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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News, June 13, 2009

Edited by Sue George

Liquigas backs Pellizotti for Tour

By Gregor Brown

Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)
Liquigas will back Franco Pellizotti in the Tour de France this July, one month after he placed third overall in the Giro d'Italia. The team insists that the Italian climber will aim for stage wins and leave the classification battle to youngsters Vincenzo Nibali and Roman Kreuziger.

"He came out of the Giro in good shape with the right (amount of) fatigue. The Giro was fast and a great show, but not very hard in respect to the amount of climbing," team manager Roberto Amadio said to Cyclingnews.

Pellizotti won the stage to Blockhaus and moved from fourth to third overall. Co-Captain Ivan Basso supported him on the final mountain stage to Vesuvio. Amadio believes it is best to race Pellizotti while he is at his best.

"Pellizotti has difficulty maintaining his concentration for September and October. He will do the Tour, and that will be the end of big races for the season."

Coming up on

Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

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Liquigas originally scheduled Italy's Visconti and Czech Republic's Kreuziger, winner of Tour de Romandie last month, to be the sole classification riders at the Tour de France. Though they remain the two co-captains, Amadio refused to rule out Pellizotti for the overall victory.

"When you are there, you know what is best. Nibali and Kreuziger will start with the classification in mind, more so than Pellizotti."

Nibali and Kreuziger, plus other teammates like Oliver Zaugg, completed a 15-day training camp at altitude in San Pellegrino, Italy. Nibali is currently eighth overall at the Dauphiné Libéré stage race and Kreuziger will start the Tour de Suisse Saturday.

Daniele Bennati will join Kreuziger in Switzerland. He has completely recovered from a crash in Tirreno-Adriatico that forced him to skip the Giro d'Italia. He will captain the sprints for the team at the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de France.

Rested Millar finds key to Dauphiné success

By Jean-François Quénet in Briançon, France

David Millar (Garmin - Slipstream)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)
Thanks to some strong and consistent riding at the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, David Millar is sitting in fifth place in the overall. The attack he launched in the final five kilometers of stage two suggested he was in form. Though that attack lasted just until the sprinters caught him with 35 meters to go, Millar continued riding well with a third place in the lengthy individual time trial of Valence. Then after an impressive 11th place finish on Mont Ventoux on Thursday, Millar rode up the Izoard on Friday during stage six with the GC leaders Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) and Alberto Contador (Astana).

"It's a bit of a surprise. I hoped to go well here at the Dauphiné, but I've hoped so many times in the recent past without success," the Scot said to Cyclingnews in Briançon before explaining his good form. "I trained too much. This time, between my time at the Giro d'Italia and the start of the Dauphiné, I've done almost nothing. I think this is the best for me: to just rest between the races and race hard."

Feeling fresh has changed Millar's impressions on the bike. "When you are going well, climbing goes very quickly," he said, referring to the Izoard climb during stage six on Friday when he never appeared in any difficulty as he kept pace with the favourites.

"Contador, Evans and Valverde are at the same level. [Robert] Gesink and [Vincenzo] Nibali are also very strong. After them, I'm kind of the best."

What he has learned from his past is not to be too excited too soon about his apparent return to the top of the world of cycling. "I'm taking every day as it comes," said Millar, who declined to name his next objective.

Fedrigo looks ahead to the French and World Championships

By Jean-François Quénet in Briançon, France

Pierrick Fédrigo (Bbox Bouygues Telecom)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)
Pierrick Fedrigo knew about winning in the French Alps. Before topping the Izoard on his way to victory during stage six of the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré to Briançon on Friday, he had claimed his first Tour de France career stage win in Gap, where this Dauphiné stage began. It was Fedrigo's first Dauphiné win after previously finishing second, third and fourth in different past stages.

Fedrigo's success will make him the man to beat at the French Championship in Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, on June 28. The course is rumoured to be more demanding than a hard edition held in the recent past in Boulogne-sur-Mer, which he won in 2005. At the French Championships, Bbox Bouygues Telecom is usually the team to beat because its riders outnumber those of other teams and have more expertise.

"I'm used to having pressure on my shoulders for that day," said Fedrigo, thinking of the past and the future simultaneously.

Fedrigo will race the Tour de France, where he'll target another stage win, but what he has in mind for this year is different than in years past. Known for stopping his season rather early like many French riders, Fedrigo, who lives in the Bordeaux wine region, has set his sights on the World Championship in Mendrisio in September. "I decided to give it a go in December. That was before Laurent Jalabert was appointed as a selector," said Fedrigo.

Watching Alessandro Ballan win in Varese last year is what changed his mind about defending the colors of France. Just a month before the worlds, Fedrigo had defeated Ballan for the win at the ProTour event GP Plouay.

"The best preparation is the Vuelta a España, but we are still a bit far away from that to think about it much now," said the Frenchman.

Valverde prepared for Dauphiné's queen stage

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)
Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde held onto his yellow leader's jersey on Friday at the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré. He finished stage six 4:12 behind winner Pierrick Fedrigo and maintained his 16-second lead over Cadel Evans and 1:04 over Alberto Contador.

"The stage today, which was only 106 kilometers long between Gap and Briançon, was rather short but all the same a difficult one because it was very hot and we had to climb the Izoard, which topped out only 20 kilometers from the finish.

"Today the plan was to control the race and try to reach the top of the Izoard with as many teammates as possible, so that they could protect me on the descent and in the last kilometers. I did almost the entire downhill ahead of the bunch to avoid danger."

Recovered from the previous day's effort of Mont Ventoux, Valverde said, "My most dangerous adversaries did not attack me until Alberto did on the final climb, one kilometer from the line. Evans went behind him, and I just followed. Once we caught him, Alberto attacked again. He was very strong and it was not easy to come back but we did it and crossed the line together."

Valverde is not underestimating the importance of Saturday's queen stage. "It will be really hard, with the Galibier, the Croix de Fer and the final climb to the finish. In such a stage, everything can happen. I can lose the yellow jersey, but I can also increase the gap over my adversaries, who are still the same: Cadel Evans and Alberto Contador, without forgetting Robert Gesink and Mikel Astarloza who are also in a good position."

"I hope I will have another good day and that I will still be wearing the yellow jersey tomorrow afternoon in Saint-François-Longchamp."

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of stage six of the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré.

Donati says link exists between doping and coke use

By Shane Stokes

Italian anti-doping expert Sandro Donati has challenged the notion that there is no direct correlation between recreational cocaine use and the abuse of performance enhancing drugs, saying this week that the two are often linked.

Under the WADA Code, an athlete cannot be punished for testing positive for the substance in out of competition tests. However, Donati indicated at the Play The Game conference in Coventry that he is sceptical about separating the two.

"I don't understand when, every time an athlete is positive for cocaine, that the sporting institutions immediately explain that it is not for performance, it is only for personal use," he said.

"This is an incredible explanation. I was a coach and I know very well the mental balance of the athlete. It is impossible for someone who uses cocaine for his personal life to have a good balance...because the role of the athlete is very complex.

"It means that someone involved in the use of cocaine is not a normal athlete. It means that the using is only a compensation for other using [of drugs]...the cocaine is only the tip of the iceberg."

As justification for his stance, Donati referred to his work as a consultant for a prosecutor in doping cases. "I know very well the connection in using [of both types]," he said, explaining that the substance is used by some in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

It is utilised "mainly to compensate for the slump in mood and aggressiveness during the suspension of anabolic steroids or testosterone," he explained. "There is the consequence of becoming addicted to both categories of substances."

Former Tour de France winner Marco Pantani died of a cocaine overdose in 2004. There have been several high-profile cases of cyclists testing positive for the drug.

While Donati did not name any particular athletes - and therefore didn't make specific accusations of doping against any one individual - it is clear that he would vouch for a rethink of the WADA Code in this area.

He is a former Head of Research for the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) and now works as Consultant of the Minister of Social Affairs in Italy.

Webcor crashes out of Nature Valley contention

By Kirsten Robbins in Cannon Falls, Minnesota

Webcor's riders were left with cuts and bruises
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)
A crash eight kilometres with eight kilometers to go until the finishing circuits resulted in severe changes to the overall classification after stage three of the Nature Valley Grand Prix held yesterday in Cannon Falls. Webcor-Builder bore the brunt of the accident which eliminated five of their top placed GC contenders.

"I've never seen a day like this or something like this happen to a team," said Webcor-Builder's directeur Laura Charmaeda. "They were up front in good position and when the dominoes went down, they all ended up in it. It was a heap of green."

"I felt really bad for the team because they have worked so hard to be in the positions they were in and super psyched to go after the jerseys that they had," said Charmaeda, unsure of how the accident happened. "To have that many go down is a very hard day. I don't think there was anything we could have done."

Defending Champion Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo Test Team) continues to lead by 12 seconds ahead of Alison Powers (Team Type 1). Shelley Olds moved into third place. All riders involved in the accident finished the race several minutes behind the lead group.

"It was really unfortunate that the overall reshuffled in this way," said race leader Armstrong. "It's too bad about the girls who crashed. I don't think it's fair and the field should probably have collectively neutralised."

Webcor-Builders' wrangled list included third placed in the overall Alexis Rhodes, who was also the event's best young rider. Erinne Willock, Katheryn Mattis, Rebecca Much and Gina Grain were also injured.

Another squad, Team TIBCO, lost several riders to the accident, including their overall contenders Julie Beveridge, Ambar Rais and Meredith Miller.

"I wasn't connected to the race radio so I didn't know too much about what had happened, but normally with a crash like that there would be a representative from each team who would say, 'Hey let's slow down'," said Armstrong.

Sprinters move in on Zirbel’s Nature Valley lead

By Kirsten Robbins in Cannon Falls, Minnesota

Double take: Alejandro Alberto Borrajo and Lucas Sebastian Haedo
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)
The top placed all-rounders and the fastest sprinters have been playing tactics at the Nature Valley Grand Prix. The hefty mix of time bonus sprints and climbs of attrition will no doubt play a key factor in determining the overall winner on Sunday.

Bissel's Tom Zirbel leads the way by seven seconds ahead of OUCH-Maxxis defending champion, Rory Sutherland and teammate Peter Latham. However the plentiful time bonuses offered throughout the six-stage race are allowing the sprinters to inch their way into overall contention a few seconds at a time.

The stage four criterium offers a 15-second time bonus to the winner as does each subsequent stage finish line. Sprinters John Murphy and his OUCH p/b Maxxis teammate Karl Menzies sit a mere 16 seconds behind the race leader. Likewise, double stage winners Sebastian Haedo and Alejandro Borrajo from Colavita-Sutter Home are within the top ten, roughly 25 seconds back.

"I believe that I can win this race overall by Sunday, for sure," said Borrajo. That's a tall order to fill considering the final two stages host circuits with difficult climbs that are well suited to riders like Zirbel and Sutherland. "I also think that I can be there on the climbs in the last stages and take the time bonuses. We can win this stage race."

Race leaders Zirbel and Sutherland have the terrain on their side with the final two stages offering a significant climb on each circuit. Last year, Sutherland initiated his overall win on the stage five on the Mankato road race finishing circuit's steep climb.

"I think we are going to have to rely on Saturday's course to be the selective group," said Zirbel, referring to the grueling climb on the stage five finishing circuits in Mankato. "I'm not saying Borrajo or Haedo can't make it up that hill four times with us, but I think that it is in our favor to put efforts down on those hills.

"Rory strongly believes that he can outclimb me, so I'm going to have to keep my focus on reacting to him," he added. "We also have other options with in my team, too. I just have to get though tomorrow. I rely on my team to be there for me and keep me out of trouble."

Kirsipuu and Pedraza join Malaysian team LeTua

By Jean-François Quénet

Jaan Kirsipuu (Giant-Veolia)
Photo ©: Stephen McMahon
(Click for larger image)
Estonian cycling living legend Jaan Kirsipuu, a former yellow jersey of the Tour de France for five days in 1999, resumed racing after becoming a directeur sportif for Latvian team Rietumu Bank last year. For the second part of the 2009 season, he will be heading to Asia to compete with the Malaysian continental team LeTua. He'll make the trip with another famous recruit Colombian Walter Pedraza who rode for Diquigiovanni and Tinkoff in the past few years.

Aged 40, Kirsipuu is enjoying a different way of cycling - as a lifestyle approach to travelling the world and racing. With various teams, he has won stages in the category two UCI races like the Tour of Cameroon, the Tour of Morocco and FDB Ras in Ireland this year.

Asia will be a new cycling world for Kirsipuu. "He contacted us," said team manager Shukor Yassin who was surprised and honoured as he was when Pedraza asked him for a ride through the team's climber Ng Yong Li, who speaks Spanish after his experience racing with the Under 23 Liberty Seguros team. The Colombian Pedraza finished the Tour of Spain last year and was third at the Tour of Burgos just as he was at Le Tour de Langkawi two years ago.

"Our main objective as we sign these establish riders is to improve our overall team strength”, Yassin said. "We hope to become one of the top UCI teams in Asia. At the same time, we want to bring big experience to our team so than our own Malaysian riders can gain valuable experience for their own development and shape into great cyclists for the future of Malaysian road cycling. This will also create excitement and healthy competition within the Malaysian cycling community.”

The LeTua team gained drew attention with its win at the hors categorie (HC) race this year when its Indonesian sprinter Samai claimed stage four at Le Tour de Langkawi in February.

LeTua has now 16 riders registered with the UCI: eight Malaysians, three Indonesians (including South East Asian veteran star Tonton Susanto), one Singaporean (19-year-old and very promising Low Ji Wen), one New Zealander (Jeremy Yates), one Romanian (Lars Pria) and the two new recruits.

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