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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for May 17, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Riccò comes close

Riccardo Riccò
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Riccardo Riccò came close to staking his claim on the slopes the Montevergine di Mercogliano in the Giro d'Italia stage 4. The yellow Saunier Duval-Prodir armada hammered the roads all afternoon, from Salerno to the base of the 17-kilometre ascent.

Riccò was attentive and stayed with the favourites, like Di Luca and Cunego, under a barrage of attacks, highlighted by Mexican Julio Pérez (Ceramica Panaria-Navigare). Saunier then used its final domestique, a super-domestique, Leonardo Piepoli. The rider from Puglia rode an infernal pace to bring back Pérez and place Riccò in with the chance of Montevergine-glory.

Pérez was finished at 800 metres and Di Luca launched at 200 metres.

"Danilo closed me in a little bit on the barriers," noted the 23 year-old to La Gazzetta dello Sport. His team captain Gilberto Simoni and Director Sportif Pietro Algeri had warned Riccò to make his sprint in the middle of the road.

"But Danilo went very strong. I don't not know if I was going to be able to battle him. I made a slight remount," he continued. "For now the second place is fine."

Saunier Duval leads
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Algeri had guided his team all day from behind in the team car. Once the riders were in the final metres he was off the course and watching from the TV in his team car.

"Those fractions of a second can cost you the stage," he noted of Riccò's sprint. "But Riccò showed he is full of courage."

Riccò was disappointed in coming so close but he knows the Giro will be long. "It would have been better if I would have won," said the rider from Modena. "I will re-try on some other stages. In Genova [stage 10] and the Oropa mountain time trial [stage 13]."

Saunier Duval has unfinished business but can be happy with the display of form by Riccò. The youngster will have to remember why he is at the Giro, which is to help two-time Giro Champion Simoni (15th yesterday, 15" back).

"I went well on the climb. I know that now I will be expected to be there and help Simoni on the hard climbs."

Coming up on

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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Cunego behind speedy Di Luca and Riccò

Damiano Cunego
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

"I will be better in the last week," noted an exhausted Cunego on the top of Montevergine di Mercogliano. Three years ago he was standing in the same spot in a black and white striped jersey, one which he changed for the leader's Maglia Rosa on the podium only moments later. It was the rise of 'Il Piccolo Principe.'

Instead of going to the 2004 winner the stage went to the 2001 Montevergine-winner, Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas), who out-gunned Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir). Cunego trailed in one second behind in third.

"I cheated myself in the sprint," said the 25 year-old to La Gazzetta dello Sport, seemingly not caring if he won the stage or not. "I had said that they [Di Luca and Riccò] are going stronger than everyone else. I had battled two riders that I had indicated at the partenza ['start']. Unfortunately my prevision was fulfilled. In particular, to battle Di Luca is almost impossible."

Cunego now sits in sixth on the general classification, 54 seconds back on Di Luca.

"I rode to win ... I felt brilliant and so I tried. But in the sprint I was only able to stay and watch.

"It is true that the Giro is long but Di Luca and Riccò will continue to turn the screws. And don't forget about Simoni and Savoldelli, because this climb was not adapted to them.

"As far as I am concerned, I am sure that I will show my best in the third week."

Supporting Cunego is long-time advisor and Directeur Sportif Beppe Martinelli. The 2004 champion was worried when Leonardo Piepoli of Saunier Duval-Prodir started whipping up the pace on the climb but Martinelli told his charge to focus on Liquigas.

"When Piepoli attacked there was a moment of uncertainty," noted the Lampre DS. "I said to him to stay calm and control his rivals, because Liquigas was very strong and would have to react [to Piepoli].

"I think in the end the distance [seconds and bonus seconds] gained in this stage will not be enough to discourage the general classification men," Martinelli concluded.

Regarding the crash at less than 75 kilometres to go, Cunego said he was fine but his bike was worse off. "There were about sixty of use who ended up on the ground, it was like a 'strike' in a game of 'bowling,'" noted Cunego of the pile up that ended the race for Ian McLeod (Française Des Jeux). "I seriously damaged my bike and I had to change it. Now we laugh but it was very risky. On some of those roads when it rains one moment is enough to lose the entire Giro."

Brutt loses Verde but proves aggressive

Pavel Brutt rides
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

One of the most aggressive riders of the 90th Giro d'Italia is Russian Pavel Brutt. The Tinkoff man has spent more than 300 kilometres in breakaways, which includes 112 kilometres in stage four.

"Strictly speaking, this breakaway was not aimed at winning the stage, we realized all too well that the top names of the general classification would hunt for glory, and that their teams would work very hard to put them at the front," recalled the Brutt to the Tinkoff Credit Systems' press officer.

"My sports director told me that I should secure as many mountain points as possible, which I did at the first climb of the day," he continued. Brutt was not able to continue to defend his lead on the final climb and he currently sits third in the mountain points classification, seven points behind leader Di Luca.

"With a maximum effort I could have joined the pack and finish more or less at the front, but it would have been of no use, as I'm not a general classification rider in this race."

Brutt was happy to be in the escape for another reason. "Riding in the breakaway was much safer today than anywhere in the group, guys told me that it all turned into a mess when it started raining."

He finished by indicating his strategy for the coming stages. "Now that I'm sufficiently behind in the general classification I hope to get more freedom from the peloton to hunt for mountain points ... and stages. But tomorrow [stage 5] is a rest day in the saddle for me, I'm sure it will be a sprinters' stage."

"Dancing on Ice" in southern Italy

By Susan Westemeyer

Rebellin shows evidence of a crash
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

"On the road today, things all of a sudden looked like Dancing on Ice," said Rabobank's Leon Van Bon in regards to the massive crashes the Giro's stage four. "I believe that some fifty guys fell down behind me on some cobblestones all of a sudden. That was a really horrible sound, yuck." Writing on his team's website,, he noted that "It was funny to see how easy it was to spot the cyclist that had fallen. Their pants were all really dirty."

The most prominent victim was World Champion Paolo Bettini. According to, he "bruised the left side of his chest near to his rib cage." Teammates Hubert Schwab, Addy Engels, Leonardo Scarselli and Jurgen Van de Walle also joined him on the pavement. Van de Walle was the only other one injured, coming away with a bruised right hip. Both Quickstep riders are expected to start today, "as long as their condition doesn't deteriorate overnight."

Those who were involved in the crash didn't find it quite as funny as Van Bon did. Milram's Christian Knees said that the rainfall that started during the stage was at first was welcome as it cooled the riders down on a hot day.

"But at the same time, we instantly noted that the road was becoming very slick," recalled Knees. And then the inevitable happened. "Going into a village, about 100 riders crashed. All independent of each other. I've never seen anything like it." Writing on, he continued, "At first I thought I would be OK and made my way for about 30 metres. But then I crashed, too. Fortunately nothing happened. Except for Alessandro [Petacchi] we all went down."

The peloton on wet roads
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Gerolsteiner's Robert Förster was also involved, and also saw it coming, more or less. "There were some individual crashes, but I didn't really notice why they happened." Then he noticed how slick the road was, and "I thought, it's only a matter of time."

Sure enough, "I didn't need to wait long. Suddenly the whole field laid on the road in front of me, probably 100 riders. I could have avoided crashing; I was able to brake -- when someone ploughed into me from behind. Now I have a lovely impression of a chain ring on my calf," he noted on

Among those who went down were Förster's teammates Davide Rebellin, Oscar Gatto, Oliver Zaugg and Tim Klinger (again).

Klinger is rapidly developing a more intimate relationship with the Italian infrastructure than he might wish. After crashing in stages one and two, he spared himself that in stage three. To make up for that oversight, he crashed twice in stage four.

"The first crash happened on a descent shortly before a left curve. It had begun to drizzle. Thomas Fothen warned me about it and said that we should move up in order to avoid any possible crashes. I didn't get to do that, because it had already happened. When I braked for the curve, I slid away on the slick road surface and hit the road -- naturally, again on my right side where I had already hurt my elbow, knee and hip," he said on

He did manage to avoid the mass crash, though, but he paid for that luck later on. "A few kilometres before the last climb, right when everyone was going all out, a dog suddenly jumped on the road. I slid away rather than crashed, and behind me someone rode right into by bike."

Boonen breaks toe

Tom Boonen broke the big toe on his right foot Wednesday in a training accident, Team Quickstep has announced.

The Belgian was training near his home in Mol when he tried to avoid a collision with a car at an intersection. To avoid the car, he went up on the sidewalk. In the process, he hit a signpost with his right foot, breaking his toe and also scraping his leg.

He will now rest for a few days before resuming training. Boonen will now not be able to ride the Volta a Catalunya, as was planned, but "at the moment his participation at the Tour de France isn't in jeopardy," the team wrote on its website,

Equipe Nürnberger to l'Aude

A "very motivated" Equipe Nürnberger is headed to the Tour de l'Aude, which starts this weekend in France. "After our first World Cup win this season by Edita Pucinskaite last Sunday, all of our riders are of course very motivated," said Directeur Sportif Dennis Sandig.

The team will be led by World's runner-up Triki Worrack, who has been on the podium in l'Aude for the last three years, including the overall victory in 2004. Also there will be Pucinskaite, who has won many stages in l'Aude in the past, as well as German road champion Claudia Häusler.

Equipe Nürnberger for l'Aude will consist of Trixi Worrack, Edita Pucinskaite, Claudia Häusler, Eva Lutz, Andrea Graus and Charlotte Becker.

Navigators happy with Lagutin's win

By Susan Westemeyer

Sergey Lagutin of the American Professional Continental team Navigators outfoxed the sprinters in the first stage of the Rheinland Pfalz Rundfahrt, breaking away 20 kilometres before the finish line to snatch the win away from the sprinters.

But his wasn't the only escape by a member of the team. "We wanted to be involved and proactive, and Darren Lill got the action going with a strong solo attack on the day's first climb [25 km]," Team manager Ed Beamon told Cyclingnews. "T-Mobile worked hard to bring him back, but the field was in pieces from the effort.

"It came back together, and later, our guys had to do the work to contain a dangerous break they had missed." That break consisted of three riders who stayed away for about 90 kilometres.

"T-Mobile led most of the middle of the race, but the headwind had tired them, and Lagutin's attack with 20 kilometres to go was not contained," Beamon continued. "Sergey was very strong to hold the chase off, and very excited to get his first win of the season." The 26 year-old Uzbekistan road champion had a lead of up to one minute on his escape, and was able to finish ahead of the approaching sprinters with 16 seconds advantage.

Stage two "is really tough, but the team is motivated, and we'll try to protect Sergey's lead," Beamon concluded.

Hours to go to join Giro Fantasy Game!

(Click for larger image)

There's time still to join in this year's Giro game. Win a Wilier Triestina Izoard Lampre-Fondital team replica bicycle worth $4,750 USD! You can join until stage 6 begins on Friday, May 18, and you can compete equally with players that have joined earlier in the tour.

The deadlines across the world for joining the game on Friday 18th May are:
10:00 CEST (Central European Summer Time)
04:00 EDT (Eastern Daylight Time, North America)
01:00 PDT (Pacific Daylight Time, North America)
09:00 BST (British Summer Time)
18:00 AEST (Australian Eastern Standard Time)
08:00 UTC (Coordinated Universal Time)

You can play for free for the first 5 stages! Try the game out and see how best to play. It's easy to play the Grand Tour games - all you need to do is pick your dream team of 15 from the riders racing in this year's Giro start list. Then each day select nine riders to race for your fantasy team from these 15. You'll need a good combination of climbers, sprinters and general classification riders. For more details go to the rules section of the site. It's a great way to follow the Giro.

Wilier Triestina Izoard Lampre-Fondital team replica bicycle
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Full Giro Prize Roster The Giro games closes for entries shortly. Here's a quick look at the prizes on offer right now if you take part:

- Grande Prize Wilier Triestina Izoard Lampre-Fondital team replica bicycle
- Daily Stage Winner prizes of Tifosi Optics "Forza" featuring High Speed Red Fototec lenses
- Zipp SL handlebars, 145 Stem, 300 Crankset and 185 Bottom Bracket
- Shimano Dura-Ace WH-7801-SL Wheelset The WH-7801-SL scandium wheelsets
- Saris Bones Rack
- HED handlebars
- Giro Atmos helmets
- First Endurance OPTYGEN
- Cheetah Bars for optimum performance

To register your teams for the game go to

Good luck!
The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team

Spring Classics Fantasy Game winners announced

We are pleased to confirm that the official winners of the 2007 Spring Classics Game have been finalised. In a very close competition this year the Grand Prize winner took home a Specialized S-Works Roubaix SL bicycle Quick Step - Innergetic colours bicycle worth $6000 USD! There were 45 prizes overall won by the following 18 lucky winners.

Winners and points

Grand Prize winner Dr. Do Little    1426 pts
1 Cat Lady                          1374
2 Eufemiano's syringes              1354
3 Topper                            1327
4 azta                              1316
5 Speedy Morales                    1307
6 Bandit Racers                     1290
7 Donaldo Says                      1284
8 Grififico                         1251
9 GrayStratus                       1230
10 Panoramix                        1229

Classics' winners

MSR Eufemiano's syringes, Spa -- "Riis the master04"    263 pts
RVV Topper, USA -- "East Cleveland"                     238
GWV Bob's Friend, USA -- "t4"                           200
PR Grififico, Aus -- "Sand Flyers"                      230
AG fnagy, Hun -- "fnagy14"                              274
LBL jutza, Aus -- "BHATIC"                              265
FWL peddling a dream, GBr -- "team robins 3"            210

Congratulations to all those that won in the game from everyone here at Fantasy Cyclingnews. Thanks also to everyone who took part. Have a look at the $13,185 USD worth of prizes they won!

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