First Edition Cycling News, May 27, 2008
Edited by Greg Johnson and Paul Verkuylen
Pellizotti lives up to Giro promise
By Gregor Brown in Plan de Corones, Italy
Franco Pellizotti - affectionately known as the dolphin of Bibione - has lived up to his promise in this year's Giro d'Italia by winning the mountain time trial to Plan de Corones. Pellizotti moved up two spots on the overall classification, where he now sits in fifth place 2'05" behind Spain's Alberto Contador (Astana).
The 30 year-old of Liquigas faced a tough day on Monday after losing time to his key rivals on the previous two days in Italy's Dolomites. Pellizotti lost nine seconds on Saturday's finish at Alpe di Pampeago and another 1'17" on the way to the finish of Sunday's stage up Passo Fedaia.
Time was running out for Pellizotti to move back up in the classification before the race enters its final mountain stages in the alps. Pellizotti is looking to prove himself as a true team captain ahead of Ivan Basso's arrival at the squad at season's end.
"It is very important for me, everyone was looking forward to this and were critical of the stage," said Pellizotti, who resides in Marene di Piave.
Pellizotti became the first King of Corones, as the climb has never been used before. It was scheduled to be part of the 2006 Giro, the year that Pellizotti secured his first stage win, but was dropped at the last minute due to heavy snow fall at the 2260-metre peak.
"It required a lot," said Pellizotti at a packed press conference on the mountain's peak. "It is a very hard climb. Luckily it was a good day and it went alright, if it had been a bad weather today it would have been a lot worse."
Sun shined down as Pellizotti sat patiently and waited for the next six riders to cross the line after posting his time. Once race leader Contador crossed the line Pellizotti knew that his time of 40'26" was good enough to seize the day and secure his second Giro stage win in eight years as a professional.
"When I saw that Contador did worse than me, that was enough," said Pellizotti.
To read the full interview, click here.
Contador cautiously confident
Alberto Contador (Astana) moved a step closer to his second Grand Tour victory after extending his Giro d'Italia lead yesterday. The Spaniard finished a credible fourth on the individual time trial to Plan de Corones, a key point in this year's Italian Grand Tour.
The 2007 Tour de France winner's effort put him at a greater advantage over his general classification rivals. The Astana rider extended his lead over Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval - Scott) by eight seconds, while defending champion Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) dropped further back to 2'18".
"It was a new experience for me," said Contador. "I had to use a 34x30 gear. It was necessary to prevent slipping away on some parts where you could not come out of the saddle. This morning I went to check out the climb very early. Honestly, I liked what I saw. This was something for a real climber like me.
"After my performance on Sunday, I was more confident before the start of the race than I had been at the start of Sunday's stage," he added. "Plus today I did not have any technical problem like I did yesterday when I had to do the Marmolada climb with a defective wheel."
Contador said it wasn't only the public that is surprised with his strong Giro showing. "I am surprised as well," said the maglia rosa. "I am happy that I have reached this level with the poor preparation I had. Fortunately, the weather is not too good here. That helps me."
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.
The Spaniard will use today's rest day to prepare for the remainder of the Italian race, before it commences the run towards its Milano finish on June 1. While Contador holds a 41 second lead over Riccò, he admitted the remaining mountains stages means his lead is anything but secure.
"The Giro is not over yet," said Contador. "I am glad that riders like Di Luca, [Marzio] Bruseghin and [Denis] Menchov lost time, but I have to stay awake for [Gilberto] Simoni and Riccó.
"In theory the final time trial suits me better than them, but some other stages still can put me in difficulties," he added. "Especially the stage with the Mortirolo can be dangerous. Fortunately, I have a strong team. I strongly belief that they all will work for the same goal: bringing that pink jersey to Milano."
Van den Broeck happy in Italy
Silence-Lotto's Giro d'Italia surprise package, Jurgen Van den Broeck, once again made inroads to a possible top 10 finish after yesterday's mountain time trial. The Belgian finished an impressive 12th, dropping just one place overall to ninth.
"I am really happy with my time," the 25 year-old said. "I was able to hold stay within two minutes of Pellizotti. Before the start I was hoping to stay within three. That is obviously really good."
Van Den Broeck was forced to return to the bike weigh-in twice after it was found that his bike was under the UCI's weight limit of 6.8kg. After fitting a second drink bottle cage to his bike he was again asked to add extra weight before the start.
"Just like I thought, after riding the course in the morning, the stage was extremely tough, with a hard climb," he said. "I hope to never have to do something like that again in my career."
Van Den Broeck explained that although it was tough to recover during the time trial from the steeper sections, he did feel that he rode the second part of the climb better than the first.
"With this 12th place I finished one place higher than in the flat time trial a week ago in Urbino," he said. "I can enter the rest day with a clear conscience. I have survived three enormous days well.
"If I can survive the next two mountain stages as well then there is a top 10 finish in it [for me]," he added. "But I will begin to dream on Sunday in Milan. It is sometimes a strange feeling to be riding amongst the big boys such as [Alberto] Contador, [Danilo] Di Luca, [Denis] Menchov, [Ricardo] Ricco and others. Sometimes I can barely believe it myself that it really is true," he concluded.
Australian champion aiming for Giro stage win
By Gregor Brown in Plan de Corones, Italy
Australian Champion Matthew Lloyd (Silence-Lotto) is feeling better and better as the 91st Giro d'Italia rolls into its third week of racing. The 25 year-old indicated that his knee is feeling better, which allowed him to ride with the favourites on the Dolomite stages.
Lloyd stayed with the main classification guns through Saturday and Sunday's stages - becoming distanced only on the final passes to finish 24th and 22nd respectively. The laid-back Aussie closed the Dolomite days with a 55th place on the Plan de Corones time trial, 4'40" behind winner Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas).
Lloyd's strength allows him to ride for the general classification while aiming for a stage win and he is also acting as an ally for Belgian team-mate Jurgen Van den Broeck. Lloyd is currently 37th on the general classification.
"I am feeling better and my knee is starting to feel good," Lloyd said. He is monitoring his knee and being careful of the damage already done to the collateral ligament. "I had the ultrasound on the fourth or fifth day."
Silence-Lotto is having a good race thanks to the strong rides of Lloyd and Van den Broeck, but the Belgian team still lacks a win. "Jurgen is going so strong," Lloyd said. "It is good. It gives me a reason to be up front."
Lloyd is allowed to ride his own race at this year's Giro. "It is the same [as riding for] Cadel [Evans], at the end of the race like that there is not much one can do and it is every man for himself," he explained.
Lloyd is now aiming for a sytage win in the Giro's final mountain stages.
Vandenbroucke: Focused on the job again
Troubled cyclist Frank Vandenbroucke (Mitsubishi) is hoping to restart his career in time for the Belgian national championships next month. Vandenbroucke went through a difficult personal period in 2007, which led to the rider attempting suicide in early June.
"I am going to dinner on Monday with [Mitsubishi team manager] Patrick Stallaert, where we will decide on a program," Vandenbroucke told Belgian newspaper Het Laatse Nieuws. "Mentally I am ready for competition, but I have chosen to take it easy. I want to first spend some time with my daughter Margaux in Italy.
"In 14 days I will pack my bags in Italy and return to Belgium for a longer period of time and focus on my job again," he added.
The last time the Belgian rode competitively was on February 24 at the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal.
"I still need to loose three or four kilos," he explained. "My program won't be too hard. A few Kermis races and a stage race in preparation for the Belgian championships in Knokke."
Quick Step, Silence-Lotto for Belgium
Belgium's two ProTour teams have announced their line-ups for the Tour of Belgium, which begins on Wednesday in Eeklo. The race will be the first outing for two of the Springs Classics brightest stars, Stijn Devolder and Tom Boonen, since Paris Roubaix.
The race will mark the beginning of preparations for the Tour de France for both riders. Devolder is hoping to show that he is capable of riding for the overall classification, while Boonen will undoubtedly be targeting stage wins and the green point's jersey.
Riding along side Devolder and Boonen in the Quick Step team will be, Sébastien Rosseler, Steven De Jongh, Kevin Hulsmans, Kevin Van Impe, Carlos Barredo and Gert Steegmans.
Silence Lotto will be relying on Leif Hoste, Bert Roesems, Greg Van Avermaet, Wim De Vocht, Jurgen Roelandts, Maarten Tjallingii, Roy Sentjens, Johan Vansummeren and Glenn D'Hollander.
Rally stars to cycle Britain
FIA World Rally Championship competitor Matthew Wilson and his co-driver Scott Martin are set to tackle one of Britain's landmark cycling challenges, the Land's End to John o'Groats this summer. The pair plan to compete the 960-mile (1540km) route in nine days to raise money for the Richard Burns Foundation and the Great North Air Ambulance.
Wilson and Martin race for the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team, Ford's number two rally team. They will also be raising funds for the the Cumbria Community Foundation which makes grants to local charities in Cumbria where the team is based.
There's long been a link between rallying and cycling, with many drivers riding for fitness, and top cyclists dabbling in rallying. Former top driver Colin McRae was a keen mountain biker, while multiple world mountain bike champion Nicolas Vouilloz competes in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, and BMX legend Dave Mirra races in the North American Rally Championship.
The charities Wilson and Martin are supporting have motorsport links, but reach more broadly. The Richard Burns Foundation works to inspire and support people with serious injury and illness. It was set up in the memory of the British 2001 World Rally Champion who died in November, 2005 at the age of 34 after suffering from a brain tumor.
The Great North Air Ambulance Service operates three helicopters based at Teesside, Cumbria and Northumberland. In 2005 one of these helped airlift Martin to hospital after a serious crash on the Rally of Wales. Stories of helicopter rescues of injured cyclists, especially mountain bikers, are not uncommon.
For more about the ride and to support the charities, see www.end2end2008.com.
Century ride a sell-out
Entries for USM Events' Century ride in Queensland, Australia have sold-out with the event still two weeks away. The field limit of 1000 has already been reached, showing the increasing popularity of cycling in Australia.
"The Century event is another addition to our already extensive cycling program across the year which has been forged by the demand in the market," said USM Events' general manager Garth Prowd.
Prowd said in the past three years the growth in corporate clients has increased dramatically across all events and he believes that this trend will continue into the future.
The Century ride on June 8 will be used to raise funds for the Amy Gillett Foundation. AGF president Melinda Jacobsen will take part in the event, with USM Events expecting to raise $30,000 AUD for the foundation.
The AGF's primary objective is to reduce the incidence of injury and death caused by the interaction between cyclists and motorists. In doing so, it aims to promote a safe and harmonious relationship of shared respect between the two groups.
USM Events now run the Grand Prix Cycling event which incorporate the National Criterium Championships and also caters to the corporate and A Grade cyclists. The Noosa Enduro is a tough 100km or 50km mountain bike event that has doubled in competitor numbers in just two years.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)