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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, September 2, 2008

Edited by Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen

Boonen grabs Vuelta stage

Bennati takes over maillot oro

By Shane Stokes

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) with his winning salute
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Tom Boonen has shown he is back on top sprinting form after his cocaine positive earlier this summer, winning stage three of the Vuelta a España into Córdoba. The Quick Step rider beat Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) and Erik Zabel (Team Milram) to the line, with Koldo Fernandez De Larrea (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Nicolas Roche (Crédit Agricole) netting fourth and fifth in the mass bunch gallop.

His stage victory at the Vuelta is the first by a Belgian since Frank Vandenbroucke claimed a stage of the Spanish Grand Tour almost a decade ago, in 1999.

Bennati had picked up second in two bonus sprints and his runner-up placing on the stage lifted him clear of today's leader Alejandro Valverde in the general classification. He ended the day seven seconds ahead of the Spaniard and ten up on Boonen. His team-mate Filippo Pozzato and Egoi Martinez De Esteban are next in line in the overall standings.

Boonen was glad to be back on top of a Grand Tour podium. "Today was incredibly hot," he stated. "It was by no means an easy stage. I already partly knew the route, which has been the scene of some beautiful stages in the Ruta del Sol and la Vuelta. At the top of the climb I hit the downhill with the first group and from then I thought only about preparing the final sprint with the help of my team mates.

"I chose Bennati's wheel... Daniele is in great shape and I knew he would be the man to beat. Everything went perfectly. When Bennati started the sprint I stayed covered as much as possible, choosing the right moment to make my move."

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Boonen took his fourteen win of the season and said that unlike other years, he has plenty of reserves due to missing the Tour. "As I've said already this year I'm facing the Vuelta in good condition. Usually this race represented the beginning of the end of the season for me. I always ended the Tour de France tired because of the battle for the green jersey. This year instead I'm fresh and the team is racing without much stress. This is another strong point."

He is now third in the general classification behind Bennati. The latter repeated his achievement of last year's Vuelta in grabbing the maillot oro, but was not completely happy.

"'I'm satisfied with having the golden jersey, but truthfully I would have preferred the stage win," Bennati said afterwards. "The golden jersey is a small compensation, but I already wore it last year and what I want from now on is to win stages."

For full coverage of Stage 3, click here.

Boonen punished for driving offences

Despite winning a Vuelta a España stage, Tom Boonen's day wasn't all roses yesterday. The Belgian was given two fines and a total of two months loss of licence for two speeding offences and driving whist under the influence of alcohol, relating to incidences which occurred earlier in the year, according to

The first case relates to an incident on April 24 where he was clocked doing 129 km/h in a 70 km/h zone. The report claims Boonen did not deny speeding and that he was aware of his error. He received a 412.50 euro fine and 31 day licence suspension.

The second offence occurred several weeks later. The report claims he was travelling 180 km/h in a 90 km/h zone when the police clocked him on the ring road around Mol, Belgium on June 3. In addition to holding his mobile phone while driving, Boonen allegedly returned a blood alcohol reading of 0.75, the result of four glasses of champagne he had drunk earlier in the evening.

He received a fine of 1100 euro and 31 days suspension of his licence for the second offence.

Bertagnolli delighted with D-Tour win

By Susan Westemeyer, with additional reporting from Monika Prell in Wiesloch

Leonardo Bertagnolli (Liquigas) winning last year's Gran Premio Bioera
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Leonardo Bertagnolli (Liquigas) attacked out of the lead group in the last 13 km and was able to eke out a win in the third stage of the Deutschland Tour. The chasing group came in with the same time, with Rigoberto Uran of Caisse d'Epargne second and Columbia's Thomas Lövkvist third.

"This victory is a great joy," said Bertagnolli. "It is a good redemption after the Saturday's stage in which I accumulated too much delay. I gave up the dreams for the final ranking, I could only think to the journey's successes."

Overall leader Linus Gerdemann also finished in the same time to hold on to his leader's jersey. Bertagnolli's escape companion, Daniel Navarro of Astana, was overtaken only shortly before the finish line and came in sixth.

"What a pity, we tried it really, and we were strong enough to resist the peloton, but in the end I lacked power," Navarro told Cyclingnews. "I am not in my best form, but I will try to better my performance. I will now look for the overall classification.

"We are doing our best," he added. "For me it's the last race, I will change the team [to Astana] and I would like to finish with a good performance to give my career at Euskaltel-Euskadi a good end," said his future team-mate, Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi). "A victory would be nice – I have possibilities. I am also not too bad in the overall classification, and I am already thinking of the last time trial."

Milram's captain Christian Knees must have wanted to make up for his disappointing performance of the last two days, as he took off at kilometre 10 and quickly built up a lead of over a minute. He was eventually joined by Gerolsteiner's Johannes Fröhlinger and the two took off together. Interestingly enough, Team Milram announced during the stage not only that Knees' contract had been extended through 2010, but also that Fröhlinger had signed with the team for the coming year.

For full coverage of Stage 3, click here.

Van Poppel signs with Cervélo

Jean-Paul van Poppel has signed a deal with Cervélo TestTeam to become one of the sports directors for 2009, according to Sports Wereld. The bicycle brand, set up in the 1990s by Dutch man Gerard Vroomen and his Canadian study partner Phil White, has started its own team for the 2009 season after a long association with Team CSC and Bjarne Riis.

Van Poppel, himself a previous top sprinter in the international peloton, will leave his own women's outfit Team Flexpoint to join the new squad. Flexpoint will remain in the women's professional peloton, but under a new title sponsor.

Cervélo is reportedly in talks with Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre, who currently rides for CSC-Saxo Bank. New Russian squad Katusha is also seeking the signature of Sastre for the 2009 season.

Nijland hangs up the bike

Maarten Nijland
Photo ©: Mareike Engelbrecht
(Click for larger image)

Dutch cyclo-cross professional Maarten Nijland has decided to retire from the sport. After struggling for the past few season with injury, Nijland decided to end his career effective immediately instead of undergoing surgery for narrowing of his iliac artery.

"It has been a tough few weeks," Nijland explained on his website. "But after diverse examinations and meetings with the best vascular surgeons in the Netherlands and the rest of the world, the risks associated with an operation are too great for me.

"I can't and won't take the risk to have only a chance to return to the top level of the sport," he added. "So it leaves me with no choice but to retire. Despite the fact that I still have that fighting spirit, I am relieved."

Nijland was forced to forfeit the Dutch cyclo-cross championships in January this year after a poor season. A training camp in Spain also couldn't turn the tide. To his surprise Nijland was selected to ride the World Championships for the Netherlands but was pulled early in the race.

"I decided not to finish the season, and agonizingly watched the last few cross' races on TV instead," he said. "I belonged there, that was my world. But I knew that I didn't have anything to gain there with my leg.

"My sports doctor, Dion van Bommel suggested that we contact the hospital in Veldhoven [The Netherlands]," he added. "They do a lot of research into vascular problems common for cyclists. I have a circulation problem in both legs due to a kink in both arteries. At that moment I was relieved, it wasn't training but it was my body again that applied the brakes."

The injury is common amongst cyclists, with Stuart O'Grady undergoing surgery to rectify the problem in 2002 before going on to win the Paris-Roubaix last year. The operation is however dangerous, with former Barloworld rider Ryan Cox passing away last year after his artery burst following the procedure.

Nijland will now concentrate his energy on developing his uncle's sports shoe business in Enchede, The Netherlands. Previously he worked there two days a week, but is now hoping to take over the business soon.

"I have a good alternative to cycling at the moment in running," he said. "I am training four times a week. It has been a huge transformation but a whole lot of fun. I hope to start my first running race soon. I joined an athletics association [LAAC Twente]. The complaints that I have from cycling remain, luckily, at bay thanks to this."

Finning, Dennis claim Murray stages

Rohan Dennis (NSWIS/RoadSafe Mildura/Decked Out) from South Australia
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Rohan Dennis (NSWIS/RoadSafe Mildura/Decked Out) and Sean Finning (Jayco/VIS) claimed stage wins at the Tour of Murray River in Australia on Monday. While the riders shared the day's stage victories, Stage 2 winner David Kemp (Virgin Blue Cycling) continues to lead the overall classification.

"This is by far my biggest win in open competition," said Dennis after his Stage 3 victory.

Dennis contested the world junior track championships in South Africa in July and won a silver medal in the individual pursuit. The 18 year-old was also a member of Australia's gold medal-winning teams pursuit line-up and is focused on the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England.

Kemp rode astute tactical races in both stages and leads his Virgin Blue team-mate Bernard Sulzberger by 37-seconds, with Leigh Howard in third place at 44-seconds on general classification.

"The conditions were a little bit tricky so I didn't want to use up too many bickies," he said. "There's still a long way to go until Mildura on Sunday."

The Tour of Murray River continues today with a 45-kilometre stage in Swan Hill, followed by an 88.4-kilometre journey from Swan Hill - Manangatang.

For full coverage of the Australian race, click here.

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