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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, March 13, 2009

Edited by Laura Weislo

Roy rules in France

By Jean-François Quénet in Vallon-Pont d'Arc

Jérémy Roy (Française des Jeux)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The Française des Jeux team has had to wait for their 13th participation to Paris-Nice before winning a stage, but Jérémy Roy's in Vallon-Pont d'Arc was a courageous one to watch. With just under seven kilometres to go, the 28-year-old rode away from his two breakaway companions to nab his first professional victory.

It came the day after he finished dead last in Saint-Étienne and the second day after his team manager's harsh speech following stage two, where the riders with the four leaves clover had a poor showing. Marc Madiot told them in Vichy, "I'm ashamed." They were ashamed too.

"Sometimes when bike riders sleep you have to wake them up," Madiot noted after Roy's win. "I'm satisfied because the guys have reacted with pride."

"I came to Paris-Nice with high ambitions and yesterday I was dropped," Roy commented. "I gave everything that was left in me to continue the adventure. Today I attacked in the first climb. And I persisted. [Thomas] Voeckler and [Tony] Martin came across and were about to drop me, but I hung on. I wasn't sensational, but I attacked by myself with seven kilometres to go. I had cramps, but it was worth suffering. This is my first win. It's a big dream come true. It's fabulous. It's also a huge relief after all the sacrifices I've endured."

Roy was the first cyclist to adhere to the "athletes for transparency" program. Standing firm against doping, he put his blood analysis results online way before the biological passport was implemented. After the Operación Puerto, he almost quit cycling. He thought the sport he took up following his father who was a local cyclist in Tours would never get rid of the doping culture. "But cycling is in my blood, I suppose, that's why I'm still here," he said.

He completed his studies in engineering over the course of the first five years of his pro career. "His career is just beginning," Madiot acknowledged.

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"I don't see myself as a great champion," Roy explained in Vallon-Pont d'Arc. "I'm not going to win the Tour de France. I like going for breakaways. I'm not a great sprinter and I'm not a great climber, but I love long raids. I've thought of my second place behind Sylvain Chavanel last year during the Tour de France. I didn't want to finish second again. I didn't have great legs. I was cramping. I had to be smart to win. I had lost the habit to put my hands up in the air, that's a fantastic feeling!"

Madiot reckoned Roy has "a great mental strength". "He's able to find energy deeply inside himself. It was his destiny to get such a win. In our team, we have always been patient. That's an advantage for the young riders."

Also see Cyclingnews' full coverage of Paris-Nice stage five.

Chavanel keeps the hope

By Jean-François Quénet in Vallon-Pont d'Arc

Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) congratulates Roy
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

When race leader Sylvain Chavanel headed to the podium of Paris-Nice after stage five to collect his third yellow jersey, he was pleased to meet stage winner Jérémy Roy, with whom he had laboured for nearly 100 kilometres on the way to Montluçon during stage 19 in last year's Tour de France. Chavanel took his first Tour stage win that day, but on Thursday it was Roy who bagged his first professional victory.

"I congratulated him and I was happy for him that he could finally grab a win, I hope he'll get other victories in the future," said the Frenchman of his compatriot and rival from Française des Jeux.

Twenty-four hours earlier, Chavanel was smarting after losing 27 seconds to Alberto Contador, but today Chavanel was smiling. "I have recovered and I've had a nice day on the bike," the yellow jersey said. "I'm still surprised that Contador has attacked me yesterday. Maybe he thought one minute wasn't enough to beat me overall? That's a good sign..."

In Saint-Étienne, Chavanel was talking about winning another stage, but now he seems to have the general classification in mind again. "I still have a little hope. I feel much better. I've never said I have no chance of winning. Contador is the best climber in the world. I don't see anybody able to beat him tomorrow up the Montagne de Lure but we shouldn't forget Saturday's stage. It's almost as hard as tomorrow's."

Two years ago, Contador waited for the final stage to Nice to secure the overall victory.

Escape day two for Martin

Tony Martin (Columbia-Highroad)
Photo ©: JF Quénet
(Click for larger image)

Team Columbia-Highroad's young German hope Tony Martin may have been beaten by his French companions in Thursday's Paris-Nice stage, but as a consolation he moved into the lead in the mountains classification thanks to the day's seven categorised climbs including the category one Col de Benas. His 190km breakaway is made more impressive by the fact that he spent the better part of yesterday's stage four in the winning move.

"Tony has surprised me today, because yesterday he was very tired. But today he was very impressive," said Columbia's sport director Brian Holm to sid. "He is no Richard Virenque, but as an amateur, he has shown that he can climb well."

Martin, 23, wore the jersey of best young rider for two stages after placing fourth in the opening time trial. He lost over ten minutes on stage three, which gave him freedom to play in the breakaways. He now has a 14-point lead in the mountains classification over Frenchman Thomas Voeckler, who took second on the day.

However, he will now face the Queen stage of the race with two long, hard days of riding in his legs. Friday's 182.5km stage from Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to the mountain top finish on La Montagne de Lure will be a tough test with five lower category climbs before the 15km climb to the top of the Mont Ventoux's little sister at 1600m.

Crashes mar Tirreno stage

Narrow, winding roads caused havoc in Tuscany
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Crashes took a toll on the peloton on stage two of Tirreno-Adriatico as Alessandro Petacchi (LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini) asserted his dominance over Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) and Koldo Fernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi) in the bunch sprint. Petacchi moved into second overall behind Cofidis' Julien El Farès by 15 seconds thanks to the time bonus on the line.

Petacchi, however, had an advantage over Bennati, who had to chase back on to the group after a crash with 15km to go. "My teammates – Sabatini and Agnoli – pulled me back, but I wasted a lot of energy for the sprint."

The Cervélo TestTeam lost its main sprinter Thor Hushovd in the same crash. The Norwegian finished 12 minutes down, but the team salvaged the day with Dominique Rollin, who finished fourth.

"Bad luck today with five bad crashes," said Cervélo TestTeam directeur Jens Zemke. "The hardest one with Thor, he crashed on the last climb with maybe 15 km to go. He fell on his head and was bleeding.

"The other crashes where with Gabriel Rash, Andreas Klier, Simon Gerrans and Roger Hammond, we had to change the bikes. So a lot of stress today. Overall a lot of crashes as I think there are too many riders for the small roads in Italy.

"In the final group we switched to prepare the sprint for Rollin and he did an excellent job to sprint to fourth place."

Team Astana's Janez Brajkovic also crashed on his head and withdrew from the race with a concussion. His team announced he would have to rest for minimum three days, after which he can resume the training. "Without unforeseen complications, he will return to competition in the Critérium International [March 28-29]."

Andreas Klöden also crashed twice in the same stage, but suffered only road rashes and bruises on his shoulder and elbow, and will continue the race. The first crash occurred when a race motorcycle fell in front of the riders, and the second upon entering a tunnel which was narrow. Klöden expressed anger at the race organisers for putting too many riders on the narrow roads. "There are 25 teams with 200 riders, and the roads are just not designed for it," he wrote in his newsletter.

"In my opinion, there were simply too many wild cards awarded. If we race all day on very small roads, there will be a lot of crashes, some of which cannot be avoided. It's really dangerous to squeeze 200 riders onto a two-meter wide road."

He and Silence-Lotto's Thomas Dekker both suffered bruising and swelling on a knee. While the German was able to regain the front group and finish on the same time as Petacchi, Dekker lost 2:08 after suffering a broken derailleur which forced him to ride the final kilometres in the hardest gear.

Crashes on stage one already took out Fuji-Servetto's Jesús del Nero, who did not start due to injuries from a crash on stage one. X-rays at Lucca's medical centre revealed a double fracture in his left little finger. The Spaniard had his hand put in a cast and will be unable to ride for several days.

Haussler on the hunt for green

Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) wants to be in green
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The Cervélo TestTeam pulled its sprinter Heinrich Haussler back to within one point of recapturing the green jersey of the points classification in Paris-Nice stage five. Mirco Lorenzetto (Lampre-NGC) took over the lead in that competition in St. Etienne, but lost the better part of his advantage over Haussler with a ninth place finish Thursday.

Cervélo's directeur sportif Jean-Paul van Poppel said the team "survived" the 204-kilometre day which saw a breakaway of three riders keep 2:33 on the peloton at the line.

"Jeremy Roy, Tony Martin and Thomas Voeckler broke away at kilometre 13 and they had a maximum gap of three minutes. After a while, we started chasing with Quick Step for our sprinter Heinrich Haussler.

"With 20 kilometres to go, we saw that we weren't going make it and put our lead-out rider Hayden Roulston into the chase. But then Heinrich had a puncture and we had to stop to chase. When our riders were back in the peloton there was a crash and Heinrich lost his chain. So we realised that we would have to sprint for the fourth place.

"Heinrich did it easy, and is within one point of the green jersey leader. Tomorrow is another hard day, so we do it easy. On the weekend we want to test the riders for Milano-Sanremo to see how the legs are going."

Contador confident and calm

With only 36 seconds separating him from his second career victory in Paris-Nice, Astana's Alberto Contador had a relaxing day in the saddle on stage five. The contenders for the overall classification saved their legs for Friday's massive stage which finishes atop the 1600m Le Montagne de Lure.

The day, which was the longest of this year's Paris-Nice at 204 kilometres, had seven climbs packed into the first 113km, but, Contador said, after the initial attacks on the first climb, "It was the calmest stage of this tour."

The peloton worked to keep the three riders at a reasonable distance, setting a "comfortable" pace until the end, where the teams had to put more effort into the tempo in order to keep the gap to the escapees under control. He spent the day waiting and saving his energies for stage six, where the time gaps are likely to be larger.

"We need to take time over Chavanel, the same as with Gárate, who seems to be good enough. Then there is a series of riders at short distance, such as Antonio Colom [Katusha], Luis León Sanchez [Caisse d'Epargne] and also Samuel Sanchez [Euskaltel-Euskadi]."

Reid Mumford: Have Ph.D., will travel

By Peter Hymas

Reid Mumford is the brainy one.
Photo ©: Peter Hymas
(Click for larger image)

People who earn a living as a professional cyclist or who've attained a Ph.D. in high-energy particle physics find themselves in rather elite company. When one combines the two disparate realms, the already rarified population makes a dramatic reduction to one uniquely talented individual: 32-year-old Reid Mumford of the Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Kelly Benefit Strategies professional cycling team.

The Utah native, who's raced professionally for three years, all with Kelly Benefit Strategies, came to the sport relatively late, at the same time he was pursuing his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University.

"I've always been riding a lot, but I didn't start racing until 2000 when I started my Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore," said Mumford to Cyclingnews. "I started racing collegiate with those guys and kind of got hooked then. I just trained a bunch and got on better teams. I never really thought it would be a career, but then as it progressed it was always a dream."

From 2002 to 2008 Mumford lived in Chicago, conducting research at the Fermilab's particle accelerator, and gaining prowess on the bicycle as well. Mumford's riding caught the attention of Jonas Carney, team manager of the Kelly Benefit Strategies team, who was building a roster of riders for the team's first professional season in 2007.

"I chatted with Jonas Carney a bit at Superweek, so I guess he saw what I was capable of," said Mumford. "He really wanted me on the squad and he gave me a chance."

Carney speaks highly of what Mumford means to the team, and why he's one of three riders to be on the squad for all three years of its existence.

"Reid Mumford is one of the backbones of the team, someone who does all the hard work." said Carney. "Mumford is a guy that if you look at his resume you might not be super-impressed, but I know what he does for the team. He's not replaceable."

While racing as a professional, Mumford was still working to wrap up his Ph.D., helped by an understanding thesis advisor.

"I told him I had a chance to ride professionally but he didn't understand [laughs]. It was a very awkward conversation, but he was cool. He said, 'Well, I think we can make this work.' He was really patient and helped a lot get it done," said Mumford.

Reid Mumford (Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast)
Photo ©: Kurt Jambretz
(Click for larger image)

"I always thought I was a year away from graduating," continued Mumford. "When I first signed I told Jonas I should be done by the middle of the summer [in 2007]. Then the next summer it was the same thing. But when Magnus came I realized I really had to finish this. I went and defended my thesis and everything was mostly wrapped up before he was born."

Reid's wife Jenny gave birth to their son Magnus two days after the 2008 US Professional Criterium Championships.

"Jenny was in labour at US Pro Crit. I was racing and then we were at the after party and we had to leave early because the contractions were starting," said Mumford.

The 2009 season is Mumford's first that he can devote himself solely to training and competing as a professional. He and his family currently reside in an RV which they'll drive to the races.

"We bought the trailer so we could travel and just focus on the racing and see exactly what happens," said Mumford. "I don't have any plans for physics and there's no definite plan for riding. I'd like to ride as long as I can and I'm really excited to race this year. I'll just focus on it 100% and put my whole energy into it to see if it makes a difference."

Stander and Speedy among favourites for South African cross country nationals

Men's cross country favourite and defending U23 national champion Burry Stander
Photo ©: Gary Perkin
(Click for larger image)

Beijing Olympians Burry Stander (Mr Price Specialized) and Yolande Speedy (IMC Racing Momentum) are among the favourites to shine at this weekend's South African National Cross Country Mountain Bike Championships, which take place in George on Saturday and doubles as round three of the national series.

Fresh off winning a silver medal in Thursday's Under 23 road championships and fourth overall in the time trial championships, Stander is happy with his form and hopes it will translate into a seventh successive national cross country title.

"My first goal each year is to retain my national title," said Stander. "I then build my racing season overseas from there. It's important to race the national championships – no matter how successful you are outside your own country."

"I've been preparing for the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race, which has involved a lot of long distance riding, but my speed hasn't been compromised much, and I look forward to some flat-out cross-country racing this weekend."

In the women's race, Speedy is making a return to cross country racing after a long layoff as a result of an operation last November. She's been focusing her training time on preparing for the Cape Epic, but is still a strong favourite.

See the full preview.

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