Cyclingnews - the world centre of cycling Cyclingnews TV   News  Tech   Features   Road   MTB   BMX   Cyclo-cross   Track    Photos    Fitness    Letters   Search   Forum  

Recent News

January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008

2007 & earlier

Recently on

Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, April 11, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

Hell's pavé strikes its rhythm

Hard-men line-up this Sunday for the 106th 'Hell of the North'

By Gregor Brown

Australian Stuart O'Grady wins the 2007 Paris-Roubaix – this Sunday the weather is expected to be a lot colder than last year's summer-like conditions.
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

The 'Hell of the North' arrives this Sunday, April 13, with a pavé-thumping rhythm that will draw in cycling enthusiasts by the thousands. Riders will line-up in Compiègne (north of Paris), cheered in the Place du Palais as they start their 259.5-kilometre march to Roubaix. A journey of tight and precarious roads – including 52.8 kilometres in 28 leg-snapping pavé sectors – will comprise the 106th edition of the Paris-Roubaix.

Paris-Roubaix draws its Monument status from over 100 years of hosting the race over the treacherous roads that are rarely seen in modern-day cycling. Past cycling heroes like Roger De Vlaeminck, Rik van Looy, Eddy Merckx, Francesco Moser and Johan Museeuw, and modern day warriors like Magnus Backstedt, Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara, have fought back the pain of the pavé to conquer this 'Queen of the Classics' and etch their names in the annals of cycling history.

Paris-Roubaix is one of cycling's five 'Monuments' in a list that also includes Milano-Sanremo, Ronde van Vlaanderen, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Giro di Lombardia.

The road conditions are such that only the specialists even bother showing up to contest the event, organised by Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO). There are sectors of pavé rutted so deep and that present so many hazards that they risk ruining a rider's season or even career – just ask Museeuw about his run through the Trouée d'Arenberg in 1998.

Coming up on

Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

WAP-enabled mobile devices:

And with so many dangers it is not only skill, but luck that comes into play to reach the finale in Roubaix – case in point is USA's George Hincapie, who has battled the roads so many times only to be thrown off into the ditch while his team-mates zoom ahead (2002) or have his bike crumble under the pavé's pressure in the key moment (2006).

A full break-down of the pavé sectors will appear shortly.

Continue to the full preview.

Riders ready for Roubaix rumble

A close up of the Trouée d'Arenberg
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

With Paris-Roubaix just days away, teams are solidifying their rosters and riders have already headed out to the Arenberg forest to get their bones accustomed to the jarring which will be inflicted upon them on Sunday. The race organisers have also reconnoitred the route, and have found almost all of the pavé sectors to be up to the task.

Christian Prudhomme and Jean-Francois Pescheux previewed all 28 sectors on Thursday. "Apart from the end of the first sector (of pavé) at Troisvilles, which should be cleaned up ahead of Sunday, all of the cobblestones are raceable," Pescheux told AFP.

Whether the cobbles hold up to the rain which is expected throughout Sunday remains to be seen, but this year's edition will most certainly not be a repeat of 2007's hot, dusty and dry race which proved perfect for the Australian winner, Stuart O'Grady.

O'Grady, who suffered severe injuries in the 2007 Tour de France, admitted that he is not up to the kind of form which won him the race last year, but his team-mate, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milano-Sanremo winner Fabian Cancellara, who won Paris-Roubaix in 2006, will be up to the task. Cancellara previewed the cobbles of the Arenberg forest on Thursday.

Silence-Lotto bands behind Hoste

Belgian Leif Hoste (Silence-Lotto) previews the course
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Silence Lotto team director Marc Sergeant announced the squad for Paris-Roubaix at a press conference on Thursday. The squad will have Leif Hoste as its leader, with Greg Van Avermaet also being a protected rider. Hoste was full of confidence after a 200-kilometre training ride on Wednesday, and barring mechanical problems, has high hopes for Paris-Roubaix.

The Silence Lotto squad did its reconnaissance of Sunday's parcours, beginning with the first pavé sector at Troisvilles through the Bois de Wallers (kilometre 170) on Thursday afternoon, while some riders went up to Roubaix.

Hoste, who had bad luck in the Tour of Flanders, is hoping to find himself in the group of favourites and then let fate take its course. "It is more a race of attrition," he told "The most important thing I can do is hang with the best. Winning depends on the details."

Hoste's team-mate Johan Vansummeren will be on support duty, but hopes to do so by getting in an early move. "It would be nice to make the early breakaway on Sunday, but in a large group," he said, but continued that the team had not yet discussed its tactics for the race.

Silence-Lotto for Paris-Roubaix: Wim De Vocht, Leif Hoste, Jürgen Roelandts, Roy Sentjens, Maarten Tjallingii (Ned), Greg Van Avermaet, Wim Vansevenant, Johan Vansummeren.

High Road shouldn't be underestimated

George Hincapie at the Ronde
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

With many reports leaving off the High Road team from the list of favourites, the team's directeur sportif Brian Holm warned that his team should not be so easily discounted. "We've got riders like [Bernhard] Eisel, [Andreas] Klier, [Roger] Hammond and [George] Hincapie who are born to ride the cobblestones," said Holm.

Klier, Eisel and Hincapie made the lead group which finished just 21 seconds behind winner Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) in last Sunday's Ronde van Vlaanderen, while Hammond was 10th at Wednesday's Gent-Wevelgem. But the team has another weapon up its sleeve. "People seem to have forgotten but Servais Knaven is a former winner of Paris-Roubaix [in 2001]," Holm observed. "Maybe he's no longer in his prime as a bike rider, but he's pretty close to it."

"I can safely say, too, that Andreas [Klier] is in the form of his life. He did a very strong ride in Flanders, and only lacked a little luck to finish in the top five," Holm continued, explaining that his American Classics rider is still the team's best hope.

"George [Hincapie] is our biggest weapon. You could see when he climbed the Kemmel that easily on Wednesday [in Gent-Wevelgem] how good his form is. We're very confident about his chances."

"All we need is a bit of luck, because luck is a key factor in Roubaix. I always spend the whole of the race with my fingers crossed, hoping that nobody will puncture at the wrong moment or crash. It's an incredibly tense race."

High Road for Paris-Roubaix: Bernhard Eisel (Aut), Bert Grabsch (Ger), Roger Hammond (GB), George Hincapie (USA), Andreas Klier (Ger), Servais Knaven (Hol), Vicente Reynes (Spa), Marcel Sieberg (Ger).

Rojas to lead men in black

José Joaquín Rojas will be the leader for the Casisse d'Epargne team on Sunday. The Spaniard is part of a growing cadre of riders from sunnier climes who are excelling in the cobbled Classics. The 22-year-old was seventh in the Gent-Wevelgem, and is hoping to become the first Spaniard ever to win the "Hell of the North".

Team director Jose Luis Jaimerena has surrounded the Murcian with a "army of protectors " including José Garcia Acosta, Ivan Gutierrez, Luis Pasamontes, Imanol Erviti, Nicolas Portal, Mathieu Perget and Arnaud Coyot.

Lampre to wait for Friday to recon

Team Lampre will wait until Friday morning to head down to the Paris-Roubaix parcours, leaving its Belgian base in Kortrjik at 9am by bus to France, where the riders will take in the toughest cobblestones sectors. Starting from the Querenaing - Maing (kilometre 141) and going through the sector in Mons-en-Pévèle (kilometre 210.5), the route will take in the Forest of Arenberg.

Fabio Baldato, Alessandro Ballan, Marco Bandiera, Paolo Bossoni, Paolo Fornaciari, Massimiliano Mori, Christian Murro and Danilo Napolitano will use the ride to test out their special bikes for the race. Baldato and Ballan will use carbon frames, while the other Lampre riders will use steel. Murro and Bandiera will be on special cyclo-cross frames, while all riders will use carbon forks and special Vittoria tyres.

This edition is of special meaning to Baldato and Fornaciari, who will both get their last chance to take in the pavé before retiring at the season's end. "I will give my best, I will save no energy," Fornaciari said. "In my 12th Roubaix I want to realize an outstanding performance for me and for the team". After racing 14 editions of Paris-Roubaix, Baldato will find it hard to say goodbye to the race. "I'm in a very good form, I will ride at the front. Sunday will be an emotional day."

Milram led by Grabsch

Ralf Grabsch (Team Milram)
Photo ©: Elmar Krings
(Click for larger image)

The German Milram team will count on its countryman Ralf Grabsch as its top contender for Paris-Roubaix. The rider, who just turned 34 on Monday, will be supported by veterans Christian Knees, Enrico Poitschke, Markus Eichler and Martin Müller, as well as young riders Fabio Sabatini (23), Martin Velits (23) and Dutch rider Niki Terpstra (22).

"We have a number of options, depending on how the race develops, to be at the front in the final," said Milram's General Manager Gerry van Gerwen. "Last year Ralf Grabsch showed that he can do well in a race like this. Niki Terpstra is in outstanding form right now. Overall our team is doing well. Basically, every one of our riders is good for a surprise on Sunday, if we build on our performance in Gent-Wevelgem and continue to work together as a team."

Curse of the rainbow jersey continues to afflict Bettini

World Champion Paolo Bettini is continuing to have bad luck, which could be blamed on the famed 'curse of the rainbow jersey'. The Quick Step rider crashed on a wet descent in the fourth stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco on Thursday, and was forced to pull out of the race.

"It had just started to rain," Bettini explained, "In order not to run any risks I backed off from the group a little to get my rain jacket passed to me from the team car. For a second I had to take my hands off the handlebars whilst I put the rain jacket on. In that instant Alexandre Botcharov came speeding past me hitting my front wheel which sent me flying into the air. We were doing about 60 kilometres per hour downhill!"

After picking himself up, Bettini got back on his bike and rode for a further 20 kilometres but in the end was forced to stop because of the pain he was in. "I just wasn't able to stay on my bike any longer," the Italian added.

Bettini suffered scrapes to his left and right gluteus and badly bruised his left hip. He will leave Spain on Friday morning and on Saturday will undergo further tests and x-rays in order to rule out the possibility of any fractures, his team announced Thursday.

Steegmans out of Paris-Roubaix

Gert Steegmans will not ride in Paris-Roubaix because of the continuing after-effects of a crash two weeks ago. The Quick Step rider injured his back when he crashed in Dwars door Vlaanderen and landed on a tractor. He is still in a lot of pain, the team noted, and the decision was made in consultation with the medical staff.

"It's a very serious problem, which made it impossible to participate," the 27-year-old said. "Yesterday I had a constant pain during Gent-Wevelgem. Therefore I decided, together with my medical staff, to drop out."

"It's a pity for the team," said team manager Patrick Lefevere. "Gert is an excellent rider for Paris-Roubaix, but we may not take any risks. That's way we took this decision. The medical tests of the next days have to prove what is causing the pain. With the right treatments he will be back soon."

Double success for High Road

Luxemburger Kim Kirchen (High Road), 29, wins
Photo ©: Susanne Goetze /
(Click for larger image)

Team High Road continued its string of good results on Thursday, this time taking the top two spots in the Tour of the Basque Country's stage four. Luxembourger Kim Kirchen had the dubious task of contesting the sprint victory just as the bunch was catching a breakaway including his own team-mate, Morris Possoni, but the young Italian held on for second ahead of David Herrero (Karpin Galicia).

Thursday's win was Kirchen's second sprint win in three days after his victory on stage two, and the team's director, Valerio Piva was pleased with the end result. "It was clear that Morris' group was going to be caught with 250 metres left to go and Kim couldn't brake and risk another rider going past him," explained Piva. "We didn't want that to happen. Even if it's a shame for Morris, it's far better than Kim wins than we lose the stage completely."

"Kim is clearly in flying form," he added. "Taking one win in a bunch sprint is sometimes written off as a fluke, but if he takes two, particularly in a race as hard as the Tour of the Basque Country then nobody can say that."

The win comes on the same day that the women scored its second victory in a week, with German Ina Teutenberg out-sprinting her rival compatriot Regina Schleicher (Equipe Nürngerber) in the Drentse-8 Dwingeloo. Teutenberg's triumph comes after High Road's Judith Arndt took the women's Ronde van Vlaanderen on Sunday.

"We are very happy," said women's team director Ronny Lauke. "Winning is always something special but it was especially great to see Ina have such a good race after being sick last week."

The team has another World Cup round on Saturday at the Ronde van Drenthe, and is hoping to carry the momentum through to this race. "We have a very good feeling in the team right now," Lauke added. "The girls worked really hard and I hope we can have another great race on Saturday."

Quick Step warns of bus tour fraud

Someone in Belgium has found a new way to make money out of professional cycling, but not in a legal way. Team Quick Step this week issued a statement warning that someone named Marnic is approaching people on the street, introducing himself as the team bus driver and as rider Wilfred Cretsken's brother-in-law. The man offers to show fans the team bus for 100 Euros.

"This person has nothing to do with the Quick Step team and is a fraud!" the team has warned. "Please don't believe this man, you will not see him again after the payment and you will lose your money."

De Goede happy and successful at Equipe Nürnberger

By Susan Westemeyer

World Cup Leader Suzanne De Goede (Equipe Nurnberger)
Photo ©: CJ Farquharson
(Click for larger image)

Suzanne de Goede (Equipe Nürnberger) took the lead in the women's UCI World Cup last Sunday, placing sixth in the Ronde van Vlaanderen round. The Dutch rider is now looking forward to defending her World Cup leader's jersey at the Ronde van Drenthe this weekend, and says that wearing the jersey "is really cool!". De Goede is excited to wear the prestigious shirt in her home country this weekend. "We are going to try and do a good race with the team Saturday, to get a good result and keep the jersey."

The Dutch rider, who will celebrate her 24th birthday next week, is new to the team this season, and brought in its first victory of the year, with the first stage of the Women's Tour of New Zealand. "That felt good, of course," she told Cyclingnews. "I wanted to go to Australia and New Zealand for some early racing to get ready for the Spring Classic season in Europe. And we did some good racing with the team, so then it is fun to get a win in one of the first races of the season!"

She rode for T-Mobile Team last season, an experiment which just didn't turn out right. "I have always been in the same Dutch team since I started cycling and last year was my first year in an international team. I found out after some time that T-Mobile was just not the right team for me, so that's why I wanted to go to a different team," she explained why she left after only one year. "I still had some good results and races, but not as in the years before. That shows that something was different for me as in the years before. I found out in the middle of the season that I have exercise-induced asthma, and also the change of teams was maybe not perfect for me."

De Goede feels comfortable in the Nürnberger team. "We work really good together, have strong riders and we also have fun. If you have this all together you have a good team."

Her top goal this year is the Olympic Games in Beijing. "I can only do my very best and then the national coach will decide in June who will be in the Olympic team. Marianne {Vos} is sure to go and I think with two more we can have a team who works well together and will be very strong to represent the Netherlands! And I of course hope to be in this Olympic team!"

Leading up to that, though, "I will race the World Cups and also Tour de l'Aude and then when the Olympic team is announced, we will make the rest of the plan for the season. Making the Olympic team is the biggest goal and next to that also the Worlds in Italy," she continued. "At the beginning of the season I didn't make the World Cup as my goal but only to ride good World Cup races with the team. Now that I have the jersey, we will try to keep it for as long as possible!" Along the way, she wouldn't mind repeating her past wins in both the national road and time trial races.

De Goede attributes her success this season not only to the new team, but also to a new training plan, which included doing some cyclo-cross in the off-season. "When I was a junior, I also did cyclo-cross and track racing in the winter and this was always good for me. That is why I wanted to try it this winter again also." She admitted, "I find only training in the winter a little bit boring, I like to do some racing sometimes."

(Additional reporting and research provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

Previous News    Next News

(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)