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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, September 14, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

Contador takes control

By Bjorn Haake on the Alto de L'Angliru

Alberto Contador (Astana)
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

Alberto Contador put his stamp on the Vuelta a España on Saturday with an impressive attack up the famous Alto de L'Angliru. The Angliru, with its steepest pitch of 23.5 percent, brought the showdown battle everyone had hoped for. There was no hiding and it was every man for himself.

Contador had set his eyes on the Angliru prize even before the Vuelta. "This was the stage that I had dreamed about the most. I think it is the most mythical mountain in all of the Spanish races."

To conquer the Angliru's torturous grades, Contador (which translates as 'the accountant') meticulously planned his winning ride. "Fortunately I could do the climb in training beforehand, so I knew it fairly well."

No amount of knowledge could make the climb any easier, Contador confessed. "The Angliru is very hard. It is a very impressive climb, with very steep grades." The Spaniard's fluid riding style belied the difficulty of the ascent, and he rode out of the saddle and away from his competitors, making the climb almost look easy.

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The throng of fans who came up on foot or on bicycles probably knew the reality. Many had to get off their bicycles at the steeper sections. Even some of the cars by the organisation that were trying to make it up to the finish had a hard time.

This toughness of the climb and the good weather brought an unprecedented number of people to the mountain, making it resemble a Spanish Alpe d'Huez.

Contador noticed the massive amount of people along the way. "I am very happy with the atmosphere on the climb today. It was very important for cycling, for the Vuelta and above all for Spanish cycling. It was a great spectacle. Cycling isn't dead yet!"

Noting that frequent ascents like this could also hurt him some day, he quickly added that it shouldn't be overdone. "We don't want this kind of climb in every race, but once in a while it is OK, to give fans a spectacle."

Continue to the full feature.

Antón crashes out of the Vuelta

By Bjorn Haake on the Alto de l'Angliru

Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi) was set to be one of the toughest rivals for Alberto Contador in stage 13. But a crash in Fresnedo, where the final intermediate sprint took place, ended his 2008 Vuelta a España.

The Basque team told Cyclingnews after the race that it was Antón's left collarbone that took the brunt of the crash. Only a later examination confirmed that is was actually broken. The Basque rider also suffered contusions on his left hip.

Antón was taken to a local hospital by ambulance.

Zaugg climbs his way up

By Bjorn Haake on the Alto de l'Angliru

Swiss Oliver Zaugg: "The final climb was unbelievable."
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Swiss rider Oliver Zaugg climbed his way up the Vuelta's overall classification with a strong ride on the Alto de L'Angliru. The Gerolsteiner rider moved from 15th to 10th after he was able to end the day in the top 10, less then two and a half minutes after new overall leader Alberto Contador (Astana).

Zaugg was very happy with his performance. He recalled that the race began with a comfortable rhythm which was rather enjoyable, then things changed rapidly. "At the next to last mountain it started to get really fast. They went into the penultimate climb full speed and the group splintered." Zaugg noted that the group shrunk very quickly.

The descent down the Cordal posed less of a problem for the Gerolsteiner rider. "I was riding down well. You have to ride in the front and pay attention, of course. The dangerous part was the loose gravel."

Then came the ascent of the Angliru. "The final climb was unbelievable. I had not seen it before. It is something you should do at least once..." Zaugg felt fine with his gear choice of 34x27. With the roads being dry, he opted for a 27, while some of his rivals decided to go for a 29.

Of course, Zaugg noticed the large number of fans on the side of the road. "The spectators were unbelievable, I was surprised. They screamed and yelled." The support is always welcome to the riders, but only if it stays with cheering and yelling. "Of course, there were also the odd idiots who were standing in the way."

Zaugg also noticed the Spanish riders had a distinct advantage of getting frequent pushes up the steep sections. In fact, some pushes to Valverde were more than just a little clap on the back. This could warrant some penalties.

Zaugg had thought about a solution to the problem. "I was thinking of putting on an Euskaltel jersey today," he joked.

Slovakian Champion recovers from crash

By Bjorn Haake in Suances

Matej Jurco (Milram)
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

Matej Jurco showed he has nearly recovered from an earlier crash in the Vuelta a España by making the day-long breakaway which stayed clear of the peloton until the final climb of stage 13. The Milram rider had an accident with his own team car early in the race and injured his face. On the second rest day, the wounds had mostly healed.

Jurco recalled the accident that could have ended even worse. "I had a mechanical. The neutral service had helped me and they were just pushing me back on. At the same time our team car came to help and we collided." Jurco suffered cuts and bruises to his face. What was worse than the surface injuries was what was going inside his head. "For an hour I was dizzy and I didn't really know what was going on."

Jurco survived the stage, continued the Vuelta, and even made it into the break of the day in stage 10. Not even the Angliru could stop his desire to try for another attempt. "If I have the legs, sure, I will give it a try," he said before the stage. It is not just following team orders. The aggressive riding is something Jurco said he enjoys the most.

Amazingly, Jurco did just that. He stormed out of the peloton together with Maarten Tjallingii (Silence-Lotto) after some 40 kilometres into Saturday's stage. They joined lone leader Christophe Kern (Crédit Agricole) to spend some quality time on the front together. Kern resisted the longest, Jurco and Tjallingii were caught just at the beginning parts of the Angliru.

Even if not in the break, Jurco stands out in the dark blue jersey of the Slovakian champion. "It is the first time a ProTour rider from our country won the national jersey." Only then was it possible for the international audience to see it. Before, it was always riders from minor teams, who rarely race outside the country, let alone at bigger races.

Despite the splitting into Slovakia and the Czech Republic, the two countries together for the championship but give out two separate jerseys. Jurco earned the road race title by winning the event outright, but took the time trial jersey as third best finisher behind Czechs Frantisek Rabon and Jan Hruska.

It was in the same time frame that Roman Kreuziger, who is Czech, won the Tour de Suisse. "Everybody was talking about cycling in our country then," Jurco remembered.

Barloworld continues through 2009

By Gregor Brown

Steve Cummings will ride for Team Barloworld again in 2009
Photo ©: Gerry McManus
(Click for larger image)

Despite suffering from a doping scandal during the Tour de France and the threat of losing his title sponsor, Claudio Corti's team will continue as Barloworld in 2009 with few changes. The team manager explained that the South African sponsor will be the main name on the jerseys of Robbie Hunter and his other star riders for 2009.

"We have the chance to add a sponsor, but the budget is there and we are going on. The team is going on with the name Barloworld on the jersey for 2009, not much is changing," Corti confirmed to Cyclingnews from his office yesterday Saturday morning.

Barloworld announced it would end its sponsorship following the doping case of Moisés Dueñas. The French Gendarmerie escorted Dueñas out of the Tour the morning after the rest day in Pau, July 16, when informed of his positive test for Erythropoietin (EPO) stemming from stage four's time trial in Cholet. A search of Dueñas' room revealed banned substances.

"You know, at the beginning the reactions were that way," Corti said. "They confirmed their sponsorship for 2009. I can have another name, but the team will still be Barloworld."

His team performed well this fall with wins in GP Nobili Rubinetterie, Coppa Bernocchi and Coppa Placci. In the Tour of Britain, it is currently in second overall with British favourite, Steve Cummings. Corti counts on Cummings and others for a strong 2009 season, but may add one or two additional riders.

"My budget is limited. I am working to have a professional and serious team. There are a few cyclists leaving and maybe we will have one arrive ... we will have a good team. We have not yet announced any names; I will take on two young riders.

"We were very unlucky this year, but we proved to have a great team with John-Lee Augustyn, Chris Froome, Cummings, Geraint Thomas, who will race more on the road and focus on time trials, Mauricio Soler, Hunter... We will be able to show a lot in 2009. I think with Soler, Froome and Austin can do great things in the stage races."

Tour of Britain ends this Sunday in Liverpool – Cummings' hometown – after a testing stage that finishes in Drumlanrig Castle on Saturday. Barloworld will also race the two one-day classics, Paris-Bruxelles and GP de Fourmies, this weekend.

Van Poppel delivers a victory – 'Popeye' style

By Kirsten Robbins in Jefferson City, Missouri

Boy Van Poppel (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

Boy van Poppel took his first professional win for Rabobank much in the same way his father Jean-Paul 'Popeye' van Poppel would have a decade earlier in a heated sprint finish. The 20-year old said that his victory marked his 'best race ever.' "What more can I say, it's the first big win," said the former junior world cyclo-cross champion whose cycling career flourished under his fathers guidance.

"When I knew Cavendish wasn't there I had more morale to sprint. I was thinking 'this is my chance, I have to do this.' It makes me feel very good to win a race. But, I would be happy if I could do half of what he [Jean-Paul] did."

Van Poppel admitted that growing up with a world-renowned cyclist for a father made his transition into cycling, at the age of ten, very simple. "I saw all the other kids out riding, so I thought it would be fun to do that too. Then I saw the same kids out doing cyclo-cross in the winter so I did that too. I just had a lot of fun with cycling."

The multi-talented rider fell ill before the start of his prized event in this year's Tour of Normandy. He crashed shortly after that and was eliminated him from a second series of events for Rabobank.

"I do the whole road season and then I ride just a few cross races," he said regarding a short recovery after the Tour if Missouri he will have before taking on eight cyclo-cross events this winter. "The road is important for me. I know that I will compete in very few 'cross races but that's all I need to do before the big one – The world championships in Hoogerheide, at home."

Having the world cyclo-cross championships in his home country will provide a good opportunity for Van Poppel Sr. to watch his son compete against best of the best. Jean-Paul was one of the most successful Dutch road sprinters, a nine-time stage winner at the Tour de France. He is the current manager for the women's Flexpoint team, but recently announced his new title as Director Sportif for the new Cervélo-test team in 2009.

Lars Boom in Missouri feed zone

By Kirsten Robbins in Rolla, Missouri

Lars Boom
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

It is not often you see a reigning world champion hanging out in the feed zone, handing out musette bags on country roads in the middle of America. However, that is where you can find Lars Boom, the current cyclo-cross world champion. The talented Dutch-man is spending his rest days at the Tour of Missouri and offering team support before he kicks off the rugged 'cross season in a brand new rainbow banded skin suit.

"I finished my road season with the national time trial championships last week and now I'm preparing for the cyclo-cross season," the 23-year-old multi-time world champion told Cyclingnews. "I'm here riding a little bit and also resting a little bit before my first 'cross race next month. I wanted to come here to help the team and I really like hanging out in the feed zones, it's my first time in the US too."

"Maybe after today I'll go in the team car as a second team director," he continued his list of team support duties. "I am having fun here. I get to see what the mechanics are doing and what the soigneurs are doing. It's nice to have a chance to see all these parts of racing."

Boom, born in Vlijmen in the Netherlands, currently competes in the disciplines of cyclo-cross and road for the Rabobank continental squad, a contract that will end in in February of 2010. In his first season as a an elite, this January, he won the cyclo-cross world title in Treviso, Italy.

Before that, his extensive palmarès included the 2007 under-23 world time trial title in Stuttgart which was followed by a second under-23 world title in cyclo-cross in Hooglede, as well as multiple Dutch national championships.

"I'm healthy, doing good with no problems this season," he said. "I'm really looking forward to starting my season, especially in the white jersey. That's going to be cool."

He confirmed the start of his cyclo-cross season at the first Superprestige event held on October 12 in Ruddervoorde, Belgium. "I could've raced here at the Cross Vegas but I decided not too," admitted Boom who felt the end of September event cut into his recovery time from the lengthy road season. "I had a long year so far, and I know this is going to be a busy winter for me so I'm happy to take a little bit of rest and not touch the bike for a few days."

American cyclo-cross continues to attract the top cyclo-cross talents in the world. However, Boom confirmed with Cyclingnews that he will only be competing in the Superprestige series, the World Cup series and the World Championships this season.

"I don't think I'll be racing in the USA this year," he said. "I've thought about it a lot. I've seen the American 'cross racing on TV, I bought all the DVD's with all the American races from the winter of 2006 and 2007 and it looks so good."

H&R Block team needs riders

Team H&R Block, a Western Canada-based trade team is currently seeking category 1 riders in both BC and Alberta to further strengthen our current elite team, and to compete in the 2009 road season in the US and Canada. The team focuses on the development of young riders (U26) so they have an opportunity to achieve their goals by competing at the highest level of the sport.

Over the past few seasons, Team H&R Block has boasted riders such as Alex Wrubleski (Team Columbia) and Ryan Mckenzie. In 2008, the Team has won numerous provincial and national medals. For more information on the Team and our results from 2008, please visit our web site at

Please send rider resume with an overview of your goals and objectives for 2009 to by September 26, 2008

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