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First Edition Cycling News for June 23, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Lampre and Davitamon ready for Tour de France

Lampre team manager Giuseppe Saronni, in accordance with team's sport directors, has named his squad to take part in the 93rd Tour de France: Damiano Cunego, Alessandro Ballan, Daniele Bennati, Marzio Bruseghin, Salvatore Commesso (waiting for medical visit after an accident during training), Daniele Righi, Paolo Tiralongo, Tadej Valjavec and Patxi Vila Errandonea. The reserves are Claudio Corioni and Matteo Carrara.

"We will go to France with a good team," commented Saronni. "Cunego will face this particular race for the first time; Bennati could use his speed and quality to fight in the sprints and to compete for the green jersey. We have Valjavec for the overall standing and all the other athletes for stage victories."

Cunego, who could not quite live up to the expectations laid upon him at this year's Giro, eyes the last part of the Tour de France to try and make up for it. "I'm curious about discovering the Tour," Cunego said. "I will race in France without aiming for the overall classification, but I will try to learn and have full energy during the last week in order to be a protagonist in some stages."

Belgian outfit Davitamon-Lotto has also lifted the secret on its Tour de France line-up. The team leaders, Australians Cadel Evans and Robbie McEwen, will be joined by Mario Aerts, Christophe Brandt, Chris Horner, Fred Rodriguez, Gert Steegmans, Wim Vansevenant and Johan Vansummeren.

With these riders, the team wants to continue its success of last year. The first goal is an early stage victory with sprinter McEwen, who is one of the favourites for the green jersey. "This first and fast stage victory is of course very important for the overall confidence inside the team," Davitamon-Lotto announced. "Fred Rodriguez will again be the last man to lead out Robbie, supported by Gert Steegmans."

The second Australian in the team, Cadel Evans, will be the man to watch in the mountains. "With Cadel Evans we have a leader for the overall classification, who is more and more self-confident. After his eighth placing in his first Tour, he has all the reason to believe in a top five spot. Chris Horner will be at his side in the mountain stages."

Schleck hurt, but OK for Tour

Luxembourg champion Fränk Schleck crashed badly during a training ride in his home town of Mondorf and broke his nose on Tuesday, June 20. The CSC rider, who also lost two teeth in the accident, had to receive nine stitches to his face. The 29 year-old will probably not be able to defend his title in the National Championships this coming Sunday, but is hopeful that he will be OK to ride the Tour de France nine days from now.

"I'm not nervous," said Schleck. "I talked to Bjarne Riis and he assured me that I will keep my slot in the Tour de France roster. I hope I can be back on the bike soon; maybe as soon as Sunday."

Nuyens leaves Quick.Step for Cofidis

Nick Nuyens will leave the Quick.Step-Innergetic Cycling Team at the end of this season. The Belgian athlete has signed an agreement with French Cofidis, for whom he will be riding for the following two years, on Thursday, June 22.

"We are sorry to lose Nick," said team manager Patrick Lefévère commented. "I have known him for years and seen him develop into the athlete he is today. Objectively, it wasn’t possible for Nick to refuse such an important offer. I wish him all the very best."

Nuyens, who revealed the whole extent of his talent recently by winning a stage in the Tour de Suisse, feels bittersweet about his move. "This has been a difficult decision to make," the 26 year-old said. "An important chapter in my career will conclude at the end of this year. I’ll be leaving a team full of friends, not only amongst the athletes but also the non-riding staff, a group of fantastic professionals. I owe an awful lot to this team, but sometimes in one’s career difficult decisions have to be made. I hope to have a long career, a career where our paths will cross once again."

Gadret back for Nationals

John Gadret, who had impressed spectators with a strong appearance in the mountains of the Giro d'Italia, will be back in competition after breaking his collarbone in the 18th stage of the Giro. The AG2R rider has had to take a break from the bike to heal his injury, and has only started training again since ten days. The cyclo-cross rider will join his teammates in the National Championship road race on Sunday, June 25, but unfortunately it is not very suited to his climbing abilities.

50th National title for Longo

To all those who had stopped expecting to see her win, 47 year-old Jeannie Longo showed that she is still the best French time triallist as she took her 50th National title in Chantonnay on Thursday. In the women's race against the clock, 'La' Longo surprised everyone including herself by taking seven seconds off Edwige Pitel in the 24.7 km-course, while Maryline Salvetat finished third.

In the morning before the race however, Longo wasn't too sure about herself. "I would like to win, but when I look at the start list, I tell myself 'oh là là' - I'm not even sure about finishing in the top five," the French all-record-beating championesse told L'Equipe. "I haven't raced against the others this year at all."

This winter, Longo lost her mother, who passed away in February. "That was very hard for me," she added. "I gave everything to her; I spent the whole winter by her side. After [her death], I got up in the morning not knowing what to do during the whole day."

Baby boy for Simoni

Gilberto Simoni's wife Arianna has given birth to the couple's second child, Enrico, on Thursday, June 22. Both mother and son are doing well, although the baby was born prematurely, weighing 4200 grams. Daddy Simoni only has a few days' time to spend with his son before he will lead his team to the Tour de France.

O'Loughlin set for triple in Ireland

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent/Evening Herald/Sunday Independent

Sunday is D-day in the majority of countries for the national road racing championships. In Westport Co. Mayo, Mayo Wheelers, under the direction of Joe McGuire, are promoting the Cycling Ireland Championship, which is scheduled to start at midday from the Wyatt Hotel in the Octagon in the town.

David O’Loughlin of the Navigators Insurance team based in New Jersey is going for an unprecedented three victories in a row. Also, he would like to put behind him the misery of getting so close to victory in the recent FBD Insurance Ras. O’Loughlin has been campaigning in the USA and Canada in recent weeks and sources close to him are well pleased with his performance level, which may just have the edge on his chief rivals.

In years previous both Mark Scanlon and David McCann also had the treble insight, but alas it was a case of 'so near yet so far away.’ McCann’s preparation in the lead up to the championships has been very measured after his Spring program in Asia, which would indicate that he will be the one to watch. On the other hand, Scanlon’s form has been indifferent, along with fellow teammate Philip Deignan who has had the misfortune to be have had less competition than expected.

If he shows the same form that carried to two stage wins in the ‘Ras’ and the King of the Hills title, then Ciaran Power has to be up there as one of the probable winners. For the last six years, Power has been the aficionados fancy, but in the final analysis has just come up short. Only last month, Ciaran won the ‘Ras’ stage into Westport, so he’ll be keyed up for another victory.

"David and Ciaran came directly to the States after the RAS to compete in a block of races that should have them well prepared for Championships," said Ed Beamon, the manager of Navigators. "Ciaran has recovered nicely from his surgery, and is getting stronger with every race. David really picked up some good form from the RAS, and is one of the stronger guys racing in America at the moment. David had a very big day in Philadelphia recently. I think both guys should be good candidates for the Irish Championships, and will complement each other well."

Race organiser, Joe McGuire along with the Mayo Wheelers has mapped out a particularly hard course over 8 miles, with a double whammy on each passage through the town. "They’ll suffer with the High Street and Sandy Hill climbs, both within shouting distance of each other," said McGuire. "It is a real test and I have no doubt the best man will win."

Rhyl tragedy driver charged

The driver of a car which struck a group of cyclists, killing four of them, on January 8 in the United Kingdom, has been charged with having three defective tyres. Four cyclists from Rhyl Cycling Club were killed when a car skidded on ice on the A457 near Abergele, North Wales. The cyclist were out on a Sunday training ride when the tragic accident happened.

A spokeswoman for North Wales Police declined to name the man charged with driving with defective tyres, and said a time and venue for the case had not yet been set.

Tour de France à la Poole

The Mayor of Poole, Dorset, UK, and 12 riders from the Borough of Poole’s Bicycle User Group are doing something very different to raise funds for charities. On Thursday, July 6, the Mayor of Poole, Councillor Mrs Judy Butt and her team will attempt to ride stage five of this year’s Tour de France, a 225 kilometre-stage from Beauvais, North of Paris, to Caen. The ride will coincide with the main event and the cyclists aim to arrive at their destination before the race competitors cross the finishing line [otherwise they might be forced off the parcours road by French police! - ed.].

The Bicycle User Group is made up of Council Officers who regularly commute to and from work by bicycle, so a hack across France is going to be a real challenge! The Group hope to raise several thousand British Pounds for the Mayor’ three main charities which are Poole branch of Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Poole Forum and Poole Help & Care.

"This is a great and novel way to raise funds for three very worthwhile charities and keep fit and healthy at the same time," said Councillor Mrs Judy Butt. "We hope people will be generous with their support." However, she is conscious that a two-mile ride to take the children to school is a bit different to a 140 mile run across France!

Cannondale are providing a state of the art £3,500 Synapse Carbon Fibre Bike which The Mayor will be riding and Brittany Ferries with Ride Cycleworks from Poole are providing the support and backup for the team.

To sponsor the group, visit www.boroughofpoole.com.

Looking for Tour accommodation?

Angélina and Fabrice from Romille, close to Rennes, France, are offering free accommodation for four persons during the dates the Tour de France will spend in Brittany. The young couple, 27 and 30 years old, had a brand new baby boy and would like to welcome fellow cycling fans for July 7-8. Their home is just 15 minutes away from Saint Grégoire, the start of stage 7, the first individual time trial in the Tour de France.

To contact them, please send an e-mail to: angelinanardin@tele2.fr

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