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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News, March 5, 2009

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Boonen justifies exclusions from Milano-Sanremo

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) wants same rules for everyone
Photo ©: AFP
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Tom Boonen would find the potential exclusion of Milano-Sanremo hopefuls Alessandro Petacchi and Danilo Di Luca (both LPR Brakes) justified. Boonen said that teams who don't follow the UCI regulations, such as the blood passport programme or the whereabouts rules, should not be allowed to compete in the big races.

Only ProTour teams and those teams with wildcards can participate in Milano-Sanremo. "If LPR Brakes follows the rules then there is no problem at all," Boonen told Belgian paper Sportwereld. "The racers have to follow the whereabouts rules. I do that out of total conviction, but everybody needs to do the same. I already had to do that from the first year [the whereabouts system started]. Initially we were only 20, then 100 and now everybody."

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LPR Brakes was excluded from Paris-Tours last year for not having signed up for the blood passport programme. It also had some trouble receiving the UCI Professional Continental status for 2009.

The list of contenders in Milano-Sanremo is getting smaller, in addition to the potential non-start of Petacchi and Di Luca. Former winners Oscar Freire and Fabian Cancellara are out due to injury and four-time winner Erik Zabel retired last year.

Silence-Lotto not panicking yet

By Bjorn Haake

Philippe Gilbert will race the Ronde van Vlaanderen
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
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Despite being heavily criticised from all sides after a lacklustre performance in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne on Sunday, Silence-Lotto is refusing to buckle under the pressure. Belgian champion Jürgen Roelandts was the leader in that race, but was unable to follow the attacks and ended the day in 61st position, 8:18 down on winner Tom Boonen of Quick Step.

The team's Sports Manager Marc Sergeant remained calm. "We don't panic. True, we missed Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne completely. But we were very strong on Saturday [in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad - ed.] and [Greg] Van Avermaet finished fourth. Without the crash [by Filippo Pozzato - ed.] he may have been on the podium."

Sergeant added that the team also raced well in the Memorial Samyn on Wednesday, where Roy Sentjens made the winning seven-man move. The group split up in the final lap, with Sentjens taking fifth place, behind winner Wouter Weylandts (Quick Step).

Sergeant explained to Cyclingnews that most riders are on a training programme headed by Tom Steels. The quadruple Belgian champion collects the data, such as power output, and analyses it using software from Powertec. "I don't have any questions with regards to the programme," Sergeant said.

Some riders still have their own coaches, such as Roelandts. "He has been working with him for six or seven years," Sergeant said. It would be difficult to cut the ties now. Steels and Roelandts's coach are also in frequent contact with each other."

Gilbert in the Ronde

One lesson learned from the Kuurne race is that it is best to send the strongest team, which is why Philippe Gilbert will end up racing in the Ronde van Vlaanderen. It was an idea brought on by Gilbert over the winter. "Later he thought it would be too much with all the Ardennes Classics," Sergeant said.

The sports manager sees the strong teamwork from Rabobank and Quick Step and emphasised that Leif Hoste and Greg van Avermaet need to get all the help in the Ronde. "That means we will send the strongest squad and Gilbert is in it."

Gilbert will skip the Vuelta al País Vasco in order to do the full Belgian programme. "He can also do well in the Amstel Gold race, which is like Flanders without the cobbles - that will be even better for him." Thomas Dekker is the other rider with high hopes for a good Amstel result. The Dutchman finished fifth last year.

Sergeant was looking forward to the team's next races, which are Paris-Nice and Milano-Sanremo. He was focused on the task ahead, not getting disturbed by some of the media reports, such as potential monetary fines against some of the riders. "This was never talked about," he said.

A stage race for one-day specialists

By Bjorn Haake

Bobbie Traksel won the race last year
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
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The Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen is once again a perfect opportunity for riders to prepare for the Spring Classics, with rain, wind and cobble stones during the distance of almost 550 kilometres over three stages. The race, now also known as the Johan Museeuw Classic, has kept its traditional start in Kortrijk.

One change for this year's event comes on stage one from Kortrijk to Bellegem, with the addition of a new section of cobble stones in Varent te Anzegem during the 176-kilometre stage. The section will be sector number two of five, at kilometre 42. The other kasseien sections are Wielsbeke (km 18), Spiere (km 60), Beiaardhelling (km 68) and Jacquet Bosstraat (km 96).

The second day is a 184-kilometre route from Torhout to Handzame, with the riders passing the beautiful city of Brugge after 50 kilometres. After looping towards the coast and then south, the riders arrive in Handzame, where they still need to complete an 11-kilometre loop three times.

Read the full preview.

De Waele back in action

Bert de Waele is happy that he can race again
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
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Bert de Waele will race the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen, after missing the opening Classics last weekend.

De Waele is not quite happy with his season yet. "I barely raced 60 kilometres so far," he said. "I crashed in the opening race La Marseillaise and suffered injuries to a few ribs." After three days he was back on the bike. "Just when I was pain-free, I started having problems with my right knee." He had to take seven days off completely and is only able to ride since last Thursday. "The pain is not gone completely, but the doctors gave me the green light."

De Waele will be part of a strong Landbouwkrediet-Colnago team that also includes David Boucher, who was in the first break in the Omloop and finished 13th. Frédéric Amorison is also nominated; he was chasing with Nick Nuyens (Rabobank) and Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto) after the Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo Test Team) and Sebastian Langeveld (Rabobank) pair. Amorison ended the race in sixth place.

The rest of the team had a solid Flandrian weekend as well. Kevin Neirynck, Koen Barbé, Filip Meirhaeghe and Geert Verheyen all finished in the first chase group on Saturday, 45 seconds behind the winners. Denis Flahaut completes the team.

Milram sends allrounders to Paris-Nice

Milram sends a strong team to Paris-Nice
Photo ©: Patrick Reed
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Team Milram sends its all-rounder to Paris-Nice from March 8 to 15, with the hope of winning a stage. The squad has no clear captain, but several strong riders. Christian Knees, Markus Fothen, Thomas Rohregger, Niki Terpstra and Martin Velits will be supported by domestiques Martin Müller, Matthias Ruß and Thomas Fothen.

Knees said that "Our goal is that someone from the team wins a stage. It is only a question of time until one of us is the first over the finish line. The team makes a very strong and cohesive impression. My personal goal for Paris-Nice is quite simple: I want to ride a good race and be at the front in one stage."

Markus Fothen debuts in the race to the sun, as it is known for making its way from the winterly capital to the Mediterranean sunny south. "I am really excited, since I have already heard so much about the race," said Fothen. "I have a lot of respect for the weather and hope that it gets better every day."

Rohregger has already looked closely at the profile. "The first three flat stages will be decisive, since the wind and weather can often play a strong role here. The profile of the last three days is good for climbers like me. I am really looking forward to my first participation in Paris-Nice and think that we will place a deciding role in this race."

Both Knees and Terpstra have already raced in Paris-Nice last year. Then-teammate Andriy Grivko (now ISD) wore the leader's white jersey for two days.

The race will start with a prologue in Amilly, before heading south. Cyclingnews has the full preview.

Knees shoots for the Ardennes

Christian Knees has gained a lot of experience over the years
Photo ©: Florian & Susanne Schaaf
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Christian Knees of Milram is targeting the Ardennes Classics this year. He discovered last year that he could do well there and has specifically prepared for them this year. He will use the upcoming Paris-Nice to fine-tune his level for the upcoming races in Northern Europe.

Knees was happy he rode the Ardennes races last year, which was only to balance out the Classics programme. "I am really looking forward to the Ardennes Classics. So the main point of my preparations this year have been for the Ardennes Classics," he said on the team's website, Knees added that there is one race above all, though. "My absolute top goal is and remains my fourth Tour de France participation. I absolutely want to be there and I will do everything I can to accomplish that."

Knees has started the season in relatively good form, even if hasn't had good results yet. " I am satisfied with my performance in the Tour Down Under. Up until my cold before Haut Var I kept on improving. Something like that never comes at a good time, of course, but this early in the season it's not so bad.

Knees has put his Paris-Nice crash from last year behind. "I crashed on a wet descent in the rain. That can happen to any cyclist." He was sorry to have to drop out then, due to the crash aggravating an earlier injury along with an untimely cold. "I am not afraid of another crash. You have to block out that kind of memory and put it behind you."

Knees sees his position in the team the same as before. "With Linus {Gerdemann] and Gerald [Ciolek], we have two new captains and although I was the second captain last year, I don't see myself at a disadvantage." He sees it less important who the captain is but more important to do a good job. "In the last few years I have gathered a lot of experience, which I now use."

Ventoso crashes in Friuli

Fran Ventoso (Carmiooro A-Style) crashed just 12 kilometres from the line in the Giro di Friuli on Wednesday. Mirco Lorenzetto of Lampre-NGC won the race, while a disappointed Ventoso finished in 56th, unable to participate in the sprint.

Ventoso explained that the weather had to do with the crash. "With 12 kilometres to go we had to ride over a pedestrian crossing and because it was wet I slipped and fell. I still don't know what really happened."

The weather had been atrocious all day. "Right from the start it rained and it was very cold." Under the circumstances Ventoso felt pretty good and once the race entered the final circuit, which had to be done five times, Ventoso went all out. "I was in a break with four other riders, including [Eros] Capecchi and [Leonardo] Bertagnolli. Even though we were caught I stayed hopeful for the final."

Ventoso admitted there was nobody to blame but himself. "The good thing about it is that I don't have any injuries, I am just angry with myself. I will take a bit of rest now and calm down before my next race, the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali (March 25-29).

TIBCO's Miller races Menlo Park on Sunday

Brooke Miller is the current US National Champion
Photo ©: John Pierce
(Click for larger image)

U.S. National Road and Criterium Champion Brooke Miller and Team TIBCO teammates Alison Rosenthal and Alison Starnes have confirmed their appearance at the Tri Flow Menlo Park Grand Prix in the San Francisco, California, area. The race takes place on Sunday, March 8 at 10:50 a.m. The women's pro/1/2 race will honour Kristy Gough this year. Gough was killed last year in a road accident.

"We're really lucky to have such quality races and strong fields on the local NorCal scene," Miller said. "Everyone on our team wants to make sure they're in top form for the early NRC races, such as Redlands at the end of the month. Races like Menlo definitely keep us in race shape."

Miller hopes for strong public turnout. "Criteriums are always very spectator-friendly," Miller said. "We love it when the crowds come out and are loud! These races give people the unique opportunity to interact with the riders before and after the race, and also feel the electricity of racing. Once the national season kicks off, there won't be too many more local races like this that we're able to do."

TIBCO team mechanic Steve Sperling will be racing the cat four race. For directions and additional information, visit

GranFondo Gianni Bugno

The third edition of the GranFondo Gianni Bugno will take place on May 1, 2009. The ride for cyclo-tourists will have two options, a long 151-kilometre route and a shorter 91-kilometre loop.

The longer route features the Giro di Lombardia climb of the Ghisallo as well as the Pian Rancio (975m). The total elevation gain is 2,075m. The shorter route has its highest point at 589m, on the Colle Brianza. Start and finish is in PalaCandy di Monza. Among other highlights, the parcours passes Lake Como.

The event is on the UCI's "Cycling for all" calendar, which consists of timed cycle-sport events.

The Trofeo Cervélo forms part of the event, a two-team time trial on a 7.85-kilometre loop that has to be completed three times. This event is open to only 60 riders. For the GranFondo, already 1,000 people have signed up.

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