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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News, August 31, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

Pozzato takes the lead on dicey opening stage

By Susan Westemeyer

The Liquigas team scorched the 7.7km course
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Team Liquigas negotiated a treacherous 7.7-kilometre opening team time trial stage of the 63rd Vuelta a España, setting the fastest time early and watching it hold up to pre-race favourites like Astana and CSC. The Italian team's 8 minute 21 second time was good enough to hold Euskaltel-Euskadi to eight seconds and Caisse d'Epargne to nine. The team's leader, Filippo Pozzato, took the first leader's golden jersey as the team's first man across the line.

Belgium's Quick Step finished in fourth at 10 seconds and favourite CSC-Saxo Bank, with Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre, finished in fifth at 11 seconds.

With a fast, technical and slippery course, most teams were careful to avoid taking chances - especially after the Andalucia-Cayasur squad had a massive spill as the first team off. The GC hopefuls were confident that the time losses would be minimal on such a short stage.

Overall favourite Alberto Contador (Astana) wasn't too concerned with the 14 seconds he lost to Pozzato, as he was more concerned with the time lost to his strongest competitors, Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) and Carlos Sastre (CSC), whose teams went just five and three seconds faster, respectively. "This first stage has been a beautiful show and the team gave everything. I am happy to see that. Everything has gone well, because regarding to the other favourites, Sastre and Valverde, the differences are so small that we don’t have to give them importance."

CSC's Carlos Sastre, the winner of the Tour de France, was unsure of his form coming into the Vuelta, but said that he felt the team time trial showed he was going well. "The truth is that already have been wanting to get into competition to know how I will feel. And although the team time trial was short, we have drawn conclusions that I am good. The team is highly motivated and eager, and except for two small mistakes that we made, we are satisfied with how we came out in the time trial."

Alejandro Valverde's Caisse d'Epargne director Eusebio Unzúe said that the team took care to not loose time to a crash. "We were quite careful during the time trial because, with the course, it was best not to take unnecessary risks," he said . "The general performance of the team was good, but the riders of Liquigas were definitely the best and we have to consider our third place a good result. Moreover we are happy to be ahead of the great favourites even if we know the seconds we won today will very soon have no importance at all."

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Vuelta a España's opening stage.

Demol leaves Quick Step for Astana

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Dirk Demol will re-join his former boss Johan Bruyneel at the Astana Team in 2009. The Belgian will leave his post at the Quick Step team to take the directeur sportif position at Astana for two years.

"These kinds of decisions are never easy," Demol said. "I joined this team at the beginning of the season with ambition and to test myself in a new environment. But in reality I was never 100% satisfied with myself. I felt like the kind of rider who's always trying to find the right cadence even if I could count on a fantastic team and an interesting and inspiring competitive program.

"There's no doubt as to my full on participation until the end of the season. I'll continue to give it my all, as I have been up to now. I'd like to thank all the members of the team for the great times we had together."

Team manager Patrick Lefevere understood Demol's motivation to go back to work with his former boss. "Demol was by Bruyneel's side for eight years," commented Lefevere, "throughout Lance Armstrong's golden years and the rising of Contador's star, building the season around the Tour de France and the other great stage races.

"Quick Step's philosophy is different, in consideration of both the historical and structural characteristics of the team as well as the athletes who make the roster. Our approach to the races and our work method were probably not completely assimilated by Dirk. We wish him and his team all the best for the future."

Bruyneel was happy to have Demol back in the team car for 2009. "I've had the opportunity to work side-by-side with Dirk for almost a decade," Bruyneel said. "He has a wealth of cycling knowledge and experience and also has the ability to recognize young talent. Our Directors have done an excellent job this season and adding Dirk will only make us better in 2009."

Successful comeback for Gerdemann

By Susan Westemeyer

Linus Gerdemann (Team Columbia)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Linus Gerdemann powered his way to the lead in the Deutschland Tour in a solo, proving that he has fully recovered from the severe injuries he suffered in a crash earlier in the year. The Team Columbia rider won the queen stage and took over the leader's yellow jersey. Behind his was his teammate Thomas Lövkivst and Astana's Janez Brajkovic, second and third both on the stage and in GC.

"After my injury, nobody figured on this," he said. "That was a hard day's work."

Gerdemann won by only 17 seconds, but it should have been more, as he lost time due to an unusual problem in the last few kilometres. His radio earphone fell out and caught in his gear chain. "I lost a lot of time with that. It cost me at least 30 seconds." He considered changing bikes, but realized that would cost him even more time.

Gerdemann thanked his teammates for their help in setting up his win. Columbia led the chase of an escape group, with Tony Martin and Marcel Sieberg doing much of the lead work. After the break was finally caught, Marcus Burghardt went to the front and led the way up the final climb to the mountaintop finish. The group fell apart on the ascent, and when Burghardt fell back, Lövkivst took over.

In the end it was down to the top three, and Gerdemann pulled away with about 10 km to go. He never had a big lead, but it was big enough.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Deutschland Tour's first stage.

Caucchioli keeps going in 2009 and D-Tour

By Gregor Brown

Taking fourth place behind some of the best up-and-comers in the business in Deutschland Tour's toughest stage on Saturday did not dampen Italy's Pietro Caucchioli outlook. The 33 year-old Crédit Agricole rider from Verona is determined to keep trying in Germany and on into 2009.

"I hoped to do better," said Caucchioli to Cyclingnews following 178-kilometre stage one, with a finish on the Hochfügen. USA-based Team Colombia out-foxed him in the closing kilometres with Linus Gerdemann and Thomas Lövkvist.

"Columbia did well. I knew that Gerdemann had the best condition here in Germany. Also, Lövkvist was strong. He was able to stay with us without any problems."

Janez Brajkovic (Astana) was also part of the leading group coming into the finale. "Brajkovic joined back in the finale on the false-flat and we were watching each other – maybe I could have followed Brajkovic even if I did not have the legs like Gerdemann."

Caucchioli knows that he will have to try his luck on one of the Deutschland Tour's other mountain stages as the final time trial will hurt his chances overall. "I am racing day by day now, with the last day being a time trial I have to gain a lot of time to have a chance."

A win would help Caucchioli – winner of two stages in the 2001 Giro d'Italia – who is without a contract for 2009 as Crédit Agricole departs from the sport. He is searching for a team where he can use his climbing abilities in a supporting role.

"I am near an agreement, but it is too early to say its name. I want to have a team that has a strong leader who I can support. I can do my work on the climbs. At 34 years old, I can't ask to be the leader of the Grand Tours; I prefer to go to a team that has a strong rider. Will I stay in a French team? I don't believe so."

The Deutschland Tour continues with stage two, a 182.6-kilometre run to Hesselberg. The final stage is a 34-kilometre time trial in Bremen.

Tired Menchov out of Deutschland Tour

By Susan Westemeyer

Russia's Denis Menchov was a last-minute addition to the Rabobank Deutschland Tour team, and it turned out to have been a bad idea. The Russian abandoned on the first climb of Saturday's stage one. "After a long and successful season so far, he started this Tour tired," team spokesman Luuc Eisenga told Cyclingnews.

When asked why Menchov, who finished fourth overall in the Tour de France, was in the German race, Eisenga said, "It had always been an idea to have Denis in the Deutschland Tour. Of course, with the Giro, the Tour and the Olympics, one can never be 100 percent sure to be at the start of the races in the autumn. We decided to see how Denis would feel after the Olympics."

Menchov is winless for 2008. His last win came with the 2007 Vuelta a España overall – this year's edition started the same day as Menchov's Deutschland Tour abandon. With Rabobank for four years, his contract runs through 2010 after the two parties extended their agreement in early July.

Zabriskie defends time trial crown

Battle of the Zs comes down to five seconds

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Greenville, South Carolina

David Zabriskie (Garmin-Chipotle)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

A new course and a season of injury stood in front of Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Chipotle) as he tried to defend his time trial national championship in Greenville. Despite having an off-year he targeted this race as a way to prove he is still the fastest – both to himself and to everyone else. And he did just that, riding aggressively over the fast course to beat domestic sensation Tom Zirbel (Bissell) by just five seconds.

"I didn't care what the conditions were going to be like, what the course was, I came to win!" Zabriskie told Cyclingnews after the race. "Coming back from injury this is really just my third race back," he said. "Cycling is full of ups and downs and my career has been up and down. I've had numerous injuries so I have to say thanks to all the people who stand behind me and keep believing in me."

While this result reaffirms his status as a top time trialist, he does not think it salvages his season – particularly with only 35 starters. "It feels great to have this win, but it's not like it saves my season or anything. It's me with something to prove time and time again... that I am Dave Zabriskie!"

Zabriskie said that the new course was an enigma at first. "It was a different time trial course from any I've ever seen. I did about five laps of practice a couple of days ago just to understand it! Like how we weren't going to run into each other. But the roads were big enough and it turned out to be safe – an interesting new course."

Once he figured out the course, he found a game plan. "In my head I pretended it was the Morgan Hill criterium and to be very aggressive from the start. I never let up, cresting the hills and turning the gears over as fast as possible. I went to Chann [McRae] last night and said, 'I usually don't want anyone on the radio with me but tomorrow I want you to be really aggressive with me. When I get to the top of the hills to spin, spin, spin and push. He did a great job and helped me out a lot."

Continue to the full report, results and photos.

Downing takes over Cavendish show

By Shane Stokes in Dingle

Russell Downing (Pinarello) gets the win.
Photo ©: Stephen McMahon
(Click for larger image)

Pinarello CandiTv rider Russell Downing jumped from eighth to first the general classification at the Tour of Ireland today, taking over the race lead from Team Columbia's ace sprinter Mark Cavendish by winning the hilly fourth stage.

In doing so the British Premier Calendar winner landed what was probably the best result of his career, and closed to within one day of winning the 2.1-ranked international event.

The thirty year-old Pinarello CandiTV out-sprinted Gonzalo Rabunal (Karpin Galicia), mountains leader Matthew Wilson (Team Type 1) and twenty others to the line in Dingle. Overnight race leader Mark Cavendish (Columbia) lost contact with the front runners approximately 45 kilometres from the finish, slipping backwards on the category one climb of the Connor Pass and eventually finishing eight minutes 35 seconds back.

Once he was gone, New Zealand's Julian Dean (Garmin Chipotle - H30) became race leader on the road. He had started in Limerick this morning in second place overall and his team rode strongly to try to put him into yellow. Magnus Backstedt joined Wesley Sulzberger ( and Peter Williams (Pinarello CandiTV) in an early break, forcing Cavendish's team to chase. Then, once the Manx rider was dropped, David Millar drove hard after the big climb to further distance him and to help Dean's chances.

The plan was foiled by Downing, who had started the day twelve seconds behind Dean but picked up a chunk of time bonuses via two intermediate sprint wins plus the stage victory. He finished up two seconds clear of his Kiwi rival and a further nine ahead of Wilson.

It is the latest result in a strong season for the Britain-based rider, who won three stages of the Cinturón Ciclista a Mallorca plus a host of Premier Calendar races.

Continue to the full report, results and photos.

No more national team for Klöden

Andreas Klöden has cut his ties to the German national team, saying he has informed the German federation as such. "I will not be available to them in the future," he said. The non-nomination for both the Olympic Games and the World Championships angered the Astana rider, who called on a reformed nomination criteria.

He still has not received any explanation for his exclusion, he noted on his web site, Klöden wrote that he saw media reports that Team Germany sports director said he is not a man for one-day races. "In my view that is – excuse me – total nonsense. Especially in light of the fact that my team did not participate in the Tour de France, I would have been able to prepare explicitly for the Olympics.

"I urge a complete reform of the nomination criteria and point out that in other countries, the participants are chosen by experience former riders and not from functionaries who don't necessarily know anything about cycling," he concluded. (SW)

Colorado team needs cat 3's, one of Colorado's largest and most successful cycling teams, is actively recruiting for their Men's Cat 3 program for 2009. We are looking for active racers who are passionate about cycling and motivated to excel in a team environment. We provide an environment in which riders stay motivated through teammates who are genuinely interested in helping you achieve your cycling and racing goals.

We are a close knit group who strongly believe that good things come from racing your bike. is committed to keeping its competitive cyclists and continuing to grow as a racing team by offering good sponsorship benefits, shop and team support, and competitive teammates to train and race with.

We have a reputation of being "good people" who are good racers. That is exactly who we want to be. Whether you are an experienced racer or just moving up to the Cat 3 ranks and looking for a team we'd like to hear from you. Even though it is getting ready to be updated, interested racers should visit our website at for more information or contact us directly at

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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