Latest Cycling News, August 27, 2008
Edited by Gregor Brown
D-Tour: Something for everyone
By Susan Westemeyer
The 2008 Deutschland Tour is wide open this year, with no one clear favourite and many possibilities, and a varied course that offers something for everyone. After a short prologue, the very first road stage is the Queen Stage, with a mountaintop finish, opening up the possibility of a strong climber claiming the overall victory from the beginning on.
The Tour features a strong line-up, actually stronger than might be expected since the Vuelta is running simultaneously, but some very big names are missing, and all can be found in Spain. Andreas Klöden of Astana, Stefan Schumacher of Gerolsteiner and Milram's Erik Zabel all gave preference to the Vuelta this year.
Jens Voigt of Team CSC could become the first rider to win the Deutschland Tour three times, and three times in a row, at that. The German doesn't necessarily see himself as favourite to win the eight stage, 1,408 kilometre race, and there are even a number of other Germans – and German speakers – who could challenge for the title. Voigt has had only two wins this season, but they were big ones. He took the overall title in the Criterium International and won stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia.
Read the full preview.
Gerdemann doesn't see himself as D-Tour favourite
Linus Gerdemann doesn't see himself as the favourite to win the Deutschland Tour, after his long injury-related break from racing. Although in the last few weeks he has won the Tour de l'Ain and the Coppa Agostoni, the Team Columbia rider says he is still not in top form.
"After my injury, I had a good recovery, but it needs more to become top form," he told Radsport-News.com. "I am certainly in good form, but not in the form where I could say, this is the best."
The 27 year-old sees himself as one of favourites, which includes Jens Voigt of CSC and Vladimir Karpets of Caisse d'Epargne. "I am happy just to be here and to be here in a good form. I don't want to put too much pressure on myself. And the competition here is not bad. I saw the starting list today and have to say, there are some good riders there."
The German crashed in the Tirenno-Adriatico time trial, suffering two fractures in his left leg and severely damaging the knee ligaments. The injuries were severe enough to cause him to miss the Tour de France and Olympic Games. (SW)
Team line-ups for Deutschland Tour
Both German ProTour teams are looking to go on the offense in the upcoming Deutschland Tour. "For us, the Deutschland Tour means attack, attack and attack again," said Milram General Manager Gerry van Gerwen, while Gerolsteiner promises to ride in its "usual aggressive fashion."
Milram will be led by Christian Knees, who finished 29th in the Tour de France and won the Bayern Rundfahrt. He will be supported by, among others, Björn Schröder, fresh off the Regio Tour win. "Basically, we are going to the start with a well-balanced team, and everyone who feels good will get his chance," Knees said. "That makes us unpredictable and will be our strength at the D-Tour."
Gerolsteiner will look for stage wins, with Tour de France third-place finisher and mountain classification winner Bernhard Kohl leading the way. If Kohl has lost his good form, the team will look to Markus Fothen, who finished a close second overall in the Regio Tour. Another possibility is sprinter Robert Förster, who won the first stage in the Deutschland Tour last year.
The Austrian Professional Continental Team Volksbank is ready to take on the race for the third time. It will be particularly looking to Gerrit Glomser and Andreas Dietziker for both the mountain stages and the overall title, while sprinter Olaf Pollack will represent the team on the flat stages.
Milram for Deutschland Tour: Ralf Grabsch, Christian Knees, Brett Lancaster, Martin Müller, Alberto Ongarato, Dominik Roels, Björn Schröder and Peter Velits.
Gerolsteiner for Deutschland Tour: Robert Förster, Markus Fothen, Thomas Fothen, Johannes Fröhlinger, Bernhard Kohl, Matthias Russ, Ronny Scholz and Marcus Zberg.
Volksbank for Deutschland Tour: Philipp Ludescher, Gerrit Glomser, Andras Dietziker, Pascal Hungerbühler, Olaf Pollack, André Korff, René Weissinger and Daniel Musiol. (SW)
Litu Gómez heads to Deutschland Tour with confidence
After a season marked with two serious crashes, Spaniard Ángel Gómez Gómez is looking forward to racing the Deutschland Tour with the confidence gained from Monday's GP Plouay. The Scott-American Beef rider will contest in the nine-day German race that starts this Friday in Kitzbühel.
"I have begun to do less hours and greater intensity. ... My sensations are good, even if not 100 percent," 'Litu' noted in a press release.
He returned to race the GP Plouay – finishing 63rd at four minutes back – following a month and a half out of competition. "I noted that I do not have the same sensations in my left leg that I do in my right, which was also noted by the masseuse." However, he feels more "symmetrical" in the last days.
"I lacked little to arrive in the first group. I was dropped in the last circuit on the second to the last rise, where the selection was made, but I believe having a better position for the climb would have helped."
The confidence will carry him through the demanding German race. "I feel ready for a good Tour of Germany."
Martin leads Irish challenge in Tour of Ireland
By Shane Stokes
Motivated by his tenth place overall in the Volta a Portugal, Irish Champion Daniel Martin will line out in the Tour of Ireland today hoping for a strong performance. The route of the race is flatter than the 22 year-old specialist climber would like, but he is nevertheless motivated to ride well in the five day, 2.1-ranked event.
"I was surprised how Portugal went, because I was going to use it as a training race for here," he said at the pre-race press conference yesterday. "I was a bit sick, and couldn't train for a week, so I felt a bit flat. But I ended up in the best young rider's jersey and so I had to race then.
"It was an unreal race – it just got faster and faster and faster every day. I was a bit cooked by the end of each stage but it worked out well. I am a bit tired from that now, so we will have to see how it goes this week."
Despite his fatigue, he's glad to have ridden hard in the race due to the result. "I am really happy the way Portugal went, I was absolutely flying," he continued. "It was frustrating to lose the jersey by ten seconds, but I am generally really happy. It was a really good experience, it was my first long stage race being twelve days. I'd never done anything that long before. I was on the podium every day, spraying champagne on the girls. It was nice."
First-year pro Martin made a huge impression when he won the Route du Sud in June, then followed that up with a dominant display in the national road race championships. He's clearly a very big talent; he's prefer tougher climbs in the Tour of Ireland, but he and his Garmin Chipotle squad are here determined to leave a big impression.
"We have got a nice strong team. If I am feeling good, I have got a really strong team to help me do something in this race. The race will determine what happens [as regards the team leaders]. I have already ridden for guys like David Millar in races this year.
"They are normal guys, they do their job on the team, the same as anybody does it on the team. We all give 100 percent. Whoever feels best on the team will be supported. ... We are here to win the race or at least a stage, so hopefully we will make that happen."
Some of the top squads in world cycling are taking part, with quadruple Tour de France stage winner Mark Cavendish leading the charge of the Columbia squad. Martin and Millar are part of a strong Garmin Chipotle selection, while Tinkoff Credit Systems, CSF Group Navigare, Rabobank and Team Type 1 are some of the strong overseas teams.
Irish hopes lie with Martin, the national team selection led by David McCann and Paul Griffin, the An Post M. Donnelly Grant Thornton Sean Kelly team of FBD Insurance Rás winner Stephen Gallagher and national road race silver medallist Paídi O'Brien, plus the Pezula Racing squad of Olympian David O'Loughlin and Ciarán Power.
The race begins today with a 192-kilometre stage from Dublin to Waterford, taking in the climbs of Djouce up to Roundwood and Mount Leinster, and then finishing in the Quays.
Di Luca on Worlds hunt
Danilo Di Luca is back on the World Championships hunt after missing his chance last year and an early season focused on the Giro d'Italia. The 32 year-old Abruzzese of Team LPR seeks to double in the Giro del Veneto this Sunday to prove to Franco Ballerini that he is worth selection in the National Team.
"I am starting to go well. At Trittico Lombardo I went better and better everyday. I race the Giro del Veneto on Sunday, which I already won and confident of a double," he said to La Gazzetta Dello sport. He won the race in 2002 for Team Saeco.
If Veneto goes well, it could be Di Luca's ticket to the Worlds, September 28 in Varese. National Directeur Sportif Ballerini will make the nine-man team selection between September 10 and 12. Last year, Ballerini replaced Di Luca with Matteo Tosatto at the last minute due to a Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) investigation and eventual two-month suspension related to Oil for Drugs.
"I am still not at race-weight, but there still a month until the Worlds," continued Di Luca. "My build up will be calm. ... After the Giro del Veneto, I will race the Tour of Britain from September 7 to 14. It will give me a step up in quality. Finally, before Varese, I will race GP Prato on the 21st. Those doing the Vuelta a España will have something extra, but I will arrive with ideal form all the same."
Di Luca will complement some of the British racing days with motor pacing. He will ride 40 to 50 kilometres extra to simulate the 260-kilometre Worlds course.
He is confident his form will be on target and Ballerini will give a squadra azzurra invitation. "Franco and I don't have to talk much. He knows that I want to be at the top, so there are no problems. If I still have to prove myself at 32 years old... When I say that I will be ready I always am – you can count on me."
Gabriele Bosisio, Claudio Cucinotta, Giairo Ermeti, Jure Golcer, Daniele Pietropolli, Walter Proch, Alessandro Spezialetti, Raffaele Ferrara and Matteo Montagutti will support Di Luca in Sunday's 200-kilometre race. LPR Directeur Sportif Giovanni Fidanza confirmed the team's readiness. "We face a hard course and one with strong participants."
Basso concludes training vacation
Italy's Ivan Basso, banned from cycling for his involvement with Operación Puerto, prepared and vacationed in the Dolomites for his racing return this October. The 30 year-old Varesino travelled to Val Bios, in the province of Belluno, with his family.
"I came to Falcade with my family many times before," said Basso in a press release. "The environment is calm and very good. The people have helped me become familiar with these mountains. Often I train here in the winter – on the bike and cross-country skiing."
Basso rode for Discovery Channel before his suspension in May of 2007. He will return to racing with Team Liquigas, whom he signed a contract with on April 24. He is training for an expected return to racing in the Japan Cup, October 28.
"Thanks to the good weather conditions, I was able to train well. The Dolomite roads and passes, the heart of cycling country, are ideal grounds – every day you can choose from different parcours." In addition to time on the bike, Basso spent time with his wife and children, Domitilla and Santiago. The four returned to Varese on Saturday.
Zaugg to Liquigas
Oliver Zaugg, 27, is the first Team Gerolsteiner rider to announce his 2009 plans. The Swiss climber announced that he will ride for Team Liquigas in 2009 and 2010. Team Gerolsteiner is losing its sponsor at the end of this season, and Team Manger Hans-Michael Holczer has yet been unable to find a replacement.
"Fortunately, I received several offers," said Zaugg, according to the Züricher Öberlander. Liquigas "will continue to ride at the highest level. I have good perspectives there." Zaugg rode for Saunier-Duval from 2004 to 2006, before joining Gerolsteiner. (SW)
Gerolsteiner to the Vuelta
Team Gerolsteiner will look for stage wins in the Vuelta a España from stars Davide Rebellin and Stefan Schumacher, with Swiss climber Oliver Zaugg keeping an eye on the overall. It is sending a mixed team of young and old, with four nationalities represented.
Mathias Frank, 21, is a Swiss rider making his Grand Tour debut, while 37 year-old Davide Rebellin is starting his fifth Vuelta and 17th Grand Tour. Domestique Stephan Schreck has the most experience in the Vuelta, having ridden it five times already. Heinrich Haussler is the only one in the line-up to boast of a Vuelta stage win.
Zaugg, 27, finished 15th overall in the Vuelta last year. After missing the Tour de France this summer due to illness, he will look to do his best in the Spanish mountain stages – the Vuelta features five mountaintop finishes.
Gerolsteiner for the Vuelta: Mathias Frank, Oscar Gatto, Heinrich Haussler, Sebastian Lang, Davide Rebellin, Stephan Schreck, Stefan Schumacher, Tom Stamsnijder and Oliver Zaugg. (SW)
Rene Mandri back in action
AG2R La Mondiale's Rene Mandri is back in action following a serious crash that put him off the bike for nearly three months. The 24 year-old Estonian crashed in the Giro d'Italia's stage six – suffering a broken vertebra and several fractured ribs and a perforated lung – but will return in the Classic de l'Indre this Sunday.
"I have resumed training in the last nine weeks and I no longer feel pain. Obviously, my current form is not very good, but my objective is to rediscover the sensations during the Classic de l'Indre for a solid season end. I am especially aiming for the races in October."
Mandri turned professional with AG2R in 2005. He rode one year for Auber 93 and recorded his first win, the Trophée Luc Leblanc. Last season, he rode the Vuelta a España, finishing top-ten three times, but this fall he will focus on one-day and short stage races.
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