First Edition Cycling News, April 27, 2009
Edited by Sue George
Kroon praises Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner and teammates
By Brecht Decaluwé in Ans, Belgium
Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday wasn't the first time Bjarne Riis managed to deploy aggressive race tactics. He used to do it with Team CSC and he still does with the Saxo Bank team. Just over halfway through the Spring Classic, with more than 100 kilometers to race, the Danish team took the race into its hands. Karsten Kroon, one of the three team leaders along with Andy and Fränk Schleck talked with Cyclingnews at the finish line about the team's tactics throughout La Doyenne.
"During the race, when the breakaway had more than ten minutes, I told Andy to stay cool and to be confident. We knew we had a strong team, but we had to get rid of the fast guys," Kroon said.
"That's why we started pulling on the [Côte de] Wanne, [Côte de] Stockeu and the [Côte de la] Haute Levée - to make the race hard. On the [Côte de] Vecquée and the [Côte de la] Redoute, we attacked with some of our guys. We knew the new climb [the Côte de la Roche aux Faucons] would be too tough for many to survive attacks from the big guns. By anticipating that, we thought we should be in the front anyway, and it worked out."
The particular big gun to which Kroon was referring was his own teammate Andy Schleck, who started an all-out attack at the foot of "Falcon's Rock". At that moment, Philippe Gilbert was leading the race after a similar attack after the Côte de la Redoute ten kilometers earlier.
Behind Gilbert there was a small chasing group that included Schleck's teammates Kroon and Alexandr Kolobnev. Schleck immediately blasted past this group, looked back as if he wanted to see who would be able to keep up with him and then hammered up the 1.5-kilometer long, 10% climb with less than twenty kilometers to go until the finish in Ans.
"The most beautiful moment was when he attacked while we had three guys from our team in an intimidating position in the front of the chasing group where everybody was at their limit," Kroon said. "When he attacked, I saw a look in their eyes that made it clear to me that he wouldn't ease off before the finish line. Sometimes the killer inside him stands up although he's still a child."
"The way he walks around in this cycling world is unbelievable; he's like a young foal," said Kroon of 23-year-old teammate Andy Schleck. "He doesn't know the word stress and he's exceptionally talented. He can stay focused and he never panics while he also has the ability to hurt himself. He can dig extremely deep."
Despite all those capabilities, Andy Schleck had not previously won a one-day race before Liège-Bastogne-Liège, one of cycling's five Monuments. Andy Schleck's talents emerge at the end of long distance races. For example, he captured a fantastic second place, behind Danilo Di Luco, during his Grand Tour debut at the Giro d'Italia in 2007. Last year, Andy Schleck finished twelfth in his first Tour de France, while being part of the winning team of Carlos Sastre.
Kroon predicts that the Luxembourger will be one of the major cyclists of the next decade. "We haven't heard the last word about that boy. He can win the Tour de France, and why not this year?" He'll be the most important rival for (Alberto) Contador this summer, that's for sure," Kroon said, not seeming to mind the addition of a little pressure to young Andy Schleck's shoulders.
"He's my best friend outside the races, and he's always giving his very best, but if it's not working out then he's pulling out and goes fishing," said Kroon, explaining Schleck's strategy if his racing career doesn't work out. "He told me if he would quit cycling he would start working in the Parks Department."
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Absalon breaks World Cup record
By Rob Jones in Offenburg, Germany
Julien Absalon (Orbea) collected a record breaking win in round two of the cross-country UCI mountain Bike World Cup in Offenburg, Germany, on Sunday in front of 20,000 spectators. Not only was it his first World Cup win of the 2009 season, but it was his 18th victory in a UCI World Cup race, a new record that beats the 17 World Cup wins of the legendary Thomas Frischknecht.
Absalon's win also moved him into the overall lead for the men's 2009 World Cup competition and preserved his perfect win record at Offenburg. He has won there three times in a row.
Ren Chengyuan (China) won the elite women's World Cup race on the final lap when she caught and passed Marga Fullana (Massi). Austrian Elisabeth Osl (Central Ghost Pro Team) hung onto the women's lead by virtue of her fifth place result.
Nothing to be done yet on Freiburg Clinic report
The report on Freiburg University Clinic and doping within Team T-Mobile/Telekom is not scheduled for release until the middle of May, the Clinic has announced. The authors have said they do not know how the German news magazine Spiegel can claim to have a copy of a document which is not yet finished.
The magazine reported particularly that Andreas Klöden and Matthias Kessler apparently accompanied Patrik Sinkewitz to the Clinic for a forbidden blood transfusion on the evening of the first stage of the 2006 Tour de France.
"At this point, there is no ground for any kind of sanction against Klöden," Team Astana spokesman Philippe Maertens told the SID press agency. He added that the German rider continued to deny having anything to do with the matter.
However, Maertens said, "As long as there is no evidence against him, we can't do anything. If this evidence should exist, then we will have a problem and will do something about it."
UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani echoed those sentiments. "We need something solid. Right now we will do nothing. That can change, when we receive some kind of facts from the judicial system."
According to the magazine, the report also alleged that doctors Lothar Heinrich and Andreas Schmid conducted organized doping for the team from 1995 to at least 2006.
Duo stays away in Tour de Bretagne
By Jean-François Quénet in Fougères, France
Despite amateur teams comprising only one-third of the peloton at the Tour de Bretagne, one of them is sporting the leader's jersey two days into the race. Julien Fouchard (Côtes d'Armor-Maître Jacques) wasn't confident he'd be given so much freedom when he attacked with Ukrainian sprinter Yuriy Metlushenko (Amore e Vita) with 70 kilometres to go in stage two, but a big crash in the bunch and the flat tyre of race leader Dennis Van Winden who waited for more than one minute for assistance, helped them stay away and contest a win in the stage including the gruelling climb of La Pinterie in Fougères.
"This is unexpected," said Fouchard about the advantage he kept over the favourites - more than three minutes. His amateur team will have its work cut out for it as it tries to control the race for the remaining five days. Everyone knows that Fouchard, an engineering student from Normandy, is a good time triallist. He was the winner of the Under 23 Chrono des Nations at the end of last season.
The Breton continental teams of Besson Chaussures and Bretagne-Schuller have already promised to challenge their local rivals after the events of stage two. "What happened is sad," stage 1 winner Van Winden said after losing his lead. "I felt very good."
Every stage of the Tour de Bretagne features small hills where riding offensively is a common strategy. Anything can happen between now and the stage six time trial on Thursday.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Tour de Bretagne.
A Wild weekend with back-to back victories
Cervélo TestTeam's Kirsten Wild raced to her second victory of the weekend on Sunday at the Grand Prix Stad Roeselare in Belgium. Rochelle Gilmore (Lotto) finished second, with third place going to Liesbeth de Vocht (DSB).
"Today we controlled the entire race," said Manel Lacambra, Sports Director Cervélo TestTeam on Sunday. "We maintained a high speed to prevent any chance of attack and consequently there was none, not even from our team as we were looking for a sprint. In the final Sarah (Düster) did the lead out for Kirsten and again she was the strongest and won the race.
"Two victories within 24 hours," said Lacambra. "We are very glad. It was a perfect race from the entire team. Everyone did a great work and the victory was our reward."
TIBCO conquers Athens
Team TIBCO flawlessly executed its race plan for the Athens Twilight Criterium, so much so that Brooke Miller was sprinting against her shadow as she dashed to the line.
She had good reasons to be nervous. First, it was dark. And second, the evening had started off with the high-off thup-thup-thup of a helicopter, not for the race coverage but as police had launched a man-hunt for a university professor who had murdered his wife and two others just blocks from the race course that afternoon.
"Because we were racing under the street lights, I kept seeing my shadow," the reigning US national criterium champion said. "I kept thinking someone was coming around me, so I kept going harder."
In reality, the lead-out had worked so well that Miller had a gap coming to the line, and took the win by several bike lengths.
"When things came back together in the final laps, we knew it was going to be a sprint finish," Miller said. "On the last lap, we took control of the front, with Meredith (Miller) and Lauren (Tamayo) on the front. I was third wheel and Jo (Kiesanowski) was on my wheel sweeping
Meredith Miller opened it up on the hill on the back stretch on Washington Street, heading toward turn three on the four-corner course. "This is when we were most vulnerable and no one was coming around us!" Brooke Miller said. "Meredith destroyed the field with her lead-out."
Lead-out specialist Tamayo took over between turns three and four, keeping the pace scorching. Tamayo swung wide out of turn four and dropped off Brooke Miller for the long, slightly downhill drag to the line. By design, Kiesanowski hesitated and let her sprinter open a gap. Only Tina Pic (Colavita/Sutter Home) and Jen McCrae (Team Type 1), both previous Athens winners, came Kiesanowski in pursuit of Miller, who took the comfortable win.
New Zealander Heath Blackgrove (Hotel San Jose) won the men's race.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Athens Twilight Criterium.
Barloworld's Impey finally headed home
After the race, doctors reported a fracture of the third disc of his lumbar vertebra, a micro-fracture of his neck, facial trauma, a few broken teeth and a deep cut in his lips.
"It has taken some time to organize everything as it is not as straight forward as people think," said Impey of his travel plans. "The main problem is obviously my back and because of being forced to lie down constantly they have to find a flight available with stretcher capabilities and organize transfers in ambulances. Obviously it all has to run in the shortest, safest manner."
Impey was to travel 130km by ambulance to the airport in Alanya, catch a flight to Istanbul, then another to his home airport in South Africa.
"I will have two medics with me always, and I will then land around 8:00 am Sunday to go straight to the Milpark hospital to sort out my back, mouth and recovery."
Impey said he was grateful for all the get well messages he received.
(Additional editorial assistance from Susan Westemeyer and Laura Weislo.)
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2009)