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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for February 11, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones and Les Clarke

Quiet celebration for Menchov and Rabobank

With the news that Roberto Heras has been stripped of his 2005 Vuelta a España win for doping, Denis Menchov and the Rabobank team are quietly celebrating their first ever grand tour victory. Menchov finished 4'36 behind Heras on GC, but will be elevated to first unless Heras successfully appeals against his sanction.

"It's nice to know that I'm the first winner of a grand tour, but to do it like this is really different," said Menchov to De Telegraaf. "For my own confidence, the way that I rode was a huge stimulus."

Rabobank's Theo de Rooij was similarly reserved, but still proud of his team's performance. "This is still a milestone," he said. "We voiced our ambition in 2002 that we wanted to win a grand tour, and that has now happened. And this can be a boost in the lead up to the upcoming Tour d eFrance, where Denis wants to make up for [last year]. He fell through the ice there, but through this performance Denis knows that he has the condition to win a grand tour. And in Spain he didn't even use his light bike, because, as he said at the time: "I'll keep this for when it's really going well."

Sieberg's star set to shine in 2006

Weisenhof-Akud's Marcel Sieberg tends to stand out in a crowd - he's 1.98 meters tall and has a shock of red hair to top it off. But the 23-year-old would rather be noticed because of his impressive results. In only his second pro year, he is doing it up right. Last year he won the Ronde van Drenthe and so far this season he's finished well in the Tour of Qatar, sprinting to fifth place on stage 2. Susan Westemeyer caught up with Sieberg between races and asked him what's in store for 2006.

Cyclingnews: At the Tour of Qatar you finished 21st and were fifth on stage 2. What kind of experience was racing against stars like Boonen and Zabel and doing so well against them?

Marcel Sieberg: At the beginning of the season it was a real challenge to start with such big names in the field. In addition, I knew that Qatar is known for its strong wind, and it was difficult to fight against the top teams for a good position, especially near the end of each stage. Sometimes it didn't work out, but then there was also the fifth place, which made me very happy.

CN: You are very tall and not exactly the lightest rider. How do you find climbing mountains and do you ever see your size as a drawback?

MS: Yes, at nearly 2 metres tall and weighing about 80kg it's not so easy to ride with the best in the mountains. I see climbing as my biggest weakness, but I still surprise myself because sometimes it goes quite well - maybe the problem lies more in my head. But I don't see it as a drawback because I'm more of a classics rider.

CN: In that case, which direction do you see your career developing - an all-rounder, sprinter, stage racer or classics rider? What are your strengths and weaknesses, and how do you hope your development continues?

MS: I see myself developing as a classics rider, as I was able to prove last year. My sprinting abilities are also pretty good, but I wouldn't call myself a top sprinter. I like the Belgian and Netherlands races a lot, with their bad weather, pave and hard races - all of these things particularly motivate me.

CN: What's on your racing calendar this year?

MS: The first Classics come at the end of February - Het Volk, Kuurne Brussel Kuurne...but the beginning of April is the first highlight of my season; Ronde van Vlaanderen. Everything is planned up until May, and then we'll look further ahead after then. My goal this season is to develop further - last year I won Ronde van Drenthe and managed a lot of good top 10 finishes. Maybe - no, hopefully - I'll be able to accomplish more this year!

An interview with Olivia Gollan

Last year was tough for Olivia Gollan. After a move to Europe's biggest women's team things started to unravel when the big results didn't eventuate, her form dropped and she just didn't feel like riding. Then losing her good friend Amy Gillett sparked the need for a change. Gollan speaks to Cyclingnews' Les Clarke about those changes, the racing year ahead plus her view for the future of women's cycling.

Photo ©: Robert Arnold
Click for larger image

Starting her racing career later in life, Olivia Gollan is a rider who demands respect. Established as one of the mainstays of the women's pro peloton, the 32-year-old from Newcastle, NSW, won the national championships road race in 2003 before heading to Europe with the AIS women's squad in 2004. Consistently in the top ten for world cup races in 2004, Gollan caught the eye of the Nürnberger juggernaut and subsequently moved across to the German squad to race in 2005.

But 2005 didn't go according to plan. Take a look at Gollan's palmares for the year (compared to previous years) and it becomes quite clear something wasn't quite right. In August last year, "I made the decision I wanted to go back to Italy, and basically I just needed a change," says Gollan. "I'd had a fairly ordinary season - I hadn't been enjoying my racing as much as I had in the past - and there was the fact I lost a really good friend [Amy Gillett]. I just needed something to make me change my focus and get me out of a rut, I guess."

Click here for the full interview

Kersten busy ahead of Commonwealth Games

With the Commonwealth Games just over a month away, Sydney cyclist Ben Kersten has been very busy at the national titles in Adelaide, adding a third gold medal to the week's tally after teaming with Shaun Hopkins and Sean Dwight to win the men's teams sprint yesterday. Wins in the kilometre time trial on the opening day, the men's sprint on day three and yesterday's team sprint were backed up with a round of the teams pursuit to make it a tiring schedule for the fast man.

It's tough work, and Kersten knows it, saying, "It was harder than I would have liked - I'm getting a bit weaker and weaker every day now. Once we got into the gold-medal ride off, I really had to dig deep."

The NSW trio won in a time of 47.504 seconds against Queensland's William Draffen, Grant Irwin and Benjamin Simonelli, who rode a time of 47.751 seconds to claim second. Kersten's starting to hit some of his best form at the moment, but that doesn't make the effort any easier. "When we were going for gold I had no choice," he said. "I had to work for it and now I'm paying the price."

Kersten's form should improve even further following these national championships, and after showing blistering pace in the men's sprint rounds, a Commonwealth Games showdown between the 24-year-old and Scottish master blaster Chris Hoy will undoubtedly by a highlight of Melbourne's games.

For full results, report and photos of Day 5 of the Australian Track Championships, click here.

Boonen beats Wauters in IP

The 3000m individual pursuit match between Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) and Marc Wauters (Rabobank) in the Lotto-6 day in Hasselt finished with the World Champion taking the victory in a time of 3.36.00, just over three seconds quicker than Wauters. The latter suffered a mishap at the start when his foot came out of the pedal, but rallied and pushed Boonen all the way. In the final kilometre, Boonen stepped on the gas and won fairly comfortably.

"I found it pleasant," Boonen told "This is something a bit different. Of course I have no experience in this discipline. If I did, then I would have ridden five seconds faster."

Diamond helmets for Quick.Step

Spot the diamond
Photo ©: Quick.Step
Click for larger image

Tom Boonen and his Quick.Step-Innergetic teammates will be wearing some expensive headgear this season, courtesy of Lazer helmets. Each rider will receive a helmet with a golden name plate and a small diamond embedded in it. Tom Boonen and Paolo Bettini will receive a 1.18 carat diamond in recognition of their World Champion and Olympic Champion titles, while all the other members of the team can win a 1 carat diamond if they win a ProTour race, like a stage in the Tour De France.

Tom Boonen will be the first rider of the team to wear the new helmet in the next Vuelta Andalucía.

Quick Step-Innergetic to Trofeo Laigueglia

The Quick Step squad for Trofeo Laigueglia (February 14): Paolo Bettini, Davide Bramati, Ad Engels, Nick Nuyens, Filippo Pozzato, Ivan Santaromita, Leonardo Scarselli, Davide Vigano. DS: Serge Parsani

Team Milram to Vuelta a Andalucía and Trofeo Laigueglia

Vuelta a Andalucía (February 12-16): Alessandro Petacchi, Alberto Ongarato, Marco Velo, Fabio Sacchi, Simone Cadamuro, Maarten Den Bakker, Christian Knees. DS: Oscar Pellicioli

Trofeo Laigueglia (February 14): Mirko Celestino, Alessandro Cortinovis, Volodymyr Dyudya, Andry Grivko, Mirco Lorenzetto, Elia Rigotto, Carlo Scognamilgio, Giovanni Visconti. DS: Antonio Bevilacqua

TEAm Lipton at Daytona

For the first time ever, riders from the all-female TEAm Lipton will circle the Daytona International Speedway in Florida, USA, just hours before the racecars hit the course for a NASCAR race on February 19. Team members Grace Fleury, Kristen LaSasso and Liza Rachetto will be showing they can manoeuvre and draft each other just as well as their male counterparts on four wheels.

Earlier this year, the team helped one of NASCAR's most popular drivers, Kasey Kahne, prepare for the Daytona 500. Kahne and TEAm Lipton rode together to help build Kahne's endurance and sharpen his mental alertness for the race. Few athletes take a two-sport approach to training, but Kasey believes both sports bring the level of competitiveness that helps drive athletes to a higher level.

Kasey and TEAm Lipton are also ambassadors for the Lipton Live Well Challenge, a campaign to help people be active and have a healthy diet. "Whether you're circling the Daytona 500 at 200 mph in a car or 20 mph on a bike, it's important to have proper health and fitness training, " said Kahne "By cycling with the Lipton team and leading the Lipton Live Well Challenge I hope I can inspire others to live better and feel better with a healthy lifestyle."

Notes: Kasey Kahne will be riding at Daytona on Wednesday, February 15 from 10 -11 AM EST at the FanZone and training with TEAm Lipton on Friday, February 17 from 11 - 12 PM EST in the FanZone. TEAm Lipton's lap will take place about two hours before the Daytona 500 on February 19, 2006.

South East Queensland Tour

The Australian state of Queensland is introducing a new racing series to be known as the South East Queensland Tour. Endorsed by Cycling Queensland, the SEQ tour is a season long points competition in which riders; teams and clubs accumulate points during specified local races, whilst still incorporating the existing road calendar. Its aim is to increase exposure, competition levels and participation rates in SEQ cycling events.

An official launch evening will be occurring on March 15 at Vino's Bar and Restaurant. During a night of socializing, jazz music, light refreshments and drinks you will get the opportunity to see exciting local cycling, photo presentations, introduce the SEQ Tour competition, meet the riders, the teams and their sponsors.

More information:

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)