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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News, March 12, 2009

Edited by Sue George

Vande Velde enjoys first solo stage win

By Jean-François Quénet in Saint-Etienne

American Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipstream)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)
The Tour de France stars have been stealing the show at this year's Paris-Nice and leaving few opportunities for up and coming riders to find glory. On Wednesday, it was Christian Vande Velde's turn to shine in Paris-Nice when he won stage four solo. Vande Velde, a proven time trialist from Illinois, finished fourth overall at last year's Tour de France after Bernhard Kohl was disqualified due to doping.

"It's great for me to win here because it's my first time winning by myself with a significant distance over the rest of the field," said Vande Velde after crossing the finish line first. "I wanted to test myself this week, but I had no plan to attack for the win today."

The American found himself in a seven-man breakaway that began at kilometre 67. He was the only one to anticipate the attack of Astana's Alberto Contador with 20km to go.

Vande Velde took a careful approach to winning and rode cautiously on the downhill to Saint-Etienne after cresting the top of the col de Rochetaillée with 6.5km to go and a 20-second advantage over the Spaniard Contador. He hadn't forgotten his crash in the opening time trial of Paris-Nice.

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"I was very disappointed on Sunday, and I've lost quite a lot of skin," said Vande Velde, the captain of Garmin-Slipstream.

Vande Velde's first solo road stage win comes at age 33. Although his triumph comes relatively late compared to many cyclists, he appears to be finding the best form of his career. His win Wednesday confirms that his performances of last year's Tour de France and signals more to come this July.

Chavanel-Contador duel continues for another day

By Jean-François Quénet in Saint-Etienne

Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step)
Photo ©: AFP
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Paris-Nice is like a boxing game: Sylvain Chavanel and Alberto Contador fight each other every day. Each has marked his respective territories. Chavanel, the Frenchman likes the flat stages and crosswinds, while Contador the Spaniard prefers the time trial and climbs. Like a true champion, former Tour de France winner Contador responded to his challenger on stage four with 8.5km to go on the col de la Rochetaillée.

"Alberto and his whole team were huff after what happened the day before," said Astana's directeur sportif Alain Gallopin. "His attack was not planned at all, but Alberto likes to follow his instinct and make a spectacle. In one kilometre he is able to create a big gap, but he has to learn how to spare some energy. He learns from his mistakes. He's the kind of rider who needs to be given some freedom to attack when he feels like it."

"I only wanted to test Chavanel," said Contador after finishing in Saint-Etienne. "When I realized he was not able to react, I decided to keep going. At the end, there wasn't a big difference (27 seconds - ed.) but psychologically, it can have an impact. For me, it's positive. It shows there is room for winning Paris-Nice."

"The race is far from over," said Gallopin. "It's better for Alberto to have less than 40 seconds deficit on Chavanel than to have more than a minute. The Montagne de Lure is long but less steep than the Mont Serein we did last year. With the condition he has, Chavanel can limit the damage up there."

Spaniard Alberto Contador (Astana)
Photo ©: AFP
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The day after his tour de force, Chavanel was tired. Looking at his heart rate monitor, he acknowledged he had an average of 150 beats per minute during the four hours of racing. "When Contador attacked, I was well positioned but I realized I wasn't going so well," said Chavanel.

"I'm happy to keep the yellow jersey. With 1:03 over Contador, I knew I had a certain margin but I was more worried about Garate." If fact, Rabobank's Spanish recruit came closer to Chavanel on the GC. He sits at six seconds going into stage five.

"I won't give up, but I shouldn't daydream," Chavanel said. "Above all, I'd like to win another stage." This year's stage four was unlike last year's when Chavanel lost his GC lead; however, he acknowledged that his overall chances of winning are slimmer.

"It was a day that turned better than I'd expected," said Contador. "I managed to surprise Chavanel and take a few seconds."

The Frenchman reckoned he wouldn't be able to keep the duel going during stage five. "I'll hide in the bunch and prepare for the big day on Friday," he said. "But the whole bunch is tired and afraid of this stage in the Ardèche with seven climbs," said Gallopin who is happy with his protégé's attitude.

"Alberto is motivated like a beginner. I'd like him to win Paris-Nice and keep quiet after that until the Tour de France."

"I have my options," said Contador after reflecting on the upcoming terrain. "I'll try again," he promised.

Cervélo TestTeam holds onto green jersey hopes

Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo) took the green jersey for a ride
Photo ©: AFP
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Stage four of Paris-Nice didn't go exactly according to plan for Cervélo TestTeam, but the squad was holding onto hopes of regaining the green jersey.

Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipstream) won stage four after a daring breakaway. He held off Alberto Contador (Astana), who attacked late in the race and split apart the peloton.

"We planned to have a rider of our team in the breakaway, either Hayden Roulston or Xavier Florencio," said director sportif JP van Poppel. "After 90 km we had Florencio in the break of the day together with Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale), Christian Vande Velde, Daniel Moreno (Caisse d'Epargne), Alexandr Kolobnev (Team Saxo Bank), Tony Martin (Columbia-Highroad) and Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis)."

"The maximum gap of the group was two minutes so we were unsure about the break. The peloton just exploded on the last climb."

Heinrich Haussler was the team's top finisher, 41 seconds behind Vande Velde and in 26th place.

"Heinrich Haussler was in the second group and all the boys did a good job today. We have already a stage win, and we want to take the green jersey back."

"A good general classification is no longer possible after the crash of José Angel Gomez Marchante," said van Poppel. "Inigo Cuesta is not healthy but is trying to survive. We want to work on a good day result and put us back in the picture."

After stage four, Haussler is in third place in the points classification with 42 points. Mirco Lorenzetto (Lampre-NGC) leads with 50 points while Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) is in second, also with 42 points.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of stage four of Paris-Nice.

Break triumphs at Tirreno-Adriatico

Julien El Farès (Cofidis) begins his sprint
Photo ©: Riccardo Scanferla
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A two-man break managed to hold its advantage long enough to fend off a charging peloton in the opening stage one of the Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday in Capannori, Italy. Frenchman Julien El Farès (Cofidis) out-sprinted his breakaway companion Ukrainian Vladimir Duma (Ceramica Flaminia-Bossini Docce) at the end of the 147-kilometre day, finishing just seconds ahead of the main group led by Daniele Bennati (Liquigas).

"It was an incredible day and I am very happy for this win. You have to attack if you want to win," said El Farès, who scored the only other win of his professional career while riding as a trainee for Cofidis in 2006, when he won stage one of the Tour des Pyrénées over Yann Huguet and wore the leader's jersey for one day.

"Duma's race was exemplary," said the pleased Ceramica Flaminia-Bossini Docce team manager Roberto Marrone, who also noted his team took seventh place with Enrico Rossi contesting the following bunch's sprint.

On Thursday, stage two will take racers 177 kilometres from Volterra in Marina di Carrara.

McEwen believes he's on course for Milano-Sanremo

By Shane Stokes

Robbie McEwen (Katusha)
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)
Robbie McEwen has already clocked up a couple of wins in 2009, triumphing in the Down Under Classic and the Trofeo Cala Millor in Majorca, and feels like he is on track for his first big target of the season.

"My form so far is better at this time of the year than the last couple," he told Cyclingnews on Wednesday. "I've pretty much avoided getting sick, barring a cough that I'm treating. When you can stay healthy, it's a big plus. I have built my form steadily and I think I'll be ready for [Milano-] Sanremo and beyond."

McEwen seemed a little below his best in 2007 and 2008, in terms of victories gained, but the 36-year-old appears revitalised by his move to the Katusha team. He sounds more motivated than before and also to be enjoying himself with the new setup.

"Things are coming together really well," he enthused. "The morale is high and the races have been going well – we have nine wins already. The teamwork and commitment to each other has been fantastic. Of course, being a new team, some things are still not complete – we only have one team bus right now but the second should be ready soon.

"We are in a camper here in Tirreno but I think the guys in Paris-Nice need it [the first bus] more with such shit weather!

"It's very interesting how we all communicate – it's Russian, Italian, English, French, Flemish and Spanish until everyone gets it. I think the fact that it's a new team has helped everyone pull together so quickly."

The Australian added that being able to bring his osteopath Victor Popov to the Russian ProTour squad has been a big plus for him and the team itself.

McEwen was in action on stage one of Tirreno on Wednesday, finishing one minute and 16 seconds behind the day's winner Julien El Farès (Cofidis) in 49th place. While sprint rivals Alessandro Petacchi (LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini) and Tom Boonen (Quick Step) finished in the top ten, placing fourth and fifth respectively, he wasn't too worried; he said that he'd be happy to come away from the race with one victory and an improved level of fitness.

"My goal for Tirreno is a stage win, although the chances are limited with hard finales and only one real flat finish on the last day. Otherwise I'm happy building up good form in nice weather and enjoying good Italian food!"

His view is that the only thing that's really important is the big Classic a little later this month. "In Sanremo I'm obviously aiming to win. I need to improve a little on the uphills as the climb of La Mànie makes Sanremo harder, as we saw last year.

"We will start Sanremo with two leaders, myself and Pozzato. Steegmans was also to be protected but he won't be there now as he's been sick and is really struggling at Paris-Nice. He said he'd rather give up his spot to a fit team-mate, so that leaves me and Pippo as the two leaders. The team will announce the line-up after the finish of Paris-Nice."

Injured Del Nero's Tirreno-Adriatico future in doubt

Fuji-Servetto's Jesús del Nero suffered an injury on Wednesday that may cause him to withdraw from the remainder of the Tirreno-Adriatico race.

Del Nero managed to finish stage one in 199th place despite crashing during a descent in Valgiano. Afterward, he was immediately taken to a medical center for further evaluation. Initial evaluation suggested a fracture of a finger on his left hand.

His team was uncertain of his participation in Thursday's stage two.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of stage one of Tirreno-Adriatico.

Team Barloworld accepts Ronde van Vlaanderen invitation

Following good results achieved during the first two months of the 2009 season, Team Barloworld was invited to race the 93rd Ronde van Vlaanderen, on April 5.

"I'm very happy that we've been invited to the Ronde van Vlaanderen. We deserved it, and we want to ride well," said Team Manager Claudio Corti. "It will be a difficult race, but we've got some strong riders."

Team Barloworld will also target Milano-Sanremo on March 21, the team is currently riding Tirreno-Adriatico, in Italy.

This season so far, Team Barloworld riders have won five races, taken five second places and four third places. Robert Hunter kicked off the team's success with a third place in the GP Costa degli Etruschi early in February.

Ster Elektrotoer scheduled finalized

Enrico Gasparotto won the 2008 Ster Elektrotoer
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)
Organizers of the Ster Elektrotoer announced final details for the 23rd edition of the race to be held from June 17 to 21.

The UCI category 2.1 event will begin with an individual time trial in Gemert. Stage two will take the caravan from Eindhoven to Sittard-Geleen while Schimmert will host stage three. After a drive through the hilly Limburg, the penultimate stage will start in Verviers and finish among the picturesque scenery Lake La Gileppe (Jalhay). To wrap things up, stage five will run from the Limburg town of Beek to Helmond.

Ster Elektrotoer 2009
Wednesday, June 17: Stage 1 - Gemert individual time trial
Thursday, June 18: Stage 2 - Eindhoven - Sittard-Geleen
Friday, June 19: Stage 3 - Schimmert - Schimmert
Saturday, June 20: Stage 4 - Verviers - La Gileppe (Jalhay)
Sunday, June 21: Stage 5 - Beek - Helmond

Da Ros suspended

After his arrest for drug trafficking on Wednesday morning in Padova, Italy, neo-professional Gianni Da Ros was suspended by both his Liquigas team and the Italian Cycling Federation.

"As far as we know, Da Ros's arrest is part of a big operation targeting drug trafficking in gyms," read a Liquigas team statement. "Team Liquigas as well as the Italian Cycling Federation have absolutely nothing to do with this."

If Da Ros's involvement is confirmed, his team will dismiss him and possibly sue him for damages.

Alliance for Biking & Walking gives out advocacy awards

The Alliance for Biking & Walking, formerly the Thunderhead Alliance, handed out its 2009 advocacy awards on Tuesday in Washington, DC. It honored six organizations and individuals for showing dedication, success and an exceptional work ethic in advancing biking and walking.

"These organizations and advocates are role models for the movement and we are proud to honor them with these awards," said Jeffrey Miller, President of the Alliance. "Their tireless commitment and dedication to biking and walking are truly an inspiration for us all."

Winners are listed below.

Advocacy Organization of the Year - Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA)

Advocate of the Year - Lloyd J. "Bud" Vye, Vice President of the Virginia Bicycling Federation and Advocacy Chair for the Richmond Area Bicycling Association

Business Advocate of the Year- Planet Bike

Innovation Award - Transportation Alternatives for their Youth For Car Free Parks project in Brooklyn, New York

Best Practice Award - Bicycle Colorado for outstanding results in day-to-day operations and program growth

Winning Campaign Award - Livable City for bringing Sunday Streets (car-free routes) to San Francisco.

Lifetime Achievement Award - Randy Neufeld, Chief Strategy Officer of the Active Transportation Alliance, President of America Bikes, and the founding chair of the Alliance for Biking and Walking

Dartmoor Classic registration expanded

Due to an unprecedented rapid flow of entries, the organisers of the Dartmoor Classic sportive made more entries available for its June 28th event. All 1,500 of the planned spots were filled with three months to go.

"This gives the Mid-Devon Cycling Club enough time to make all the arrangements necessary to ensure everything is in place to cater for an increased number of riders," said chief organiser Ken Robertson. "However, it would really help our revised plans if those wanting to take up additional places do so fairly soon, so that everybody's parking and feeding station needs are properly catered for."

For more information, visit

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