First Edition Cycling News, October 17, 2008
Edited by Sue George
Bennati closes problematic season with win
By Gregor Brown in Lagnasco, Italy
Italy's Daniele Bennati closed out a season plagued with injuries with a win in the 94th Giro del Piemonte. The Liquigas rider from Arezzo, 28, won over compatriot Luca Paolini in a sprint.
"This year the win came much easier than in 2006, and I am happy I was able to come out with it so easily," explained Bennati. He won the race's most recent edition in 2006.
Piemonte marked win number seven in a year that was up and down for Bennati. The highs came at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España, but they were balanced out by lows that included knee pains in the off-season and an inflammation that forced him to miss the Tour de France.
"With respect to last year, it has actually gone okay. With all the problems I had, I was even able to come out and take wins. At the start of season, I had a problem with my knee, then before the Tour, I had a problem that sometimes forced me to stop in pain.
"I was able to win at Giro del Trentino, which was not really my type of race. The Tour de Romandie went well, the Giro went very well," he continued. He won three stages and the points classification's maglia ciclamino at the Giro d'Italia.
"It is too bad that I had to skip the Tour, but the Vuelta went well I took a stage. I had a problem in the Vuelta with my prostate and I could not be at best for the Worlds even if I was selected it was an inflammation, but nothing serious," he said. Bennati left the Vuelta after stage nine.
Bennati ended his season to focus on a winter of rebuilding his heath. He will return in the Liquigas colours next year along with new-signing Ivan Basso.
German broadcasters pull Tour de France coverage
Two German broadcasters announced Thursday that they will not broadcast live coverage of the Tour de France in 2009. The decision by ARD and ZDF comes in response to a spate of recent positive doping tests among several high profile athletes who competed in the Tour de France in July of 2008.
"The regard for the Tour de France has considerably decreased due to the increase in doping cases," said the chairman of ARD Fritz Raff according to AFP. "The interest in its coverage has also decreased considerably."
ZDF backed up ARD by telling AFP it would not broadcast the Tour without the ARD.
In response, Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), organizers of the Tour de France, defended its efforts to combat doping. "For several years, we have been engaged in the thankless fight against doping," ASO said in a statement. "In the latest edition, the French Antidoping Agency (AFLD), handled the doping controls independently. Seven riders were convicted of doping and are excluded from the race."
"ARD calls for the fight against doping, but then is offended when we find the riders who are doping. They would like us to search [for dopers], but find nothing," continued the statement, which re-iterated a recent comment by Pierre Bordry, President of the AFLD. "On October 14, he said, 'The majority of riders are not doping.'"
Despite the decision of the two German organizations not to provide live Tour de France coverage, ASO assured Germans they will still be able to watch the French Grand Tour on television.
"The 2009 Tour will be brought to Germany. German viewers will be able to follow the Tour on Eurosport."
Deutschland Tour cancelled in wake of doping scandals
Continuing a grim day for German road cycling fans, organizers cancelled the Deutschland Tour for 2009. After losing a major sponsor, organizers said they would not be able to market the race to sponsors well enough to fund the race after the recent round of positive doping tests and the retreat of television broadcaster ARD.
German cycling was dealt a double blow with the test results this week and last week of Team Gerolosteiner riders Bernard Kohl and Stefan Schumacher, both of whom tested positive for EPO CERA for samples taken during the Tour de France.
"It's news that does not surprise us entirely," said a UCI spokesperson to the AFP in response to the cancellation of the ProTour race. "It must reflect the middle position of cycling."
"The UCI continues to hope that with all of its efforts to fight against doping, we will be soon be able to re-create conditions in which cycling can be popular again with sponsors, the media and the public in Germany."
The 2008 Deutschland Tour was won by Germany's Linus Gerdemann (Team Columbia).
Evans targets Lombardia at end of hectic season
By Gregor Brown in Lagnasco, Italy
Cadel Evans (Silence - Lotto) will be hunting for a win in his "home" race, the Giro di Lombardia, this Saturday along the lakefront of Como. The Australian, 31, faces a tough challenge at the end of a busy season that included second in the Tour de France.
"I always go there, but with everything else that I have going on throughout the year between the Tour, the Olympics and the Ardennes Classics it is pretty normal that I arrive to Lombardia near dead," said Evans to Cyclingnews as he was preparing for the Giro del Piemonte, which began just ten minutes later.
Evans built his season around trying to win the Tour de France, with special emphasis on the Spring Classics; Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He prefers to end his season with a strong effort in the Giro di Lombardia because the parcours fit his traits the mythic Ghisallo and an undulating finale and because his wife is from the region.
Knee problems have plagued Evans since the end of the Tour de France after he slipped in a nightclub in Paris while celebrating his second place finish; the resulting knee injury compromised his Olympic chances.
"I have been working flat-out since the Olympics to get it [the knee] better, but my training since then has always been compromised. I am going okay for Lombardia and I will see."
Evans faces riders of Damiano Cunego and Samuel Sánchez's calibre Saturday. He may find the season weighing heavy in his legs, but he does not see any other way to arrive for the Race of the falling leaves in better form. "Who else from the [Tour] top ten is here racing here this week? Either I give up going for a result in all the early season races or the Tour," he said with a laugh. "So, I just do the Tour and what is left over for Lombardia is good enough.
"I will go in with a completely relaxed mind. If I can be there competitive that is a bonus, if not then no worries because I have finished the season."
The Coppa Lella Mentasti in Borgomanero, Italy, will be Evans last race of the year. He will go to the two-man time trial with a good cause in mind. "I am doing Borgomanero on Sunday. ... I am going to Nepal the week after so I am raising money for a school there where I sponsor Tibetan children. So, I am doing the Borgomanero time trial to get some money to take to Nepal."
The Giro di Lombardia unofficially concludes the season for many riders. The 242km parcours takes in the Madonna del Ghisallo, a 8.6km climb to the sanctuary dedicated to cyclists.
Cooke to form new British women's squad
World and Olympic champion Nicole Cooke, is teaming up with Stefan Wyman, current manager of the Swift Racing team, to build a team, which will be known as Vision1 Racing. The new team will bring Wyman together with the support staff that helped Cooke win those Olympic World titles in 2008. It will support Cooke and her goals as well as serve as a development platform for future elite female racers.
"I feel very fortunate to have had such fantastic support from a few key people during 2008 who have worked with me in a professional way to help me achieve my best possible results," said Cooke. "Having achieved my dreams in cycling I now feel it is time to give something back to the sport and believe that by helping to develop the next generation of talented riders we can make Britain one of the strongest nations in cycling by [the London Olympic Games in] 2012.
"I was impressed with the professional and motivated attitude to racing and development of riders shown by Swift Racing when racing with them at the Grande Boucle this year. I was also very impressed by Stefan Wyman's management skills and his attitude to developing riders and team spirit. I think that by taking the best of both of our resources we can create a team structure that can make talented British riders part of the strongest team in women's cycling by 2012."
Wyman will fill the management role for Vision 1. "I am delighted. It's something I have hoped would happen ever since the Grand Boucle. Nicole and I have a very similar vision for the future of women's cycle sport in the United Kingdom. I'm excited about 2009 to see what we can achieve."
According to Cooke, the programme will last at least four years and focus on "preparation, performance and development of talented riders, not just on results". The team will provide the stepping stones necessary to progress to the top of elite women's road racing, and the squad will race events from local races up through World Cups, National and World Championships, Commonwealth and Olympic Games.
Although Wyman said he wants to build a team of primarily young British riders who might eventually be part of the 2012 British Olympic Games team, he said, "Due to the lack of experienced road racers in Britain the team will have a number of experienced international riders showing and setting a good example for the younger riders to follow."
Cooke shared her philosophy for the team. "Our focus will be on building up a team spirit with a professional attitude to preparation, training and racing in an environment that also helps the riders develop as people. I feel this balance between enjoying life and their racing will be crucial to helping the riders get the most from their sport."
More details on the team's racing calendar and rider roster will be announced soon.
Gilbert and Voeckler take on the time trial specialists at Chrono des Nations
By Jean-François Quénet
The 27th edition of the Chrono des Nations will end the 2008 French cycling season on Sunday. The individual time trial, held in Les Herbiers, Vendée (in western France), will also be the third running of this annual event under the name inherited from the famous GP des Nations, a race no longer organised by Amaruy Sport Organization (ASO).
Paris-Tours winner Philippe Gilbert will complete his duties with Française des Jeux and local hero Thomas Voeckler will take part again for the third consecutive year.
"I'm proud to keep the tradition of time trial at the end of season," said race promoter Christian Tessier.
Just one day after racing the Giro di Lombardia and one week before heading to the Japan Cup, Voeckler, a wearer of the yellow jersey during the 2004 Tour de France, will lead a Bouygues Telecom team of no less than six contenders. The squad's best chance of winning will come from Stef Clement, who finished third last year.
"As much as Gilbert might give a nice gift to Française des Jeux before leaving, Stef might do the same with us shall he win the Chrono des Nations," said Bouygues Telecom Manager Jean-René Bernaudeau.
Other riders scheduled to take part in the 29-man field contesting the Chrono des Nations include Dominique Cornu (Silence-Lotto), Andriy Grivko (Milram), Marco Pinotti (Columbia) and Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom).
Pinotti's season: "A success"
By Gregor Brown in Lagnasco, Italy
Team Columbia's experienced Italian Marco Pinotti considers his 2008 season to have been fruitful after collecting three wins.
The 32 year-old from Bergamo, known for his time trialling skills, told Cyclingnews before the start of Thursday's Giro del Piemonte, "The season was a success. The only two points is that I missed the Olympics and I was hoping for a better result at the World Championships."
Pinotti was one of eight riders representing the American team at the race in Italy's Piemonte region, won by Daniele Bennati of Team Liquigas.
Pinotti's year started in his home country at the Trofeo Laigueglia, but it was two months later when his form hit his target. He placed third overall in the Tour de Romandie before linking up for his national Tour, the Giro d'Italia. He selflessly worked in the sprints for Mark Cavendish his own chance came on the final day.
He won the Milano time trial stage ahead of teammate Tony Martin. Three weeks later, he won the Italian national time trial championships for a third time. His first overall race win, the Tour of Ireland, capped off the end of the season.
"I am satisfied with my performance and there are no regrets," he confirmed.
He's looking ahead to this weekend. "I hope to finish with a good race in Lombardia, and also in the Chrono des Nations in France, on Sunday. ... In Lombardia I will see how I am [feeling] after Ghisallo to decide if I will go to the end at full gas or think about the day after." The Giro di Lombardia is the last Classic of the year and Pinotti grew up watching the race that takes place in his home region on Saturday. Then, on Sunday, he will represent Team Columbia in France for the invitation only time trial event.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)