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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, September 4, 2008

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Chavanel: "I want the jersey"

Tour de France stage winner Sylvain Chavanel is only two seconds away from the Vuelta reace lead
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

With only two seconds off the leader's jersey at the Vuelta a España, Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel wants to take the maillot oro from American Levi Leipheimer before the race heads into the mountains. In his Cyclingnews diary, the Tour de France stage winner thought that today's stage six from Ciudad Real to Toledo could be a good opportunity for an attack.

"There is a climb just five kilometres before the finish in Toledo (see stage six profile), so I will try and go from there," he wrote on Thursday morning before taking the bus to the stage start. "You never know, do you? If I can get the jersey tonight, I can probably hold it until the stage that goes to Andorra - that would be nice!"

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Chavanel moved in second position on GC after placing second in the race's first time trial on Wednesday, 12 seconds off stage winner and new overall leader Levi Leipheimer. The Frenchman admitted that he was racing the Vuelta to prepare for the World Championships held later this month in Varese, Italy. "My objective is now the World Championships time trial," he continued. "My race against the clock yesterday went really well. My legs feel very good, and are getting better every day."

Click here to read the full Vuelta diary entry by Sylvain Chavanel.

First 2009 Tour de France route leaks

As last year, Christian Prudhomme will reveal the full Tour de France route details in the Palais des Congrès on late October
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

It's that time of year again for speculation on the next Tour de France course. The Grand Tour organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) will reveal the race details only on October 22 in Paris, but the media are already on the hunt for first leaks.

In this way, Spanish news agency Efe claims that one of the 2009 Tour stages will visit the principality of Andorra, located in the Pyrenees between France and Spain. The tourism minister of Andorra, Juli Minoves, reportedly affirmed this on Tuesday this week after talks with Tour director Christian Prudhomme and is now waiting for an official confirmation.

Sources inside the government of Andorra said that the stage finishing in the country's capital of Andorra la Vella may start in Spanish Barcelona, another city which is said to host a Tour de France stage finish on Saturday, July 11, 2009.

Belgian Sportwereld today ventured that one day prior to the stage finishing in Barcelona, the Tour will see another Spanish stage start in Girona, finishing this time in Perpignan, France.

Small Catalunyan newspaper Sport claimed to know all of the stage finishes of the first week of racing, namely Pinerolo on the outskirts of Torino, Italy, then Sisteron, Aubenas, Montpellier and Sète, where the first time trial is rumoured to take place.

One thing is for sure: The 2009 Tour de France will start in Monaco on July 4. Everything else is speculation.

Returning from the shadows: Manolo Saiz

Manolo Saiz is not quite sure what the future holds for him
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Two years ago Manolo Saiz left cycling under a cloud of suspicion. A whirlwind of doping accusations and arrests were at the epicentre of some of cycling's ugliest scenes and consequently brought down one of the sport's most influential characters. Now, although the tremors still rumble on from Operación Puerto, the Spaniard is busy preparing himself for a comeback. He may be ready for cycling but, with his links to Puerto and the negative associations that surround him, it's unknown if cycling is ready for him?

The best of beginnings

Heralding from Torrelavega, Saiz became the archetypal directeur sportif of the 1990s. He managed the famous ONCE team from its inception in 1989, through to its reincarnation as Liberty Seguros in 2003. The dominant yellow machine - or yellow peril as they came to be known as - became one of the strongest outfits in professional cycling, racking up four Vueltas, Milano-Sanremo, and the Tour of Lombardy. There was a time when Saiz could do no wrong. Riders such as Laurent Jalabert, Alex Zülle, Roberto Heras, Abraham Olano, Melchor Mauri and even Carlos Sastre rolled through the ONCE doors.

Ever the innovator, he was the first directeur sportif to use team buses. Before that riders were either forced to hitch a ride from the mechanics and staff or even ride their bikes from hotels to the start line. Saiz revolutionised the way riders trained, too. His hands-on approach meant his riders were introduced to tailor-made training schedules, were kept up to date via fax and were riding for one purpose - the success of the team and not the individual.

The dream unravels

Yet three years after Liberty Seguros replaced ONCE as Saiz's main sponsor in 2003, his name, reputation and career were dragged into the murky cauldron of Operación Puerto. The story doesn't need retelling here, suffice to say that the director was arrested with a suitcase full of cash at the same time that Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes was arrested. In Fuentes office several blood bags were seized. Some were later linked to riders via an DNA analysis. Claims by Jörg Jaksche over the conduct and practice of the ONCE team didn't help but to this day Saiz still claims his innocence. Two years after the sport was rocked to its very core, the director wants to return.

That's not to say he's been completely out of the picture. "I'm part of an amateur team because I always liked the nature and basis of cycling and I always cared about the young riders. Once in a while I have a meal with them to talk to them a bit about feeding and things like that. But I don't go to competitions at the moment," said Saiz. "If you had asked me if I wanted to return a year ago, I would have said 'no'. But if you ask me today, I'll say 'yes'. As soon as I can, I will come back to professional cycling. I am ready."

Click here to read the full feature on Manolo Saiz.

2009 Vuelta to tackle La Redoute

Next year's Vuelta a España will start in the Netherlands, and cross over to southern Belgium on stage three to use the roads of famous Spring Classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège. As Grand Tour director Victor Cordero said to Sportwereld on Wednesday, the race organiser plans to make the riders take on the legendary La Redoute climb.

"We want to ride the last 110 kilometres of the old Liège-Bastogne-Liège route, the one on which Eddy Merckx distinguished himself," Cordero said. "With the finish on the mythical Boulevard de la Sauvinière."

The 2009 Vuelta will start with a prologue on the time trial course of Assen, Netherlands. The first stage will take the riders from Assen to Emmen, with the second stage starting in Zutphen and finishing in Venlo. Stage three will depart from Venlo, and cross the Belgian border into the Ardennes region to finish in Liège.

'Cyclones' announced for Worlds

Cadel Evans is part of the men's team for the difficult route in Varese
Photo ©: Jean-François Quénet
(Click for larger image)

Cycling Australia has published the 'Cyclones' team for the upcoming UCI Road World Championships being held in Varese, Italy from September 23-28. While the rider selections for the U23 Men and the Elite Women squads are complete, the Elite Men's team still consists of 17 riders, of which nine starters for the road race (RR) and two for the time trial (TT) events will be appointed after September 14. The closing date for appeals against non-selection is Monday, September 8.

The Elite Men's long team thus consists of Ben Day (TT), Allan Davis (RR), Cadel Evans (RR & TT), Simon Gerrans (RR), Matthew Goss (RR), Adam Hansen (RR), Aaron Kemps (RR), Matt Lloyd (RR), Trent Lowe (RR), Robbie McEwen (RR), Bradley McGee (RR), Stuart O'Grady (RR), Mark Renshaw (RR), Michael Rogers (RR & TT), Chris Sutton (RR), William Walker (RR) and Matthew Wilson (RR).

Representing Australia in the U23 Men's events will be: Simon Clarke (RR), Mitchell Docker (RR), Cameron Meyer (RR & TT), Travis Meyer (RR & TT) and Wesley Sulzberger (RR).

The Elite Women's team will be composed of: Natalie Bates (RR), Nikki Egyed (RR), Rochelle Gilmore (RR), Bridie O'Donnell (TT), Alexis Rhodes (TT), Emma Rickards (RR), Carla Ryan (RR), Vicki Whitelaw (RR & TT) and Oenone Wood (RR).

O'Donnell (TT) and Gilmore (RR) are the reigning Oceania Continental Champions which means Australia can start three riders in the time trial and seven in the road race.

Fröhlinger's tip from Gerdemann

Johannes Fröhlinger of Team Gerolsteiner knew that the Deutschland Tour's stage five to Winterberg could be a good one for him, and once he got the best tip on how to ride it, he was able to take fifth place on the day. The tip came not from a teammate but from rival Linus Gerdemann (Columbia), who is currently leading the race.

The two Germans spoke before the stage, and "Linus told me that the mountain isn't really that difficult. I didn't want to believe him at first, but he was right," Fröhlinger told Radsportnews. "The profile of the climb really was reported as being steeper than it actually was."

The 23 year-old, who will ride for Team Milram in the coming season, stayed with the favourites' group during the race. With 10km to go, team captain Markus Fothen gave him the ok to go for it. "He came to me shortly before the end of the stage and said I could ride for myself. He himself looked half-frozen."

But the native of Gerolstein, Germany, knew quickly that he didn't have a chance to win, when he saw to his surprise that Columbia's Gerald Ciolek was also in the group. "When I discovered him in the group, it was clear to me that he could win the stage." Fröhlinger tried to stay on Ciolek's wheel in the sprint, but "in the last curve I unfortunately lost two places. I could have finished a little higher. But I had no chance for the win - Ciolek was simply too strong."

Coincidentally, Fröhlinger, Gerdemann and Ciolek might all be teammates at Milram next year. The team announced Fröhlinger's signing earlier this week and Milram general manager has expressed interest in the two Columbia riders.

Doping tests in Spain and Germany

The Vuelta a España and the Deutschland Tour are doing their bit to combat doping, no matter how difficult that task may be. The Vuelta has a time problem Thursday evening after the stage, while the German race is conducting more tests than ever before.

In Spain, the peloton is scheduled to take a high-speed train 500km north to the Pyrenees on Thursday evening. The stage is supposed to end at 6pm, at its slowest predicted speed. The train leaves at 6.45. If the peloton comes in late, then the selected riders will probably have to give their samples during the train ride.

Over in Germany, the Deutschland Tour has conducted 39 doping controls from the prologue through the first five days, for an average of nearly eight riders per day. "According to the rules, at least six riders must be tested after every stage. We are going above and beyond that at the Deutschland Tour," Jan van Gestel, UCI anti-doping commissioner told Radsportnews.

In addition, he noted that all of the special jersey holders were given additional urine tests before the fourth stage, and that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) conducted controls on 16 teams the day before the race started.

Wild and Worrack top in Holland

Kirsten Wild of AA-Drink used a fifth place finish in the Ladies Holland Tour time trial on Wednesday to take over the leader's jersey from Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Columbia), who finished in fifth place. Trixi Worrack of Equipe Nürnberg won the stage, and moved into second overall, in the same time as now-third ranked Teutenberg.

"That was a super ride by Trixi," said Equipe directeur sportif Jens Zemke. "She is riding at the highest level right now. Last month the 26 year-old won both the 4km prologue and first stage of the Albstadt Frauen Etappenrennen, giving her five wins this season, including the Albstadt overall victory.

Den Bakker retires

Maarten den Bakker of Team Skil-Shimano has called it quits, putting an end to his career right in the middle of the Deutschland Tour. He did not start in Wednesday's fifth stage. Before the fourth stage, "he said that this was his last race," teammate Thierry Hupond told

The 39 year-old rider turned pro in 1990 with PDM-Concorde. He rode for TVM from 1993 to 1997, Rabobank from 2000 to 2005 and Milram in 2006. He joined Skil-Shimano in 2007. Den Bakker rode the Tour de France nine times in his career and was Dutch road champion in 1996 and 1999.

Astana and Caisse d'Epargne line up for Cyclassics

Team Astana's line-up for the Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg, Germany, on Sunday September 7, will be the following: Koen de Kort, René Haselbacher, Chris Horner, Maxim Iglinskiy, Sergey Ivanov, Aaron Kemps, Gregory Rast and Michael Schär. The squad will be directed by Sean Yates and Andrey Teteryuk.

Spanish team Caisse d'Epargne also announced its selection for the one-day race in Northern Germany. Representing the squad next Sunday will be: Vladimir Karpets, Pablo Lastras, David López, Fran Pérez, José Joaquín Rojas, José Rujano, Luis León Sánchez and Rigoberto Uran. Neil Stephens will act as directeur sportif.

Le Tour de Québec launch

On September 4, the inaugural Tour de Québec will launch inside old Quebec fortified city walls. The prologue consist of a 250m, drag race style sprint toward the Portes St-Jean fortifications where two riders will face each other to set the fastest time and wear the leader jerseys.

The other stages include a 14-lap, 131,5km road race around the Cap Tourmente, at Saint-Joachim with a 2,5km hill finish. On Saturday, riders will see a technical criterium around the parliament in downtown Quebec city with a finish on the Canadian Champs Elysées (the Grande Allée), followed by another criterium at Lévis along the St-Laurent river. Le Tour de Québec will end on Sunday with another road race of 140km in St-Augustin.

The race will see three fields taking the start: The Pro 1-2 Men, the juniors, masters and senior 3-4, and the senior and junior women. The womens race will consist of the final three stages of the Pro 1-2 men race. Full details of the race can be found on

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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