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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, May 12, 2009

Edited by Les Clarke & Greg Johnson

Rogers the insiders' choice as Giro favourite

By Jean-François Quénet in Valdobbiadene, Italy

Columbia-Highroad's Michael Rogers
Photo ©: JF Quenet
(Click for larger image)

Michael Rogers has become a favourite for the Giro title, despite preferring to remain a veiled general classification threat, according to one directeur sportif. Roberto Damiani believes that the Australian has got what it takes to finish at the pointy end of the field when the race finishes in Rome on May 31.

"So many people forget about him when they list the favourites for this Giro d'Italia and some have laughed at me when I've said 'he's the number one in my mind'. but I maintain it," Silence-Lotto's Damiani told Cyclingnews.

Damiani was Rogers' first directeur sportif in the professional ranks from his days in the Mapei squad back in 2001, and the experienced Italian indicated just how much he rates his former protégé before the start of stage three in Grado.

"He's the highest ranked of the favourites," Damiani continued, citing the results where Rogers is currently third - sitting behind two sprinters - while Lance Armstrong is the second of the favourites in fifth, 13 seconds behind the Australian.

With Danilo Di Luca 22 seconds behind Rogers on general classification, the Italian is tipped to take over the pink jersey from team-mate Alessandro Petacchi. The climb of San Martino on the Giro's fourth stage is suited to his strengths but first he must overcome the possile challenge from Rogers, who showed his cards by finishing eighth in the slightly uphill finish in Valdobbiadene.

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Rogers' constant high placings have been noticed by the experts during the lead up to the Giro; the man from Canberra became Australian Open Road Time Trial Champion in January and finished sixth at the Tour Down Under, third at the Tour of California and eighth at the Tour of the Basque Country.

Rogers had been considered a possible Grand Tour winner following the retirement of Armstrong and rode in service of Andreas Klöden in the 2006 Tour de France, where he took ninth overall. His crash during the 2007 Tour de France was the turning point of his career, followed by a bout of Epstein-Barr virus, which put him out of action for most of 2008. Damiani realises that Rogers has now recovered the physical attributes that make him a possible Grand Tour champion.

"The course of this year's Giro suits him a lot," he added. "Everybody picks Levi Leipheimer as the man for the time trial of Cinque Terre but on a distance that exceeds 60 kilometres there won't be much difference between Rogers and him. Don't forget that Michael is a three-time world champion in the individual time trial!"

Vande Velde abandons Giro

Christian Vande Velde
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Christian Vande Velde was forced to abandon the Giro d'Italia after falling during Monday's stage three, having sustained two broken ribs and a severe contusion and sprain to his middle back.

The American, who was leading Garmin-Slipstream's charge to a possible maglia rosa in this year's edition, will return to Girona as soon as possible for further examination.

Garmin-Slipstream staff haven't indicated a prognosis on his expected recovery time, although it certainly disrupts his preparations for July's Tour de France, which he was using the Giro d'Italia as vital preparation for.

Meanwhile, in a more positive development for Jonathan Vaughters' squad, young American sprinter Tyler Farrar took second on the stage to Valdobbiadene to take the white jersey as the Giro's best young rider.

Giro stage three reactions

Anders Lund (Saxo Bank): "I felt much better than yesterday and nothing seemed more natural than to go for the sprint. It was a difficult finish but I moved without any problems through the curves so I could get a good position. You learn something every time you do a difficult finish like this, so I'm looking forward to the next time I have the opportunity to make an even better result," said a delighted Anders Lund after stage.

Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam): "The third stage of this year's Giro was relatively calm. When we were entering the military area we thought for a moment that we were already in the final stretch. In the military airbase, they gave us a display with the Italian flag flying and it really was quite a show. That can only happen in the Giro d'Italia.

"In terms of the rest of the race, we hit 'Comanche' territory in the second part of the stage with a very tough 13 percent climb that lasted a kilometre and with ramps of over 18 percent.

"After that, the last 80 kilometres were raced along narrow roads, with left and right hand bends, and constant climbs and decents. It was very dangerous and you had to be really alert and up in front. Luckily, and with the help of the team, I was once again able to stay at the head of the group, I got through it without any mishaps, and we are continuing to move forward with this year's Giro d'Italia."

Jean-Paul Van Poppel (Cervélo TestTeam directeur sportif): "Of course it is difficult with a final in a circuit like we had here. It is almost ridiculous for a GC rider to come into a circuit like this and lose time because of getting stopped up by a crash, but that is cycling.

"Here it's more tricky than anywhere else in the world, but that also makes it more beautiful," said Van Poppel. "We were good, not lucky, because Carlos found his position. This is his 20th Grand Tour, so he knows where to be in the bunch. Our guys did a very good job supporting him to have the best position, and he was very happy to get in the first group over the line.

"Tomorrow, the real racing starts with the first mountaintop finish. We are very happy to be entering this part of the race without any time loss to make up."

Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre-NGC): "I was willing to try an attack and it has been fantastic hearing the shouts by the fans. The action didn't have a happy ending; I would have preferred to try a counter attack, but no one took charge of the action and so I decided to start. Anyway, I'm satisfied."

Quick Step to retain Boonen under conditions

Tom Boonen will remain with Quick Step despite another indiscretion.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Quick Step has announced it will extend Tom Boonen’s suspension but not fire the rider who has tested positive for cocaine for the third time. The reigning Paris-Roubaix champion will undergo a psychiatric treatment plan and be subject to strict testing by Quick Step over the next 12 months.

The Belgian rider could also face a hefty fine from Patrick Lefevere's squad. Details of any fine will be released at a later date, with the settlement still being worked out, while it’s also unclear when the rider will be reinstated to participate in races again.

In a joint statement Quick Step and Boonen have denied he has an addiction to cocaine, which is not a prohibited substance in out-of-competition situations under World Anti-Doping Agency bylaws. It said Boonen requires counseling to assist him through parts of the season where he isn’t under any pressure.

"It does not concern an addiction in the true sense of the word," said the statement. “The person concerned is no 'slave' of the product but only uses it in sporadic and specific instances. It concerns an intelligent young man, with good surroundings and a stable family life who takes his responsibility in the majority of situations.”

Under the proposed program Boonen will see a psychiatrist once a week to begin with, moving out to a longer time frame as seen fit for the following 12 months. He will also undergo urine testing once every two weeks and have hair analysis done by a registered laboratory at least three times a year.

Boonen was suspended by the Belgian squad on Friday after results of the out-of-competition test on April 27 were released. It was revealed yesterday the latest test was Boonen’s third positive control for cocaine, with details of his first in November 2007 only now surfacing. Boonen and Quick Step weren’t informed of the 2007 out-of-competition control result until December 2008.

In 2008 Boonen was forced to skip the Tour de France after his second positive out-of-competition control for cocaine. A court in Turnhout, Belgium, gave Boonen a suspended sentence, with one of the conditions being that he refrain from such drug usage. That same court will now review the current case and Boonen could face criminal repercussions from the latest inccident.

Boonen also faces a one- to six-month suspension from the International Cycling Union (UCI) for damaging the sport's reputation.

Valverde responds to sanction

Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde has responded to the decision by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) to prevent him riding in Italy for two years. He has already lodged an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the decision.

In a statement released by the rider, an 'indignant' Valverde said that the "unjust sanction" was instituted, "after an irregular procedure by an incompetent organisation and without any respect for his rights, which were absolutely not respected as he had no possibility to defend himself."

The Spaniard made five basic points in the statement which discredited CONI as an organisation and judiciary for cases involving sporting fraud in Italy. This was based on the recent request made by the Royal Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) for CONI to withdraw proceedings.

Valverde said he believes his rights were not respected, and that CONI acted in disobedience of the Spanish legal authorities, which took action against the Italian authority to prevent Valverde's case being acted upon. He continued to assert that he has never tested positive for any performance-enhancing substances and that CONI's only evidence was documentation linking him with the Operaciòn Puerto affair.

Climbing nothing new to Petacchi

By Jean-François Quénet in Valdobbiadene, Italy

Ale-Jet Alessandro Petacchi (LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini) lets the bubbly flow
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

While some observers were amazed to see Alessandro Petacchi dominate the uphill finish of Giro d'Italia's stage three to Valdobbiadene, the Italian explained that climbing is nothing new in his repertoire.

"Don't forget that I've won Milan-Sanremo, I've come second overall in Tirreno-Adritico, I've won the Valenciana Week... there have been some moments of my career when I've climbed decently," said Petacchi, who was keen to illustrate this his abilities are no different in his Giro comeback than when he last rode the event in 2007.

That year he was the race's best sprinter, and this year has started much in the same vein. "But let's don't exaggerate, I'm not going to keep the pink jersey tomorrow," he explained.

Stage four will be the seventh day in Petacchi's career he's wore the maglia rosa after wearing it for six days during the 2003 Giro. On that particular occasion, he reminded Giro fans what he's capable of when he preserved his 17-second advantage on general classification at the uphill finish of Terme Luigiane that marked the end of stage three in the 2003 Giro.

"With that incredible effort, I lost four years of my life", he recalled. "I was third up that climb! Stefano Garzelli won it significantly but Francesco Casagrande - who was second - only beat me by an ultimate 'hair's breadth'."

The likes of Franco Pellizotti and Gilberto Simoni finished behind Petacchi, and Marco Pantani had a five-second deficit to the Ligurian.

At 35 years of age, Petacchi also spoke about his future and repeated that he's considering finishing his career on Mark Cavendish's side. "I want to ride for one more year or two for winning myself, after which I'd like to do the same thing as Erik Zabel who put himself at my service at Milram," he speculated. "For three years I haven't done an entire season. I don't feel old."

Millar: Team time trial a learning exercise

By Jean-François Quénet in Valdobbiadene, Italy

Garmin-Slipstream's David Millar
Photo ©: JF Quenet
(Click for larger image)

Garmin-Slipstream went into the Giro's opening stage team time trial as as the hot favourite. All the squad's TT specialists were selected - Bradley Wiggins, David Millar, David Zabriskie, Christian Vande Velde and Cameron Meyer. Therefore, finishing second to Team Columbia-Highroad wasn't overly satisfying.

"We were disappointed, obviously," said David Millar at the start of stage three in Grado. "But at least we know what went wrong. We over-strategised it. We took it a little bit too easy at the start and we designated three riders to do everything for 15 kilometres," he explained.

"It's been a learning exercise for the Tour de France. Had we won it by five seconds, we would have thought our strategy was right but now we'll re-calibrate it."

Millar is adamant that Garmin-Slipstream didn't only show up at the Giro to win the team time trial. "We're focused on helping Tyler [Farrar] in these early stages, I'm here as a team player," he added. The American sprinter moved up to second place on GC and is the best young rider for a day. He's doing his first Grand Tour and hopes to win a bunch sprint sooner or later.

Following his crash at Paris-Nice, Millar believes hiss form is at 80 percent of capacity. "I also want to use the Giro to regain form and I'll ride the Dauphiné as well," the Scot said. The plan is for Millar and co to be at 100 percent when they get another shot on July 7th for the Tour de France's team time trial.

Voeckler surprised by Leipheimer’s mark of respect

By Jean-François Quénet in Valdobbiadene, Italy

The desire to claim a Giro d'Italia stage victory saw Thomas Voeckler attack with 12 kilometres remaining in stage three. He was soon accompanied by local boy Davide Malacarne (Quick Step), who had also announced he'd try to be noticed during his first Giro, after finishing second in the Presidential Tour of Turkey.

The pair was happy to see some reinforcement arrive but the new front group didn't co-operate well together. "I don't understand these guys who don't play their chance to go for a stage win," complained Voeckler.

The Frenchman was even more surprised that Astana's Levi Leipheimer didn't give it his all. "He wanted to be nice to me and he told me that he was afraid of me," he said. "Afraid of what? If he thinks that I'm able to beat him on the general classification of the Giro, he’s totally wrong."

Desperate to take a Giro stage win, Voeckler was clearly frustrated in Valdobbiadene. "It's a pity because there aren't many stages for riders like us," he said. "We really had an opportunity to anticipate the sprinters today.

"I actually also wanted to do the same thing as [Giovanni] Visconti did with two kilometres to go but I didn't have the gas by then," he added. "Anyway, it didn't work out for him either. It means it was the right thing to try earlier."

Sutherland, Powers lead NRC after Joe Martin wins

Following his win in the fifth men's USA Cycling National Racing Calendar (NRC) event Rory Sutherland (OUCH-Maxxis) grabbed the NRC lead in the men's standings. Alison Powers (Team Type 1), who won the women's category at Joe Martin Stage Race, jumped to the top of the women's points standings after six events.

Bissell Pro Cycling leads the men's team standings while Team Type 1 heads up the women's.

Men's Individual Standings

1 Rory Sutherland (OUCH-Maxxis)                         415
2 Tom Zirbel (Bissell)                                  357
3 Ban Jacques-Maynes (Bissell)                          323
4 Jeff Louder (BMC)                                     286
5 Levi Leipheimer (Astana)                              265

Men's Team Standings

1 Bissell Pro Cycling                                   963
2 Ouch presented by Maxxis                              655
3 Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home Pro Cycling Team       507
4 BMC Racing Team                                       489
5 Fly V Australia presented by Successful Living        486

Women's Individual Standings

1 Alison Powers (Team Type I)                           640
2 Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo-Lifeforce)                 425
3 Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Columbia-Highroad)               314
4 Katheryn Mattis (Webcor)                              296
5 Amber Neben (Nürnberger-Shoair)                       231

Women's Team Standings

1 Team Type 1                                           841
2 Webcor Builders Women's Professional Cycling Team     837
3 Team Tibco                                            763
4 Columbia High Road Women's Professional Cycling Team  660
5 Valuact Capitol Cycling Team                          660

Québec unveils 2009 route

The Tour de Québec returns on July 9-12 with the five stage race featuring four brand new stages. Race organisers already have one international team from France confirmed for this year's race, Entente Cycliste Sud Méditerrannée, and hope to confirmed participations with some United States of America UCI-registered squads.

In addition to the Pro 1-2 category, the organization has put together a one day road race on July 11th in St-Augustin.

2009 Tour de Québec route:
Stage 1: Île d'Orléans road race- 135km
Stage 2: Boul Champlain time trial- 5km
Stage 3: Beauport criterium - 50km
Stage 4: St-Augustin road race - 110km
Stage 5: St-Anne-de-Beaupré road race - 110km

Whats hot on the forum

It's been another busy week on the forums, with some small event, with an incredible field, taking place in Italy. Giro d'Italia, heard of it?

The year's first Grand Tour hasn't been the only thing on reader's minds though. The, erm, indiscretions of Tom Boonen and Alejandro Valverde's battle with the Italian National Olympic Committee's crusaders has also been a point of much discussion.

Official thread: Giro d'Italia

  • TOMORROW IS MOVING DAY. Let's take some guesses. - Escarabajo
  • I'm gonna throw a curveball with this one but Lance Armstrong for at least one the stage or the Maglia Rosa, I know i'm gonna catch some heat for that but whatever - Franciep10

Join the thread.

Have bike makers gone mad?

  • I have to admit that I am amazed at how quickly, almost absurdly quickly, that prices for bikes and components have gone through the roof of late. A case in point:

    A 2009 Hyundai Accent lists (no discounts mind you) for $12,745.

    A new Pinarello Prince, with Super Record group and set of Zipp 404 hoops in a package discout from a reputable dealer costs $11,420.61.

    I hope you were not expecting a power meter with that? - Gree0232

  • In 1999 my tri bike w/Hed 3 Wheels was $3400 USD . Frames ran $1200/1500. dura-ace $900. I have no interest in moving to carbon. My next bike will be a custom steel. I love the ride. I sure like the looks of the Pinnerello Prince, but for it would just be Bling. Some of my favorite bikes have been cobbled together from parts found in the trash. I can't drive by and not look, but I only take high class junk these days. Prices now are amazing. I don't care for electric shifting and run mechanical discs on my MTB. Just easier to fix on the trail or road. Or I'm just getting old. - Krebs303
  • I always find this sort of thing ridiculous. Are you somehow arguing that bike companies are making a ridiculous amount of profit? The way you are talking, you make it sound like Pinarello's margin on a Prince is 99.9%. I assure you, it is not. - Ovidius

Join the thread.

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