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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News, January 7, 2008

Edited by Gregor Brown

Enrico Franzoi ready for Worlds

By Kirsten Robbins in Italy

Franzoi (after his crash in Koksijde) looks forward to the World Championships with a redesigned training programme.
Photo ©: Mark Legg
(Click for larger image)

The former Italian Cyclo-cross Champion Enrico Franzoi was benched from defending his title in yesterday's Italian Championships in Scorzè (Venice). The rider who recently transferred from Lampre to Liquigas was forced to sit out of his prized event because of an injury to his ankle that caused him pain two weeks ago during the World Cup in Hofstade. The problem worsened, and he and his specialist made the decision to take a time out.

"My specialist told me that the injury in my heel will take approximately fifteen days to heal," the 25 year-old told Cyclingnews on the eve of the Italian Championships held near his hometown.

"The nationals was really important to me because it's an event that I always want to do well in but worst of all, it is in my home town and I would have liked to compete there even if it wasn't a national championship – just because I grew up there for twenty-three years."

He has redesigned his training program to be prepared for the World Championships held in Treviso on January 27. The cyclo-cross rider has been training on the road as regular but due to his injury has been forced to skip all cyclo-cross specific workouts where running is involved.

"I am still in very good condition and I am prepared to compete well in the World Championships," said Franzoi, who last year earned himself a bronze medal. "I am not going to the Worlds with the goal of just participating, I am going to race hard and with the goal of getting another good result there."

Fontana pushes towards Worlds with Italian Championships' win

Fontana dominates the Italian Championships
Photo ©: Riccardo Scanferla
(Click for larger image)

Marco Aurelio Fontana dominated the Italian Cyclo-cross Championships yesterday in Scorzè to add to his Under 23 national title of 2006. The 23 year-old from Giussano (Monza) lived up to the promises on the eve of the event, benefiting from the absence of last year's champion, Enrico Franzoi.

The duel between Fontana and Franzoi, who is out this year due to an ankle injury, ended in a heated finale during the 2007 championships in Lucca. Franzoi then got the better of the younger rider to stake claim to elite title number three. The absence of the defending champion this year left the door open for Fontana to shine in the mud near Venice – beating Cristian Cominelli by 1'54". The 19 year-old rider from Brescia, student of Felice Gimondi, went home as Under 23 champion for his efforts.

"This was mine to win or lose, therefore I gave it a lot of grit." said Fontana after the race to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Is this revenge for 2006 and Franzoi? No, the event in Lucca is forgotten. Now I need to honour the jersey at the Worlds."

Fontana and Franzoi will lead the squadra azzurra at the World Championships in Treviso on January 27. The newly crowned Italian Champion finished 13th in 2007.

"I don't want to make a bad impression in front of my tifosi. I want to demonstrate that I am the Italian champion."

Fontana started with road racing before switching over to cyclo-cross, and he now wants to shift his focus to mountain biking to race the Olympics this summer. "Thanks to Vito [Di Tano] I have improved on my techniques," he noted of the directeur of Selle Italia-Guerciotti.

Elia Silvestri, a team-mate of Fontana, took the junior title.

Giro still doubtful for Sastre

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Carlos Sastre – second in the 2007 Vuelta – decides on 2008 Giro or Vuelta.
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

Carlos Sastre will be in the CSC's training camp in Mallorca, Spain, January 8 to 18, where he will have time to contemplate his 2008 programme. On tap for the 32 year-old Spaniard is a possible ride in the Italian Grand Tour – the Giro d'Italia.

"It will be the first contact for 2008 among all the team-members, except for those of them who are going to race in the Tour Down Under, in Australia," the CSC leader commented yesterday.

The development of the new bikes, the delivery of new clothing and the riders' programmes are to be discussed during the gathering. Sastre will be accompanied by two countrymen: the veteran Iñigo Cuesta and the U-23 Joaquín Novoa.

Novoa, who has already raced in the recent last Italian classics of the season but has not yet signed contract with Riis' squad, has been invited to participate in the gathering. "He has completed a great season and I think it has conditions to be professional," Sastre said about him.

After disputing the Vuelta al País Vasco, Sastre will decide which Grand Tour he will race in addition to the Tour de France – the Giro d'Italia or Vuelta a España. He confirmed that the schedule for the first part of the season will be very similar to last year's. He will debut in the Clásica de Almeria, continuing in the Vuelta a Murcia, Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, Vuelta al País Vasco, Clásica de Amorebieta, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne Liège.

However, he is keeping his participation in the Giro up in the air. "I will take the decision between the Vuelta al País Vasco and the Belgian classics. It will depend on my physical state," Sastre concluded.

Burghardt training again

By Susan Westemeyer

Burghardt races during the 2007 season
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Marcus Burghardt is back on his bike after injuring his knee in a training accident last month. "He is back in training," Team High Road spokesman Stefan Wagner told Cyclingnews Monday morning.

The 24 year-old rammed his right knee into his handlebars when the chain slipped off the chain ring at full speed at an unofficial training camp on Mallorca the beginning of December. He suffered bruises and a light haemorrhage.

Burghardt, who won Gent-Wevelgem last year, is expected to lead Team High Road in the Spring Classics. He had surgery on his left knee in 2006.

Evans notes training fears in Australia

By Susan Westemeyer

Cadel Evans of Team Silence-Lotto is a road racer, but admits that sometimes training on the road can be scary and dangerous. "Honestly, the scariest part of my job is riding on the Great Ocean Road, which I live on, between Christmas and New Year," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"I've cycled in every continent in the world, other than Antarctica, and it's incredible. Drivers in America and Australia just have attitudes. I don't necessarily say attitudes towards cyclists, but towards other road users," the 2007 ProTour champion said. "People just don't realise the danger they're causing other people."

What he most fears are trailers that are wider than the cars pulling them. "I've nearly had my leg torn off so many times because of that, and people are just completely unaware of it."

Vandenbroucke looking forward to the new season

By Susan Westemeyer

The weather was bad but the mood was good as Team Mitsubishi-Jartazi gathered for a team ride for the photographers. Newly signed big-name Frank Vandenbroucke was among those present, and in fact led the team over the famed Tiegemberg climb. "I have trained a lot already and feel very well," the 33 year-old Belgian told Het Nieuwsblad.

The controversial rider who attempted suicide last June said that "for the first time in three years I have had a carefree winter without sickness and injuries." He was especially happy to be reunited with former team-mate and now team manager Chris Pears, saying, "Chris was always there for me, in good and bad days."

The Belgian Professional Continental team is scheduled to fly today to the south of France for a two week training camp. "VDB" is expected to open his season with the GP Marseillaise and the Etoile de Bessèges, which he hopes will give him a good form for the Tour Méditerranéen.

Elk Haus training camps and race schedule

By Susan Westemeyer

Team Elk Haus Simplon is dividing its forces while preparing for the upcoming season. The team will hold two training camps, one on Mallorca and one on Gran Canaria, both officially beginning January 13.

Most of the Austrian Professional Continental team will gather on Gran Canaria, with three riders already there. However, four team members will be on Mallorca: Jochen Summer, Jan Valach, Steffen Radochla and Björn Thurau. "This division worked well in 2007. We can fulfil the wish of each rider. That gives us a good atmosphere," said team manager Bernhard Rassinger. "That way everyone is satisfied and also motivated."

In addition, the team has changed its race plans for the start of the season. Because of its successes last year, it received an invitation to the Etoile de Bessèges, which it will now ride instead of the previously scheduled GP Etruschi. It will be followed by the Tour Méditerranéen and the Giro di Sardegna.

"We have made our name internationally and that has given us a super racing calendar," Rassinger noted.

Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo meets again

Team Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo will meet for a second time this off-season with its training camp in Marina di Grosseto (Toscana), Italy. The focus of the Italian Professional Continental team's gathering – January 8 to 18 – will be training rides and defining riders' racing programmes.

The team for 2008 will consist of Dario Andriotto, Alexandr Arekeev, Gabriele Balducci, Stefano Cavallari, Massimo Codol, Alessandro Donati, Francesco Failli (new arrival), Stefano Garzelli, Massimiliano Gentili (new arrival), Andrei Kunitski, Andrea Masciarelli, Francesco Masciarelli, Simone Masciarelli, Giuseppe Palumbo, Luca Paolini (new arrival), Luca Pierfelici (new arrival), Andrea Rossi e Branislau Samoilau.

Urban wins German cyclo-cross title

By Susan Westemeyer

Malte Urban of the Team RC Endspurt Herford put his familiarity with the German cyclo-cross national championship course in Herford to good use, winning the title for the third time. The 33 year-old won by 100 metres over Johannes Sickmüller and defending champion Rene Birkenfeld.

"I've ridden so often here in training that I know every tree root by name," he told

Birkenfeld got off to an early lead, but Urban caught him with three laps to go. A crash threw him back and allowed Birkenfeld and Sickmüller to take over the lead. Urban gave chase and caught the two on the last round, passing them to take the win.

Trek - Marco Polo and Li off to good start

Team Trek - Marco Polo has won the very first race in its new existence. Chinese Fuyu Li took victory in the first stage of the Jelajah Malaysia.

It is a great start for the Chinese team as well as the 29 year-old, who last year raced under the direction of Johan Bruyneel at Discovery Channel. Li is qualified to race the Olympic Road Race for China, and has started his preparations off well.

Trek - Marco Polo will defend Li's leader's jersey until stage six when the famous climb to Genting highlands is on the menu, hoping that sprinter Sergey Kudentsov can win some stages in the process.

Experienced pros return to Revolution

Mark Cavendish, Rob Hayles and Chris Newton all return to Revolution on January 12 to add some experience to the endurance racing which has so far this season been dominated by the excellent British Cycling Academy.

Cavendish, now riding for Team High Road, had a turbulent start to his track season with a disappointing performance at the Gent Six Day and under his own admission "struggled to find his track legs" after a long road season. However, the Manx star returned to form with a podium place in the Madison at the Beijing World Cup. He will now join Rob Hayles and Chris Newton as they return to Manchester to continue their build up to the World Championships at the end of March.

The trio will have its work cut out as they take on the British Cycling Academy who has been on form so far this season.

These riders and more return will compete in a programme featuring a motor paced scratch, 10km points race and 1km Madison time trial.

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