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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News, May 29, 2008

Edited by Sue George

Greipel gets big one in Giro d'Italia

By Gregor Brown in Locarno, Switzerland

Greipel finally realizes he's won!
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Germany's André Greipel took the biggest win of his career when he took the sprint in stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia, but to get there the Team High Road rider had to suffer through several brutal mountain stages where many a sprinter climbed off.

The win in Locarno's Piazza Grande was a testament to both Greipel's perseverance and the American team's hard work throughout the three-week Giro d'Italia. High Road is one of just five teams to have kept all nine riders in the race, battling crashes, fatigue and the time cuts which have slowly whittled the peloton down.

The mountains nearly deprived Greipel of his chance at glory, when last Sunday, the relentless series of climbs in the Dolomites almost cracked his spirit. "When we did the last hard mountain stage, I nearly stopped three times," confessed the fresh faced Greipel following his win. "I kept going... Yesterday, in the rest day, I felt good and we did some sprints. I knew then that I was not tired."

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With a rest day behind him, the 25-year-old had new energy to help control the race on the 146 kilometre march from Sondrio to Locarno. "Today, I felt good in the stage and the team worked well to control the escape."

André Greipel gets his first taste
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Cavendish and Greipel were delivered to the line by the likes of German Tony Martin, Australian Adam Hansen and Brit Bradley Wiggins, who were able to control the final ten kilometres perfectly. After reeling in the last man from the day's breakaway, Mikhail Ignatiev of Tinkoff Credit Systems, then spoiling the effort of CSC's Jens Voigt, the team was able to prevent Milram's lead-out man, Alberto Ongarato, from pushing into their train.

Normally, Greipel would be the last man leading out his young team-mate Mark Cavendish, who took two previous stage wins. When the black and white team led through to the final corner where Greipel took the lead, he never relinquished that position and took his first Grand Tour stage.

The German complemented his talented squad for putting in such an impressive performance. "Rabon, Wiggins – World Pursuit Champion – Pinotti, Hansen – Australian Time Trial Champion – and Tony Martin, who is also a strong time trialer and really young. Yeah, of course, I think we are the fastest train here in the Giro and we have showed it the whole time. Today, no one could follow us. Ongarato was impressive, but Cavendish and I are some of the fastest sprinters."

Coming into the last corner at 250 metres to go, it was Greipel leading Cavendish, Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) and Erik Zabel (Team Milram), and the order did not change at the finish line.

Read the complete feature.

Astana's Leipheimer: "Amazing if we could win"

By Gregor Brown in Locarno, Switzerland

Alberto Contador on the podium
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Team Astana had not planned on racing the three-week Giro d'Italia and was invited to race with less than a week's notice. However, the team has made the race much more exciting by providing foreign contenders including American Levi Leipheimer, Germany's Andreas Klöden and Spain's Alberto Contador, who is leading the race with four days remaining.

Leipheimer, third in the Tour de France behind Contador, was in contention for the overall win, but changed to a supporting role along with Klöden as the Italian Dolomites sorted out the team's leadership. Speaking Wednesday morning, before stage 14's run to Locarno, he indicated that he was thrilled with Contador's performance and the possibility of the team winning the race's maglia rosa for the general classification.

"Once Alberto took the jersey, it was pretty obvious that I was not good enough to do anything. I took it easy on Plan de Corones, I just rode tempo," the 34 year-old Leipheimer explained to Cyclingnews as he stood on Via Moro.

"I think it would be amazing if we could win this race and under the circumstance of this year. I can't think of anything better. I think it is unbelievable what Alberto has done." Contador currently leads the race by 41 seconds over Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Scott) thanks to an amazing time trial run to Urbino and a strong defence in the Dolomite stages.

"We did not know that we were even coming to this race and, now, here he is leading this race," the Californian said. The team, not originally invited to the Giro d'Italia or the Tour de France, was planning on racing the only other Grand Tour of the year, the Vuelta a España. However, race organiser RCS Sport granted Team Astana permission a the last moment.

Under the name of Discovery Channel, the team took two steps of the 2007 Tour de France's podium, but it did not have to defend for such a long amount of time. "Last year, in the Tour was obviously very special. We didn't really have to defend the lead very much because it was it was right at the end.

"I think we have more work cut out for us over the weekend this time around. We are very confident with Alberto, the team is definitely going to give it everything – 110 percent, so to speak."

Leipheimer indicated, he is looking forward to the two "transitional stages" on Wednesday and Thursday after the Giro's second rest day. "Yesterday, it was not really much of an off day, but for the legs it was a little bit easier. The next two days are going to be intense but at least they are very short." He finished with the gruppo on Wednesday and faces the second of two stages on Thursday, 147 kilometres to Varese.

Contador will call on Leipheimer to defend the race lead through the last two mountain days, Monte Pora on Friday and Triano on Saturday. "No attacking. He has the lead, and he just has to stay with the leaders and conserve the lead. That is what it is all about."

The final day, a 28.5-kilometre time trial to Milano, could suit Leipheimer, but he prefers to focus on Contador's overall win first. "I have to think about Friday and Saturday first and after concentring on that... the most important thing is winning the race."

Leipheimer will race the Dauphiné Libéré in June and relax in July.

Di Luca considers Giro d'Italia open

By Gregor Brown in Locarno, Switzerland

Danilo Di Luca
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Defending Giro d'Italia champion Danilo Di Luca of Team LPR Brakes considers the race "open" with four stages left, including two decisive mountain stages this Friday and Saturday. "The Killer" noted his his knowledge of the parcours, something which could help him combat Spain's Alberto Contador (Astana), who is leading the race by 2'18" over the Italian.

"I think it is still an open Giro," said 32 year-old from Pescara before the start of stage 17 to Locarno, Switzerland. Di Luca lost 1'23" on the mountain time trial stage of Plan de Corones.

"We are all there, within two minute. There are still two very important stages. ... It is still open, two minutes is not a lot and there are two important stages."

Earlier this year he previewed the never before climb of Monte Pora, northeast of Bergamo. "I have seen Monte Pora, I know the two stages of Friday and Saturday very well," he confirmed. Contador has never raced the Giro d'Italia and could suffer on the unknown roads.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia.

Ciolek claims first win of his season

Gerald Ciolek
Photo ©: Florian & Susanne Schaaf
(Click for larger image)

Team High Road's Gerald Ciolek blasted past the opposition at the end of the opening stage of the Bayern Rundfahrt on Wednesday for victory in a tough uphill sprint.

"It was my first win of the season, and it's come on home soil so that makes it all the more special," said the young German. "I jumped away with 300 metres to go, just after Christian Knees of Milram attacked and I got it by a bike length. I didn't have a lead-out, it was more a case of every man for himself, but I was doing ok and with 150 metres to go I knew I'd got it."

Ciolek's win came as a surprise to his team director Brian Holm. "To be honest, I thought the uphill finish was too steep for him. But I didn't say anything, because I remembered that in the Four Days of Dunkirk [High Road team sports director] Allan Peiper had told me that Gerald got second there on a tough finishing climb." Holm had previewed the climb, which helped him plan the team's winning strategy.

Ciolek arrived just in time to his team's hotel in Germany to see his team-mates Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel triumphing in the Tour of Italy. "It was a really special moment, they were both really fast and up there where they should have been."

As for his chances overall in Bayern, Ciolek said "I don't think I'll be able to defend the leaders' jersey beyond the time trial on Saturday, but we'll certainly do our best to keep it until then."

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Bayern Rundfahrt stage one.

Liquigas and Cannondale renew commitment

Franco Pellizotti wins a Giro stage for his Liquigas team
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)
More good news followed on the heels of Franco Pellizotti's victory in the Pan de Corones stage of the Giro d'Italia. On Wednesday, Team Liquigas and Cannondale renewed their sponsorship contract until 2010.

"These athletes give us the inspiration to create outstanding bikes and really motivate everyone at Cannondale to continue this success for as long as possible," said Jeff Frehner, President of Cannondale Sports Group. "We're delighted with the fantastic results we've achieved so far, and we're particularly pleased with the solid, long-lasting partnership that we've built up with the team. We all share the same determination and commitment to reaching our goals: these attributes are just as important for sports competitions as they are for manufacturing bikes."

"It gives us great pleasure to continue working with Cannondale," said Liquigas Sport President Paolo Dal Lago. "The company has become more that just a technical partner. Over the past couple of years, it has always given us what we need and done its best to support our team's ambitions."

Harlem Classic Rocks on

Harlem's 35th Annual Skyscraper Classic picked up a new sponsor for its 35th edition on Father's Day, Sunday, June 15th. Rock Racing will back the New York City event, a stop on the USA Crits racing series. Saab has also come on board as the official automobile sponsor. Racers will negotiate its classic 0.75 mile, four corner criterium course.

Rock Racing team owner Michael Ball said it was important for his company to support an event that has annually brought world class cycling talent to one of America's longest-standing African- American cultural and business centers. "The Harlem Cycling Classic fits perfectly with our mission of giving back to the community and making a difference," Ball said. "Rock Racing is proud to be a sponsor of such a great race that has a rich history in the annals of American bicycle racing."

The race was founded in 1973 by David A. Walker, a former Community Affairs Officer for the New York City Police Department. Past winners include George Hincapie, famed Australian 6-Day rider Danny Clark, and World Pursuit Champion Mike McCarthy.

For more information please go to

Tour de Grandview to award equal payout

A US$20,000 purse will be on the line when hundreds of top pros return to central Ohio for the 2008 Tour de Grandview Cycling Classic on June 28-29. The lion's share of the purse will be awarded to the top finishers in the elite men's and women's categories although masters and juniors will also take home money. The Tour will award equal prize money to the men and women.

"We're very proud to be able to offer such a sizable purse for this year's Tour and to reward our top men and women finishers equally," said Tour organizer Julie Whitley of the Grandview Community Association. "It's a testament not only to the growth and stature of the event, but also the generous contributions of Germain and our many other corporate supporters."

The sixteen-year-old event features two days of racing through the streets of suburban Grandview Heights, as well as a number events and activities for spectators and cyclists alike. The criterium courses will cover a number of the hilly, tree-lined streets on either side of Grandview Avenue, the city's main thoroughfare.

For more information, visit

Tour de Nez gets new location

The Northstar-at-Tahoe Tour de Nez and The Grand Sierra Resort announced Wednesday that two days of the event will be held at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada. The events were previously held in downtown Reno, but have been expanded this year to include social events and amateur racing.

"We're really excited," said organizers. "I think this will add some glitz to the Reno pieces of the race. I told the riders to get their black ties out."

The festivities will kick off with at on June 17 with a raffle, silent auction and Meet & Greet BBQ. Professional teams including Toyota United, Drapac Porsche, Health Net presented by Maxxis, Kelly Benefits Strategies presented by Medefast, Jelly Belly, BMC and Bissel will be on hand to sign autographs and answer questions. Racing starts June 18 with a kids' race, a Clunker Classic, and a pro twilight crit on a new one-mile course.

For more information, visit

Sacremento cycles for cleaner air

Cyclists in the Sacramento, California, Air Quality District surpassed their goal of riding one million miles in the month of May. Their efforts totalled 1,021,924 logged miles of recreational riding, commuting, errands and work trips of mid-day Wednesday. 6,590 cyclists participated in the effort.

"The current number of commute and errand miles has saved 404,849 pounds of global warming CO2 and 5,624 pounds of other air pollution from our atmosphere. The cyclists also saved 20,824 gallons of gasoline (worth $81,006.92)," according to

MVA cleans up

The Marymoor Velodrome Association (MVA) drew 21 volunteers to the annual Track clean-Up Day at the Group Health Velodrome on Sunday, May 25. Thanks to shovels, edgers, rakes, wheel barrows, power cleaners, mowers and some 80 hours of sweat equity, about three feet of the warm-up circle were reclaimed. Racers will appreciate the improvements when exiting the track during practice and after races.

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