First Edition Cycling News for October 23, 2007
Edited by Greg Johnson and Paul Verkuylen, with assistance of Susan Westemeyer
Evans reacts to ProTour success
By Shane Stokes
Two days after what is arguably the biggest win of his career, Predictor Lotto's Cadel Evans has commented on his victory in the 2007 ProTour. "This is certainly a major highlight for me," he told Cyclingnews. "For me, it is something that I will always have the rest of my career. A world title or a Tour win would be bigger, but certainly to be world number one for the year is very prestigious."
Evans was lying second overall in the competition in the run-up to the final event, Saturday's Giro di Lombardia, but became the outright leader when Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) was disqualified from the series last Friday. The Italian has appealed that Union Cyclist International decision to Court of Arbitration for Sport, but Evans appears to have copperfastened his win by finishing sixth in the Lombardia. Even if Di Luca is later reinstated by the court of appeal, he will nevertheless finish five points short of the Australian's total.
"I honestly don't know what is going on as regards the details of his situation, what is right and so on," said Evans when asked about the disqualification. "But the fact is that I have got the points, they are all there, and I think I am still owed another five points from the Tour as well [he finished second in the Albi Time Trial to Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana), who subsequently tested positive for blood doping]. So that should keep the doubters quiet."
His ProTour success came about thanks to some very consistent riding during the season. He amassed 86 points prior to the Tour de France thanks to seventh in Paris-Nice [15 points], fourth in the Tour de Romandie , second in the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré  and third on stage eight of the same race .
Once at the Tour, Evans began his big drive with second overall , second on stages 14 and 20 [5 each] and third on stage 10 . This haul of 88 points was then followed with 45 for placing fourth in the Vuelta a España, and four each for his second places on stages 10 and 18 of the Spanish Grand Tour. Sixth in the Lombardia added another 20 points to his total, resulting in a winning total of 247.
He had a simple tactic for Saturday's Classic. "I just focused on doing a good race and it turned out pretty well," he said. "It was a good afternoon. I was a little bit unlucky near the end, getting something in my eye. That made it a lot harder than it needed to be, but it was a good finish to the year. I am very, very happy."
The problem with Evans' eye meant that he was essentially half-blind on the descents, losing contact with the other contenders and needing to use extra energy to get back in touch. He feels that without this, he could well have been closer to the race victory. "I certainly think I could have been with Riccò and Cunego, although whether we would have been able to stay away or not would have had to be seen. That said, I think I would have had to have been pretty lucky to have beaten Cunego in the sprint. But certainly I think I had the legs to be with them.
"For me, [Fränk] Schleck was the strongest, followed by Riccò and Cunego - I think I was the next strongest there," he added. "It was more a tactical thing that I didn't close them down the last time [when Riccò and Cunego attacked] because [Davide] Rebellin was just sitting on me. I wanted him to do a bit of work, but he wouldn't."
With Di Luca out of the picture, Gerolsteiner's Rebellin finished 50 points back, taking second in the ProTour. Tour de France winner Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel) was another six points in arrears, placing third.
Evans' strong season form also saw him finish fifth in the world road race championships. However no ProTour points are awarded at that event. He will now travel back to Australia in early November and take some time off before starting to build his condition for the 2008 season, which fittingly starts with a new ProTour race in Australia following the Tour Down Under's inclusion in the series.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Roberto Bettini/www.bettiniphoto.net
Varese 2008 in trouble
The organiser of the 2008 UCI Road World Championships, to be held in the Italian town of Varese, has struck a problem - the planned renovations of the 'le Bettole' racecourse have drawn to a halt and are not expected to continue. The use of the facility was one of the deciding factors for Varese being awarded the championships and without it the organisers have admitted that they have "a serious obstacle".
The UCI has met with the organising committee to discuss the missing signature of one of the four signatories - that of Guido Borghi. Borghi has stated that the facility will not be available between August 11 and October 15, 2008, despite a letter on April 18, 2007 from Antonino Giacobbe, the managing director of the company that manages the Bettole Racecourse, to the city council confirming the organisation's willingness to let the facility to be used.
The UCI has asked the organisers to guarantee within two weeks the actual availability of all the necessary conditions that were provided for in the candidacy dossier, including racecourse's use. Once the two-week deadline passes, the UCI and the organising committee will come to a definitive conclusion regarding the 2008 World Championships' future.
O'Grady happy with Aussie return
Australia's Stuart O'Grady is delighted with his current condition, having contested his first stage race since a horror crash in July's Tour de France. The Team CSC is reportedly "so happy" about his recovery, after suffering a broken shoulder, fracturing eight ribs, a collarbone, three vertebrae and also puncturing a lung, resulting in a blood clot on the brain in July's accident that ended his Tour and threatened his career.
"I'm so happy about how well my body seems to have recovered and how well this race went," O'Grady told the team-csc.com website. "It's been three months since my accident and it's meant a lot to me that Bjarne [Riis] kept telling me that I had to take my time and make sure I recovered fully without any pressure whatsoever. It's made a big difference."
The Australian admitted to being surprised at just how well he'd recovered and what he was capable of during last week's Jayco Herald Sun Tour in Melbourne. The seven stage race was O'Grady's first race in over three months. "Ahead of the Herald Sun Tour I hadn't been training too intensely so I'm both happy and surprised that I was actually able to compete out there," said O'Grady. "My job was to help Trent Lowe, who was third overall and I was actually doing quite well on the climbs and was 11th in the Time Trial. I found a good rhythm in my body and this race has given me lots of confidence and motivation to work towards next season."
Unfortunately for the Paris-Roubaix winner a mechanical failure prevented him from finishing Sunday's final stage with his Jayco Australian National composite squad team-mates. "I was in a break, when all of a sudden my chain snapped going round a corner, but I managed to stay on my bike," he explained. "I didn't have a spare bike with me so I would've had to abandon."
O'Grady's 2008 season will likely kick off on home soil, with the South Australian likely to again contest his home tour - Adelaide's Tour Down Under, which will make its ProTour debut next year.
Crocodile contestants ready for trophy hunt
By John Flynn
The contenders in the Crocodile Trophy of 2007, which kicks off today, made their intentions clear at yesterday's pre-race briefing in Australia's tropical capital of Cairns. Relaxing on a wide open verandah, the largest field ever to assemble for the event listened intently as race organiser Gerhard Schoenbacher described the race route for the 13th staging of the epic race.
No-one was paying closer attention than Dane Michael Borup and Austrian Stefan Rucker, who both had chances to win the 2006 edition of the Crocodile Trophy, before straying from the parcours. This year will be a more difficult task for both.
"I know that I am one of the strongest riders and one of the favourites, but I also think that this year there are other riders that are very strong too," Rucker said. "Maybe there are better riders than last year, so it will be even harder."
Borup agreed with Rucker's prediction, knowing he too will be in for a more difficult campaign in his second attempt at the race. "Wide open I would say, given [2006 champion Christophe] Stevens has retired, so wide open," he said.
Lurking in the background at the race briefing, Felt Dream Team leader Mauro Bettin will wait until the end of today's opening stage before making any strong predictions. "I think after tomorrow I look and see if my legs are of a winner," Bettin said. "My head is [feeling] for a winner."
Bettin will be supported by one of the best domestiques in the business in the 2007 edition of the Crocodile Trophy. After contesting last week's Jayco Herald Sun Tour, Luxembourg's Benoît Joachim will tick the Crocodile Trophy of his life's to-do list. "With road racing everybody asks did you do the Tour de France and I can say yes," Joachim said. "In mountain biking everybody asks did you do the Crocodile and if you say yes, they say oh Cool."
Adding to the solid Australian presence at this year's event, the Flight Centre Scott team has been boosted by the addition of one of Australia's top cross-country mountain bikers in Nick Both. His intention is to be a contender for the General Classification. "As a team we're really hoping to do well and give some of these Euro guys a bit of a run," Both said.
Cyclingnews will be presenting a video highlights throughout the event. click here for the riders presentation and briefing.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by John Flynn/Cyclingnews.com
No Rabobank happy snaps for Veneberg
Team Rabobank may take its 2008 team photo without Thorwald Veneberg, a Dutch court had ruled. Veneberg had filed a claim to be included in the photo as part of a larger lawsuit because the team had not offered a new contract for 2007.
Veneberg's lawyer argued that under Dutch labour law, the rider was considered to have a contract of indefinite duration because he has been under contract to them since 2001. Rabobank said that it did not want to sign him for the coming year because of poor performance.
As part of the case, Veneberg claimed that he should be included in all of the ProTour team's activities, including participating in the team photo session and attending any planned team meetings or team building sessions. The court ruled Monday that Rabobank did not need to invite him to the photo session on October 25, since that is an "internal matter", and the team is free to stipulate who will appear in the photo. The photos will not be used until after January 1, 2008 and it is not yet known whether Veneberg will be part of the team after that date, the judge ruled. If he is with the team, then additional photos can be made at that time.
The judge also ruled that Veneberg did not have to return his bike to the team this weekend, as the team had requested, and that he may continue to train with it and with the team for the duration of his current contract, through December 31. Rabobank claimed that it had no further team activities planned for the year and does not know whether it will hold a team building session or not.
A further hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for November 14.
Rabobank re-signs trio
Team Rabobank announced Monday that it has extended its contracts with Joost Posthuma, Graeme Brown and Grischa Niermann. "They are three different riders, but all three are valuable forces on our team," said team leader Erik Breukink. "Joost Posthuma is capable of making progression next season. I expect him to step up to the next level. Brown is a typical sprinter and I expect him to win his races. Niermann has been with the team for a long time. Everybody knows he is a very solid helper."
The 26 year-old Posthuma has inked a two year deal with the Dutch ProTour squad. He first joined Rabobank in 2001, with the Continental (GS-II) team, before joining the ProTour (GS-I) team in 2004. Posthuma missed much of this season after being hit by a car while training. The Dutchman returned at the end of the season to take the overall win in the Sachsen Tour. He has a total of 21 wins for Rabobank since joining the squad.
Brown has been with Rabobank for two years and signed another two-year contract. The 28 year-old has seven wins for Rabobank. This year the Australian sprinter has won stages in the Tour of California, Tour of Murcia and Tour of Poland.
German Nierman, who has been with Rabobank since 1999, has signed for one more year. The 31 year-old has seven wins for the team over his time with the squad, including the Regio Tour in 1999 and the Neidersachsen Rundfahrt in 2001.
Lampre signs new duo
Lampre-Fondital will welcome another two Italians into the ProTour team's 'family' in 2008, following the announcement it has come to an agreement with Mirco Lorenzetto and Marco Bandiera. Lorenzetto joins the squad from rival Italian outfit Team Milram, where he has spent the past two seasons.
The 26 year-old enjoyed a strong campaign in 2006, taking victory on the Tour Méditerranéen's Stage 6 and podium finishes on the event's previous stage as well as on Paris-Nice's Stage 6, Brixia Tour's Stage 4, Settimana Ciclistica Internazionale's Stage 5 and the 183.3 kilometre Trofeo Laigueglia.
Bandiera joins the squad as a neo-professional having impressed the squad this season.
"I think that Lorenzetto and Bandiera are goods athletes," Lampre-Fondital general manager Giuseppe Saronni commented. "The first one could show good things in North races and he could be useful in preparing sprints. The second one is young and has already showed part of his potential - for instance, he obtained in a tough race such as Volta a Portugal one second place and three fourth places."
Both riders have signed two year contracts with the squad.
Gerolsteiner signs young Swiss
Team Gerolsteiner has signed Mathias Frank to a two-year contract starting next season, after the Swiss youngster was a stagiaire at the team this fall. "Mathias came to our attention often this year with strong performances, and after his work with our team, Christian Henn, Christian Wegmann and I agreed that he fit in with our concept and with us very well," said Gerolsteiner manager Hans-Michael Holczer.
The 20 year-old was delighted that the German ProTour squad has taken him onboard. "I must surely still learn a lot about being a professional," noted Frank. "But I am really looking forward to it. And being able to do that in Team Gerolsteiner, where we Swiss have always done well - it just doesn't get any better."
This year Frank won the Thüringer Rundfahrt, a stage of the Swiss race GP Tell and was third overall in the Tour de France Compte. Frank was also a member of the Swiss Team Time Trial championship winning squad and claimed two more national titles in the Individual Time Trial and climbing disciplines.
USF captain killed in traffic accident
The University of South Florida Cycling Team's co-founder, Joshua Kuck, was killed in a traffic accident on the weekend while taking part in the Hilly Hundred. Investigators believe the 22 year-old ran through a stop sign during the event, organised by the Tampa Bay Freewheelers cycling club, and was hit by a pickup truck.
"Josh was instrumental in the formation of the cycling team, and most likely the team would not exist at all if it were not for him," read a statement on the team's website, www.usfcycling.com. "In addition, Josh brought life to the team with his outgoing and positive attitude. The team deeply mourns his loss and it will take a great deal of time for the team to recover emotionally."
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)