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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, September 20, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

Arroyo finally gets rewarded

By Bjorn Haake in Segovia

It begins to dawn on David Arroyo
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

For the second stage in a row, the Caisse d'Epargne team took the Vuelta a España stage win, both times from a breakaway. On Friday's stage 19, David Arroyo became the team's third stage victor after Imanol Erviti (stage 18) and Alejandro Valverde (stage 2). As in the case of Erviti's success, teamwork played a role in setting up the victory from a breakaway.

Several riders from Caisse d'Epargne made the 13-man escape, but only Arroyo survived, going clear with Julien Loubet (AG2R) and Vasil Kiryienka (Tinkoff Credit Systems) on the descent from the Puerto de Navafria.

The plan was to set Valverde up for the stage win and the bonus available on the line in order gain the time necessary to move him ahead of Robert Gesink (Rabobank) into fifth on the general classification. But the determination of Loubet and Kiryienka ensured that the trio stayed clear. Arroyo, not contributing to the effort, took the stage with ease.

Arroyo, who spends much of his time working to help others on his team to victory, valued his chance to experience the spotlight for his first Grand Tour stage win. "Being in the break and then winning the stage is very important to me," he said. "This victory is like compensation for all the work I do day after day, year after year.

"When you start a Grand Tour you also have personal expectations," he explained. "Day after day you work for your leader to make sure he is well placed. And you have to work for the team." When there are chances to work for himself, Arroyo takes them full swing. "There are also days like this when you have the opportunity to go for the victory. And that's what I did today."

Arroyo had come close to tasting victory already. In stage 16 of the Tour de France he finished third, and is well placed in the Vuelta overall at 17th, although that was not the objective. In fact, going to the Vuelta was not even a plan.

Arroyo was supposed to make the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France his two Grand Tours of the year. In the Giro he even had all the freedom to ride for himself. "I was supposed to be the leader at the Giro and have liberties, but I had a small crash before." At the time it was a huge disappointment. But there's always sunshine after rain. "The win today makes up for bad luck like that."

The crash changed his programme to the Tour and the Vuelta instead. The victory in Segovia was something special in his career. "This is the most important victory I have so far."

Handing out teamwork lessons

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Caisse d'Epargne had the last two days firmly under control. Yesterday they had two riders in the 18-man break, with the young Imanol Erviti prevailing over Nicolas Roche. And today there were moments when no fewer than four Caisse d'Epargne riders were in the break. The Spanish team was pulling hard on the climbs, making the race hard – even isolating overall leader Alberto Contador and his second placed teammate Levi Leipheimer (Astana) on the final climb.

In the end, it was Arroyo and Vasil Kiryienka who were the only survivors from the breakaway. Kiryienka was demanding a bit more collaboration, but even if Arroyo wanted to, he wasn't allowed. "I explained to him that it was the team's strategy. The idea was to get the victory to Alejandro [Valverde]. So I couldn't pull. Then when we came to the line I knew I had to sprint and I won the race."

Kiryienka is a strong time trialler and showed the ability to pull hard in the finale. But Caisse d'Epargne's tactic played out well. "Kiryienka was a bit innocent taking me to the line like this. He even attacked in the final lap."

Arroyo turned pro with CSC in 2001 and stayed with them until 2003. In 2004 he couldn't find a big team and rode for LA Pecol. But in 2005 Caisse d'Epargne picked him up and neither has regretted this so far. Arroyo was a crucial rider in defending the yellow jersey of Oscar Pereiro in the 2006 Tour de France.

Arroyo finally got a reward for all the sacrifices he has done not only for himself, but also for the Spanish outfit. "I work a lot for the team, so getting this victory is very important to me." He has also noticed a change over the years. "Many people now recognise me. This [victory] is also paying back the fans."

Voigt wins miserable stage in signature style

Jens Voigt (CSC Saxo-Bank)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Team CSC's Jens Voigt put in one of his signature solo attacks on the Tour of Poland's sixth stage, and in weather more fitting for a Spring Classic than a summer tour, he rode his way into the race's overall lead. He now leads teammate Lars Bak by 1'22, with the morning's leader, José Joaquín Rojas fading from contention more than five minutes in arrears.

The stage, originally planned to cover 201.7 kilometres with five mountain passes had to be shortened to just 118 due to the extreme weather which has plagued the Tour since the start. "The original plan was for us to work for Lars Bak today because we thought he could avoid losing time and possibly take the lead," said CSC director Kim Andersen. "But Jens approached me and said he was feeling strong. So I said it was okay, and we agreed that he was going to make an attempt on the next climb. And from then on it was simply The Jens Voigt Show," he joked.

The shortened stage fell into Voigt's favour, but, he revealed, the entire peloton knew it. "Half of the peloton came over to me right before the stage and said, 'Jens, this is your kind of stage, it's wet and cold and it's short,'" Voigt said. "It's a great feeling because this is my last race this season and it a good morale boost for my winter training."

Continue to the full report, results and photos.

Bettini battles for historic triple on home soil

By Gregor Brown

Paolo Bettini (Italy)
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

The 2008 World Championships presents Paolo Bettini the chance to make history – a never before seen three consecutive world titles. Better yet, the Italian winner in Salzburg (2006) and Stuttgart (2007) has the chance to take the rainbow jersey on home soil. Lombardia's Varese hosts the battle, the 75th edition of the World Championships beginning on September 23 with the U23 time trial and culminating with the men's road race on September 28.

The 34 year-old defending champion from La California, Livorno, is already part of an elite group of repeat winners, which includes Greg LeMond, Gianni Bugno, Freddy Maertens, Georges Ronsse, Briek Schotte and Rik Van Looy. But he will be savouring the chance to trump Alfredo Binda, Eddy Merckx, Rik Van Steenbergen and Oscar Freire, the only other triple winners, by taking his titles three years in a row.

Freire, on the other hand, will be looking to become the only rider in history to win four world championships, and he's got a strong and unified Spanish team behind him – one that includes (soon to be) triple Grand Tour champion Alberto Contador, Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez, and three-time world championship podium finisher Alejandro Valverde.

The course, however, will more than likely favour Bettini due to its similarity to the last two editions.

Based in northern Italia, Varese will host the start and finish of all six world title events from its Mapei Cycling Stadium, which is a specially converted horse track. The time trails for under-23, women and men categories will use varying routes out of the stadium and the road races for the same three categories will all use a 17.35-kilometre parcours.

The course in Varese has 237 metres of climbing over the 17.35-kilometre circuit which the men will complete 15 times, for a total of 3,555 metres over 260.25 kilometres. The big features are the kilometre-long Montello (topping out at kilometre 1.69, averaging 6.5%) and the 3.13-kilometre Ronchi (kilometre 13.79, 4.5%).

German Jens Voigt triumphed the last time the circuit was used, in the Giro d'Italia's stage 18, when the finish was placed closer to the top of Ronchi on Via Sacco. This time the riders will face an extra three kilometres – predominantly flat – before arriving to the line.

Continue to the full preview.

Roche tipped as Grand Tour rider

By Bjorn Haake in Segovia

Sébastien Hinault was still brimming with pride for his Crédit Agricole teammate Nicolas Roche the morning after the Irish rider nearly took his first Grand Tour stage win. Speaking before the start of stage 19 in Las Rozas, Hinault said he thought Roche has all the ingredients of a good Grand Tour rider.

Hinault admitted that the team would have preferred Roche winning by a few centimetres in stage 18, rather than losing out to Caisse d'Epargne's Imanol Erviti. "Nicolas came so close to victory. We are a bit disappointed."

Hinault noted the progress that Roche is making, both in the Vuelta and his career. "He has climbed up the overall, so it was a great day for us [as a team]." Hinault mused that Roche is the future. "It's only his second or third Grand Tour. He proved that he is a rider for the Grand Tours. He recovers very well."

Hinault added that Roche is likely to end up in the top 15 of the Vuelta. "That's very encouraging to him."

Even the balance for the team is good on accounts of both the Vuelta and specifically stage 18. "We had two riders in the break. Nicolas got second." While the French team didn't have the big names at the start line in Granada, Hinault thought they did well. He himself won stage 10 in a bunch sprint. "We had the ambition to do well. Every day we were in the mix."

Hinault to AG2R

Sébastien Hinault may have taken the best victory of his career on stage 10 of the Vuelta a España when he beat AG2R-La Mondiale's Lloyd Mondory to the line, but he will soon be joining the vanquished on the rival French team. Hinault became the latest Crédit Agricole rider to find a home for the coming seasons, signing a two-year deal with AG2R-La Mondiale, the team announced Friday.

A professional since 1997, the 34-year-old Hinault has eleven career victories to date. A stage win and the final overall victory in the Tour du Limousin as well as his stage in the Vuelta helped secure his future after team manager Roger Legeay failed to find a replacement for the outgoing sponsor Crédit Agricole.

Kupfernagel bows out of Worlds

World time trial champion Hanka Kupfernagel will not ride in the World Championships next week, the German cycling federation (BDR) announced Friday afternoon. Health problems were cited as the reason for her withdrawal from the team.

No replacement can be named, since Kupfernagel had the starting place as the reigning world champion.

"We are sorry that Hanka Kupfernagel cannot take part in the title competition," said BDR Sport Director Burkhard Bremer. According to the BDR's press release, Kupfernagel had motivation problems after the unsuccessful Olympic games. After training and further racing, "she seemed to be fit again in time," the press release said.

"In the last few days, it has become apparent, however, that her health is not up to such a difficult World Championship race," the statement concluded, and noted that Kupfernagel had previously said that she would not race if she did not feel 100 percent fit. (SW)

France gets new Continental squad

Former French professional Stephane Heulot will head up a new French squad for the upcoming season, Le Télé reported Friday. No title sponsor has been formally announced, but Vivarte, the parent company of French retailer Super Sport is rumoured to be the main sponsor.

Heulot, a former French champion who wore the Tour de France's yellow jersey in 1996 is hoping to build the squad up to a 2010 Tour start. He is currently the manager of the amateur Super Sport 35 squad. "The group's objective is to evolve rapidly and, why hide it, to be the start of the Tour de France in 2010. We leave for a three-year project with a budget that would run between 1.2 and 1.5 million euro during the first season, " he continued.

Nicolas Guillé, currently director of the Team U Nantes Atlantique, is reported to be joining Heulot as directeur sportif, as is Yannick Flochlay.

Amorison extends

Belgian Frederic Amorison extended his contract with the Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner team for one more year, the squad announced Friday. This season Amorison took two victories, the GP Puivelde-Belsele and Heusden GP, but his year was hampered by injury from crashes in the Driesdaagse De Panne-Koksijde and the Ronde van Zeeland which forced him to miss the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix.

With Amorison, 12 riders are under contract so far for 2009: Bert De Waele, Kevin Neirynck, David Boucher, Ian Stannard, Dirk Bellemakers, Benjamin Gourgue, Sebastien Delfosse, Rob Peeters, Sven Nys, Frederic Amorison and the "newcomers" Denis Flahaut and Geert Verheyen.

Slovenian Worlds Team

The Slovenian federation announced its men's and women's selection for the upcoming World Championships in Varese, Friday.

Men Elite: Grega Bole (Adria Mobil), Borut Bozic (Cycle Collstrop), Janez Brajkovic (Astana), Kristjan Fajt (Perutnina Ptuj), Matej Stare (Perutnina Ptuj) and Gorazd Stangelj (Lampre)

Women Elite: Sigrid Corneo (Menikini - Selle Italia - Masters Color)

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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