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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, April 29, 2008

Edited by Gregor Brown

Valverde participates in Clásica de Alcobendas

By Monika Prell

Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), 28, has been confirmed to race Clásica de Alcobendas
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The organiser of the Clásica a Alcobendas is happy to announce that the winner of this year's Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, will participate in the race that will be held in Madrid and Guadalajara, May 10 to 11. The 28 year-old will lead Team Caisse d'Epargne, backed by local Daniel Moreno and Cantabrian Iván Gutiérrez, according to the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC).

Saunier Duval-Scott will also send two local riders, José Angel Gomez Marchante and Alberto Fernández De La Puebla. Karpin Galicia has also one rider from Madrid in its team, Carlos Castaño, who will be accompanied by Ezequiel Mosquera.

Manuel Calvente, winner of the Vuelta a La Rioja, will lead Team Contentpolis-Murcia; Andalucía-Cajasur will send Francisco José Ventoso, winner of the first stage of the same race.

Extremadura-Ciclismo Solidario, Burgos Monumental and the Spanish national team will complete the Spanish participation, but the Clásica de Alcobendas also counts on foreign teams. Christophe Moreau will lead Team Agritubel and Stefano Garzelli Acqua e Sapone. France's Crédit Agricole will lead with Pietro Caucchioli and Portugal's Benfica will be present with José Azevedo and Rubén Plaza.

For Francisco Mancebo and Eladio Jiménez Sánchez (Fercase), this race means the first one in Spain since the beginning of the season as well as for Moisés Dueñas (Barloworld).

The start list will be completed by Bouygues Telecom, Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli, Tinkoff Credit Systems and Ceramica Flaminia-Bossini Docce.

The two-day event changed its format; the time trial has been substituted by a normal stage. On Saturday, the riders will cover 144.7 kilometres from Alcobendas to the Puerto de Navacerrada, a first category mountain, after having already ridden a second and first category climb.

Sunday morning, the rides will cover 104 kilometres between Alovera and Azuqueca de Henares, with three mountains of the fourth category, before closing the race in the afternoon with an urban circuit -- 72.9 kilometres -- in Alcobendas and San Sebastián de los Reyes.

Not enough water for Gerolsteiner's Wegmann

Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann ran out of water in Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Photo ©: Erik Van Breugel
(Click for larger image)

One would expect that a rider sponsored by a bottled water company wouldn't have to worry about not having enough to drink, but that was exactly the problem that Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann faced in Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

His water bottle popped out as he crossed a railroad track shortly before the Côte de la Roche aux Faucons, which appeared in the race this year for the first time. The railroad crossing "was so bumpy that my water bottle flew right out of its holder," he noted on his website, There was no chance of getting a new one, "because of the narrow roads and the lack of distance between the small groups, none of our cars could get up to the front to give me a new one."

So the Gerolsteiner rider had to, ironically, ride the last 20 kilometres thirsty. "None of the others in my group could help me out, since they didn't have much left in their bottles and had the same supply problem I did." As if that wasn't enough, he came down with cramps on the Côte de Saint-Nicolas, "and then the 'fun' was over."

He grit his teeth and kept on going, finishing the race 22nd. "I'll just say, I wasn't entirely happy and satisfied after the race, but I wasn't dissatisfied, either."

Next on his calendar are Rund um den Henninger Turm, the Bayern Rundfahrt and the Dauphiné Libéré. "Of course I am not satisfied with just one season victory, and will try in these races to add another. Maybe it will happen soon, since my form is still quite good, as I showed on Sunday." (SW)

Volksbank looking to improve in Frankfurt

By Susan Westemeyer

Volksbank looking towards Frankfurt
Photo ©: GEPA
(Click for larger image)

The 2008 season hasn't quite turned out the way Team Volksbank had hoped, but the team isn't giving up hope and is looking to do well in Rund um den Henninger Turm on Thursday.

"This hasn't been our season so far," Team Manager Thomas Kofler told Cyclingnews this morning. "We've had numerous crashes, injuries to Harald Morscher and Pascal Hungerbühler and too few podium places, but we are looking for an upswing.

"The guys are all top motivated," he continued. "They see Henninger Turm as a chance to stand out in one of the most important races in Germany. As a small team, we don't have any pressure on us – we don't have to dominate the race, we can just react, which is an advantage."

The team is sending its two top German sprinters, Olaf Pollack and André Korff to the race. "With them we have two fast men who can win sprints, but we also have riders at the start who could go with possible escape groups."

Kofler concluded, "We have a well-mixed group and are ready for any situation. The plans for Frankfurt are clear: we're there to bother the favourites!"

The Austrian Professional Continental team made its Frankfurt debut in 2007, with Swiss rider Florian Stalder finishing seventh.

Volksbank for Henninger Turm: Josef Benetseder, Gerrit Glomser, André Korff, Olaf Pollack, René Weissinger, Daniel Musiol, Florian Stalder, and Andreas Dietziker

Calvente thanks Contentpolis-Murcia with Vuelta a La Rioja win

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Manuel Calvente thanked Contentpolis-Murcia for its contract offer in the best way possible, winning the Vuelta a La Rioja. The 31 year-old Spaniard, contracted by Agritubel for the last two years, had made the agreement with the Spanish Continental team just before the race win.

At the beginning of 2008, the climber born in Granada did not have any possibility for continuing in the professional cycling. However, suddenly, the new Contentpolis-Murcia squad showed interest in him. "It was wonderful," Calvente confirmed. "We reached a contractual agreement quickly because we both knew that I still have some more years of cycling in my legs. I had waited a lot ... but I was very optimistic while training. Furthermore, I started to train a bit later than before."

The experienced rider had only raced for three days in April before disputing the Vuelta a La Rioja. "To have won the Vuelta a La Rioja is the best way to thank the Contentpolis-Murcia team-members. It has been a great surprise for me. I felt very good while training, but I could not know how I would go in a three-stage race," he continued.

Calvente arrived for the race in Logroño accompanied by Sergio Pardilla.

"I've been training very hard to bear results," Calvente stated. "We had to take this race while climbing, although it was not an easy task because there were several strong squads very interested in finishing in a sprint. The Swede, Niklas Axelsson, punctured though a roundabout in the last three kilometres."

Calvente hopes "to be also strong in the Subida al Naranco and in the Vuelta Asturias," which will be his next targets.

Burghardt planning his comeback

Team High Road's Marcus Burghardt wasn't able to defend his title in Gent-Wevelgem this year, as he was in hospital in Hamburg, Germany, having knee surgery. He injured the knee in a training accident in December and has barely ridden in the 2008 season.

Now, however, he is in rehabilitation for the knee, following the successful surgery, and eager to being racing again. "I can now move my knee without pain and put weight on it," he wrote on his website, "The important thing now is not to overdo and to be totally concentrated on my training."

Having missed the entire Spring Classics, he has now turned his eye to the Tour de France, the Olympics in Beijing, and the Deutschland Tour. "I have not given up on the 2008 cycling year and will do everything I can to bring in another ProTour win again this year." (SW)

Sulzberger claims Regioni stage win rider Wesley Sulzberger sits in second place overall after victory in stage three of the Giro delle Regioni in Italy.

The 21 year-old Tasmanian, who last year claimed the silver medal in the men's Under 23 road race at the World Championships in Stuttgart, out-sprinted race leader, Ukraine's Vitaly Buts, with a winning time of just under four hours at the end of the 147-kilometre stage from Giovanni Teatino to Chieti.

Sulzberger's team-mate Simon Clarke was a little over a minute back in sixth place.

"Today's performance by the Australians was one of the best I've seen," said Team Director Brian Stephens. "On the category one climb Travis Meyer attacked and rode on his own for 50 kilometres and Wes went with the next break of four riders which ended up being three who then caught Travis.

"Meanwhile Simon and Cameron Meyer were with the main group of about 30 riders, led by Italy A and B, trying to catch the break," said Stephens. "It was a superb team effort all round."

Buts leads on a count-back to Sulzberger, who is on the same overall time with Clarke now sixth overall at 1'04" and second in the points classification, trailing Buts by four points. Cameron Meyer is 11th overall at 1'08" and is third in the young riders classification. Three stages remain.

(Additional reporting and research provided by Susan Westemeyer)

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