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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, September 7, 2008

Edited by Sue George

Classics man shines in wet weather Vuelta stage

Ballan takes stage and GC

Kisses for the man in yellow
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Vuelta a España riders were greeted with a day like no other thus far this Grand Tour. Stage seven started unlike the others with a cold temperatures – down to 15°C from the usual 30°C and intermittent rain. After the first rest day on Friday, racers rolled out at an early start on Saturday to face the four categorised climbs – culminating with the second ascent of the La Rabassa. It was the kind of day a Spring Classics rider could shine and in fact, that's just what happened.

Alessandro Ballan claimed victory and the overall race lead the first high-mountain stage of the Vuelta a España – 223.2 kilometres from Barbastro to Andorra. The 28 year-old Italian formed part of the day's escape group 18 kilometres into the day that was marked with four categorised climbs, including the mountain top arrival on La Rabassa, where he claimed his first win of the season.

"At the beginning of the season I did not think of winning a mountain stage in Vuelta," Ballan said. "It was not programmed that I had to attack, but when the breakaway began, I decided to join the attackers.

"The victory is a huge joy," he said before predicting, "I think that tomorrow the gold jersey will pass to the shoulders of someone that will be in the battle for the final overall classification."

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Ballan more than made up his 2'30" deficit in the general classification from the beginning of the day and set himself up for a win with a solo bid at 209km. He left behind the likes of Marc De Maar (Rabobank), part of an early escape that also included Gianni Meersman (Française des Jeux), Iñigo Landaluze (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Xabier Zandio (Caisse d'Epargne).

The overall favourites were hot on Ballan's heels. Giro d'Italia winner Alberto Contador of Team Astana was the first to play his cards in the final two kilometres. Ezequiel Mosquera of Team Xacobeo Galicia closed down his fellow Spaniard for second on the stage, but Contador gained a precious five seconds on competitors like Spain's Carlos Sastre of Team CSC-Saxo Bank.

"I lost a few seconds, but nothing important when considering the entire race," said Sastre after fighting the challenging weather conditions.

"It was a really tough day, where the temperature has dropped greatly, rain was with us for virtually the entire route, and the pace was quickly despite being hampered by a constant wind in our faces - as we have had all along this race," said Sastre.

Ballan, who dedicated the victory to his daughter born in August and the rest of his family, now controls the overall lead by one minute over America's Levi Leipheimer of Team Astana and Frenchman and 1'21" former race leader, Sylvain Chavanel of Team Cofidis.

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), who finished 19th on the day, also had something to say about the day's wet, mountainous effort.

"This first stage in the Pyrenees has been very difficult not only because of the course and the kilometers but most of all for the cold weather and the rain. I was doing well during the entire stage, but at 10km from the finish, I had a big 'fringale' which means having no force at all."

"When it is so cold you spend much more calories than with the heat, and I did not eat enough during the stage," he explained. "But in spite of this I did not lose too much time and I am still there fighting for the general classification.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of stage seven of the Vuelta a España.

Columbia ends Tour of Germany on high note

Linus Gerdemann's (Team Columbia) overall lead
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)
Team Columbia stayed in full control on the final day of racing in the Deutschland Tour by taking both the top two places on the 34km time trial stage and in the overall classification.

After moving into the lead with a victory on stage one, Linus Gerdemann triumphed overall, with team-mate Thomas Lovkvist in second and the winner of the Best Young Rider competition.

Tony Martin took first place in the stage and Bert Grabsch second at 34 seconds. Gustav Erik Larsson (CSC-Saxo Bank) interrupted the Columbian dominance for third and Gerdemann ended up fourth. It was Team Columbia's fourth stage win in the eight-day race.

"I'm pleased and relieved because the Tour of Germany was the focus of my comeback from a very hard start to the season," said Gerdemann, who crashed and was badly injured in the time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico where he fractured his femur.

"I missed out on the Tour de France because of my injuries, so I pinned everything on being in good shape for the Tour of Germany."

"Of course I was worried, really worried at times, that I might not be able to recover fully after such a bad injury. But I saw I was in good shape in August when I won in the Tour de L'Ain and in Italy. Plus I always had full support from the team, particularly doctor Helge Riepenhof, and they all helped me to come through. I can't thank them enough."

"Every day here in Germany was tough and stressful, from the moment I took the lead, and today was no exception - very windy and rainy, and not at all easy," he said. "Having the big mountain stages early on meant you had to be in top form from the word go. There weren't any hiding places. Fortunately I knew what I had to do on the climb [of stage one] and when to attack."

Delighted with his overall win, he said, "I had no particular tactics in the time trial, just go all out from start to finish. It worked!"

Gerdemann was equally pleased for his team-mates' success in Germany, pointing out that Thomas Lovkvist crashed on a railway crossing close to the finish, but still hung for second overall. "He was really determined not to lose his Best Young Rider's jersey," said Gerdemann said.

"It was terrible to crash like that, because it's always hard to refocus fast in a time trial and you're worried about losing time, but he did it, and got a great result."

"The same goes for [final stage winner] Tony Martin. He worked tirelessly all week, and then still managed to win the time trial. For Columbia, Tony's win on the last stage was the icing on the cake!"

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Deutschland Tour.

Paolini scores in key pre-Worlds tester

By Gregor Brown

Luca Paolini (Acqua Sapone-Caffè Mokambo) also won the Trofeo Laigueglia back in February
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Italy's Luca Paolini of Team Acqua Sapone-Caffè Mokambo scored in one of the key pre-World Championships races used to select Italy's squadra azzurra – the 58th Coppa Placci. Paolini, 31, won in a small group sprint over Italians Enrico Gasparotto of Team Barloworld and Mauro Facci of Team Quick Step.

It was Paolini's first win since the Trofeo Laigueglia in February. With the win, his name moves to the top of the list of Franco Ballerini, Italian national selector, for the World Championships road team. Ballerini will select the nine men to form the team the race, September 28, in the coming week.

Paolini will race next at the Tour of Romagna and Paris-Brussels "with the aim of doing well". The rider lives near the circuit of the World Championships later this month in Varese and he joked that even if he is not selected for the national team, he will be present at the Ronchi circuit.

Time triallists to Davide Fardelli Memorial

Time triallists will head to the 4th Memorial Davide Fardelli on Saturday, September 7 starting in Rogno. Among those on the start line will be Italian National Time Trial Champions Adriano Malori, Massimo Coledan, Michael Guastini, Giulia Donato and Valentina Dal Bon. Swiss Karin Thürig, bronze medal winner in the women's time trial at the Olympic Games in Beijing will also be on hand.

A full slate of racing is planned for women, men, U23 racers and juniors.

Liquigas juggles double engagement

Liquigas will keep itself busy with double engagements at the Hamburg Classic in Germany and the Tour of Missouri in the US next week. The team will be looking to add to its 28 victories of the season thus far.

Franco Pellizotti and Leonardo Bertagnolli will lead the team at the Vattenfall Cyclassics on September 7 as they try to gain a spot on Italy's World Championship team. The race's route has many climbs to test the form of racers for the big day in three weeks. The two Italian riders will be back by Maciej Bodnar, Kjell Carlström, Mauro Da Dalto, Murilo Fischer, Aliaksandr Kuchynski and Frederik Willems under DS Mario Chiesa.

Across the pond, Stefano Zanatta will direct the Liquigas team competing in the Tour of Missouri from September 8 to 14. Vicenzo Nibali and Roman Kreuziger will lead the team in the mountain stages and the individual time trial - races where they are strong and likely to excel. Francesco Chicchi, will mix it up in the sprints. Stagiaire Jacopo Guarnieri, from Team 2000 Marchiol-Liquigas, Gianni Da Ros, Slovenia Matej Mugerli will join in as stagiaires.

Volksbank-Corratec for Vattenfall Cyclassics

After a successful showing at the Deutschland Tour, Team Volksbank-Corratec will head to the Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg on Sunday. Sprinter Olaf Pollack and Deutschland Tour mountains star Daniel Musiol will help the Austrian team.

"Olaf Pollack is a strong weapon if it comes down to a mass sprint and Andreas Dietziker a leader for the team, " said team manager Thomas Kofler, who was looking forward to the race. "We have in the past week demonstrated that we don't hide in a field with ProTour teams. After a nine-day Tour of Germany, the guys are motivated."

Young rider Philipp Ludescher and Harald Morscher will also be part of the Volksbank-Corratec squad. "[Olaf] Pollack and [Pascal] Hungerbühler are rested and Andreas Dietziker has good momentum," said Kofler. "Our initial thoughts about the race are open. We will be vigilant and with a little luck, we are equipped for every situation."

Volksbank-Corratec for Vattenfall Cyclassics Hamburg: Gerrit Glomser, Harald Morscher, Daniel Musiol, Olaf Pollack, Andre Korff, Rene Weissinger, Andreas Dietziker, Pascal Hungerbühler.

Thorburn thinks about retirement

After finishing fifth at the Olympic time trial in Beijing last month, Christine Thorburn is thinking of retirement from cycling and a return to her day job as a doctor in Stanford, California, according to

The 38 year-old finished fourth in the Olympic time trial in Athens, Greece, in 2004 and won bronze at the 2006 World Championship time trial in Salzburg, Austria.

Kansas City hosting women's criterium

As part of the Tour of Missouri, Kansas City will be hosting an invitational women's criterium featuring some national champions, world champions and Olympians vying for a US$7,500 purse.

The race is being held on a one kilometre course in Country Club Plaza, a 14-block open air shopping district, in conjunction with the end of stage one of the men's Tour of Missouri.

Thus far, 38 women, including Tina Pic, Laura Van Gilder, Brooke Miller, Liz Hatch and Lindsay Myers will be attending on Monday, September 8.

Fondriest to direct Mexican team at home tour

The Mexican national team will receive some special help for the Vuelta Mexico from September 13 to 20. Former world champion Maurizio Fondriest will serve as technical director of the squad.

The Italian Fondriest won the rainbow jersey in Belgium in 1988 and two World Cups in 1991 and 1993. His pro racing career spanned from 1987 to 1998.

Fondriest's team will include Luis Pulido, Ramon Lopez, Rodolfo Avila, Alfredo Gabino, Armando Aguilar, Gabriel Lenin, Jorge Lopez and Victor de la Porte.

20 teams, 10 Mexican and 10 foreign, will contest the national tour which will visit locales such as Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosi, Leon, Guadalajara, Zamora, Morelia, Zitácuaro and Toluca. The teams will be presented by Armando Becerra of the Mexican Cycling Federation on September 12 in Aguascalientes.

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Gregor Brown.)

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