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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for March 20, 2007

Edited by Greg Johnson & Ben Abrahams

McEwen quietly confident for Milano-Sanremo

McEwen opens his European account
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

After notching up his first European victory of 2007 in the opening stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, Aussie super sprinter Robbie McEwen is one of the favourites to add a first win in La Classicissima to his palmarès on Saturday. "The feeling in the legs is most important and that's good," said McEwen to Brussels FM. "If nothing hurts your legs then that's a good sign."

Surviving the climbs of Cipressa and Poggio with the leading group will likely be McEwen's toughest task come Saturday, but the Predictor-Lotto rider believes his form is on track. "I'm climbing well and haven't had a problem so far in Tirreno," he continued. "I could win on Saturday if I'm there on the Via Roma, but it's not certain that it'll come down to a sprint.

"I must survive the Cipressa and Poggio before then and be conservative. It's important for a race of 300 kilometres to not work too much under stress."

McEwen could be without the support of his faithful lieutenant Freddy Rodriguez after the American didn't take the start of stage six at Tirreno due to sickness. "He has a problem with his breathing," said team manager Hendrik Redant to Sporza. "We sent him home to avoid making the other riders sick."

New Predictor-Lotto signing Leif Hoste is also uncertain of being on the start line in Milan following a crash in yesterday's Tirreno stage to San Giacomo. "We will know more on Tuesday," affirmed Redant. "Leif crashed after 55 kilometres but continued driving on for another 10 kilometres until I told him to stop. He had an enormous bruise the size of a tennis ball. At his moment we can say nothing about his participation in Milan-San Remo."

Bruyneel satisfied with season so far

Two victories in arguably the biggest stage races of the season so far - the Tour of California and Paris-Nice - have certainly not harmed Discovery Channel's search for a new sponsor, and team boss Johan Bruyneel is understandably pleased with how the team are continuing to adapt to life without Lance Armstrong. "Our team was able to come into 2007 very focused with our first year without Lance behind us," said Bruyneel.

"We have new riders, new goals and new objectives and I could not be happier with the how the guys have performed so far. The Tour of California and Paris-Nice wins were a direct result of our guys riding as a team behind their leader."

Alberto Contador's last gasp victory in Paris-Nice means that the young Spaniard will now wear the white jersey of ProTour leader - despite the fact that no official presentation took place after Sunday's final stage in Nice. "Alberto pointing at the Discovery Channel on his jersey was his way of thanking his teammates and showing how happy he is on this team," continued the Belgian. "This was a tremendous win for our entire organization. Winning races can only help us as we look to solidify a new title sponsor for 2008."

Toyota-United excited ahead of Redlands Classic

Dominant force: Ivan Dominguez and Ivan Stevic of Toyota-United
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

American Continental squad Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team has stated it's confident about the National Racing Calendar season ahead, having already set a new team record by securing the top three positions in last weekend's Quad Knopf Sequoia Cycling Classic Criterium. Ivan Dominguez stormed to victor in Sunday's Criterium, ahead of teammates Ivan Stevic and Henk Vogels, but says he's still got more to come.

"Right now I'm about 70 percent," Dominguez said. "I don't want to get in form too quickly because there are still a lot of races to come."

The all Toyota-United podium, which was last achieved by Health Net presented by Maxxis last June at the Nature Valley Grand Prix Stage Race, comes a day after the squad's Chris Baldwin took second place in the Classic's time trial.

"I think the guys are pretty much getting the feel of each other," said team director Harm Jansen. "It was great to see the guys get the fine details perfect."

The squad is now looking ahead to this week's Redland's Bicycle Classic, a four day stage race in the United States of America, where it feels confident of another strong result.

"We go into Redlands with very good morale," Jansen concluded.

Fewer teams for Amstel Gold Race

Organisers of the Amstel Gold Race have reduced the number of teams allowed to start this year's event from 25 to 23 because of safety concerns, according to Dutch press agency ANP. "There are always twists and turns in the Amstel, but now there are more and more obstructions in Limburg," said race director Leo van Vliet. "We have had much consultation with the municipalities and province but the riders must understand that we are trying to make it safer for them."

All 20 ProTour teams will participate in the Amstel's 42nd edition on Sunday, April 22 with van Vliet confirming that Belgian team Chocolade Jacques has been awarded the third wildcard alongside Skil-Shimano and Wiesenhof-Felt.

Rabobank announce one-day rosters

Oscar Freire (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Dutch ProTour team Rabobank has announced its rosters for this week's one-day races, that Belgium's Nokere Koerse and the Italian Spring Classic Milano-Sanremo.

Leading the squad at tomorrow's UCI 1.1 Nokere Koerse will be Australian sprinter Graeme Brown. The two time Olympic gold medalist will be supported by Sébastian Langeveld, Dmitriy Kozontchuk, Marc de Maar, Rick Flens, Léon van Bon and Max van Heeswijk. Director sportif Adri van Houwelingen will be calling the shots for the event.

Rabobank's bid to win this Saturday's Milano-Sanremo will be lead by Oscar Freire, who finished sixth in a bunch sprint to the line at last year's event. Supporting the Spaniard will be Juan Antonio Flecha, Jan Boven, Bram de Groot, Léon van Bon, Max van Heeswijk, Mathew Hayman, and Thomas Dekker. Erik Breukink will take up the roll of director sportif for the event while Pedro Horrillo and Gerben Löwik have been penciled in as reserves.

Quick.Step for Nokere Koerse

The Quick.Step Innergetic team has announced its eight-man roster for Wednesday's Nokere Koerse in Belgium. Dutch sprinter Steven De Jongh will be joined by Wilfried Cretskens, Ad Engels, Kevin Seeldraeyers, Wouter Weylandt, Cedric Vasseur, Gert Verheyen and Davide Viganò for the race's 62nd edition.

Dmitry Grabovskiy will not been riding in Nokere after being involved in a car accident last Saturday. Fortunately there were no serious consequences for the former world under 23 champion.

The team have also reported that Bram Tankink will miss Tuesday's final stage of Tirreno-Adriatico after struggling up San Giacomo on stage six with flu symptoms.

Hunter to lead Barloworld's lineup for Milano-Sanremo

Just days after he claimed general classification victory in Portugal's Volta ao Santarém, South Africa's Robert Hunter has been appointed the responsibility of leading his Barloworld squad in the 2007 Milano-Sanremo. The Italian one-day classic is Barloworld's first invitational event of the season and Hunter believes the squad is ready for this Saturday's race.

"The team is gelling to perfection at the moment, and this is an important win for me and the team as we prepare for Milan-Sanremo," Hunter told "It's been a perfect start to the new season, with me winning my country's biggest race, the Cape Argus Pick 'n Pay Cycle Challenge, and now winning in Portugal. I'm starting to enjoy the thrill of winning again, as I last won a staged race almost two years ago."

Hunter will be supported by the experienced Fabrizio Guidi, Giro del Capo winner Alex Efimkin, Giosuè Bonomi, Diego Caccia, Enrico Degano, Paolo Longo Borghini and Kanstantsin Siutsou. The squad, which has taken six wins and 11 second places already in 2007, will have Gianpaolo Cheula and Felix Cardenas as its two reserve riders for Milano-Sanremo.

Women's Prestige Series ready to roll

The 2007 Women's Prestige Cycling Series gets under this week when it returns to the Redlands Bicycling Classic, after a one year hiatus from the event. The absence of reigning series champion Kirstin Armstrong (TEAm Lipton), who is currently recovering from knee surgery, leaves the door wide open for her rivals who will be out to get an early season advantage.

Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light may be the team to beat in 2007. Its roster includes multiple US National Champion Tina Pic and double Canadian National Champion Alex Wrubleski. Team scoring provides bonus points for riders under the age of 26, so Colavita's acquisition of Wrubleski, 23, could also prove to be decisive. However, Webcor Builders has claimed the Series team competition for two years running and will not let it go this year without a fight.

Webcor's Christine Thorburn, the 2005 Series champion, may be the early season favourite for the series individual competition. While Thornburn's arch nemesis Armstrong is sidelined she is likely to be challenged by Armstrong's Lipton teammate Kori Seehafer, who finished ahead of Thorburn in the Series standings last year and is a logical choice as the team leader at Redlands in Armstrong's absence.

The Women's Prestige Cycling Series, which began in 2004 with the goal of highlighting women's racing, is comprised of four rounds including Nature Valley Grand Prix, the International Tour de 'Toona and the CD&P Bermuda Grand Prix in addition to the season-opening Redlands event.

More Prizes for Fantasy Spring Classics 2007!

Spring Classics Fantasy Game

With a Specialized S-Works Roubaix bicycle up for grabs
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Win a Specialized S-Works Roubaix bicycle worth $6000 USD! That's not all you could win in this year's Fantasy games. To celebrate our fifth year of Fantasy games the Spring Classics will also be featuring some top runner-up prizes. The first of which is a wireless Cycleops Powertap 2.4 worth $1499 USD. Cycleops upgraded the world’s most accurate, lightest power meter to be the world’s first wireless meter, meaning you can easily switch it between bikes. Powertap 2.4 measures watts, cadence, heart rate, speed, kilojoules, averages and graphs out your workout for you so you can chart your training progress. Powertap expert Allen Lim uses the Powertap 2.4 exclusively to coach the US based Slipstream Chipotle squad. The 2.4 combines the lightweight reliable SL hub with a 2.4GHz transmission. Hub to strings attached!

A wireless Cycleops Powertap 2.4
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

We are also delighted to announce that a pair of BBB's "Winner Team" glasses are on offer for the highest scoring Fantasy team in each Classic. You don't have to take part in all seven races to stand a good chance of winning this prize. The highest score per classic wins a pair of the official sportsglasses of the Quick-Step Innergetic professional cycling team 2007. Called "Winner Team" the glasses have a durable, flexible and lightweight Grilamid frame; adjustable metal nose piece for a perfect fit; and interchangeable polycarbonate lenses with 100% protection against harmful UV rays, up to UV 400nm! The glasses are Matte Silver and come with Smoke Blue lenses with a Multi-Layer Coating (MLC). They also come with three extra lenses; orange, yellow and clear with a flash mirror coating and a carrying case so that you have lenses for all types of weather.

The highest scoring Fantasy team in each classic
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

In the next few days we will be releasing more details of the prizes on offer this season with 46 prizes available for 18 lucky winners now is the time to sign up to the Fantasy Cyclingnews Games.

How to play

Yes, you too can be a professional team manager. Based on the live racing action, you will take up the challenge using your knowledge and tactical skill as a race team manager to compete with fantasy managers from around the world. All you need to do to take part is register and, once the provisional race list has been announced, select 8 riders for each of the following races:

Milano - Sanremo: March 24
Ronde van Vlaanderen: April 8
Gent-Wevelgem: April 11
Paris - Roubaix: April 15
Amstel Gold Race: April 22
La Flèche Wallonne: April 25
Liège - Bastogne - Liège: April 29

For more details on how to play go to the rules section of the site for more info. To register your teams for the game go to it's a great way to follow the Spring Classics.

Good luck!
The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team

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