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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for September 17, 2007

Edited by Laura Weislo with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Daredevil descent decides stage 15

By Monika Prell

A happy Sanchez
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

When Samuel Sánchez plummeted to victory on stage 15 of the Vuelta a Espańa on Sunday, he took home a prize coveted by all Spanish racers - a home tour stage win. His first stage win of the Tour didn't come in the first week when the race passed through his home region of Asturias, but Sánchez was nonetheless riding high after his triumph, which also served to move him up one spot in the overall classification.

Sánchez attacked to make his way up to what remained of the 20-man breakaway that disintegrated on the eight kilometre ascent of the Alto de Monachil, but it was his kamikaze descent which really earned him the win. "On the ascent of the Monachil I did not go for broke," Sánchez said following the stage. "I could have climbed faster, but we saw in 2006 that the descent was very technical at the beginning, but it requires more power during the last final kilometres. The last part is all pedalling, and if you don't save something for that section, you can't do anything."

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The 29 year-old Euskaltel-Euskadi rider had an important ally in his bid for the stage win: his team-mate Igor Antón. "I attacked shortly before the last breather of the ascent, at three kilometres before the summit. Before that, Igor and I tried to escape, but the others did not let us go. When they caught up with us, I recovered and tried it again," Sánchez explained. "Immediately after the summit I launched into the descent, I gained on [Damiano] Cunego, I saw that I went well and so I accelerated again."

His effort sent him blasting past Cunego, who faded from the efforts of working in the day-long breakaway, and gaining Manuel 'Triki' Beltrán as his sole companion into Granada. "We worked well together and I could try to beat him in the sprint. I knew that I had a chance, but Beltrán is a great rider with a lot of experience, and I had to fight until the end," Sánchez described.

Sánchez dedicated the win his team, who worked hard to help their leader to victory." Above all, I want to thank my team-mates for the great work they did for me during the entire day. They trusted in my abilities and gave it their all. Haimar [Zubeldia] was in the breakaway, and Igor Antón had to save power for the Monachil, but the other ones burned out themselves as they made the tempo in the peloton to reduce the advantage of the escaped riders. The victory was something the team needed."

Sánchez declared that he would continue to chase a higher position in the general classification, where he now sits in fifth place behind some stiff competition: Carlos Sastre (CSC), Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto), Vladimir Efimkin (Caisse d'Epargne) and current leader Denis Menchov (Rabobank). "We will try to get closer to the podium," Sánchez said. However, knowing that there are really only two decisive days - stage 19 to Alto de Abantos and the stage 20 time trial, he admits that it won't be easy. "It's very difficult; the riders who are ahead of me in the general classification won't give way. However, I feel great and even if there are not many days to try it, we will figure something out."

Vaughters confirms McCartney sought for final spot

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

Slipstream-Chipotle's director sportif Jonathan Vaughters confirmed with Cyclingnews that American Jason McCartney, currently riding with Discovery Channel, is the rider being courted for the final roster spot.

Vaughters sought to end rumours and speculation about who the mysterious rider was, with everyone seeming to have an idea about who it might be. "I just upped the offer today," said Vaughters on the day that McCartney won the 14th stage of the Vuelta. "But I have been talking to him since July."

McCartney made a name for himself when he soloed to victory on a hard climbing stage in the 2004 Tour de Georgia. Johan Bruyneel saw the potential and offered him a contract with Discovery Channel the next season.

Vaughters said that demand for the resourceful domestique has been high, and will likely be higher after his impressive win. "That is the type of rider we want, someone who can win like that. Danny Pate showed that in Missouri too."

Vaughters did not say if there were any other riders in the queue in case McCartney decides to take another offer, but this is the final roster spot remaining allowable by UCI rules.

Knee surgery for Cooke

Nicole Cooke
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

The finale of the UCI Women's World Cup in Nürnberg ended in a bunch sprint on Sunday, which isn't unusual. It also saw the reigning World Champion Marianne Vos beat out the world's fastest sprinters for the win - something unexpected but not unheard of. However, it was quite unusual to see the Welsh World Cup leader, Nicole Cooke, fade to 34th place and lose her grip on the series title to Vos.

"I didn't want to gift this to Vos without a fight," Cooke told the BBC. "It was a terrific ride by her, the pressure was on and she came up with the goods." However, it emerged that one reason Cooke could not maintain her lead was that she has been suffering from a knee injury which will require surgery. "On the day I just couldn't do anything more because of my knee injury. Marianne won and I must be very proud of my second place."

After taking the lead in the World Cup series in the first race in Geelong, Australia back in March, Cooke held the jersey of the series leader until Vos took home the win in the Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt ahead of T-Mobile's Ina Teutenberg and Regina Schleicher (Equipe Nürnberger). The win earned the Dutch phenom double points which was enough to wipe out Cooke's 80 point lead.

The knee injury prevented Cooke from preparing for the final World Cup race, and kept the 2003 and 2006 series champion from taking a third title, but will also likely mean the British champion will not battle Vos for the World Championship in Stuttgart. "I have had a terrific season with a number of wins. My highlight was winning La Grande Boucle for the second time, but I am disappointed with the final result as I wanted to be the first person to win the World Cup for the third time."

Cooke will head back to Britain for knee surgery on Monday, but can take solace in the fact that her team, Raleigh Lifeforce Creation, beat Vos' Team DSB bank in the World Cup teams classification.

Soler goes under the knife

Barloworld's star climber, Mauricio Soler, who took home the polka dot jersey from the Tour de France, went under the knife on Friday in Milan, Italy to repair injuries in his right wrist. The Colombian rider won the Tour de Burgos before crashing in the Coppa Agostoni in August, but the injured wrist, according to a team press release, was "tendonitis due to several past injuries".

Soler decided to end his season early to undergo the surgery, which will keep him in a cast until mid-October. Soler will return to his homeland of Colombia next Thursday to recuperate, and then will be back with his team when the cast comes off. "He will be back in road-training on December", team director Claudio Corti said. Soler will be back in Europe in time to attend the 2008 Tour de France official presentation on October 25th in Paris.

Evans missing his main man

By Iker Rioja

Cadel Evans, who is currently looking set to take his second Grand Tour podium finish of the season, will be missing an important team-mate for the tough mountain stage on Friday to Alto de Abantos - the man he called his "main man" on his personal website, Josep Jufré. Jufré abandoned the race after stage 14 after suffering from dehydration due to a intestinal infection, after putting in a strong performance as domestique for his Predictor-Lotto captain.

Evans called Jufré "one of the best team-mates" he has ever had, and wondered why the team hadn't made any moves to extend his contract, something Evans considers a mistake. Jufré previously rode for the team Relax-Bodysol, whose Belgian riders went back to Lotto in 2005 when the Belgian sponsor quit that Spanish cycling team. Nevertheless, he was also given the opportunity to move to the ProTour team a year later. In 2006, he also had to abandon the Vuelta due to a spectacular crash in the first week.

Germans greet but question UCI list

The UCI recently published the list of riders who must report their whereabouts at all times, but not everyone understands why these riders are on the list, not even those named. "The reason for this publication is not entirely clear to me," said Jens Voigt of CSC, who is on the list.

"Maybe the federation is just trying to improve its image," Voigt told the dpa press agency. "I don't have any problem with the fact that I am on the list. As a rider in the top 100, I am in the test pool anyway. But I would find it better if all 600 ProTour riders were on the list. After all, we all ride the same races." He said that he has had four unannounced out-of-competition tests this year, and a total of "50 to 55" tests, including those at races and the internal controls by the team.

"The increase in the number of antidoping controls and the openness are good," said Rolf Aldag, directeur sportif for T-Mobile Team. "But the real reasons must be explained. The appearance on the list does not have to do with being suspected of doping," he noted. "For example, our sprinter Gerald Ciolek is on the list because of the title he won in Salzburg last year. All World champions are on the list."

German investigators looking into Fuentes' Swiss bank account

German investigators have not only Jan Ullrich's Swiss bank records showing his payments to Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, they also have records from Fuentes' Swiss account, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The newspaper reported that investigators in Bonn have a list of deposits made in Feuntes' account with the HSBC Bank in Geneva. Chief Public Prosecutor Fred Apostel refused to confirm the report, but said, "We are tracing every single payment, and when we are finished, we will report what we know."

According to the newspaper, Jörg Jaksche has told investigators that he either paid Fuentes' in cash or transferred money to the Geneva account

In addition, Jaksche is said to have used the Geneva account to pay for blood transfusions he received from Fuentes' German helper, Dr. Markus Choina. Since the money was paid to Fuentes' account rather than to Choina, German tax officials are now investigating for suspicion of money-laundering or tax evasion, the paper reported.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

Cavendish targets Classics wins

By Gerry McManus

Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile) leads Alexander Serov (Tinkoff Credit Systems)
Photo ©: Gerry McManus
(Click for larger image)

T-Mobile's Mark Cavendish took home the points and sprinters jerseys the Tour of Britain this week and is already looking forward to the opportunity to ride in some one day classics next year.

The British rider proved that he is more that just a major sprint talent when he broke away on stage five of the Tour of Britain with Alexander Serov (Tinkoff Credit Systems). The duo stayed clear on the tough 170 kilometre route from Liverpool to Kendal with Serov only dropping the young Manxman on the final run in to the finish.

"I was happy with second place when I was away with Serov," said Cavendish. "I proved that I can ride that long and that I can grind myself into the ground. It does you good to do that now and again."

Cavendish won the prologue and first stage in the Tour of Britain to give the 22-year-old an incredible ten victories in his first year as a professional.

"I am still young and I am still fast but there is going to be a time when I get older where I will have to concentrate on longer and harder races," continued Cavendish: "You come into the professional peloton and you dream about winning Classic races. You need to work hard to be able to do that and there is going to be a time when I can ride the Classics and do well in them."

"I was due for selection for some the big one day events this year but I got sick at the end of last season which ruined my chances. I think that the semi classics like Gent-Wevelgem and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne are realistic goals for me."

Corbett retires from Health Net

By Kirsten Robbins in St. Louis, Missouri

Contrary to rumour, Health Net-Maxxis' director Jeff Corbett announced that his team will continue full force into the 2008 season. However, after a seven-year term of directing, Corbett has decided to step down as directeur sportif of the NRC winning team and pass the torch over to current assistant director Mike Tamayo.

Corbett has been a full time director on the road since the days of the 7-UP squad in 2001, and admitted that his decision to step down as directeur sportif has been in the back of his mind for a long time. "I'd call it more of an indefinite hiatus," said Corbett. "It is a personal decision that involves a lifestyle change. I'd like to see what else is out there, experience some different things and have some time off of the road."

After creating a smooth running men's professional cycling team and making it his life's work, Corbett has had the opportunity to watch the transition of riders such as Dave Zabriski, Greg Henderson and Jason McCartney as they progressed through his program and into the ProTour ranks, and he noted that he did not want to walk away from the program until he found a suitable successor.

Corbett feels that Tamayo, the team's current assistant director, has suitable qualities that will allow the team to continue at its current level. "I feel he could step in now without being a complete stranger to the guys," said Corbett. "The guys know him and trust him and have gotten to spend a lot of quality time with him, and he has proven that he is capable while working beside me as well as on his own. Mike's been doing this for one year as an assistant an already his resume is better than some guys that have been doing this for years. He is ready and we are lucky to have him."

Though Corbett has not confirmed what he will be doing next year he made it clear that he will still remain involved with the team at some level. "My leaving has nothing to do with this program and I'm not looking for a job with another program. I'll still be a part of the Health Net program to some extent next year by doing some work in the form of some assistant directing, some logistical and sponsorship stuff, but it will not be my full time gig anymore."

Tamayo is no stranger to directing teams, despite this being his first year working in that capacity in the men's peloton. He directed the highly successful Victory Brewing women's cycling team for several seasons.

US women find success in France

Katherine Carroll
Photo ©: US Women's Cycling Development Program
(Click for larger image)

The women's US National Team found more success in France, this time at the Tour Cycliste Féminin International Ardčche. The team previously scored victories in the La Route de France Féminine, where Amber Neben took the overall classification, and the Holland Ladies Tour, where World Time Trial champion Kristin Armstrong put her talents to good use to snatch the overall win on the final day from T-Mobile's Judith Arndt. In Ardčche, it was the 'B' team who put Katheryn Curi on the final podium in third overall, and Katharine Carroll in the sprint leader's jersey. Brooke Miller also earned the squad a stage win, as did Carroll on the final day.

The success of the newer riders, many of whom are in their first season of European racing, shows that the depth of talent is growing in the USA. Carroll launched herself into the crazy pink and blue argyle sprint leader's jersey with a concerted effort to achieve that title from the start of the race. "For me being so new in the Euro peloton, it's good to focus on a goal like the sprint jersey because it gives me a purpose during the races," Carroll told Cyclingnews. "Without that focus, some of the stage profiles could be a little intimidating... it just helps me break the race down into more manageable pieces."

The shift from US to European racing is always a big leap for a domestic racer, but the goal of USA Cycling is to send a number of different women to Europe to gain that experience and come back to the US stronger for it, thereby elevating the level of racing on American soil. Carroll noticed the difference on her second trip across the pond. "It was much better this trip than the last one... I've learned to fight and hold my position a lot better."

Despite the US holding a number of high-profile races such as Redlands, Tour de Toona, Nature Valley GP and the Liberty Classic, Carroll says the racing is quite different. "Most of the Euro races have been on from the gun - like 35-45 kph before you even get to climbs. Once people decide to attack here, its full gas for a while: there's no 10 second attacks and they look back, see someone on their wheel and sit up."

The stronger focus on women's cycling by USA Cycling and the US Women's Cycling Development program has earned plenty of good results - from Mara Abbott's second at the Montreal World Cup, to the aforementioned stage race wins, but it is the team residence in Lucca, Italy, which proves to be a great motivation for the team. Carroll is looking forward to returning to Italy next season. "I am doing part time here with the national team and part time in the US next year with Aaron's," she revealed. "I could live off of gelato and cappuccinos."

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