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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, November 20, 2008

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Sastre looking forward to new goal

Before defending his Tour de France title, Carlos Sastre hopes for a podium spot in the 2008 Giro d'Italia
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

2008 Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre seems to have made no secret of his goals for the upcoming season. Two weeks ago, he announced his intention to defend his title at the Tour and also spoke about competing in the Giro d'Italia.

Speaking to Spanish media, Sastre said the Italian Grand Tour has appealed to him for quite a while. "The Giro is something that has been floating around in my mind for a while," he said. "It motivates me a lot." The Spaniard revealed that he would skip the Vuelta a España – in which he has reached a third place this year – to try for the podium in the Giro instead. If he succeeds, he could add the third Grand Tour podium spot to his rider palmarès.

"If I go to the Giro it will be so I can compete with the best," he said, admitting that his new team, the Cervélo TestTeam, will decide his race schedule in the first week of December. "Once you've reached the goals you set for yourself in your sports career, you start looking for new ones. I have reached a series of objectives in the Tour as well as in the Vuelta, and the Giro can be a new motivation."

The Spaniard is also looking forward to competing against Lance Armstrong and his Astana armada, which could include the likes of Andreas Klöden, Levi Leipheimer and Yaroslav Popovych. Sastre said that it was the first Corsa Rosa for Armstrong, while he has already participated in the race three times. "This could be my advantage," he said.

In any case, Sastre expressed great confidence in his team, a "young, consistent and competitive squad," before admitting that he had problems with his former team CSC Saxo Bank manager Bjarne Riis in the past. "My phone is open to anyone," he said, revealing that Riis had not congratulated him for his third place in the Vuelta last September.

Garzelli: "Giro more important than Tour"

By Gregor Brown

Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone)
Photo ©: Isabelle Duchesne
(Click for larger image)

Stefano Garzelli believes that the Giro d'Italia will have a higher status than the Tour de France next year thanks to its participants. The Italian whose Acqua & Sapone squad was not invited to this year's event, won his home tour in 2000 and hopes to be back next year to add to the spectacle.

Lance Armstrong "will give an extra value to the Giro. With Armstrong, [Ivan] Basso, [Denis] Menchov, [Damiano] Cunego and [Carlos] Sastre the race has become more important than the Tour. It will be harder than the Tour too. It seems that all the strong riders are wanting to do this Giro and it is a great result for the race's image," Garzelli said to Cyclingnews.

Garzelli, 35, won the 2000 edition thanks to epic battles over Prato Nevoso and Col d'Izoard. He has collected five more stage wins since then and looks forward to a battle against Armstrong.

"The last time I raced with Armstrong was at his last Tour, 2005. ... The years are also passing for me. I won the Giro in 2000, nine years ago. For me it is important to be there, to ride a strong Giro and to be a protagonist. To win against young riders who have come through like Cunego and Basso will be difficult, but if I am able to race then I will give my best. Maybe [it can be] like two years ago [2007] with two stage wins – it was a great result. To win a stage at the Giro d'Italia is very important."

Garzelli won five races this year – two stages at the Vuelta Ciclista Asturias, two at the Giro del Trentino and the GP de Wallonne – and finished second ten times. He considered retiring early when organisers did not select his team for the Giro d'Italia. Italy's technical director Franco Ballerini delivered a second blow when he overlooked Garzelli for the World Championships team, a race run in Garzelli's hometown of Varese.

"It was great season, but unfortunately I was not at the races I wanted to be. ... I had a second overall behind [Alejandro] Valverde and ahead of [Alberto] Contador at [Vuelta Ciclista a] Murcia. And, at Coppi e Bartali, when Evans won and I finished second. I had great results against prestigious riders."

He re-signed for two years with Team Acqua & Sapone in July, and Garzelli and his team have confidence for selection in the 2009 Giro based on their results throughout this season.

"We hope to be there. We think we earned it; this year we won the European ProTour classification and this is important, but if we don't do the Giro the sponsor does not know if it will continue.

"I certainly think that 2010 will be my last year. When I was 30, I said I would quit when I was 35; Now, I will go another two more years – you can never say never. The years pass and it is always more difficult, but as long as there are still results it seems right to continue."

Garzelli, who is currently in his wife's hometown in Valencia, Spain, started training again following a short pause and a vacation in Mexico. He began with work in the gym and on the bicycle, and in the next weeks will begin training in earnest for the 2009 season.

Race organisers RCS Sport will announce the full parcours December 13. The event, which will celebrate its 100th year, might conclude with a time trial in Rome.

Early season goals for Roche

Nicolas Roche, who is joining AG2R La Mondiale for next season, is gearing up to be competitive in early 2009. The son of Tour de France winner Stephen Roche will start his racing programme in the Tour Down Under in January, one month sooner than this year, where his first race was the Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia in February.

"This year, I started later than ever before," Roche told French Cyclismag. "I am very motivated by the first races. Even more so because, after my crash at the Worlds, I missed out on three weeks of racing including Paris-Tours..."

The young Irish-French rider, who rode a very promising Vuelta a España this year, is already watching his weight closely for his early season goals. Instead of being five kilos over his racing weight like in previous winters, he said this year it was only three. Roche will meet up with his AG2R teammates in a training camp in the beginning of December.

Jaksche to concentrate on studies

Two years ago, Jaksche still rode for Würth
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Former bike rider Jörg Jaksche, whose one-year suspension for admitted doping ended this summer, has no plans to return into the peloton at the moment. Instead, the German said he committed himself to law studies.

After a link with Austrian Continental team Gouermetfein Wels was reported on Tuesday this week, Jaksche told Radsportnews that there had been no offer from the squad for him to become a professional rider again. "I met with team manager Lindlbauer in Salzburg," he said. "But our meeting was mainly on the question if I would do something with them in terms of anti-doping. We haven't made a decision yet."

Jaksche, who tried to get a contract with a team for months, has stopped hoping for a comeback even though his countryman Patrik Sinkewitz recently signed with Czech team PSK Whirlpool. Sinkewitz, a former T-Mobile rider, also confessed to doping and had a hard time finding a new team after his suspension (see Procycling interview).

Still, Jaksche did not rule out a return to competition. "If a team would call me tomorrow and want to take me on, I would think about it. But that is very hypothetical at the moment," he said.

Instead, the son of an ophthalmologist and a doctor has set a new goal for himself: becoming a lawyer. "After 12 years as a cyclist, it's a massive change," he said. Jaksche was one of the cyclists linked to the Operación Puerto scandal that shook the sport in 2006. In June 2007, he admitted his offense and since then collaborated widely with anti-doping authorities.

Capelle stops

Belgian pro Ludovic Capelle has decided to hang up his bike. After 10 years in the pro peloton, Capelle now hopes to rebuild his career in the cycling industry.

The 32 year-old, whose biggest victories include the Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen (2003), Dwars door Vlaanderen (2004) and the GP d'Isbergues (2004), was racing for Latvian continental team Rietumu Banka – Riga this season. But the 2001 Belgian champion, who tested positive for EPO in 2005, deplored the state of cycling these days.

"When I look at how cycling is developing right now, I tell myself that I have nothing to do with it anymore," he told La Dernière Heure. "It's crazy that a guy like my teammate Saramotins [third in the GP Samyn, second in the Tour du Finistère - ed.] doesn't find anything else than [Swedish Continental team] Designa Kokken! Like all the other riders still on the market. And I don't even speak of the misery payrolls of those who have a contract."

SA gets new racing series

South African professional road cycling, still reeling at the news of the cancellation of two premier international events next year, was given a timely morale-boost on Thursday with the announcement of the new Alpha Pharm Seeding Series.

Using the existing 15 events that contribute to the Cape Argus Pick 'n Pay Cycle Tour's participant seeding system, the Alpha Pharm Seeding Series will reward the top Elite and Under-23 men and women with a prize purse of R200 000 at the end of 2009.

Following the recent cancellation of the 2009 World's View Challenge and the Tour of South Africa events, local professional teams have been left short of new challenges on the domestic circuit for next year, which is why the Alpha Pharm Seeding Series has been well received.

"It's always great to have a new sponsor in the sport and local racing will no doubt become more interesting and strategic with a long-term prize on offer," said MTN Energade team owner, Douglas Ryder. "In 2009 we'll have a bigger number of professional teams contesting the local events and the Alpha Pharm Seeding Series will help raise the profile of the professional racing which can only be positive for the sport."

The 2009 Alpha Pharm Seeding Series will start with the Herald Cycle Tour in Port Elizabeth on February 1 and end with Die Burger Cycle Tour in Stellenbosch on November 29. The official prize giving function will be held at the 2010 Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour.

The Alpha Pharm Seeding Series 2009 will include the following races:

February 1: Herald Cycle Tour, Port Elizabeth
February 14: Construction du Cap 99er, Durbanville
February 15: Dischem Ride For Sight, Boksburg
February 22: Daily Dispatch / Felt Cycle Tour, East London
March 8: Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour, Cape Town
July 5: Pick n Pay Weekend Argus Rotary Knysna Cycle Tour, Knysna
July 15: Medihelp Jock Cycle Classique, Nelspruit
September 5: Kumba Iron Ore Classic, Upington
September 13: Powerade Dome 2 Dome Cycling Spectacular, Johannesburg
October 18: Pick n Pay Amashovashova National Classic, Durban
October 24: Telkom Satellite Cycle Classic, Pretoria
November 1: Pick n Pay OFM Cycle Classic, Bloemfontein
November 7: AGA Cycle Challenge, Orkney
November 15: Pick n Pay 94.7 Cycle Challenge, Johannesburg
November 29: Die Burger Cycle Tour, Stellenbosch

Two Colombian cyclists die in road crash

Two Colombian Senior riders, Uriel Pérez and Jorge Ramírez, have perished in a crash while racing the Clásica Nacional de Aguazul in Casanare, Central Colombia, on Tuesday this week. According to local authorities, the two riders were hit by a truck coming the opposite way. Fifteen other riders were also involved in the accident, and suffered various injuries.

The driver of the vehicle was detained by police and will have to respond to a court soon.

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