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First Edition Cycling News for June 18, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones

Tour de Suisse stage 8 wrap-up

Contador takes second Würth stage win; Gil unable to increase his buffer

By Shane Stokes in Ambri, with additional reporting from Anthony Tan

Alberto Contador (Würth)
Photo ©: AFP
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For one Spaniard joy, the other disappointment. The beleaguered Würth team got another boost to morale today when 23 year old Alberto Contador won the penultimate stage of the Tour de Suisse into Ambri. The 23 year old jumped across to a splintering breakaway group 115 kilometres from the line and then pressed on alone on the 2106 metre first category climb of Gotthardpass. Although Cadel Evans (Davitamon Lotto) set off in pursuit with 13 kilometres remaining and was then reinforced in his chase some ten kilometres later by David Herrero Llorente (Euskaltel), Contador was strong enough to stay clear of the two and reach the finish 34 seconds clear.

Phonak rider Alexandre Moos led home a large chase group a further three seconds later. Race leader Koldo Gil Perez took fifth but the Saunier Duval rider was clearly disappointed not to have succeeded in his aim of taking time out of closest rivals Jörg Jaksche (Team Würth) and Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile). "It will be difficult to win now," he admitted at the post-race press conference. "I will give everything tomorrow in the time trial, though; I think there is still a small chance."

Jaksche and Ullrich will beg to differ. Both are strong time trialists, and over 30 kilometres they will be confident of erasing their deficits of 30 and 50 seconds respectively. Unless Gil pulls out a phenomenal ride, it looks like there will be a big German showdown on the undulating road between Kerzers and Bern tomorrow.

Click here for the full results, report and photos from stage 8.

Gil: tough fight in store

By Shane Stokes in Ambri

Koldo Gil (Saunier Duval)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Race leader Koldo Gil (Saunier Duval) said on Saturday evening that he would fight hard to win the Tour de Suisse, but conceded that a tough battle with Jan Ullrich is on the cards. "Obviously he is the big favourite here," he admitted. "I think he is going well. It will be very difficult to take him on over 30 kilometres against the clock, but I will try."

Gil was unable to take any more time in today's eighth stage, and will have to make do with his 30 and 50 second buffers over Jaksche and Ullrich in tomorrow's time trial. But a strong performance by Gil could still see him hold yellow, especially after he won the time trial in the recent Euskal Bizikleta.

The race leader also told the media that he had been concerned at the risky run-in to the line in Ascona yesterday. "I wasn't happy with the finish…there were five turns in the final kilometre and with the rain, that made things extremely dangerous," he stated. "The risk of getting hurt is high. So many riders are here to prepare for the Tour de France and they don't want to get hurt."

Gil has already said he will bypass the Tour in order to prepare for the Vuelta. However his big Tour de Suisse rival Jan Ullrich is very much targeting the French race; what does he think of his chances?

"The end of the Tour de France is five weeks from now," he said. "I think that by then Ullrich will be in his top form, so it might be perfect timing on his part."

Contador continues Swiss success

Alberto Contador (Wurth)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Alberto Contador gave the Astana-Wurth team its second stage win in the Tour de Suisse, and continued his love affair with Helvetian racing, as he also has two stage wins in the Tour de Romandie. The 23 year-old was happy with his result, especially as he was not looking to do well on GC in the Tour de Suisse.

"I didn't have the idea to go for the GC, I only wanted to get some racing speed in while thinking of the Tour, but I knew at the end of the race I could try to win something."

Contador said that he struggled at first. "I had to fight from the beginning of the stage. In the first kilometres, I was not feeling too good, and had doubts, but on the last climb I decided to play hard and attacked at six kilometres from the summit. I have managed to cross the top with enough time (1'08) and I could keep the advantage."

The victory was a morale booster for the team, which is currently in crisis in the wake of Operacion Puerto and the withdrawal of Liberty Seguros as the main sponsor. "It's especially good for all of us and, for me personally, it's good to motivate myself for the Tour. It particularly gives me tranquility, because I see that the preparation is working and I will be able to come to France in the best condition."

Tomorrow, Contador said he will try to prove himself against the clock, "but there are better favourites than I, like Ullrich. And besides, it is certain that I will pay for today's effort."

Schleck improves one

Team CSC's Fränk Schleck improved to fifth place overall after the eighth stage of the Tour de Suisse. "We had three riders in the favourite's group and Fränk advanced one spot, when José Angel Gomez was dropped along the way," said team director Dan Frost to team-csc.com. "All in all it was a good result for us, and we might be able to advance even further after the time trial tomorrow. Apart from that Cancellara is of course very keen to make a result, so it will be interesting to see if he's able to beat Ullrich, who seems very strong at the moment."

Gerolsteiner in the mix

Gerolsteiner was in the firing line during stage 8 of the Tour de Suisse with local rider Sven Montgomery forming part of the breakaway. "Monty really did a super race," said sports director Reimund Dietzen. "He was always at the front and at the same time didn't do badly on the three passes. One shouldn't forget that this was his first race since his collarbone break."

Austrian Georg Totschnig was the best of the GC riders, finishing the stage in 18th, 41 seconds behind winner Alberto Contador. Totschnig is now in 16th on GC, at 6'36 behind Koldo Gil. "A normal result. Also with Georg, it's improving," finished Dietzen.

No Tour for McGee

Australian Brad McGee will not be riding the Tour de France, due to his ongoing back problems, reports Velomania.net. After undergoing further tests since his abandon in the Tour de Suisse, he was found to have a herniated disc that will require an operation before he can be competitive again. FDJ will also be without Lilian Jégou, who broke his thigh in a crash during the Tour de Suisse.

Terpstra to Milram

Dutch rider Niki Terpstra (Ubbink-Syntec) will ride for Milram in 2007, his current team reports. The 22 year-old from Krommenie has signed a two year contract with the Italian ProTour team. Terpstra has impressed this year, with a win in the queen stage of the Tour of Belgium, as well as a stage in the Tour of Normandy and the overall of the OZ wielerweekend, where he also won the time trial. He was also sixth in the time trial of the Ster Elektrotoer.

After the Dutch championship in Maastricht, Terpstra will ride the European championship for espoirs in Valkenburg in July.

"I'm really really happy with this chance," said Terpstra. "Milram is a great team with a good structure. The management team has a lot of confidence in me and I will certainly not let them down."

Eindhoven TTT early due to World Cup

The soccer World Cup is affecting sports events everywhere, due to its massive popularity. In order not to conflict with Sunday's matches, the ProTour team time trial in Eindhoven will be held at the relatively early hour of 11:10. Skil-Shimano will be the first team off, while last year's winners Gerolsteiner will leave at 12:34.

Haywood Yaletown Grand Prix

The third edition of the Haywood Yaletown Grand Prix presented by Deans Knight Capital Management will be held in Yaletown, Vancouver, Canada on July 1. Riders will compete for more than $5,000 in prize money and the Haywood Cup.

This year, the construction of Vancouver’s new airport rapid transit line has forced a course change, and there will be a new 6-corner, 900 metre layout that winds through the heart of Yaletown, providing plenty of spectator viewpoints.

While the race has had numerous top level riders like Roland Green, Alison Sydor and Svein Tuft, event director Paul Done said that it is about more than the pros: "We're proud that so many great riders love our race and have come back for more, but for us the Yaletown Grand Prix is also a celebration of the sport and we're just as happy that we give amateurs the chance to ride on a closed downtown course with lots of friends, family and spectators there to cheer them on."

This year, the Yaletown Grand Prix will raise money for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Vancouver who deliver a wide range of health, educational and recreational services to over 6000 local children annually.

Racing starts at 1:30pm with the pro races getting under way at 4:30pm. For more information, visit www.yaletowngrandprix.com

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