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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for October 16, 2005

Edited by Hedwig Kröner and Jeff Jones

99th Giro di Lombardia wrapup

Bettini finishes on a high note

Paolo Bettini (Quickstep)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step) has capped off a great end of season with victory in the 99th Giro di Lombardia, the final race of the inaugural ProTour series. Although Bettini wasn't at his punishing best form of two weeks ago, he was still the driving force behind the final breakaway that escaped on the Madonna del Ghisallo with around 50 km to go. Gilberto Simoni (Lampre), Frank Schleck and Carlos Sastre (CSC) and Giampaolo Caruso (Liberty Seguros) were the others in the break, and Simoni and Schleck mopped up the minor placings.

Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi) showed his hand in a few early breaks, but abandoned at the feed zone after 184 km, with the ProTour securely in his grasp. The other main break of the day saw Giovanni Visconti (Domina Vacanze), Marcus Zberg (Gerolsteiner), Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears), Carlos Barredo and Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros), Devis Miorin (Liquigas-Bianchi), Valerio Agnoli (Naturino), Davide Bramati (Quick.Step), Bram De Groot (Rabobank), Constantino Zaballa (Saunier Duval), Ivan De Gasperi (LPR) and Sascha Urweider (Phonak) escape after 41 km. They built up a maximum lead of over five minutes, but some hard riding by Lampre, Panaria and Francaise des Jeux saw them recaptured on the Madonna del Ghisallo climb, when the fireworks were started by Bettini.

On the final two climbs, Civiglio and San Fermo di Battaglia, Bettini and Simoni looked to be the strongest, but couldn't quite shake Schleck and Caruso. Sastre dropped off on the Civiglio and went back to the peloton, while Caruso had to chase after the final climb and only rejoined the leaders with 1 km to go. All he could do was lead the others out, and Bettini powered home from 300m to go to beat Simoni and Schleck.

Also see: Full results, repoort & photos, Live report, and Photos.

Rebellin moves up as ProTour finishes

Rebellin and Di Luca
Photo ©: Sirotti
Click for larger image

The late season apathy of the majority of riders in the top 10 of the ProTour rankings has helped Davide Rebellin jump from 10th to 3rd place in the season-long series. Rebellin won the bunch sprint behind the leading breakaway to finish fifth in today's Giro di Lombardia, picking up 25 ProTour points in the process. He ended the season on 151 points, while Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi) finished on top with 229 points and Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) claimed second place with 171 points.

The Giro di Lombardia also saw Paolo Bettini move up from 23rd to 8th after winning the classic, while Gilberto Simoni (29th to 12th) and Fränk Schleck (27th to 13th) also did well after finishing on the podium.

The teams and nations rankings were practically unchanged, with CSC cementing its place as the best ProTour team on 390 points, ahead of Phonak (353) and Rabobank (349). Italy finished the season as the number one ranked nation with 749 points, ahead of the USA (559) and Spain 459).

ProTour Rankings as of October 15, 2005

1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                     229 pts
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step                               171
3 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                        151
4 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team                           140
5 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team  139
6 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team                  136
7 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner                        131
8 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step                            130
9 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC                               130
10 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 129
1 Team CSC                                                  390 pts
2 Phonak Hearing Systems                                    353
3 Rabobank                                                  349
4 Davitamon-Lotto                                           322
5 Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                                320
6 Gerolsteiner                                              303
7 Saunier Duval-Prodir                                      293
8 Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                        274
9 Credit Agricole                                           264
10 Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne                           262
1 Italy                                                     749 pts
2 United States of America                                  559
3 Spain                                                     459
4 Germany                                                   405
5 Australia                                                 307
6 Belgium                                                   304
7 Netherlands                                               280
8 Luxembourg                                                191
9 France                                                    163
10 Russian Federation                                       153
Full rankings: ProTour, Teams, Nations

Ag2r sole candidate for 20th ProTour licence

By Shane Stokes

AG2r Prévoyance, here in the Herald Sun Tour, might well be the 20th ProTeam next season.
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
Click for larger image

With Friday's shock news of the collapse of Giancarlo Ferretti's planned team for 2006, the French Ag2R Prévoyance squad are now the sole candidate for the 20th and final ProTour license up for grabs. Prior to this week there had been three candidates for the slot: Lavenu's France Cyclisme (Ag2R Prévoyance), Ferretti's Silver Team S.r.l and the GD Comunidad Valenciana. Each of these was due to submit their application on October 20, after which the independent ProTour commission would announce on December 12 which of the three was the most worthy.

Cyclingnews spoke to Alain Rumpf on Thursday, the ProTour manager revealing that one of the three had fallen by the wayside. "We were informed a couple of days ago that Comunidad Valenciana have withdrawn their application. Basically, they said that they realised that they would not be able to present an application that is of the level of the UCI ProTour. Therefore they decided to register as a professional continental team next year."

24 hours later, a surprised Rumpf found himself speaking of the demise of another application, Giancarlo Ferretti's proposed multimillion pound supersquad. This was expected to be backed by Sony Ericsson and to feature proven winners such as double Tour of Italy champion Gilberto Simoni and former Tour de France stage victor Stuart O'Grady. However, in a development which echoes the demise of the Linda McCartney squad nearly five years ago, it emerged that the supposed sponsors had no intentions of backing a team.

"I am very surprised by today's news," Rumpf told Cyclingnews early on Friday. "I was on my way to Como and the Tour of Lombardy, bought La Gazzetta and I read the news there. I haven't spoken to anyone about it yet so I have no other reaction than that: big surprise.

"We had not yet got any documentation from any of the teams because it is too early. They had until next week to send documentation and until the 20th of November to complete it. Until yesterday, Ferretti seemed to be on an equal footing with the other candidate."

With Comunidad Valenciana and Ferretti's Silver Team S.r.l now out of the picture, Vincent Lavenu's Ag2R Prévoyance squad seem to have a clear run at taking a place in the ProTour, one year after they were denied the license. However, their place in the top echelon of cycling is not yet guaranteed. "I am not a specialist of the regulations but from what I understand, when there is one applicant that candidate must still show that their candidature is valid," Rumpf explained. "The license commission will not give that license automatically; they [the team] must still submit their application and meet the necessary requirements.

"It is up to the commission. I don't want to give the impression that Ag2R is going to get the license automatically. But equally I do not want to give the impression that there may only be 19 teams next year. It is up to the license commission, they can freely decide."

Affected perhaps by the loss of Jaan Kirsipuu and Laurent Brochard, Ag2R were unable to convince the commission last year that they were worthy of a place. However, Vincent Lavenu will be hoping that things will be different this time round. The French squad has an increased budget for 2006 and has made some big name signings for next year. The Spaniard Francisco Mancebo and Frenchman Christophe Moreau finished fourth and eleventh overall in the Tour de France this summer and their signings show that the team has some big hitters for the coming season.

The Sony Ericsson aftermath

After the sensational blow-up of the new team supposedly sponsored by Sony Ericsson and directed by Giancarlo Ferretti, the current manager of team Fassa Bortolo, many riders, assistants and mechanics must now look for another employer if they want to stay in cycling. While this will be relatively easy for Italian Gilberto Simoni, blessed with great end-of-season form, it might be harder for others with many teams already organised and complete for next season.

Australian sprinter Stuart O'Grady is one of the 15 riders now looking for a new contract. According to French L'Equipe, O'Grady's agent turned back to his current team Cofidis after the news was out, but team manager Eric Boyer sees no possibility of extending the sprinter's contract for 2006. "After what happened when his contract was re-negotiated, I can't work with Stuart anymore," Boyer said. "It's a pity that some riders are without a contract at this time of year, but it won't be possible."

However, Australian U23 champion Chris Sutton has apparently found a new home after his deal with Ferretti's Silver team also went up in smoke. The 20 year-old might still make his debut as a pro in 2006, taken over by Cofidis. "I believe that he's young and that he was influenced," Boyer continued. "I decided to show him that the doors to the team are still open."

Sun Tour: Reactions from Lygon Street

Lucky winner Simon Gerrans (AG2r Prévoyance)
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
Click for larger image

After the last stage of the 2005 Jayco Herald Sun Tour, which finished with a Criterium around Lygon Street, Melbourne, Ag2r's Simon Gerrans still couldn't believe his achievement. "To win here in my home-town race... well it doesn't get much better than this," he told Cyclingnews' John Trevorrow on the line. "The guys did a perfect job for me. They left me up the front of the bunch away from all the trouble."

Gerrans' winning lead, which he achieved in an impressive time trial up Mt Dandenong on Thursday, remained untouched on the last day of racing. "The break was not a worry for us, because none of those riders were up on general classification," the Aussie added. Asked if he already realised what he'd done, Gerrans replied, "It's just sensational. It's hard to comprehend right now... it might take a couple of days to settle in. A few drinks tonight will make it a bit easier."

Second-placed Dominique Perras was of course disappointed to see the jersey gone. "It is disappointing to get so close to winning a race as big as the Herald Sun Tour," the Canadian said. "But I gave it everything I had and it is no disgrace losing to a quality rider such as Simon!"

VIS Jayco rider Hilton Clarke won the final stage in the three-men sprint of a breakaway and thereby took the sprinter's jersey off Francaise des Jeux's Baden Cooke. "This is absolutely brilliant," Clarke said. "To win the final stage is great but to take the Green Jersey off Cookie is unbelievable. I was a few points behind Cookie last night and I said to him, over a coffee, that he should let me win but he wouldn't be in it. Cookie is sprinting well so I thought I would be better off trying to get away."

Matthew Goss (Australia) finished second today, with Chris Jongewaard (Savings and Loans) coming in for third. The trio was able to hold its lead until the very end. "I was the weakest out there, the other two were really drilling it," commented Clarke about the break. "I was always nervous about the peloton. I don't know how many times I have ridden up Lygon Street, but today was certainly the fastest."

AG2r team boss John Beasley was very satisfied with his team's result. "Simon was keen to give some young Australians the opportunity to join the French boys we had coming out and the result has just been fantastic," Beasley said. One of the Aussies joining the French Continental team in Australia was Mitch Docker, and he was proud to be given the opportunity to do so. "I was rapt to be able to ride in this team and support Simon," Docker said, who finished at two minutes off his teammate Gerrans on final general classification. "I must admit I was surprised to finish so high up in a race of this class."

Peter Hatton from team Australia, who also achieved a great result by placing fifth on GC and winning the Young rider's classification, proved to himself that his future may well lie in cycling. "Before this week I did not believe in myself but now I have gained a lot more confidence," Hatton said. "It's been a great week for me. I am so happy to be wearing a jersey. Today was the hardest day for me - the last ten laps were really hard. But I think I will now have a real go at road cycling next year, perhaps in the US or Europe, but at the moment I don't really know."

German cycling coach supports Barbadian Juniors

German cycling coach Emanuel Raasch, a former East-German track rider, will start a training programme with Junior cyclists in Barbados. Raasch, who is also the personal coach of Barbados' successful track rider Barry Forde, believes that there is a lot of potential in the Caribbean island's youth, and intends to add more colour to international cycling.

"Barry Forde is really the only exotic international rider", Raasch said with the help of an interpreter at a press conference this week. "I hope to bring up some of the junior Barbados riders up to the international level. The Caribbean riders are capable of becoming very good sprinters, just as the established European sprinters."

Fifteen junior cyclists recently took part in a two-day cycling camp under Raasch's guidance, and although the German coach will return to Europe to resume his international schedule, he intends to return to Barbados in February 2006 to help prepare some junior cyclists for the Commonwealth Games to be held in Melbourne, Australia in March. Nevertheless, Raasch knows that results do not come overnight and affirmed that he expected true results only in three to five years.

Heras' bike auction goes on

48 hours before the auction on eBay finishes, Roberto Heras' Golden bicycle has already reached a value of 25,000 Euros. After 40 bids, the first one of which was done by Heras himself, offering 10,000 Euros for his machine, the page where the bike honouring his fourth victory in the Vuelta a España has received more than 31,500 visits, and everything indicates that his final price still will be higher than the current one.

Liberty Seguros-Würth team will use the money of this auction to the victims of the hurricane Katrina.

The auction can be found at:

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