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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News, April 24, 2008

Edited by Ben Abrahams

Kirchen delivers on the Mur de Huy

By Brecht Decaluwé

Kim Kirchen (Team High Road)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

With a devastating acceleration in the final 200 metres, Team High Road's Kim Kirchen jumped away from Cadel Evans and Damiano Cunego on the horrendously steep Mur de Huy to become the first Luxemburger to win La Flèche Wallonne. When Cyclingnews spoke with Kirchen at the Amstel Gold Race just a few days prior, the 29 year-old was actually hoping for bad weather this Wednesday, and his wish came true as the initial sunny skies gave way to a heavy downpour which made racing conditions extremely unpleasant.

"I hope it will rain a little bit during the last hour. I've always won my big races in the rain," were Kirchen's words last Sunday.

Bad weather or not, the Team High Road rider was undoubtedly in great shape after his two sprint wins at the Vuelta al País Vasco two weeks ago, but almost ruined his chances by selecting the wrong gear in the finale. "I thought it was too big a gear, I went up the last 300 metres in 53x21," he explained afterwards.

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"But I was stronger than three years ago – when I also waited until almost the last possible moment to attack. That time, in 2005, I finished second, but on this occasion I've taken the most beautiful victory of my career. Often I've left it too late to win, and after attacking I kept on thinking I would get caught, but it didn't happen."

Kirchen explained that he spent much of the race shadowing two-time winner Davide Rebellin, knowing that the Gerolsteiner rider was likely conserving his energy better than anyone. "He's always good at calculating how to win a race like Flèche," said Kirchen. "On a wet day like today knowing the final climb, where to position yourself on it and where to attack was crucial. It's important when it's dry, but on a wet day like Wednesday, past experience of a race like Flèche was vital."

And despite being the first rider from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg to win La Flèche Wallonne, a race first run in 1936, Kirchen insisted that he doesn't concern himself too much with cycling history. "I didn't know that, I'm not somebody who looks at the record books a lot, but being the first rider from Luxembourg to win Flèche does make me feel proud."

For the full results, report & photos from Flèche Wallonne, click here.

Duggan in stable condition after bad crash in Georgia

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Gainesville, Georgia

The crash scene
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

A high-speed crash sent three riders to the ground during the third stage of the Tour de Georgia, with Slipstream-Chipotle's Timmy Duggan suffering the worst of the incident. Duggan was immediately transported to Athens Regional Hospital by one of the two race ambulances. The team reported to Cyclingnews that Duggan is in a stable condition with a broken left collarbone and left scapula, and will remain in hospital overnight for further testing and observation.

Duggan's wife Loren and parents are en route to Athens to be with him and provide moral support.

Two other riders went down in the crash, Ben Day (Toyota-United) and Corey Collier (Health Net-Maxxis). Collier's bike ended up in three pieces with the head tube and down tube completely severed from the frame. Both Day and Colliers were able to continue and finished the stage. Slipstream's director Chann McRae said Duggan was convulsing by the time the team car reached him.

The crash happened just after the peloton descended down a bluff to cross the Broad River, 65km into the stage. Up to that point the terrain had been flat like the first two days, but the peloton was crossing the bridge at speeds reaching 80km/h when Collier's wheel became wedged in the concrete surface, sending him over the handlebars.

Corey Collier (Health Net)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

"I came out pretty lucky," said Collier. "Basically, it was the way I went down... as soon as we got onto that bridge, there was a seam in the concrete that swallowed my front wheel. It just came to a standstill when I crossed into it and I was vaulted over the bars. I think Tim [Duggan] was maybe behind me and he rode into me."

The patrons of the peloton, such as George Hincapie (High Road) and Levi Leipheimer (Astana), immediately went to the front of the race to slow the pace, which resulted in the main break of the day.

Keeping with the week's theme of following the letter of the rule book, the commissaires fined both Day and Collier for excessive sheltering behind their respective team cars. "Unfortunately that's bike racing," said Health Net director Mike Tamayo. "The guy's bike was destroyed and you are not going to leave a man out in the middle of nowhere in the middle of Georgia. We'll take the fine any day."

Schleck tries hand in Flèche Wallonne escape

By Gregor Brown in Huy, Belgium

The Schleck brothers cruise up the Mur de Huy
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Lanky Luxemburger Andy Schleck lived up to his pre-race promise and made the escape of the day at the 72nd Flèche Wallonne. The 22 year-old from Team CSC joined a group of 18 others after 83 kilometres – an effort that continued for a further 80 kilometres before being overhauled by the favourites.

A crash at the Vuelta al País Vasco in Spain two weeks ago set back Schleck's form heading into one of his two season objectives – the Ardennes Classics of Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and this coming Sunday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège. "I expected to be it to be a bit better," he said of his condition. "I crashed in País Vasco, and then I had problems with my hands, my Achilles. I had to take a little break after that."

At the start of the 199.5 kilometre mid-week Classic, the younger of the Schleck brothers indicated that he would try to form part a breakaway group, if one materialised. "If there is group going, we have a good team... I don't think the Huy wil decide the race," he said. You will have to go with an escape? "Yeah."

CSC was one of the best-represented teams with three of its riders – including Nicki Sørensen and Alexandr Kolobnev – in the move of 19. The effort ended after pressure from Caisse d'Epargne and Lampre, but Schleck was satisfied with his day's work after cruising in with brother Frank, five minutes down on the winner.

"I was in the break way and then... Ahh, I think I did a good job today," he noted at the finish. "However, it did not end like I wanted."

CSC's chances for the day could have been brighter if Gustav Erik Larsson (Team CSC) had not come down in a wet and tense finale. Sørensen went on to finish the highest out of the Denmark-based team in 31st. Schleck finished in 76th, but noted that his form is getting better by the day after the setback in Spain. "I think for Sunday [at Liège-Bastogne-Liège] it will be good."

Lloyd continues strongly in Ardennes

Another display of force by Australian champion

By Gregor Brown in Huy, Belgium

Australian National Champion Matthew Lloyd (Silence-Lotto)
Photo ©: Erik Van Breugel
(Click for larger image)

After an impressive display of power in the Amstel Gold Race last Sunday, Australian road race champion Matthew Lloyd once again proved – at only 24 years old – that he is a rider to be watched. Lloyd provided perfect cover for his Silence-Lotto team leader Cadel Evans, by going in the decisive final escape at Flèche Wallonne.

"It was sort of questionable whether we would have an early move or wait for Cadel at the finish," Lloyd told Cyclingnews in Huy after the race was over. He had just closed the day in 25th – the same as his result in the Amstel Gold race – following the race-ending climb of the Mur de Huy.

The race started in Charleroi under warm and sunny skies, but heavy rains started to fall and made for a wet end to the day in Huy. "It was so wet and filthy," Lloyd continued.

Lloyd's Silence-Lotto team played its cards wisely by sending the youngster on the heels of Frenchman Maxime Monfort, who attacked with 30 kilometres remaining. They joined the early front-runners to form a group of nine with Bert De Waele (Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner), Vladimir Efimkin (AG2R La Mondiale), Nicki Sørensen (Team CSC), Jurgen Van den Broeck (Silence-Lotto), Addy Engels (Quick Step), Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank) and Andriy Grivko (Team Milram).

Despite the grim weather, Lloyd agreed that it favoured the escape's chance of survival. "Yes, we had to try something," he said. "It is one of those finishes where you can never tell who is going to win."

On the Côte de Ahin with 13 kilometres remaining, the move fell apart after Grivko's attack and the work of Caisse d'Epargne behind. Nonetheless, Lloyd's efforts paved the way for his captain to lead onto the Mur de Huy, and Evans' early attack nearly paid dividends before the Silence-Lotto leader was overhauled in the final 175 metres.

Mountain bike innovator Mark Reynolds dies at Sea Otter

By Richard Peace

The late Mark Reynolds and his wife.
Photo ©: BikeRadar
(Click for larger image)

San Jose mountain bike racer and innovator Mark Reynolds was killed as a result of head and neck injuries sustained whilst racing in the Sea Otter Classic mountain bike festival in Monterey last Saturday, a Monterey County deputy coroner has ruled.

Reynolds, 48, crashed into a dirt embankment on a relatively flat portion of the downhill course whilst participating in the amateur category for 40 to 49 year-old men and had competed in past years. He was taken by helicopter to Natividad Medical centre in Salinas, where he died. Initial reports that Mr. Reynolds may have suffered a medical problem before he crashed on what was a relatively easy section of the course were incorrect, said the deputy coroner.

The accident happened near the finish line of the downhill course on which cyclists compete one at a time against the clock, usually taking two and a half to three minutes to finish.

Mr. Reynolds, a software developer by profession, was the owner of Wicked Racin, and was probably best known in the bike world as the inventor of the Dualrailleur Guide, that attaches to the front derailleur of a mountain bike to produce smoother gear shifting under race conditions.

His death is believed to be the first in the 18-year history of the Sea Otter Classic, which this year drew around 45,000 fans over the four days it was held this year .

"We're deeply saddened," Frank Yohannan, President of the Sea Otter Classic said. "Mark was an avid cyclist who loved the sport and who was a mentor to a lot of kids. He was a wonderful representative of the sport of cycling."

He is survived by his wife of 13 years, Margo Maida, and by a daughter, Kristin Reynolds.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by BikeRadar

Gilberto Simoni may race mountain bike world's


Gilberto Simoni
Photo ©: MTB Val di Sole
(Click for larger image)

Italian professional Gilberto Simoni may ride the world mountain bike championships in Val di Sole, Italy, this year. The championships will be held between 17-22 June and for once they are taking place in Simoni's home region of Trentino. But whether the two-time Tour of Italy winner fronts up for the men's cross country race remains to be seen.

"Actually, at the moment it's neither a dream nor a reality," he said after testing the course recently. "Now I have to think about my next races, the Giro del Trentino and the Giro d'Italia. To participate in a world championship organised in the Trentino region, my area, is like a dream, but I want to be sure that it will be a good dream. I don't want to come to Val di Sole just to put a race number on my jersey. On the contrary, I want to be the star and I want the race to finish like my dream!"

Simoni, together with Italian cross country rider Silvano Janes, rode around the course twice. The first to get a feel for it and the second at speed. Simoni's gave his assessment afterwards: "A nice technical course with some difficult sections ideal for making a selection. It's definitely a championship course that will test riders' abilities. Aggression will be critical."


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by MTB Val di Sole

Gerolsteiner relying on Rebellin for Liège

Davide Rebellin will look to take his 52nd top-10 finish in a one-day Classic on Sunday, when he lines up in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The 36 year-old has already added two to that total this week, finishing fourth in the Amstel Gold Race and sixth in Wednesday's Flèche Wallonne.

Rebellin won Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2004 and finished fifth in it last year. Gerolsteiner can also look to Fabian Wegmann, who led the final charge up the Mur de Huy on Wednesday, and Stefan Schumacher.

Gerolsteiner for Liège-Bastogne-Liège: Markus Fothen, Johannes Fröhlinger, Andrea Moletta, Davide Rebellin, Ronny Scholz, Stefan Schumacher, Fabian Wegmann, and Oliver Zaugg.

US Women's Cycling Development Program partners with JETCycling

As part of its goal to support women's cycling in the United States, the US Women's Cycling Development Program (USWCDP) has joined forces with JETCycling, a program aimed at developing competitive cyclists from ages 10 to 18 and raising awareness of ethics, sportsmanship and education through the sport.

According to USWCDP Director Michael Engleman, "The USWCDP has become a fairly extensive grassroots development program and while we have built a solid network of people who help us work with athletes I always knew our weakness was that we don't yet have any structure to work with really young riders.

"I was fortunate to meet [JETCyling founder] Jet Tanner and I knew right away that JETCycling was exactly the type of format that we could work well with. The women athletes love to give back to the sport and working with junior riders will be a gift for us all. We are very excited to have another way to help women's cycling, and cycling in general."

Both programs are designed to promote the growth of competitive cycling across the US, by providing talented athletes with support, both on and off the bike. "We were looking for the next step in the evolution of a junior cyclist and the USWCDP fills that gap for us," said Tanner. "JETCycling is building the foundation of cycling, and the USWCDP is the launching pad for these athletes to be successful. I am pleased that Michael and I share the same vision for the future of cycling."

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