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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for April 5, 2005

Edited by John Stevenson

Gent-Wevelgem: Can Boonen do it again?

By Jeff Jones in Gent

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step-Davitamon) winning in 2004
Photo ©: AFP

After his impressively powerful ride to win Sunday's Ronde van Vlaanderen, Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) will line up at the start in Deinze for Wednesday's 67th Gent-Wevelgem as one of the top favourites. Boonen won this race comfortably last year, despite not being particularly good in the Ronde. 12 months on, he seems to be significantly stronger and if he has recovered from his efforts on Sunday, he and Quick.Step will be unbeatable.

Once again, the weather should play a significant role in this 208 km classic. Knowledgeable Belgian Het Nieuwsblad reporter Paul de Keyser told us on Sunday that it's almost a certain bet that the weather for the Ronde van Vlaanderen will be perfect, whereas De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem can often be wet and miserable. It looks to be the case again this year, as after the Ronde was blessed (or cursed, if you're a Belgian journalist) by 20 degree sunny temperatures and almost no wind, the weather changed for the worse on Monday, and is expected to continue in that vein throughout the week. The day of Gent-Wevelgem should be windy - particularly along the coast - and wet in the latter part of the day.

Click here for Cyclingnews' full Gent-Wevelgem preview.

Klier wants Wevelgem

After taking second spot on the podium at the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, T-Mobile's Andreas Klier is looking to repeat his 2003 victory in Gent Wevelgem tomorrow. "For me to triumph once more at Gent-Wevelgem would be the icing on the cake. I feel very well," said Klier.

Klier will head T-Mobile's team of Classics specialists, though Steffen Wesemann will be absent after dropping out of Flanders with a stomach problem. The team hopes he will be sufficiently recovered to ride the next big challenge, Sunday's Paris-Roubaix. Wesemann is replaced by Bram Schmitz who has recovered fro the injuries he sustained in a crash at the Dreidaagse van De Panne, while Stephan Schreck will also skip Gent-Wevelgem to line up alongside Jan Ullrich at the Circuit de la Sarthe in France.

The team is completed by Rolf Aldag, Eric Baumann, Marcus Burghardt, Sergey Ivanov and Erik Zabel. T-Mobile team manager Walter Godefroot won Gent-Wevelgem in 1968 and will be the team's directeur sportif on Wednesday with Valerio Piva. He believes the wind will be a decisive factor. "At Oostende, there's often a headwind, which can be energy-sapping. After that the cross-winds are likely to tear the peloton apart," said Godefroot. Then there are the infamous cobbled climbs, including the 10 percent grade of the Kemmelberg, where the race came down to a final 12 in 2003.

Lampre-Caffita for Gent-Wevelgem

Lampre-Caffita will field much the same team for Gent-Wevelgem as lined up for Sunday's Tour of Flanders, with Alessandro Ballan aiming to improve on his finish there. "Sixth place in Flanders makes me very happy with my performance, and I really enjoyed the race," said Ballan. "I feel it is a race suited to my characteristics and feel I will do even better in the future."

The Lampre-Caffita team will spend today reconnoitring the parcours for Sunday's Paris-Roubaix and Ballan feels he has the form to shine in these next two Spring Classics. "I will be [peaking] in the Gent-Wevelgem and the Roubaix," he said. "I have good condition and for this reason I would like to do well in the following races."

For Gent-Wevelgem, Lampre-Caffita will field Alessandro Ballan, Daniele Bennati, Giosuè Bonomi, GianLuca Bortolami, Salvatore Commesso, Enrico Franzoi, Samuele Marzoli, and Daniele Righi.

Rabobank for Gent-Wevelgem

Rabobank will field Mathew Hayman, Pedro Horrillo Muñoz , Steven de Jongh, Karsten Kroon, Joost Posthuma, Niels Scheuneman, Roy Sentjens, and Rory Sutherland with reserves Maarten den Bakker, and Oscar Freire.

Di Luca dedicates win

Liquigas-Bianchi rider Danilo Di Luca has shown he is on the comeback trail by winning yesterday's first stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. Propelled by a lead-out from team-mate Franco Pellizotti, Di Luca beat Martin Perdiguero (Phonak) and Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne) in the sprint finale.

After a couple of less-than-stellar seasons, Di Luca has promised this will be "the year of the revenge". "I promised I would be in top form for the Vuelta al Paìs Vasco: at the moment I've kept my word," he said.

Blowing a kiss to the sky as he crossed the line, Di Luca dedicated his win to his grand-mother, who died two months ago. "But a kindly thought goes also to my manager, Johnny Carera, who was been taken ill yesterday," he said.

Now Di Luca has to defend the jersey and there will be plenty of attempts to take it off him, especially from highly-motivated Basque riders keen to win their national tour. "I will try to keep it as much as possible without worrying," said Di Luca. "The final time trial treats me unfairly: I will look for a gap in the other two climb stages, starting from tomorrow's one (Zarautz - La Lejana), then I will try to defend it in the time trial."

Sastre breaks arm

Team CSC's Carlos Sastre broke his right elbow when he crashed in Monday's first stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. The Spanish climber is now out for two weeks.

"The doctors say it's not a complicated fracture, so he only needs to wear his arm in a cast for 10 days," said Team CSC's PR manager Brian Nygaard.

Along with Ivan Basso, Sastre was involved in a crash just before the final climb in today's stage. Basso got away with cuts and bruises.

Women's teams for Wachovia

Organisers of the Wachovia Liberty Classic, Sunday June 5, have announced the North American teams that will take part in what's considered to be one of the hardest US women's races. The 57.6-mile event takes in four laps of the 14.4-mile course used by the men's Wachovia USPRO Championships including the climb of the notorious Manayunk Wall.

The North American teams signed up for this year's race are: Bicycle John's, BMW-Bianchi, Canadian Elite National Team, Colavita/Cooking Light, East Coast Velo, Lipton Tea, Los Gatos Bicycle Racing Club, Morgan Stanley-24 Hr Fitness, Team Basis, Team Biovail, Team Fuji, Team Hub Racing, Team Kenda Tire, Team Quark, Team Terry Precision Racing, T-Mobile, Touchstone Climbing and Fitness, Travelgirl Cycling Team, Tri State Velo, Verizon Wireless Wheelworks, Victory Brewing, Webcor Builders, Wenzel Coaching, and Wines of Washington. Teams from outside the US will be announced at a later date.

Power to Germany for treatment

By Shane Stokes

This Wednesday's Gent-Wevelgem will be one of Navigators Insurance rider Ciarán Power's last races before he heads to Munich for an appointment with the famed physio Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt. The Waterford cyclist stepped up to a new level when he placed a fine thirteenth in the Olympic road race in Athens last August, but since then he has been troubled by a lingering thigh strain. He will spend five days in Germany in the hope that Muller-Wohlfahrt can rectify the muscle problem, which causes a loss of power at important moments in races.

"I'm hoping he can sort it out, as this is dragging on for a long time," he said. "When the thigh flares up it means I am pretty much pedalling with one leg. So it has really been holding me back."

Power, who is in his fourth year as part of the Navigators Insurance squad, has been able to continue racing since the strain first appeared last September, but the experience has been a frustrating one for him.

"It is all messed up in my hip. My hip joint or sacroiliac joint was out. I would say it is the result of numerous crashes... I can't pinpoint a specific time, but the Tour of Britain last year is when the problem started. Then, over the winter, I thought it was gone, but as soon as I started racing I realised that it wasn't.

"I worked with an Irish specialist a while back. He straightened it out a little bit; now I am hoping the doctor in Germany can finally get rid of the problem."

Providing it is rectified, Power is confident he can get back up to speed. "My fitness is really good, there are no issues whatsoever with that. It is just down to my leg working properly. As soon as it gets sorted there should be no problem, I should be going well straight away."

Following his treatment, he will have a two week block of training back in Ireland, before meeting up with the rest of the Navigators team for the Four Days of Dunkirk and then the Wachovia races in the US. The specific training he did prior to his strong ride in the Olympics has prompted a new approach, which he hopes will pay off in the future.

"I'm working on doing things a little differently this year as regards my schedule," he says. "My plan is to have more time between races this year. That will help me to prepare for specific events like the world championships, through normal training and specific speed work. I used to do it all the time as an amateur and it worked pretty well for me. I just didn't have the time since as we have been doing so many races.

"I think our last race with the team this season will be either the Tour of Britain or the GP San Francisco, so that means I can build up for those, then have another three weeks to go even further."

US Pro teams to Jacksonville

With a lull in US National racing Calendar activity this weekend, the third Annual Annual Jacksonville Cycling Classic looks to be one of the events benefiting from the lack of a big draw for US domestic pro teams. According to organizers, a good spread of North American squads will be represented including Jittery Joe's, Advantage Benefits/Endeavour, Team Jet Fuel, Team Subway, Team SeaSilver, Team Century Tel, Navigators, Snow Valley in addition to the Florida regulars of Cyclescience and JC Investors. The schedule includes qualifying races for USCF finals in the morning; a twilight criterium at the downtown Landing on the river and a road race in the country on Sunday. See the race listings for details.

Record roster for XXX Racing-AthletiCo

XXX Racing-AthletiCo, based in Chicago, Illinois, USA, has announced its lineup for the 2005 season. Founded in 1999 by a group of Chicago bike messengers, the club has grown exponentially in each year of its existence. For 2005, XXX Racing-AthletiCo has its largest-ever roster with 105 athletes, solidifying the team's status as one of the most active developmental cycling programs in the country.

Full roster & team profile

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