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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for September 19, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones, Laura Weislo & Greg Johnson

Valverde ready for Vinokourov rematch

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Vino and Valverde
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Spaniard Alejandro Valverde is confident of his form ahead of this week's World Championship despite losing on home soil to Alexander Vinokourov in last week's Vuelta. "[Francisco]Antequera has assembled great riders around me, so it will be necessary to fight for the medals," explained Valverde on Sunday in Madrid.

The Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears rider leads the Spanish team into the World Championships following the withdrawal of three times World Champion Oscar Freire due to neck injury. "The loss of Freire is an added pressure," added Valverde. Despite the Spanish team's form, the Italian team again enter the championships as favourites.

Italian Olympic Champion Paolo Bettini's confidence received a boost following a strong performance in the Vuelta but, like in Madrid, Alessandro Petacchi and Danilo Di Luca are also aspiring to lead the Italian selection in Salzburg. In spite of its supremacy in the World Championships, the issue of leadership has become an ongoing obstacle for the Italian team.

Italian coach Franco Ballerini assured Spanish news agency EFE, "We will continue being feared and watched by the rest. Spain, without Freire and Astarloa, is a little less strong, but Valverde is an extraordinary rider and he will count with all Spanish selection working hard for him." Ballerini also cited Kazakhstan's Vinokourov, German Stefan Schumacher and Belgian's reigning World Champion Tom Boonen as his team's main threats at this year's championships.

While Vinokourov admits he may be considered a favourite for the event, which commences on Wednesday, he warns the UCI's national ranking system could hamper his championship chances, "the UCI only allows us to participate with only three members (Kashechkin, Yakovlev and me), whereas the strongest nations can have nine. I agree that Kazakhstan is not a top cycling nation, but the difference [in cyclists] seems excessive to me." Describing the 265km route as "hard and selective," Vinokourov believes the Italians, Valverde and Boonen will be his main rivals in a battle to the line. "We will have to wait until the last kilometres, and then, look for our opportunity there," concluded Vinokourov.

Colombians ready for Austria

The Colombian squad is gearing up for the World Championships in Salzburg this week. Most of the team has arrived, and has been doing its best to get some training in in the rain. Tenax riders Rigoberto Urán and Marlon Pérez were the last to arrive on Tuesday morning.

The U23 riders Fabio Duarte and Rigoberto Urán will contest their time trial championship on Wednesday. Duarte rode the World's as a junior in 2001 and as an U23 in 2004. Urán did the World's as a junior in 2005.

The elite men's team for Sunday's road race is composed of Marlňn Pčrez (Tenax Salmilano), Mauricio Ardila (Rabobank), Luis F. Laverde (Panaria), Fčlix Cŕrdenas (Barloworld), Mauricio Soler (Aqua&Sapone) and Alex Cano (Maltinti).

BMX World Championships to Australia

The UCI has awarded the hosting of the 2009 BMX World Championships to Australia. The championships will be staged in Adelaide, South Australia, and the bid received substantial support from SA Events, a division of South Australian Tourism. The 2009 World's will be held indoors at the Wayville Showground and organisers expect around 1800 entrants from an anticipated 35 countries.

BMX Australia National President Graham Arnold commented, "It is not well known that BMX Australia has the second largest competitor membership in the world, and events of this magnitude allow those riders to experience the excitement of world class competition in their own backyard."

Gerrans back to defend Sun Tour title alone

Australian Simon Gerrans will have to defend his Jayco Herald Sun Tour title without the support of his AG2R team that helped him to glory in 2005, after the French squad announced last week that injury and illness has depleted their line-up to such an extent that they were forced to withdraw from the Tour.

However, the news isn't all bad for the defending champion, with Gerrans set to ride for the Australian team that will feature Henk Vogels, Matt Wilson, Trent Lowe and David Kemp under the guidance of Victorian Institute of Sport head coach Dave Sanders.

Lowe is one of the rising stars of Australian cycling, joining Lance Armstrong's former team, Discovery Channel, in 2006 as one of four new riders on their roster. The 21 year-old, former full-time professional mountain biker had a breakthrough year on the road in 2005 riding for the US domestic team, Jittery Joe´s, where the caught eye of Discovery Channel sports manager Johan Bruyneel.

Lowe won the young rider competition at the Tour de Georgia, finishing eleventh overall, and he won the difficult Redlands Classic Oak Glen stage, finishing second overall.

Sanders is yet to confirm the final two spots on the Australian team and will wait until after this weekend's World Championships in Salzburg, Austria, before confirming the line-up. Gerrans will compete in the road race in Austria, his final hit out before defending his Tour title – beginning in Shepparton on Sunday October 8.

AG2R management had agreed to send six pro-riders headed by the reigning champion. "The flights were booked and we were due to leave later this month, I'm bitterly disappointed," Gerrans said from Europe where he has just finished the Tour of Poland.

"My management came to see me to explain its predicament, we just don't have enough fit riders to send a group to the other side of the world," Gerrans said.

A night with Eddy Merckx

As part of the race, the Sun Tour will be featuring a night with Eddy Merckx this year at the Belgian Beer Café Bluestone on October 13. Considered by many fans to be the greatest cyclist of all time, the Belgian will also be in Melbourne for the finale in Lygon Street, as well as the Portfolio Partners Around the Bay in a Day on Sunday, October 15.

Full event details

Date: Friday 13 October 2006, 6.30pm
Venue: Ormond Hall - 57 St Kilda Road (next door to the Belgian Beer Café Bluestone, enter via Moubray Street) Melbourne
Cost: $120 - all inclusive Belgian three course meal, with Belgian beer, wine and coffee
Bookings: +61 (0)3 9529 3111 or

Rabobank for upcoming ProTour races

Züri-Metzgete - October 1, 2006 Zürich, Switzerland: 8 riders out of: Michael Boogerd, Juan Antonio Flecha, Mauricio Ardila, Grischa Niermann, Theo Eltink, Pieter Weening, Alexander Kolobnev, Michael Rasmussen, Gerben Löwik, Bram de Groot. D.S. Erik Breukink

Paris-Tours - October 8, 2006 Saint-Arnoult-en-Yvelines, France: 8 riders out of: Graeme Brown, Michael Boogerd, Juan Antonio Flecha, Roy Sentjens, Mathew Hayman, Gerben Löwik, Marc Wauters, Jan Boven, Pedro Horrillo, Bram de Groot, Joost Posthuma. D.S. Adri van Houwelingen

Giro di Lombardia - October 14, 2006 Italy: 8 riders out of: Mauricio Ardila, Michael Boogerd, Juan Antonio Flecha, Theo Eltink, Grischa Niermann, Michael Rasmussen, Marc de Maar, Pieter Weening, Alexander Kolobnev, Gerben Löwik D.S. Erik Breukink

Three medals for Fabrizio Macchi

36 year old Italian racer Fabrizio Macchi has earned three bronze medals at this year's International Paralympic Committee World Championships in Aigle, Switzerland. Macchi took the bronze in the pursuit and kilo on the track, and another bronze in the road time trial. Macchi, who lost his left leg to cancer in his teens, has achieved honours in many other sports such as ski slalom, rowing, javelin, long jump and track in addition to his prolific cycling career. "Three medals are a very good haul" said a satisfied Macchi on his return from Switzerland. "The outcome of this World adventure is certainly positive. Which medal made me happier? No doubt the one conquered in Friday's time trial, it was the one I wanted most."

British cycling continues working with Landbouwkrediet

The British cycling federation will continue its cooperation with Belgium's Landbouwkrediet-Colnago team, that started in 2004. That means that Brits Paul Manning (world champion in the team pursuit and gold medalist in the Commonwealth Games) and Edward Clancy (European U23 team pursuit champion) will extend their contracts with the squad in the coming days.

Teens killed in separate charity rides

Two 15-year-olds have been killed during two separate charity rides in the United States. Rachel Giblin died from injuries sustained when a pickup truck and trailer struck the tandem bike she was riding with her older brother, Tommy, during the MS Society's Breakaway to the Beach charity ride in Charlotte on Saturday. The pair's mother Becky was also struck by the vehicle but, like Tommy, escaped with only minor injuries.

In a separate incident, Charlie Vogann was killed when a semi truck struck the bike he was riding in the MS 150 Push for The Cure event in Oklahoma on Saturday. Both victims were helping raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society in separate fundraising events when the tragedies occurred.

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