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Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for September 13, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones, Hedwig Kröner & John Stevenson

Vuelta returns to the script - almost

Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval)
Photo ©:
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The Vuelta a España is traditionally dominated by Spanish rider s and teams and that status quo was almost restored in yesterday's stage 9 as stage 8 time trial winner Tyler Hamilton (Phonak) dropped from contention and Liberty Seguros brought Roberto Heras and Isidro Nozal to the fore on the final climb of the Alto de Aitana.

But the stage went to an Italian riding for a Spanish team as Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Prodir) attacked 400m from the finish to solo across the line seconds ahead of Heras and Nozal. With team leader Joseba Beloki clearly not in grand tour-winning condition after a tumultuous season of recovery from injury and team transfer, Saunier Ducal has switched plan to chase stage wins and the tactic delivered Piepoli the first grand tour stage win of his 30-victory pro career.

La Vuelta is not quite going all Spain's way yet, though, as the gold leader jersey is still on the Pennsylvanian shoulders of Floyd Landis (US Postal). Landis lost time to Heras yesterday, but still has a 38 second margin on Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears-Banesto), 51 on Nozal, 57 on Alejandro Valverde (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme) and 1'35 on Heras. Landis will have to dig deep to fend off race favourite Heras and the other climbing specialists over the next two weeks.

Vuelta Stage 9 - Full results, report & photos, Live report
Stages & descriptions
Start list

More stomach problems at Vuelta

Patrik Sinkewitz (Quick.Step) did not start yesterday's stage 9 of the Vuelta a España because of gastroenteritis with diarrhea, his team said in a statement. Sinkewitz had been suffering for two days and getting medical checks at Valencia hospital. During the stage, four Ag2r riders were also forced to give up, but there has been no official cause published yet.

Evans' Vuelta thoughts

Cyclingnews' Martin Hardie in Xátiva, at the start of ninth stage, collected a few words from Cadel Evans who wasn't very convinced of his time trialing on Saturday. "I sucked yesterday - or I thought I sucked," said Evans. "There's a couple of people that had very very good rides, surprising rides really, like Beltran and Mancebo. Heras wasn't too bad either, better than I thought he might go.

"I was a bit disappointed... I didn't feel great but that's just the way it goes. Today we will see what happens, yesterday was the first test and now, we will see day by day who the real contenders are. The Vuelta's hard because it's at the end of the season, so you've had a big start to the year, a big July and then you get here and it can all disappear in a day..." Cadel Evans finished the TT 19th at 1'49 behind Hamilton and subsequently dropped in GC to ninth with 1'47 behind the leader of the race, Floyd Landis.

Top Aussies to Nürnberger

By Kristy Scrymgeour

After successfully defending the World Cup jersey yesterday, placing third in the final race in Nürnberg, Germany, Oenone Wood announced that she has signed a contract with Equipe Nürnberger for 2005 along with her Australian teammate Olivia Gollan.

Wood and Gollan have been riding together on the Australian team for the last couple of years and have really clicked on the race course. It is only natural for them to turn pro as part of the same team.

Gollan told Cyclingnews that she is excited about this move and it is an opportunity that has really topped off a great year for her. "I'm so thrilled," she said. "I'm happy that I get to be involved in a team with Petra Rossner because I was disappointed that I never got to race with her and with people like Anna Millward.

"I'm also really pleased that I get to stay with Oenone because I feel like we have a sixth sense between us. We just seem to click together when we race and you don't find that a lot. She is also an awesome talent and so dedicated to a team. It's a special quality."

In only a few years of riding Gollan has come to the top of women's cycling and continues to improve. "I feel privileged," she said. "I've had a bit of a dream run. I've obviously worked hard to get here, but to have gone to the Olympics this year after only joining the national team recently has been amazing.

"Coming from being a drunken university student to now. My life is so different. I just love this sport and I love how it makes me feel. This year [the team] winning the world cup is an amazing feeling and having time on the podium makes you love it, but physically too, I've never been happier.

As for her goal, Gollan has always wanted to be involved on a pro team like Nürnberger and says that ultimately she'd love to win a grand tour some day. "I think I've got the talent to do it with a couple more years in a supportive team, but if it means sitting on the front and helping someone else do it, that's fine too."

Gollan and Wood will live in Frankfurt next year and will still be trained by Australian national team coach Warren McDonald. "It's a big step, because we have the luxury of having all the best physio treatment and coaching just up the road in Italy," said Golland, "but I have spoken a lot to Wazza about it and we will make it work."

Wood is also excited to be joining Equipe Nürnberger. "I'm looking forward to it," she told Cyclingnews, "It's going to be an awesome opportunity. Having Petra to learn from will be great as she has tactics down pat. The girls on the team are all really strong too so we will learn a lot."

As for her goals for the future, Wood hasn't really thought too much past this year. "I'd like to go for the World Cup again next year and I'd like to ride some big tours, but of course I'll be riding for other people in those," she said. "Really I just want to get bigger and better and perhaps be a world champion!"

Cyclingnews also caught up with Petra Rossner who is excited about having the two Aussies on the team. "It will be a strong team and they are a perfect addition to it," she said. "So far we have five riders. Olivia and Oenone as well as Trixi Worrack, Tina Liebig and Regina Schleicher and we will all sit down together and talk about who else will be on the team. I believe the riders should have some say in who is in the team so we picked a base of five and we will go from there. So far we have two foreigners and because we are registered as a German team we can only have two more foreigners so we are still looking."

Hermida claims naturally high haematocrit

By Rob Jones in Les Gets, France

Mountain biker Jose Antonio Hermida held a press conference Saturday evening, after being declared unfit to race in Sunday's men's cross-country world championship race due to a high hematocrit level, and passionately declared himself a victim of a rigid and unrealistic testing process. Breaking down in tears more than once, the Olympic silver medalist said that he has a naturally high haematocrit level, but that the UCI will not "give me a paper" because his level fluctuates, "sometimes above 50 percent, sometimes below." Saturday, he was unluckily above, at 52 percent, after testing right on the permissible limit of 50 percent the day before.

"Tomorrow I cannot do the race." Hermida said. "I have been trying for several years to be in shape to win the World's, but it will not be this year. I heard the really bad news this morning - I did not pass the haematocrit; it was not much, but it was enough to keep me out. Now, I'm a little bit lost.

"But I want to explain my small story. In 1997 and 1998 I sent letters to the UCI for special permission. All of my family have high haematocrit. But the UCI did not accept it because my level is not always over 50, and during the season my haematocrit always goes down. They fight doping, but sometimes they fight the riders

"This year, the last two weeks have been a special time. I didn't train as much because of a knee injury [sustained when he crashed in the Olympics], and because of all the telephone calls, the press, so my haematocrit went up.

"They say it is for my health, but I feel good, I feel strong, so I don't know why I have to stop. During, before, after the Olympics I passed so many controls ... But, in one week, everyone will know the truth from my urine test. In one week they [the UCI] will call and say 'Jose, you are clean', but the bad thing, it is done. The work of a season is gone in a few hours.

"I am tranquilo, relaxed, because I did not take anything; in my head I know I am clean. On Monday I go to Lausanne to meet with the UCI doctors for testing, and maybe I get the paper, but it is too late for this (Worlds)."

Hermida and the Spanish team attempted to get a third control done Sunday morning, to show that his haematocrit had gone back down, but the UCI said it was not permissible. He is hoping that if the UCI accepts his paperwork, showing familial high haematocrit, then he can get permission to race in the World Cup Final next weekend in Livigno, Italy but, for now, he is out of action for 15 days.

Boogerd injured

Rabobanks's Michael Boogerd did not take part in yesterday's GP de Fourmies because of a crash in the previous day's rain-sodden Paris-Brussels. Boogerd suffered injuries on the left elbow, knee and thigh; and the knee wound needed stitching. In a press release, his team said that he will have to pause for three days in order to give his injured thigh muscle a rest. Boogerd hopes that "I'll be OK in three days, but I don't know to which extent this injury will interfere with my plans for the World Championships." At Rabobank, the wet roads of Paris-Brussels left only a few unharmed: Karsten Kroon, Mathew Hayman, Steven de Jongh and Erik Dekker also went down and suffered various injuries. Dekker was also unable to ride at Fourmies.

Polish rider killed in gran fondo

A Polish rider has died and 12 others sustained injuries after recent heavy rains left the roads slippery and dangerous for this weekend's Gran Fondo delle 5 Terre in Italy, according to Datasport.

The deceased, whose identity has not yet been released, was found in a ravine next to the event route. The other injured riders mostly sustained leg injuries in falls.

2005 Bike Across Florida

The 2005 edition of one of the USA's longest road races is scheduled for April 17 next year. At 267.5km, the Race Across Florida (RAF), is claimed by organizers to be America's longest USCF-sanctioned Pro-Am road race and next year will run from Cocoa Beach to Crystal River. The 2004 edition, won by John Schlitter from Kansas, attracted participants from Germany, Canada, Brazil, Italy, Colombia and 10 US states.

The race will be followed by the endurance tour Bike Across Florida (BAF) which start about 10 minutes later. Approximately 800 bicyclists will follow the race route, escorted by 25 support staff on motorcycles and vans. Another hundred or so bicyclists will ride 86 miles (Halfway Across Florida) from Cocoa Beach to Apopka and join the BAF cyclists. The event is a fund-raiser for the Survivors of the National Police Memorial and the Special Olympics. Members of both organizations will participate in supporting roles. Bike squads from various law enforcement agencies are expected to participate. Medals, trophies and award jerseys will be rewarded to the finishers.

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