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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, February 18, 2008

Edited by Paul Verkuylen

Cancellara blazes to prologue victory

By Laura Weislo in Palo Alto

Fabian Cancellara (CSC)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

World time trial champion Fabian Cancellara (CSC) demolished the 3.4 kilometre prologue course from Palo Alto to the Stanford University campus on a beautiful Sunday afternoon for the opening stage of the third Tour of California. The Swiss rider went nearly five seconds faster than world pursuit champion Bradley Wiggins (High Road) on the flat, fast course to take the top honours.

On a picture perfect California day, the riders were treated to sunny skies and light wind, making the day even faster than expected. John Murphy (Health Net) set the early fastest time before being overtaken by Slipstream's David Zabriskie, who was one of the early starters. Zabriskie's time held for 20 minutes before CSC's Swede Gustav Erik Larsson came through 0.4 seconds quicker. Larsson's time held the lead until the young American Tyler Farrar (Slipstream) zoomed through to a 3'56.46, nearly two seconds faster.

Farrar spent nearly 40 minutes in the hot seat before Wiggins came through half a second faster, but his 3.55.98 was not strong enough to withstand the onslaught of power from the legs of Cancellara. With the in-form Swiss rider targeting the Spring Classics, there was no hope for any other rider to come close to the win. Cancellara blazed to a 3'51.21, putting 4.7 seconds into Wiggins over the 3.4 kilometres.

Last year's Tour of California champion Levi Leipheimer (Astana) put in a strong bid with a 3'57.52, taking fourth place ahead of the young Norwegian phenomenon, Edvald Boasson Hagen (High Road).

Check out the full report and results here.

Richeze takes the riches while Ivanov completes comeback

By Greg Johnson & Ben Abrahams in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Mauro Richeze (CSF Group Navigare) takes out the final
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

After being relegated and fined for causing a sprint finish collision just two days ago, Mauro Abel Richeze (CSF Group-Navigare) cleared his name with a clean and commanding bunch sprint victory in the race finale. Richeze simply out-paced his rivals on the 80.4-kilometre stage, with the group finish ensuring Moldavian Ruslan Ivanov (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli) claimed the overall classification.

"My win today has mostly brought my team what it deserved having worked hard," said Richeze. "The other day it was not my intention at all to make anybody crash. I felt very sorry for the guys who crashed and I felt sorry for our team's jersey."

Mauro's victory sees the Argentinean join his brother, Maximiliano, on the list of stage winners at the Malaysian race. Maximiliano won the second stage of last year's race while riding for the same outfit, then called Ceramica Panaria - Navigare.

The Tour leader, Ruslan Ivanov (Serramenti PVC),
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

"Today it was not a very hard job for me because my team worked a lot and just let me sprint," he explained.

Ivanov entered the final stage with a 29 second margin over former yellow jersey Matthieu Sprick (Bouygues Telecom), but the Frenchman's team was satisfied with the points jersey worn by Swiss rider Aurélien Clerc, with the French ProTour squad not attempting to steal back time with bonuses offered on the stage.

The Venezuelan Serramenti PVC squad controlled the peloton throughout the race, with the entire squad controlling the breakaway's gap from the front of the peloton. Despite showing their strength on the stage, star sprinter Danilo Hondo didn't contend for the stage victory, with the German still bruised and battered after being caught up in the crash caused by Richeze on Friday.

"I was more happy yesterday than I was today when I crossed the line," admitted Ivanov, indicating today's stage was just a formality. "I said it yesterday and I'll say it today; I'm here because of Gianni Savio and Marco Bellini, who have given me the possibility of going back to a big team, that's why the team deserves the victory as much as I do today."

The Tour de Langkawi has marked a special moment in Ivanov's career, with the former Moldavian road champion spending the past two years without a professional contract. Ivanov turned professional in 1998 with Brescialat but despite recording 16 victories over the years that have passed found himself without a team after 2005, until Savio offered to take the now 34 year-old on for this season.

"It's impossible to describe the feeling I have now, but I hope that this result is the start of a new career for me," he said. "It gives me confidence for looking ahead. I want to repay the team later this year as I have done here at the Tour de Langkawi."

Read the full report from the final stage of the Tour de Langkawi.

High Road in a good position

By Laura Weislo in Palo Alto

After Team High Road's Bradley Wiggins took second in the prologue of the third Tour of California on Sunday, and its young sprinters Edvald Boasson Hagen and Mark Cavendish cracked the top ten, the team's directeur sportif Rolf Aldag revealed to Cyclingnews the squad's wide open strategy for the upcoming stages.

"First we'll see how the race goes, and who will control the race. We need to ride offensively, but if we can have someone in the breakaway it will be great for us," Aldag explained. "If it comes to a sprint, Cavendish could take the leader's jersey if he wins the stage. It's a lot of if and when, but we'll see, but we clearly have a chance."

High Road's contender for the overall should be American George Hincapie, who will face off against his former team-mate and friend Levi Leipheimer for the general classification. Hincapie is on form and was looking good at team camp last week, according to Aldag, but so did the rest of the line-up. The strength of the team could give them more than one card to play. "We have a lot of riders who are good in a TT. So if somehow a break does take off and makes it to the finish, and we have someone in it, we really have a chance," Aldag revealed. "That's the good thing about us; we don't have to be focused on one rider. We'll ride actively and try to be in the breaks, and that's it."

While the rest of the track racers are in Denmark for the Copenhagen World Cup, Wiggins chose to come to California even with the track World Championships coming up next month. Aldag described Wiggins' logic for preparation for the track. "He thinks he can prepare well for his main event – for the World Championships and the Olympic Games – on the road. He has a clear idea of what he wants to do, and he knows what he needs to do to prepare," Aldag said. "You don't have to lead him, or discuss it with him. He's open to direction, but he knows what to do and he's focused. The way he prepared for the prologue today was amazing. He was ready, and that's good to see."

Wiggins put in a solid effort, but fell short of Fabian Cancellara's winning time by 4.7 seconds. But Aldag didn't think that was anything to worry about. "I think the rest of the world has to live with the fact that Cancellara will win most of the time trials if he's in good shape. So it's not a shame to lose these prologue events to him. He's a great rider and World Champion. It's quite impressive."

Pozzato takes Grosseto

By Gregor Brown

Danilo Napolitano (Lampre) takes the sprint over Mattia Gavazzi (Preti Mangimi) to win the final stage.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Danilo Napolitano of Lampre proved early season form by taking the final stage of the first Giro della Provincia di Grosseto – 184 kilometres ending in Grosseto. The 27 year-old Italian, winner of a stage in the Tour of Qatar, out-sprinted compatriots Mattia Gavazzi (Preti Mangimi) and Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) on the Viale della Repubblica in the province's namesake city.

26 year-old 'Pippo' won the overall thanks to his win on Friday in stage one and third place today; yesterday's stage was annulled.

The day was marked by an escape that lasted 166 kilometres. Dmitri Nikandrov (Centri Della Calzatura-Partizan), Michele Gobbi (Preti Mangimi), Vladimir Duma (Ceramica Flaminia-Bossini Docce) and Gerrit Glomser (Team Volksbank) went on the move at kilometre 11. However, it was to be a sprint day. After the four men were caught, the teams of Liquigas, CSF Group Navigare and Lampre took over for their team leaders.

Check out the full results here.

Walker too sick for California

William Walker
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image) William Walker (Rabobank) with a couple of laps to go

Team Rabobank sent only seven riders to the starter's ramp of Sunday's Tour of California prologue. Australian William Walker was unable to participate due to health reasons and was sent back to his home in Italy to recover.

According to the team's website,, the 22 year-old started suffering from facial paralysis, caused by a viral infection, shortly after he arrived in the US on Wednesday. The medical staff advised him to return home to recover.

However, two other Rabobank riders have recovered from injury or illness and will be making their comeback. Mathew Hayman broke his collarbone only three weeks ago in the Tour Down Under, but is riding again already in California.

Sprinter Oscar Freire is also there. "It is Oscar's first race of the season and he is just coming back from illness," according to team leader Erik Breukink. "He was bothered by stomach problems. But now he is doing fine again, even though you always have to wait and see how he digests his first race."

The Dutch team won a stage in the race last season with sprinter Graeme Brown, who is not present this year, and the young rider jersey, with Robert Gesink. Breukink is looking forward to the week on the US West Coast. "It is a great course, the weather right now is wonderful and the people here are extremely enthusiastic."

Contador, Leipheimer and Klöden to Murcia

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Alberto Contador soaks it all up
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

After being snubbed by Paris-Nice organisers, ASO for all their races this year, including the Tour de France, Astana will take a strong team to the Vuelta a Murcia, held from March 4-8. Shortly after hearing the news of their non participation in the worlds biggest race, Contador, the 2007 Tour de France winner, stated that he had a 'plan B,' should the team not get an invite to Paris-Nice, a race which he also won last year.

Contador will line up for the start with along with American, Levi Leipheimer who finished third at the Tour last summer and Andreas Klöden who has twice finished on the podium in Paris.

Leading the team will most likely be Toni Colom, who displayed his good early season form at the Challenge de Mallorca, challenging Phillip Gilbert for the victory until the very end. Maxim Iglinsky, also showing strong early season form could also challenge for the win, which Astana will be hunger after recent events.

The Vuelta a Murcia was always liked by Lance Armstrong during his dominance with the now-defunct Discovery Channel, which is likely why Johan Bruyneel supported the decision to attend with Contador.

Mean while, Contador's countryman, Alejandro Valverde, has reacted to ASO decision. Speaking to Cyclingnews, the Spaniard expressed his disappointment that Contador would not be participating at the 2008 Tour. "I think the best riders in the world should be able to participate in the greatest races of the world."

The full Astana squad for Murcia is: Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer, Andreas Klöden, Chris Horner, Maxim Iglinsky, Toni Colom, Daniel Navarro and Janez Brajkovic.

Dave Zabriskie launches 'Yield to Life'

By Gary Boulanger,

American pro road racer Dave Zabriskie has launched Yield to Life, a non-profit organization devoted to creating a safer environment for cyclists and, by so doing, encouraging more people to ride for their own health, the good of the environment and the well being of society.

"It is my mission to humanize and personalize cyclists to help motorists to always be aware that we are "life" and that we deserve a safe space on the road," the Slipstream-Chipotle rider said. "I love to ride my bike as do my fellow cyclists, but we should not have to place out lives at risk everyday for that enjoyment."

Zabriskie, 29, is the only American to consecutively win stages in all three grand tour races: the Tour of Spain, the Tour of Italy, and the Tour de France. He is the current United States Time Trial Champion and member of American team Slipstream-Chipotle during its 2008 season.

According to Zabriskie, by making cycling safer and promoting the activity as a responsible means of transportation and a healthy means of recreation, Yield to Life can contribute to tackling some of today's major concerns-from such issues as pollution and global warming to obesity and diabetes. In this way, Yield to Life can play a role in increasing the quality of life not only for cyclists, but for everyone-for our generation and those to come.

"Yield to Life will engage in a vigorous awareness campaign to promote positive attitudes toward cyclists and replace any hostility that exists between motorists and cyclists with understanding, respect, and appreciation for all life on the road," he added. "Safety for every cyclist is the top priority of Yield to Life.

"Cycling is a healthy, life-affirming, environmentally-sound activity that adds value to anyone's life. Since cyclists' lives are often in motorists' hands, motorists must understand the vital role they play in a cyclist's safety."

According to the Foundation, Yield to Life's mission will be to:

1) Concentrate on road-rule education programs for motorists and cyclists alike through driver's education programs, public awareness movements and media campaigns in order to ensure a safer and more harmonious environment for all those on the road.

2) Engage in a hands-on educational program with target audiences that range from school assemblies to corporate conventions. Workshops will be created to arm cyclists with tips for navigating through traffic and tools for riding in a safe and responsible manner.

3) Work on a database for cyclists to find the best, the safest and the most accommodating roads for commuting and for recreation.

Christian Knees crashes in the rain in Andalucía

Milram's Christian Knees was one of a group of unlucky riders to crash during the opening stage of the five-day Vuelta a Andalucía. The 26 year-old went down while helping chase an escape group on the rain-soaked road and landed hard in a ditch. "Fortunately I only got a couple of scrapes from my somersault into the ditch," Knees said. "It rained all day and I just slipped away on the slippery road while chasing." Milram had been involved in the leading the chase up to that point. "But after more and more riders went down on the curving and hilly road, we just let the escapees go and the rest of us rode together to the finish. It was simply too dangerous," Knees noted.

Around the world in 195 days

Scottish cyclist, Mark Beaumont hopes to have set a new world record by cycling around the globe in 195 days. The 25-year-old arrived in Paris Friday at the end of a journey he hopes will set a new world record for the fastest cycling trip around the globe once it is evaluated. "There is no easy 100 miles," Beaumont told AP. "And I've just done 195 days on the road, so I mean, I am very much looking forward to not getting on the bike tomorrow."

Beaumont cycled 18,400 miles (29,611 kilometres) on a path that took him across Europe, Asia and the United States. Amarilis Espinoza, a spokeswoman for Guinness World Records, said the group was aware of Beaumont's attempt and was awaiting documentation from him. The current record holder is Steven Strange of Britain, who circled the globe in a little over 276 days in 2004 and 2005, she said.

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