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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for August 28, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones & Hedwig Kröner

Vuelta stage 1 wrap

Alto de la Alhambra: 35°

Denis Menchov (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Sirotti
Click for larger image

Russia's Denis Menchov (Rabobank) won the first stage 7 km time trial in a time of 9 minutes and 45 seconds, and becomes the first overall leader of the 2005 Vuelta a España. Defending champion Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) ended up seventh, while Rik Verbrugghe (Quick Step-Innergetic) was second in 9'46 and Bradley McGee (Française des Jeux) third, just three seconds behind Menchov.

"I actually didn't expect to win today," said Menchov. I knew I could do well, but I failed a lot in the last time trials. This year I felt better in the time trials, but I hadn't clocked good times up until now." About his current form, Menchov said, "after the Tour de France, I spent a rest week in Russia and I think that helped me a lot".

It was a typical summer's day in Granada: hot and very dry. The temperature was around 35 degrees celsius as the riders pushed up the Cat. 3 climb to the most important buildings in Spanish history: the Alhambra. Team CSC achieved a fine result as Carlos Sastre finished fourth, and the Danish squad ended up best team under the blazing hot sun, leading the team classification.

"It was definitely a good result because it was a really tough test today, where only those riders who are in shape had any chance of doing well," said CSC's satisfied sports director Kim Andersen after the stage. "Apart from Carlos, who was excellent, Vandevelde showed that his fine performances in Benelux Tour and Clasica San Sebastian weren't flukes. But also Jakob Piil and Linus Gerdemann did well out there today.

"This promises well for Carlos' chances in the rest of the race. We had a feeling he'd be in top shape after finishing well in the Tour and later having the time to prepare himself and spend time with his family without being troubled by injuries, illness or stressful contract negotiations. But just before a race starts you always get a little nervous anyway," Andersen added.

But other teams were struggling: Gerolsteiner's Uwe Peschel as well as Sven Montgomery were experiencing stomach problems. "We asked ourselves if a Uwe starting actually made sense," said directeur sportif Reimund Dietzen, who manages the team during its first participation in the Vuelta. "Monty was feeling so bad on Friday that he couldn't even attend the team presentation. But both of them are a little better now." Peschel finally finished 45th, only 36 seconds slower than the winner.

On top of that, Gerolsteiner's Matthias Russ crashed and René Haselbacher had a rear wheel mechanical. "That wasn't the debut we had hoped for," Dietzen added. "But we have to look at the positive side: It can only get better now!"

Also see:

Stage 1 full results, report & photos
Live report
Main
Stages & results
Map
Start List
History
Photos
.

An interview with Denis Menchov

"Today I showed what I could do"

Denis Menchov (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Sirotti
Click for larger image

Rabobank's Denis Menchov today confirmed the talent which brought him results such as the best young rider in the 2003 Tour de France and the overall classification of the 2004 Vuelta a Pais Vasco, winning the opening stage of the Vuelta a España in Granada. The 27 year old overhauled longtime race leader and prologue specialist Rik Verbrugghe (QuickStep) by a single second, with another dab hand against the clock, Brad McGee (FDJeux), taking third. Shane Stokes reports from Granada.

"I didn't expect to win this time trial," admitted Menchov after the stage. "I did badly in recent time trials. I knew I could do well, but I didn't expect to do quite as well as this!"

The Russian has come into this race hoping for redemption after a highly disappointing Tour de France campaign. He moved to the Rabobank squad over the winter with the intention of leading their charge in the Tour de France, and seemed to be on track when he took third overall in the Tour of Romandie. However, July was a different story. While teammate Michael Rasmussen was scrapping it out against the likes of Lance Armstrong and Ivan Basso, winning a stage and taking the king of the mountains jersey, Menchov was battling a throat infection. He performed well below his usual level in the mountains and eventually trailed home a weary 85th in Paris.

Click here for the full interview

Ex-USPS soigneur speaks

Ron Jongen, a former soigneur with the US Postal team until 2000, has expressed further allegations concerning the 1999 Tour de France, and possible doping practices within the American squad. Armstrong's masseur told Dutch newspaper Limburgs Dagblad that he was present when team director Johan Bruyneel made comments about the riders' hematocrit levels before the 1999 Tour de France prologue.

At the last team meeting before the race, the 42-year old Dutchman from Kerkrade recalled, "Bruyneel said: they're just under 50 [Jonathan Vaughters noted this too - ed.]. When he saw that I heard what he said, he put his finger on his lips immediately: I wasn't supposed to say anything about it." While Jongen said that he was still on good terms with Armstrong (having e-mail contact as recently as at the 2005 Tour de France), the former masseur also talked about "strange, very strange things that went on in France that summer."

Jongen also recalled that three Spanish doctors visited the team's hotels in a green station wagon. "It was the only car that wasn't branded US Postal," the former soigneur said. "All the team cars parked in front of the hotels, but this car always parked at the rear entrances. The strange thing was that these doctors always slept on another floor," Jongen added, also saying that these doctors followed the team also at the Vuelta, but that they used the main entrance then.

But former USPS team manager and current Discovery Channel team manager Johan Bruyneel denied the soigneur's statements. "Mr. Jongen has a rich imagination," Bruyneel countered. "There was one doctor in our team, no-one else, and I never saw that green station wagon - it's all nonsense. And I never said anything that should stay secret."

Saunier signs Koldo Gil

Liberty Seguros' Koldo Gil will ride for Saunier Duval-Prodir in 2006, team manager Joxean Fernández Matxin has announced. The 27-year old winner of the Vuelta a Murcia 2005 has signed with the Spanish squad for two years. According to website todociclismo, Saunier Duval also signed to additional riders: José Alberto Benítez from Continental team Spiuk (three year-contract) and Polish rider Piotr Mazur (two years-contract). Another two riders from the Saunier Duval U23 team, Alberto Fernández and Javier Mejías, have also made the leap up to the pro ranks.

CSC extends Roberts, Peron and Johansen contracts

Team CSC has extended the contracts of Australian Luke Roberts, Italian Andrea Peron and Danish Allan Johansen. Roberts has signed a two-year deal, while both Peron and Johansen received one-year extensions.

"Luke has done very well and been a good help for the team, especially in the Tour de France," said team manager Bjarne Riis about the Aussie. "In his first full year on the road he's gained some extra power, so it'll be interesting to follow him for the next couple of years.

"We all know Andrea's strengths," he continued on the capabilities of the Italian rider. "He's been with Team CSC for four seasons now and he's a very solid all-rounder." As for the Danish Johansen, "Allan has proven his worth, primarily with a string of good performances in the spring classics where I think, he'll be even better next year, but also with the stage win in Sachsen Tour. They're three really good riders and I'm very happy, we'll be working together next season as well," Riis concluded.

So far, team CSC has signed with these 22 riders for the oncoming season: Kurt-Asle Arvesen, Lars Bak, Ivan Basso, Michael Blaudzun, Matti Breschel, Linus Gerdemann, Allan Johansen, Bobby Julich, Giovanni Lombardi, Christian Müller, Andrea Peron, Jakob Piil, Luke Roberts, Fränk Schleck, Andy Schleck, Nicki Sørensen, Jens Voigt, David Zabriskie, Fabian Cancellara, Martin Pedersen, Karsten Kroon and Marcus Ljungqvist.

Gerolsteiner for Plouay

German team Gerolsteiner has announced its line-up for the GP Plouay on Sunday. "Our focus lies on Davide (Rebellin) and Fabian (Wegmann)," said manager Hans-Michael Holczer before the race. "Marcus Zberg has been good in Plouay before, too," he added.

The following Gerolsteiner riders will start in Plouay on Sunday: Markus Fothen, Sven Krauss, Andrea Moletta, Davide Rebellin, Fabian Wegmann, Peter Wrolich, Beat and Markus Zberg.

Last-minute changes to Plouay line-up

The organisers have announced that Quick.Step's Filippo Pozzato will not be participating in the Grand Prix Ouest-France in Plouay, Brittany, on Sunday. German Patrik Sinkewitz will take the Italian's place.

Also not starting will be Bobby Julich (CSC), according to German website Radsportnews. The winner of Paris-Nice and Tour of Benelux did not give any reasons for his withdrawal.

Still time to join Fantasy Vuelta game

There's still time to join in this year's Fantasy Vuelta Game at Cyclingnews. There is no tactical disadvantage in joining after stage 1 has begun. You can join until stage 6 begins on Thursday, September 1 at 10:00 GMT (03:59 Eastern time). This year we are pleased to confirm that GIANT will be our main sponsor. Win the same bike as Jan Ullrich and Alexandre Vinokourov! This bike is not for sale to the public, but Giant has been extremely generous to provide a Giant TCR Advanced T-Mobile '05 Tour De France Team Issue bicycle as Grand Prize for the Cyclingnews 2005 Vuelta d'Espana Fantasy Game, with a retail value of $8000 if it were even sold in stores! But you can only get one by entering the Cyclingnews 2005 Vuelta d'Espana Fantasy Game and winning it! To find out more go to the prizes section of the fantasy site.

Be a professional team manager, with many opportunities to win prizes in this year's game. You will take up the challenge of using your knowledge and tactical skill as a race team manager to compete with managers from around the world. For more info go to fantasy.cyclingnews.com

How to play

You can begin creating your team now. You can play the first five stages for FREE! There is no disadvantage in joining after stage 1 has begun. The Tour games are easy to play, all you need to do to manage your own team is select 15 riders from the live start list then select 9 of these riders to race each day throughout the Vuelta. You score points according to how well each of the riders place each day in the Vuelta. So try your team today and see if it's for you. It's a great way to follow the Vuelta. Create your teams now at fantasy.cyclingnews.com.

Good luck!

The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team

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