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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, May 24, 2008

Edited by Ben Abrahams

Cavendish uses acceleration to grab second Giro d'Italia win

By Gregor Brown in Cittadella

Cavendish has taken two wins
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Two days after his 23rd birthday, Team High Road's 'Manx Express' Mark Cavendish has taken a second Giro d'Italia stage victory, once again fending off points leader Daniele Bennati on the finish to Cittadella. Unlike some of the peloton's older sprinters such as Australian Robbie McEwen, Cavendish plans to fight his way through the tough mountain stages that follow, but might just crack open the bubbly with his team this evening.

"I think that we can celebrate a little bit now," he said with a smile at the post-stage press conference. "We were going to get a bottle of champagne the other day but I said we would have to leave it until we win. I thought yesterday, but it did not work. I wanted it for my team, they worked so hard."

Team High Road delivered the youngster to his first Giro d'Italia win in Pizza Calibre, 10 days ago, and tried its damndest to do so yesterday, but the last curve put paid to Cavendish's celebrations. However, with the help of riders such as Marco Pinotti, Adam Hanson, Bradley Wiggins, Tony Martin and André Greipel he took revenge on Italy's best today.

"I was really disappointed yesterday, I showed I was the fastest, but messed up the last corner," he said of the stage in Carpi that went the way of Bennati. "Today, I woke up and I promised my team, my directors, and I did it."

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Bennati, to his credit, did not fade to the right to impede his rival today, as sprinters often do. "If you look you can see I said thanks as I went past with 100 metres to go. I have to say again, 'thanks'. It is great sportsmanship and we are able to see who is the fastest. It is a great thing for him to do and I am sure in my career I will be able to pay him back."

Bennati tipped his hat to Cavendish yesterday, saying: "According to me, he is very young and demonstrating to be the strongest sprinter in the world."

The rider from Laxey on the Isle of Man, who resides in Quarrata in the Italian region of Tuscany during the season, attributes his speed more to time spent in the velodrome, rather than the terrain in which he grew up. "The terrain and weather makes for a good Classics rider - one for Belgium," he said. "I don't know for me, if it comes from the track background, with fixed gears on the track, where you have to use the cranks to get the maximum speed.

"It is my speed and acceleration from 50 to 70 metres," he added. "I am able to do it with my age. I think I am the fastest as far as acceleration, but with strength... you can see how well Zabel and McEwen get over the hills. I need my team there. I am lucky with my acceleration."

To read the complete winner's feature, click here.

McEwen says 'ciao' to Giro d'Italia

By Gregor Brown in Cittadella

Robbie McEwen
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Australia's Robbie McEwen has bid farewell to the Giro d'Italia, and will not to start the mountainous Stage 14 on Saturday morning. The 35 year-old Silence-Lotto rider went down early on Wednesday's rain-soaked stage to Cesena, which hampered his last realistic chances of success in the two sprinters' stages on Thursday and Friday. McEwen had been hoping to score his 13th career stage win in the Italian race, but will now return home and build up for the Tour de France.

On Friday morning, before the start of stage 13 to Cittadella, McEwen explained to Cyclingnews that he's been lacking a little race fitness - and a little luck. "The sprint before the sprint is pretty much what killed me," he said of Thursday's finish in Carpi.

"When I went after [Team Milram's Alberto] Ongarato I was hoping to keep the speed and hold his attack for longer, but pretty much as soon as I got to him he slowed and I had already ridden a sprint to close the gap. I think I reacted a little late to get to the corner first before [Lampre's Daniele] Bennati, but from the injuries I can't make the two accelerations at the moment.

"I am going to try again today. I am right there; I just need everything to fall into place," McEwen continued. "When you are carrying a little injury you need things to really go 100 percent." He finished the sprint to Carpi in third, but did not fair as well in the stage to Cittadella, where he ended ninth.

"I am struggling with my back and my left knee. I just feel like I am not generating the same power as when I am fully fit," he added.

McEwen now heads home to Belgium to rest before the start of the Tour de France. "Next month, I will ride some of the Tour de Suisse to prepare for the Tour de France."

Rebellin also likely to leave

By Gregor Brown in Cittadella

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Italy's Davide Rebellin is likely to leave the Giro d'Italia after it passes the night near his home in Veneto. The 36 year-old had aimed for a stage win, but has struggled to find the same form that saw him perform well in the Ardennes Classics.

"I am content," Rebellin said to Cyclingnews of his Giro d'Italia thus far. The rider known as 'Tintin' captured his first big professional win in the Giro d'Italia; he won a stage in the 1996 edition and spent six days in the race leader's maglia rosa.

"I was trying to win a stage, but my condition is not the same as it was in the Classics. Here there are riders who have prepared especially for his Giro, so it is even more difficult."

It is likely that Rebellin will not take the start in Verona as the corsa rosa heads into its first high-mountain stage, the 195 kilometre journey to Alpe di Pampeago. "I believe that I won't start tomorrow," he revealed. "I think that I will make a decision whether or not I will continue today. The mountains are too hard for me and I hope to save a little bit of energy for the next appointments, like the Olympics and Worlds."

However, Rebellin left stage 13 impressed. "There were a lot of people, everyone knows me here because I train in this area. They are very crazy for cycling here."

Tour champ Contador tips Simoni on eve of Pampeago

By Gregor Brown in Cittadella

Gilberto Simoni
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Tour de France winner Alberto Contador has tipped Italian Gilberto Simoni to take a third Giro d'Italia overall win on the eve of the first high-mountain stages. The Spaniard sits third overall with a 1'58" advantage over his 36 year-old rival, who stated that new Giro starts on Saturday with the stage to Alpe di Pampeago.

Simoni was impressed with the sentiment, but knows he will need more then kind words to battle through the mountain stages, including tomorrow's 195-kilometre run through the Dolomites. "Thanks to him, the thought is nice. This is not enough," the Diquigiovanni rider stated at the start of stage 13 in Modena. "I believe that he is here to win the Giro, also [Andreas] Klöden. The whole group is still there, and I believe that tomorrow starts another Giro."

Simoni is now 11th in the classification, at 8'57". His old team-mate, Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Scott), passed by as he was talking. "And we can't forget Riccò, he is going strong, and also [Leonardo] Piepoli," Simoni said.

His Diquigiovanni team were able to celebrate two days prior thanks to the win of Alessandro Bertolini on the demanding run to Cesena. "I am happy for the win of Bertolini, the team needed it and it gave us some sense of tranquility," he said.

'Il Trentino' will be racing near his home on Saturday, on a finish that saw him victorious in the 2003 Giro d'Italia. "Yes, but I think that the Giro is my home for the most part. Italy is my home."

Gabriele Bosisio: LPR Brakes' hidden ace?

By Gregor Brown in Cittadella

Gabriele Bosisio (LPR Brakes)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Could Italy's Gabriele Bosisio be the ace up Team LPR Brakes' sleeve? The 27 year-old Lecchese sits second in the overall classification heading into three decisive mountain stages - 5'50" behind race leader Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) and 1'09" ahead of Tour de France winner Alberto Contador (Astana).

"Bosisio might be kind of hard to dislodge," said Astana's Levi Leipheimer to Cyclingnews upon hearing the suggestion that his team-mate, Contador, is the top placed of the classification favourites.

Bosisio, winner of stage seven to Pescocostanzo, confirmed on Friday morning that he would be given some space in the following mountain stages, including Saturday's 195-kilometre romp to Alpe di Pampeago.

"Our objective - mine and everyone else in the team - is to stay near Danilo [Di Luca] and Paolo [Savoldelli] tomorrow and for all the stages in the mountains," he declared of the team's two leaders, who have three Giro d'Italia titles between them. "We will try for the stage but also to win the classification."

Will Bosisio be allowed to ride for himself? "This could be an extra card to play," he responded. "Astana has a team with a lot of strong riders. We believe a lot in Danilo and Paolo, and we are trying to stay near them. I don't have a lot of experience in three-week races or climbs this hard, like Passo Manghen. The only other time I did a three-week race was the 2004 Giro d'Italia with Tenax."

In 2004, Bosisio finished three hours and 30 minutes behind overall winner Damiano Cunego.

"The others don't know me," he added, when pressed if he would be allowed to go with attacks to pressure the other teams. "Maybe if I go the others will give me some space and not pull me back, this would be good for me and for all the team. I will try to defend myself. I am 70 kilograms and, definitely, in the mountains I will pay a little bit. But I will try as long as I have the legs to stay ahead."

Koldo Fernández leaves Giro to rest and recover

The Basque team Euskaltel-Euskadi has decided to take sprinter Koldo Fernández out of the Giro d'Italia, in light of the upcoming mountain stages and the tough final week. After last year's experience, where Fernández finished the corsa rosa so tired that he didn't recover for an entire month, the team wanted to be more cautious this time. Fernández took a strong third on stage 13, passing Erik Zabel (Milram) in the final metres.

The Spaniard summed up his race in Italy, stating: "Maybe I was too demanding to myself, but I came to the Giro with the objective of winning a stage. I knew it was going to be very difficult; here, there are the best in the world, but I had this dream. In the first stages I did the sprints with a lot of power, but I was lacking a lead-out. In the last sprints, I was led out a lot better, but I was lacking that power that I had in the beginning."

Fernández also finished sixth on stage three, ahead of double Giro stage winner Mark Cavendish (High Road). "I sprinted with Cavendish, and he finished ninth," said Fernández. "Now, he won and I got third. I am not sure if it was the nerves and the anxiety. In the end, you must take into account that we are very equal and to win, everything has to be perfect; you will pay for any error and be left empty-handed. I am leaving with the desire and the conviction that I can fight with the best in a one-on-one and that I must continue to learn and to progress."

His immediate program was not clear, but will include either the Euskal Bizikleta, the Dauphiné Libéré or the Tour de Suisse. "But wherever I go, I will go with confidence and ambitions," he said.

Papa Moletta denies all

Natalino Moletta, father of Gerolsteiner's Andrea Moletta, has denied that Viagra tablets were found in his car as he was on his way to the Giro d'Italia earlier this week. "I categorically deny that Viagra tablets were found in my car. The only thing was a painkiller I carry for my personal use," he said on Friday. The team removed Andrea Moletta from the Giro and placed him on inactive status following the disclosure of his father's involvement in a possible doping case.

Moletta senior and Luigino Miotti were stopped by the Italian Guardia Finanza on Tuesday. Miotti previously managed small amateur teams, and according to Italian media, has faced doping charges in the past. Initial reports said that 82 packages of Viagra were found in the car, plus a disposable syringe in a toothpaste tube and a cooler containing unidentified products.

According to tuttobiciweb.it, searchers found a "suspect vial" in the car's luggage compartment, plus 13 bottles containing liquid, which led to a search of the homes of the two men. 130 lozenges "similar to Viagra" were found at Miotti's house, after which the Moletta house was searched. The bottles, which were said to branded with Cyrillic letters and marked "for Andrea", were to be sent to a laboratory for an analysis of their contents. Moletta senior said that they were mineral water.

Fabio Pavone, the Molettas' attorney, said that the vial found in the car was a painkiller that Moletta senior needs for his back problems, and that nothing suspect was taken at the Moletta home, where the son also lives.

"I was in the wrong place with the wrong person," Natalino Moletta said. "It displeases me for my son Andrea." According to Pavone, Moletta senior "is very upset, because the image and career of his son Andrea have been compromised for something which is not his fault".

According to the newspaper Il Gazzettino, Andrea Moletta issued a statement saying: "The dream of a lifetime - to arrive at the finish of stage of the Giro d'Italia in my hometown - has vanished because of something that does not even pertain to me. After what happened to me [breaking his femur in last year's Milano-Sanremo] and all the sacrifices I made to return, this is really incredible."

Gerolsteiner spokesman Jörg Grünefeld told Sport1.de that Andrea Moletta would remain suspended until it was proven that the packages were not for him or for anyone on the Gerolsteiner team. "We are trying to get information from the investigators," he said. "Only when it has been definitely proven that the questionable contents were for Riders X and Y, and for Team Z, and not for Gerolsteiner or Andrea Moletta, then he could possibly ride for us again." (SW)

UCI says Kashechkin still suspended

The UCI insisted Friday that suspended Kazakh rider Andrey Kashechkin has not been cleared to race again and remains suspended until further notice. The governing body's statement came in response to an announcement from Kashechkin's law firm on Thursday, which stated that the former Astana rider had been cleared by the Kazakhstan cycling federation due to insufficient evidence.

"The UCI has received absolutely nothing from the Kazakh federation," read a statement from the UCI, according to l'Equipe.

On Wednesday the UCI said it had sent the Kashechkin dossier three times to the Kazakhstan cycling federation, and expected the result of the rider's hearing to be known by this weekend. Recent media reports have suggested that Kashechkin had protested against the timing of the test - an unannounced out of competition control taken in Turkey on August 1, 2007 - and other irregularities in the testing procedure.

Should Kashechkin be officially cleared by his national federation, the UCI has the right to lodge an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Pellizotti re-signs with Liquigas

Franco Pellizotti his renewed his contract with Liquigas for two more seasons, the Italian team announced via press release on Friday. The 30 year-old Italian, who recently wore the maglia rosa at this year's Giro d'Italia, has been with Liquigas since 2005 and will now wear the green and blue colours through 2010.

"I didn't wait until the end of the season to decide and I haven't been waiting to hear about any other offers," said Pellizotti, who hails from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy. "Being part of the team is like staying with my family. I've never had any doubts about my future."

Liquigas manager Roberto Amadio also announced that Alessandro Vanotti and Dario Cataldo have both signed two-year deals.

Race preview: Tour de Leelanau's sophomore UCI year

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

The Tour de Leelanau is once again a UCI classified event
Photo ©: John L. Russell
(Click for larger image)

The Tour de Leelanau in northern Michigan stepped up to UCI (1.2) level last year, after three years as an up-and-coming one day race. But its date in September conflicted with the larger, yet first year, Tour of Missouri. This tapped the bulk of the top domestic men's squads so the race moved its date for 2008, landing on the American holiday weekend of Memorial Day. This has allowed for an increase in the quality of the field, though the month of May becoming quite a busy race month in North America is still keeping the men's and women's fields from becoming fully elite.

In the men's race, defending champion Garrett Peltonen (Bissell) is back with a strong team working for him, including Ben Jacques-Maynes who finished third and Teddy King who finished fourth last week at the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic. The team's sponsor is based in the state of Michigan and them is hoping for a home field result.

The other top domestic team, the continental professional outfit Team BMC, is led by veteran racer Tony Cruz. South African Darren Lill finished second at Mt. Hood last week and will also be a top contender. The Successful Living team is coming from Mt. Hood too, with riders like Charles Dionne and Alessandro Bazzana. Team RACE will be racing looking for one of its first major results in North America, especially before the upcoming Philly week of races and Canada's Tour de Beauce. Former Canadian champion Mark Walters will captain the squad.

Many smaller pro and elite teams will also be using this race for a possible upset win to make their season.

The women's race is also UCI rated though its field is affected by another factor - too many races. The new UCI rating for the women's Mt. Hood race last week became a priority for the women's peloton - and with the combination of the Montreal world cup and Le Tour du Grand Montréal next week, some teams are choosing to take the week off to rest.

Defending champion Tina Pic (Colavita-Sutter Home) comes into the race with two tough stage wins at Mt. Hood last week, and a strong team around her, including Pan American track champion Dotsie Bausch and top ten at Mt. Hood Tiffany Cromwell

Pic edged out Cheerwine's Laura Van Gilder last year, and the Cheerwine team will be looking to even the score this year. Leigh Hobson, top ten and Queen of the Mountains winner at Mt. Hood, and former Canadian champion Anne Samplonious, sixth at Mt. Hood, round out the team. Team TIBCO welcomes Brooke Miller back to the States after racing in the Tour de l'Aude, as well as two Mt. Hood top ten placers in Kiwi Joanne Kiesanowski and England's Rachel Heal.

But the real story should be the course, with five KOMs and six sprints for the men in the rolling hills of northern Michigan. Last year nearly half the field either abandoned or was time cut. Cyclingnews will have full reports and photos of both them men's and women's races.

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