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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, October 6, 2008

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Staying put with Astana

Leipheimer was racing hard for his teammate Contador during the Vuelta
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Although they've been part of the same team in the past, 2009 should see Levi Leipheimer and Lance Armstrong actually line out in the same races together. The 34-year-old Montana rider recently spoke to Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes. In the first of this two-part interview, Leipheimer gave his reasons why he welcomes the Texan's return and talked about his assessment of the Vuelta a España. In the second part he will recap his season.

What with Lance Armstrong announcing his comeback and Alberto Contador reportedly saying that he won the Vuelta without committed support from his teammate, you might expect Levi Leipheimer to be seeking a new team for 2009. However the American welcomes news of the former and dismisses reports about the latter, stating that Contador was misquoted and that he will be staying put next season.

Talking to him, it seems that Leipheimer is happy where he is. Since moving to Discovery Channel in 2006, he has made great leaps as a rider. He's finished third in the Tour de France, won two Tours of California, scooped overall victory in the Dauphiné Libéré, placed second in the recent Vuelta a España and clocked up three Grand Tour stage wins. And even if he admits to having briefly considered finding a new team for next season, he feels that riding alongside Armstrong and Contador will help him raise his game.

"As far as my position on the team goes, I think that over the last couple of years I have had to improve my own ability," he told Cyclingnews recently. "For example, with Basso coming and Alberto emerging as one of the greatest cyclists in history, I think that all made me improve. It made me the best that I can be and I think that ultimately that is the goal.

"With Lance coming back, I think it is going to continue like that. I have had my best two years amongst these riders, like Alberto and now Lance. I just try to look at the positive side like that."

Continue to the full feature. Part two coming soon.

Chavanel's hunger flat allows Fernandez to sign Basque hat trick

By Jean-François Quénet in La Roche-sur-Yon

The final podium (k-r) with Jérôme Pineau
Photo ©: Jean-François Quénet
(Click for larger image)

Euskaltel's Koldo Fernandez became the third Basque rider to win the Tour de Vendée. With a strong French peloton including Sylvain Chavanel, Fernandez won against the odds, with the Frenchman falling victim to hunger knock. Previous Basque winners are Mikel Gaztañaga - who won in 2006 and 2007 - and Alberto Leanizbarrutia, who won twenty years ago while riding for TEKA.

Typically taking place in May, the race had been rescheduled for the end of the season. That proved to be an influential move with the participation of the two strongest Spanish teams - Euskaltel and Caisse d'Epargne - in addition to the French contingent.

Since the 1-2 of Franck Bouyer and Walter Bénéteau in 2002 under the colours of Bonjour, local team Bouygues Telecom had never managed to score on home soil. They thought they had done most of the hard work by placing Jérôme Pineau at the head of the race together with Sylvain Chavanel, another former pupil of Jean-René Bernaudeau.

Pineau, the leader of the French cup, was hungry for the win as he prepares to say goodbye to Bouygues and hello to Quickstep for 2009. With riders from continental teams Tony Gallopin (Auber 93), Florian Guillou (Roubaix-Lille-Métropole) and Cyril Gautier (Bretagne-Armor Lux) who will join Bouygues Telecom next year, Chavanel and Pineau created a significant gap. But as in previous years, the Tour de Vendée ended up with a thrilling finale and another bunch sprint.

"As I felt hunger flat at the end, I knew I had lost," said Chavanel. "But I really enjoyed the ride today. I like racing in the rain. Now I'll do Paris-Bourges and then I'll go on holidays." The winner of stage 19 in the Tour de France deserves a nice break after a long and successful season.

Fernandez is also somebody used to winning. It was a fifth for him this year after stage wins at Tour of Murcia, Vuelta Castilla y León, Euskal Bizikleta and Tour of Burgos. "I came out of the Vuelta in good shape," he said. "This was my first time at the Tour de Vendée, and it was a very hard race. I didn't hope to win until the very end because I was convinced that Chavanel would stay away, but with one kilometre to go, I realized there was a possibility to win and I played out my sprint perfectly."

Full results, report and photos are here.

Zabel will end career at Berlin Six-Days

Erik Zabel is done racing
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Erik Zabel will likely end his career in Berlin, Germany, at the Six-Day race from January 22 to 27. Zabel announced during the World Championships that he will call it quits after 16 years in the pro peloton.

Zabel told the Berliner Zeitung that he was happy to be able to race in the German capital. "After retiring from road racing I will still do the six-day races. Because Berlin is the last German race, I can finally participate in the Velodrom [name of the stadium where the race takes place - ed.]"

Historically the race in Berlin was always too late for Zabel to participate, as he was busy preparing the road racing season. The enormous efforts by the organisers Heinz Seesing to sign Zabel up over the years were finally rewarded. "This time it is perfect. With our sports manager Dieter Stein we will now start the negotiations with Erik Zabel. I am sure we will reach agreement with everything. We will give him a big stage."

Tankink out of Paris-Tours

Bram Tankink of the Dutch Rabobank team fell during the wet final stage of the Circuit Franco-Belge and has a suspected broken rib. Tankink was scheduled to close out his season with Paris-Tours next Sunday.

According to, Tankink will go to a hospital today and get some X-rays done to reveal the extent of the injury.

Vegas and beyond for Howe

The start of the women's field in Cross Vegas
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
(Click for larger image)

Barbara Howe was back in action at Cross Vegas, after her bad accident last year sidelined her for a while. In Vegas she did all. Worked the booths. Raced her bike. Inspected the urban sprawl. Here is Barb's latest diary entry.

Once again I survived Las Vegas, Cross Vegas and one heck of a tiring Interbike tradeshow. Part of my job is to work the tradeshow, and although it sounds like fun, it's really lots of hard work. I've been home for four days, and I'm just starting to feel normal again. That's without going out and networking after hours. The trade show went great for my employer, Sheila Moon. We met lots of new people and saw most of our favourite, current dealers.

Monday evening after setting up our booth I headed west on a spin to work the kinks out of my legs. It was hot when I left, but as the sun dropped lower in the sky, the air cooled down and my ride was quite pleasant. After about an hour of riding I finally reached the place where the suburbs and traffic thin out. Next year it will probably take an hour and fifteen minutes to reach the area of thinning out – Vegas is contending for the win on the urban sprawl race.

Continue to the full diary entry.

Will Extremadura-Ciclismo Solidario become Extremadura-Loterías Boyacá?

Will Oscar Sevilla head back to Europe?
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Alfonso Rodríguez, the manager and director of the Spanish Pro Continental team Extremadura-Ciclismo Solidario indicated that the team may continue to exist in the foreseeable future. The team is backed by the government of Extremadura, a province in western Spain.

On the website, Rodríguez gave his idea on the future. "We could work for a project of three or four years, without asking ourselves every year if we wil continue."

Apparently the budget of 600,000 euro Rodríguez received this season isn't a problem. "It's profitable, if it goes together with the right image. And we look after that very much. We were the first to present our project to the authorities."

There are still a lot of rumours about the possible continuation of Extremadura-Ciclismo Solidario. There is a little bit of doubt if the regional government of Extremadura will continue the support. But a possible sponsor would be the Loterías de Boyacá, a Colombian lottery.

They currently support a Colombian team, headed by Vicente Belda. The reason for a potential support of a Spanish team is the desire to reach the European market. There is already a rider the team would like to have in its ranks Óscar Sevilla. Sevilla is currently with Rock Racing.(AS)

Contentpolis-Murcia works for 2009

Spanish Pro Continental outfit Contentpolis-Murcia is already building for 2009. In their own eyes the team have had a successful year.

Team manager José Antonio Ortuño, told radio station Onda Regional de Murcia that he was happy with the state of Murcia. "We can count on the support of the [state] government, but we also work on getting private companies on board.

Ortuño was at the recent Franco-Belge race, where his team was racing. There is one more race, before the off-season allows the team to plan ahead. "After the Vuelta a Chihuahua, when we close out this fantastic season, we will dedicate all our strengths to tie up things [for next year]."

Times are difficult in cycling, but Ortuño has one advantage in his hands. "The good results we had this season came as a surprise to those who didn't count on us and those who were very skeptical ... Additionally, we captured the interest of other businesses, who are interested."

Ortuño was cautious with announcing those interested businesses. "We can't give names [right now], as this is not what we do. We have always been very clear about this." The team manager revealed one thing that he found rather annoying. "The companies are located outside of the Murcia region. But cycling has changed a lot, and it is hard to find companies that give a lot of money. Rather, there are small contributions that add up."

For Ortuño, the necessary steps are very clear. "First, we have to close the economic chapter. Then, the sports directors can make their decisions, in consensus with the sponsors." It is clear that with the support by the regional government, the Murcian riders will get first dips again. " Chacón and Vera have many possibilities. We are interested in Claudio Casas [Andalucía-Cajasur] and Fran Pérez [Caisse d'Epargne], but I think the latter decided to renew [with Caisse]. A pity, because he was supposed to be our leader."

Ortuño will have around 1.5 million euro to his disposal. But the last word is not spoken, and he hopes for more. "We also have our U23 and junior riders." (AS)

Yates breaks record again in BikeNZ series

Hawkes Bay rider Jeremy Yates broke a second race record in as many weeks to extend his lead in the BikeNZ National Road Points Series in Taranaki He took out the Round Mt Egmont Classic after a slog in fierce winds over the 150km journey, clearing out in the run home from former national champion Gordon McCauley (Counties Manukau) and teammate Tom Findlay (New Plymouth).

Yates's partner Serena Sheridan (Nelson) continued her impressive run to win the women's race and extend her lead in the national points series The 90-strong field enjoyed a flying start, as they took advantage of the tailwinds over the first 60km down the coast before turning into a powerful and tricky crosswind to Eltham and the final 50km slog home directly into the strong and cold headwinds.

Yates had to play catch up after he waited for teenage teammate Thomas Findlay who punctured after only 10km. "The field split on the first climb and Tom and I were caught in that back group. It took about 15 minutes of hard riding to bridge back up to the front group," Yates said. From there the field gradually whittled down as the power went on, until only Yates, McCauley and Findlay remained at the front of the field.

The Hawkes Bay rider pushed hard up the final climb into the city three kilometres from the finish and remained clear to win in 3:29:06, which broke the previous record held by Geoff Burndred. Burndred set the record two years ago, with 3:29:55.

Yates was happy to have survived the windy race. "I am pretty happy with that win because it was a brutal day with those winds. At the end we were all absolutely stuffed. The pace was on and it was a war of attrition but I am pleased with that win and my second race record in a row. It goes to show, I think, that we have much stronger fields this year and that means we are riding fast despite less than ideal conditions."

Yates explained that the newly created series of races benefit everybody. "The national points series is a good idea and is probably the main reason for better fields. There's a good calendar in place so the top riders can plan and all get to these races."

The former world junior champion wants to use the series to springboard back into the professional ranks with a goal to ride for his country. The plan is to head to the US next year for a six-week trial. And from there hopefully I can ride well enough to get a professional contract again and I want to ride for New Zealand at the 2010 Commonwealth Games."

McCauley will be pleased with his second placing while Findlay performance means he has closed the gap for the series under-23 title to just 20 to leader Elliott Crowther. Sheridan, who rode in the BikeNZ women's road programme this year, was in a class of her own today, riding in a competitive men's bunch to win in an impressive 3hr 55min 47sec. She is also hoping to travel with Yates to the US circuit next year, and use the road as preparation to advance into the burgeoning BikeNZ women's track programme.

The next round of the national points series is the K2 race in the Coromandel on November 2.

Frenchman wins in Cameroun

Frenchman Thomas Rostollan of AVC Aix-en-Provence won the eighth edition of the Grand Prix cycliste Chantal Biya. He preceded compatriot and teammate Florent Barle by three minutes. reports that the final of three stages went to German Serge Herz. The first African rider in the final general classification was Flaubert Douanla of the SNH team. Douanla is from Cameroun. About 70 riders started the 470-kilometre affair, with teams from Cameroun, Germany, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Congo, Ivory Coast, France, Italy and Slovakia.

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Antonio J. Salmerón.)

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