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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, May 16, 2009

Edited by Sue George

Multiple roles for stage winner Boasson Hagen

By Jean-François Quénet in Chiavenna, Italy

Edvald Boasson Hagen
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

On Sunday, May 17, Edvald Boasson Hagen will turn 22. It will also be nasjonaldagen, Norway's national day, which gives two excuses for him to celebrate, but he's also looking for a third reason.

"The only birthday present I want is a stage win," he said after scoring his first stage (seven) victory at a Grand Tour in Chiavenna as the Giro d'Italia came back to Italy from the mountains of Switzerland.

When Boasson Hagen talks of a stage win, he doesn't mean it has to be his. It would be ok if it was a win by someone else on his Columbia-Highroad team. "On Sunday it's a criterium in Milan, and we have a great sprinter at Team Columbia - Mark Cavendish. "I'm prepared to lead him out," Boasson Hagen said. "I am a good sprinter as well but in a big bunch I'm not too sure yet. I feel better when it's a small group like today."

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In the Team Columbia train for the Giro d'Italia, Boasson Hagen is the second last lead out man before Mark Renshaw does the final effort for "Cannonball" Cavendish. The leadout train was Boasson Hagen's first job after the team time trial, and he was disappointed when Cavendish was outsprinted by Alessandro Petacchi in Trieste.

Once his roommate Thomas Lövkvist got the pink leader's jersey, his job became to protect Lövkvist in the mountains of Alpe di Siusi and in the tricky finale of Mayrhofen im Zillertal where, as soon as he finished his job as a domestique, with one kilometre to go, he took on yet another job - one that ended for him with a second place, behind solo winner Michele Scarponi.

In stage 7 on Friday, Boasson Hagen worked for another captain of Team Columbia. On the downhill going to Chiavenna, he brought Michael Rogers back to the bunch after the Australian had a flat tyre. Then, he listened to his directeurs sportifs telling him to move up to the front as soon as possible.

"A few of us got away and made the winning group," Boasson Hagen said. He seemed undeterred by the inclement weather.

Just like his compatriot Thor Hushovd, he appeared at ease in the rain on slippery roads. "I don't like when it rains or when it's cold, but I find it easier than other riders do," said the young man from Rudsbygd, near Lillehammer where the winter Olympics were held in 1994. "Today it was very dangerous on the downhill, but luckily I didn't crash."

"I'll take my chances for a win whenever there are any," said Boasson Hagen, who won the Ghent-Wevelgem this spring. "Otherwise I'm happy to help my teammates."

"I still have to see what I'll be best at," said the youngster. "I like the Classics. I also enjoy the stage races. For now I'm a good all rounder."

UCI warns: no exception for Armstrong

By Jean-François Quénet in Chiavenna, Italy

Lance Armstrong (Astana)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The Astana team showed up at the start of stage 7 in Innsbrück, Austria, with a new version of their jerseys. The sponsors names and logos were almost invisible with the exception of KazMunaiGas, Trek and Nike. The logo of the UCI ProTour was still there. The UCI had given the team the green light for the changes since the colours of the jerseys remained the same and no new sponsors were added.

The matter was followed closely at the UCI headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland. ProTour manager Alain Rumpf told Cyclingnews about Astana's wages, which have been unpaid since February. "We are monitoring the situation carefully. We're looking into the regulations to see what we can do about it, but we won't let it (go on) this way. We hope the financial problems of Team Astana will be resolved as soon as possible, but if not, it could lead to a suspension of the team. The UCI could also ask the license commission to take away the team's ProTour license."

A possible suspension is the biggest concern for the team considering the upcoming races. Astana will be able to complete the Giro d'Italia with no issues, but its future beyond the May 31st deadline for resolution of the financial issues is uncertain.

"The UCI will not make any exceptions for Lance Armstrong or anybody else," said Rumpf. UCI president Pat McQuaid is expected to have a meeting in Kazakhstan on Monday with the Kazakh national cycling federation which holds Astana's ProTour license. If no solution is found before the end of this month, the team's participation in the Tour de France could be in jeopardy.

"We are concerned about the image of cycling and this issue of unpaid wages doesn't giving cycling a good image," said Rumpf. As the UCI has proven with other issues such as doping and Theo Bos' behaviour in the final sprint of the Presidential Tour of Turkey, defending cycling's image is an important objective for the organization.

Back-to-back long stages tire peloton

The stage started in Innsbruck.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre said that the last two stages, 248km and 244km respectively of the Giro d'Italia have been tiring for the riders. The wet and cold conditions during Friday's stage seven didn't help.

"The seventh stage was action-packed in the last stretch, just as we had predicted," said Sastre. "It rained for the first time in this year's race, meaning that we had to be on our guard for the last downhill section of the race which lasted nearly 40 kilometres. We had to be careful so as not to fall or to lose time against important riders who like me, are thinking about the general classification."

Friday's stage was uphill for most of the day with the exception of the last 40km downhill stretch. "The headwind made the race a little slower than what we had expected, but it really has been a wearing day for everyone. I think this 'duet' of 250-kilometre stages has tired out the pack for the upcoming stages."

Villumsen snatches opening Tour de L'Aude prologue

Denmark's Linda Villumsen (Columbia-Highroad)
Photo ©: Bert Geerts
(Click for larger image)
Linda Villumsen took a close but convincing win for Columbia-Highroad in the 3.9-kilometre prologue of the Tour de L'Aude on Friday. On a day where strong winds made racing difficult, Villumsen finished just fractions of a second ahead of Regina Bruins of Holland. The third last rider to start, Villumsen did not have a long wait before she knew she was both the stage winner and the first leader of the race.

"I only knew I'd gotten the best time when I saw a couple of race officials chasing after me when I'd crossed the finish line," Villumsen said. "I was quite surprised they told me I was the fastest, because I'd wanted to do well, but I've only ever won one prologue before. Normally I always seemed to finish somewhere in the top five without ever winning, so I told the race officials to check their times again. But when they insisted, I had to believe them!"

The reigning Danish national time trial champion Villumsen said that although flat, the 3.9-kilometre course that opened up the 10-day race was never straightforward. "The course was very short and partly held on city roads and partly out in the countryside. The strong winds made it very technical. The first part was a headwind, then it turned into a tailwind. It was tricky. Fortunately we'd gone over the course a couple of times in the morning so we knew what to expect. Then when each of my teammates came in from the course they were very upbeat about all our chances. We supported each other a lot. In any case, on a course as short as that, you go out and give it everything. No real tactics are possible."

It was Villumsen's second win of the season. "I'll obviously try and defend the jersey for as long as possible, and it's good because Columbia-Highroad has more options for the general classification than just me. To start with, Ina [Teutenberg] finished fifth in the prologue. But really we'll have to wait and see until after the team time trial on Sunday. Then we'll have a much better idea of what we can do overall. This is a very tough race and it's only just begun."

Para-cycling World Championships change location

The UCI Para-cycling World Championships, originally scheduled to be held in Seville, Spain, from September 3-13, will now be hosted by other organisers.

The track events have moved to Manchester, Great Britain, from November 4-8 following on from the UCI Track Cycling World Cup Classics in that city from October 30 to November 1. The road events will be September 8-13 in the Piedmont region of Italy.

The Spanish organiser said that it had become impossible for him to organise the Championships awarded in January 2008 because of financial problems. Despite the best efforts of the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC), an alternative arrangement could not be reached with this organiser.

More than 300 athletes from over 35 countries will take part in the Championships. This will be the first time that the Championships have been separated into different disciplines (road and track), which will allow athletes to prepare in a more specific manner for the various events.

Nine days of elite women's racing for Tour of America's Dairyland

In its inaugural year, the Tour of America's Dairyland will come out of the gate featuring an elite women's race at every venue from June 19 to 28. The new, professionally-produced cycling series will host two road races and seven criteriums in eight Wisconsin cities.

Executive Director Jack Hirt said it was important to the Tour's producer, Midwest Cycling Series, LLC, and Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board that pro women not only be allowed the opportunity to race every day but have fair daily payouts.

"Reaching women is a very important strategy for (presenting sponsor) Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board in promoting Wisconsin dairy products," said Dave Bavlnka, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board Vice President of Advertising, "not only because of the nutritional benefits of dairy for women but also because women are the main decision makers when it come to family nutritional needs."

Women's teams committing rider representation at the Tour of America's Dairyland include Team Type 1, Team Kenda and Team BH.

"I'm super stoked about the Tour of America's Dairyland," said Team Type 1 rider Samantha Schneider of Wisconsin. "Women riders crave a multi-day shot like this, and this race will be showcasing what true pro women's racing looks like right here in Wisconsin's backyard."

The 10-day series will pay out US$90,000 in cash prizes and primes. The series will kick off in Waterloo, Wisconsin and includes races in Milwaukee, Grafton, Manitowoc, Fond du Lac, Sheboygan, Greenbush and Waukesha.

Bennett performs life-saving rescue in mid-flight

Simon Bennett, a rider on Team Type 1's development cycling squad, put his training in first aid to work Thursday night to save the life of a man who collapsed on board a Northwest Airlines flight. Bennett used an automatic external defibrillator (AED) and portable oxygen tank to revive the man, whose heart stopped during the flight from Minneapolis to Chicago.

"He was trying to reach the call button, but all of a sudden he slumped over and his face turned white," Bennett said.

When flight attendants didn't initially respond to Bennett's repeated attempts to get their attention through the call button, Bennett said he stood up and yelled "emergency!" Another passenger helped him quickly move the man into the aisle.

"I checked his pulse twice and there was none," Bennett said. "So the flight attendants got an oxygen tank and brought us the paddles. I shocked him once and he came right back to us. He kept saying, 'I'm fine. I'm fine.'"

The quick-thinking actions of the 25-year-old Australian who has Type 1 diabetes did not go unnoticed by the flight crew.

"They gave me a $10 voucher to use at the airport but by the time we arrived, everything was closed for the night," Bennett said. "This wasn't about recognition anyway. I just wanted to make sure the guy was all right."

Bennett said it was the second time he has used the emergency medical training he gained as a personal trainer. Three years ago, he performed CPR on a child who walked out on a covered swimming pool cover and fell through.

Bennett will be competing this weekend in the 18th Annual Highland Rim Cycling Classic Omnium in Tennessee.

Leipheimer GranFondo to benefit Tour of California and Sonoma animal charity

Levi Leipheimer is currently racing the Giro d'Italia
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)
Astana's Levi Leipheimer, the reigning and three-time Tour of California champion, is the instigator and patron of a new fundraising cycling event, Levi Leipheimer's King Ridge GranFondo, on October 3 in Sonoma County.

"This King Ridge GranFondo is the perfect way to show everyone what myself and many of the best cycling teams in the world have known for years: Sonoma County is a cycling heaven!" said Leipheimer, who is a resident of Santa Rosa, California. "There's nothing I enjoy more than showing off my training grounds to other cycling enthusiasts and sharing that passion for the bike."

Three different ride options, one of which includes King Ridge Road, will take place in the fall and feature turning leaves, vineyards, tranquil valleys, and views of the rugged Sonoma coastline.

The full ride, the GranFondo, will be 103 miles, but shorter 65-mile and 40-mile options are available.

The event raises funds for the Tour of California and an animal charity in Sonoma County. For more information or to register, visit

Cyclingnews podcast: Episode 11

Taking the Giro by the horns

The Giro d'Italia is go, and already there has been a lot to talk about in the first week. We give it our best shot in the Cyclingnews weekly podcast episode 11. Get it now while stocks last.

This week, Cyclingnews' Daniel Benson and BikeRadar's Jeff Jones show no mercy as they dissect the winners and losers in the first four stages. From Mark Cavendish's dig at 'disrespectful' Garmin, to his failure to beat Alessandro Petacchi, to Danilo Di Luca continuing the amazing success of Team LPR, to the enigma that is Tom Danielson. Outside Italy, we also cover Tom Boonen's latest flirtation with Bolivian marching powder, Alejandro Valverde's Italian ban and what lies ahead for Team Astana.

You can subscribe to the podcasts via iTunes (or just go to iTunes and search for 'cyclingnews') or via this XML feed:

You can also download the podcasts directly by clicking on these links:

  • May 14: Giro d'Italia, Tom Boonen and cocaine, Alejandro Valverde's ban and where to for Astana?
  • May 7: Giro d'Italia and more Giro d'Italia, Astana's woes, Gila domination, Romandie and back to the Giro
  • May 1: Davide Rebellin's positive, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Trentino, Gila, Romandie, Lance Armstrong's Twitter growth and swine flu
  • April 24: Amstel Gold and the Ardennes classics, Tyler Hamilton, Theo Bos, no mention of Heinrich Haussler at all
  • April 15: Paris-Roubaix – full analysis including Heinrich Haussler, Lance Armstrong vs the French anti-doping agency and crazy theories
  • April 9: Tour of Flanders, Heinrich Haussler's return to form, Gent-Wevelgem, Bob Stapleton air time and Paris-Roubaix
  • April 1: E3 Prijs, Heinrich Haussler's form slump, track worlds and Lance's metal implants
  • March 26: Jens Voigt, Milan-San Remo, Mark Cavendish, Heinrich Haussler, David Millar, Lance Armstrong and the track worlds
  • March 19: Tour de France teams, Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo preview and Heinrich Haussler
  • March 12: Paris-Nice mid-race, Tirreno-Adriatico preview and Heinrich Haussler
  • March 5: Valverde summonsed, Belgian opening weekend and Heinrich Haussler

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