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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, March 30, 2009

Edited by Peter Hymas

Geslin nails Brabantse sprint

By Gregor Brown

Anthony Geslin (Française Des Jeux) celebrates
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Frenchman Anthony Geslin made his presence in an elite selection count by overpowering his escape companions in a thrilling finale of the Brabantse Pijl in Beersel, Belgium. The Française des Jeux rider beat former teammate Jérôme Pineau (Quick Step) after a last-minute attack by Fabian Wegmann (Milram), who finished third.

"This is the biggest win of my career," he said after the 193.5-kilometre race.

Geslin finished third in the 2005 World Championship won by Tom Boonen. His last win was in July when he won the Tour du Doubs.

Geslin, Pineau, Wegmann, Christian Knees (Milram), Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank), Frederik Willems (Liquigas), Björn Leukemans (Vacansoleil) and Xavier Florencio (Cervélo TestTeam) entered the final kilometre with a gap of around 15 seconds on the chase.

Knees did the muscle work for teammate and German Champion Wegmann. Wegmann fired off the back of the eight-man move at 230 metres out, down the right hand side of the road. Geslin passed on the left and Pineau nipped in for second.

"Wegmann went early, but there was a headwind on the finishing straight and I was able to pass," said Geslin.

Continue to full coverage of the 49th Brabantse Pijl. What did you think about Geslin's win? Discuss in the road forum.

Cunego preparations pay off

By Gregor Brown

Damiano Cunego with one of his two stage wins at the Coppi e Bartali
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Damiano Cunego couldn't have hoped for a better homecoming, winning two stages and the overall of the Coppi e Bartali stage race five days after his return from a training camp on the Spanish island of Tenerife.

"My preparation is paying off," Cunego told Cyclingnews. "Not only the time I spent at altitude, but the work I accomplished over the winter with my training and diet. I did not really expect it to go so well and now that I have it is an extra benefit for the morale."

Cunego won stages two (Faenza) and three (Serramazzoni) of the event, using his combination of climbing prowess and fast finishing. He took the race leadership after stage two, which he protected until the finish in Sassuolo two days later.

He also won the overall title in 2006. Cunego beat Vincenzo Nibali by two seconds.

This year, Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) won the final stage in Sassuolo in a tight sprint over Cunego. Despite that victory, Cunego was impressed with his form against rivals that he will see in the Ardennes Classics at the end of April and the Tour de France in July.

A day after the race, Sunday (yesterday), he travelled south with Directeur Sportif Brent Copeland to preview the Giro d'Italia's Monte Petrano stage. The stage comes in the final week of the Italian Grand Tour, May 9 to 31.

"We had to check it out in the car because the weather is so bad down here, but it was good to see it because there are some hard climbs. We did the last 130 kilometres, skipping out on the flat sections.

"It will be won of the key stages thanks to all of the metres of climbing and the distance, 237 kilometres."

Cunego's next races is the Vuelta a País Vasco stage race in Spain, April 6 to 11. He will aim for a stage win or the classification if he is within reach.

Cunego will face the first of his season's goals after País Vasco, the Ardennes Classics: Amstel Gold (April 19), Flèche Wallonne (April 22) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (April 26). He won the Amstel Gold race last year and finished third in Flèche and 30th in Liège.

Voigt equals Poulidor with fifth win

By Bjorn Haake

Jens Voigt gave it his all in the race finale
Photo ©: AFP
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Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) won his fifth Critérium International with another solid time trial, finishing fifth on the day, 18 seconds behind Tony Martin (Columbia-Highroad). But Frantisek Rabon (Columbia-Highroad) gave Voigt a run for his money, finishing the weekend's racing only two seconds behind the German.

Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream) ended the day a close second to Martin, six seconds back. Danny Pate added to a good day for the American team, defending his overall podium position by placing seventh in the time trial.

Voigt had a slim seven-second lead over Pate entering the time trial and even the 18th placed rider, Evgeni Petrov (Katusha), was only 12 seconds back, setting the race up for an exciting finale.

Martin set the best time early, as he had lost too much time in the morning stage, seven minutes to be exact. His time of 10:05 for the 8.3-kilometre course would stand until the end, however.

Continue to full coverage of the 78th Critérium International. Do you think Voigt will claim six to surpass Poulidor? Discuss in the road forum.

Via De Panne to De Ronde

By Bjorn Haake

Joost Posthuma (Rabobank) is the defending champion
Photo ©: AFP
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The KBC-Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde is the perfect preparation race for the Ronde van Vlaanderen, offering four stages in three days over cobbles and climbs in the Flanders region of Belgium. The race is only four stages long for the strongest riders, though. The final stage, a 15-kilometre time trial, is open to the top 120 individuals in the general classification after the third stage.

The total race is a good 500 kilometres long, yielding a nice daily average to prepare for the 260-kilometre Ronde the weekend after. The first stage hits the climbs right away, with familiar names in the road book. Leberg, Berendries, Eikenmolen – the riders will also encounter them in the biggest Classic in this region.

Cobbles won't be missing either in the first stage, 199 kilometres long and with no less than 13 hellingen (the short steep climbs). Quite a lot compared to the 16 in the Ronde (in other words there is about one kilometre more 'flat' road between the climbs in the Tour of Flanders...)

Continue to full preview of the 33rd KBC-Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde

Howard tops off Australia's medal haul

Leigh Howard (Australia) delighted
Photo ©: Gerry McManus
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Leigh Howard earned Australia a fourth gold medal at the 2009 UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Pruszkow, Poland after he won the five-race omnium on the event's closing day.

Howard's victory brought the Australian medal tally to 10 made up of four gold, four silver and two bronze medals and placing Australia on top the medal table ahead of France with three gold, two silver and one bronze .

The 19-year-old Howard was not even sure he would start the event in which he claimed silver at last year's World Championships.

"I was extremely exhausted after a pretty hectic program with the team pursuit and madison," said Howard, silver medallists in both of those events, in a press release. "The Madison was my number one focus coming into the championships so I gave it everything and I was really fatigued after that. But now I'm very happy I started, obviously."

The omnium consists of five races contested in one day made up of a flying 200m time trial, 7.5km scratch race, 3km individual pursuit, 15km points race and finishing with a one kilometre time trial. The placings of the riders in each events are added together and the one with the lowest total wins the omnium.

Howard started off strongly with a fourth place in the flying 200m and a second place in the scratch race to take the overall lead. He faltered in the pursuit, however, finishing eighth and dropping him to a tie for second overall.

The pursuit marked the end of the first session and Howard next faced the points race in session two, the omnium event he finds most difficult.

"Last year that [the points race] was my downfall and I didn't really ride too well in it."

Howard finished second in the points race, however, and assumed the overall lead in the omnium.

"I've never been so nervous in my life," said Howard, prior to starting the one kilometre time trial, the omnium's concluding event. "But I really brought home the Aussie spirit and brought it home strong."

Cycling Australia's National Performance Director, Shayne Bannan, was proud of his team's effort at the world championships.

"Australian cycling should be pleased because a lot of work has been done by our development programs led by Gary Sutton and our juniors over the last ten years and what we saw here was really the fruit of that work," said Bannan. "It's a fantastic combination of some great emerging talent and some really fantastic experience and leadership in the team."

Chime in with your opinion about the World Championships at our track forum.

New Zealand sets new world championship medal mark

Alison Shanks was happy with her pursuit championship
Photo ©: Gerry McManus
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New Zealand completed their most successful campaign at the UCI World Track Cycling Championships in Pruszkow, Poland, finishing with three medals. Alison Shanks won gold in the individual pursuit while the women's and men's team pursuit squads earned silver and bronze respectively.

Their medal tally surpassed the two medals won at Japan in 1990 with Karen Holiday and Madonna Harris, at Berlin in 1999 by Sarah Ulmer and Anthony Peden and in Melbourne in 2004 by Ulmer and Greg Henderson.

"Overall I am satisfied with the team performance," said BikeNZ Director, Mark Elliott in a press release. "I am extremely proud of how the female programme performed with two medals from such a young developing team. There's a real culture within this group that is always looking for gains."

Elliott said the aim had been to build on the performances at the Beijing Olympics throughout the team.

"We were looking to make gains and take the step to the next level - both on and off the track. We were looking for consistently high performance and we wanted to take a step forward with our support systems, our recovery protocols, data capture as well as benchmarking against other key programmes. I believe we have achieved that goal."

Newly crowned world champion Alison Shanks has followed in Ulmer's footsteps with victory in the women's individual pursuit while New Zealand scored their first medal in the men's team pursuit that followed on from the bronze medal won at last year's Beijing Olympics.

Elliott said the support team had worked hard on optimizing of marginal gains made in key areas of preparation and recovery.

"The commitment of the coaching and support staff has been nothing short of phenomenal. They set themselves world class best practice which is a key part of our overall performance."

A number of the team are heading directly to North America or Europe to join professional road teams for the northern hemisphere summer.

Renev fractures collarbone

Team Astana's Sergey Renev suffered a fracture of his collarbone five kilometres from the finish of Critérium International's opening stage in Charleville-Mézières, France. Three of Renev's Astana teammates, Janez Brajkovic, Steve Morabito and Andrey Zeits, also went down in the pileup but were able to continue without any injuries.

Renev was transported via ambulance to the hospital in Charleville-Mézières where the Team Director Alain Gallopin and team doctor confirmed the Kazakh broke his right clavicle, the same fracture which afflicted teammate Lance Armstrong earlier this week at the Castilla y León stage race.

Renev was then transported to Belgium where he underwent an operation in a hospital in Waregem on Sunday. Renev will travel to his residence in Italy and then to Kazakhstan where he will recover with his family.

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