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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for September 18, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones, with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Valverde: "I could not do any more"

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: Unipublic
(Click for larger image)

Alejandro Valverde finished in second position in the general classification of the Vuelta. The Spanish Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears leader could not overcome Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana), "but I was close to the final triumph" and he emphasized the strength of the Kazakhstani winner "who was the best, a great rival. Vinokourov was the rightful winner, so I congratulate him."

On the development of the Vuelta, Valverde explained, "It was a very competitive race, and that is good for cycling."

Now, Valverde is already thinking of the World Championships: "I will return to training tomorrow, on Tuesday, at home in Murcia (Spain), and on Wednesday, I will travel to Salzburg." Without Óscar Freire, Valverde will lead the Spanish selection next Sunday 24th, where he is a favourite to win after already obtaining two silver medals.

T-Mobile to be an "international team of character"

The Team T-Mobile of the future will have "an international management team with international personnel and an international sponsor," says incoming general manager Bob Stapleton. Not only that, it will be "a team which believes in clean and fair sport." In an interview with Welt magazine, he said that he is looking to develop a "team of character, with riders who have a good heart, head and good legs, are willing to well together as a team and have excellent prospects. That's what's interesting and significant for the sport in these tough times. "

One change will be a new international team of "young, progressive and clued-in" directeurs sportifs, with only Valerio Piva (Italy) and Brian Holm (Denmark) continuing over from the current team. They will be joined by Tristan Hoffman (Netherlands) and Alan Peiper (Australia). They will be managed by Rolf Aldag, "who after a long pro career has a knowledge of the peloton that's second to none and has the right kind of character."

Having lost its biggest stars, the team will no longer be concentrating on the Tour de France, Stapleton says. "Our goal now is to be competitive throughout the entire season with riders that bring the right character and qualities - both on and off the bike - and to no longer depend on just one or two stars to deliver. And, of course, even if it's the Tour that guarantees maximum media coverage, T-Mobile will also be in action in plenty of other countries, where races attract good media coverage. It is our strategy to attract broader coverage of the team, rather than pump the bulk of our budget into the Tour."

He briefly addressed the fate of his predecessor, Olaf Ludwig, and why he was being removed. "From day one things didn't run as smoothly between him and the sponsor as both sides would have wished, and they had different views on some serious issues. It just didn't fit. Why, I couldn't say."

Does he see himself as a crisis manager, he was asked? "You could say that about anybody involved in this sport right now. The crisis in cycling is not going to go away until certain fundamental changes are made. There are many who prefer to take a business-as-usual approach. My approach is: let's turn the sport on its head and start afresh. That's exactly what we are doing at T-Mobile. I hope that other teams and decision-makers are on the same page. By the way, what's happening in Germany right now is very encouraging: the national cycling federation is making real efforts to improve anti-doping measures."

Stapleton hopes to lead the way in the anti-doping fight, with the introduction of a three-tiered program. "First: monitoring the athletes. They must commit to following our program of medical supervision. Second: We will put in practice state-of-the-art testing procedures. Just consider the blood volume testing that we want to introduce. Third: a code of conduct for riders. Our rules are even stricter than what the ProTour proposes. With the strict contracts we are offering, I think that we can be certain that our riders are conducting themselves correctly. We are convinced that we have signed up some really good people, who won't be prone to doping. With the right environment and with proper support through clever and innovative training they can develop with us."

Lang ready for the World's

Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: Florian Schaaf
(Click for larger image)

Sebastian Lang seems to like Hessen, Germany. Two years ago he won the Hessen Rundfahrt, and this year he won it again under its new name, the 3-Länder Tour. "That was a very good stage race for me," he said. "I have showed that I am not just a good time trialist. It went very well and I didn't use up too much strength. I seem to be in form for the World Championships." Lang is to ride the world's time trial for Germany.

He thanked his team for supporting him. directeur sportif Christian Henn (who won the race in 1996) said, "Everything fit together and went well. The team did good work and Seppl took care of the win."

CSC also did exceptionally well in the race, with three stage wins, five top-four finishes, and Frank Schleck's third place overall. Two of the stage wins belonged to Karsten Kroon, who said "The 3-Länder Tour is a comeback for me." His last victory had been in 2004. "Now I have that 'winning feeling' again."

One of his teammates who would have like to have taken a stage win but couldn't was Jens Voigt, who on Sunday celebrated his 34th birthday. He was in the breakaway group with Kroon and several others at the end. But it is the end of a long season for him, and the strength just wasn't there any more, and he was being closely watched by Aivaras Baranauskas and Hannes Blank, who finished 2nd and 3rd directly ahead of him. "Of course they knew that I wanted to win," Voigt said. "You can't play those tactical games in that situation."

Wegmann getting ready for the World's

Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann will be riding for Germany in the World's road race, but won't see the course until he arrives in Salzburg Thursday. "Why Why drive yourself crazy and check the course out a half a year early?" he asks. "I'll have enough time to make my own picture of the course. During the race itself we'll see it a total of 12 times anyway! When you've ridden it two or three times and pay attention, then you basically now everything you need to know."

He compares the race to a classics race. "You need extremely good staying power to come over the mammoth distance (270 km), but at the same time you have to be fresh for the climbs. That's why I trained long distances last week and will dedicate myself this week to intensive unit training. 'Intensive,' that basically means interval training. Not just rolling along somewhere, but really going to the limit on climbs. I'm so exhausted when I return from training in the Black Forest that I have to hit the bed for an hour or so." (

Teams ready for 20th Tour du Faso challenge

The Tour du Faso turns 20 this year, and will be run between October 25 and November 5 in the African country of Burkina Faso. Organised by Tour de France owners ASO, the race is aimed at improving the level of cycling in Africa. The 20th edition will see 12 African teams, a record for the event, taking part. The Burkina supremacy of the last two years with Abdul Wahab Sawadogo's win in 2004 and Jérémie Ouedraogo's in 2005 could well be challenged by another African nation.

The Egyptians, winners of the 1999 edition will be back in Ouagadougou, while the riders from Cameroon and Angola will be hoping to continue their progression. Riders from Togo, Benin and Niger will join together inside a mixed team, and Zimbabwe, a newcomer on the race could surprise quite few.

The battle could also be won by the European teams having made the trip. The Belgians have ridden the Tour du Faso since 1996 and are often present on the final podium, aiming for the top step this time. Four French teams will also come with high expectations, and Japan, which will have a full team for the second time, will be chasing a stage win at the least.

Teams: Angola, Belgium, Brittany, Burkina Faso (A, B, C), Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Gabon, Japan, Mali Sarthe, Senegal, Vélo Club de Roubaix, Yvelines, Zimbabwe, and a mixed team Benin-Niger-Togo.

The stages

Stage 1 - October 25: Ouagadougou – Manga, 100 km
Stage 2 - October 26: Manga - Pô – Tiébélé, 121 km, including 26 km on a dirt road
Stage 3 - October 27: Pô – Ouagadougou, 140 km
Stage 4 - October 28: Boussé – Ouahigouya, 129 km, including 1.7 km on a dirt road
Stage 5 - October 29: Yako – Ziniaré, 150 km including 11 km on a dirt road
Stage 6 - October 30: Kokologo – Boromo, 136 km
Rest Day - October 31
Stage 7 - November 1: Bobo-Dioulasso – Banfora, 85 km
Stage 8 - November 2: Criterium de Bobo-Dioulasso, 121 km: 12 x 10,1 km
Stage 9 - November 3: Boromo – Sabou – Koudougou, 115 km including 26.5 km on a dirt road
Stage 10 - November 4: Linoghin – Pouytenga, 96 km
Stage 11 - November 5: Loumbila – Ouagadougou, 88 km, including 12 x 4,5 on a circuit

Contract news

Cappelle stays with Landbouwkrediet

Andy Cappelle has extended his contract with Landbouwkrediet-Colnago. Team manager Gérard Bulens is happy with Cappelle's progress this season, and Andy believes he can return to his best level. He is the 10th Belgian rider to have confirmed with Landbouwkrediet for next season.

Mouris and Stroetinga to Ubbink

Jens Mouris (Regiostrom Senges) and Wim Stroetinga (Fondas P3 Transfer) have signed two year contracts with the Dutch Ubbink-Syntec Cycling Team.

Pozzato leaving Quick.Step

Classy Italian rider Filippo Pozzato will leave Quick.Step-Innergetic at the end of this season, according to Team manager Patrick Lefevere told the paper that he would happily have kept Pozzato, the winner of this year's Milan-San Remo, "but after Boonen, Bettini and now also Steegmans and Van Petegem, I don't have the money to match his demands." Pozzato has interest from Liquigas, T-Mobile and Astana.

Rabobank: Boven stays; Rick Flens moves up

Jan Boven will stay with the Rabobank ProTeam through the 2007 season. Boven has reached an agreement with Rabobank manager Theo de Rooij over a one year contract. Rick Flens, a talented rider from the Rabobank Continental Team, will make the switch to the Rabobank ProTeam in 2007. Flens has signed a two year contract.

In 2007, Jan Boven will start his twelfth season as a rider for Rabobank. Together with Michael Boogerd and Richard Groenendaal, Boven is one of only three riders who have been with the team ever since the start of the Rabobank Cycling Teams in 1996. Erik Dekker has been around since 1996 as well, but Dekker recently switched to a position in the team leader’s car.

In 1996, Jan Boven won a stage in the Teleflex Tour, the one and only victory of Boven as a professional rider. Boven is a respected domestique within Rabobank. This Sunday, Boven will represent The Netherlands for the fifth time in World Championships road race as an elite rider.

Rick Flens joined the Rabobank Continental team at the beginning of the 2006 season. Thus far, Flens has won four races in 2006. He is a strong time trialist, and won the prologue of Olympia’s Tour plus the individual time trial of the Tour du Poitou Charentes et de la Vienne. On top of that, a solo led to a stage victory in the Ronde van Vlaams-Brabant. Last weekend, his sprint was good enough for the victory in the third stage of the Tour de la Somme.

Albert Timmer to Skil-Shimano

Dutch rider Albert Timmer has signed a two-year contract with Skil-Shimano. This season the 21-year old cyclist from Gramsbergen (Netherlands) has been riding for Team Löwik Meubelen of Han Vaanhold. Timmer attracted attention this season with a third place in the GP Gerrie Knetemann, a third place in the Meeůs Race in Lierop and two second places, in the third and fourth stage of the GP Wilhelm Tell.

Timmer, who is seen as a promising talent, is an all-round cyclist who can compete with the best riders in the Under 23 category on hilly courses, as well as in the time trial.

"The program, ambiance and ambition of the Skil-Shimano team is very appealing to me and I will give my very best to succeed as a professional cyclist."

Cyclist killed near Rochester, NY

By Alan Coté

American cyclist Jon Dechau (33) was killed after being struck from behind by a motorist on September 13. The accident occurred in Lima, New York, USA, about 20 miles south of Rochester.

The Livingston County sheriff’s office said that Dechau was riding westbound on the shoulder of route 20 approximately two feet to the right of the white line. A sheriff’s spokesman said a westbound vehicle driven by Sharon Cameron, 61, crossed the white line and struck Dechau from behind at approximately 45-50 mph, and Dechau died at the scene.

Cameron could not provide an explanation to police as to why her vehicle drifted from the travel lane to the shoulder. She freely submitted to a blood test as part of the accident investigation, and police do not believe she was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Results of the investigation will determine if charges will be filed against Cameron.

Dechau was a champion cyclist who began racing with the Genesee Valley Cycling Club in 1989. His cycling accomplishments included winning numerous medals at the Empire State Games and State Championships, competing in the 2000 Olympic trials, and two top-20 finishes in the US National Time Trial Championships. In late 2000 he signed to ride as pro for the ill-fated Noblehouse team, before turning his attention to family and work in more recent years. A man of deep Christian faith, he leaves his wife Debbie, 9 year old son Tyler, and new born baby Lillian Page.

(A funeral is planned for 11 AM on Monday, September 18th. Zion Fellowship Canandaigua, NY 14424

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