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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for April 9, 2009

Edited by Gregor Brown

Contador takes slim País Vasco lead

Alberto Contador in the race lead
Photo ©: Susanne Goetze
(Click for larger image)

Alberto Contador moved into a nine-second lead in the País Vasco stage race after winning Wednesday's stage to Eibar, Spain. The Spanish Astana rider went solo in the final five kilometres to win the stage ahead Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto).

Contador put time into a group containing Evans, Olympic Champion Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Antonio Colom (Katusha). Damiano Cunego (Lampre-NGC) finished in fifth at 28 seconds. Contador leads danger men Robert Gesink (Rabobank) and Luis León Sánchez by just over 30 seconds, who sit in sixth and seventh.

"I have had better days this year, for example in Paris-Nice and also in Castilla y León, though it is not always possible to win. Today I wasn't bad but not super, though I am satisfied with the result."

Contador took over the general classification lead from Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d'Epargne), who had led the race since he won stage one. He used his Astana team to control the race prior to his move on the Arrate climb.

"It's a tough climb for making a lot of time gaps. It is short and has a good asphalt surface so a one man move is at a disadvantage to a group who can take turns pulling," he said of the final climb of Arrate (7.6km long and 3km from the finish).

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"It was a very demanding stage and we went very fast during the entire day. I asked them to work during the last part to make the race hard, because if not it would be very difficult to make differences on the last climb. The whole team did great work, especially [Chris] Horner, who put on quite a show."

"The differences were very small and the overall remains totally open. They all look very strong."

It was the fourth race win of the season for the winner of all three Grand Tours – Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a España.

Contador will take a break after this race and then re-focus for his season's objective, the Tour de France. He said he will take a vacation and turn off his mobile phone.

The Tour de France, July 4 to 26, starts in Monaco and Contador will co-captain the team with seven-time winner Lance Armstrong.

Cunego surprised by País Vasco finish

País Vasco: Damiano Cunego surprised
Photo ©: Susanne Goetze
(Click for larger image)

Damiano Cunego of Lampre-NGC was left surprised by yesterday's País Vasco stage three to Eibar, Spain, having expected a harder finish. Alberto Contador (Astana) won the day, attacking five kilometres out, with Cunego finishing fifth at 28 seconds back. He is in the same spot in the overall and with the same time gap, behind Contador.

Cunego let Contador go on the final climb of Arrate and on the last section, three kilometres from the finish, he lost the wheels of Antonio Colom (Katusha) and Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

"On the first passage of the last climb I was confused because I was expecting it to be a lot harder," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "It didn't suit me, and realised the win wouldn't be mine. They took advantage of my work a little bit. Then they attacked hard on the lighter gradient sections and I suffered slightly. Left on my on the descent, I couldn't do much. Certainly, if the gradient had been greater the situation would have been different."

Cunego won a stage in last year's. Like last year, he is using this event as preparation for the Ardennes Classics -- Amstel Gold (April 19), Flèche Wallonne (April 22) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (April 26). He won the 2008 Amstel Gold.

"The race is less selective than the years before. However, my work here is going well in light of the Classics."

The six-day race ends with a 24-kilometre time trial on Saturday.

Rollin reflects on Cervélo's Gent-Wevelgem

By Bjorn Haake in Wevelgem, Belgium

Dominique Rollin on Cervélo's Gent-Wevelgem
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

Dominique Rollin was part of a very strong Cervélo TestTeam at Gent-Wevelgem Wednesday in Belgium. The break of the day formed early, with seven of the eight Cervélo riders in it. Once the main escape of 33 men split on the ascent of the Kemmelberg, the Cervélo riders worked hard to control the distance between the two groups. Rollin was the only team rider who made the front group.

"As soon as we hit the hills we paid for our efforts early on. From the start we knew we had to be up front and I just sat in. The guys brought it back, but it cost us on the final climb." Dominique Rollin told Cyclingnews.

Cervélo's Andreas Klier formed part of a three-man move with Mathew Hayman (Rabobank) and Matthew Goss (Saxo Bank) after the second ascent of Kemmelberg. They chased the lead escape (and winning) duo of Edvald Boasson Hagen (Columbia-Highroad) and Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas).

"The team is really happy with the way it's been going. Unfortunately, we came just shy of wins lately with Heinrich [Haussler]. But it's not over and I think Sunday [in Paris-Roubaix] we will still be up there."

The Canadian joined Cervélo TestTeam from Toyota-United during the off-season. He has been professional for three years, but this is his first time racing in so many ProTour-level races. "I did more endurance and longer rides. The races here are longer, 200 kilometres are standard, compared to the North American races, where 100-120 kilometres is the norm."

Rollin's experienced many more differences coming over to Europe, the heartland of cycling. He was used to racing shorter, timed criteriums in the USA.

"You tend to ease-up mid-season, but here, with the stage races, you have to keep going. The crowds are unbelievable here. I don't usually see so many people during road races. Also the roads are smaller and it's more technical, with 200 guys fighting for position."

He said his close contact 'crit' experiences supplied the know-how to handle tight situations on the roads of Europe. He will use the experiences in Paris-Roubaix, which has nearly 55 kilometres of cobbled roads.

Rund um Köln line-up still unclear

Four days before the traditional Easter Monday one-day race Rund um Köln in Cologne, Germany, organiser Artur Tabat still doesn't have the full start list to his event. The 93rd edition of the race should, in principle, see only national teams at the start, as German TV broadcaster WDR forced Tabat to find a new format.

Only few professional riders have answered the request to race as their team sponsors don't endorse the broadcaster's idea.

Team Milram riders could still line up in national team jerseys, if the German cycling federation calls on them. In that case, team manager Gerry van Gerwen will let his riders participate, but without the usual race support (in-race car, material and assistants).

"We are currently negotiating with the federation," Alexander Donike, technical director of the event told

The chance to see Milram riders in national team jerseys at Rund um Köln is at "85 per cent" according to Donike. He would be very pleased to announce the participation of Gerald Ciolek, Christian Knees, Cologne native Dominik Roels and Tour de France stage winner Linus Gerdemann in order to attract more spectators.

At the moment, the organiser confirmed 13 teams of eight riders. The field will include riders from Luxembourg, Netherlands, Denmark, Czech Republic, Poland, Austria and Ukraine.

By letting only national teams take the start, TV station WDR and the organiser hope to reduce the appeal of doping. "The riders can participate in the event without the pressure of having to advertise their brands," said Tabat.

Still, a victory can also be motivation enough to use prohibited substances. (HK)

BMC Racing selects eight for first Roubaix

The BMC Team heads to France
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

USA Professional Continental team BMC Racing will line up in Paris-Roubaix for its first time this Sunday in Compiègne, France. Directeur Sportif John Lelangue will lead the eight-man squad.

Jackson Stewart, Tony Cruz, Jeff Louder, Brent Bookwalter, Danilo Wyss, Martin Kohler, Alex Moos, Ian McKissick are the men who will fight the nearly 55 kilometres of cobbles. The race, after 259 kilometres, ends in Roubaix.

Belgian Tom Boonen (Quick Step) won the 2008 edition.

Lampre preview Paris-Roubaix pavé

Lampre-NGC will preview the Paris-Roubaix course Friday in France. The Italian team will ride 80 kilometres, from sector Troisvilles (27) to Hornaing (16).

Marco Bandiera, Mauro Da Dalto, Angelo Furlan, Massimiliano Mori, Daniele Righi, Marcin Sapa and Simon Spilak will race Paris-Roubaix for the team.

The 259 kilometre race contains 27 sectors of pavé, for a total of 52.9 kilometre. Last year, Tom Boonen (Quick Step) won ahead of Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) and Lampre's Alessandro Ballan.

Ballan has to sit out the Northern Classics due to a cytomegalovirus. The World Champion will travel to France tomorrow to be with his Lampre-NGC teammates as they prepare for Sunday's Paris-Roubaix.

Quick Step the conqueror

The Quick Step team 2009 - the next Mapei '96?
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

Rarely has the cycling world seen a team as dominant as the Mapei-GB outfit that conquered the Spring Classics before and after the turn of the century. One day Northern France in 1996 encapsulated the essence of Patrick Lefevere's 'super squad'. Cyclingnews' Les Clarke discovers that it's a legacy the current Quick Step crew has the talent to emulate.

It's a scene most cycling fans have watched many times. The sight of three Mapei-GB riders - Johan Museeuw, Andrea Tafi and Gianluca Bortalami - crossing the finish line together in Roubaix's velodrome during the centenary edition of Paris-Roubaix is one of the sport's most memorable moments.

Tafi, his foot unclipped from the left pedal and crossing in third place, Museeuw, who had punctured eight kilometres from the finish, forcing his teammates to wait while he returned to the head of the field, and Bortalami, who received his reward for being the team player with the world's most powerful professional cycling outfit.

A Mapei-GB trifecta, the only time three riders of the same team finished in the Roubaix velodrome together, in front of the peloton, destined to share the podium in a Belgo-Italian mix of power and style.

Read the full feature.

Italy works on Worlds 2013 course

The Florence, Italy, planning committee for the 2013 World Championships bid is working on modifications of its course. Alfredo Martini, Michele Bartoli and Gabriele Sola inspected the proposed parcours this week.

"I will ride the course, maybe at a fast pace, to give it the best evaluation," said Bartoli. "I will look at the dangerous curves, the difficult sections... We will be able to get a specific examination."

Martini, honorary president, pointed out that the team wants use a climb in Fiesole (north of Florence), but they are evaluating how to make the most of the circuit. Sola, director of the 2008 Worlds in Varese, insisted that the route through the historic city of Firenze must demanding as it is spectacular.

Florence launched its bid in December. The next three editions of the world titles will be held in Mendrisio, Switzerland; Melbourne, Australia, and Copenhagen, Denmark.

(Additional assistance provided by Hedwig Kröner)

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