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Latest Cycling News for July 12, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones

Dr Allen Lim: UCI aero rule cost Landis time

By John Kenny

Floyd Landis (Phonak)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Phonak's Floyd Landis' forced positional change before Saturday's time trial might have cost him at least 30 seconds, according to Dr Allen Lim, Landis' training advisor.

Landis was forced to stop during the time trial to change bikes after his aerodynamic handlebars broke. The handlebar change came after the UCI ruled that the angle of the bars had to be set lower. "I not only lost a lot of time as a result of that. I also had to find my racing rhythm again right away," said Landis who had lost only 17 seconds by the first intermediate time check.

"Well, [Landis] had a little bit of a mishap, breaking his time trial bars and having to change his bike...," said Lim. The bike change and being forced to change his aero position combined to cost Landis time, "If we factor in the time lost in the stop and if we also consider the aerodynamic changes that occurred with the bicycle [his final time was affected]," said Lim. "In fact, had he not had those mishaps, I think he would only have been 22 or 23 seconds down on first place," he added. Landis ended up finishing one minute behind winner Serguei Gonchar (T-Mobile).

The full interview with Dr Allen Lim can be found here.

Schleck waiting for uphill

By Hedwig Kröner in Dax

After two weeks filled with bad luck and other difficulties, Amstel Gold race winner Fränk Schleck is looking forward to the last two remaining weeks of the Tour de France, where he hopes he and his team will be able to become real protagonists.

Despite perfect form prior to the Tour, the Luxembourger has been struggling with injuries he suffered in a crash barely one week before the race. "I was training on my time trial bike, and came off a sidewalk," he told Cyclingnews. "Then I heard a cracking noise and looked down to see what it was - and my front wheel just came out of the fork. I didn't stand a chance and fell on my face full on. If someone had seen me after that crash, they never would have thought that I would make it the Tour. I had broken two front teeth, received 12 stitches to my upper lip, broke my nose and right cheekbone. I can still feel my nose - either it's swollen or it is bent, I don't know..." he added, picking up his humour.

It hasn't been easy for Schleck, as he is of course still suffering from his injuries during the first part of the Tour. "Last week, I had a lot of headaches, also during the race," he explained. "I don't know where it comes from, my nose or my cheek. It doesn't get any easier with the heat - I can't breathe through my nose." On top of this, Schleck crashed twice in the early flat stages of the Tour, and is having problems with his back again. "The first week was fast and nervous," he added.

Of course, this also influenced the state of his form. "I rode a very good Tour de Suisse and was very confident, and then there was this crash," Schleck continued. "I couldn't eat for four days, couldn't train for five. I just didn't come to the Tour at 100 percent.

"But that's the way it is at the Tour, it's a roller coaster - it goes downhill, then uphill again. So I'm waiting for the uphill...," he smiled, aware of the ambiguity of his wording.

So what were his personal ambitions at this Tour? Will he have the right to ride on his own account, too, whilst still protecting Carlos Sastre, the new GC leader at CSC?

"If I'm in a breakaway in the mountains, I think I do have my card to play," he replied. "But we have to see how the race evolves. We are here to win the Tour, that's still the same goal. I'm convinced that Carlos can go very far, and we'll be giving a 100 percent of ourselves for that. On a sporting level, the first week of racing wasn't for us, but we are not frustrated or anything like that. We might have been unlucky, but we gave our very best - and that's what we're going to do for the rest of the Tour, too. I don't know how far we'll get and what we'll do, but I know for sure that we'll give everything we've got."

McEwen keeps an eye on Freire

After finishing second in Dax yesterday behind Oscar Freire, green jersey wearer Robbie McEwen is keeping a close eye on the Spaniard in the battle for the sprinters prize. McEwen currently holds a healthy 23 point lead over Tom Boonen and 30 over Oscar Freire, but he considers the climbing talents of Freire to be better than Boonen's.

"I did increase my advantage over Boonen and Bennati for the green, but it's Freire who is my most important rival for the jersey," McEwen told Sportwereld.be. "He can easily get over the cols and can therefore eat into my lead. The hardest work is yet to come."

Gerolsteiner update

"The ninth stage was the flattest of the whole Tour 2006," says Fabian Wegmann. "No surprise, that the sprinters took it over." The Gerolsteiner rider had a free day. "I could move freely within the field, had no particular assignments for the team. Was that good for me? I don' really know. About 13 km before the finish there was a crash. I could stop in time, but those behind me pushed me right into the middle of it. I didn't crash, but 'dismounted' over the handlebars. They broke and I had to wait a few minutes for a new bike."

Wegmann has some plans for Wednesday's stage. "I would like to pick up some mountain points, but I know, of course, that I'm not the only one who wants to." (fabianwegmann.de)

The mountains bring new jobs to teammate Ronny Scholz. "I couldn't help much with the sprints in the flat stages. But now I'll be responsible for helping our captains over the mountains as well as possible and making sure they are well provided with food and drinks." (ronnyscholz.de)

One of those captains is Georg Totschnig. "The Pyrenees are right in front of us and you can really feel the tension. We all had to work hard in the first nine stages - the question now is, who can put those exertions behind him best. Tomorrow there won't be any more just riding along, no more hiding. Everyone will have to show what they have ... I'm eager to see how I will do." (www.step2web.at/totschnig)

Swiss doping official not surprised at Ullrich

"To be honest, I have expected such a case with Ullrich," said Gerhard Walter, President of the Swiss Olympic Committee's doping section. In an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung, he says he was suspicious of the German rider's performance this spring - "from somewhere behind in 80th place to the sudden time trial win in the Giro." Ullrich stands to not only lose his license, but also to be banned for a long time. "We're talking about blood doping, that means two years."

Walter apparently doesn't consider it a problem that there is no positive doping test or a confession. "We had the Balco scandal in the US, there was also no positive test there," he noted. "The reports out of Spain indicate a seemingly clear situation, therefore it's up to the athletes to exonerate themselves." If Ullrich, for example, doesn't make a DNA test, then I assume that the charges are true."

He also seems to expect things to move quickly, saying, "I assume that we will rule on him soon."

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

Freire stays with Rabobank

Triple world champion Oscar Freire, winner of two stages already in this year's Tour, will remain with Rabobank for the next two seasons, reports De Telegraaf. Despite having a big offer from Saunier Duval, Freire wanted to stay at Rabobank because he felt comfortable there.

Vanderaerden to DFL-Cyclingnews

By Shane Stokes

Former top Tour de France sprinter and Classics hardman Eric Vanderaerden has been confirmed as joining the DFL-Cyclingnews.com team for 2007 as director sportif.

The Belgian had a glittering pro career, taking 138 victories between 1983 and 1996. These included five stage wins plus one Maillot Vert in the Tour de France, stage victories in races such as the Vuelta Espańa, Paris-Nice, the Tour de Suisse and the Tour of Holland, as well as big one day successes in Paris-Roubaix, the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Gent Wevelgem and the Belgian road race championships.

Vanderaerden feels that this background will be invaluable as regards his new role as directeur sportif, taking over from fellow Belgian - and former multiple TdF stage winner, Daniel Willems. "I think my main impact will be due to my experience as a rider," he told Cyclingnews on Wednesday. "I did the Tour de France 9 times, finishing it on 7 occasions, so I think I have enough experience to work with the younger guys."

The 44 year old retired from racing in 1996. Following a break from the sport and then a couple of years working with an amateur team, he spent two seasons as coach/directeur to the Mapei – Quickstep squad, staying with them until the team stopped. He currently has a directeur sportif role this year with the Yawadoo - Colba – ABM setup, but says he is excited about his new opportunity.

"The goal was that I wanted to work in a big ProTour team or else with a developing squad. The Cyclingnews team wants to move to a higher level so that is a motivation for me," he stated. "Gilbert De Weerdt contacted me about the position, having already done that a year or two ago. I have decided that the time is right now."

"I will start next season as directeur sportif, but this year I will do some work with the management, relating to the lineup for 2007. Most of the riders currently with the team will stay and we will also look at the possibility of taking on some more Belgian guys. Gilbert De Weerdt is on holiday now but when he comes back, we will sit down for a couple of hours and make a list of the riders we want. I will then talk to them and see if we can get an agreement."

Vanderaerden may also accompany the team to the Jayco Herald Sun Tour this autumn.

The DFL – Cyclingnews.com squad has had some good results this season, with probably the most significant being Russell Downing's victory in the Triptyque Ardennais. Past winners included Danilo Di Luca and Ivan Basso. Downing's stage win in the Tour de Beauce is also a highlight, as are the team's four Belgian Pro Kermesse wins and third place in the Tour of Chong Ming Island. They are due to line out in the 2.HC Tour of Qinghai Lake later this week.

Managing Director Nick Collins has big plans for the future. "I regard this year as a trial run, developing a ‘team template' for the years to come in which I expect the team to step up a level to Pro Continental status," he said. "Cycling already has a high profile on mainland Europe and I believe that there remains huge opportunity within the UK.

"The eventual inclusion of a UK registered team within the Pro Tour ranks would open new and exciting marketing opportunities not only to UK sponsors but also to the UCI and organisers of the three Grand Tours. How much more value could be added to their brand with the UK market fully exposed? There are huge opportunities as yet untapped."

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