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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News, April 22, 2008

Edited by Ben Abrahams & Greg Johnson

Dominguez in yellow after opening stage victory

By Kirsten Robbins in Savannah, Georgia

Ivan Dominguez (Toyota United)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Team Toyota-United Pro Cycling proved to be the unbeatable team in the Tour de Georgia's opening stage, after leading its Cuban sprinter Ivan Dominguez into victory. The team seized the early lead in both the overall and the sprint classifications against the 14 other invited domestic and ProTour teams.

Dominguez had not anticipated the early stage win, nor the race lead due to a serious knee injury that effected his early season and lead him to abandon February's Tour of California.

"A lot of guys, other sprinters, told me yesterday that this was a good stage for me because it is short and the way I like usually it - I was thinking, yeah right," he said. "But, I guess it was a good one.

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"It's hard for me to say whether I'm going to win a race or not and I was very surprised when I won now because I'm not feeling 100 percent," added Dominguez, who claimed 15 victories last year. "I've been up and down this season with a knee injury that started before the Tour of California and so this is great for the team and our motivation."

Dominguez felt the aggression coming from teams Gerolsteiner and High Road, who were all vying for a top position before the technical finale. But the rider's team didn't crack, instead executing a terrifically timed lead out at the 200 metres remaining mark.

"It was a little dangerous but I felt safe for the most part and the positioning really depended on who had the strongest lead out and which team made the right move at the right time," said Dominguez, who was led into the final kilometre by team-mates Henk Vogels and Dominique Rollin.

According to Toyota-United team director Len Pettyjohn, the team will start Stage 2 prepared to defend the overall leaders jersey and team standing. "This is the first time we have had the whole team together and healthy - I'm really happy with the guys performance," said Pettyjohn. "Honestly, I came into this race expecting to win here and expecting what we saw today. We will defend this."

In order to achieve that the squad will need to shake off some bad luck its experienced in the major American tours. At last year's Tour of Missouri, Toyota-United was unable to defend its lead after winning the opening stage due to multiple injuries and illness.

While Pettyjohn may be convinced a defending strategy is the right approach, his marquee rider Dominguez is not. "One of the things about the Tour of Missouri last year was that some people got mad and I had to explain that I'm not a GC guy, I'm a sprinter," said Dominguez, regarding the team's loss of the general classification lead at last year's Tour of Missouri. "My time trial was one of the last guys and there was no point in defending the jersey, just to go for stages victories. I don't want to make all my guys work all day tomorrow and the next few days or they are going to be dead, so we will see."

Dominguez has a track record for winning field sprints in large city settings like today's downtown Savannah stage. The soon-to-be father had landed 15 race victories in 2007 to include stages in the Tour of California, Tour de Georgia, Tour of Missouri and Las Vegas criterium.

"I do well in the larger cities," said Dominguez. "Someone came up to me after I won Las Vegas last year and said, 'you know, you don't win much, but when you do win you make sure everyone is watching'. These are great races so something I have inside of me likes this style but when you have a team like mine it makes my job a lot easier."

Bettini better for Liège

Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) had his final physiotherapy session yesterday ahead of his return to racing at today's Giro del Trentino. The Italian will contest the three day race in his homeland in preparation for this weekend's Liège - Bastogne - Liège.

Bettini was forced to miss the Amstel Gold Race earlier this week after a fall at Spain's País Vasco left him unable to train with a broken rib. As a result of his program change, Bettini will also sit out Flèche Wallonne tomorrow.

"I still have a few contracted muscles caused by my fall in Spain," said Bettini. "But to be honest, looking back at the gravity of that fall, I am really happy to be back on my bike racing in such a short time. I just hope the weather improves over the next few days so that I can do a good job in preparation for the Liège."

The double world champion admitted late last week he has a special connection with the Belgian race in Liège.

Petacchi with doubts and ambitions for both Giro and Tour

Alessandro Petacchi hopes to shine in both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France
Photo ©: Jacob Sabine
(Click for larger image)

He's targeting a return to the Tour de France after a five-year hiatus, but Alessandro Petacchi's participation still hinges on a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decision over his non-negative doping control from last year's Giro d'Italia. The Italian sprinting star didn't hide his doubts when Cyclingnews' Jean-François Quénet caught up with him at the Presidential Tour of Turkey last week.

During a week in Turkey, Alessandro Petacchi has seen some beautiful landscapes and listened to the early morning calls of the muezzin calling Muslims to prayer. Not entirely dissimilar surroundings to those of his first professional victory, which came 10 years ago in Mersing, Malaysia at Le Tour de Langkawi. At the time, he wasn't yet a top sprinter, merely the fastest of a four-man breakaway group, and also won the race's King of the Mountains jersey - even after tackling the gruelling climb to Genting Highlands.

Now a confirmed member of cycling's sprinting elite, Petacchi was in Turkey to hone his form for the Giro d'Italia. But it wasn't an easy week for the Italian, who felt sick as a dog on several occasions during the race. On the morning of the final stage, Petacchi found himself awake at 5.00am. He was already coughing badly after winning Stage 6 the day before. "During the night, it got worse," explained the Tuscan prior to the final stage of the newly promoted 2.1 Turkish event. "Before the start of the stage, I decided that I wouldn't sprint today. I've been close to pulling out of the race a few times because I couldn't breathe and I was coughing on my bike", he said afterwards.

"This is the first time in my career that I've got sick twice in a row," he added. "Maybe I didn't take care of myself properly after Milan-San Remo. I don't know. I took antibiotics for one week. I thought I'd be fine after that. But sometimes there are still some germs of sickness remaining in the body. When I came to Turkey, I thought it was over but it wasn't. In fact, the heat has made me worse, I guess. Now my breathing is really short."

Petacchi started taking antibiotics again on Sunday morning, and hopes to be fit again for his last race before the Giro - the Henninger Turm in Frankfurt on May 1. "I tried to understand and I spoke with some friends who have had this kind of flu three times in a row," he said. "It might be a virus. It's stronger than before. It sucks. I hope the weather will be fine at home and I'll be able to recover."

To read the full interview with Alessandro Petacchi, click here.

Klöden targetting Tour de Romandie

By Jean-François Quénet in Alanya, Turkey

Andreas Klöden was one of the stars of the Presidential Tour of Turkey. During the final stage he was seen working as a domestique when his young Kazakh team-mate Assan Bazayev had a flat tyre but eventually came third in Alanya and won the points classification. That was Astana's main achievement in Turkey after Gregory Rast won the inaugural criterium in Istanbul, which didn't count for the overall classification.

Milram with Alessandro Petacchi's two stage wins and Lampre thanks to Mirco Lorenzetto's rush at the end of Stage 2 were the better known winners in Turkey. But in general, the ProTour teams were overshadowed by Pro Continental opposition such as Karpin-Galicia, who claimed the overall classification with David Garcia Dapena, and CSF-Navigare, who came with the target of one stage win but went home with four victories.

There was, however, another purpose for experienced riders to take part in the Turkish race: eight days of racing in preparation for other events. That was certainly the case for Klöden. The 2004 Tour de France runner-up went south with the Tour de Romandie in mind.

"I'd never heard of this race before," he admitted about the 44th Presidential Tour of Turkey, which has been upgraded this year to UCI 2.1 status. "When my team told me about it, I wasn't too keen to come to Turkey but now I'm very satisfied. I have worked well. There have been some difficult stages and I've tried to break away sometimes but without any success."

The German was also full of praise for the Turkish organisation. "The courses were very interesting," he said. "The venues chosen for starts and finishes were wonderful. Hotels were world class and the weather has been great. It was perfect." His last duty in Alanya was to assist his friend Danilo Hondo who was involved in the final crash.

Most of the time, Klöden was seen with a smile on his face in Turkey while he often looks unhappy at many European races. The Astana rider obviously enjoyed racing away from the prying eyes of the German media, who have been relentless in their accusations of doping against him during his years with Team Telekom.

Not surprisingly, though, he's still bitter at his Astana team's non-selection for the Tour de France. His racing program now consists of the Tour de Romandie in May, the Tour de Suisse in June and the Tour of Austria in July. "I'm still convinced that I can win the Tour de France one year," he said. "Before the end of my career, I hope to be able to come back and take my chance."

Hondo looking to Giro

By Jean-François Quénet in Alanya, Turkey

Danilo Hondo (Serramenti PVC-Diquigiovanni)
Photo ©: JF Quenet
(Click for larger image)

Danilo Hondo has seen a huge change in the Tour of Turkey compared to the stage race he won as an amateur back in 1996. Newly promoted to a UCI 2.1 event, the race has been boosted by government support and the President of the republic, Abdullah Gül, who attended the last stage in his home town of Alanya on the Mediterranean coast.

"I've enjoyed the places where we've been," the German sprinter from Serramenti PVC-Diquigiovanni commented in Antalya prior to start the final stage. "The good organization and the great weather have made me appreciate the journey. I think this race has a future, should Turkey get better surfaces for the roads."

Turkish roads are not especially bad, but Alessandro Petacchi also mentioned that their surface was very demanding for the riders. "My regret here is the finale of Stage 2 when there was some chaos with a few cars. Otherwise, I would have won that day, I think," Hondo suggested. The organisation of the Tour of Turkey was prompt to correct the imperfections of the finish in Bodrum and the rest of the race passed without further safety concerns, but Hondo never got another opportunity to win a stage, which was his goal prior to the race.

He was again victim of a crash very close to the finishing line on the last day in Alanya. In a similar situation to Stage 7 of Le Tour de Langkawi, the German was sandwiched between two other sprinters who behaved dangerously. The crash itself was spectacular, but fortunately for Hondo no fracture was reported and he should be able to maintain his desired racing program. He'll take part in several one-day races in Italy before starting the Giro d'Italia in Palermo on May 10.

"The Giro d'Italia is my main goal this year," he said. "I think I've done solid work here in Turkey in my preparation for the Giro." Best known for its climbers from South America, the Venezuelan registered team Serramenti PVC-Diquigiovanni will be fighting for stage wins and the pink jersey in three weeks' time.

Gerolsteiner's Holczer confident

By Susan Westemeyer

Gerolsteiner's Hans-Michael Holczer is confident and optimistic about the future of his team. Gerolsteiner Brunnen Gmbh & Co. announced in September that it would stop its sponsorship of the team after 10 years.

“We are conducting talks on three levels,” he told Cyclingnews Monday evening. “First, on the business-to-business area through my personal contacts, then with the help of the sports management firm Sport Five in their area, and last but not least, we are talking with an investor about his taking over the majority of my company.”

Holczer believes he will know in eight weeks what the future holds for his team. “I think this is a good sign, that I have too much to do – and in the next eight weeks we will know what will happen,” he concluded.

Lance Armstrong finishes Boston Marathon in 2:50:58

By Gary Boulanger,

Seven times Tour de France champion and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong finished the 112th Boston Marathon in 2:50:58, placing 488th out of more than 25,000 Monday. Kenyan Robert Cheruiyot won the men's race in 2:07:46, missing the course record he set by just 32 seconds. He became the fourth man to win Boston four times, joining American great Bill Rogers.

Armstrong, running together with 50 Livestrong 'teammates,' is raising funds and awareness for his Lance Armstrong Foundation, known around the world as Livestrong. This was Armstrong's first Boston Marathon; he's finished the New York City Marathon twice. Participants in that race raised more than US$500,000 in November 2007.

According to sources close to Armstrong, a professional triathlete before he became a bicycle racer, the Texan stepped on a piece of coral about a month ago which gave him a foot injury and slowed his training down a bit. He added he pushed the pace a bit too hard in the middle of the Boston race, mostly due to the excitement of being there and ended up paying for it in the final four to five miles. Compared to the New York City course, Armstrong also mentioned he felt more "boxed in" but the crowds along the course were unbelievable.

Armstrong said he plans to run the New York City Marathon again this fall.

Northern California women's series announced

Bay Area Women’s Cycling has announced its seventh annual Northern California Women's Racing Series. It includes a team competition in addition to an individual competition, in an effort to promote teamwork in racing.

The racing series is a points series for female road bicycle racers in categories 4 and 3 (beginner and intermediate). It runs from March to September, with prizes awarded to the top 10 individuals and top 3 teams - after the midpoint and final races. BAWC adds extra prizes to the purse at each race. All seven of the races on the 2008 schedule have separate races and/or placings for the Category 4 and 3 women and girls.

"BAWC is thrilled to sponsor a road cycling series again this year," said Brooke Kuhn, founder of BAWC. "We have seen the team competition spark more interest in teamwork among beginner and intermediate racers, which is really exciting to see. There has been a dramatic increase in women and girls participating in our racing series – more than doubling the number of female racers from 2001 to 2007. Our Racing Series helps women and girls measure their progress against competitors. Plus, the number of women and girls that the Racing Series brings to the races encourages promoters to separate the race categories at the races, which the racers like."

Racers can visit for more information on the races and to check their standings throughout the series.

2008 series schedule:
March 8 (Tri-Flow Menlo Park Grand Prix, Menlo Park)
April 26 (Wente Vineyards Road Race, Livermore)
May 17 (Kern County Stage Race, Bakersfield)
May 31 (ICCC Dash for Cash, Pleasanton)
August 3 (Timpani Criterium, Santa Clara)
August 9 (Carrera de San Rafael, San Rafael)
September 1 (Giro di San Francisco, San Francisco)

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