Latest Cycling News for June 19, 2006
Edited by Hedwig Kröner, with assistance of Susan Westemeyer
Ullrich "stronger than last year"
Looking good: 2006 Tour de Suisse
winner Jan Ullrich
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
Team T-Mobile sports director Rudy Pevenage is extremely happy with Jan
Ullrich's performance at the Tour de Suisse, which the German won for
the second time after also doing it in 2004. "Tremendously good," was
his commentary on the shape of 'Der Kaiser', whom he hopes to see on the
highest step on the Champs Elysées in Paris on July 23. "If Jan hadn't
encountered these bad conditions, he would have been at least half a minute
faster than the rest," Pevenage added, speaking of the torrential rain
that came down in Bern for the last
stage of the Tour de Suisse on Sunday.
The Belgian sports director believes that Ullrich has completely overcome
his form deficit of this spring, which initially came about because of
a knee problem. "Yes, I think that he is now on the right track for the
Tour," continued a very confident Pevenage. "He's definitely better than
in the last two years; much stronger than last year."
The 1997 Tour de France winner shaped up during the Giro d'Italia, where
he impressed by scoring his first season victory, his specialty, the time
trial. But Ullrich's climbing, which was still on grupetto-level during
the Tour of Italy, only improved in recent weeks. "At first, I was unsure
of it but then I was happy that he rode the Giro," Pevenage told the Telegraaf.
"There, he created the basis for the good form he has now. Two months
ago, everybody said that Ivan Basso was the greatest favourite for the
Tour. Now, more and more vote for Jan - that gives us confidence."
Partial route announced for 2007 Tour de Suisse
By Shane Stokes in Bern
The organisers of the Tour de Suisse have said that they were ‘very
satisfied’ with the 70th edition of the race, which ended in Bern on Sunday.
"This was a very good race," director general Christian Pirzer told the
press prior to the start of the final stage time trial. "There was lots
of suspense and a very good ending, with things going right down to the
final time trial. Everybody is saying that Jan Ullrich will win the race
but we don’t know that for sure, so this keeps things very interesting.
"We are very happy with the level of support we have seen. The interest
from the crowds has been huge and so too from the media. We are very pleased
and so too are our sponsors, who have a long-term commitment to the event."
Sport director Armin Meier, himself a former professional cyclist, echoed
that satisfaction and also revealed details of next year’s route. "We
have a very interesting route in store for 2007, with four to five stages
for the sprinters, three mountain finishes and a time trial," Meier stated,
adding that two towns have yet to officially confirm their hosting of
the race but that the contracts were signed. "Everything is agreed, but
we have to respect their decision to hold off for now on announcing their
participation," he said.
The 2007 edition will begin near Zürich in Olten, the first stage expected
to be something along the lines of this year’s opening leg in Baden. Day
two takes the riders to Luzern, while the third stage will be held in
the Tirol region and is expected to have a summit finish. Ditto for stage
four to Malbun. Day five heads to Giubiasco in Tessin, with the French
speaking part of the country the setting for stage six.
Another summit finish is included in the following day’s race to Grimselpass,
then the race heads to Schwarzsee (literally, black lake) in Fribourg.
As was the case this year, the race will conclude with a time trial in
"We have tried to eliminate long transfers as much as possible," said
Pirzer. "Most of the locations chosen will be the venue for both finishes
and starts, so that should help the riders."
More details of the 2007 Tour de Suisse will be announced in the months
ahead. The race will run from June 16-24 next year, taking place one week
later in order to maintain the same gap between it and the Tour de France.
Gerrans pleased with Switzerland
By Shane Stokes in Bern
Simon Gerrans (AG2R)
Photo ©: Sirotti
Although he finished back in 80th place in Sunday’s time trial, AG2R
rider Simon Gerrans said he was happy with how he fared in the Tour de
Suisse. The Australian was prominent on the sixth stage to La Punt, making
a bid for the win on the final climb and then finishing fifth across the
"The race has been really good for me," he told Cyclingnews after
the final time trial. "I came into it probably just a bit underdone and
I rode into it in the first few days. That was the plan. I decided to
have a go on one of the mountain stages which I did, and it went pretty
well. After that it was just a matter of getting the racing kilometres
in for the rest of the week. That all went to plan.
"Unfortunately I got a little bit sick over the past couple of days
- I came down with a head cold so I have been suffering for the past two
or three days. Otherwise it went really well."
Gerrans said that the time trial was a means to an end. "It went okay,
I guess. It was more a case of getting a time trial in before the Tour.
That was the first one I did since the Tirreno Adriatico race, so it was
just about getting back on the time trial bike, getting the routine right,
warming up and all of that."
Gerrans has already been confirmed for AG2R’s Tour de France team and
has a clear idea of what he expects from the race. "On an individual level,
I would love to be able to get into a breakaway again and try to chase
a stage win, like last year. But this year we are going to be focussed
on trying to win the GC. Guys like Mancebo and Moreau are both going really
well and so we will be working for them."
Rogers still improving
By Shane Stokes in Bern
When he finished his time trial in the Tour de Suisse, World Champion
Michael Rogers was lying third overall in the provisional ranking and
seemed pleased enough with his ride. "There are some fast guys to come
but I guess it went okay," he said. "I haven’t been feeling great in this
race; I am still rebuilding form after my teeth problems in the Giro.
But as the race has gone on I have felt better, so hopefully I will be
feeling good again for the Tour."
He ultimately finished 16th in the time trial, 1 minute and 51 seconds
behind his victorious team-mate Jan Ullrich. Rogers is set to work for
the German in the Tour de France, but hopes to have his own chance to
lead the team in years to come.
Contador: We have to keep training
By Shane Stokes in Bern
Alberto Contador (Würth)
Photo ©: Sirotti
Tour de Suisse stage 8 winner Alberto Contador has spoken of the uncertainty
over the Würth team’s participation in the Tour de France, saying that
he has chosen to focus entirely on reaching the start in the best possible
shape rather than mulling over the possibility that the team could be
"For sure I think about it," he said, when asked about the subject at
Saturday’s press conference. "But it doesn’t help if I think about it
or not, I can’t change anything anyway. My responsibility is to be in
the best shape possible on the first of July, that is all I can do. The
decision is nothing to do with me, I can’t control it."
Contador said that he and the rest of the team are focused 100 percent
on helping leader Alexandre Vinokourov, rather than chasing any additional
goals such as the white jersey for best young rider. "Everything is for
Vinokourov," he continued. "My job and my objective is going to be to
help Vinokourov to get the best possible position in the ranking. I am
only 23, I have a lot to learn and I still have plenty of time in the
future to show myself. For now everything is for Vinokourov."
"As regards the white jersey, I think it is a consequence of riding
well. If you go well then you are in the running for that. But that is
not an objective which is laid out for me. My only objective is to help
Vinokourov. If I am in very good shape and the white jersey comes along,
that is fine, but it is not my goal," Contador added.
The team was thrown into turmoil when on May 23rd directeur sportif
Manolo Saiz was arrested by police in Madrid on suspicion of purchasing
doping products from controversial doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. Their chief
sponsor Liberty Seguros promptly withdrew, but more recently Astana -
a conglomeration of sponsors from Vinokourov’s Kazakhstan - has said it
will take over. The UCI are yet to rule on this change and also to decide
it the team’s ProTour licence should be suspended, this preventing the
riders from competing in this year’s Tour.
The team has won two stages in the Tour de Suisse and the first of these
victors, Angel Vicioso, also led the race for two days. In addition, Jörg
Jaksche finished third overall.
Contador was asked how he was able to keep performing well despite the
pressure. "Well, as I said before, I am a professional cyclist," he stated.
"My objective is to keep concentrated on that, to train and race as best
as I can. I have found that when everything goes well, everybody is happy
with you. When things go bad, nobody likes you any more. I have learned
that I have to listen to my friends and not rely on what is happening
around me, just to focus on my job."
CSC, Liquigas announce Tour line-ups
Team CSC's Tour de France line-up 2006 has been officially announced.
Led by team director Bjarne Riis, the Danish squad will be composed of
the following riders: Ivan Basso, Carlos Sastre, Fränk Schleck, Jens Voigt,
Giovanni Lombardi, Stuart O'Grady, Bobby Julich, David Zabriskie and Christian
"As so often before it has been a difficult task to select the remaining
riders for this team, because we have so many who are in great shape and
who have the motivation to do well in Tour de France," said the 1996 Tour
de France winner. "But it is a luxury for us to have this problem, and
I'm proud our team has reached a point where we have so many strong riders
at such a high level.
"We are bringing a fantastic team to Tour de France this year. When
you look at the names, you cannot help but notice that this is a team
to be reckoned with - a team which has the foundation to be one of the
dominating ones in the 2006 edition of the Tour. We go to France this
year with one ambition: To win with Ivan Basso. After his victory in the
Giro, and with the training he has done in the period since then, I have
no doubt he is ready for this next big challenge. He has the class, the
willpower and also the team behind him to be one of the favourites," Riis
Italian outfit Liquigas has also communicated its team roster for the
greatest of Grand Tours. With Stefano Garzelli as a leader for the General
Classification, the team will also include Danilo Di Luca, who may go
for stage victories at will. The full Liquigas line-up will be: Stefano
Garzelli, Danilo Di Luca, Luca Paolini, Manuel Quinziato, Michael Albasini,
Patrick Calcagni, Magnus Bäckstedt, Kjell Carlström and Matej Mugerli.
Gerolsteiner at altitude
Gerolsteiner is concentrating on the mountains in the upcoming Tour
de France, and is therefore sending Tour riders Georg Totschnig, Peter
Wrolich, Ronny Scholz and Fabian Wegmann to altitude training in St. Moritz,
Switzerland. The four are starting their training camp in the Swiss ski
resort on Monday, June 19 and will remain there for nine days, thereby
missing the German and Austrian national championships.
"I don't want to leave anything to chance," said Totschnig, who won
a mountain stage in last year's Tour. "I want to prepare for the Tour
as perfectly as possible." After the camp, the Gerolsteiner riders will
travel directly to the start of the Grand Tour in Strasbourg.
Gerolsteiner's René Haselbacher is disappointed not to have been nominated
to ride the Tour de France for the second year in a row. "It went just
like last year, but with the little difference that this year I presented
myself well," he wrote on his personal website.
"Besides winning the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt, where I also won a stage,
I had two placings at the Bayern Rundfahrt and the Vuelta a Catalunya,
as well as a third place in the Pfalz. All together I've had thirteen
Top Ten finishes from the Tour of Qatar to the Tour de Suisse. That's
not really a bad balance."
But 'Hasi' knows that the General Classification is too great a goal
for his team this year. "I have shown that I can do it, but the team tactic
is totally concentrated on Leipheimer and Totschnig," he continued.
What's next for the Austrian sprinter? First of all, a short rest period
before starting the second half of the season. "It's clear to me that
I will fully concentrate on the World Championships in Salzburg in the
middle of September," Haselbacher added. "And it looks like I will ride
the Vuelta as preparation, that worked out well last year."
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)