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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News, January 14, 2008

Edited by Gregor Brown

Season partners: Valverde & Pereiro

The two team leaders, Valverde and Pereiro
Photo ©: Hedwig Kröner/Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Caisse d'Epargne leaders Alejandro Valverde and Oscar Pereiro both finished within the top 10 of general classification at the Tour de France last year, and intend to combine forces again this season to reach at least the podium on the Champs-Élysées next July. But the two Spaniards not only have the French Grand Tour in mind for 2008; they also target other events together as Cyclingnews' Hedwig Kröner found out at the team's presentation in Paris last week.

Pereiro and Valverde – 'partners in crime' you'd almost say when looking at their season goals and race programme. The low-key stage race specialist and his more popular and versatile team-mate want to work together throughout the season, to score the maximum of victories and top placings.

"We have a very similar race programme," Valverde told Cyclingnews after the presentation, revealing that the pair will be able to fine-tune its partnership in the lead-up to the Tour de France, the race being the biggest objective.

Goal #1: Tour de France

If all goes as planned, Valverde and Pereiro will be Caisse d'Epargne's road captains in July: Valverde will aim at the podium, and his team-mate at the top 10. "Valverde is a rider that has much more class and quality than I have," said Pereiro full of praise for his friend. "He's one of the best in the world. I can give him some Tour experience, but within the team it's clear that he will be the leader. I will be there protecting and helping him. It all goes like last year, where he was better than I, then that will be the order of things. Of course, if I'm in front, then he will be there for me – we'll be able to play with that, too."

But Pereiro won't put all his money on the Tour, revealing that as soon as the month of May, the roles between him and Valverde could be reversed. In a very determined manner, he explained, "I want to win something before the Tour. Last year was such a hard season for me with all that uncertainty about the 2006 Tour victory, so I have to make up for that now. I want to have really good form in the months of April and May, also for the Ardennes Classics. Afterwards, there's the Tour, in which I will help the team and also try to go for a stage victory – but first and foremost, I want to finish in the top 10 again. Every time I started at the Tour, I was in the top 10, so I'd like to do this one more time. And then, there's the Vuelta, too..."

Read the full Valverde & Pereiro feature.

Hansen happy with gold and silver

By Susan Westemeyer

Hansen enjoys the day
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Adam Hansen took Team High Road's first road victory this season when he won the Australian time trial championship and he hoped to repeat his success in the road race. However, Matthew Lloyd of Team Silence-Lotto slipped away unnoticed and took the title, with Hansen claiming second place.

He wasn't down about it, though. "I'm happy, really I am. I can't complain with a gold and a silver. So things are good. Real good," he told Cyclingnews.

Writing on his website,, the 26 year-old said that he liked the Ballarat course. He was supported in the race by trade team team-mates Michael Rogers, Scott Davis and Greg Henderson. Davis got into an early break, which got up to a six and half minute lead. "Michael and I were just closing the gaps, making sure nothing was getting across and trying to slow them down," he said, and he hoped that Davis would be able to hang on for the win.

However, the other riders in the race weren't ready to concede victory, and eventually helped close the gap enough that Hansen and Rory Sutherland could catch up to Davis, only to get a surprise. "When we caught him, he told us there was one more rider (Matthew Lloyd). Rory and I were a bit surprised, we thought Scott was it. By this time, it was too late. We did work together and we did pull Matthew in a bit but it wasn't enough."

Sutherland and Hansen sprinted for second place, with Hansen taking it at the last second. "I pulled him in at the right moment and got him just on the line. I admit, I wasn't sure I got it at first, but a photo finish doesn't lie."

He concluded, "So a silver in the road race is great. Okay, I'm a little disappointed. I wanted to win and I thought I could have, but that's racing, and Matthew was the first man to cross the line."

Vantornout's bad weekend

By Susan Westemeyer

It was a bad weekend for Klass Vantornout. Shortly after starting out training Saturday morning, he was hit by a car. "The driver pulled out of a parking place and didn't see me. I made a somersault and landed on my right shoulder," he told Nothing was broken, but it was still painful.

He decided to ride the World Cup Cyclo-cross race in Liévin anyway, even though he "experienced a very bad night." He ended up dropping out early, as in addition to the shoulder pain he started having pain in his ribs and difficulty breathing.

However, there was more pain to come. He dropped from third in the UCI rankings to sixth, which "makes a difference financially."

Pantani investigations continue

A new investigation into the death of Marco Pantani – winner of the 1998 Giro d'Italia and Tour de France – will be opened, while a decision on the provider of the cocaine that contributed to the death of the Italian cyclist on February 14, 2004, is expected today.

"It is huge thing for me," said the mother of the cyclist, who would have celebrated his 38th birthday yesterday, to Italy's Tg2 Sport upon hearing the news that the prosecutor of Forlì (Emilia-Romagna) would open a new investigation into the death of 'Il Pirata' based up on the supposed betting that occurred in the final stages of the 1999 Giro d'Italia.

Pantani was ejected from the 1999 Italian Grand Tour due to an elevated hematocrit the day after the stage to Madonna di Campiglio, June 4. It has been speculated that there could have been foul play to influence the overall race results. (Ivan Gotti went on to win one day later - ed.)

"A mom has the right to know what happened at Madonna di Campiglio and a Rimini." Pantani was found dead in his room of Rimini's Le Rose hotel.

Cipollini faces tax evasion fees of 1.1 million euro

The tax magistrate of the Province of Lucca has stated that they are after ex-professional Mario Cipollini for taxes on €1.6 million of revenue for the years of 1998 and 1998. The total fees due for the Italian, winner of 42 stages in the Giro d'Italia, are estimated to arrive at €1.1 million (including taxes, sanctions and interest).

"He kept frequenting his family who lived in Lucca," read a statement from the magistrate reported in La Gazzetta dello Sport regarding Cipollini, who declares residence in Monaco. "His presence for training and relaxation was in Lucca for the entire season. This does not even consider that his parents, who are available for health services (his father is in a retirement home ...), and doesn't account the fines for keeping a puma." The magistrate re-evaluated the number down from 2.2 million.

"The facts were also discussed in a disciplinary hearing, which was archived by Lucca's prosecutor in 2000," remarked Cipollini's lawyer, Giuseppe Napoleone. "The judge affirmed that the cyclist's affairs required that he was continually moving, and this does not allow him to fix his residence in Italy."

Cipollini also is facing two tax evasion hearings for the years of 2000 to 2004.

Paride Grillo to return home

Paride Grillo, sprinter of team CSF Group Navigare, will head home from the hospital on Wednesday following a recovery period due to an auto accident on New Years Day. The Italian crashed his BMW Z4 Coupe into an electrical box metres from his home in Appiano Gentile (Como) early that morning.

"Let's start from good news: next Wednesday I'll be at home, hopefully in the morning," said the 25 year-old. "Well, Sant'Anna hospital isn't uncomfortable at all, but – you know – it's an hospital: in the evening, at half past seven it feels like it's midnight..."

Grillo is clearly better, although tomorrow the rider will undergo a surgery to correct the deviation of the nasal septum. "The bad news is that on Tuesday I'm going to undergo a nasal surgery, to correct a deviation of my nasal septum, occurred because of the trauma I had on my face. Yesterday, I had a visit with a specialist, who prevented me from leaving the hospital, as I would have breathing problems – especially during big efforts – if I wouldn't take the surgery.

"Looking at the picture of the car, I think the deviation of the nose was caused by the airbag, but probably it also saved my eyes from the glass splinters, so I can't complain..."

The surgery will follow's last week's successful knee surgery. "Two days ago I had the surgery on my right knee, and it was okay, even if now I'm a bit in pain and I can't sleep properly.

"They had to apply five stitches, and I'm going to need a week of complete rest. Then gradually I'll be able to walk and gradually as well I'll be able to get back in the saddle of my Colnago [bicycle]. The doctors advised me to be careful and take it step by step, even because in the first period I might suffer some balance problems, because of the cranial trauma. So, I can't be sure of it, but let's hope to be able to train well within two or three weeks."

Miche - Silver Cross presented

Team Miche's new jersey presented.
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Italian Continental Team Miche - Silver Cross was presented over the weekend. The orange-black team welcomed on board the Italian pharmaceutical company – Silver Cross – as well as several new signings. There will be 15 riders to carry the team name into the races of the 2008 season.

The team will include Przemyslaw Niemec, Krzysztof Szczawinski, Massimo Giunti, Pasquale Muto, Lorenzo Cardellini, Enrico Degano, Eddy Serri, Maurizio Carta, Nicola D'Andrea, Mariano Giallorenzo, Alessandro Celli, Andrea Capelli, Stefano Usai, Diego Persichetti and Wojciech Ziolkowski.

Miche - Silver Cross will make its debut in the Etoile des Bessèges, February 6 to 10.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti

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