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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for August 14, 2005

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Julich not aiming for ProTour title

By Shane Stokes

Eneco Tour winner Bobby Julich (CSC)
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

Bobby Julich’s excellent win in last week’s Eneco Tour of the Benelux saw him jump up the ProTour rankings to fourth. The American’s victory was the second such win in the series this year, following on from his Paris-Nice triumph in March, and he is one of the few who can realistically still entertain thoughts of beating Danilo Di Luca for the ProTour title.

But although Julich is heading to the Deutschland Tour (Tour of Germany) with good legs and the ambition of doing well, he remains uncommitted to challenging the Italian for the overall win. It’s been a long season for the Team CSC rider and the final ProTour event, the Tour of Lombardy, seems a long way away.

"To be honest, I'm not really worried about that [the ProTour]," he told Cyclingnews yesterday. "I know it is nice having points and all, but Di Luca got so many points early on, then took off two months of racing. Now he’s racing again in events that suit him and going all out to pick up points in the one-day races like tomorrow, in San Sebastian, like Zurich, like Lombardy. I don't think he is really catchable."

As things currently stand, Di Luca is 54 points clear of Julich. Lance Armstrong is second in the rankings, 45 points off the Italian, but ended his career last month in Paris. Alexandre Vinokourov is three points further back in third but, like Julich, will be trying to keep things going after the Tour and may also opt for an early end to the season. He could have picked up points in the Clasica San Sebastian and the Tour of Germany but pulled out of the former due to a cold. It remains to be seen if he will be at full strength this week.

Although Julich thinks the overall ProTour title may be beyond him, he is still fired up by the chance of more success. "I am going to the Tour of Germany to do well," he said. " My legs feel very, very good. I'm have actually been starting to get a little bit of a cold since the time trial in Benelux: in the past couple of days it has been kind of bugging me a little bit, with stuffed-up sinuses and all that. But as long as I keep my health, I think I can do well at the Tour of Germany."

"Beyond that, to battle for the overall of the ProTour means I have to race all the way to the Tour of Lombardy. That is in the middle of October and I have been racing at training camps since, basically, January. I am happy with what I already have in the pot but, that said, I think I owe to myself to roll it until the wheels fall off because there were for five years where I didn't get any results, as much as I tried."

Julich says that he will reassess things after the German stage race. "After that, I have basically two weeks where I will be backing off. I am going to take a week totally off the bike and determine then if I am able to recover a little bit, then do the Tour of Poland and the World's, or if am just clapped-out. Either way, I have had a successful season. But I would really like to give it a nudge in the World Championship Time Trial this year."

A full Bobby Julich interview will follow on Cyclingnews in the next couple of days.

No major changes to ProTour rankings after San Sebastian

The Saunier Duval 1-2 in the Clasica San Sebastian did not produce any major changes at the top end of the ProTour rankings. Fortunately for leader Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi), who was sick in the lead up to today, his main rival Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) finished 13th - just outside the top 10 necessary to score points. Thus, Rebellin remains in seventh overall, 83 points behind Di Luca. The Liquigas rider only finished 94th, and it's clear that he doesn't have the legs that he did in spring, but it's also apparent that his competition doesn't either.

In the teams rankings, Phonak lost the lead to Team CSC by one point, with Rabobank and Davitamon-Lotto very close behind. Only seven points separate the top four teams. Italy, USA, and Spain remain the top three nations in the ProTour.

Rankings as of August 13, 2005

1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                    184 pts
2 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 139
3 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team                 136
4 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC                              130
5 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step                              120
6 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                  111
7 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                       101
8 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team                           98
9 Santiago Botero Echeverry (Col) Phonak Hearing Systems    95
10 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank                        94
1 Team CSC                                                 270 pts
2 Phonak Hearing Systems                                   269
3 Rabobank                                                 264
4 Davitamon-Lotto                                          263
5 Saunier Duval - Prodir                                   237
6 Liberty Seguros - Würth Team                             219
7 Credit Agricole                                          216
8 T-Mobile Team                                            212
9 Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                       212
10 Fassa Bortolo                                           203
1 Italy                                                    574 pts
2 United States Of America                                 468
3 Spain                                                    370
4 Germany                                                  284
5 Belgium                                                  251
6 Australia                                                236
7 Netherlands                                              183
8 Kazakhstan                                               143
9 France                                                   132
10 Switzerland                                             108
Full rankings: Individuals, Teams, Nations

Horner to Davitamon-Lotto

Chris Horner at the 2005 Tour de Suisse
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
Click for larger image

American rider Chris Horner, presently with Saunier Duval, has signed a new deal with the Belgian Davitamon-Lotto squad for the next two seasons. The team directed by Marc Sergeant will improve its competitiveness in the mountains with Horner, who finished 33rd in last month's Tour de France.

The 33 year-old was also very active in the Tour of Switzerland, winning stage six to Arosa on his own and finishing fifth in the final classification.

Ullrich wants home race victory

'Kaiser' Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) is all set to win the upcoming Deutschland Tour (August 15-23). The Tour de France 2005 third-placed feels very motivated for the nine-day ProTour stage race and "hopes for good legs," as he is clearly aiming for victory.

"We will miss Andreas Klöden," Ullrich said when asked if he thought he would get enough team support to achieve his aim. "But we've shown at the Tour how strong our team is by winning the Team Classification. Vinokourov will be there to support me - he's a true professional and as long as he rides in our team's colours, he will be giving everything for it."

This year's Deutschland Tour has been hailed by many as a race very much suited to climbers, as its parcours crosses the Alpine border to Austria to include some (very) high mountains in it. The Rettenbachferner with its 2,665 metres of altitude will be the highest mountain climbed by the European professional peloton this season.

"The nine stages are really something," Ullrich commented. "When I studied the parcours I thought a ski expert must have had his say... There's hardly a ski resort we won't ride to! It'll start right away on the first stage through the Voigtland region. Some years ago, those steep climbs shattered Bjarne Riis' hopes at the Peace race. One day later, we pass the German cross country skiing centre in the Bavarian forest, located at 1,100 metres. And the heaviest stage is the one to the Rettenbachferner on 2,665 metres. I know the region: You can do some really nice skiing there, but downhill! To go up there on your bike is going to be one hell of a ride. If you're not in front that day, you can forget about the podium. And afterwards, there's still the Black forest with the mountain finish on the Feldberg (1,270 m) - I can already feel the sweat running down my neck..."

Lampre for Deutschland Tour

Next Monday, August 15, Lampre-Caffita will be at the start of the Pro Tour stage race Deutschland Tour. "The race is more difficult than in the past, with two finishes on climbs," explained DS Guido Bontempi. "The team will have Petrov and the young Marzano for General Classification, as well as Ballan and Bennati for the stage wins."

The full Lampre roster in Germany will be: Alessandro Ballan, Daniele Bennati, GiaLuca Bortolami, Enrico Franzoi, David Loosli, Marco Marzano, Eugeny Petrov and Daniele Righi.

Rujano to Quick.Step after Giro 2006

José Rujano (Selle Italia), the Venezuelan climber which impressed the cycling scene at this year's Giro d'Italia, where he won the mountains and combativity jerseys as well as stage 19 to Sestrière, will change to Quick.Step during next season. The emphasis is on 'during', as the 23 year-old is still tied to his team until the Giro 2006. As the Belgian team's manager Patrick Lefévère told Het Laatste Nieuws, "I'm all set with Rujano, but he still has a contract with Selle Italia which need him to get a wildcard for the Giro d'Italia. That's why he'll be free only after the Giro - then he can still ride the Tour or the Vuelta for us."

One dead at Costa Rica's Vuelta Juventud

On Friday, August 12, the U23 Vuelta Juventud held during four days in Costa Rica (August 10-14) came to a halt when a leading group of 20 riders crashed going down a Cat. 2 hill against a bus. One of the cyclists, 17 year-old Christian Montero died.

Yaxley and Rhodes continue to make progress

The recovery of South Australian cyclist Alexis Rhodes, 20, and her team mate Tasmanian Louise Yaxley, 23, remains on track as the pair continue their rehabilitation at the University Clinic in Jena, Germany. Yaxley and Rhodes were two of five cyclists injured in last month's tragic road accident in Germany which claimed the life of her teammate Amy Gillett. The other three, Nichols, Brown (see story) and Graham have since returned to Australia to continue their recovery.

Australian Institute of Sport Director, Professor Peter Fricker, received an update overnight from the doctors treating Rhodes and Yaxley and said the news remains encouraging. "Louise is going gangbusters and her recovery is getting better and better from day to day," said Prof. Fricker. "Doctors conducted some routine scans of her head and say the bruising has resolved itself and there are no neurological signs to be concerned about.

"All her stitches have been taken out, the wounds have healed and the skin grafts to both arms have taken well," he said. "The pins and screws put into her fractures are also showing a good healing response. Doctors are now thinking about taking the pins out of her elbow and putting it in a splint instead so she can begin to exercise it."

Both Yaxley and Rhodes have been moving freely around the hospital and have amazed everyone with their high spirits and positive attitudes. "Everyone is so happy with the way they have rallied and the progress they are making," said Prof. Fricker with Yaxley expected to fly home by the end of the month.

"Alexis may be in the hospital a little longer than Louise because of the nature of her injuries," said Prof. Fricker. Rhodes suffered a damaged lung in the accident. "She was due to undergo x-rays overnight ahead of a procedure to assist her recovery from the chest trauma and she won't be able to fly for a while after that.

"But the doctors say the broken bones in her back are knitting well and she is enthusiastically pursuing the exercise regime that has been put in place for her," said Prof. Fricker.

Television audience for Eneco Tour tripled

The Eneco Tour, 19th race on the UCI ProTour held from August 3-10, beat its previous highest TV audience according to a UCI press statement. Compared to last year, the television audience watching the Time Trial live coverage had tripled. Last year, only the final stage was broadcast on Dutch TV. This year, all stages were shown live, not only on the 2 Belgian channels VRT and RTB, but also on Eurosport and NOS (the Netherlands).

More blood controls

Before the start of the 20th ProTour race, the Clasica San Sebastian, the UCI has carried out more anti-doping blood controls. In total, 40 riders from the following teams were tested: Quick.Step, Domina Vacanze, Crédit Agricole, Barloworld and Relax. All were declared fit to start.

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