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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, May 30, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

Voigt wins on instinct

By Gregor Brown in Varese

German Jens Voigt
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

German Jens Voigt is well known for his propensity for getting into breakaways, and has used this characteristic to take the yellow jersey in the Tour de France as well as win stages in 2001 and 2006. And while the Team CSC rider's victory in stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia was accomplished with the same kind of panache as these previous wins, his race winning move was launched from so far out that even his directeur sportif felt it was too soon.

The 36 year-old hard-man of cycling joined the breakaway before it left the 2009 world championship circuit in Mendrioso, just 12 kilometres into the stage, but he found himself in the company of so many strong riders that it would make winning difficult.

"When I went in the escape, I said 'Wow, I am in a good group.' I felt a little small with others there: [Paolo] Bettini, the world champion, [Giovanni] Visconti, maglia rosa and Italian Champion, [Gabriele] Bosisio, maglia rosa..." explained the talkative German, who took the victory on the same circuit that will be used for the 2008 World Championships.

"It was a good group. I sought not to lose morale with such a group," he stated honestly. Voigt's last famous escape came during the 2006 Tour de France, when he won a two-up sprint in a breakaway which gained 30 minutes on the peloton, beating eventual race winner Oscar Pereiro.

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Coming into the final 40 kilometres, Voigt's group held a secure seven minute lead on the peloton, but he attacked his eleven companions even before the race entered the two laps of the 17.4 kilometre circuit in Varese.

Directeur Sportif Kim Anderson may have not agreed with the timing of the manoeuvre, but Voigt had two good reasons to stage such an outrageous coup: Paolo Bettini and three-time stage winner Daniele Bennati (Liquigas), the maglia ciclamino in this Giro d'Italia.

Continue to the full feature.

Italians behind Giro leader Contador?

By Gregor Brown in Varese

Alberto Contador is getting comfortable with pink
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

With three stages remaining in the 91st Giro d'Italia, it feels as though Italy is behind Spaniard Alberto Contador, winner of the 2007 Tour de France. The 25 year-old of Team Astana leads the three-week race over Italians Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Scott) – 41 seconds – and Gilberto Simoni (Diquigiovanni) – 1'22".

Along the race route, you can hear cries of support for Contador from the Italian fans, something that Contador appreciates and needs on the eve of two serious mountain stages. The peloton faces the Passo del Vivione and Monte Pora Friday and the Gavia and Mortirolo on Saturday.

"The fans are taking me on as their own," Contador remarked following the 147-kilometre stage to Varese on Thursday. "I can hear them yelling my name and I am very surprised. I am very content to be here because I never thought I would be racing this race. I am happy to see these people cheering me on for the maglia rosa."

Contador's Team Astana was given its invitation to the Giro d'Italia with just over one week before the race started in Palermo, May 10. The team is now in a position to win the overall with three stages remaining, the final being a time trial in Milano on Sunday.

"Tomorrow [Friday - ed.], there are no climbs that give me fear, it is my terrain," Contador stated of the stage that includes the Passo del Vivione and Passo Della Presolana, before finishing on the Monte Pora. "There will be others who will try to make the difference, but I will try to stay there. ... I would like to attack; I like to race this way for the fans. However, it is not needed, and given the condition I had before the Giro I don't know... I know they will be two hard days."

He will mark the erratic Riccò. "Riccò is very fast, and then the time bonuses at the end [of the stage for winning]. If I can make a difference on him it would work in my favour. ... It is possible that Simoni attacks, but I will have to watch the situation on the Vivione. I will have to see how my team-mates are going and how we will control the situation."

Contador's confidence was evident when he led the charge of the main gruppo home in stage 18. He fought hard for the sprint, which was eventually won by Lilian Jégou (Française des Jeux). "It was because I had faith and I wanted to make sure I did not lose any seconds," confirmed Contador. "My legs are going well."

Riders for radios

Radio in the ear of former Gabriele Bosisio (LPR Brakes)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The debate surrounding the use of race radios has been swirling about this season, and now the Cyclistes Professionnels Associés (CPA) has released the results of an opinion survey which reveals that the majority of riders are in favour of the devices. Criticism of the radios has come from race organizers, the media, and fans who feel that the riders have become nothing more than puppets as the directors pull the strings from the team car.

The CPA and its president Cédric Vasseur sought out the opinion of the riders themselves by polling each professional individually. The UCI was scheduled to hold a discussion on the matter with its Road Commission last Friday to develop new rules surrounding the use of radios. The UCI banned them in espoir races this year, and the Tour de France organizer Christian Prudhomme has considered prohibiting their use as well.

"The result of this opinion poll shows that 70% of the riders are in favour of the use of the ear pieces during the competitions," the CPA statement read. "The main reasons they bring up are the following: safety on the course, - not only for the riders to be informed in time of the dangers they will meet on the road, but also to avoid the continuous motion of vehicles at the back and in the middle of the bunch, and the possibility for the riders to be in permanent communication with their team-mates and their team manager."

The CPA called the use of radios "progress to improve their work conditions", and pointed out that the use of radios is not compulsory."The 30% of the riders which are against the use of the ear pieces think that the fact of forbidding its use would make it easier for the riders who want to take the initiative of attacking by themselves to do it freely, and that as a consequence the races could unfold in a completely different way and be less predictable."

Milram terminates Astarloa's contract

Team Milram has terminated its contract with former World Champion Igor Astarloa, it announced Thursday, following disclosures that he had shown "irregular blood values", as reported by Focus magazine.

"He has received a letter saying that he no longer rides for us," said team manager Gerry van Gerwen to the German press agency dpa. "He does not agree with it and therefore it is all in the hands of attorneys." He emphasised that there was no positive doping test.

Astarloa, 32, did not start the second stage of the Giro d'Italia, allegedly because of stomach problems. The Spaniard won the 2003 World Championships in Hamilton, Canada.

Milram recently fired star sprinter Alessandro Petacchi after the Court of Arbitration for Sport suspended him for one year on doping charges.

Possoni details Giro's never-before used Monte Pora

By Gregor Brown in Varese

Best young rider Morris Possoni
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The Corsa Rosa will climb the Monte Pora for the first time in its history this Friday with the 228-kilometre stage from Legnano. The stage is the first of two final decisive stages, and High Road's Morris Possoni believes attacks will need to come immediately from the favourites if they are to make a difference.

The stage starts and ends in Italy's Lombardia region with three key climbs: Passo del Vivione, Passo Della Presolana and Monte Pora. Vivione is the longest – 19.8 kilometres and topping out with 55.4 kilometres remaining – while the double whammy of Presolana and Pora at the stage's end should see the guns start to fire.

"I have done it in training. It is a hard climb to ride after Vivione and the Presolana... It will make the selection," noted 23 year-old Possoni to Cyclingnews Thursday morning in Mendrisio. The Italian is from Ponte San Pietro, near the stage's mid-way point.

"I have not done it many times because in the winter there is usually snow up there and it is cold. The road should be good and clean now, on the Vivione."

Possoni believes it will be a good opportunity for the favourites to make time on their rivals, but timing will be the key as the last two climbs are not that long – Presolana starts with 16.1 kilometres remaining and Pora with just 6.4 kilometres to go.

"The favourites will have all of the ground they want to attack each other. ... If they are going well they have to keep a high pace over Vivione and then they have to attack right away on the Monte Pora because it is not very long, five or six kilometres from the start in Dorga."

There will be plenty of cheers for the home rider and he will try to make a showing if his legs feel good. "The stage will pass near my home, Ponte San Pietro – I will breathe in the home air. My fans, my parents and two sisters, Orietta and Emanuela," he confirmed will be lining the road. "Attack? If I am going well then yes, there will be many people out there to see me. The problem is that the energy level is low."

Oleg Tinkov confident of Giro win number two

By Gregor Brown in Varese

Oleg Tinkov was overjoyed
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Tinkoff Credit Systems team owner, Russian Oleg Tinkov, is confident that the team's second win will come in the 91st Giro d'Italia. With only three stage wins remaining, the 40 year-old business man and cycling enthusiast is banking on Sunday's final stage in Milano.

Tinkov is backing Mikhail Ignatiev, the 2004 Olympic Gold medallist in the Points Race, to win the 28.5-kilometre time trial.

"We are very strong," Tinkov confirmed Thursday morning before stage 18 to Cyclingnews. He is satisfied with his team's performance in this year's Giro d'Italia, which includes a stage win by Pavel Brutt in Contursi Terme.

"'Misha' Ignatiev tried yesterday. He did his best and he can now concentrate on the last day; I want him to win the time trial. I am sure he is going to win, I don't see any rivals for him. All the guys from the classification are going to be tired. He should win."

In addition to Brutt's win, Team Tinkoff had some near-misses. "Brutt's win was an emotional day – we had taken our stage," Tinkov continued as the rain fell down. "We were not so lucky – Trusov was third and Kiryienka was two-times second – especially when Trusov was third, he could have won. However, we met our objective with a stage and we can dream of the next one." He insisted, "the last one."

Tinkov and team general manger, Stefano Feltrin, are riding part of every stage. "Our objective is to do 2,000 kilometres," Tinkov stated. "We have covered 1,600 kilometres now, so I think we are going to make 2,000 kilometres. On the stage to Carpi we did the whole stage – the flat stage. Today, we will do about 100, just riding straight to Varese."

Business as normal for two-man Gerolsteiner team

By Gregor Brown in Varese

Fröhlinger is one of two Gerolsteiners left in the Giro
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

It is business as normal for Team Gerolsteiner even though the team is down to only two men – Sven Krauss and Johannes Fröhlinger – left in the 91st Giro d'Italia.

"It is an interesting situation. We feel like a very small team in a big, big race," explained 25 year-old Krauss to Cyclingnews at the start of stage 18. However, he pointed out that the team is still working as normal, including setting up Krauss for the sprint, where he finished 11th in Wednesday's finish in Locarno. "We are going to the front and doing the race as normal."

There are not any fights for the best seat on the team bus as Germans Krauss and Fröhlinger to stretch their legs without arguments. "Now we have a lot of space in the team bus!" he laughed. The team's structure is still well in place even with two riders. "It is all here. ... We have our therapists, mechanics, doctors and directeur sportif; everything is normal."

Krauss will take his form from this Giro d'Italia – his fourth – to the GP Triberg-Schwarzwald, where he had a good placing in 2007.

"It has been very hard this year; it has been long transfers and hard stages. The weather has been okay, the second day was a little bit bad and some mountain stages, but it is warm," continued Krauss.

"Normally, after Giro, I have very good form. Last year, one week after I had a fifth place in the GP Triberg-Schwarzwald, it is a very hard mountain race. I will go from here to the Ster Elektrotoer tour, Triberg-Schwarzwald and the German championships, then maybe the Tour de France."

Germany names seven to Olympic track team

Olaf Pollack took the stage in the Bayern-Rundfahrt on the same day his participation in the Olympics was confirmed.
Photo ©: Florian & Susanne Schaaf
(Click for larger image)

Germany has announced its track team for the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. Olaf Pollack, who won a silver in the Madison in this year's World Championships, is one of seven riders nominated. The German women did not qualify for the games. The mountain bike team will be named in June, and the road and MX riders in July.

The team has two riders for the endurance disciplines, Pollack and Roger Kluge. Five riders were named for the sprint events: Carsten Bergemann, Rene Enders, Robert Förstemann, Maximilian Levy and Stefan Nimke.

Nature Valley announces women's collegiate team

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

The Nature Valley Grand Prix, one of the top NRC stage races in America, will once again have a special collegiate women's all-star team comprised of the top riders from the recent US collegiate nationals. Each member of the team will race in her school's team kit, garnering national exposure for the school, while the rider gains exposure in front of the top women's teams.

The first year success of the program prompted its continuation, as half of the 2007 team were signed to pro contracts for this season – Penn State's Erica Allar (Aaron's Pro Cycling), Fort Lewis College's Kristin McGrath (Colavita-Sutter Home), and Lehigh University's Andrea Luebbe (Verducci Breakaway Racing).

Devon Haskell (University of Chicago) is returning to the team this year. She told her school newspaper, The Maroon, after last year's race that being the test group meant a lot of unknowns, but was happy with the result.

"Nature Valley is one of the biggest and most competitive races in America for women's cycling," said Haskell. "All the big pro teams are there. [It was] my first year bike racing so it was a pretty cool experience to be racing with the best. [It was] the first year that they put a collegiate all-star team together, and I think nobody really knew what to expect, [but I] think we came out of the event feeling like the team was a success."

Collegiate cycling is seen as one of the biggest potential recruiting venues for women's cycling in the US, said USA Cycling board president Mark Abramson, who sits on the board as the collegiate cycling representative. ""The Ryan Collegiate All Stars is a great way to build awareness of collegiate cycling and to help talented women move up the ladder in the sport."

Ryan Collegiate All-Stars: Chloe Forsman, University of Arizona; Devon Haskell, University of Chicago; Anna McLoon, Harvard University; Amanda Miller, Colorado State University; Jen Stebbins, Dartmouth College; Carla Swart, Lees-McRae College

USA Crits continues with Tulsa Tough

The second season of the USA Crits series will continue in Oklahoma for the Tulsa Tough this Saturday, May 31. Regarded as one of the most challenging criteriums in the series, the fast and technical course will once again prove to be selective for the overall. As the second race in the series, the standings are wide open for change.

After the first round race in Athens, the men's standings are currently in control of the Colavita squad, which second and sixth at Athens with sprinter Sebastian Haedo and Kyle Wamsley, but with both riders heading to competing events on the East Coast, and Athens winner Rahsaan Bahati injured, the time will be ripe for the Toyota United squad to take control by sending its full squad to Tulsa, including B World Road Race Champion Ivan Stevic, and Ivan Dominguez.

Team Inferno has some firepower of its own in the form of Australia's "Lightning" Jeff Hopkins. The former Junior World Track Champion finished in third place behind Toshiba-Santo's Mark Hekman during USA Crits Speed Week, so Hopkins is determined to improve his ranking in the series.

In the women's match-up, a few of the teams to watch are Advil Chapstick, Cheerwine, Vanderkitten Racing, and New Zealand's Jazz Apple Cycling Team. Jen McRae (Advil Chapstick) and Kelly Benjamin (Cheerwine) are first class racers, but they're going to have to perform at their very best to fend off Jazz Apple's Malindi Maclean, New Zealand's current National Criterium Champion, and her team-mate Lauren Ellis, the National Elite Points Pace Champion.

Event organizer Malcolm McCollam is excited about the caliber of cyclists who will compete. "Inclusion of Tulsa Tough in the USA Crits Series is a major milestone for our event, signaling to the cycling world that Tulsa Tough is a major event on the domestic calendar, and it's here to stay."

The Tulsa Tough attracts amateur cycling enthusiasts too during what will be a weekend festival. There will be a fitness challenge, tour rides, kids and youth activities, and live music, all supported by sponsors, vendors and community partners. The Children's Hospital at St. Francis is giving 3rd, 4th and 5th graders an opportunity to win a free bike, helmet and T-shirt through the Tulsa Tough. The hospital is promoting bike safety by encouraging kids to improve their riding skills. has more information on all weekend activities.

Following Tulsa, the USA Crits series heads to New York City for the Harlem Skyscraper Classic on Sunday, June 15.

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