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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News, April 15, 2009

Edited by Gregor Brown

Louder makes the Scheldeprijs break

By Bjorn Haake in Schoten

Jeff Louder (BMC) continues good form in Europe
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

Jeff Louder carried his successful US campaign over to Europe Wednesday in the Scheldeprijs one-day Belgian Classic. The American winner of last month's Redlands Classic made the four-man escape group that remained clear for almost 150 kilometres.

"That was the first key goal of the day, to have someone in the break and take the pressure off the sprinters," BMC Racing's Louder said to Cyclingnews. "My card came up and that was a positive thing."

Louder added that he had to work hard to make the move of the day. He said he attacked several times in the beginning part of the race until the move of the day formed at kilometre 53.

He was not entirely prepared for a long, hard day. "There aren't a lot of chances to go out and do 200 kilometres in the US at that kind of speed. I was fading in the end.

"I thought if we get caught at 20 kilometres to go then I can keep working. But later I thought, 'Wow, this [break] could actually make it.'"

When Louder realised there was a chance to stay away, he saved his energy. "I felt really bad for the other three, but I had to sit on just because I was [tired]. Fourth place is better than getting dropped and having those three win."

The peloton under the control of Quick Step and Saxo Bank caught Louder and Matthé Pronk (Vacansoleil) at nine kilometres remaining. Lorenzo Bernucci (LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini) and Pavel Brutt (Katusha) battled on for another five kilometres.

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"I was amazed how many people were out there all along the route. Every corner there was a group of 100 or 200 spectators. It's fun and also to be on TV all day is good for the sponsor. That's definitely a bigger deal than Redlands - no live TV at Redlands!"

Louder, a nine-year professional, first raced the Scheldeprijs in 2003 for team Navigators. He believes that these European races are important for BMC to progress.

Louder still races the Tour de Romandie, April 28 to May 3, before returning to the United States. Next up is a well-deserved break, though. "My family is here and I will relax a few days with my wife and daughter."

Wrolich and Schröder survive Scheldeprijs

Milram's Servais Knaven takes over after Ciolek crash
Photo ©: ISPA
(Click for larger image)

Milram's Peter Wrolich and Björn Schröder survived a crash in the final metres to place fifth and seventh, respectively, yesterday in Belgian Classic Scheldeprijs. The team's designated sprinter Gerald Ciolek missed the chance for victory due to a pile up earlier in the 200-kilometre race.

"After Ciolek went down in a crash, our tactics were obsolete," said Team Manager Gerry van Gerwen. "Afterwards, we could only attack, and Servais Knaven tried it instantly. After this dramatic turn of events, we didn't expect two the top ten placings."

Ciolek went down with teammate Thomas Fothen at 38 kilometres from the finish on the 1700-metre Broekstraat cobble sector. There were around 20 riders involved in the incident. The crash and subsequent bike changes forced both riders to lose contact with the main group.

Knaven launched an attack with Brit Roger Hammond (Cervélo TestTeam) at 16 kilometres to go. Their move only lasted a few kilometres before the sprinters' teams took over.

Alessandro Petacchi (LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini) won the race over Kenny Van Hummel (Skil-Shimano) and Dominique Rollin (Cervélo TestTeam). Favourites Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Robbie McEwen (Katusha) and Greg Van Avermaet (Silence-Lotto) were some of the crash victims in the final metres.

Petacchi helps Italian quake victims

Alessandro Petacchi helps Italy's quake victims
Photo ©: ISPA
(Click for larger image)

Alessandro Petacchi, winner of yesterday's Scheldeprijs race in Belgium, is joining teammate Danilo Di Luca to help raise money for the victims of the earthquake that struck central Italy's Abruzzo region last Monday.

"Cyclists are often divided, but this is an occasion to demonstrate our unity and solidarity," said Petacchi to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Di Luca, who is from Abruzzo, is collecting diverse cycling items to auction on eBay. The profits from the auctions will go to the earthquake victims.

"You are able to see some of what happened on television, but it does not tell the whole story of what those people are going through," Petacchi said.

A magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck Abruzzo's L'Aquila area last Monday. Funeral services were held Friday for 205 of the estimated 293 victims.

Wegmann ready for Ardennes victory

A picture that says it all: Wegmann in the 2008 Flèche Wallonne
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

German rider Fabian Wegmann is gearing up for the Ardennes Classics week starting this Sunday. The Milram rider, who has been a regular contender in Amstel Gold race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, would love to improve his results this year and finally secure a podium placing in one of the prestigious one-day events – or even achieve a victory.

All he needs, according to Wegmann, is "a tiny tad of luck". Finishing 11th at Amstel, 30th at Flèche Wallonne and 22nd in Liège last year, the punchy finisher always put his mark on the final kilometres of each race, but lacked either the legs or some luck to make it to the finish line with the best.

"For example, take last year's Flèche," he said on Thursday. "Just before the finish, I was leading the race together with two other riders [Gustav Erik Larsson and Alexander Efimkin - ed.], but both of them crashed and I had to ride the last five kilometres on my own. Unfortunately, I was caught before the finish line." As to Amstel and Liège, Wegmann finished both in the first chase group behind the favourites.

Wegmann, 28, may reach his prime time yet in the Ardennes Classics. The 2007 and 2008 German champion spent the last years working as a super domestique for former Gerolsteiner teammate Davide Rebellin. This season he will have the every possible opportunity to fight for victory in hits favourite classics.

"They are the absolute season highlight for me. I'm already very excited. After being at the front in these races throughout the last years – it was never quite enough for a top spot – I want to win one of them this year.

"There's no real reason why they appeal to me. I can only say that these Classics suit me. Their length, the steep climbs, the continuous up and down – it all fits. You can't explain these things. Other riders like the races in Flanders, I like the Ardennes Classics." (HK)

Impey takes Turkish win

Darryl Impey (Barloworld) wins the stage
Photo ©: Presidential Cycling Tour
(Click for larger image)

Daryl Impey won the fourth stage of the Presidential Tour of Turkey yesterday in Marmaris. The South African of Barloworld out-sprinted his escape companions after 166.9 kilometres of racing.

"I knew my condition was good and today I sealed the deal on this important stage," said 24-year-old Impey.

Nine men controlled the finale via an escape that formed over the stage's last climb. Some of its members tried for freedom, but Impey readied himself for the sprint.

"We raced over rain-soaked roads and I was so lucky because I didn't crash. In the finale I kept the best possible position going into the last corner and then won the sprint."

Mauro Finetto (CSF Group-Navigare) lost the race lead to Impey's escape companion David Loosli (Lampre-NGC). The Italian has a two-second lead over Impey with four stages left to race.

The Turkish win was Impey's first win since last fall when he won the sixth stage of the Herald Sun Tour in Australia.

Sastre races Romandie

Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre will race the Tour de Romandie, April 28 to May 3, with his Cervélo TestTeam as part of his preparation for the Giro d'Italia.

The Swiss stage race will be the last appointment for Sastre prior to the Giro d'Italia, May 9 to 31. Besides his debut in the Tour of California, the Spaniard has only raced on home soil this season. He finished 24th overall in the País Vasco stage race last week.

The 63rd Tour de Romandie consists of a prologue time trial and five stages, with stage three being a team time trial. Andreas Klöden (Astana) won the race last year over Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) and Marco Pinotti (Highroad).

Pozzato Russia's sportsman of the week

Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

Russian Sports Information Agency All Sport selected Filippo Pozzato as the best sportsman of the week in Russia. The Italian who races for the Russia-based Katusha team finished second in Paris-Roubaix on Sunday.

Pozzato's northern campaign also included a win in the E3 Prijs and a stage victory in De Panne. His second place was the highest he has ever finished in France's Paris-Roubaix classic.

All Sport names the top 10 best sportsmen every week, as well as a top 20 every month.

Great moments in Classics history – the Ardennes Classics

By Cyclingnews staff

Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) beats Kim Kirchen
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

You've seen us get sentimental over our favourite cobbled Classics moments, but with those events run and won, Cyclingnews reminisces on some of the great Ardennes classic moments. Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège make up the Ardennes Classics and are also the final Spring Classics of 2009, so join us as we take a trip down memory lane for some of the big moments and bizarre stories that have cemented this trio's Classics status.

Di Luca does the double

In cold and damp weather conditions – typical for the Ardennes region of Belgium at that time of year – Italian rider Danilo Di Luca came out of a decimated bunch on the famed Mur de Huy to take his second 2005 Spring Classic in a row. Just a few days after his Amstel Gold Race victory in the Netherlands, "the Killer" struck again as he out-sprinted his most dangerous rivals like Kim Kirchen and Davide Rebellin, showing tremendous strength on the final climb.

Read the full feature.

Saxo Bank continues with Science in Sport

Saxo Bank backed by SiS
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Saxo Bank will continue its partnership with sponsor Science in Sport (Sis). The UK sports nutrition company will back the Danish team throughout the 2009 season.

"Our collaboration with SiS is a win-win situation and we feel convinced that this will help us maintain our position as one of the best team in the world," said team owner Bjarne Riis.

SiS will supply its energy, hydration and recovery products to the team's riders, like Critérium International winner Jens Voigt and best young rider of the 2008 Tour de France, Andy Schleck.

Saxo Bank lost its co-sponsor IT Factory in December when the Danish company declared bankruptcy. It had a new contract with IT Factory for three years, valued around 40 million kroner (€5.37 million).

Cyclingnews weekly podcast: Episode 7

Paris-Roubaix run-down and Lance Armstrong's suspicions

Somehow, we've made it to week seven without being cancelled. Does this mean the Cyclingnews weekly podcast is, as they say, here to stay?

Just in case it isn't, make sure you pick up a rare unsigned copy of Episode 7 for your listening pleasure. This week's audio feast is nearly 25 minutes long and contains no naughty words. Instead, Cyclingnews' Daniel Benson and BikeRadar's Jeff Jones talk about the biggest and baddest one day race of them all, Paris-Roubaix. Who won, who fell off, who won and fell off, who got spat on, who punctured and failed, and most importantly, where was Heinrich Haussler.

We also discuss the upcoming classics, Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and Lance Armstrong's run-in with the French anti-doping agency, which could result in him not racing the Tour de France. Did he have good reason to be suspicious?

You can subscribe to the podcasts via iTunes (or just go to iTunes and search for 'cyclingnews') or via this XML feed:

You can also download the podcasts directly by clicking on these links:

  • April 15: Paris-Roubaix – full analysis including Heinrich Haussler, Lance Armstrong vs the French anti-doping agency and crazy theories
  • April 9: Tour of Flanders, Heinrich Haussler's return to form, Ghent-Wevelgem, Bob Stapleton air time and Paris-Roubaix
  • April 1: E3 Prijs, Heinrich Haussler's form slump, track worlds and Lance's metal implants
  • March 26: Jens Voigt, Milan-San Remo, Mark Cavendish, Heinrich Haussler, David Millar, Lance Armstrong and the track worlds
  • March 19: Tour de France teams, Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo preview and Heinrich Haussler
  • March 12: Paris-Nice mid-race, Tirreno-Adriatico preview and Heinrich Haussler
  • March 5: Valverde summonsed, Belgian opening weekend and Heinrich Haussler

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Hedwig Kröner)

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