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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for March 28, 2007

Edited by Greg Johnson & Ben Abrahams

Valverde: Winning already

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

Often counted among the biggest names in pro cycling, 2006 ProTour winner Alejandro Valverde has plenty of victories, but the 26 year-old admits he still has some learning to do before he will bank on winning the Tour de France. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes looks at his excellent 2006 season and what could be a very special year ahead.

Alejandro Valverde is on most lists of Tour de France contenders, but unlike most of his fellow stars, Valverde has already racked up more than one win this year - surprising even himself with stellar form. In an eight-day period in early March, Valverde closed out victory in the Tour of Valencia then won the time trial and the general classification in the Tour of Murcia. He had gone into both races aiming simply to build form, and so to come out on top over a month earlier than his stated first goal of Amstel Gold was way ahead of schedule.

Cyclingnews contacted Valverde recently, asking him if he was surprised how things had gone. "I think that after winning both Valencia and Murcia, I can say that my season has started very well," he replied. "But to tell you the truth, that is rather unexpected for me, because I started those races with the intention of testing myself, not to win.

"In Valencia I wanted to test my form in the first mountain stage of the year, and even though I did not win the stage [he was second behind Alberto Contador], I ended up first overall! The same happened in Murcia, I wanted to take part because it was important for my fellow citizens that I was there. I wanted to test myself in the time trial... and I won that, plus the race. So, yes, all of this is very positive."

For the full interview with Alejandro Valverde, click here.

Deutschland Tour presents course

Jens Voigt (CSC)
Photo ©: AFP
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The Deutschland Tour (Tour of Germany) presented its 2007 course in Frankfurt on Tuesday, which features some 1315 kilometres of riding over nine stages - including a Team Time Trial for the first time. The race will start in Southern Germany before heading into Austria for two stages, where riders will be faced by altitudes of up to 2600 metres in the Austrian Alps, with the final stage to be held in the Northern region of Germany, where the event will again finish in Hannover.

Last year's Deutschland Tour winner Jens Voigt (Team CSC) has said he is by no means a favourite to take a second consecutive victory at this year's event, describing the route as "particularly difficult" at its unveiling.

Some 192 riders from 24 teams are expected to lineup for the race which features a time trial, a team time trial, and three mountain stages. SW

Deutschland Tour:

Stage 1: August 10, Saarbrücken - Saarbrücken, 182,1 km
Stage 2: August 11, Team Time Trial, Bretten, 42.2 km
Stage 3: August 12, Pforzheim - Offenburg, 181.5 km
Stage 4: August 13, Singen - Sonthofen 184.2 km
Stage 5: August 14, Sonthofen - Sölden, Austria, 158,4 km
Stage 6: August 15, Längenfeld, Austria - Kufstein, Austria 191.9 km
Stage 7: August 16, Kufstein, Austria - Regenesburg, 190.3 km
Stage 8: August 17, Time Trial, Fürth, 40 km
Stage 9: August 18, Einbeck - Hannover, 142.8 km

Cahors affair decision delayed

The Bordeaux Court of Appeal has announced that a decision in the Cahors affair has been granted an extension in its deadlines, which is now set at May 9, although a decision could be handed down as early as next Monday. The doping case commenced in early 2004 when a drug trafficking ring of 'pot belge' (a mix of cocaine, caffeine, pain killers, sometimes amphetamine and heroin) between France and Belgium was uncovered.

Investigations culminated with the arrests of Belgians Freddy and Monique Sergant, presumed heads of the trafficking network, as well as former professional Laurent Roux and his brother Fabien, former mountainbike world champion Christophe Dupouey, former pro Laurent Biondi, Dominique Bozzi, Sylvain Bolay, Philippe Koehler and Eddy Lembo, who were among 23 people implicated in the case which affected both cycling and running athletes.

The Sergant couple was accused of buying large quantities of 'pot belge', produced in the Netherlands, and selling them to the Roux brothers in France since May 2002, who then distributed the drug mix further within French amateur and, to a smaller extent, professional cycling. The relationship between Freddy Sergant and Laurent Roux dates back to 1998, when Roux raced with Dutch TVM and Sergant was one of the team's masseurs.

"EPO, growth hormone, cortisone... I used everything that was common practice in the peloton at the time," Roux told the Bordeaux judges on the first day of the trial, in June 2006. "Everybody did. The greatest riders used things that I couldn't get with my small salary. They bought synthetic haemoglobin and underwent blood transfusions, which I have never messed with."

Freddy Sergant faces four years imprisonment should the Court of Appeal find him guilty of the charges brought against him.

Wiggins: "I can't see us being beat"

Following his dominant performance at the Manchester Track World Cup, Bradley Wiggins is supremely confident of his Great Britain team's chances at the World Track Championships starting on Thursday. "We've been hitting the numbers in the team pursuit and I can't see us being beat," Wiggins told The Olympic Pursuit Champion is undoubtedly one of the outstanding favourites for individual pursuit gold and is expected to lead Great Britain in the team event, although the line-ups have not been confirmed yet.

"We can approach the Palma World Championship in the full knowledge that we are exactly where we want to be at this point prior to the Beijing Olympics," said GB Performance Director Dave Brailsford. "In the team pursuit for example, we were looking to go sub four minutes at this point in the Olympic cycle and we did that at Manchester (during the World Cup)."

Team pursuit qualification kicks off on Friday morning at the newly constructed Palma Arena. The finals will be held that same evening.

Aussies confident ahead of omnium debut

Ben Kersten (Australia)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The Australian track cycling team has declared itself a favourite to win the first world championship omnium event when the 2007 Track Cycling World Championships get underway in Palma Majorca, Spain this Thursday. Australia's head national track coach Martin Barras believes the experience of running the event at the Australian championships could be the key to an Aussie victory.

"We're the only country to have run one so far and it's the first time at World Championships and Ben [Kersten] was outstanding in the event to win at the Australian Championships," said Barras. "There is no doubt in my mind that he is a strong favourite for the Omnium."

The Omnium involves one rider competing in five events on the same day (flying 200m, scratch race, individual pursuit, points race and kilometre time trial). Sydney's Kersten goes into this year's championship as probably the only rider to have raced the omnium in it's entirety.

Australia will also field starters in the teams sprint events with Shane Perkins, Mark French and Ryan Bayley lining up in the men's and Kristine Bayley and Anna Meares in the women's.

"We will be contenders in both," said Barras. "We have improved in the men's but so have other countries so we have to accept that whilst we will improve our times we might not improve our position however it's looking very promising for next year.

While Barras isn't expecting miracles from the younger members of this year's 18-strong squad, he feels the team will be definite contenders in several events.

"I don't believe we're going to dominate the world, it's unlikely any one country will this year, but I am very comfortable with the depth of talent we have in the team," he explained. "It's not reasonable to expect any or many of the younger riders to get on the podium but they have certainly performed well so far this year and they'll take us far in the future."

Australian track cycling team for the 2007 World Championships: Katherine Bates, Ryan Bayley, Kristine Bayley, Peter Dawson, Zakkari Dempster, Mitchell Docker, Mark French, Belinda Goss, Matthew Goss, Mark Jamieson, Ben Kersten, Joel Leonard, Katie Mactier, Anna Meares, Cameron Meyer, Shane Perkins, Scott Sunderland, and Phillip Thuaux

Hammond well prepared for Dwars door Vlaanderen

Roger Hammond (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

T-Mobile's classics specialist Roger Hammond is looking forward to today's Dwars door Vlaanderen and will use the event to prepare for the Tour of Flanders. The one-day semi-classic race in Flanders, Belgium allows riders the perfect preparation for Easter weekend's Tour of Flanders ProTour round, known within the region as Ronde van Vlaanderen.

"I am feeling really positive ahead of [today]," he explained. "I now have a good few races behind me riding with the T-Mobile Team and there are a lot of aspects to Dwars door Vlaanderen that really suit me.

"It will be perfect preparation for the Tour of Flanders," added Hammond.

Hammond will be one of four classic specialists in the T-Mobile team to contest today's event, with Marcus Bughardt, Andreas Klier, Servais Knaven and Mark Cavendish also contesting the UCI 1.1 event.

"Burghardt, Hammond and Knaven are in great form at the moment. The course, with its many cobbled sections, will suit them," said T-Mobile sporting director Tristan Hoffman, who won the event in 1996. "Marcus has performed especially well here in recent years and I am hoping that he can be up at the front for the business-end of the race."

T-Mobile's Dwars door Vlaanderen roster: Eric Baumann, Marcus Burghardt, Mark Cavendish, Roger Hammond, Adam Hansen, Andreas Klier, Servais Knaven and Frantisek Rabon.

Hushovd to E3 Prijs

Norwegian sprinter Thor Hushovd will resume has spring campaign at the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen in Harelbeke this coming Saturday, according to Sporza. The 29 year-old pulled out of Milan-San Remo last weekend after succumbing to gastroenteritis that was spreading throughout the peloton.

Cofidis staying away from De Panne

Like last season, French squad Cofidis will not participate in this year's Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde (Three Days of De Panne) in an effort to avoid crashes in the lead up to the Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) the following Sunday.

"We have found a nice hotel in the Flemish Ardennes and I will hold a training camp there with my riders," said team director Alain Deloeuil to Sporza. "I'm doing it as a precaution, because the three day race is very nervous. I want to avoid losing any of my riders to a fall."

Gerolsteiner injury update

By Susan Westemeyer

Two team Gerolsteiner riders suffered horrifying crashes in Saturday's Milan-San Remo, with David Kopp left laying on the pavement while Andrea Moletta crashed into a stone wall and lamp post. Kopp is already back in action, while Moletta is still in the hands of the doctors.

"David is doing already fine again," Gerolsteiner spokesman Jörg Grünefeld told Cyclingnews. "He still looks like a unfortunate sparring partner of Mike Tyson but he will start Wednesday at Dwaars door Vlaanderen."

Teammate Moletta wasn't so lucky. He was operated on Tuesday afternoon, having a metal plate put into his right thigh.

"The doctors said before the operation they can not give any forecasts concerning his comeback. But Andrea said already a few times to Christian Henn that he will start at the Vuelta," added Grünefeld.

Quick Step's Viganò sidelined

Quick.Step-Innergetic's Davide Viganò will spend 10 days out of action after being struck by a van while training. The Italian fell from his bike after the collision while training near his home in Carate Brianza, Milan yesterday.

The 22 year-old rider has broken the second metacarpus of his left hand and has a muscular tear to the quadriceps muscles. Viganò will be under observation for the next 10 days before resuming his training program on a home trainer.

One month off for Liquigas' Bertagnolli

Leonard Bertagnolli will spend a month resting after team doctors diagnosed the Liquigas rider with a viral infection. Bertagnolli was diagnosed with the infection after finishing 16th in last month's 34th Tour Méditerranéen, in France.

Doctor Roberto Corsetti, Liquigas team's social doctor, and Professor Paolo Zeppilli, a well-known sport cardiologist, have subjected the athlete to special clinical and instrumental checks which had evidenced a cardiac arrhythmia.

Bertagnolli's fitness will be re-evaluated at the end of his month off and a decision will be made at that time if the 29 year-old is fit to return to competition.

USA Cycling National Festival registration

USA Cycling has announced that online registrations for the National Festival at Seven Springs resort will be opened from 12.00am on April 5. The Pittsburgh-area destination in Champion, Southeastern Pennsylvania is hosting the National Festival for a second consecutive season where the majority of national titles will be decided between July 5-17.

Changes for 2007 include a new time trial course and new road courses for most of the junior categories and all master categories. The first week of the schedule will feature masters events, while elites, juniors and U23 events will make up the second week of racing.

There will be a priority registration period for the Elite Men's category from April 5-12, where only the top 50 eligible riders from the 2006 USA Cycling National Racing Calendar standings will be allowed to enter. This priority registration period will only affect the Elite Men's category, for the Junior, U23 and Master athletes, as well as Elite Women, registration will be open from Thursday April 5.

See the USA Cycling website for more information.

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