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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for April 13, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones

Scheldeprijs wrap-up: Hometown win for hometown hero

By Anthony Tan in Schoten

Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Tom Boonen couldn't have finished off his spring campaign any better today, as the boy from Balen gave exactly what the crowd from Kempen wanted, the world champion's stripes and smile there for all to see as he crossed the line in Schoten with apparent ease and arms aloft to notch his 13th win of the season. The 25 year-old's Quick.Step team was so strong, in fact, that six of his team-mates were also in the break, with Steven de Jongh also taking second ahead of Davitamon-Lotto's Gert Steegmans.

"There was a big crowd cheering, lots of girls cheering..." were some of Boonen's first words. "These are my people, my friends, my neighbours - that's why this race has a special place in my heart, because I come from [the region of] Antwerp.

While his second victory of may have looked a certainty, the world champion said it wasn't: "People don't understand; it's hard for them to appreciate it's difficult to win a bike race. That's my major problem: I make it seem easy.

Click here for the Full results & report, Live report, and Photos

Van Petegem breaks collarbone

Peter Van Petegem's spring season ended with a crunch in the Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen, where he crashed and broke his left collarbone. He was taken to hospital in Herentals, where doctor Toon Claes operated on him. The team expects him to recover in two weeks, and return to racing in the Tour of Belgium.

Raisin regains consciousness

By Shane Stokes

The prognosis for injured US rider Saul Raisin is continuing to improve after the 23 year-old came out of his coma on Wednesday. Family friend Shane Adams has been providing internet and email updates to many concerned fans and friends of Raisin, and was upbeat about the latest developments.

"The speed of Saul's recovery continues to astound his doctors," said Adams. "He is becoming more and more aware of his surroundings, waving at people entering and leaving the room. His uncle Phil is there [in Europe] now and Saul waved as he left the room this morning."

Adams has been in regular contact with the family and he reports that doctors at the hospital in Angers are hoping to take Raisin off the ventilator on Thursday. He had been put on one a week ago in order to take pressure off his body, and improve his chances of recovering from the haemorrhage he suffered.

Once Raisin is off the ventilator, the doctors will make the next move in his rehabilitation, assessing him to see what damage may have been done due to the after-effects of his crash on stage one of the Circuit de la Sarthe. The hospital had thought there was a risk of paralysis but that now does not appear to be the case. However, it is important to determine if any other damage has been suffered.

"They are hoping to move Saul into another wing of the hospital as he becomes more aware of what is going on, in order to give him a full neurological work up," said Adams. "Like everything he does in his life, Saul is going full speed towards a rapid recovery."

The Circuit de la Sarthe crash is the third big accident of Raisin's career. In 2003 he had a bad fall during the Trans Alsace race, while last year he was hit by a motorbike during the Four Days of Dunkirk, breaking his collarbone, some ribs and his hip. Doctors expected him to be out of action for six weeks but he bounced back within that timeframe to not only return to training, but to actually compete in the Tour de Suisse. He finished a solid 37th there and then continued his recovery, going on to take ninth place overall in the Deutschland Tour and to scoop the King of the Mountains jersey in the Tour de l'Avenir.

Adams has known the family for a long time, training regularly with Saul's father Jim as part of the Pinch Phlat MTB/Adventure Racing team. He says they are a tough and determined set of people. "Saul is a remarkable young man both on and off the bike and his family, Jim and Yvonne, are no less remarkable. What you see is what you get with the Raisins, and that is rare in this day and age. This kid, and family, are scrappers and they will fight for a full recovery. Although tragedy has surely landed on their doorstep, I know that good things will come from this...I am confident in that fact and hope to be proven correct in the coming days."

(Messages of support for Saul and his family can be posted in the guestbook at

No surgery needed for Hincapie

George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) will not need surgery following his crash in the 104th Paris-Roubaix on the weekend, his team has reported. Hincapie returned to the USA on Monday evening and met with doctors Tuesday in Greenville, South Carolina. Doctors determined that the crash resulted in a 3rd degree separation of his shoulder as well as a severely bruised wrist. Hincapie's shoulder will be taped and placed in a sling until he can resume riding.

"I was happy to hear that I will not need surgery," said Hincapie. "I will be off the bike for about a week but look forward to resuming my training and to be in form for my next scheduled race the Dauphiné Libéré in early June followed by the Tour de France in July."

Hincapie will remain at home in South Carolina until mid-May when he returns to Europe for scheduled training camps in preparation for the Tour de France.

Discovery Channel Sports Manager Johan Bruyneel added, "George's crash was disappointing as he was our leader on the day and at the time of the crash was in a good position along with teammates Hoste and Gusev in a very elite group. George is a total professional and I expect him to be in top form for his next objective, the Tour de France."

Rebellin to Amstel despite broken rib

Gerolsteiner's Davide Rebellin will go to the Amstel Gold Race this weekend handicapped by a broken rib. "On Monday this week I noticed pains in my chest and it was difficult to breathe," he said. "I went to my doctor and he diagnosed a broken rib." Rebellin received the injury when he crashed in stage 4 of the Tour of the Basque Country. He will start Amstel despite the injury.

"In the meantime I am feeling better. On Thursday I will do a long training ride and then have it checked out again. My form is good, so I absolutely want to start at Amstel when there is not medical reason not to."

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

T-Mobile for Amstel Gold Race

The ProTour carnival moves north to the Netherlands this weekend for the 41st running of the Amstel Gold Race, the race that goes against the notion that the Netherlands are entirely flat. The T-Mobile Team has nominated a solid and experienced line-up of classics specialists and allrounders for the hilly event, though none can be considered top favourites.

"It is a well-balanced and there is a lot of potential there," said sport and technical director Mario Kummer, who believes the inclusion of Patrik Sinkewitz, Steffen Wesemann and Sergey Ivanov gives the team options depending on how the race unfolds. "All three have shown in recent races that they have the form to do something."

This lead trio will be joined by experienced classics specialists Andreas Klier, Bram Schmitz, Matthias Kessler, Kim Kirchen and Eddy Mazzoleni on the 251 km route that criss-crosses Limburg, the hilly southern region sandwiched between Germany and Belgium.

Amstel Gold Race doesn't have the cobbled mystique of the other Northern Classics, but what it lacks in cobbles it makes up for in short, leg breaking climbs. It is the cumulative effect of 31 small ascents, none longer than 2.1 kilometres and none with a gradient steeper than one in seven, which dictates the pattern of the race. Unsurprisingly, the Amstel Gold Race is usually won by an all-rounder who outlasts his fellow breakaways on the final series of climbs.

"There's hardly five kilometres of flat road on the route and that's what makes it so difficult," said T-Mobile's directeur sportif Valerio Piva. The best known climb is the one-in-seven drag up the finishing hill, the Cauberg, which is usually the decisive point in the race and the focal point for fans. The race takes the riders up this hill three times.

"The constant changes of direction make it difficult for the riders to know where the wind is coming from. But they have to stay focused, so that they still have enough in the tank for the last assault on the Cauberg," continued Valerio Piva, who lives in Maastricht.

Thick fog turned last year's Amstel Gold into something of a ‘phantom race' for both the fans on the roadside and the TV viewers, who were deprived of pictures. In the end, Danilo di Luca (Liquigas) emerged from out of the mist to win the 30-rider sprint up the Cauberg.

Barloworld for the remaining classics

Efimkin back for Giro di Trentino

Team Barloworld's Alexander Efimkin has recovered after his elbow injury caused by a crash in Belgium, and Dr Marino Archetti has given him the green light to race again. However, as a precautionary measure, the team staff have decided not to put him in the squad that will ride Sunday's Amstel Gold Race in Holland. Instead he will ride the Giro d'Oro and the Giro di Trentino stage race in the north of Italy and then may travel to Belgium for Liege-Bastogne-Liege on April 23.

Team Barloworld will be directed by Alberto Volpi at the three UCI ProTour classics, with a strong team based around former world champion Igor Astarloa. The riders selected are: Giampaolo Cheula, Ryan Cox, Diego Caccia, Mauro Facci, Tiaan Kannemeyer, Hugo Sabido and Tom Southam. The same riders will ride Fleche-Wallonne race on Wednesday, April 19, while Pedro Arreitunandia will take the place of Diego Caccia for Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

Efimkin will test his form at the Giro d'Oro one-day raced on April 16. The team will be directed by Valerio Tebaldi with Pedro Arreitunandia, Felix Cardenas, Mads Christensen, Rodney Green, Jeremy Maartens, James Perry and Amets Txurruka wearing the red Team Barloworld jersey. The same riders - except for Maartens and Green replaced by sprinters Giosue Bonomi and Enrico Degano - will also ride the Giro del Trentino between April 18-21.

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