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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for April 18, 2005

Edited by Anthony Tan & Jeff Jones

40th Amstel Gold Race wrap-up

By Jeff Jones in Valkenburg

It's easy to smile
Photo ©: Sirotti
Click for larger image

For the fourth time in his career, Rabobank's Michael Boogerd was denied victory in the Amstel Gold Race, today losing out to Italian pocket sprinter-climber Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas). Di Luca proved to be a cut above the finely tuned Rabobank train, after Oscar Freire couldn't follow Boogerd's lead-out with 300m to go, giving Di Luca the rails run to the line at the top of the Cauberg.

"It was very strange because we had a bunch at the foot of the last climb," said Di Luca post-race. "I was in a very good position, almost in the lead. Boogerd started to sprint with 300 metres to go, I was on his wheel and it was absolutely no problem for me to pass him."

Boogerd was very disappointed at the way things turned out, especially as he had no trouble rescuing his second place after doing the work for Freire. "It's a real pity that it wasn't possible for me to win," said the Dutchman. "I had to lead out the sprint for Freire - normally I would have had to have been on the wheel of Di Luca if I wanted to win. But my main aim was to lead the sprint for Oscar...he's the World Champion and normally he's faster than me in the sprint. We didn't discuss it during the race, I just asked him how he felt and he told me 'good', so normally I had to lead the sprint for him because he seemed to be very sure of himself."

Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
Click for larger image

The 251 km race was run in cold, misty, and damp conditions through the hills of southern Limburg, with the main moves of note being a four man break that started at km 4 and featured Erwin Thijs (MrBookmaker), Alain Van Katwijk (Shimano-Memory Corp), Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole) and Andriy Grivko (Domina Vacanze). The quartet enjoyed a maximum lead of 12'30 at km 57, but was gradually reeled in by the Rabobank and Liquigas-led peloton. A counter move was started by Leon van Bon (Lotto) and Steffen Wesemann (T-Mobile) with just under 60 km to go, which became Wesemann, Lotz (Quick Step), Kroon (Rabobank) and D. Etxebarria (Liberty) with 20 km left. That quartet stayed away until 4 km to go when the front part of the peloton swept them up just before the foot of the last climb of the Cauberg.

In the sprint, it was Di Luca who successfully negated the four man Rabobank lead out with a blistering sprint of his own to claim the win in the 40th edition of this race. Boogerd was second, with Mirko Celestino (Domina Vacanze) a distant third.

Full results, report & photos
Live report

60,000 Euros or a no-show at the Giro

Pay up or else: 60,000 Euros for each and every ProTour team or we won't turn up to the Giro d'Italia, says Patrick Lefevere.

This is the latest ultimatum from AIGCP president, who, after a long meeting in Maastricht the morning of the Amstel Gold Race, told Giro race organiser Angelo Zomegnan he has 48 hours to agree. If he doesn't, then the first Grand Tour of the year will be filled with second-string teams, Lefevere threatened.

In accordance with the UCI ProTour regulations, each ProTour team is to receive equal compensation for participation in each ProTour event; for the Giro d'Italia, this sum is €60,000. However, it has been reported that Zomegnan wishes to negotiate separately with each team, and pay larger teams more start money than the smaller teams.

"Unacceptable," said Lefevre, also team manager of the Quick.Step ProTour cycling team. "Every team must receive exactly 60,000 Euros."

Rabobank team manager Theo de Rooij told Cyclingnews that he is in full agreement with Lefevere and the AIGCP, adding that the ProTour teams "have asked for 10 percent more start money than previous years."

"In our opinion, this isn't too high a demand; if you see the extra costs we've had to make as a result of the vast scale of the ProTour, one should certainly approve of this. We have already incorporated the Giro into our calendar, and if we left it [out], it would disturb our planning. For Italian teams like Fassa Bortolo and Lampre, it is an even larger step, because they have planned their entire season around the Giro," said de Rooij.

Ullrich "bang on schedule" for Le Tour

While still lacking a bit of "va-va-voom" in the time trial as Jan Ullrich puts it, the T-Mobile captain and mentor Rudy Pevenage are more than satisfied with his pre-Tour de France build-up.

In fact, 'Der Kaiser' is so pleased with his preparation, he said on T-Mobile's website, "The progress of my training can't be compared with last year. I am feeling much better and am looking forward to this summer with confidence."

Having just completed the Vuelta a Aragon yesterday after a solid return to racing at the Circuit de la Sarthe, Ullrich placed 19th in the penultimate day's time trial, around two minutes off the pace, before finishing the race 18th behind overall winner Ruben Plaza (Comunidad Valenciana).

"We did a lot of quality work in Tuscany in February and March. Jan has got good base miles in his legs," stated Pevenage. "We will make another flying visit to Tuscany before going home [to Switzerland] to continue with the training program," he added.

Never one to hide his distaste for the cold, Ullrich clearly enjoyed the sunnier climes offered in northern Italy earlier in the year, and given the atypical snowfall in Switzerland only yesterday, he'll be eager to return sooner rather than later. "We had good weather in Tuscany in March. I even managed to get a bit of sun on my face and arms." he said. "But what's much more important is I am bang on schedule with my Tour preparations."

The 31 year-old plans to take a short break from racing until the next race pencilled in on his calendar, the Volta a Catalunya ProTour race, which runs from May 16-22. Ullrich also added that the fact that the 2005 Tour de France will visit his home country gives him a little extra motivation.

"I am delighted that the fans at home can experience the racing action first-hand this time round. In any case, I will be digging deep into my reserves to try and win my second Tour de France," he said.

Alberto Contador: A new lease on life

Alberto Contador attacks the break
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

Lance Armstrong isn't the only pro rider to benefit after overcoming a life-threatening situation: Hernan Alvarez Macias meets Alberto Contador, a man with a new lease on life.

Severe difficulties can sometimes turn into good fortune later on. That is what one should think when you hear a story like that of Alberto Contador, who last year overcame a life-threatening blood clot in his brain, risky surgery and a painful road to recovery to return the peloton.

His recovery took more than six months, and it was only this January where he was able to return to the elite level at the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under. While Contador may have been Down Under, but he was far from outdone: the Liberty Seguros Würth rider proved his worth by winning the decisive fifth stage around Willunga, which ended in a 1-2-3 result for the team.

Since then, things have only got better, later winning two stages and the overall at the Setmana Catalana in March before finishing third overall and winning the final stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco - which is where Cyclingnews caught up with him after the first stage in Zarautz.

Click here to read the full interview.

Saunier Duval for Georgia, Flèche & Liège

ProTour team Saunier Duval-Prodir has announced their line-ups for the Dodge Tour de Georgia starting tomorrow and running until April 24, as well as Wednesday's La Flèche Wallonne and the last of the Spring Classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which takes place this Sunday, April 24.

Tour of Georgia: David Canada, Rafael Casero, Juan Jose Cobo, Nicolas Fritsch, Marco Pinotti, Manuel Quinziato, Andrea Tafi

Flèche Wallonne & Liège-Bastogne-Liège: Juan Carlos Dominguez, Angel Edo, Juan Manuel Garate, Fabian Jeker, Manuele Mori, Joaquin Rodriguez, Constantino Zaballa, Oliver Zaugg

Dekker gets his own street

Erik Dekker (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Jeff Jones
Click for larger image

The town of Landgraaf will honour Erik Dekker on Monday, April 25. As a three-time winner of the Ronde van Nederland and a two-time winner of the RvN's queen stage in Landgraaf, Dekker will get a street named after him, suitably called "Erik Dekker passage".

He will open the street himself on April 25. Jan Janssen and Hennie Kuiper will also be present. The ENECO Tour, which forms part of the ProTour this year, will be raced between August 3-10 this year. Landgraaf will host the finish of stage 3 on August 6, and the start of stage 4 on August 7.

Walsh turns a brief eye to football

In a slightly unusual move, Charlie Walsh, the previous head cycling coach of Australia's track program, has temporarily teamed up with his former AIS cycling team physiologist-turned Australian Rules football coach, lending advice to players from the Adelaide Crows football team.

Crows coach Neil Craig worked with Walsh as a physio with the Australian cycling team for 15 years, and recently asked his former boss if he could sit on the bench as one of his assistants. Walsh has been recruited to advise the football stars on the psychological aspects of the game, which Walsh believes shares many similarities to the sport he coached for more than 20 years.

"If I compare a group of senior Adelaide players against elite-level cyclists, then the fierceness and commitment to do what is required in their sport is the same," Walsh said to the Melbourne's The Age newspaper.

"It's about athletes understanding they need to prepare themselves, be in control and do their job. If they are disappointed about coming off [meaning dropped from the team for a particular game-Ed.], and all those sorts of things, they need to be helped, not in a football perspective, but psychologically," he said.

Walsh, often in the press for his controversial viewpoints and training methods, rates footballers just as highly in terms of attitude, fierceness and being prepared to "continually hurt in the face of pain" - something former pupil Stuart O'Grady never fails to forget.

"We are taking footballers, putting them on the bikes at training, and causing them pain. And they don't back off. We do everything precisely, and train them accordingly, just like we do with elite cyclists."

When asked about Australia's run of success since he left his post as head track cycling coach at the Australian Institute of Sport, replaced by Canadian Martin Barras with the programme overseen by Shayne Bannan, Walsh has no hard feelings. "Shayne [Bannan] is doing a fantastic job," he said. "We worked well together and he has taken the program we developed that bit further.

"As soon as I went, those in opposition to me took a breather and Shayne was allowed to effect a bit more control. I couldn't sack the cyclists, whereas they gave this ability to him. Athletes knew there was no consequence with me, but there is with Shayne, and he runs his ship very, very well. There is a way to go about things to be successful, and that has been maintained by a good team of coaches."

Final touches to Forest City Velodrome

Not much more to go
Photo ©: Rob Good
Click for larger image

With the riding surface in place, construction of Ontario, Canada's Forest City Velodrome is now in its final stages. According to Chief Operating Officer Rob Good, the lines will be painted on the track by Tuesday this week and "all is GO for the first race night on Saturday, April 23 beginning at 7pm."

Adult general admission is $10.00, seniors $5.00 (with or without coupon) and kids under 15 receive free admission when accompanied by an adult. Riders interested in racing on Saturday night should contact Rob Good for more information, ph: 1-888-508-3944. The Ontario Cycling Association High Performance camp also begins on Friday evening and continues throughout the day on Saturday. Experienced track riders must apply to the OCA to get registered or contact:

More information:

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