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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News, May 4, 2009

Edited by Laura Weislo

Kreuziger cruises to Romandie win

The overall top three:
Photo ©: Edward A Madden
(Click for larger image)

22-year-old Roman Kreuziger sealed the overall victory in the Tour de Romandie on Sunday by cruising comfortably in the main peloton to the finish of the final stage, which was won by Rabobank's Oscar Freire. It was the young Czech rider's second ProTour stage race victory after last year's Tour de Suisse.

Kreuziger maintained the lead he established on Saturday's stage of 18 seconds over Russian Vladimir Karpets and 25 seconds on Estonian Rein Taaramae.

The final stage was the domain of the sprinters, but not all of the fast men made it to the line in the front group. Attacks on the category 1 Col du Marchairuz at the midpoint of the stage split the peloton into two, leaving speedsters Mark Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad) and Juan José Haedo (Saxo Bank) in the gruppetto.

The Rabobank team then worked together with Garmin-Slipstream and Euskaltel-Euskadi to set a pace too high for Cavendish to return, all of which helped Kreuziger's Liquigas team.

"I am really happy. The team started to control the race right from the beginning. Around halfway through the stage the Rabobank began to prepare the position for Freire which suited us well. Freire triumphed in the sprint but we had the only goal: to keep my lead."

Kreuziger was pleased to deliver another victory for Liquigas, which despite a strong effort this spring has only chalked up nine victories. The win helped to justify his position as a team leader, which he hopes to carry on into his next big goal.

"The Tour de Romandie was my first objective of the season, the second being the Tour de France," Kreuziger said, but played down his ambitions in the sport's biggest race in July. His next step will be to return to Switzerland for the Tour de Suisse in June to try for a repeat victory there.

"I will now defend my title in the Tour of Switzerland and then lead the Liquigas team in the Tour de France with (Italy's) Vicenzo Nibali," he said. "Given my qualities, my ambition is obviously to make it on the Tour de France podium one day. But it's a little early to say whether I have the caliber of riders like Miguel Indurain or Lance Armstrong," he added.

See the full results and photos from the final stage.

Discuss the race on our forum.

Voeckler is back on form for the Giro

By Jean-François Quénet in Argenteuil, France

Thomas Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom)
Photo ©: Fabrice Lambert
(Click for larger image)

Thomas Voeckler has restarted his winning campaign by claiming the Trophée des Grimpeurs (the climbers' trophy) in Argenteuil in the outskirts of Paris. After his sensational beginning of the 2009 season that saw him winning the Etoile de Bessèges and the Tour of Haut-Var consecutively, he broke his collarbone in three pieces the day after coming second to Jérémy Roy in Vallon-Pont d'Arc during Paris-Nice.

"When I started racing again, I came last almost every day at the Circuit de la Sarthe, a race I won last year," he laughed, adding that he wouldn't like to finish dead last of the Trophée des Grimpeurs next year.

He has used this event as a final preparation for the Giro d'Italia starting from Venice on Saturday. "I'm very motivated for the Tour of Italy but I'm also very motivated for the Tour de France," he warned. "Therefore I won't go to Italy with ambitions on GC because realistically, I don't have the level for a top 15 overall.

"Although I will not go to Italy as a tourist, I'll look carefully at the profiles of the stages and I'll play for the stage wins adapted to my characteristics," said the French rider who amazed everyone when he wore the yellow jersey for ten days during the 2004 Tour de France.

In Argenteuil he demonstrated that he's still a master in reading the race. "As a team we were trapped once and we were forced to chase," he remembered. "I made sure that we wouldn't be trapped twice. The Trophée des Grimpeurs has the intensity of a post-Tour de France criterium. Fortunately, we had a few riders with a good experience in the team. The course was suitable for a man alone. I dared to attack because I felt I had good legs and I knew I had good team-mates to protect me."

This is Voeckler's 19th win as a professional and Bbox Bouygues Telecom's tenth win for 2009.

See the full results and photos from the race.

Leipheimer secures Gila win

American Levi Leipheimer took home the win in the Tour of the Gila overall classification on Sunday. The Astana rider participated in the national event under the jersey of Mellow Johnny's, the bicycle shop of Lance Armstrong. The final stage was won by Fly V Australia's Phil Zajicek, who was thrilled to defeat ProTour riders Armstrong and Leipheimer to the line after 170.2km and 2,780m of climbing.

With his second place finish on the stage, Armstrong moved into second overall behind Leipheimer. Zajicek jumped over Rock Racing's Chris Baldwin and Peter Stetina (Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin), who was reportedly suffering from intestinal problems during the final stage.

The sometimes treacherous "Gila Monster" stage lived up to its reputation with several crashes. World pursuit champion Taylor Phinney went down less than 10km into the stage. OUCH Pro Cycling's Cameron Evans, Scott Nydam (Team B/BMC) and Matt Cooke (RideClean) also crashed out.

Last year Mexican Fausto Muñoz Esparza was paralyzed from the waist down due to injuries sustained in a crash on the Tour of the Gila finale.

McEwen to skip Giro

Robbie McEwen (Katusha) was seeing stars after his crash in the Scheldeprijs
Photo ©: ISPA
(Click for larger image)

Australian Robbie McEwen will not take part in the Giro d'Italia, the rider announced Sunday. McEwen is still recovering from injuries sustained in a crash at last month's Scheldeprijs, and has decided to take a break and prepare for the Tour de France instead.

The Katusha rider will now likely take part in the Tour de Picardie, Tour of Belgium and Tour de Suisse before the Tour de France.

"I'm disappointed to be missing the Giro but I will take the opportunity to ride more with Gert Steegmans and Kenny Dehaes and later this month and work on our sprint leadouts. I tried very hard to stay in shape and get to the Giro in form but my crash in the Scheldeprijs made it very difficult. My form in Romandie wasn't encouraging, so maybe this is the best solution."

McEwen is one of several sprinters who will skip the Italian Grand Tour this year. Daniele Bennati, last year's winner of the points classification, is injured. Oscar Freire will also skip the Giro in favour of the Tour de France.

Wolfenbarger improves

The American rider Wade Wolfenbarger's medical condition has improved significantly after his heavy crash on Saturday. The Cinelli-Down Under rider was involved in a crash in the Ronde van Overijssel, and was airlifted from the course. He had been in a coma on Saturday, but was reported to be conscious and speaking on Sunday.

His team management expects that Wolfenbarger can be moved from the Dutch hospital in Enschede back to Belgium, which has been his home base this season.

The 21-year-old should leave the intensive care unit on Sunday or Monday.

Longo still winning at 50

Jeannie Longo topped the women's podium
Photo ©: Fabrice Lambert
(Click for larger image)

Much attention has been made to the return of Lance Armstrong at the ripe old age of 37. But Frenchwoman Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli has been quietly racking up more victories at the elite level at the age of 50.

Longo took second in Friday's GP de Suisse time trial in Switzerland, and on Sunday, she extended her vast palmarés with a fifth career victory in the Trophée des Grimpeurs. It was her third consecutive win in the event in Argenteuil, and came despite her being heavily marked by the other riders.

Longo attacked on the penultimate lap and won with 53 seconds to spare ahead of her teammate Edwige Pitel.

"Given the short and hectic circuit, which is almost the style of a long criterium, I decided to be explosive from the start," Longo said to L'Equipe. Her pace pulled away a group of 15 riders, but the 20-time French champion said she was heavily marked by her competitors who were given orders not to attack. She criticized the team managers for not allowing the women to race their own race.

"I think the team managers are wrong when they ask their riders not to attack. This is a consequence of the use of headsets. I would be more for a beeper – (for a bottle or mechanical help) but the headsets ... Communications should be banned in the race. It has removed any spontaneity in the races."

Sanz couldn't beat the 24-hour indoor world record

By Hernan Alvarez

Spain's Julian Sanz was unsuccessful in trying to beat the world 24 hour record on Sunday. The Spaniard was attempting to best the current mark of 862 kilometres, but was forced to stop due to an injury after 8 hours and 43 minutes of riding at LAC velodrome in Bordeaux, France.

The rider couldn't handle intense back pain that finally forced him to get off the bike at 2.43AM Sunday morning.

"Although we trained the pedaling very much, I started overloading my low back and the gluteal muscles. I overloaded the back of one of my legs too," said Sanz to Cyclingnews. "This happened too early in the ride. I was riding the seventh hour. We saw there were very much time left and that it was impossible."

American Michael Secrest still holds the record, according to the UMCA (Ultra Marathon Cycling Association).

British rider killed during club time trial


UK time trialling has suffered its first fatality of 2009 after Army Cycling Union rider Gareth Evans died after being in collision with a car during the Icknield Road Club 25-mile event at Tempsford, Bedfordshire, on Sunday morning. Evans, a major in the Army, died at the scene despite fellow competitors and paramedics administering first aid. He leaves a wife and two young children.

The incident, on the southbound carriageway of the A1 near Eaton Ford, happened at 8.35AM mid-way through the event, which was quickly abandoned when reports of the incident reached headquarters.

Evans was a regular contributor to the many online time trialling forums, where dozens of tributes have been posted. Among them was one from RAF CA rider Jon Surtees, who wrote: "A total tragedy. I felt physically sick today. Having finished with what turned out to be second fastest time, it is all just meaningless. I expect that the organisers will void the whole race out of respect and I totally understand that, but if not then I would like to donate any prize money I might have won to the rider's family.

"I am devastated at the moment and struggling. Seeing Druid's helmet in the road as me and [team-mate] Gary Beezer drove past on our way home was sickening to the pit of my stomach. My sincere condolences to the riders family at this tragic time. Rest in Peace Sir."

Science in Sport rider Claire Lee, who was first on the scene after starting two minutes after Evans, said: "I am totally numb at this moment in time and I can think of nothing at all other than Gareth and his young family and friends. RIP Gareth."

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