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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News, August 5, 2008

Edited by Gregor Brown

Olympics: Evans in for Australia

Aussie Cadel Evans, here racing in the Tour de France, heads to Beijing
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) received confirmation August 4 that Cadel Evans, runner-up in the Tour de France, will arrive in the Olympic host city Beijing on Wednesday and take his place in the road race on Saturday, day one of the Games.

Evans, 31, was originally listed for the road race and as Australia's lone rider for the time trial. However, he offered his time trial spot to three-time World Champion Michael Rogers after suffering a knee injury during a post-Tour party. The International Cycling Union (UCI) granted Australia a second spot in the event via a wild card and reopened the door for Evans.

He has been receiving intense treatment on a knee injury at the pre-Olympic training camp in Italy said AOC in a press release. "If Evans pulls up well after the road race he will contest the time trial four days later along with former world champion Michael Rogers."

Simon Gerrans, Matthew Lloyd and Stuart O'Grady will form the five-man road squad with Rogers and Evans.

Adam Hansen was to be Evans replacement for the road race. He told Cyclingnews, "I'm going home for a nice break, no bike for a week. The Olympics? Maybe next year... well, in four years!"

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).

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Paulinho out of Olympics

By Susan Westemeyer

Sergio Paulinho (l) out of the Olympics
Photo ©: João Dias
(Click for larger image)

Sergio Paulinho of Portugal, defending Olympic Road Race silver-medallist, will not be in Beijing. The 28 year-old is suffering from allergies and expected China's weather conditions to worsen his state.

"Sergio cannot start because of a problem with his health," the Portuguese federation announced this week. Since it is now so late, no replacement will be named and Portugal will not be represented in the road race.

Astana spokesman Philippe Maertens confirmed it to Cyclingnews, saying, "Sergio is not in super form at the moment. With his allergy, his not amazing current condition and with the weather conditions in China, it is better if he stays in Europe. The team needs him in top shape in the Vuelta [a España]. We already lost [Chris] Horner this week."

Paulinho's next scheduled race is the Tour de l'Ain, August 10 to 13.

No Olympics for Gusev following team's dismissal

Vladimir Gusev will not race the Olympics
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Following his dismissal by his professional trade team last month, Russian Vladimir Gusev's Olympics dreams were dashed by the Russian cycling federation today when it was announced that he could not compete, according to Reuters.

The four-time Russian time trial champion was scheduled to race in the road race (August 9) and time trial (13). Denis Menchov, who finished fourth in the Tour de France and won the 2007 Vuelta a España, replaced 'Goose' for the time trial. Menchov will also race the road race with Vladimir Efimkin, Vladimir Karpets and Serguei Ivanov – its fifth member is currently unknown.

The Astana Cycling Team announced August 25 the termination of its contract with Gusev as a result of "irregular values" detected by its internal anti-doping programme run by Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard. "Though his results do not indicate the use of forbidden substances, Vladimir's values exceeded the normal parameters established by Dr. Damsgaard and were not compliant with the strict agreement signed by all thirty riders," the team's general manager Johan Bruyneel said the news in a statement.

Gusev expects to take legal actions against Team Astana for "unfounded" allegations.

"It is a tragedy for the athlete, this kind of suspicion. Not just in cycling, but any sport," said the country's federation head, Alexander Gusyatnikov to Reuters. He indicated high-altitude training might have altered Gusev's values. "But all we can do now is wait and follow procedures."

Gusev started his professional carrier with Team CSC in 2004. After signing for Discovery Channel in 2006, his career blossomed with wins in the 2006 Sachen Tour and 2007 Tour of Belgium. Last year, he finished sixth in the Time Trial World Championships.

Grabsch looking forward to Olympic time trial

Germany's Bert Grabsch on a trial run in Beijing Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

With his two time trial victories in the Tour de France, Stefan Schumacher is considered one of the top favourites for a medal in the Olympic time trial. But his German team-mate, Bert Grabsch, wants one, too. "A medal would be a dream. My goal is firm – a place in the top six," he told the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung.

Grabsch, 33, already knows how best to ride the 46 kilometre course. "On the ascents I will give everything I have, on the descents I can rest a bit." He sees not only Schumacher as a medal possibility, but also Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland), Laszlo Bodrogi (Hungary), David Zabriskie (USA) and Levi Leipheimer (USA).

He will also ride the road race, but only as preparation and to help his team-mates Schumacher, Jens Voigt, Fabian Wegmann and Gerald Ciolek.

Grabsch most recently won the Sachsen Tour for his trade team, Columbia, thanks to a winning time trial performance. After a successful spring, he was disappointed not to be named to Columbia's Tour de France team. To compensate for that, he gave his all in the German national time trial championships, which he won for the second successive year. "With this win I jumped onto the Olympic train heading to Beijing," he said.

"My whole family is proud of me," he noted. "I am looking forward to Beijing." His mother, Gudrun Grabsch added her positive insight. "In the 2007 World Championships Bert finished fourth. Why shouldn't he have his big day in Beijing?"

He is also not the only professional cyclist in the family. Older brother Ralf rides for Team Milram, and nearly made the Olympics himself in the past. As an amateur, he was expecting to go to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. However, the rules changed to allow professionals to participate, which left no place for amateur riders. Bert Grabsch will correct matters in Beijing when he rides in both road events. (SW)

Cunego returns to racing in Tre Valli

Damiano Cunego cleared to train despite headaches
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

Italy's Damiano Cunego, 26 years-old of Team Lampre, is set to make his return to racing in the Tre Valli Varesine in two weeks. It will be one week after the Olympic road race he was forced to skip due to an injury sustained in the Tour de France.

Cunego crashed in stage 18 of the Tour de France. There were no fractures, but there were many contusions on the chest, belly, face and arms. He received five stitches on the chin and bandages on his chest and arms that night in Saint-Étienne.

Yesterday, a neurological check at a hospital near his home in Verona ruled out any further problems, though Cunego still suffers from headaches confirmed by Lampre's press officer Andrea Appiani. Doctors said the pain should pass in the next days. Following an unsuccessful return in San Sebastián, he is clear to return to training at low intensities. His programme should include Tre Valli Varesine (August 19). GP Plouay (24) and the Deutschland Tour (29 - September 6).

Aldag more than satisfied with Columbia mix

By Gregor Brown

Mark Cavendish takes Columbia's first win in the Tour de France
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

German Rolf Aldag, Directeur Sportif for Team Columbia, is satisfied with the "super successful" mix of riders that the USA team took to Tour de France. Over the three-week Grand Tour, the team took five stage wins and held the leader's maillot jaune for four stages.

"I am absolutely satisfied with this Tour," said Aldag to Cyclingnews following the race. "Four wins from [Mark] Cavendish and one from [Marcus] Burghardt – so five wins, a top-ten spot, having the yellow jersey, the green, the white jersey – it was much greater than our expectations."

The team started the 95th Tour de France as one of the newest teams. USA's Bob Stapleton rebuilt most of its infrastructure following the departure of sponsor T-Mobile in 2007 and it was renamed Team High Road. Prior to the Tour, Columbia Sportswear stepped in as title sponsor and immediately, the team repaid its backer with wins.

Kim Kirchen held the maillot vert of the points classification and Thomas Lövkvist the maillot blanc of best young rider. Cavendish then took the first of his four stage wins in stage five to Châteauroux. Kirchen traded tops the next day, moving into the famous yellow of race later after the stage to Super Besse. Though he lost the jersey four days later, he went on to finish eighth overall and the team enjoyed four more stage wins.

"The team is still growing, we had four riders competing for the white jersey, so they are all quite young and we want to build on that. We will take our time and next year we will come back and try to achieve the same success."

Aldag does not want the team to become a train of lead-out men for Cavendish. He prefers to keep a mix of riders that can produce results on varying terrain, while letting Cavendish develop as a sprinter similar to Robbie McEwen.

"We were strong. The selection for the last few spots is always based on daily success leading up to the Tour. I think we will continue with the mix – not focusing only on the sprints and not focusing only on the GC. It is risky to try to keep the peloton together for every flat stage for Cavendish, but we also can't always keep it together in the mountains. However, we have been super successful with this mix."

Criteriums continue

Tom Boonen of Team Quick Step won the Profronde van Lommel in Belgium. He won a five-man sprint ahead of team-mate Gert Steegmans, Jürgen Roelandts (Silence-Lotto), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) and Marcus Burghardt (Columbia).

In Roosendaal, Netherlands, Thomas Decker (Rabobank) won ahead of Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) and Bernhard Kohl (Gerolsteiner).

Robbie McEwen took a win for Silence-Lotto in a criterium in Lacq Audejos, France. He out-sprinted Romain Feillu (Agritubel) and Alexandre Botcharov (Crédit Agricole). (SW)

(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)