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First Edition Cycling News, May 28, 2008

Edited by Greg Johnson and Paul Verkuylen

Klöden dedicated to Contador's Giro campaign

By Susan Westemeyer

Andreas Klöden (Astana)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Andreas Klöden has pledged his support to Astana team-mate Alberto Contador as the Giro d'Italia enters its final week today. Klöden was touted as the Luxembourg team's general classification contendor ahead of this year's Italian Grand Tour, however his Spanish team-mate leads the event heading into today's 17th stage while the German is 8.44 minutes behind.

Klöden spoke highly of his team-mate, labeling him as one of the sport's greats on and off the bike. Contador, who won the 2007 Tour de France, entered the Grio's second week with doubts over his ability to continue with a fractured elbow before exploding into the race lead.

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"I will now devote myself to Alberto and the team," Klöden said. "I am sure that he is strong enough to win the Giro. For me, he is one of the greatest talents, if not the greatest, and he surely has many years ahead of him. But, above all, he is a modest and sympathetic team-mate."

Everything is pink for Alberto Contador (Astana)
Photo ©: AFP
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Klöden has blamed allergies and a cold for his poorer than expected performance in the Giro. The German was to lead Astana's last-minute lineup, however his efforts have been overshadowed by that of Contador.

"Unfortunately because of the bad weather I came down with an infection and also have to fight my allergies, which means that I can't breathe properly," said Klöden. "The worst of it is that it happened just before the mountain stages."

Writing on his website, Andreas-Kloeden.com, the Astana rider said a lack of food intake hampered his efforts in the Italian Grand Tour's first individual time trial last week. "Then I didn't have any reserves," he said. "So the last part of it was pretty hard. But I was satisfied with my third place finish."

Klöden said his lost 50 seconds on the first mountain stage came down to a tactical mistake. "To be perfectly honest, I hadn't expected an attack from Danilo Di Luca and company so early," he said.

The 32 year-old joined the chorus of riders criticising the race organisers. The early stages of this year's event were overshadowed by long transfers, resulting in unhappy riders.

Giro d'Italia leader Alberto Contador (Astana)
Photo ©: AFP
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"Most fans are not aware that our day is not directly over after a stage," he said. "Almost every day we drive 100 km to the start and evenings 150-200 km to the hotel! In the first week we were never there before 8 P.M. Sometime it was 11 P.M. and on the first rest day it was midnight!

"Then, of course, we had a blood control by the UCI at 8 A.M. the next morning," he added. "That all makes it really very difficult to recover or even to get enough sleep."

Astana had just one week to prepare a squad for the Italian race and arrive at the event's start in Palermo. The squad had been left out of the event as Giro organiser RCS Sport stood with Tour de France organiser ASO in boycotting the team following a tumultuous 2007.

RCS Sport changed its stance against the team following a string of early season successes that has seen the squad take the ProTour teams ranking lead. Astana took the place of NGC Medical-OTC Industria Porte, which had originally been named to compete in the event.

Bruseghin seeking best Giro finish

By Gregor Brown in Sondrio, Italy

Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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Italian Marzio Bruseghin will continue to chase his best Giro d'Italia finish when the Italian Grand Tour resumes today. The Lampre rider is currently fourth overall after the opening two weeks but the Italian still faces five more stages, including two demanding mountain stages.

"I am calm; I am satisfied with my Giro up until now," he said.

Bruseghin smashed the competition in the first individual time trial to Urbino, finishing eight seconds over second place Spain's Alberto Contador (Astana). On Monday's Plan de Corones ITT he closed in on noted climbers like Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes), Domenico Pozzovivo (CSF Group Navigare) and Denis Menchov (Rabobank), finishing a reputable seventh on the 12.9- kilometre stint in Italy's Dolomites.

"For my characteristics it would have been hard [to win], even though I had hoped to do something a little more," Bruseghin said top of the 2273-metre high climb, surrounded by supporters wearing donkey caps.

"The last kilometre was very hard," he added. "I tried to manage myself well to have some force in the finale. I had the rhythm but I was not able win."

Bruseghin is on track for his best Giro finish to date, with the Italian's previous best eighth position last year while working for Damiano Cunego.

For more on the 2006 Italian Time Trial Champion read Bruseghin secures second Giro d'Italia stage.

Barloworld will fight to Milano

British team wants Giro stage victory

By Gregor Brown in Sondrio, Italy

Geraint Thomas of Barloworld
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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Barloworld's Steve Cummings and Geraint Thomas are aiming to help the squad take a stage victory when the Giro d'Italia continues today. The British duo is hoping to escape on either today's stage to Locarno or tomorrow's test to Varese.

"We will try with Stage 17 and 18," said Cummings. "We will look for a breakaway, but [Mark] Cavendish is there and High Road will bring the stage down for a sprint. Stage 18 is good, but everyone will be egunning for it."

Cummings said he was frustrated by seeing riders holding onto vehicles during the recent mountain stages. The Briton noted those riders will be the same ones that have to fend off if the squad is to claim a stage win in the event's final week.

"We were frustrated the other day, looking back down the hill and seeing some guys holding guys on the cars," he said. "They are the guys who will be fighting in the coming stages against us. Even guys you are riding with are getting pushed up while you are there working on your own."

Thomas noted that the squad's general classification hopes took an unfortunate turn for the worse with Mauricio Soler's withdrawal. Despite the team's overall hopes fading, Thomas has vowed to help fight on for stage wins.

"We have been unlucky in this race, with all the crashes and people abandoning," he said. "We will get out there and race hard. I am looking forward to the last stage."

Thomas finished six minutes behind Monday's stage winner Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) on the difficult mountain time trial. It wasn't all bad news for the Briton though, with the 22 year-old getting his first cable car ride on the Plane de Corones mountain.

"I have never been in one of them before," he said. "I am knocked out; that was hard. You couldn't ride easy. I paced the day quite well, and I knew the end would be tough five kilometres. In the end it was just survival, about getting up the mountain."

Hoy aims for triple Olympic gold

Big Scot plans career to ‘zimmer' appearance

Chris Hoy
Photo ©: AFP
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Track cyclist Chris Hoy is one of Britain's best chances for a gold medal at the Olympic Games this summer, but the likeable Scot is already looking beyond Beijing to a career finale at the 2012 Games in London.

"Possibly I'll take my zimmer to Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games in 2014 but an Olympic win in your own country would be an amazing way to finish," Hoy told the Daily Mail.

His aim, then, is three Olympic gold medals in succession, a rare feat. "Fingers crossed," said Hoy. "Got to win one in Beijing first."

Hoy's first Olympic gold medal was in the kilometer time trial at the 2004 Athens Games, but that event is no longer part of the program. Hoy was initially devastated that the event he dominated was out, but has since switched his attention to the keirin.

"Oddly, in the last few months, I've admitted it was one of the best things that could have happened for me. Just when I was looking for a new challenge, wondering how I was going to get up for it for four more years, they'd given me one."

To say he's risen to that challenge is an understatement. Hoy successfully defended his keirin world title in Manchester in March and has won every UCI World Cup keirin that he's entered.

The support of Britain's extensive track programme has been a major factor in his success, Hoy said. "It's all about confidence, going into a race knowing we have the best programme, have done the most work, have the best equipment. The philosophy we have been given is that all we have to do is ride our bikes and just turn the pedals as fast as we can. The rest is taken care of."

The riders have to put in too, and Hoy is certain nobody will have done more training by the time he lines up in China. "Putting yourself through four hours of pain every day for one minute of effort every fourth year," is the price of success on the track.

The change of discipline has led to a change of training regime. "The kilo is a killer, a really nasty event where you're trying to create lactic acid tolerance and that's a horrible part of training," said Hoy. "The keirin is speed and power, lots of training in the gym. It is all relative. If you don't work hard, you won't get results is the bottom line.

"I just like to get to the start line knowing there was nothing else I could have done, that there wasn't a single session I didn't give 100 per cent. The physical certainty means you can relax mentally and let the performance come."

Tour de Beauce announces teams, courses

By Mark Zalewski

Svein Tuft (Symmetrics)
Photo ©: Jerome Lessard
(Click for larger image)

Twenty-two teams will make-up the peloton in the Tour de Beauce, Canada's major UCI stage race for men from June 10 - 15 in eastern Quebéc. The composition of the field is a good balance from within North America - between Canada, Mexico and the United States of America - as well as good representation from overseas. As with past editions the ascent up the tough Mont Megantic after 153km, followed the next day by a individual time trial, will likely be the deciding moments of the race.

Both Symmetrics and Team R.A.C.E. make-up the Canadian UCI teams, with both understandably interested in winning their 'home' race. 2007 runner-up Svein Tuft will lead a Symmetrics team that has had strong showings in many of the major North American races of the year, including the Tour de Georgia and a recent final stage victory at Mt. Hood with sprinter Andrew Pinfold. Mark Walters will lead Team R.A.C.E.

A number of Canadian elite amateur teams will get a chance to show their stuff on a bigger stage, along with a sprinkling of guest riders, such as Charles Dionne riding for the Quebéc Team. Adding even more motivation for the Canucks to perform well is the fact that Beauce will be the final race before the Canadian Cycling Association chooses its Olympic team.

The USA will be represented by the UCI Continental Pro team Slipstream-Chipotle-H30 and Team Type 1, made up of many former Navigators riders which dominated this race the past two years. Jittery Joe's is the other American UCI team with strong ties to the region through their equipment sponsor Louis Garneau. The Mexican Tecos-Trek team will be back with many strong climbers to contend the rolling parcours in defense of the climber's jersey. This will be a tall order with the inclusion of the Colombian National Team.

The German Sparkasse team, which held the yellow jersey in the last two editions, leads a overseas contingent. Amore & Vita-McDonalds from Poland, the Irish Pezula Racing team and Rapha Condor Recycling.co.uk from England make up some of the other European teams.

The major change to the parcours is a switching of the final two days' circuit races - swapping Saint-Georges and Quebéc City in order to the finish the race in conjunction with Quebéc City's 400th anniversary celebrations. The very demanding course could make holding onto the yellow jersey a little more difficult than in past year.

Cyclingnews will once again have full reports and photos of every stage.

Lithuania's Urbonaite passes away

Former professional women's cyclist Zita Urbonaite was killed earlier this week after being hit by a train in Montebelluna, Treviso, Italy. While Police investigations are ongoing, several Italian publications have reported the Lithuanian committed suicide.

Urbonaite retired from professional sport in 2006 to marry and start a family. Three months ago Urbonaite had her first child, a daughter named Greta with her partner of seven years Luca Valbusa. Reports say that Urbonaite had been experiencing postpartum depression, but was believed to be doing well in recent weeks.

Tributes have begun to flow in for the Lithuanian, with former team manager Maurizio Fabretto describing her as "a girl of gold".

"I saw her, even if only fleetingly, at least once a week," Fabretto told Ciclonews.it. "The last time was just three-four days ago. But there was no word or thought that might make me think of such an extreme gesture."

The 35 year-old was one of the pioneers of her homeland's female cycling scene, along with the likes of Jolanta Polikeviciute, Rasa Polikeviciute and Edita Pucinskaite. Urbonaite claimed the national road cycling title in 1999 and 2002 and held the women's Giro d'Italia pink leaders jersey for three days during her career.

"Who knows what has really upset [her], I did not notice anything," added Fabretto. "I am really struggling to find a valid reason to explain why she decided to end that horrible way. She was happily married and recently became a mother. She worked with her husband Luc and could also be near his sister."

Leukemans off the list, but not the hook

Bjorn Leukemans has been removed from the Flemish State Council's doping list. The removal of his name from the list is a positive step forward for the Belgian ex-Predictor-Lotto rider, but does not mean that he is in the clear just yet.

"I heard via the media that my name has been removed from the Flemish State Council list," Leukemans told Belgian sports website, Sports Wereld. "I have since received confirmation that this is indeed true."

The disciplinary board now has to take further measures to decide whether he will be punished for his doping violation last year. In the mean time, his removal from the list does allow him to continue racing.

Leukemans tested positive for Prasteron (synthetic Testosterone) on September 26 last year. He admitted to taking the substance, but explained that it was under advice from the then Predictor-Lotto team doctor Sam Vermeire and that he was unaware that it was a banned substance. This initially led to Leukemans being suspended for a period of two years.

An appealed lead to the State Council overturning the suspension, ruling, "there is no ban, because the punishment is in no relation to the faults committed by the accused person".

Rabobank still not free of Veneberg

The court in Arnhem, The Netherland has reversed an earlier decision made in Utrecht to dissolve the employment contract between the Dutch squad Rabobank and Thorwald Veneberg. According to the Arnhem court, only a Belgian court can make this decision as the former rider lives in Belgium and therefore falls under Belgian law.

The Dutch squad will now have to open a new case in the Belgian judicial system if it is to dissolve the contract.

"We can still appeal to the High Court in the Netherlands," said Harold Knebel, the director of the Rabobank cycling team. "But we first have to prepare ourselves. It could turn out to be a long procedure."

In the meantime the team has no option but to continue paying the now inactive rider. Knebel was unable to say whether the company would attempt to come to agreement with Veneberg over a possible payout. "That is now the question, I am not sure when a decision will be made," he said. "First we will consider all our options."

Rabobank decided not to renew Veneberg's contract to the team at the end of last year, citing his lack of performance as the reason. The Centre for Work and Income (CWI) recently announced that the dismissal of Veneberg with Rabobank was insufficiently justified. According to the CWI the Rabobank cycling team did not make it clear to Veneberg that he was not performing satisfactorily.

More riders react to Corones climb

By Gregor Brown in Sondrio, Italy

Little Domenico Pozzovivo (CSF Group Navigare)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

CSF Group's Domenico Pozzovivo has added his opinion on Monday's Giro d'Italia time trial to the growing list. The stage has attracted a mix reaction, with some feeling worse for wear after the 12.9 kilometre, part gravel stage.

"It was a very hard course," said Pozzovivo. "The last kilometre floored me, it was really incredible."

The 25 year-old from Italy's south is currently 10th on general classification, seven places better than his Giro d'Italia debut last year. "My legs were really not going at the start to be honest, however, on the gravel I found a good rhythm," added Pozzovivo. "To hit a climb from zero is a lot harder for me than a tappone with lots of climbs."

The Plan de Corones mountain time trial topped off Pozzovivo's good run through Italy's Dolomites - including a 12th on the stage to Alpe di Pampeago Saturday and second on the stage to Passo Fedaia Sunday. His performance backed up Team CSF Group's good run so far in this Giro d'Italia, including a win by Matteo Priamo and two wins by Emanuele Sella, and strong performances from Fortunato Baliani and Julio Pérez.

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