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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for March 23, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo

Big names in question for Milan-San Remo

Broken rib for Bettini

After the stage, Bettini was not so happy
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

After trying to train, and still finding the pain from the injuries sustained in the crash in stage four of Tirreno-Adriatico to be bothersome, World Champion Paolo Bettini headed to a clinic where he underwent an ultrasound and x-rays. The tests revealed a fracture of his 4th left rib and a lesion of his left pectoral muscle, bad news for the Olympic champion.

However, Bettini reiterated that he still intends to start the race, and will take the day kilometre by kilometre and decide what his role will be on the road. "I am not 100 percent," Paolo Bettini told the Gazet van Antwerpen, "but my condition is good enough that I can still play a role" in Saturday's Milano-San Remo. "Things would have looked better without that fall in Tirreno. My head isn't quite straight yet. Once you've fallen several times in a row, you start to have doubts."

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The death of his brother, Sauro, shortly after the world championships last year has helped him to see matters differently. "The pain of a fall is nothing compared to death", he said.

The Italian is also thinking of one of his predecessors, Giuseppe Saronni. "In 1982, Giuseppe Saronni won San Remo in the rainbow jersey... And in 1982, Italy was also world champion in football. If I win Saturday, then history repeats itself."

One of the big favourites for the win is his team-mate, Tom Boonen, but Bettini denies that there are any problems between the two. "No," he said. "Every top team has its attacker and its sprinter. And I glad that such a great rider as Boonen is on my team and I don't have to compete against him."

Milram not expecting win

Alessandro Petacchi (Milram)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Team Milram is sending its two superstar sprinters to Milan-San Remo, but isn't confident that either of them can take the win. Erik Zabel is getting over a cold, and Alessandro Petacchi has struggled to find his top speed this season, according to Team Manager Gerry van Gerwen.

"Erik told me in a text message two days ago that he has a cough and sore throat and therefore dropped out" from Tirreno-Adriatico, van Gerwen told the press agency dpa. "I don't really have any great expectations for him, but you always have hopes for a rider like him."

"Alessandro, who didn't show anything at Tirreno-Adriatico, isn't the big favourite like last year," van Gerwen continued. "But one thing is good. He is two kilos lighter than last year. That's a good sign."

Ballan to give all for team-mates

By Gregor Brown

Ballan helped Bennati to victory already this season, can he do it again?
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Cycling fans might recall a blue bolt of lightning on the Poggio in the 2006 Milan-San Remo finale; it was the figure of Alessandro Ballan making the decisive attack over the top of the Poggio, which Filippo Pozzato followed and then continued on to victory. Ballan faded to 8th place, but the move was just one of the many brilliant moments of Ballan's stellar 2006 season which included a win in Trofeo Laigueglia and a third in Paris-Roubaix.

This year, however, the rider from Veneto had a bad start to the season when he was involved in a crash during the GP Chiasso. Back and leg pains forced him to miss the Milano-Torino, and hampered his racing in the Tirreno-Adriatico.

"I am better after the crash," he noted to Cyclingnews on Thursday afternoon, 36 hours before the start of La Classicissima. "But I am not how I want to be for San Remo. Unfortunately I had to stop, without riding, for five days after that crash and I lost a little bit of my condition. So with respect to the others I am not 100%.

"Now I am able to ride. Today I did four hours. Yesterday [Wednesday], I rode a little less because I was recovering from Tirreno. But in the climbs I am feeling tired with respect to the others, and due to the rhythm of the race. ... Tomorrow, the day before San Remo, I will go easy; I will likely ride two hours."

Like most wise professionals, Ballan took time to view the race's finale. After racing the parcours in the Tour Méditerranéen he revisited the defining climbs of San Remo one more time. "I saw the Cipressa and Poggio during the Tour Méditerranéen, on the last stage of the race that finished in San Remo. Also, on the Monday after the race, before Trofeo Laigueglia, I went to ride the climbs."

Ballan will likely tailor his attacks on the race's final Capi (small climbs) and work for his team-mates in the sprint. The team packs two serious sprinters, Danilo Napolitano and Daniele Bennati. "I have to talk to the team to find out more but I believe that it will give preference to Bennati because he is going so well. Also, Danilo, who was going really well in Tirreno. So, we have two cards to play if the race if arrives in a sprint."

He concluded by listing his favourites. "I think Pozzato is going really well. Then Tom Boonen and [Stuart] O'Grady. Oscar Freire? I saw him pedalling very smooth in Tirreno. [Alessandro] Petacchi? According to me this year he is going really well on the climbs and I think he will have no problems on the Poggio and Cipressa; he is spending less energy and he should be able to make a great sprint."

The Lampre-Fondital team for Milano-San Remo will consist of Alessandro Ballan (Ita), Daniele Bennati (Ita), Danilo Napolitano (Ita), Fabio Baldato (Ita), Claudio Corioni (Ita), Daniele Righi (Ita), Gorazd Stangelj (Slo) and Patxi Vila (Spa).

Ignatiev added to Tinkoff's San Remo team

By Gregor Brown

Mikhail Ignatiev
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Winner of Tour Méditerranéen stage three and Trofeo Laigueglia, Mikhail Ignatiev, was only recently added to the Tinkoff Credit Systems line-up for Milan-San Remo after having indicated earlier that he would not race. After watching the 21 year-old Russian rocket off the peloton in the closing kilometres of Laigueglia and holding his own to victory, many sprinters view him as a serious threat to a bunch finish.

'Misha', an Olympic gold medallist in the points race, is currently in Greece, but is expected to fly to Milan on Friday Morning. "He is now training with the national team in Greece for the Track World Championships, but he really wanted to take part in the Milan-San Remo," commented Tinkoff General Manager Stefano Feltrin to Cyclingnews on Thursday. "We let him work on a dual schedule, and so we arranged a special flight to have him at the race, arriving tomorrow, Friday. He will be able to participate in San Remo and then fly to Mallorca."

The team is very happy with Misha and also Pavel Brutt. Both Russians have scored two wins a piece this season and, with the addition of the six other riders, Feltrin explained it will be a strong San Remo line-up.

"For the race, the 'leader' will be the team, a strong team, which will take all the opportunities that come up. Pavel had a little fever at Tirreno-Adriatico and we had him stop to save himself for San Remo."

Feltrin commented on the length of La Classicissima and how it will affect the team strategy. "San Remo is a unique race and it will be hard to know who will feel the best after 180 kilometres. They will talk amongst themselves and see who has the best chances." But surely the team, and its rivals, will be watching out for Misha.

The Tinkoff team for Milano-San Remo, (Complete start list here.): Elio Aggiano (Ita), Pavel Brutt (Rus), Salvatore Commesso (Ita), Vasil Kiryienka (Blr), Daniele Contrini (Ita), Anton Mindlin (Rus), Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) and Ricardo Serrano (Spa).

Read Cyclingnews' recent interview with Mikhail Ignatiev, The first of many more to come for Ignatiev

T-Mobile, Astana for Milan-San Remo

T-Mobile will stand behind Luxembourger Kim Kirchen, who recently finished second in Tirreno-Adriatico, as their hope for Milan-San Remo. "Kim is very much in form at the moment," said director sportif Valerio Piva, who is also counting on "a big all-round team performance."

Kirchen will be supported by Classics specialists Roger Hammond and Jakob Piil, but Bernhard Eisel will be there for a possible sprint finish. Young sprinter Gerald Ciolek is also on the team, but, according to Piva, "For Gerald, this race will be first and foremost about gaining experience."

T-Mobile for Milan-San Remo: Lorenzo Bernucci, Gerald Ciolek, Bernhard Eisel, Bert Grabsch, Roger Hammond, Kim Kirchen, Andreas Klier, and Jakob Piil.

Kirchen went head-to-head with the Astana squad in Tirreno-Adriatico, but neither Vinokourov nor Kloden will be taking the start in Milan. Astana is instead sending its one-day specialists to the race, with Matthias Kessler and Serguei Ivanov leading the list. Rene Haselbacher will be the team's hope in a sprint finish.

Astana for Milan-San Remo: Koen De Kort, Rene Haselbacher, Serguei Ivanov, Aaron Kemps, Matthias Kessler, Gennady Mikhailov, Dimitri Muravyev and Gregory Rast.

Repairs made to Bourghelles Sector of Paris - Roubaix

Marker stones like these
Photo ©: François Doulcier/les Amis de Paris-Roubaix
(Click for larger image)

In a continuing effort to preserve the viability of their favourite race, 'The friends of Paris-Roubaix' are working this week to repair the cobbled sector of Bourghelles - nicknamed le Calvaire - that forms the second part of Sector 6, less than 25km from the finish.

The main part of the work will be to clear the gravel from the final part of the sector, as well as clearing mud and draining water from the sides of the road. As well as this, two specific areas where trenches have formed across the road will be repaved, as well as any areas where the surface has deteriorated seriously. Work will be carried out by students from the Agricultural College of Lomme and financed by the various communes in the Pévèle area.

Bourghelles Sector
Photo ©: François Doulcier
(Click for larger image)

These latest repairs will, once again, make this sector suitable for cars, and ensure the future of 1100m of pavé in the final kilometres of the race.

'The friends of Paris-Roubaix' is a voluntary organisation dedicated to the preservation of the roads needed to maintain the character of the 'Hell of the North'. It was works carried out by les amis that allowed the return of the Forest of Arenberg to the race last year - repairing the seriously subsided parts, as well as clearing the worst of the mud form the sector at Mons en Pévèle. More information about them and their works can be found on their website

Luperini returns to GP Costa Etrusca

Fabiana Luperini (Italy)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The 11th edition of the GP Costa Etrusca marks the start of women's UCI racing Europe's sunnier climes. The two days of racing that make up the Italian event will be separate races, but a team classification will be calculated based on the best five riders from each squad in the two events. The best team will be awarded the 4th Memorial Tiziano Saba.

The first event in the GP Costa Etrusca will be a challenging 112 kilometre test from Riparbella to Motescudaio in the province of Pisa. From the start in Riparbella, the riders will have to face their first challenge just ten kilometres into the race, the climb to Castellina. The course then turns a circuit up the Guardistallo, which the riders will crest twice, and finally, the climb to Montescudaio which will sort out who has the best early season form.

On the following day, the women will face a shorter, 102 kilometre course, but one that is equally challenging. The first climb, the 375 meter ascent of the Castellina Marittima comes midway through the race, but the real kicker is the six kilometre finishing climb that will carry the racers from Pomaia up the opposite side of the Castellina Marittima.

Last year's winner, Fabiana Luperini will line up again for the 11th edition, this time with the Menikini-Gysko team. She'll be joined by fellow Italians Sigrid Corneo, Silvia Valsecchi, Carmela Massaro, Australians Oliva Gollan and Rochelle Gilmore, Elodie Touffet (Fra), Eneritz Iturriaga (Spa), Karin Aune (Swe), and Miho Oki (Jpn).

Teams for 11th GP Costa Etrusca: Czech National Team, Team Flexpoint, Vlaanderen-Caprisonne-T Interim, Lotto-Belisol, Fenixs-HPB, SC Michela Fanini, Team Saccarelli, Safi-Pasta Zara, AS Team FRW, Raleigh Lifeforce Creation HB Pro, Team Specialized, Menikini Gysko, Global Racing, Sistem Data, Mista It GS Lupi, Bilga, Equipe Neurenberger, Top Girls Fassa Bortolo, Chirio Forno d'Asolo, Team AA-Drink, Cina.

Applause for equal prize money

By Kirsten Robbins in Visalia, California

Equal purse is worth a victory dance.
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

Quad Knopf Sequoia Cycling Classic received high marks for their National Racing Calendar (NRC) competition that included lucrative and equally divided prize money for men and women's professional fields. The two-day event included a 30 kilometre time trial in Exeter followed by criteriums for both fields in Visalia.

The only other race in the US to offer equal prize money and racing distance for both fields is the Tour de Toona, a highly contested stage race held in Pennsylvania in July. The organisation of the Quad Knopf Sequoia Cycling Classic didn't think twice about their $10,000 a day purse for both fields. Race director, Sheri Clark said, "The women put on a great show for us this weekend," Clark said. "When it came time to work on prize lists, there was never even a discussion that there would be a difference in prize money. We firmly believe that women play a large role in professional bike racing and we wanted to award them accordingly."

In years past, the Sequoia Cycling Classic was the leading event on the North American race calendar until early season racing flourished with the additions of the Merced McLane Pacific Cycling Classic and Fresno's Central Valley Classic, and the race fell by the wayside. Now, with the race back on the NRC, and with $40,000 divided equally between the fields, the event attracted strong fields of 80 women and 95 men from the most prominent teams in North America.

Cheerwine's legendary sprinter Laura VanGilder was among those 80 women, and said. "There were only eight more starters in the men's field this year," VanGilder said. "Hopefully the race will continue to grow and they have great support in the community. All the girls were really applauding our equal prize list and I feel like I am a single spokesperson for my team, Cheerwine, and for the positive things that a lot of people were saying about this event."

VanGilder added, "I support organisations that support the prize list for women's racing. This race was NRC this year and with a significant amount of prize money and I applaud organisers that do that. Also equal distances between men and women because we are given the opportunity to show our strengths."

The organisation received an A+ report card after the committee held a post-race review. "We are beside ourselves at the positive feedback that has come from this event," Clark said. "There is no question that the event will duplicate itself next year. We are going to have the time trial and criterium stand-alone and allow people to participate."

Clark has committed to hosting the event next year and the plan on duplicating the success of this year's event. "We are not going to change a whole lot for next year as far as the distances and prize lists," Clark said. "We have not had our post event discussions yet but the event is only going to continue to build with the feed back and the responses we get. We are glad to know that the women and men appreciate our efforts to equally recognise both groups of rider.

Team Flexpoint presented

Mirjam Melchers-Van Poppel
Photo ©: Jeff Jones
(Click for larger image)

Team Flexpoint presented their team in Landgraaf this week, . The team of 13 picked up four new members this season, Danish riders Mie Lacota and Trine Schmidt , and Dutchwomen Loes Markerink and Iris Slappendel.

Under supervision of former top sprinter Jean-Paul van Poppel, team leader Mirjam Melchers-van Poppel, twice World Champion Susanne Ljungskog and Amber Neben will target the World Cup, World Championships, Tour de l'Aude, Giro d'Italia and the Holland Ladies Tour.

Management: Jean-Paul van Poppel and Klas Johansson

Riders: Annette Beutler (Swi), Loes Gunnewijk (Ned), Luise Keller (Ger), Mie Lacota (Den), Susanne Ljungskog (Swe), Loes Markerink (Ned), Mirjam Melchers-van Poppel, Amber Neben (USA), Madeleine Sandig, Trine Schmidt, Iris Slappendel, Suzanne van Veen.

Also see the Cyclingnews teams database

Mt. Hood Classic offers toughest race yet

Back for a 5th year, the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic presented by Full Sail Brewing is looking forward to another great event on May 29-June 3rd. Due to the difficult nature of the event, which has professional as well as amateur fields, USA Cycling has upped the ranking of the event on the NRC calendar this year, making it one of the highest points values in the series.

Also being increased is the overall prize purse, which will be almost $30,000, to go along with the increased distance and climbing the riders will face. The pro men's field will cover 380 miles of racing and 30,000 feet of climbing over six stages, while the women will face 280 miles of racing and 25,000 feet of climbing.

In addition to the Pro 1-2 Men's and Women's categories, the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic will also host category 3, category 4, and master's men as well as category 3-4 women. For more information including new course maps and descriptions go to

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