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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News, March 20, 2009

Edited by Sue George

Basso scouts Giro's stage to Vesuvius

Ivan Basso (Liquigas) leads
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Ivan Basso of Liquigas continued his recon efforts in preparation for the Giro d'Italia later this spring. In his second day of checking out the route, he climbed Mount Vesuvius, covering 60km from Avellino along the Amalfi Coast, part of 164km stage 19.

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"It was spectacular and challenging," said Basso after completing his exploration, "not only because of the final ascent. The entire route is continuously up and down, and that will severely test our legs, especially as we will come to this stage after 18 days of racing."

"The Picco Sant'Angelo climb, after 100 kilometers, will be the first hard shock to split the peloton, and the climb up Mount Vesuvius will do so even more." The trip up Vesuvius will run 13km with a constant slope.

As part of his preparation for the Giro, Basso will ride at the service of his teammate Daniele Bennati in the Milano-Sanremo on Saturday.

Barloworld hopeful for Milano-Sanremo

Robert Hunter (Team Barloworld)
Photo ©: Raymond Cox
(Click for larger image)

The best sprinters in the world will gather for the start of the 298km Milano-Sanremo in Milano on Saturday. After about seven hours, the race will enter its decisive phase on the Poggio, and the outcome could be decided among sprinters like Mark Cavendish, Tom Boonen, Alessandro Petacchi, Thor Hushovd and Daniele Bennati. Barloworld hopes to have a rider among them and impress organisers in the hope that it might help the team earn a spot racing the Giro d'Italia.

"It is vital for the team to perform at this race as two of the three wild cards chosen will be selected and invited to ride at the Giro d'Italia," said Chris Fisher, head of corporate marketing for Barloworld. "This is our last opportunity to show those concerned that we should be at the Giro d'Italia."

The Milano-Sanremo start list includes three wildcards: Team Barloworld, Ceramica Flaminia Bossini Docce and Fuji-Servetto.

Barloworld is sending sprinter Robbie Hunter, who has ridden Milano-Sanremo numerous times and has often been a contender until the end. Hunter will be joined by Diego Caccia, Patrick Calcagni, Felix Cardenas, Giampaolo Cheula, Marco Corti, Carlo Scognamiglio and Paolo Longo Borghini, all under the direction of Alberto Volpi.

Barloworld has been trying to gain an invitation to the Giro d'Italia since the start of the season.

Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni - Androni eyes 18th win

Michele Scarponi
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Gianni Savio and Marco Bellini are hoping that Davide Rebellin will lead the eight-man Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni - Androni to an 18th victory of the season at Milano-Sanremo on Saturday.

Recent Tirreno-Adriatico winner Michele Scarponi, the young Francesco Ginanni and five other riders including Alessandro Bertolini, Luis Matè, Luca Celli, Leonardo Moser and Thomas Bertolini, will help Rebellin toward that goal.

"We have got seventeen victories since the start of this season, including the prestige of success at Tirreno-Adriatico," said Manager Savio with confidence. "Rebellin will be able to count on the help of the entire team. Depending on the circumstances, we will see how to deal with Rebellin, Ginanni and Scarponi in the race."

Glory on the via Roma

By Greg Johnson

Oscar Freire (Rabobank) comes round to beat Erik Zabel as he started to celebrate his victory prematurely
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Italy's beloved Spring Classic can be won in several ways, but as we've discovered over the years there are a couple of heart-breaking ways to lose it as well. As the cycling world gears up to celebrate the event's 100th birthday, we look at five of the many big moments that have earned Milano-Sanremo a special place in the hearts of riders and fans.

2004: Erik Zabel's pain, Oscar Freire's gain

Then-double world champion Oscar Freire flew under the radar en route to his first Sanremo victory in 2004 - the first by a Spaniard since Miguel Poblet in 1959. Emulating Poblet's victory was a special moment for Freire, in part due to his respect for the rider but also because it cemented Freire as one of the world's top one day riders.

Freire's joy spelled heartbreak for Erik Zabel, however. One of the most successful German riders in Milano-Sanremo's history, Zabel thought he had moved one step closer to Eddy Merckx's virutally unbeatable tally of seven wins by claiming a fifth title.

It was to be a glorious mistake, rather than a glorious celebration. As Zabel, wearing the national champion's jersey, raised his arms high in celebration of a fifth victory, Freire threw for the line and snatched the win from the hands of defeat.

The winning margin? Just three centimetres.

"I realised my mistake right away when Freire passed me," said Zabel. "But I prefer to look on the bright side of things...People have said I'm on the decline but I beat Petacchi."

Zabel returned to Sanremo chasing number five for many years to come. He was regularly a contender, painfully having to watch Freire out-sprint him in a 2007 rematch, but the 2004 event was the last time Zabel raised his arms at the Sanremo finish line.

Still, the retired German's place in the race's history books is still impressive. His four victories came in two lots of two back-to-back victories, firstly in 1997 and '98 then again in 2000 and '01.

Read the complete feature.

AFLD gives Armstrong a hair cut

The French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) surprised Lance Armstrong with an unusual request while performing an out-of-competition test on the Astana racer as he was training on Tuesday in southern France, according to the Associated Press.

It was Armstrong's 24th anti-doping test since he announced his comeback last fall; however, it was the first one during which a hair sample was requested in addition to the usual blood and urine samples. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the UCI do not recognise hair sample testing, but French law permits such testing.

Compiled By The Inquirer Staff Lance Armstrong and French anti-doping agency AFLD said yesterday that the cyclist was approached for a hair sample in an unannounced test Tuesday in Beaulieu-sur-Mer in southern France, where he is training as part of his comeback for a shot at an eighth Tour de France title.

Armstrong kept a light side on the test. "He didn't make my hair look very good," said Armstrong to the Associated Press.

Former Paris-Roubaix winner Knaven to lead Milram in the Netherlands

Former Paris-Roubaix winner Servais Knaven will lead Team Milram this coming Sunday, March 23 in the one-day race Ronde van het Groene Hart. The third running of the race will take racers between the cities of Rotterdam, Den Haag, Leiden, Haarlem, Amsterdam and Utrecht.

German ProTour team Milram will send Markus Eichler, Thomas Fothen, Martin Müller, Dominik Roels and Robert Förster to help Knaven. Directeur Sportif Ralf Grabsch will also look to 23-year-old Dutch rider Wim Stroetinga, who will go on to represent his homeland in the coming week at the Track World Championships in Poland.

The Ronde van het Groene Hart has been carried out since 2007. It will cover 203.4km through northern Holland from Zoetermeer to the finish in Woerden. At last year's race, former Milram rider Elia Rigotto of Italy finished fifth. Lithuanian Tomas Vaitkus won the event.

Countdown to Cape Epic

Mixed team rider Yolande De Villiers leads
Photo ©: Sven Martin / SPORTZPICS
(Click for larger image)
The start of the Cape Epic is just around the corner, on Saturday, March 21. Now in its sixth year, the race will begin with a prologue on the slopes of Table Mountain in Capetown, South Africa, and will finish eight days and 685km later at the Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West.

1,200 athletes from 46 countries will participate in the African stage race, the only stage race categorized as hors categorie or "HC" by the UCI. Mountain bikers are coming all the way from nationsl like Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Israel, Mexico, Russia, Sweden and Venezuela to earn points and have an epic race experience. Throughout the week, the 600 two-person teams will climb 14,663 meters, the equivalent of two trips up Mount Everest.

Returning for the 2009 edition is a team time trial prologue of 16.5km on the slopes of the designated world heritage, site Table Mountain. Teams will depart at 30-second intervals and race against the clock to determine their start seeding for stage one, which begins in Gordon Bay the following day.

Fires raged across Table Mountain earlier this week and forced the cancellation of practice sessions on Thursday; however, practice sessions on Friday and the prologue itself on Saturday will continue as scheduled.

The first three teams racing during stage six in 2008
Photo ©: Sven Martin / SPORTZPICS
(Click for larger image)
In 2006, the Cape Epic became the first ever team mountain bike stage race at which UCI points were awarded. The race's HC designation draws some of the sport's top racers, including World cross country champion Christoph Sauser, Olympic gold medallist Bart Brentjens, Olympic silver medallist Jose Hermida as well as the 2007 Cape Epic winners and runners up in 2008, Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm. The race will also see Under 23 UCI World Cup winner Burry Stander, Kevin Evans, and David George showcasing some of South Africa's best talents. Multiple-time World Champion and World Cup winner Alison Sydor is also expected to return.

The racers will team up to form duo men's, women's, mixed and masters teams.

The Cape Epic is a massive logistics project with organizers pitching over 1,400 tents per day and transporting 275 tons of equipment from stage town to stage town. Twenty-seven heavy-duty trucks and transporters and over 700 crew, volunteers and supplier representatives are involved in implementing the largest mountain bike stage race in the world.

Read the complete preview.

Oregon advocates push for legalizing rolling stops

Oregon cycling advocates have been working in support of a bill that would allow cyclists to legally roll through stop signs without coming to a complete stop according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. The bill was heard by the state legislature on Wednesday.

Cyclists would have to yield in the presence of cross traffic. Idaho is the only other US state with a similar rule on the books.

"This bill does not decriminalize bad behavior, it decriminalizes good behavior, bad behavior would still be illegal and we will continue to work in collaboration with law enforcement to address the truly unsafe behavior that this law would not protect," testified chief lobbyist Karl Rohde in the hearing before the committee.

"Most cyclists have a high degree of self-preservation and are not going to engage in unnecessarily dangerous behavior. By the very nature of the vehicle cyclists travel on, they have a higher degree of awareness of their surroundings. They sit up higher, they have no blind spots and they are not in an enclosed environment so their hearing is not affected," he said, explaining the viewpoint of some supporters of the bill.

At the conclusion of Wednesday's hearing, Chair and Representative Terry Byer expressed concern about what the public would think of such a bill according to The future of the bill remains uncertain as Beyer declined to ask the committee for a vote or to schedule a further work session. Those in support of bill are expected to continue to lobby for both a work session and a vote.

A similar measure made it through the Oregon House in 2003, but was not approved by the Senate.

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March 5: Belgian opening weekend and Heinrich Haussler
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