First Edition Cycling News for October 15, 2006
Edited by Sue George
World champion closes season in style
By Jeff Jones and Gregor Brown
A very emotional world champion Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step) crossed the finish line in Como a handful of seconds ahead of Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) to win the 100th Giro di Lombardia. Bettini, who lost his brother Sauro in a car accident less than two weeks ago, attacked on the Civiglio climb with 15 km to go and was joined by Wegmann after the descent. The two worked together until the San Fermo climb, where Bettini was able to get rid of Wegmann and ride to the finish solo.
The 245 km race was dominated by a four man breakaway that formed after 82 km with Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner), Andrea Pagoto (Panaria), Diego Cacchi and James Perry (Barloworld). The four reached a maximum lead of 13'10, but were eventually all caught on the Madonna del Ghisallo climb with around 45 km to go. Bettini had already reduced the peloton to a handful of riders there, and kept attacking until he finally got away in the last 15 km.
Gerrans doubles down under in Sun Tour
by Gregor Brown and John Trevorrow
Thrilling finale in Sun Tour
Simon Gerrans has become the first cyclist in 32 years to successfully defend his Herald Sun Tour victory in a nail biting finale to this year's edition of Australia's oldest stage race.
In front of cycling legend Eddy Merckx, Gerrans was led home by none other than his teammate in the composite Jayco Australian National Team, Robbie McEwen, to take the overall victory by a handful of seconds. McEwen played a key role in helping Gerrans secure the win throughout the 80-minute plus three lap criterium held in and around Melbourne's "little Italy" on a bright and warm spring day in the Victorian capital.
Thousands of Melburnians turned out to watch the action, which had changed from being a somewhat predictable sprinters' demonstration day into a gripping criterium that would decide the outcome of the race. It included two intermediate sprints with time bonuses, so the action was on from the gun.
Going into the final stage, Chris Jongewaard (Savings & Loans) led the race by only one second ahead of Irishman David McCann (Giant Asia Racing), with Gerrans in third place but on the same time as McCann (their only fractions of a second separated their GC placings).
But as they hit the line for final time, it was Gerrans' teammate McEwen who took out the stage win (and associated 10-second time bonus), ahead of Menzies and Gerrans (with their respective six and four second time bonuses). The four-second time bonus was Gerrans' final winning margin in what had been one of the closest stage races seen in Australia for many years.
McEwen's controversial tactics
Sprinting legend Robbie McEwen took the final stage of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour finishing Saturday in Carlton. The sprint by McEwen helped his teammate Gerrans win the final overall, but the day was not without controversy.
A crash at the back of the circuit - and outside of TV coverage - involving sprint champion Hilton Clarke (Navigators) and holding up McEwen, almost changed the outcome of the race, except both of the riders re-joined the field within the lead break.
Their rejoining led to repeated protests from Irishman David McCann, who was gesturing to commissaires that the sprinters should not have been allowed to take a lap out and then re-join the lead break becauseMcEwen's presence gave his team-mate Gerrans a very useful lead-out man for the intermediate sprints.
However, race officials were unmoved and McEwen was allowed to stay in the break, where he led out Gerrans for the following intermediate sprints and finish.
"This is bullshit," said a charged David McCann after the stage. "McEwen crashed before the break went away and he came back into the race in the break-away. It's just not on."
Another expert who should know, Eddy Merckx, agreed. The cycling legend was on hand in Carlton, watching with a stopwatch in hand. Merckx said he was disappointed, as he is a fan of McEwen's fighting spirit and sprinting.
McCann was also very angry at a situation that happened earlier in the Tour. After passing the 500m to go sign for an intermediate sprint, some 100m later a flag appeared from behind a car to indicate the line for the intermediate sprint. At the time, McCann was trailing Gerrans and he was setting himself up to make a run for the sprint but instead, he lost another couple of seconds.
"I don't want this to sound like it's sour grapes," said the Irishman. "Because I wouldn't have won this tour. But all these little things just make me angry." When asked if he would return to race next year, the Irishman answered, "No".
For complete Sun Tour Stage 7 results, report, and photos, click here.
Landis defense: PR gambit or skilful legal tactic?
by Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
The release of Floyd Landis' strategy by his defense team, led by attorney Howard Jacobs, is a clear indication of the public relations component to his overall defense. Whether or not this will affect the outcome of the arbitration between Landis and USADA will likely not ever be revealed. However, the defense strategy goes beyond the arbitration stage for Landis and into the court of public opinion, where he will have a lot of work to do to repair his ethos, if he is not found guilty.
"Floyd will have to restore his reputation at the end of the case," an optimistic Jacobs told Cyclingnews. "It's one thing to have the arbitrators clear him. I don't know if he can ever have it fully restored from the damage that they have done. But this type of approach for the public to see and decide for themselves goes a long way towards that."
To read the full feature, click here.
Valverde tops the ProTour rankings
The second staging of the UCI's ProTour has finished up with Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) topping the rankings with 285 points. Valverde won this year's Liège-Bastogne-Liège and La Fleche Wallonne, finished second in the Vuelta a España, and Vuelta al Pais Vasco, and although he crashed out of the Tour de France, it was more than enough to seal the victory.
In second place was Valverde's compatriot Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel), who wound up with 213 points after placing second in the Giro di Lombardia. He and Valverde combined to put Spain on top of the nations rankings, beating Italy by 157 points. Luxembourger Frank Schleck (CSC) put in a good ride in Lombardy to finish seventh in Lombardy and move ahead of Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) on the ProTour rankings.
In the teams rankings, CSC was the top performer on 388 points, ahead of Caisse d'Epargne on 350 and Rabobank on 346.
Final ProTour rankings for 2006
Individuals 1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 285 pts 2 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 213 3 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC 165 4 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 162 5 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana-Würth Team 156 6 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre-Fondital 155 7 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step-Innergetic 154 8 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step-Innergetic 144 9 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 138 10 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner 133 Teams 1 Team CSC 388 pts 2 Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 350 3 Rabobank 346 4 Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 327 5 Lampre-Fondital 327 6 Gerolsteiner 294 7 Phonak Hearing Systems 270 8 T-Mobile Team 269 9 Saunier Duval-Prodir 268 10 Astana Team 258 Nations 1 Spain 808 pts 2 Italy 651 3 Germany 475 4 Australia 340 5 United States Of America 316 6 Belgium 292 7 Kazakhstan 286 8 France 271 9 Netherlands 269 10 Russian Federation 234 Full rankings: individuals, teams, and nations.
Two world champions to race Coppa Lella Mentasti
World road and time trial champions Paolo Bettini (Quick Step/Innergetic) and Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC) will be joined by Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi (Team Milram) and their teammates at this year's edition of the Coppa Lella Mentasti team time trial tomorrow. Eighteen two man teams will cover a 52.1 km route in two laps of a circuit that starts and finishes in Borgomanero and passes through Suno, Cavaglio, Fontaneto, and Cureggio therefore of new Borgomanero.
Last year's winner Ivan Basso (Team CSC) will not defend his title, but he will be on hand to sign autographs and mingle with fans. Basso, recently cleared of doping allegations after the Italian Olympic Committee's prosecutor cited a lack of any definite proof of his involvement in the Spanish Operation Puerto investigation, also declined to race today's Giro Lombardia upon the advice of team director Bjarne Riis.
T-Mobile holds first team meeting
by Susan Westemeyer
The T-Mobile women met last week, and now the men are on. The team took advantage of the last race of the ProTour season to hold its first meeting at the Villa Sassa Hotel in Lugano, Switzerland. The first team action is getting to know each otherthere are not only 16 new team members, but also new faces among the management and support personnel. The meeting opened Saturday evening at dinner, when incoming team manager Bob Stapleton and sports director Rolf Aldag welcomed the team.
In the next few days, the 29 magenta-clad men will be fitted for new race clothes, discuss training and race calendars with the management and sporting directors, undergo medical and technical tests, attend a nutrition workshop, get photographed, and participate in those dreaded teambuildng exercises, or as the team put it, in "activities to encourage the team spirit."
Confusion continues surrounding Ullrich investigation
By Susan Westemeyer
The confusion surrounding the Jan Ullrich investigation continues to grow. When one publication claims practically irrefutable evidence against him, another claims his absolute innocence. And the director of Swiss Cycling is quoted as giving contradictory statements. Meanwhile, Ullrich has released a statement condemning the increasing confusion.
"I will defend myself against the continuing character assassination campaign," he said Saturday on his web site referring to the Swiss Cycling campaign. Despite Swiss Cycling statements to the contrary, he said,"Actually, so far no proceeding against Jan Ullrich has been opened." Ulrich says that claims that the federation has finally received the proper documents "are false. Obviously the UCI simply put their stamp on the documents they had already sent the Swiss federation. The contradictory statements from Swiss Cycling raise the false impression that Jan Ullrich is the object of an investigation in Switzerland."
The latest round of evidence was published by the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Saturday, as previously reported. The newspaper claims to have various documents stemming from a "meeting of experts" in Madrid the end of September. The investigators are "ready at any time" to provide "many examples of doping actions by Mr. Ullrich," the paper says.
One detail shows how completely the Spaniards have come to know about Ullrich. "They have found four telephone numbers that Ullrich used, three from mobile phones and one from a fixed-line network," the paper reports.
The documents show that Jan Ullrich is only one member of "a large game of deception," according to Süddeutsche Zeitung. In addition to Fuentes' center in Madrid, "they found an outlet of the doping network in northern Italy, apparently in Treviso, another one in Orleans in Franceand one in Frankfurt."
But according to the Spiegel magazine, those documents from Madrid stem not from official German or Swiss investigators, but from German anti doping crusader Warner Franke. Franke allegedly traveled to Madrid with an attorney in September and met with the Spanish investigators.
In addition, there are the contradictory statements attributed to the Swiss federation and its director, Lorenz Schläfli. Earlier this week, the federation released a statement saying it had received the final documents and turned them over to the appropriate committee. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung from Saturday quotes Schläfli as saying, "It's taking a long time," but, "We won't let it simply fall from the table," and that he is convinced that there is enough evidence "if you take the trouble to look for it."
But the BILD tabloid quotes Schläfli as saying that "Ullrich could have ridden in Lombardi, if he had a team," and that "under sports law there will be no proceeding against Ullrich." Even the German sports-fraud investigation isn't going so well. BILD quotes a press spokeswoman for the Bonn prosecuting attorneys office as saying, "It is a very difficult process."
Mayo to Saunier Duval for 2007/08
By Antonio J. Salmerón
In a press conference slated for next Monday, Spaniard pro racer Iban Mayo will announce that has reached an agreement to ride for the Saunier Duval Prodir Pro Tour team for the two next seasons. Mayo recently broke contract renewal negotiations with his current team, Euskaltel Euskadi .
Mayo said, "Saunier Duval has made me a great financial offer. I am thankful and will be talking to them now. It is the team that is interested in me the most." He had another reason to join the team, "My friend Sabino Angoitia is there; that is very important for me."
Mayo's intention to sign with Saunier Duval pleased Joxean Fernández Matxin, but he noted that negotiations are not yet final. "We think that he is a very charismatic and usable rider. In Saunier Duval, he will find the necessary motivation."
Mayo may join Latvian Raivis Belohvosciks, announced today as the newest Saunier Duval rider signed for 2007. Belohvosciks, who previously rode for CB Immobiliare-Universal Caffé, signed a two-year contract with the team.
Backstedt's year of woe continues
Liquigas rider Magnus Backstedt must be starting to wonder what he did to warrant such bad luck in 2006. The big Swede crashed on the opening stage of his first race of the season, suffering an almost career-threatening knee injury.
After rehabilitation, Backstedt fought his way back to fitness so quickly that his Liquigas team had him on the start line of the Tour de France in Strasbourg. He finished his season well and was looking forward to a busy winter on the track only for everything to come unstuck once again.
While preparing behind the derny for the madison, Backstedt and his young Swedish protegé Freddie Johansson of the Plowman Craven Racing Team tangled on a high speed change. As a result both riders were taken to hospital.
Backstedt suffered a severely separated shoulder due to the impact, but was discharged on Friday night. The injury will take some weeks to heal and doctors are still considering whether to operate on the 2004 Paris Roubaix winner. Backstedt said, "It was just one of those things that can and does go wrong with madison changes sometimes. As soon as I sat up from the crash, I knew I'd done something pretty serious to my shoulder." Twenty-year-old Johansson remains in hospital with some neck injuries and a broken bone in his hand. He will undergo a CT scan and further tests on Monday.
Gerolsteiner's Wegmann happy with Lombardy third
By Susan Westemeyer
"Of course I would have liked to have win. But it's great to be the first German ever to be on the podium of the Giro di Lombardia," said Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann before adding, "One day I want to win here."
Wegmann was in the final break with winner Paolo Bettini. "Fabian showed us a great finale. He fought and never gave up," said Director Sportif Christian Henn. "Fabian rode a great race, as did the whole team." The first Gerolstein rider at the front was Georg Totschnig, riding possibly his last race. He was part of a five-man breakaway from 20km, and was the last of the group to be caught by the peloton, some 50km before the finish.
In the end, Gerolsteiner could boast of three riders under the top fifteen: Wegmann third, eight seconds down, Davide Rebellin fifth at 46 seconds, and Andrea Moletta 14th, over four minutes down. "We can be very satisfied," said team manager Hans-Michael Holczer. "We were well represented and almost won. That was an incredibly strong performance."
Gobbi on the mend
By Susan Westemeyer
Team Milram's Michele Gobbi is continuing to improve, the team has announced. He has been moved out of the intensive-care unit of the hospital in Bologna, Italy, and it is expected that he will be transferred to a hospital in his hometown of Vicenza early next week.
A crash in the GP Beghelli gave Gobbi severe head injuries. He suffered two small cerebral hematomas and was placed in an induced coma to aid his recovery.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)