an agreement with Rabobank to let him go is in the works. "We are only waiting for a few signatures from the Netherlands to finish off the transition," explained Nys' manager, Bob Verbeeck.

Rabobank spokesman Luuc Eisenga said, "There is not yet anything official, but things can move quickly in the coming days."(SW)

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