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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, April 8, 2008

Edited by Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen

Boonen: I'm ready for Hell

Tom Boonen had a strong team-mate
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) believes he has the right form to claim his second Paris-Roubaix victory this weekend. While the Belgian will have to wait another 12 months to add to his two Tour of Flanders victories, Boonen believes that he "is good enough to make a number in Hell."

"I have shown [in Flanders] that I am once again at the top of the list of the favourites," warned Boonen. "I am good enough to do a number in Hell. I don't have to rely on my sprint on Sunday; I can do it with power."

Boonen was one of the top favourites on Sunday to take the biggest title on offer for a Belgian, the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Having won the Belgian race back-to-back in 2005 and 2006, the man from Mol has been under enormous pressure to emulate his own success.

"On Saturday it sounded like Quick Step was only made up of Tom Boonen, but now the media are talking about Tom Boonen and the others from Quick Step," he told Sport Wereld. "We showed that we have a good team with a lot of talent for the Tour of Flanders and Paris - Roubaix. Riders with class who are ready to give 120 percent."

After finishing in the group that sprinted for fourth behind his team-mate and winner Stijn Devolder, Boonen has let it be known that he once again feels on top of his game and will be ready to take on the Hell of the North this Sunday.

"These races are of a complete different standard to what we have seen so far this season," he said. "We haven't won much, but we were not panicking. We had three or four riders amongst the top riders in the race [on Sunday]. Not that we stuck out head and shoulders above the others, but from the Oude Kwaremont we had the race under control. I realised early that [Fabian] Cancellara and [Alessandro] Ballan were not feeling great.

"I asked 'Volderke' [Stijn Devolder] before the Eikenmolen to put some extra effort into the chase, as there were very few fresh men among the favourites," added Boonen. "I didn't want to have the same scenario as last year. At one point I think I jumped about 50 times onto everything that moved. No one was in a position to make Devolder's life hard. In this sort of team it is give and take. I was gunning for him from my heart. Stijn was also a favourite, but not the biggest favourite that started this morning."

It was the 2002 edition of Paris Roubaix which first brought Boonen into the limelight. He finished third behind Johan Museeuw and Steffen Wesemann in one of the hardest editions in recent times.

Boonen also spoke highly of his team-mate Devolder, complimenting his compatriot on his victory at home last weekend.

"I have known him since the juniors," said Boonen. "A phenomenal rider, even if you had to sometimes yell at him. If you didn't say anything to him, then he would ride on the front all day. You would have to constantly hold him back. Even so, I didn't expect that he would be so strong. He rode them all cross eyed."

Confident Contador leads in Spain

Contador was in the centre
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

Alberto Contador (Astana) once again proved his might by riding away from his rivals on the 48th Vuelta al País Vasco's opening stage. The Tour de France champion took a three second victory over Ezequiel Mosquera Miguez (Karpin Galicia) on the ProTour event's opening stage, with David Herrero Llorente (Karpin Galicia) finishing a further five seconds back.

"My team worked again so hard," said Contador. "My overall victory in the Tour of Castilla y León gave the team extra motivation and confidence. We really made an intelligent race.

"Rain or sunshine, it doesn’t matter for me," added the Spaniard. "When you have the right condition, you support every type of weather. The next days, all other teams will look at us, but we are used to it. I did not gain so many seconds on the other riders, but we showed again that our team is one of the strongest teams in the world."

While Contador knows the Tour is far from over, the Astana rider enters tomorrow's second stage, a 153 kilometre stage from Legazpi - Erandio, with a small margin over his rivals.

"This is an important win for the team," said Contador. "The team worked well. But I won't say that the Vuelta is already decided, everybody can have a bad day. And now, we will have a lot of work for the rest of the week, because the other ones will attack."

Judith Arndt: From Flanders to Beijing

Judith Arndt (High Road)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Team High Road's Judith Arndt is one of the most experienced members of the women's peloton. Nevertheless, victory in this weekend's fifth edition of the Ronde Van Vlaanderen for women was celebrated as if it was her first. Cyclingnews' Ben Atkins spoke to the German former World champion on the morning after her Classic win to discuss her success, her team, and her goals for the rest of her season.

The Ronde Van Vlaanderen is one of the five Monuments of one day cycling in the men's calendar and, despite its short history; the women's peloton holds victory in the race in the same high regard. It is still almost surprising though, that a rider with the experience of Judith Arndt, with victories that include last year's Thüringen-Rundfahrt and the 2004 World championships, should be so excited by her victory this week.

"It's like you say: it's a monument in cycling," she enthused, "and ja, to win this race, it's like winning the World Championships."

This is something that Arndt can speak with authority about, having taken the rainbow jersey in the road race in Verona in 2004. "It's the same, really," she continued, "because you have to be as fit as it gets and you need a really strong team and you need a lot of luck as well, and if everything falls together then you might be the winner. Really, it's like a dream."

Talk of World championships and luck briefly takes the conversation back in time to Stuttgart last autumn where a collapsed barrier cost Arndt - and a number of other favourites - the chance of being able to contest the finish with the likes of winner Marta Bastianelli. She remains quite philosophical on the subject though: "Yeah well," she said, "you know it's [bad] luck but also sometimes you are always up at the wrong places... I don't know if it's luck - it's your own fault also, it's not always unlucky."

Returning to the weekend's Ronde victory: the whole race seemed to come together as a masterly display of team riding (from both High Road and Cervelo Lifeforce, but with High Road coming out on top). They managed to place riders in all the main breaks, and as well as Arndt's victory, team-mate Oenone Wood finished in fourth place. This kind of thing does not happen by chance though, but has to be planned well in advance.

To read the full feature, click here.

Flanders winner to lead Quick Step in Gent-Wevelgem

Stijn Devolder (Quick Step)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Ronde Van Vlaanderen winner Stijn Devolder will lead the Quick Step team at Gent-Wevelgem tomorrow. The Belgian ProTour outfit will field a squad of heavy-hitting riders, including Steven De Jongh who has been cleared of any fractures after falling in last weekend's Spring Classic.

"For about 30 seconds after falling I couldn’t feel my legs," De Jongh said, after being cleared by X-rays. "Then thankfully the feeling started to come back in them. I was really worried for a moment and I am so happy to be able to take part in the race on Wednesday."

Devolder enjoyed a celebration of his victory on Sunday evening, put on by a group of the Belgian's fans. "My fans organised a special party for me in my hometown of Sint Lodewijk Deerlijk," said Devolder. "I got back to my house at about 11 PM but I couldn’t sleep as I was so pleased and on a high. I could feel the adrenalin running through me, actually, if I think about my win a huge smile comes across my face.

"I’ll be taking part in the Gent-Wevelgem on Wednesday," he added. "This will be an important step towards the Paris-Roubaix. It really would be fantastic if our team managed to gain two wins in a row. The team is going really well and Boonen has proved to be in brilliant form."

Sébastien Rosseler is still having problems with his right knee, as a result he will not be taking part in the Gent-Wevelgem. Alessandro Proni is in a similar position as he continues to have problems with his left Achilles’ tendon.

Quick Step for Gent-Wevelgem: Tom Boonen, Wilfried Cretskens, Stijn Devolder, Steven De Jongh, Kevin Hulsmans, Gert Steegmans, Matteo Tosatto and Wouter Weylandt.

High Road ready for Gent-Wevelgem without Burghardt

American ProTour team High Road believes its line-up for tomorrow's Gent-Wevelgem is capable of winning no matter how the race unfolds, despite Marcus Burghardt's absences from the team's roster. Burghardt is unable to defend his crown at the Belgian race as he's currently recovering from an injury.

"The good news is we’ve got eight riders with the ability to win in Gent-Wevelgem," said team manager Rolf Aldag. "We can cover a lot of different circumstances - if there’s a breakaway or if 30 or 40 riders reach the finish together, we should be there."

Aldag's confidence comes from having two former winners in Andreas Klier and George Hincapie on the squad's roster for the event. The team, formerly known as T-Mobile, will also have last year's runner up Roger Hammond and fellow Briton Mark Cavendish in its strong line-up.

"Mark’s two wins make him stand out as one of the favourites in a sprint, partly because of the way he won them so clearly," added Aldag. "But he’s not our only option by any means."

The former professional turned team director will also have ProTour leader Andre Greipel on his roster for tomorrow's race. Greipel claimed the white jersey after winning Australia's Tour Down Under in January.

"It’s a great race for us, one which I think suits the team’s character," added Aldag.

High Road for Gent-Wevelgem: Mark Cavendish, Bernhard Eisel, André Greipel, Roger Hammond, George Hincapie, Andreas Klier, Servais Knaven and Vicente Reynes.

Milram riders get snappy Gent-Wevelgem announcement

Team Milram announced its line-up for Wednesday's Gent-Wevelgem with a sharply-worded statement by team manager Gerry van Gerwen, who criticized his team after its poor showing in the Hel van het Megelland. None of the team's riders finished in the Dutch race.

"When riders present themselves in a race as part of our team did Saturday in the Netherlands, then they need to re-think not only their own performance but also their whole attitude toward their profession," he said. "We are happy to give one or the other of them time now to do that. After all, Gent-Wevelgem is a big race in which we want to present ourselves in the best way."

Van Gerwen did not specify who he meant. Artur Gajek and Luca Barla are the only two riders from Megelland who will also ride in Gent-Wevelgem. The other riders from the Dutch race are Alessandro Petacchi, Dennis Haueisen, Brett Lancaster, Elio Rigotto, and Marco Velo.

Milram will now be led in Gent-Wevelgem by Erik Zabel, who will be supported by Classics specialist Markus Eichler.

Milram for Gent-Wevelgem: Artur Gajek, Christian Knees, Enrico Poitschke, Erik Zabel, Fabio Sabatini, Luca Barla, Markus Eichler and Martin Müller.

Davis Phinney's brain surgery successful

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Davis Phinney
Photo: © Davis Phinney

Former 7-Eleven and Coors Light pro road racer Davis Phinney, who has Parksinson's disease, underwent successful brain surgery last Friday, the same day his 17-year-old son, Taylor found out he's made the short list for the upcoming summer Olympic Games on the track.

According to the Associated Press, surgeons at Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, California, spent about four-and-a-half hours embedding two wires in a section of Davis Phinney's brain, doing so without complication. Next week, they'll attach a pacemaker to those wires, and when that machine gets turned on later this month, doctors believe some of his Parkinson's symptoms will be immediately relieved.

"Everything went very well, very, very well," said Dr. Jaimie Henderson, the director of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery at Stanford and Phinney's surgeon.

The elder Phinney, 48, is married to 1984 Olympic gold medalist Connie Carpenter-Phinney. Connie has been traveling with Taylor to his various track events around the world, as the Boulder High School teenager racked up enough points and results to receive confirmation from the UCI that he's the third-ranked individual pursuit track racer in the world. This means USA Cycling, the governing body, will nominate the teenage Phinney to the U.S. Olympic team later this spring, 24 years after his mother won the Olympic women's road race in Los Angeles.

Former RAAM competitor killed in accident

Former Race Across America competitor Randy Van Zee passed away on Friday after being struck from behind by a Pontiac Grand Prix in northwest Iowa. The 56 year-old was riding west on County Road B-14 shortly after 7 PM when he was struck by the west-bound vehicle, driven by a 21 year-old female from Archer.

Iowa State Patrol said in a report that the accident remains under investigation. Local troopers were assisted by the O'Brien County Sheriff's Office, Sanborn police and Sanborn ambulance service.

Van Zee was a solo competitor in the 2004 Race Across America, which he contested with a broken pelvis. Despite the injury, Van Zee rode 2,958 miles from San Diego to the New Jersey Coast in 11 days, 16 hours and 26 minutes.

A service will be held for Van Zee, who survived by his wife, children and six grandchildren, at the United Methodist Church in Sheldon later today.

Vázquez wants another Alentejo win

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Contentpolis - Murcia rider Manuel Vázquez will defend his Volta ao Alentejo title in Portugal this week. The 2007 champion will contest the race with team-mates Adrian Palomares, Alberto Rodriguez, Oleg Chuzda, Jose Herrada, Eloy Teruel, Ruben Reig and Jose Miguel Elias.

The Volta ao Alentejo starts on Wednesday April 9 and runs through to Sunday, April 13. The event's highlight is a 31 kilometre time trial stage and a queen mountain stage on the final day.

Vázquez is clearly in strong form after finishing last weekend's 10th GP Miguel Indurain in sixth position.

After finishing second at the event last year, Team Barloworld will return for another attempt at the Portuguese event. The British outfit will use the event to prepare for the upcoming Giro d’Italia and Tour de France Grand Tours.

Spain’s Moises Duenas will lead Barloworld after impressing at the recent Vuelta Castilla y León, while South Africa’s John-Lee Augustyn will also race as he often performs well in tough stage races. The duo will be joined by Félix Rafael Cárdenas (Barloworld), Steve Cummings, Geraint Thomas, Hugo Sabido, Italians Francesco Bellotti and Giampaolo Cheula.

Team Rubicon-Orbea to promote Lance Armstrong Foundation

This year Team Rubicon-Orbea is aiming to bring more awareness of the Lance Armstrong Foundation to the US cycling peloton. Gone from years past is its orange and blue colour, with the team sporting yellow and black team kits with the 'Benefiting the Lance Armstrong Foundation' logo displayed on the jersey.

"Our goal is to inspire people who have been affected in any way by cancer to take control, face it head on, take no prisoners and reach out to others for support," said team co-founder and director Norrene Godfrey, who lost both her parents to cancer. "As a cycling team, we hope to visit as many hospitals as we can handing out as many yellow wristbands as we can, to encourage those individuals to keep fighting, and let them know they’re not alone."

Team Rubicon-ORBEA is made up of 13 riders, with 7 under the age of 23. The 6 older riders will mentor the younger riders on and off the bike. Last year, two of the team’s riders moved up in the pro-ranks, signing contracts with Slipstream-Chipotle U23 squad and the Jelly Belly Pro Cycling team.

Leading the team this year will be 21 year-old Logan Hunn of New Zealand and 22 year-old Brad Payne from Australia. Also returning is sprint specialist Dean Tracy. Carson Miller, Josh Bartlett, Shaun Morris and Roman van Uden are the team's new riders for 2008.

The team has a busy NRC and event calendar, with the goal of visiting at least one children’s hospital for every NRC event it contests.

(Additional reporting and research provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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