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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News for September 17, 2007

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Hincapie – King of Missouri

By Kirsten Robbins in St. Louis, Missouri

George Hincapie (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Discovery Channel's treasured rider, George Hincapie, marked his first stage race win since the 2004 Driedaagse van De Panne in Belgium at the Tour of Missouri, a race that also marked the end of a more than decade-long era with a team he called home, Discovery Channel.

A win highlighted by the support of his winning Tour de France team along with yellow jersey holder Alberto Contador, Hincapie acknowledged the team's final presence on US soil as an important and fitting way to end.

"We brought a great team here because it is the last race we do as a team here in the US and so it was very important for us to bring a strong team and try to get the win," said Hincapie. "Fortunately I got in a great breakaway on the second stage and was able to hold on to that. Having a guy like Alberto Contador and the whole Tour de France team working for me, it was really special. And I will definitely miss all the guys in the next couple of years."

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Hincapie took an early lead after his stage-two win in Clinton and solidified a larger lead during what has been commented on as being the toughest time trial in the US. Thousands of fans lined the streets along the route to watch Hincapie and the Discovery Channel team lead the race, providing support not only on the finishing circuits but through quaint towns and rural side roads. Upon entering the five hundred metre finishing straight away of the last stage, Hincapie noted the fans that filled the streets for a big farewell.

"It is really special for us to have the crowds come out and support us for the whole week," said Hincapie. "They are happy to have us here and I am happy to have been a part of that. The whole week the fans have been thanking us and the guys on my team aren't really used to that. So it has been a really special race for us. In my opinion our team is well liked all over the world but we were especially well [received] here because we are the home team and the fans don't get to see us race that much as they do in Europe."

Instead of focusing on the ending of the Discovery Channel team, Hincapie has chosen to concentrate on holding onto the knowledge of being a part of the team's progress over the years. "It is sad to see such a great team, in my opinion one of the best sporting franchises in any sport in history, end," said Hincapie. "But I like to focus on the fact that we created this mainstream sport and that we made this sport a lot bigger now here in the US and we've done more than any other team in cycling. It has been an amazing run for me personally. So I'd rather focus on how big it was to be a part of it."

Though the Tour of Missouri was the last race for the Discovery Channel team on US soil they will continue their race obligations overseas. Hincapie is set to compete in the World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, in two weeks. He acknowledged that this was a good preparation for the Worlds without getting burned out in races like the Vuelta a España and the Tour de Pologne. "I think it has been a great preparation and this time of the year it is important to keep the legs rolling but not to overdo it," said Hincapie. "I think most of the other guys might be overdoing it in Spain and Poland. I'm proud that I was able to win the race but my team did most of the work and I was able to come out of it fairly fresh. I think that it has been a great preparation."

Vos snares World Cup glory from Cooke's grasp

By Greg Johnson

Marianne Vos
Photo ©: CJ
(Click for larger image)

Marianne Vos (Team DSB Bank) has claimed the 2007 Women's World Cup in a sensational finale in Germany. The Dutch youngster entered the series final in second place, 80 points behind leader Nicole Cooke (Raleigh Lifeforce Creation) as an outside chance for the title, but made the most of double points on offer to claim the round's victory and the overall World Cup.

"I knew that I had a chance today because the race here generally finishes in a sprint and I am better at this," explained an elated Vos. "Also, because here double points can be earned. We put everything on a sprint in this race and I must say that I have been launched perfectly by my team-mate Adrie Visser. In the Holland Ladies Tour it didn't work a number of times, but here the finish ran slightly uphill and that was to my advantage."

The 20 year-old did everything she could to claim the women's World Cup by taking victory, the rest was in Cooke's hands with the Briton needing to finish on the podium to marginally hold on to her World Cup lead. Instead, the two-time World Cup winner was forced to concede her crown to the reigning Women's World Road Champion Vos, as she battled a reoccurring knee injury to finish in 34th spot.

"I didn't want to gift this to Vos without a fight," Cooke, who had been confident of claiming her third title on the weekend, told "It was a terrific ride by her, the pressure was on and she came up with the goods.

"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," added Cooke.

Vos added that while the victory wasn't crucial to her season, it's a good indication of her form heading into the World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, where she will defend her world crown in two weeks' time. "I knew that I could not go for the World Cup next year because then the Olympic Games is my focus," she explained. "If I had not won, it wasn't a concern, but this is a very beautiful victory to have on my palmarès and a sign that I am in form two weeks before the World Championships in Stuttgart."

The tight battle, which saw the overall standings swing into Vos' favour by some 70 points, is likely to set up a rivalry that will play out over the years to follow between two of the sport's most talented women. "I am disappointed with the final result as I wanted to be the first person to win the World Cup for the third time," noted Cooke. "Next year I will be back and I am determined to win it."

Gerolsteiner day in Nürnberg

Fabian Wegmann
Photo ©: Andrea Hübner
(Click for larger image)

It was a Gerolsteiner day in Nürnberg. German national champion Fabian Wegmann of Team Gerolsteiner took first in Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt and team-mate Sven Krauss was third, with second place going to Olaf Pollack, a former Gerolsteiner member.

It was only Wegmann's second win of the season, after his victory in the national championships. "Honestly, I had not figured with this. But it just went better and better with every lap of the course," Wegmann said. "Then I put everything into an attack in the last lap and rode with everything I had -- and it worked! That was great!"

Both of the 27 year-old's wins have been in races on German soil -- does this mean he will be a favourite in Stuttgart? "At the Worlds?" he laughed. "Why not? At least I have gained a lot of self-confidence here. And my form is right, as you could see today."

His directeur sportif, Christian Henn, was pleased with the win. "Everything worked out today. We rode well, the whole team, naturally with Fabian at the front."

Hansen happy with "first" Grand Tour

By Susan Westemeyer

Australia's Adam Hansen training
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

Adam Hansen of T-Mobile Team is in his first year on a ProTour team and is currently riding his "first" Grand Tour. He has not yet been able to get into the right escape group, but "apart from that, I'm pretty happy with how things are going. It's my first real Grand Tour, the Giro doesn't count, and I'm getting better as the days go on, so that's a good sign," he told Cyclingnews.

Not that he is trying to slur the Giro d'Italia -- it's just that he had to drop out after the second stage this year after a crash crushed two fingers on his right hand.

"The first week [in the Vuelta] was a bit hard," he admitted. "Then in the second week, I was feeling much better. I was so active at the start, trying to be in a break. I was always there, in something, but never had the luck to get away."

Always the team rider, he said, "My goals are to get in a break, and to be there for the sprinters. So far I have done well for the sprinters, I have always been there and done something. But getting in the break is the luck I didn't have yet."

"I will keep trying," the Australian added. "I've got nothing to lose."

True grit earns Hughes the 'Grafton'

By Paul Verkuylen

Cameron Hughes
Photo ©: Brad Hooker
(Click for larger image)

Saturday saw the 47th running of the Grafton to Inverell classic, one of Australia's oldest and most gruelling events on the calendar. As is always expected the event drew a quality field with teams from all over Australia, vying to make one of their riders the 2007 champion. The FRF-NSWIS squad is by far the strongest on paper. The team captain, Peter McDonald, was lining up hoping to become only the second rider since Jamie Drew to win the classic twice.

An attack by McDonald on the 17-kilometre climb over the Gibraltar range decimated the field, but with 140 kilometres remaining it was still anyone's race as the heat and wind would take their toll on the riders out front. With only 20 kilometres until the sprint through the town of Glen Innes, two riders, Cameron Hughes and Patrick Shaw, attacked from a chase group of 12, and quickly bridged the gap to the three leaders. From the moment the two riders joined the leaders, McDonald looked to be struggling and it didn't take long for the 35 year-old personal trainer, Hughes, to launch his race winning attack with some 70 kilometres remaining to win by a convincing 3'48" from McDonalds FRF-NSWIS team-mate Robert Cater and VIS recruit Patrick Shaw.

Hughes was exhausted after the event but was beaming, "I have always wanted to win this event. I won in 1996 in B grade, and since then have ridden the event only sporadically; I'm stoked, this is a great win," he told Cyclingnews after the finish.

It was his biggest win, and also marks an important victory for his newly formed Ord Minnett team. "The team was created to help the younger riders gain experience and learn in a productive environment," Hughes remarked. The team has been steadily improving over the past few months, and after Hughes finished fifth overall in the Tour of the Murray river a few weeks ago. The team was looking to take the results to the next level, and win a national series event.

Favourite today McDonald was visibly disappointed, "I blew pretty early actually, I couldn't get any water, as they didn't have a neutral for it, so I ran out pretty early and had to wait 20 kilometres till the next feed," he explained, the hot conditions obviously taking their toll.

"My attacks were to help Robbie. He was going well today, so I just did what ever I could to help him out," was how McDonald explained his attacks, when asked why he tried so many times after he had said he had had it.

Brian Fuller (Murwillumbah) was the top-ranked B Grade rider in the escape, and took the classification's win. He was happy with his ride today, even though he hoped he would be allowed to ride A grade. "I felt pretty good and strong. I am a triathlete and am training for that, but I really enjoy the road and want to do more of it," he noted.

When asked what the future would hold, he replied, "Well, I want to race more on the road; maybe someone might offer me something for next season now."

Mayo talks

By Monika Prell

Yesterday, Iban Mayo talked publicly for the first time since he was tested positive on EPO at the second rest day of the Tour de France. The B sample was analysed in the University of Gent (Belgium) and then sent to a laboratory in Australia, where it stays at the moment.

The Saunier Duval rider talked yesterday to the Basque television channel ETB. "I don't know anything about the result of the counter-analysis." He confessed that he is not very happy. "I would like to know something as soon as possible, because this wait is despairing. Waiting for such a long time is hard. Every day you believe that this will be the day or that the following will be the day, but the days pass and you don't know anything, and this is despairing. I hope to know the result as soon as possible", said Mayo according to Noticias de Gipuzkoa.

The Basque said that he passed the time since he knew the positive result of the first analysis pretty badly. "For sure I passed it badly, very badly in some moments. In other moments you take it easier, mainly when you are surrounded by your family, your friends and people who love you. But yes, there were situations and moments when I passed it very badly, because what happened to me was a very hard slap in the face", confirmed Mayo.

Rabobank satisfied, and ready for a rest day

Denis Menchov (Rabobank)
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

Sunday's Vuelta a España stage boiled down to one question: "Is Denis Menchov good enough on the final climb?" according to Rabobank team manager Erik Breukink, who was happy that the answer was "yes". The Russian crossed the finish line 41 seconds behind stage winner Samuel Sánchez of Euskaltel-Euskadi, but together with his closest competitors.

Rabobank appreciated that Euskaltel led the charge to catch a 20-man strong escape group. "That came in handy for us," Breukink said on the team's website, "But, the pace was so high that it was very difficult anyway. It was also necessary of course, because the lead group had already created a gap of more than five minutes."

One of the riders in that escape group was Koos Moerenhout. "That was sort of our plan," said Breukink. "We knew that other teams were going to do it as well, so we also wanted a man in the front. After all, you never know what a team-mate of one of your competitors might be able to do for him during the descent."

For now, though, the team is looking forward to the rest day. "The team of the leader can always use one. After all, we did a lot of lead work already," according to Breukink. "And some of the guys have some minor physical complaints. They will have the entire day tomorrow to recover."

One of those riders with physical complaints is Sebastien Langeveld, who became violently ill Wednesday night. He was able to continue to ride, but admitted that "The kilometres and my illness are starting to wear me down a little bit. Even though I had a good day yesterday and was able to do a lot of lead work, I really suffered today. I counted the kilometres. My stomach is not itself yet and I am not very hungry either. So, I was exhausted. It is clear that tomorrow's rest day is really coming at the right moment for me. Fortunately, we are staying in the hotel where we will be spending tomorrow as well, so we can really get a break during our rest day this time around."

Cunego quits Vuelta

Despite having a good day in Sunday's mountain stage, where Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital) finished sixth, only 41 seconds behind stage winner Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), the Italian decided to quit the Vuelta. He returned to his home in Italy on Monday morning, leaving the Iberian peninsula from the airport in Granada.

The Spanish race started out badly for Cunego, who crashed in the first stage. He received 13 stitches and had to endure a round of antibiotics. He has recovered well and had a great race up and down the Alto de Monachil on stage 15. But in accordance with his staff, the Italian decided to return home in order to rest in quiet for a few days, with the intent to redevelop his form.

Biver was a "mistake"

If Nikolai Proskurin, the vice-president of the Kazakh cycling federation, has his way, Team Astana General Manager Marc Biver will be leaving the team. "Hiring Biver at the start of the year was our biggest mistake," he said.

According to, Proskurin said in an interview with the Kazakh magazine, Our Sport, "It is 150 percent certain, that he won't work for us in 2008. We have had good discussions with Johan Bruyneel. We want him as Biver's successor. Johan enjoys a good reputation in cycling."

Sweden names women's team for Worlds

Sweden has named three women to compete in the upcoming World Championships in Stuttgart. Susanne Ljungskog (Team Flexpoint), Emma Johansson (Vlaanderen Caprison) and Sara Mustonen (S.C. Michela Fanini Record Rox) will all participate in the road race. Ljungskog and Johansson will additionally participate in the time trial.

Ljungskog finished 15th in last year's time trial at the Worlds in Salzburg.

Drapac Porsche takes teams classification Hokkaido

Australian team Drapac Porsche had a successful Tour de Hokkaido, a five-day stage race in Japan. They won the teams classification by more than nine minutes. And team member Darren Lapthorne, the current Australian road champion, was only eight seconds down on the general classification to finish second, beaten only by German Henri Werner.

Lapthorne and Mitchell Docker also brought stage wins to the team. Docker won stage three and Lapthorne took out stage five. Fellow team-mates Stuart Shaw, Mark O'Brien and Robbie Williams were constantly attacking and chasing for the team in each stage. At least three members of the team finished in the top 30 every stage, which allowed the team to win the coveted team prize.

The success from this tour puts the Drapac Porsche team in a commanding position for the upcoming Jayco Herald Sun Tour. Drapac Porsche will also have the home ground advantage and support, but the strength and experience of the team will determine the outcome throughout the seven-stage event.

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