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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News, June 3, 2009

Edited by Gregor Brown

Tinkov assesses Katusha's Giro

By Gregor Brown in Rome, Italy

Oleg Tinkov criticises Katusha's Giro d'Italia performance
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Oleg Tinkov, the man who laid the foundations for what is now the Katusha cycling team, is critical of the squad's Giro d'Italia performance. Having witnessed it first hand whilst visiting the race last week, the Russian businessman and former owner of the Tinkoff Credit Systems outfit wasn't impressed with the latest incarnation of the team he created two years ago.

"From what I've seen there's no team. They've five times more money, but not even the two wins we had last year," Tinkov told Cyclingnews on Saturday.

Tinkov transferred his former team – Tinkoff Credit Systems – to Russian Igor Makarov and became president last May. By September, Tinkov believed that he lacked complete control over the decision-making process and resigned.

The team raced as Team Katusha – with riders like Filippo Pozzato, Gert Steegmans and Robbie McEwen – starting in January. It has 15 wins to date, including Pozzato's win in E3 Prijs Vlaanderen and Serguei Ivanov's win in the Amstel Gold Race.

"I understand that the Giro is preparation for the Tour de France, but for me they didn't put in any big named riders in the Giro and it is a bit wrong towards [race director Angelo] Zomegnan."

Prior to the Giro d'Italia Katusha was rocked by the positive doping case of Austrian Christian Pfannberger. Its star rider, Pozzato, crashed after the first week and did not start stage 14.

Tinkoff Credit Systems won two stages in the 2008 Giro d'Italia.

Katusha's Serge Parsani
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

"There were only six teams at the Giro who won stages this year," directeur sportif Serge Parsani told Cyclingnews on Sunday. "You need a little bit of luck; Tinkoff had men in two escapes last year that the group let go. Unfortunately, this year the escapes did not go.

"I would say overall the Giro was a disappointment for us. The positive thing is that Ben Swift, a young talent, participated in his first Grand Tour and he was up there in the sprints and had some decent results."

The British rider finished third in stage two and eighth in stage 13.

Tinkov's current focus is back home in Moscow. He runs a credit agency, Tinkoff Credit Systems, and a chain of 12 micro-brewery restaurants.

"It was a good decision to leave for me [cycling], it was too political and too much structure, that is not my way," said Tinkov. "I am an independent businessman."

Pellizotti points to Tour podium

Franco Pellizotti aims for Tour Podium
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Franco Pellizotti has targeted a podium finish at the Tour de France after his third place overall in the Giro d'Italia last month. Team Liquigas' Italian will co-captain a team with Roman Kreuziger and Vincenzo Nibali.

"I won on Blockhaus, I am ready to be a player and the [Giro] podium finish is comparable for the Tour, because the maillot jaune Carlos Sastre came to win," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Pellizotti finished the Giro d'Italia in third overall, 1:59 behind Denis Menchov and 1:18 behind Danilo Di Luca. Last year's Tour de France winner, Carlos Sastre, finished in fourth at 1:47 behind Pellizotti.

"I think that I have reached the physical and mental level to aim for a Grand Tour victory. After fourth in 2008, it was not easy to confirm it, above all in a Giro with the level so high. There's a big difference between third and overall victory because you race with the pressure of having to win, but I am ready to try."

Pellizotti competed in the three-week Giro d'Italia stage race as co-captain with Ivan Basso, winner in 2006. Basso finished the race in fifth overall.

"I truly would like to start a Grand Tour as the absolute captain of a big team, to see if it is possible to fight to win the maglia rosa. Basso could give me a hand in the Giro and I could help him out at the Tour, where he would be the leader."

Pellizotti has a contract with Liquigas through the end of 2010.

Simoni praises Menchov's tactics

By Gregor Brown in Rome, Italy

Gilberto Simoni analysis Menchov's Giro win
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Gilberto Simoni complimented Denis Menchov's performance in winning the centennial Giro d'Italia on Sunday. Menchov won a close battle against Simoni's former teammate, Danilo Di Luca.

"It was a special Giro: hard, intense and difficult. Plus, there was this extra bit of emotion surrounding the centennial edition. Menchov was able to defend himself well against Danilo. He took the jersey in the time trial and no one could ever steal it from his grasp."

Menchov finished 41 seconds ahead of the 2007 champion, registering his first Giro d'Italia win and adding to his two Vuelta a España titles.

"He [Di Luca] tried everything, but the normal road bike he rode in the [Cinque Terre] time trial was his only mistake."

Simoni, 37, won the race in 2001 and 2003, but in his 11th year of racing he finished 46 minutes down on Menchov. His Diquigiovanni team won three stages – two with Michele Scarponi and one with Leonardo Bertagnolli.

"It feels like I have ridden 100 editions, the results don't show it but I feel great here in Rome. Now is not the time to think [if I will race] next year, we will see if someone convinces me."

Simoni won stage three and held the lead in the Vuelta Mexico in March. His last Giro d'Italia win came in 2007, the stage to Monte Zoncolan.

Agritubel pre-selects Tour de France roster

Romain Feillu takes the 2008 Tour de France lead for Agritubel
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

French team Agritubel pre-selected 13 riders for the eventual nine-man Tour de France team yesterday. The team will make its final selection following a training camp in Autrans in Isère, France, June 8 to 16.

Freddy Bichot, Maxime Bouet, Sylvain Calzati, Brice Feillu, Romain Feillu, Eduardo Gonzalo, Yann Huguet, Christophe Laurent, David Le Lay, Geoffroy Lequatre, Christophe Moreau, Anthony Ravard and Nicolas Vogondy are the pre-selected riders.

Agritubel, a second division Professional Continental team, has competed in the Tour de France since 2006. Juan Miguel Mercado won a stage for the team in 2006 and Romain Feillu finished second three times and wore the leader's maillot jaune last year.

The Tour de France organiser named its 20 participating teams in March. Agritubel is one of three Professional Continental teams participating; the other 17 are top-level ProTour teams.

The teams are Cervélo TestTeam, Skil-Shimano, Agritubel, Milram, Quick Step, Silence-Lotto, Saxo Bank, Caisse d'Epargne, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Garmin-Slipstream, Columbia-Highroad, AG2R La Mondiale, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Cofidis, Française des Jeux, Lampre-NGC, Liquigas, Astana, Rabobank and Katusha.

Horrillo heads home

Pedro Horrillo
Photo ©: Bert Geerts
(Click for larger image)

Spain's Pedro Horrillo travelled back home from Bergamo, Italy, yesterday after 17 days of recovery due to a crash in stage eight of the Giro d'Italia. Doctors transferred him by air-ambulance to the university clinic of Pamplona.

The Rabobank rider crashed and fell over a guardrail 80 metres in a ravine 65 kilometres into the Morbegno to Bergamo stage. After an induced coma for 24 hours, doctors performed surgery on his fractured left femur.

Horrillo turned professional in 1998 with team Mapei. He won stage two of the 2004 Paris-Nice and this year helped Denis Menchov position himself for the eventual overall Giro d'Italia win.

Barloworld for Luxembourg and Memorial Pantani

Barloworld will focus on the Tour de Luxembourg and the one-day Memorial Pantani race this week after the three weeks it spent racing the Giro d'Italia.

The Italian team (registered in Great Britain) finished the Giro d'Italia, May 9 to 31, with two podium spots: Robert Hunter second in stage seven and Félix Rafael Cárdenas in stage 18. Kenyan Chris Froome tried for the stage win after an all-day escape in stage 14 to Bologna's San Luca.

Hunter will lead the team for the sprints in Luxembourg, today through Saturday. He joins the seven-man team of Diego Caccia, Francesco Bellotti, Patrick Calcagni, Carlo Scognamiglio, Marco Corti and Michele Merlo.

The team will send a five-man team – John-Lee Augustyn, Giampaolo Cheula, Chris Froome, Paolo Longo Borghini and Steve Cummings – to the Memorial Pantani this Saturday in Cesenatico, Italy. The race, dedicated to late cycling star Marco Pantani, is 183.7 kilometres long.

Enrico Rossi won the 2008 race ahead of Damiano Cunego.

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