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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, September 19, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

Erviti graduates to Grand Tour stage winner

By Bjorn Haake in Las Rozas

Imanol Erviti Ollo (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The Vuelta a España's 18th stage turned into a classroom for Caisse d'Epargne's Imanol Erviti, and the young Spaniard passed his exams with flying colours. Erviti, in his fourth year as a professional, took his first victory from a successful 18-man breakaway in Las Rozas, and he couldn't believe his first win as a pro came at a race like the Vuelta.

The victory was made sweeter by the consistency of the break, which included big names such as Paolo Bettini (Quick Step), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Greg Van Avermaet (Silence-Lotto) and Karsten Kroon (CSC-Saxo Bank). "The quality of the break was very good, with the World Champion [Bettini] in there and the points jersey [Van Avermaet]. That gives a lot of prestige to the victory."

Erviti had high praise for his 'teacher', José Vicente Garcia Acosta, who also made the breakaway. "The key to my success today was Vicente Garcia Acosta. He has shown me a lot," Erviti said. Having his more experienced teammate in the group helped Erviti make his first win an important one. "Today we were trying to share the work," Erviti said. "We were talking and made a strategic plan for the final."

Erviti praised Garcia Acosta for his experience and the ability to read the race. "It was a great cycling lesson by Garcia Acosta today." It looked the run-in would favour Erviti more, so Garcia Acosta went earlier, when it was less likely the move would stick. This opened up the door for Erviti later.

Racing hard against Irishman Nicolas Roche (Crédit Agricole), Erviti took the win by the closest of margins. In fact, it was so close he didn't even celebrate until well after the finish. Erviti shook hands afterwards with Roche, congratulating him for his great effort. "We were fighting hard in the sprint. It was a tough battle. I didn't raise my hands [over the line] because it was just too close. I was afraid of letting this opportunity slip away."

This little detail shows that the Spaniard certainly has the head to win races. He may have well had Gianni Bugno on his mind: the Italian almost lost the Ronde van Vlaanderen in 1994 against Johan Museeuw. Bugno had started celebrating and the "Lion of Flanders" came roaring down the finishing straight to the encouragement of his home fans. Bugno barely made it across in first.

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It is likely that Erviti is familiar with the scenario, as Flanders is one of his favourite races. "I have done it all those years since I turned pro. It's such a Belgian tradition. It is a very impressive race with all the supporters." But currently his thoughts were not wandering towards the Spring Classics. "The Tour of Flanders is later ... I am only thinking about the race into Segovia."

The level-headed rider quickly acknowledged that it was the entire team who contributed to the success. "From the beginning my teammates were racing hard to be in the break."

Erviti explained that he wasn't chosen beforehand as the rider to go for the break. "The team generally starts out with the quest to be in a break. Everybody has a chance, except Alejandro [Valverde]." The team captain is too high in the overall classification for such games to be allowed by the other favourites. The same is true for Joaquin Rodriguez, who is only one place – and 11 seconds – behind Valverde.

It was hard work for everyone to try to be in the break. Several moves formed and were brought back again, which made for fast and furious racing. The Caisse d'Epargne team was careful to go with every move, and, finally, Vicente Garcia Acosta and Erviti made the break. Erviti knew that he owed the squad. "It was the work of the entire team in the beginning that allowed the move to develop."

Sastre unhappy with Riis?

Carlos Sastre (CSC-Saxo Bank) finishes with a time loss of 1:32.
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre, who is poised to take his second Grand Tour podium of the season in the Vuelta a España, gave an uncharacteristically critical assessment of his CSC-Saxo Bank team manager in an interview with the Spanish news agency EFE. Or did he? Sastre, who will leave Bjarne Riis' team to join the nascent Cervélo TestTeam, was quoted as saying Riis "divided the team", and criticized the Dane for not pushing the squad to a better performance in the race.

However, CSC-Saxo Bank spokesman Brian Nygaard denied that the comments came from Sastre. "I just got off the phone with Carlos, and he flat out denies having said anything like that," he told Cyclingnews. "And I honestly trust Carlos' words more than any Spanish media."

After Sastre's move to the Cervélo team became official, Riis was gracious in his response, saying, "He's been a fantastic rider to have on the team and we wish him all the success and happiness in the world." Riis finished the statement by saying "I'm hoping he'll be able to finish off this season with a great result in the Vuelta," indicating that he still had ambitions for the Spanish Tour.

The interview, which was picked up by most of the Spanish newspapers, painted Sastre as more mentally exhausted than physically tired, and then quoted Sastre as saying, "If I was physically tired, I wouldn't be third [in the Vuelta]. One has to be realistic. There is a person who has harmed and divided the team from the beginning. He continues to do damage, and that person didn't want that this team do anything in the Vuelta a España. That was his intention - he has harmed everyone."

Sastre reportedly continued, praising the efforts of the team, but blamed "this person" for failing to push the team to do better. Instead, he said, " that person has been dividing." When asked if he was referring to Riis, Sastre replied only, "He is the leader of the team, right?"

Netherlands to get 2010 Tour départ

The Netherlands is assured of hosting the 2010 Tour de France Grand Départ after the German city of Düsseldorf withdrew its candidacy on Thursday. Mayor Dirk Elbers had difficulties raising the budget for a Grand Départ as local stakeholders were wary of having the city associated with the Tour de France after two years of doping cases have afflicted the race.

The 2010 Tour de France will now commence in the Netherlands as only the cities of Utrecht and Rotterdam are still in the running for selection.

After a start on home soil in Brest this year, the will launch from nearby Monaco in 2009. The last time the Tour de France started in the Netherlands was in 1996 in Den Bosch.

Rojas, the new Tour of Poland leader, fears weather

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Caisse d'Epargne's Jose Joaquin Rojas took over the lead in the general classification of the Tour of Poland after slipping into a 12-man breakaway which held a dozen seconds on the morning's leader, Allan Davis (Quick Step) at the line. Rojas, who lost the sprint for the stage win by millimetres to Jurgen Roelandts (Silence-Lotto) was consoled with the overall lead.

"It is a pity that I missed out on another victory by a hair, so taking the overall is a little bittersweet," he said to Cyclingnews.

His teammate and fellow countryman Luis Leon Sanchez was also in the breakaway, but rolled in four seconds behind the group of ten which sprinted for the line after working to try to deliver Rojas to the win. Sanchez is now is seventh in the overall standings, six seconds back, but the differences in the top ten are small.

To keep the jersey of overall leader, Rojas faces some challenging days ahead. After stage four was annulled due to foul weather and a rider's protest of the dangerous finishing circuits, Rojas is worried that the trip into the mountains could be downright wintry. "We do not know what the weather will be like tomorrow, with rain and cold, and there are five mountains tomorrow - it could even be snowing up there.

Rojas said the mountains are not supposed to be very difficult, but said his lead may be difficult to defend. "It all depends on how my rivals react, because the differences are very small."

Van Avermaet fighting hard for points jersey

By Bjorn Haake in Las Rozas

Van Avermaet took his first Grande Tour stage ahead of Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Greg Van Avermaet (Silence-Lotto) is fighting to take home the blue points jersey from the Vuelta a España which he inherited after the departure of Tom Boonen on Wednesday. However, he is up against none other than likely Vuelta winner Alberto Contador (Astana) for that honor. Going into stage 18, Van Avermaet had a lead of only two points over the Spaniard.

With a sprint finish unlikely, Silence-Lotto changed its strategy. "We decided not to ride with the team today. Instead, we wanted to see if we could have somebody in the breakaway," Van Avermaet explained to Cyclingnews after receiving another blue jersey following stage 18.

Van Avermaet fought to get into today's move, and was ultimately successful. "I tried four, five times to get away and I had some luck that I was able to enter the break."

This opened up a very great opportunity for him. He was able to get both intermediate sprints and added eight points to his tally. He also tried to win the stage, but found he was a marked man. "The finish was not easy. Bettini and I could not ride away from the others. They were always watching us."

While admitting that it was very difficult to win the stage, he was happy with gaining more points. "I think it was important to take 18 points today [including 10 for his sixth place - ed.]"

Van Avermaet said he won't be going off the front of the Vuelta any time soon, at least not on Friday's stage to Segovia "I don't think I can be in the break tomorrow, " he said. "I am a bit tired now. I think that's normal." But he will try again in Madrid to receive more points and get his biggest prize yet.

In between, the uphill time trial on Saturday could tip the balance back in Alberto Contador's favour in the points classification. "I have to hope that Contador has bad legs on Saturday," he laughed.

Freire free to lead Spanish team

Oscar Freire (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

Three-time world champion Oscar Freire will head up Spain's squad for the upcoming World Championship in Varese, Italy, the national coach Francisco 'Paco' Antequera announced Thursday. Following the withdrawal of Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre, Spain will be represented by a versatile nine-man squad, which includes Ezequiel Mosquera ( Xacobeo-Galicia), currently fourth overall in the Vuelta a España as well as that race's overall leader Alberto Contador (Astana).

The team will also have a strong Caisse d'Epargne contingent with Alejandro Valverde, Joaquim Rodriguez and Luis Leon Sanchez. Benjamin Noval (Astana), Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Juan Manuel Garate (Quick Step) will also take part in the road race, while Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d'Epargne) and Ruben Plaza (Benfica) will contest the time trial.

Antequera said that Contador will take the role of Sastre on the team, but is not expected to contend for the rainbow bands. "Alberto is a rider that can be very important in this regard, especially when they pass the 200 kilometre race, but he knows that his mission will be to work," he told EFE.

Antequera tipped Valverde and Sanchez, the Olympic champion, as riders who will mark the breakaways in the final part of the race.

Team Type 1 keeps Chadwick in yellow

Glen Chadwick of Team Type 1 survived the toughest day of the Vuelta Mexico on Wednesday to hold onto the overall lead with three stages remaining.

The 93-mile (150 km) race included three categorized climbs, which shattered the 140-strong field and saw only 35 riders together at the finish in Morelia. Jose Benites (Scott-American Beef) won the sprint over Ivan Fanelli (Cinelli-OPD) and Ignazio Sarabia (Extremadura).

But the bigger story was the teamwork by Team Type 1 to get Chadwick to the finish unscathed, despite the loss of Matt Wilson to illness.

"The boys were under attack immediately and although Matt started, we knew we didn't have him today and there would be a good chance he would not finish," Team Type 1 Sport Director Ed Beamon said.

Over the first climb, a four-man break slipped off the front, but Team Type 1 kept the gap within five minutes with Moises Aldape, Chris Jones and Valeriy Kobzarenko riding tempo. Three more riders bridged to the leaders on the second climb, but Chadwick's lead remained safe.

"The guys kept the pressure on for the 25 kilometers of rolling into the final climb and then the Scott-American Beef guys came up to help," Beamon said.

The torrid pace ripped apart what was left of the field and hauled back all but one of the seven leaders. The main field – now reduced to about three dozen – regrouped on the fast descent and Chadwick had survived another day in the yellow jersey. The New Zealand Olympian has held the race lead since the second day of the eight-stage, 749-mile (1,206 km) race.

Though not highlighted in the results, Beamon said the hard work put in by Team Type 1's Fabio Calabria – the only rider with Type 1 diabetes in the race – has not gone unnoticed.

"At the end of the stage, Glen, Ian and Moises were in the front group and Fabio was in the next group with Jones and Kobzarenko behind," Beamon said. "(At the finish) Ian said, ‘How about that Fabio, he's a warrior?' and Chady said, ‘That guy needs to get a bonus . . . he was incredible today. Bringing us bottles all day, then he gets a flat and comes back to the front, and then he's drilling it on the descent before the final climb. What a hard guy!'"

Wednesday's finish in Morelia was the site of two grenade attacks on Monday that ripped through the crowded center of the colonial town during a national holiday. Beamon said the city is now under heavy security.

"Military helicopters and federal troops with shouldered M-16s are cruising on the back of trucks and jeeps," he said. "The irony is that this is the most beautiful city we have been in so far."

CAS files: Two-year suspension Wyper

Former Australian cyclist Andrew Wyper was given a two-year sanction by the CAS for attempting to use hGH and EPO. The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) made the announcement on Thursday. Wyper was convicted of importing the prohibited substances by the Australian Customs department after he ordered them through the internet in 2005.

Wyper represented his country at the World Road Championships in Hamilton, Canada and the World Junior Track Championships in Russia in 2003.

"There is no reason to require as a prerequisite that Mr Wyper must have obtained possession of the substances before he could take a substantial step in a course of conduct planned to culminate in the commission of an anti-doping rule violation," the CAS decided, according to the ASADA press release. "The conduct of Mr Wyper on or about 18 October 2005 of placing the order, arranging for it to be posted to him in Inverell and paying for the prohibited substances was itself a substantial step within the meaning of the Anti- Doping Policy."

ASADA Chairman, Richard Ings, said, "This case is significant for two reasons. Firstly, it demonstrates that the partnership between Australian Customs and ASADA is effective in detecting serious Anti-Doping Rule Violations. Secondly, this case highlights that athletes who purchase prohibited substances via the internet may face serious consequences under anti-doping rules and Australian law."

Wyper's suspension will run from February 7, 2008 until February 7, 2010, and all of his results from October, 18, 2005 have been invalidated by ASADA.

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