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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News, June 17, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo

Moreau storms to Dauphiné lead

Christophe Moreau (Ag2r)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Frenchman Christophe Moreau (AG2r) stomped away from the group of Andrey Kashechkin (Astana) on stage six of the Dauphiné Libéré, taking back the leader's yellow jersey from the Kazakh rider with a gutsy move on the final climb of the Col du Télégraph. The 36 year-old came eighth behind remnants of an early breakaway on a stage won by Maxim Iglinsky (Astana), but gained enough time on Kashechkin to recapture the jersey that he took on stage two.

Moreau took the overall lead in the Dauphiné with a brilliant ride on stage two into Saint-Etienne, where he was part of a three-man breakaway, only to give it up in the following day's time trial. "My favourite terrain is switching slowly from time trialling to climbing," said Moreau after that stage. "But I've showed today that my legs of an old man still work correctly. I haven't decided anything for my future. We must see how the old machine goes before calling it a career."

A professional since 1995, Moreau usually races quite well in the Dauphiné - he won the overall classification in 2001 - and he looks to be in for another overall victory following his performance in Valloire after a strong ride on the Mont Ventoux in stage four that made up for a mediocre stage three time trial. "Winning here is just as fabulous as taking the yellow jersey after the prologue of the 2001 Tour de France in Dunkirk. It's magnificent," Moreau said atop Mont Ventoux.

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Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

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Moreau's late breakaway companion Cadel Evans had high praise for the Frenchman. "Moreau seems to get better every year. When he's good, he's very good. I wasn't holding back... I wanted to attack and try to get the yellow jersey but I simply couldn't. Moreau was the strongest."

Moreau holds a slim 14 second lead over Australian Cadel Evans going into the final stage, but with the final difficulty, the Col de la Forclaz, coming more than 17 kilometres from the finish and a downhill run to the finale in Annency, Moreau doesn't expect to have problems holding the lead. "We'll have to stay focused till the very end. I don't want to sell the skin of the bear before killing him, but if Evans rides as he did today, it should be all right."

Evans finds form in Valloire

By Jean-François Quénet in Valloire

Evans in the 2005 Tour de Suisse
Photo ©: Christine Grein
Click for larger image

Cadel Evans usually rides the Tour de Suisse in preparation for the Tour de France, but he chose the Dauphiné this year - a choice that has clearly been a good one. Evans sits in second overall with one stage remaining, only 14 seconds behind Christophe Moreau. "So far it's been good, but it's only the Tour that matters," he commented on the finishing line in Valloire.

The Victorian came to this race with a champion's mindset, and wants to take over the lead to build confidence for the Tour. "Winning is always the best training," he stated. Even if he doesn't overtake Moreau, Evans is clearly on his way to fulfilling his goal of having peak form for the mountain stages of the Tour de France, but he's not making any assumptions from his performance here.

"I don't want to draw any conclusions from the Dauphiné, he said. "Armstrong won the Dauphiné and the Tour. Landis got dropped at the Dauphiné and won the Tour. Leipheimer won the Dauphiné but got dropped at the Tour. Anything is possible after the Dauphiné."

The Dauphiné has been good preparation for his Tour de France build-up, but Evans is still keeping his eye on some riders who aren't enjoying as much success. "Kashechkin will improve before the Tour, Leipheimer I don't know, Pereiro should improve, Valverde will improve for sure."

Di Gregorio gets his Tour de France ticket

By Jean-François Quénet in Valloire

Remy Di Gregorio (FdJ)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Has France found a new Richard Virenque? It wasn't the first time that Rémy Di Gregorio put a polka dot jersey on in Valloire - he did so during the 2005 Tour de l'Avenir in his first year pro as well. But it was an interesting symbol in Dauphiné: a 21 year-old Frenchman who attacked at km 0 at the bottom of the Col Bayard, and who crossed in first position the top of four climbs including the legendary Col de la Croix-de-Fer. Di Gregorio's ride was reminiscent of his more famous countryman who was awarded best climber of the Tour de France seven times.

Just like Virenque, Di Gregorio hails from South of France, and he's similarly outspoken with a friendly character. After the stage, he received a phone call from Française des Jeux team manager Marc Madiot who told him he'd make his debut at the Tour de France for sure in London. He was on the long list for the team after placing third in the 17km uphill time trial behind Denis Menchov and Vladimir Karpets, beating the likes of Alexandre Vinokourov and Michael Rogers in the Tour of Catalunya last month.

Just like Virenque, Di Gregorio has his pride and he doesn't like losing. "I was disappointed at the Mont Ventoux, he explained. I was sick. I vomited at the bottom of the climb. So I wanted to do well in today's hilly stage. I was initially targeting the stage win, not the polka dot jersey but after being first at the top of Col Bayard, I decided to go for it in all the climbs. After producing all these efforts, it was logical that I was less fresh than the Astana rider [stage winner Maxim Iglinsky -ed.] who hadn't worked before because he was protecting Kashechkin's yellow jersey. It was fair enough."

We might hear a lot of Di Gregorio in July, especially when the Tour goes through his home town of Marseille on stage ten and eleven. This up and coming new climber will want to take the polka dot jersey in the Alps so he can parade it in front of his friends and family there.

Ullrich looks set to keep Swiss Tour title

By Shane Stokes

Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

One year ago Jan Ullrich sealed his overall victory in the Tour de Suisse with a win in the final time trial. At the time it was seen as a sign that he was approaching top form and would be a big challenger in the Tour de France, but in reality this Swiss Tour was the last success of his career. His implication in Operación Puerto ruled him out of the French race, and his career came to a definite end when he was linked through DNA testing to bags of blood seized in Eufemiano Fuentes' clinic in Madrid.

Ullrich continues to insist that he never doped, but this affair plus the statement by former T-Mobile soigneur Jeff d'Hont that the German star used EPO have put a serious question mark over his achievements.

Despite this, it looks like Ullrich's win in the Tour de Suisse seems likely to stand. Race directeur Armin Meier told Cyclingnews on Friday that no change is envisaged in the general classification for 2006.

"The winner is still Jan Ullrich because we didn't have any problems here," he said. "He did not test positive at this race. It is not our problem."

In addition to Ullrich's place at the top of the podium, three others from the top of the general classification were connected in some way to the Operación Puerto investigation. Koldo Gil, Jorg Jaksche and Angel Vicioso filled places second through to four. None of these are riding the 2007 edition, although Gil's name was on the provisional start list up until yesterday.

Unsurprisingly, Meier is hoping that this year's race will be scandal-free. "I hope everything runs smoothly. It is difficult to say [how it will be] because at the moment in cycling we have this situation, but I hope it is getting better."

Apart from the desire not to have such complications, he outlined what else he was wishing for. "I hope that we have nice weather, a big winner and some Swiss guys who will be successful during the race." He said that he expected the prologue time trial, the seventh stage to the summit finish of Grimselpass and the concluding time trial in Bern to be the key days.

Rogers not worried by prologue ride

By Shane Stokes in Olten

Former world champion Michael Rogers had an unusual carrot in front of him in the prologue of the Tour de Suisse; current rainbow jersey Fabian Cancellara, who took the title from him last September. On the day, it was the current gold medallist who fared best as Rogers finished 17 seconds back in 38th place.

He wasn't however phased by the result. "It wasn't too bad, I was pretty happy," he said afterwards. "I think I rode quite well. I can sometimes go well at these prologues but am normally not right up there with the leaders. I was not too far off, so I am happy enough."

He performed well in the 2006 Tour de France and like others on the T-Mobile squad here, would like to show good legs in the Swiss race.

"We have got a heap of guys here who are strong. Kirchen's going [well], Sinke is going, Gerdemann is going well. I think we have a competitive team. I don't know if we can win it but I think we can come away with at least a stage win or two."

The question is, with the Tour de Suisse finishing a week closer to the Tour de France than the Dauphiné, is he happy to go flat out here rather than holding back somewhat?

"It depends on what is on offer," he answered. "If I am leading this and have a chance to win overall, I am not going to give that up to take it easy for the Tour. This is still an important race."

Helicopter slows Schumacher

Stefan Schumacher was the best Gerolsteiner rider in Saturday's Tour de Suisse prologue, finishing in ninth place, 12 seconds down. But he could have done better if there hadn't been some outside interference.

"During his ride, a helicopter landed next to the course. The resulting wind hit Stefan and he had to take something out," said Directeur Sportif Reimund Dietzen. "But we can still be satisfied. He still finished in the top ten."

'Wait and see' for T-Mobile leadership

By Shane Stokes in Olten

As Rogers mentioned, T-Mobile has a very strong team at the Tour de Suisse. Directeur Sportif Brian Holm said that the race would decide who gets the backing as team leader.

"We will wait a few days and see after the first mountains who is going well," he told Cyclingnews. "Of course, we expect Michael and Patrick to do something. Linus [Gerdemann] and Kim Kirchen are also here, they spent five days last week doing some mountain stages in the Pyrenees. It is hard to say who was going best as it was training, but everybody looked quite fit. Normally, though, Michael should be the guy here."

Like CSC, T-Mobile appear to be fielding their A team in this race rather than at the Dauphiné Libéré. Holm said that this is the case. "It could be more or less the Tour team here, although not completely. Two or three riders could change. I think the final decision will be made after the Tour de Suisse," he stated.

Tinkov fed up with doping scandals

By Gregor Brown

Hamilton and Tinkov in better times
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

When Tinkoff Credit Systems team owner Oleg Tinkov added Tyler Hamilton, Jorg Jaksche and Danilo Hondo to his team, he knew he was taking a risk. Hamilton was just returning from a two year suspension for blood doping, Hondo's on-again off-again suspension for a Carphedon was still up in the air, and both Hamilton and Jaksche had been alleged to be named in the Operación Puerto investigation. Still, all three were hired for the new ProTour team, a move that later came back to haunt the team and it's owner.

Tinkov expressed his frustration with the scandals to Cyclingnews earlier this week, and Hamilton in particular was the subject of the Russian's vitriol. "I was clear to my management. I don't want to see him in the team," Tinkov said to Cyclingnews from his office in Moscow. Hamilton was under contract with the team, but in Tinkov's mind, he is no longer a part of the squad after being suspended following the revitalised Puerto investigation. "I want to fire him. That is it. To me he is fired. With the legal perspective it is tricky. I am fed up with Hamilton's type of scandals."

Cyclingnews met with Tinkov in January at the team's presentation in Rome, and we were curious what had changed between then and now, six months later. "I have to admit that I made a mistake. I believed in this guy and I tried to help him. However, more and more, with the development of the situation of [Ivan] Basso, and everybody else who starts to confess, I just realized that there was a case and then I decided that I don't want to deal with it anymore. I don't want to see Hondo, Jaksche and Tyler anymore in my team. That is it."

Tinkov hopes to take his team to the top by 2009. "I think by 2009 I will (I hope) be ready to go the head of the series. ... We learned a lot [in the Giro d'Italia] and the team will be more balanced for next year's Giro," he continued.

By 2009 he will build the team's budget with his own money or with funds from a secondary sponsor. "Either with our without I am going to go much bigger in 2009. In 2008, the budget is secured at four million euro a year. So, for next year it will be more or less the same budget, like this year. However, for 2009 we will be much more serious if we want to be one of the biggest teams in the world, with or without a secondary sponsor.

"Right now it is at four million. Maybe it is a little bit more [laughs - ed.]."

Stay tuned for a full interview with Oleg Tinkov.

CSC joins lineup for Irish tour

The 2005 and 2006 top-ranked ProTour team CSC has been confirmed for the new Tour of Ireland, which will begin in Kilkenny in just over two months time.

The Danish team joins previously announced squads from, T-Mobile, Panaria, Navigators Insurance plus the lineup for the 2.1 ranked race, which makes its debut some fifteen years after the last edition of the Nissan Classic Tour of Ireland was held.

CSC has some of the biggest names in the sport and the organisers, The Events Group in association with Shadetree Sports, will be hoping that some of those top riders will form part of the squad for the Irish event.

"We are proud that Team CSC have accepted our invitation to race in our inaugural Tour of Ireland in August," said Darach McQuaid of Shadetree Sports. "This global team, with a global sponsor, have a lot of world-class riders capable of winning individual stages as well as the general classification and will enhance our event significantly with their presence.

"Kim Andersen, Directeur Sportif at Team CSC, is a former stage winner of the Nissan Classic and himself no stranger to success on Irish roads. This year alone some of their results have included victory in Paris-Roubaix and second overall in the Giro d'Italia. We look forward to seeing them race on Irish soil."

The Tour of Ireland will run from August 22nd - 26th. More ProTour and Professional Continental teams are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Tour de PEI wins over racers

By Kirsten Robbins

The Tour of Prince Edward Island was considered a success by most of the riders who participated in the five stage event. The general feeling in the peloton was that the Tour de PEI fell in the perfect slot on the racing calendar, and feelings were that the tour will likely be more popular in the years to come.

"I have done the races in Montreal for three years, and when I heard of the Tour de PEI I thought it was fantastic to be able to race in Canada for two weeks," said Swiss woman Annette Beutler, who rides for the Italian Menikini-Gysko squad. "It is really far for us to come to North America just to do a world cup in Montreal, so having the other two stage races are perfect."

Australia's gold medallist in the 2004 Olympic games, Sarah Carrigan commented on the overall impression of the inaugural event, and the impact the organization and the race had on the women's racing. "My overall impression of the Tour de PEI is that we were treated like queens with wonderful organization and accommodations," Carrigan said.

"The stage two time trial was different and one of the toughest time trials I have ever done, but the Confederation Bridge is one of the treasures of the island and a great way for them to showcase their home. It was really good racing for the first year and with a three-year contract it will continue to grow."

The Confederation Bridge was just one of the stunning attractions that were a part of the Tour de PEI, and Beutler expressed her appreciation for the area. "I really liked the race here and the people here too," Beutler said. "It was a really special atmosphere and the people were so supportive of the bike race. It is always special to come to Canada. I think it was a fantastic race and a different style of race. It is a special island and the time trial over the bridge was awesome. The landscape, the rolling hills, the ocean and the wind made the race beautiful but hard."

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