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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for March 14, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

Julich "a good wine"

Valverde takes stage in breathtaking finale

By Hedwig Kröner in Nice

Paris-Nice victory
Photo ©: CN
Click for larger image

It was a fast and exciting last stage of Paris-Nice under the blue sky of the Mediterranean coast, and probably one of the most beautiful days in the life of Bobby Julich. Escorted to overall victory by his CSC teammates, especially by his best friend Jens Voigt, the American living in Nice told French media (in French of course) just after the finish, "I think of myself as a good wine now. I'm a better rider the older I get..."

His German friend Jens Voigt stepped onto the ceremonial podium right after Julich to take the points jersey home, because Tom Boonen leading the classification had abandoned the race. "I will be working for Jens at the upcoming Critérium International, because that will be his territory," promised Julich. The perfectly balanced teamwork at CSC is what makes this team go round, both riders declared.

The stage victory, meanwhile, went to Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde from Illes Balears, who crossed the line first after T-Mobile rider Alexandre Vinokourov and Alberto Contador from Liberty Seguros were swallowed in the final 300m by a fast-moving peloton. Valverde had repeatedly attacked on the final climb of the Col d'Eze, but still found the strength to make his win look easy. Apparently, the fatigue he admitted to Cyclingnews during the last few days had disappeared.

Paris-Nice Stage 7

Full results, report & photos
Live report
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Rising stars at Rabobank

By Hedwig Kröner in Nice

Joost Posthuma (Rabobank)
Photo ©: AFP
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The Dutch Rabobank team has been known to cultivate talented young riders for a while now. Within the Espoir squad of the team, several riders have grown ripe during the last seasons, and three of them have turned pro this season: Joost Posthuma, Jukka Vastaranta and Thomas Dekker. Although the stage win of one of them must have come as a surprise to some, after a very successful last year as an amateur, 24 year-old Posthuma wasn't afraid to enter the next level of cycling.

"I really wanted a ProTour point [awarded for a ProTour stage victory - ed.], and we had planned to attack, so that's what I did," Posthuma told Cyclingnews on the morning of the last stage of the "race to the sun" on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. "I was afraid Jörg Ludewig would came back to me, and I nearly crashed in that descent towards the finish. I was at full speed!" Posthuma, an excellent rouleur, drove along the coast with a tailwind, reaching almost 60 km/h. And although he did not want to talk about his long-term goals - "There are so many races" - while watching the scene, one got the feeling that a rider with great class was taking his first professional victory, barely starting out.

Cyclingnews also talked to the youngest rider of this year's Paris-Nice, 20 year-old Thomas Dekker. The Dutchman placed second in both the road race and the time trial of the U23 World Championships in Verona last year, and is learning a lot in the pro ranks now. "It's a hard race," he said, "Especially since three of the stages have been cut down - I'm better on longer routes. But Joost showed that young riders can also win here. The peloton let him go because he was at nine minutes of the leaders on GC. For me, it would have been more difficult to break, as I was 'only' at three." Dekker - who has no family ties with the elder Erik - is preparing for the Giro d'Italia at the moment, where he hopes to win a stage.

Asked if last year's disappointment of not becoming World Champion was forgotten, he replied, "Oh yes. It was still a very successful season for me, winning the World Cup and eight races. I was disappointed with my time trial, that's true, but I don't think about that anymore now." So he shouldn't, as he knows he has a lot of time ahead of him to make up for it.

Knaven impressive in Tirreno-Adriatico

Servais Knaven (Quick.Step)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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After three consecutive days of Oscar Freire-mania, some of the lower placed riders on GC were allowed to ride for the victory in today's fifth stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. Held on a wet day over 12 laps of a 14.2 km circuit in Saltara, the stage saw five men go clear early on and hold off the peloton for the victory. Dutchman Servais Knaven (Quick.Step) was the best of the five, counter-attacking Marco Pinotti (Saunier Duval) with 10 km to go to win the stage solo.

"It is a super victory," said 34 year old Knaven at the finish. "Before the start I decided to try an attack. I got in a break with Pinotti, Le Mevel, Padrnos and Peron. At the last passage of the finish line, Pinotti attacked. I reached him a few meters from the GPM and I made at the most of my possibilities on the descent, immediately gaining around 15 seconds. I rode only thinking about earning seconds. This stage has reminded me the last kilometres of the Tour de France stage 2003 that I won in Bordeaux.

"Now my objective is improve to reach top condition for the races in April in Belgium. I will put my experience at the service of the team and if there is an occasion like what happened today, I'll try another time."

Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 5

Full results, report & photos
Stages & results
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Hulsmans and McLeod crash

Kevin Hulsmans (Quick.Step) and Ian McLeod (Francaise des Jeux) were both crash victims during the early part of the final stage of Paris-Nice. Both riders were taken to hospital, where Hulsmans was diagnosed with various abrasions but nothing broken, and McLeod required an x-ray for his hip.

Bad crash for Habeaux

Landbouwkrediet-Colnago's Grégory Habeaux has had a bad crash while training along the Côte d'Azur. The young pro was riding with Maxime Monfort when he was hit by a car. He was taken to the St Anna hospital in Toulon, where he was diagnosed with a fractured skull. His condition was reported as serious but stable on Sunday night.

Rasmussen gets into gear

Danish rider Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) started his season with the five day Vuelta a Murcia between March 2-6. He started without any ambitions at all regarding the general classification, since he is directing all his energy for his big goal of the year, the Tour de France. Thus, he gained some valuable competition kilometres in Spain.

"The stages of Murcia are relatively short, so if you are not training extra, eight days might easily pass with only four hours training each day," he said on his website, "That could be a trap to fall into. I have nothing waiting just around the corner, and therefore I do not need to push myself.

"Actually it went quite ok. The days of the 22 km time trial for instance, I added 150 km, and a couple of days later, when we had the finish at the Alto de Collado Bermejo, I rode back to the hotel as well. That made a total of 220 km that day, and a nice week of training after all."

Rasmussen's next race will be the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco from April 4-8. "The intensity will be a bit higher, and since it is a ProTour race the speed of the race will be faster. But I take it as it comes. My objective is not the same as previous years, where I have ridden for the overall classification. The year, it is mainly a question about getting some race kilometres in the legs."

Grand Tours won't pay more start money

The three grand tours, which are not officially part of the ProTour yet, have taken a hard line against the UCI's rule that start money should be increased in ProTour events. Although they have permitted the 20 ProTour teams to start in their races, the start money is unchanged.

Davitamon-Lotto's sports director Hendrik Redant said to De Telegraaf that there are "extra costs" involved with running a ProTour team. "So we have three extra personnel in Tirreno. Not only do we need extra hotel rooms, the personnel also have to be paid."

Rabobank's team manager Theo de Rooij said that his teams were being damaged by the current situation. "There has to be compensation paid. It can't be that they [the Grand tours] just want the advantages and not the disadvantages. These organisers should make a gesture towards the teams."

Final call for entries to Credit Union Ras Mumhan

By Shane Stokes,

Although the official closing date has passed, the organisers of the Credit Union Ras Mumhan have said that they will still accept applications for the four day international race, which takes place in Kerry, Ireland, from the March 25-28.

A strong field is expected for the Easter weekend competition, which gets underway with a 52 mile stage starting and finishing in Killorglin and crossing the second category climb of Sliabh Mish. Day two’s route is a mountainous 94 mile taking in the same climb, then the first category Conor Pass, Gleann a Gealt (category 3) and Sliabh Mish once more.

Sunday 27th of March sees two stages take place. The riders will first scrap it out in a six mile individual time trial, then tackle the sixty mile Skellig Ring stage in the afternoon. The five climbs of Drom West (category 3), Raheen, Killurley, Coom (all cat 2) and Raheen (category 3) should generate plenty of action.

The race concludes with a 58 mile circuit race on Monday 28th March, beginning with three laps of a 15 mile circuit around Killorglin and Beaufort and then four laps of the Donal McKenna Circuit.

Late entries to the Credit Union Ras Mumhan cost 50 euro. Contact Race Organiser Sean O’Callaghan at +353 66 9762379 (Mobile +353 87 2630326), or by email at

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