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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, January 22, 2008

Edited by Ben Abrahams and Greg Johnson

Lloyd quietly confident

By Paul Verkuylen in Adelaide, Australia

Matt Lloyd (Silence-Lotto)
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

New Australian Road Champion Matt Lloyd is in a tricky situation. A few weeks ago he told Cyclingnews that he's taken pre-season training a lot more relaxed than previously, but after winning the title last weekend, his name is now amongst those being thrown around as candidates for the overall victory at the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Australia on Sunday.

The second year professional, who hails from the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda, is quietly confident of achieving a good result. "I'm confident," he declared. "Having raced here before and knowing the style of racing that it is, and with the form that I had last week, I can be confident, but being in the position to win the race overall is another thing because it is a week of ProTour racing."

"If that doesn't occur, then there is always the possibility of stages," he added.

Lloyd is waiting to see how the race unfolds, but will be keeping a keen eye on those making the race hard. "I think that the GC will unfold by people who are more antagonistic, and once that happens it will happen," he said. "The day it does happen it might blow out to a huge margin; that is the one to watch out for."

Lloyd is realistic about his chances in the ProTour field assembled in Adelaide, despite having finished fourth overall last year. The youngster's success with the Silence-Lotto team has meant that management has placed some pressure on him to capatalise on his recent display of good form. "I have to constantly remind myself that it is January and everyone is still experiencing the same sort of feeling," he said, referring to the length of the season ahead.

"I think that there might be more sprint finishes than years previously, with a lot of guys at about 80 percent of their form compared to mid year," he added. "A lot of guys will be wanting that to happen."

Lloyd has earmarked a number of stages as possible danger stages, believing the stage to Harndorf along with the stage over Willunga hill are the ones which he will have to pay special attention. "A few hot days towards the end of the week, which the Euros will maybe not be used to, may take an impact, but it is not as hot as in the past," said Lloyd. "So it creates a really open situation for everyone."

Lloyd is happy with his form so far, a factor he attributes to the racing that he has done over the last 12 months. "Last year the racing at the Worlds and Lombardia, at ProTour level made me go really deep, but it has also meant that I haven't had to do that much training on an intensity level through out December to bring it [the form] up again," he said.

Lloyd, the current Australian National Road Champion, will be writing a regular diary for Cyclingnews throughout the Tour Down Under.

Barloworld rolling in Bibbona

By Gregor Brown in Marina di Bibbona

Baden Cooke in Barloworld colours
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

Barloworld is putting the final touches on its 2008 season preparations in Marina di Bibbona (Toscana), Italy. The Professional Continental team arrived on Friday, January 18, and on Monday enjoyed a 'rest day' before the training intensity increases. Team Manager Claudio Corti and the directeur sportifs attended to business as the riders went on a short ride and then relaxed at the seaside hotel.

Francesco Bellotti transferred to the team after three years with Crédit Agricole. The Italian from Verona was with the team in 2004 and noted the differences since Corti has taken over from the then mostly South African team.

"The team is much more respected now," he noted while him and some team-mates rode to a local bar for a coffee. "I hated ending it with Crédit but the new possibilities here are exciting." Like most of the other cyclists here at the camp, including Tour de France stage winner Robert Hunter, he pointed to the family-like environment that comes from a small level team like Corti has assembled.

Diego Caccia turned professional with the team in 2007, and he is impressed with how the team has evolved for 2008. "We now have additional guys like [Enrico] Gasparotto and [Baden] Cooke," he stated as nodding towards the 25 year-old former Italian Champion, Gasparotto, who later bought the entire training group coffees.

Young Briton Geraint Thomas
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

Caccia came close to riding the Tour de France last year as a neo-professional, but a training crash meant he watched the race from home in Bergamo, Italy. The team is likely to get wildcard invitations to the Tour and the Giro d'Italia for 2008. "I think my chances are good I will ride my first Grand Tour this year," he continued. "I really don't mind which one."

Over the winter, Gasparotto switched teams for the very first time since turning professional in 2005. After serving three years in the acid-green colours of Liquigas, he decided it was a time for a change. He talked to Corti and in November decided to sign a one-year contract.

"Liquigas is a large team with a lot of big-named riders, but Corti has a good group with 20 riders. There are the big-named riders, even without being a ProTour team. We have Cooke, Hunter and [Mauricio] Soler, and really, we don't lack anything. In fact, it is more of a small family atmosphere."


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews

Mighty McEwen aiming for March

By Greg Johnson in Adelaide, Australia

Robbie McEwen (Silence-Lotto) is running a similar program to 2007
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

Silence-Lotto's Robbie McEwen is one of Australia's fastest men on a bike. The pint-sized McEwen has the acceleration and accuracy of a cruise missile in a stage sprint, but it's the latter of these traits he's hoping to apply to the timing of his peak fitness in 2008.

Mighty McEwen's magic sprint hasn't headlined at the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic or the Australian nationals in 2008, as it has in previous years. Instead the Queenslander is delaying his peak fitness as he did in 2007, in the hope of hitting his targets in March.

"Well like you say you haven't heard much of me during the summer, I haven't raced as much as the last couple of years and that was a conscious choice as I'm aiming a bit further into the season," he explained.

McEwen has won more stages than any other rider at South Australia's Tour Down Under. The rider has claimed an impressive 12 stage victories during the event's nine years in existence, but the Queenslander is a little unsure how his March plans will affect his performance in this year's race.

"Although I'd like to lie to you and say I'm going really good and I'm up, I'm not quite at the level I have been in my best years at the Tour Down Under, but I'm certainly not bad," said McEwen. "I hope over the course of the week to ride myself into the race and maybe a bit like last year pop up on the last day, but it I get a chance before that I'll try and take it too."

To read the full feature on Robbie McEwen, click here.

Gerrans: Only time will tell

By Paul Verkuylen in Adelaide, South Australia

Simon Gerrans
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

The Tour Down Under signifies the beginning of a new era for Australian all rounder Simon Gerrans, as this will be the youngsters first race with the Credit Agricole squad. There's a lot of expectation for success on Gerrans' shoulders, having won the race in 2006, but he is not letting that pressure get to him.

"Being a favorite coming into this race is always really tricky, because if there was a real decisive point on the first stage where the strongest guys formed a natural selection here, it would be great as we would get the strongest guys at the front," he explained. "But the first stage is generally such a lottery that to make that move is tough."

Being so early in the season, and with so many races ahead of them, many teams are playing the ProTour opener cool. Rather than placing pressure on their riders to perform, many teams are waiting to see how the race unfolds.

"There is not much pressure, I wasn't sure how it was going to be here with Credit Agricole, whether they were going to put a lot of pressure on me to try and get a result," Gerrans said. "But they said 'look it's early season, we are not going to put any pressure on you guys to try and win here, the big objectives are still a couple of months away, however, if you miss the break you are going to chase, as we want someone in the race mixing it up'."

This attitude sits well with the Victorian, as he believes that the team will achieve better results this early in the season without the added pressure of needing a result.

Due to the event's ProTour status more teams than ever are lining up in this year's edition, but Gerrans doesn't necessarily see this as being a catalyst for faster racing. "Having less Australians here might slow it down a little as they are generally the more aggressive here," he said.

"Then again having more teams here means having more teams to chase and more teams that are going to want riders in the move which may neutralize the race a little as well," he added. "Only time will tell what is going to happen."

As the first ProTour event of the year, it also means riders are racing for the first ProTour jersey of the season, which may be an extra incentive, but one which Gerrans insists is not yet a priority.

"It would be great to get that jersey, great to take it off Cadel," he said. "Great to have an Aussie to finish with it last year and great to have one start with it this year."

Davis wants sprint wins

By Greg Johnson in Adelaide, Australia

Former Discovery Channel rider Allan Davis is looking to claim some sprint stage victories during this year's Tour Down Under, which commences in South Australia this morning. The Queenslander is one of several strong riders in the UniSA-Australian National Team that will contest this year's 10th Anniversary race.

Despite his form in the opening stages of 2008, Davis is yet to find a new home for the season ahead after the Discovery Channel ProTour team for which he rode disbanded at the end of last season. Despite the lack of contract for 2008, Davis is determined to put in a strong showing at this year's Tour Down Under - where he will rider as the only competitor to race all 10 editions of the event.

"Yeah it will be great to start in the right direction, coming off the Bay Series with a win there was a good start as well and hopefully I can carry that on this week," he said. "We've also got a couple of guys for the overall, we have a couple of cards to play, so hopefully we can come away with a good result."

Davis praised the Adelaide event's efforts over the past decade, saying that its consistent professionalism over the past nine editions is what led to the event becoming the first non-European ProTour round in 2008.

"It's pretty hard to pinpoint something that's improved because when it started it was so good," he said. "To me, it's a real credit to Mike and the team that it's been consistent for 10 years. The level it started at and the level it's at now hasn't changed that much - maybe now with the ProTour - it was so good from the start it's just maintained that consistency through 10 years."

Petacchi gets CAS date

Alessandro Petacchi will have his next day in court on March 12, when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, will hear appeals concerning his "non-negative" doping test from the 2007 Giro d'Italia. Both the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have appealed the Italian Cycling Federation's dismissal of the charges.

The Team Milram sprinter tested positive for Salbutamol after his stage win on Stage 11 of last year's Giro. Petacchi, who is asthmatic, has a medical use exemption for the medication. The acceptable limit is 100 ng/L but he was said to have tested for 1320 ng/L.

Petacchi was not suspended by Team Milram but did not race for a period over the summer, missing the Tour de France. CONI recommended that he be suspended for a year, but the Italian federation rejected this and allowed Petacchi to return to racing.

CONI announced at the end of August that it would appeal that decision, while WADA announced in October that it would also appeal the ruling.

Meares injured in keirin crash

Australian track star Anna Meares was taken to hospital in Los Angeles on Sunday evening after crashing out of the women's keirin final at the Track World Cup. Meares, the world record holder and Olympic champion for the 500m time trial, was taken from the Los Angeles Home Depot Center velodrome on a backboard, but was able to move her fingers and toes.

A spokesperson for Cycling Australia told Cyclingnews that Meares had undergone scans after suffering concussion. More information on the rider's condition is expected soon.

Savings & Loans presents 2008 squad

By Paul Verkuylen in Adelaide, Australia

The 2008 Savings Loans squad.
Photo ©: Savings & Loans
(Click for larger image)

The successful mix of youth and experience that saw the Australian based continental squad Savings & Loans achieve such good results in 2007 has returned again for the 2008 season. Now in its third year, the squad will be looking to the United States of America at races such as, Super week, the Tour de Beauce and Philadelphia to achieve some good results and build on the success from previous year.

"The races that we are targeting as well as the general style of racing here and in the states lend themselves more to sprinters than the more lightweight climbers," explained team manager Steve Cunningham.

Team management hopes that some good results in those races, as well as the numerous Australian races it will contest, will lead to invitations to more events throughout America and Asia in the future.

The team has signed a number of top riders, including former Selle Italia rider and Australian champion Russell van Hout, who is returning to competition after a one year hiatus. Brett Aitken is another top rider who is returning to the team for what may possibly be his last season in the sport.

The former Olympic gold medallist and Tour Down Under sprint champion brings an enormous amount of experience to the team. The outfit has added more sprinters to the squad for 2008, believing that this mix should bring more results.

Savings & Loans for 2008: David Pell, Russell van Hout, Brett Aitken, Craig McCartney, Joel Pearson, Will Dickeson, Brad Edmunds, Chris Luxton, Russell Gill, Tim Roe and Adrian Laidler.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Savings & Loans

Jongewaard to stand trial over crash

Australian mountain biker Chris Jongewaard pleaded not guilty before a District Court in South Australia on Monday, on charges of dangerous driving and failing to stop at the scene of an accident. In February last year, a car driven by Jongewaard knocked down his friend and training partner Matthew Rex, a promising cyclist with Stuart O'Grady's development squad, after the pair had been out celebrating Rex's 22nd birthday in Normanville, south of Adelaide.

Rex suffered serious head injuries and was put into an induced coma, but has since made a good recovery.

According to The Australian newspaper, Jongewaard was granted bail and will reappear before the District Court in March. The 28 year-old, an Australian national mountain bike champion, is hoping to gain selection for the Beijing Olympics next summer.

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