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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, April 19, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

Tour de Georgia on our mind

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Savannah, Georgia

The 2008 Tour de Georgia
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

The sixth edition of the race through the "Peach State" is continuing to evolve. After adding a day to the race last year, the 2008 race will see the introduction of a team time trial around a unique course – the 'Road Atlanta' track usually reserved for auto racing. This stage replaces the usual individual time trial and will be an interesting experiment: it could make the race up Brasstown Bald mountain more exciting if the time gaps after Road America are small, or a closed case if a strong team like Astana runs away with the GC.

Astana will, of course, come to the race with the desire to crush all competition and continue to demonstrate to the Tour de France organiser, ASO, that they've left one of the world's strongest teams out of this year's event.

2007 Tour de France podium finisher Levi Leipheimer will be back to try to take his first Tour de Georgia after his second consecutive victory at the Tour of California. He will have a strong supporting cast with the likes of Chris Horner and Chechu Rubiera, but last year's winner Janez Brajkovic will not be heading Stateside. The team's spokesman told Cyclingnews that Brajkovic was not riding at the level of last year, and has possibly over-trained. He has been given a period of rest by his trainers.

The Kazakh-backed team will not be without competition, as there will be several other strong contenders for the title, both from the ProTour ranks and increasingly from the domestic and continental squads.

Team CSC is sending a well-rounded team, with veteran American racer Bobby Julich and Bradley McGee as GC riders, while Juan Jose Haedo will be back to challenge for the sprint jersey. They'll also look to Jason McCartney to try to repeat his solo stage victory from 2004 when he flexed his muscles in Dahlonega.

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It is interesting to note that Team High Road's George Hincapie was not named as a GC rider in the team's press release despite the South Carolina resident enjoying a strong spring classics campaign. The team will instead look to climbers Thomas Lövkvist and Kanstantsin Siutsou for the overall, with Hincapie as a valuable motor for the team time trial.

Gerolsteiner rounds out the ProTour teams with Robert Förster and Thomas Fothen back to enjoy the southern hospitality. A fifth ProTour team was slated to race, but Saunier Duval-Scott pulled out at the last minute, citing their plethora of injuries as the reason for not being able to make the trip across the pond.

Continue to the full preview.

UCI announces Olympic track slots

Chris Hoy earned three spots for Great Britain
Photo ©: Stephen McMahon
(Click for larger image)

The International Cycling Union (UCI) announced Friday the number of places earned for the Beijing Olympic Games track cycling events. The National Olympic Committees of each country were informed of how many places they've earned and for which events. In total, 188 places for 153 men and 35 women were awarded to 34 different countries.

Of those places, twelve were awarded to specific athletes who earned a berth through winning either the World Cup, World Championships or B World Championships. A total of 21 riders men were named for the non-transferable places; three men in each of the sprint, keirin, individual pursuit and points race, and three women in each of the sprint, pursuit and points race.

Great Britain tops the list of entrants with 22 spots, seven of which are non-transferable through the five World Championship titles of Chris Hoy (two), Bradley Wiggins, Victoria Pendleton and Rebecca Romero, while two were through World Cup wins (Hoy and Chris Newton).

The Netherlands landed 20 spots, while Australia, France and Russia each earned 18. Ukraine and the USA each took twelve.

The most notable absence on the qualifying list is that of the Australian Madison team, which won Olympic Gold in 2004 with Graeme Brown and Stuart O'Grady. The Australians failed to earn enough UCI points to qualify for the World Championships and missed their last chance to earn an opportunity to repeat that Olympic gold performance in China.

Similarly, Canada did not earn a place in the women's sprint, where Lori-Ann Muenzer won in Athens. That country only earned two berths, one in each of the men's and women's points races.

The Olympic track events will take place from August 15-19.

VDB releases autobiography

Frank Vandenbroucke won't race again until the time is right.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Belgian cycling's problem child Frank Vandenbroucke has released his autobiography, titled Ik ben God niet (I am not a God), which hit stores in Belgium on Friday. The rider was just released from his contract with the Mitsubishi-Jartazi team Thursday after he did not race for several weeks. The rider with the checkered past was the target of a International Cycling Union (UCI) snub when the sport's governing body granted his team the coveted 'wild-card' status with the stipulation that 'VDB' not be on the roster for any ProTour event. He was then named in a Belgian police investigation as a customer of drug dealers.

In the book, Vandenbroucke gives an honest account of his rise to fame and then plunge into turmoil in the late 1990's. "From my youth through the great victories to depression and drug addiction: I have as much detail as possible. But it is not a confession," he told

Vandenbroucke was a promising Classics man, having won Paris-Nice, Gent-Wevelgem, and in 1999 Het Volk and Liège-Bastogne-Liège before being the target of a police raid on his home. 'VDB' admitted that he had been involved with Bernard 'Dr. Mabuse' Sainz, a horse breeder who was one of several people charged with supplying doping products to cyclists.

In 2002, another raid on his home turned up several banned substances, and he served a six month suspension after which his career was never the same. Troubles with drunk driving and domestic disputes replaced victories on the bike, and a nagging knee injury cut short a briefly promising return to form that saw VDB place second in the 2003 Tour of Flanders.

These incidents gave the 33-year-old plenty of material to fill the 342-page tome. "I have had a tumultuous life; I have so much to write."

Vandenbroucke has struggled with drugs and depression for several years, and his downward spiral hit rock bottom last year when he tried to commit suicide. He pulls no punches in the book, describing his two attempts in detail. "That was the hardest," he told the Belgian paper. "I had my doubts about telling that, because it can be shocking."

Now that Vandenbroucke has aired the details of his troubled life, he is hoping to be able to focus on being a father to his daughter from his failed marriage. But he is not worrying about getting back to racing quite yet. Until then, he hopes the book will have a message for some younger riders: "Do not make the same mistakes as I did."

Haussler steps in for Amstel

The German-Australian on the Gerolsteiner team, Heinrich Haussler, will return to the Amstel Gold Race after missing out on the Dutch event last year. Haussler had his debut in the event in 2006, and will now ride in place of Johannes Fröhlinger, who has a bad cold.

The other half of the squad will head to the U.S. where sprinter Robert Förster will lead Team Gerolsteiner in the Tour de Georgia. The speedy German will look for his third sprint win of the season, while team-mates Sven Krauss, Sebastian Lang and Stephan Schreck will be on the lookout to join breakaways.

Gerolsteiner for Georgia: Robert Förster, Thomas Fothen, Oscar Gatto, Sven Krauss, Sebastian Lang, Volker Ordowski, Matthias Russ, and Stephan Schreck.

Liquigas changes guard, Bennati returns

Daniele Bennati returns to racing
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

With the shift in the Spring Classics from the pavé of Flanders to the punchy climbs of the Ardennes, teams are revamping their line-ups and the Liquigas squad is no exception. After Filippo Pozzato was denied in Milano-Sanremo, and failed to crack the podium in the cobbled Classics, the team will look to Leonardo Bertagnolli and Kjell Carlström for all three of the Ardennes Classics: Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Roman Kreuziger, Valerio Agnoli, Michael Albasini, Dario Cataldo, Matej Mugerli and Frederik Willems join the pair for the Flèche Wallonne, while Franco Pellizotti, Vincenzo Nibali and Vladimir Miholjevic will be joining the ranks for Liège-Bastogne-Liège in place of Agnoli, Albasini and Willems.

Meanwhile, sprinter Daniele Bennati has recovered sufficiently from a knee injury to return to racing. The Italian who won two stages in the 2007 Tour de France and three in the Vuelta a España came over to the Liquigas squad from Lampre this year, but has yet to race in his new green and blue kit. "I'm keen to race again and I've got the Giro d'Italia in my sights," Bennati said.

He will make his first appearance with his new the team on April 20th at the Giro d'Oro. "I'm curious and excited about this debut. My season is only just starting now and I want to make my mark," he proclaimed. The 27-year-old suffered from an injured left knee, described as "a slight patellar chondropathy to his left knee, associated with inflammation of the lateral ligament," by a team press release. "I'm still not one hundred per cent on form," Bennati admitted, "and my legs still need to cover a few more miles. But I'm trying to prepare myself in the best way possible for the Giro d'Italia." (For more on 'Benna' read Bennati back after seven-month stop.)

Bennati will be joined in the Giro d'Oro and next week's' Giro del Trentino stage race by Franco Pellizotti and Vincenzo Nibali, who will then fly off to Belgium the following day for Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Completing the line-up will be Claudio Corioni, Vladimir Miholjevic, Andrea Noè, Alessandro Vanotti and Charles Wegelius.

More 'Oil for Drugs' verdicts made

Three more athletes were handed down sentences on Friday in relation to the "Oil for Drugs" investigation at the federal appeals court in Rome. The latest names were subjects of Italy's Anti-Narcotics Group (NAS) raids in Brunico (Bolzano) in 2004. Cyclist David Bonuccelli was sentenced to a two years' suspension for possession of banned substances, while Masters racer Renzo Asci (Master 3) was given a lifetime ban for using and trafficking banned substances with "the clear purpose of financial gain."

Another masters racer, Claudio Terenzi was acquitted of the attempted use of substances and/or doping methods.

Chadwick gets a reality check

Chadwick visits the war memorial at Heverlee
Photo ©: Glen Chadwick
(Click for larger image)

Cyclingnews is fortunate to host diaries from a number of riders, all of whom have interesting stories to tell. However, it's not every day that one of our diarists writes an entry about being on the brink of the grave. Team Type I's Glen Chadwick had quite a serious illness earlier this year, from which he's fortunately recovered. He writes about it in his latest diary:

So I made it back home here in Belgium still feeling a bit ordinary, but thought the worst was over when Boom! it hit me – the head aches and fever were back and not going away this time. Isabelle my wife sent me to the doc for some blood tests and as soon as they came back, I was admitted straight into hospital. My liver had pretty much shut down which is never a good thing, along with my gall bladder and spleen.

Now its not a good idea to have these problems when you've just come back from an Asian country because immediately I was being diagnosed with hepatitis or malaria which is a great thing to hear! Especially when the Doctor says, "Its ok, you can still get a few good years in even if you have hepatitis." Kiss my ass buddy! But one by one they slowly came back negative so then it was, "hmmmm, maybe its tuberculosis?"

Belle and I were pretty scared with what was going on, as I looked pretty bad and didn't seem to be improving she thought that after saying goodbye one night that that was the last time she would do it! I also now know what its like to be afraid to close my eyes and go to sleep for fear of never waking up! I felt so terrible..But after a week of IV antibiotics I slowly improved up to the point where they came in one afternoon and just simply told me that I can go home, just like that! OK then I'm outta here...

I ended up having Epstein Barr Virus? Yeah I don't know what that is either :) They just told Belle that if I start to look a little yellow bring me back in, so throughout the year if you run into me and I'm looking a little on the yellow side then give me a heads up, thanks.

Continue to the rest of the diary.

Women's Prestige Series topped by Canadian

Alex Wrubleski (Webcor) happy
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Canadian Alex Wrubleski took the early lead in the Women's Prestige Series with a gutsy last-stage move which propelled her into the overall classification at the Redlands Classic earlier this month. The Webcor team was able to deliver the Saskatchewan native to victory in the overall, sprint, mountains and best young rider classifications over former Webcor rider and 2007 series winner, Mara Abbott at Redlands. Since the race was the first in the series, Wrubleski now holds the lead in all series classifications as well.

The performance earned Wrubleski the distinction of being a rider to watch in the North American women's circuit, an honour which usually follows the leader of the Prestige Series. Riders like Abbott, Katharine Carroll and sprinter Brooke Miller have all made names for themselves in the series which includes the Nature Valley Grand Prix and the Presbyterian Hospital Invitational criterium..

Webcor has taken the team classification in the series for the past two years in a row, and now leads the team standings ahead of High Road and Aaron's.

The Women's Prestige Cycling Series continues in June at the Nature Valley Grand Prix on June 11 to 15 followed by the grand finale at the Presbyterian Hospital Invitational on August 2.

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