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Latest Cycling News for September 13, 2007

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Koldo Fernández hopes for birthday present

Fernández wants to celebrate
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Koldo Fernández finished 14th in yesterday's bunch sprint of the 11th stage that was won by comeback man Alessandro Petacchi, but is now hoping for a birthday present on Thursday's 12th stage. The Spaniard declared after the race that "I spent lots of energy to place myself well, but in the decisive moment I didn't have anything left." His plan was the same that most sprinters have in mind when they hit the last few hundred metres. "My intention was to take Petacchi's wheel, but it is difficult. It is a wheel in great demand and you have to fight for it," Fernández realized that his idea was hardly unique.

He acknowledged that his team isn't set up for sprinters like the Milram train. "These kinds of finishes are good for him [Petacchi], he has a team that can prepare the sprint very well for him. And when there are many turns in the final part, they [Milram] enter with the whole team on the front and we who ride behind fight so hard against each other, we get the bill presented later." Fernández explained why there is little competition against Petacchi in these circumstances. "When we reach the moment of the sprint, you can tell how spent everyone else already is."

The lone sprinter on the Basque climber's team was a bit sad of the lost opportunity, but instead of dwelling on the past he was looking ahead. "I lost an opportunity but I still have two weeks. I will return tomorrow with the intent to try again in Hellín, I hope I can do better than today and be a factor for the win."

The Spaniard noted the wear and tear on the peloton already. "It shows that we already have done a few stages. There is generally less power." He would love to get a birthday present with a victory. "We'll see if we have luck and can celebrate my birthday with a present. That would be phenomenal for the morale of the team and also to get more confidence for the following stages."

His team-mate Aitor Hernández said that "It's difficult to ride such a stage. There are many attacks and you can't go with everyone. In the end it was a Relax and an Andalucia rider, and there is nothing you can do, other than to save your energy for other days."

While somewhat resigned to the fact that "Lampre and Milram control the field to always get a bunch sprint," the Spaniard was hoping for the latter part of the race, as "The third week may be more favourable to go for a stage win in an escape. We have to take our opportunities."

For one who looks more to the overall classification such a day is experienced completely different. Samuel Sánchez (sixth overall at 4'43") declared that "today was a relatively quiet stage. We were relatively lucky and there was no [rain] storm in the end, which could have complicated the race." Sánchez made clear that the most important is to conserve energy for those who are just looking ahead to give it a go in the mountains. "In those stages that we have now the major objective is to spend the least amount of energy possible and not suffer from any incidents." The latter part is of course only partially in the rider's hands as misfortunes like crashes can happen any day.

Looking ahead the best-placed Euskaltel rider indicated that "later, there are more complicated stages, so in these coming days it is vital to save as much energy as possible, otherwise there could be a lack [of energy] later." Sánchez also indicated that the team is going well and there is no clash of interests, saying that "we look after Koldo Fernández, so he can participate in the sprints, he is doing well and he was already close to winning. Let's see if we have a bit of luck."

Sprinters down but not out in Poland

The crash scene
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Sprinter Gerald Ciolek of T-Mobile Team thought he saw his chance to win the sprint in the fourth stage of the Tour of Poland by going up the right side, close to the barriers. He was wrong.

An overly-enthusiastic fan stuck his or her arm out into the road, clipping the young sprinter, similar to an incident in stage three in the Deutschland-Tour. Down he went, only 30 metres or so before the finish line and right in the middle of a mass sprint. He took some other big names down with him, including race leader Wouter Weylandt of Quick.Step-Innergetic, Graeme Brown of Rabobank and Astana's René Haselbacher.

The crash was so close to the finish line that their momentum carried them over it, with all four finishing in the top 14. Weylandt slid over the line on his back, Haselbacher flew over it, and Ciolek apparently went in face first.

The 20 year-old was taken to the hospital for X-rays, which proved negative. "Gerald has some bruising and cuts over the eyebrow and upper lip. We hope it looks worse than it really is," Directeur Sportif Jan Schaffrath said. This morning, team spokesman Stefan Wagner told Cyclingnews, "Gerald Ciolek is fine and he will start today. There are no serious injuries but he has some pain."

Weylandt lost the yellow jersey because of the incident. Stage winner Danilo Napolitano took over the lead by two seconds, based on bonus time associated with the stage win. "Suddenly they crashed right in front of my nose, and I went flying over them," Weylandt said, according to He had gone into the race with a sore wrist, but now has two of them. "Now my other wrist got hit, and a piece of a bike banged against my leg. But I think I can start again on Thursday."

Both Graeme and Haselbacher have reputations as "crash pilots", but both were innocent in this incident. "I had a great position in the last two kilometres. 200 metres before the finish I was still second behind Napolitano," Haselbacher said on his website,

"Unfortunately I waited too long and started too late. Ciolek went by me and thundered into the barrier. I flew over his bike and sailed over the finish line. It was a crazy crash, which reminded me of the 2004 Tour de France."

The Austrian noted that his knee hurt and that he had multiple scrapes on the left side of his body, but knew, "It could have been a lot worse." He wasn't sure whether he would start today, but joked, "The finish line photo must be great!"

Even though Brown was a victim in this crash, and not its cause, he still came in for criticism, as apparently some in the peloton blamed it on him. "Total nonsense," said team manager Frans Maassen on "I saw the sprint and also watched it attentively on video. This was not Graeme's fault. Ciolek just hit a barrier. They cannot expect Brown to fly over him. No one could ever have avoided Ciolek in this situation. But I do know where it comes from. Brown has a reputation of being a cowboy. This just proves how hard it is to shake that."

The Australian is expected to start the stage today. "He is tough as a rock. My first thought was 'we are going to have to scrape him off the road,' but now he is here on the bus watching the finale on video. Scraped and everything. He will probably have a bad night but I know him by now and I am sure he will be back on Thursday." Maassen said Wednesday evening.

Boonen still hurting

Belgian Tom Boonen
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Tom Boonen was one of many to go down in stage four of the Vuelta a España, and he is still suffering the after-effects, which prohibit him from sprinting. "I still really have too much pain from that fall Friday in Zaragoza," he said on

The Quick.Step-Innergetic rider even asked a physiotherapist from Team CSC to come help him, which they were unable to work out. Boonen said that he did not want to let just anyone work on his sore back. "That is a very delicate matter. The CSC physio said that he was surprised I could still ride. Everything hurts, from my ribs down to my knee."

Wilfried Peeters, his directeur sportif, said that they decided before Wednesday's stage to concentrate on Paolo Bettini in place of the Belgian. "His back muscles are still strained, so we did not take any risks with him today."

The stages on Thursday and Friday look to offer additional mass sprint finish possibilities, but it is unsure whether Boonen would contest the sprints, or even how long he would continue in the race. "First we have to look that he is physically in order," Peeters said.

Antequera: five sure for the World Championships

By Monika Prell

The Spanish national trainer Francisco Antequera announced on the web page of the Spanish Cycling Federation RFEC that currently only five riders are sure for the World Championships: The triple World Champion Oscar Freire (Rabobank), along with his team-mate Juan Antonio Flecha. Carlos Sastre (CSC) and Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel Euskadi) will also be there. A question mark is still on Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne). For the Spanish federation there is no doubt he will be racing, however the UCI is trying to prevent this from happening.

Antequera, who published a list of pre-selected riders in August, announced that there is a new aspirant for Stuttgart: Carlos Barredo (Quick.Step-Innergetic). "He is a rider that is very good in one day races and in the Vuelta he is showing that he has a great in-competition form", justified Antequera his decision. Barredo will undergo the specific antidoping control of the RFEC that every rider, who will participate in the World Championships, has to pass.

On the other hand, Antequera mourns the abandon of Oscar Pereiro in the Vuelta. "I really have no reference of him. I would have liked to see him better; at the moment, I have some doubts to nominate him."

According to todociclismo, the Spanish selector wants "riders who are good, riders who are keen on riding. I have some very positive references from riders who are not in the Vuelta, like [Juan Antonio] Flecha, [Joaquím] 'Purito' Rodríguez or Iván Gutiérrez, who could also compete in the road race. I always thought that he will focus on the time trial, but after his victory of the Eneco Tour and as I see that he goes well, I could perhaps let him compete the road race, as he is a rider who is also good in the classics."

But on the other hand, Antequera still lacks "a rider who could be with Freire in the final. Normally I would count on [Xavier] Florencio, but I still did not see him excellent in the Vuelta, I don't have any reference of his condition. I hope that he can show it to me in the coming days."

And the Spanish selector needs still a second rider for the time trial. "The time trial of Zaragoza did not reveal it, as the three pre-selected riders, Santos [González], Luis León [Sánchez] and [Iker] Camaño, showed more or less the same performance, not quite the level I expect for a time trial of the World Championships," sighed Antequera.

Spanish team could skip World Championships if Valverde banned

By Monika Prell

At the start of the Vuelta a España this morning, the president of the Spanish cycling federation RFEC, Fulgencio Sánchez, said that the Spanish national team could decide not to start at the World Championships if the UCI won't allow Alejandro Valverde to participate. Sánchez assured: "Now we will defend the image of not only a single rider but of our country, and we need to be very united to fight for ourselves." According to El Mundo deportivo he even added that "if they won't let participate Valverde, the federation will take any decision, including the non-participation of the Spanish selection in the World Championships."

Those statements caused a big stir in the Spanish media, so later today RFEC felt impelled to announce via a communiqué that in no way will they renounce the participation in the World Championships. "Today the Murcian cyclist is already inscribed in the mentioned championships", as one of the five riders who are definitive for this event: Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) and Carlos Sastre (CSC), according to Marca.

Ag2r Prévoyance team update for 2008

Valjavec in his Slovenian colours
Photo ©: Mitja Smid Bricelj
(Click for larger image)

With the end of the season fast approaching, French team Ag2r Prévoyance has its lineup mostly secured for next year. The new kids on the block will be Tadej Valjavec, Christophe Edaleine, Cédric Pineau and Alexandr Pliuschin.

Valjavec, the reigning Slovenian champion, is moving over from team Lampre, as reported previously. He cited a better contract as the reason why he didn't have to think much about the new offer.

Christophe Edaleine comes from Crédit Agricole and will predominantly have duties as a domestique. He will be racing in Paris-Brussels this Saturday. Cédric Pineau comes from French team Lille-Roubaix-Métropole, while Alexandr Pliuschin, a Moldavian amateur riding for Chambéry Cyclisme Formation also makes the jump to the ProTour entourage.

Samuel Dumoulin, Simon Gerrans and Carl Naibo will leave the team, while the status of Christophe Moreau and David Navas sis still uncertain.

Riders left with a one-year contract are José Luis Arrieta, Stéphane Goubert, Alexandre Usov and Jean-Patrick Nazon, while Yuriy Krivtsov, Julien Loubet, Lloyd Mondory, Christophe Riblon and Ludovic Turpin still have two years left with the team.

Two of the three who are leaving the team, Dumoulin and Australian Gerrans,are scheduled to ride in the GP Fourmies, this Sunday. They will line up on the start line alongside Mangel, Moreau, Moucheraud and Nazon. The directeur sportif will be Gilles Mas.

Nuyens out of Worlds, Cunego doubtful

Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Nick Nuyens, already rumoured to not participate in the Worlds, has been confirmed to not make it to Stuttgart. reported that following his crash team selector Carlo Bomans made clear that "there is a difference between training and racing." It is doubtful the Belgian will participate in other races this season. Nuyens himself had consulted with a specialist and then agreed that the decision to not race the Worlds was the right one.

Italian head coach Franco Ballerini had dinner with Paolo Bettini Wednesday night at the Vuelta. The defending champion will surely be heading to Stuttgart. But the same cannot be said for Damiano Cunego. Ballerini was skeptical that the former Giro winner would be getting fit again quickly enough following his crash on stage one in the Spanish stage race. Cunego seemed to be going well, having won stage 4 in the Deutschland-Tour. The Italian couldn't confirm that he was not invited. "I have not heard yet that I will have to pass on the Worlds. I see Bettini as the man for the finale and [Filippo] Pozzato, [Davide] Rebellin and myself to be able to control the breaks."

Including defending champion Bettini the Italians can nominate ten riders. It looks as if Bettini, Danilo Di Luca, Pozzato, Rebellin, Alessandro Ballan, Alessandro Bertolini, Andrea Tonti and Marzio Bruseghin will definitely make it to Stuttgart, with Daniele Bennati, Vincenzo Nibali, Giovanni Visconti, Matteo Tosatto and Luca Mazzanti fighting it out for the remaining two spots, should Cunego really not get an invitation.

Coppa Sabatini presentation

This Friday, September 14th, the 55th edition of the Coppa Sabatini, scheduled for October 11th, will have an official launch. The name giver of the race, Giuseppe Sabatini, was a cyclist who hailed from Peccioli, in the Pisa province.

He was born in 1915 and showed an extreme desire for cycling, eventually turning pro in 1939. Mandatory military service interfered with his training and plans to already become a professional in 1936. While he took his team duties serious and was well respected, a fallout with team management ended his season prematurely.

He kept training by himself, hoping to get to go to the Giro d'Italia in 1940, but instead ended up having to spend four years on the front lines in World War II. He was back training and racing in the dilettanti category, winning the Coppa Perozzi in 1946. This was the last race won by Sabatini, as he retired the year after. He died in 1951, at only 36 years of age, after a six-month illness.

This race was won by many Italian greats in the past, like Francesco Moser, Gianni Bugno, Claudio Chiappucci or still current racers like Paolo Bettini and most recently in 2006, the current Italian champion Giovanni Visconti. Teams like Saunier Duval, Quick.Step-Innergetic, Lampre, Milram and Liquigas have already indicated to be present for the launch event.

Gerolsteiner to Nürnberg

Fabian Wegmann will lead Team Gerolsteiner in "Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt" on Sunday. The team will also feature Ronny Scholz, who won the 143-kilometre race in 2005. The German duo will be accompanied by Thomas Fothen, Sven Krauss, Volker Ordowski and Carlo Westphal.

The race is a very scenic event in the old part of Nürnberg, and the racers will ride past the old castle that sits atop the older part of the city and along the old city walls.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)