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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News, January 23, 2008

Edited by Gregor Brown

Greipel proud of maiden ProTour stage win

By Greg Johnson in Adelaide, Australia

Andre Greipel (Team High Road) accepts his prize
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

André Greipel (Team High Road) claimed his maiden ProTour stage win at today's second Tour Down Under stage. The 25 year-old German proved his sprinting prowess by beating Australia's best in Sunday night's Down Under Classic – a pre-tour criterium – but today showed he's also a powerhouse after the longer, more challenging stages.

"I feel very good, I'm proud of it, I'm proud of the team – that they support me – it's very good," beamed the softly spoken rider after his win.

Greipel again out-classed top Australian sprinters Graeme Brown (Rabobank) and Allan Davis (UniSA-Australian National Team) to take Team High Road's first ProTour stage win of the season.

"I was a little bit lucky because Renshaw was on the right hand side so I couldn't pass him, but then towards the end he moved to the left so I could get past," he explained of his winning move.

He turned professional with Team Wiesenhof in 2005, where he won the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt's sprint jersey and Post Danmark Rundt's sixth stage. The German moved to T-Mobile – now Team High Road – in 2006 where he again had success at the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt, with two stage wins in 2006, before claiming two stage wins at the Sachsen-Tour International in 2007.

"I didn't need to go in any break [today], I could just stay in the bunch – my team-mates did a really good job," he said.

Greipel, who lives near Cologne, Germany, was discovered by the trainer of 1997 Tour de France champion Jan Ullrich, Peter Sager.

The youngster believes his team's success in Australia will help the squad's hunt for a sponsor to replace T-Mobile. The German telecommunications giant pulled its funding at the end of 2007, after the outfit's turbulent time with doping allegations.

"It's the best answer to win races to find a new sponsor – I think the team is better than last year," he said. "That was our reason to train in early November - to be good at Tour Down Under – and win races, that's the only thing we want to do."

Greipel expects to continue his sprint-stage charge for the remainder of the Tour Down Under, before heading to the squad's training camp in California, USA. While he won't find out the remainder of his programme until the training camp, he is hopeful his next target will be contesting Paris-Nice.

David Moncoutié still loves cycling

By Jean-François Quénet in Hahndorf, Australia

David Moncoutié (Cofidis)
Photo ©: JF Quénet
(Click for larger image)

When he broke a femur at the Tour de Romandie last year, David Moncoutié wondered if it was time for him to quit cycling. He's turning 33 years old this year and his career has constantly been affected by his lack of technical skills since he became a professional rider, already with Cofidis back in 1997.

"I have questioned myself quite a lot during my recovery and I realized that I loved cycling too much. I deeply wanted to come back once again. It wasn't the right time for stopping," the Frenchman said to Cyclingnews during his first trip to Australia.

"I came here because I wanted to be in touch with the peloton as soon as possible," he added. "It's early in the year but my break has been long enough. I feel hungry racing again and here it's perfect. The atmosphere is great. There is a real culture of cycling with many fans coming and watch us on their bike. I never travelled so far before but I truly enjoy seeing that people love cycling outside Europe." During the criterium held in Glenelg on Sunday night, he mostly kept the last position of the bunch in order to avoid eventual crashes.

"I'm scared," he admitted. "But I've always been scared, so it doesn't change at all after my crash from last year." At the beginning of his career, Moncoutié became famous for not even being able to put on a jacket while staying on his bike because he had never learned how to cycle no-hands. He has improved of course, but although he remained technically limited, he has managed to win two impressive stages in the Tour de France, in Figeac in his home province of the Lot in 2004 and in Digne-les-Bains at the end of an Alpine stage in 2005.

Moncoutié has also become famous for riding clean for his entire career even though he never left Cofidis, who has been involved in some doping scandals of its own.

Sylvain Calzati in search of fifth win for Ag2r

By Jean-François Quénet in Hahndorf, Australia

Sylvain Calzati (Ag2r)
Photo ©: JF Quénet
(Click for larger image)

Ag2r-La Mondiale's Sylvain Calzati recalled his best season when he started with the 2006 Tour Down Under as a helper for eventual overall winner Simon Gerrans, and later that year included a heroic stage win at the Tour de France. "It only went wrong afterwards when I sustained a big crash in Bessèges and I was forced to take a break," he said while appreciating the blue sky in Stirling.

"Two years ago, I struggled with the jet lag, but this time I'm fine and I'm very happy to put distance in my training." Calzati is actually coming back once again after a forced break. He has not competed since he pulled out of last year's Tour de France due to sciatic nerve problem and a double tendonitis. "The recovery has been long and complicated," he explained. "I've had two months of intensive care in a hospital in Lyon. Every now and then I can still feel a bit of a pain but stretching helps me to be okay. I'm back on track."

Calzati has also started a new training programme under the guidance of French-based Italian coach Guido Possetto. "He has set up a new machine on which I do sessions of 50 minutes with the cranks being paralleled. It's supposed to help me gain power. I'm confident it's working well."

Before his break, Calzati was set to become a classification rider for Ag2r. "I still have these ambitions, but I prefer to keep them quiet," he said. "Anyway, I want to do well at Paris-Nice and the Giro [d'Italia] overall, then I'd love to do the Tour de France again but my start isn't guaranteed so I must do something good before."

His first goal is to work for Ag2r-La Mondiale to win the inaugural race of the 2008 season. The French outfit has won the Tour Down Under successively with Gilles Maignan, Mikel Astarloza, Simon Gerrans and Martin Elmiger, so a fifth time out of ten would be nice for them. "We definitely want to win again. Elmiger looks able to double up but we're afraid that the ProTour changes the face of the race. It could be less open and all decided on Saturday in Willunga Hill. We'd prefer to initiate a breakaway before that. We're motivated, that's for sure."

McKenzie soaks up Down Under atmosphere

By Greg Johnson in Adelaide, Australia

Former Australian Road Champion David McKenzie was one of hundreds of riders to tackle the classified Echunga climb in stage two of the Tour Down Under today. The Giro d'Italia stage winner, basking in the glorious conditions around Adelaide, said he's please to see the South Australian community getting behind its addition to the ProTour calendar.

"It's great to see so many people out, South Australia is really getting behind this event," said the 33 year-old. "The era we are going through now and the talent we have, I wish I could have my time again."

During an eight-year career, spanning from 1997 to 2005, McKenzie claimed five Herald Sun Tour stage victories and a stage victory at Asian races Tour de Langkawi and Tour of Qinghai Lake. In addition to his 1998 Australian Championship win, the rider also took victory in stage 6 of the Tour Down Under in 2001.

"To think we're [Australia] ranked third in the world and there's so much more to come, it's amazing," he said.

McKenzie added that he was delighted to see Australia's Mark Renshaw (Crédit Agricole) take his first ProTour stage win on the first ProTour stage outside of European boarders yesterday. "It was amazing," said McKenzie. "He had the perfect spot."

Despite being pleased with the success of Australian cycling and the Tour Down Under, McKenzie did have one gripe. "I think I just lost the points," he joked while addressing the thousands waiting at stage two's king of the mountain sprint.

Olympic Champion Meares heads home after crash

Olympic Champion Anna Meares will fly home from the Los Angeles Track World Cup after being cleared by doctors to travel. The Australian crashed during the final of the keirin event on Sunday and was taken to hospital for treatment. The 24 year-old Team Toshiba rider said she remembered the accident and hitting the deck, but little after she was knocked unconscious.

"I remember actually accelerating before the bell to make my move and I remember hitting my head and being in a lot of pain and that was it," stated Meares.

"It was the last lap of the keirin and I was on the back deliberately because everyone was crossing around and I thought I could get a clearer run from there," Meares continued. "As I tried to come around from the middle of the bend there was a lot of movement and Svetlana Grankowskaja was forced to come back down the track and when she did she collected my front wheel as I was coming underneath her.

Meares has suffered a hairline fracture to her C2 vertebrae and some torn muscles in her neck, a dislocated right shoulder, torn tendons in her shoulder and some bruising. "The doctors here say it will be four to six weeks before I get back to normal and I will need to wear a soft collar neck brace and use a sling for a while."

Tinkoff 2008 presented in Milano

The 2008 Tinkoff team
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The nineteen riders that will form the 2008 Team Tinkoff Credit Systems were presented last night in Milano. After its debut in 2007 as an Italian Professional Continental team – with prestigious wins and the blossoming of Mikhail Ignatiev – the team will make its 2008 start in the Tour of Qatar, January 27.

2008 riders: Pavel Brutt (Rus), Ilya Chernetsky (Rus), Daniele Contrini (Ita), Nikita Eskov (Rus), Alexander Gottfried (Ger), Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus), Alexander Khatuntsev (Rus), Vasil Kiryienka (Blr), Sergey Klimov (Rus), Alberto Loddo (Ita), Luca Mazzanti (Ita), Walter Pedraza (Col), Evgeni Petrov (Rus), Bernardo Riccio (Ita), Ivan Rovny (Rus), Alexander Serov (Rus), Ricardo Serrano (Esp), Yauhen Sobal (Blr) and Nikolai Trusov (Rus).

"Tinkoff will dispute the most important races on the UCI's European calendar," stated General Manager Stefano Feltrin at the Showroom Diadora. The team had just returned from an intense training camp in San Vincenzo, Italy.

"We have some strong riders, starting with the talented Ignatiev, who last year was often on show, the other Russian, Brutt, who has already made some huge showings, the fast Loddo, the experienced Mazzanti and Petrov, the young Riccio and the very young Trusov and Rovny."

The squad is backed by Russian Oleg Tinkov, who is promoting his line of online banks. "After a 2007 rich in satisfactions this year we have decided to further strengthen the group," said the team president. "My colleagues have put together a good group, I see the boys joking amongst themselves and this is a good sign for the team's harmony.

The team that will depart for Qatar includes Loddo, Khatuntsev, Klimov, Eskov, Serov, Trusov, Gottfried and Riccio.

For the team's full roster see the Cyclingnews Teams Database.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti

Images by Roberto Bettini/

Fraser's Hill replaces Langkawi's Genting

Kuala Lumpur, the Organizing Committee of the 2008 Tour de Langkawi, with a heavy heart but in the interest of the safety of cyclists and members of the public, have decided to shift the Genting stage for this year's tour to Fraser's Hill, another popular holiday destination in the country. The dates of the race remained unchanged, February 9 to 17.

Due to the Chinese New Year festivities during the first half of February, over 150,000 holidaymakers are expected to converge in Genting Highlands. "This is one of Genting's busiest periods and the management informed us that it would be difficult to totally close the roads all the way too the peak as is usually done," said Datuk Naim Mohamad, the Chief Operating Officer of the Le Tour de Langkawi.

"And so in the interest of everyone, we felt the right thing to do would be to shift the climb to Fraser's Hill," he said. The technical team has surveyed the route to Fraser's and has given the thumbs up.

Race route:
Stage 1: Alor Star to Kepala Batas, 182.6km
Stage 2: Butterworth to Sitiawan, 159.7km
Stage 3: Sitiawan to Banting, 209.4km
Stage 4: Port Dickson to Batu Pahat, 169km
Stage 5: Johor Bahru to Bandar Penawar, 139.9km
Stage 6: Bandar Penawar to Kuala Rompin, 182.8km
Stage 7: Kuala Rompin to Kuantan, 126.6km
Stage 8: Temerloh to Fraser's Hill, 127km
Stage 9: KL Criterium, 80.4km

Landbouwkrediet looks to Beijing

Team Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner is going into the 2008 season with five new riders and is looking forward to not only the regular races but also the Olympic games. Unfortunately, it is also on the list of teams whose sponsorship contract expires at the end of the season.

The Belgian Professional Continental Team expects to send three riders to the Olympic Games – mountain biker Filip Meirhaeghe and the two British track riders Paul Manning and Ed Clancy.

The newcomers are the Belgian riders Tom Steels, Benjamin Gourgue and Sébastien Delfosse, Dutch rider Dirk Bellemakers and Briton Ian Stannard. Steels returns to the team after three years at Lotto, and expects to end his career at Landbouwkrediet. "Tom is a great man, both as an athlete and as a person," said team manager Gerard Bulens. "The fact that he wants to end his career at our team gives me a feeling of satisfaction."

Bulens hopes that the team improves on the number of wins from the last season, but said that in 2007, he knew that "the most important objective of our sponsor was visibility," which he feels the riders provided. "We hope to also play a role in 2008. With Bert De Waele's win in the GP de Wallonne, we showed that as a team we are able to win races at the highest level with the biggest teams in the world."

The team also announced that it is continuing its co-operation with the British Cycling Federation, with Manning and Clancy joining the team for their preparations for Beijing. 20 year-old Stannard is also with the team. "I like rolling courses, but nothing to hilly," he said. "Racing in Belgium suits me, with the wind, the rain and the cobbles."

Clancy and Manning will be on the British pursuit team. "I look to win the title in Peking," Manning said, "and in this way I can do something in return for the complete staff and sponsors of Landbouwkrediet, which is an excellent team for us."

The team is also pinning its hopes in the Olympics on Meirhaeghe. "The whole team will put everything into its efforts to bring Filip in his best condition for Beijing. Filip's performance will reflect on the rest of the riders," Luc Versele, Landbouwkrediet's CEO said told the Gazet van Antwerpen.

Versele assured that his company would stay with the team throughout the season. "We will not walk away from out responsibility and will therefore certainly comply with our contract. We are a company that puts a high value on people, and we would never leave a sinking ship. We will not leave as long as Gerard and the team have no security for the future, and perhaps we will stay even after 2008."

For the team's full roster see the Cyclingnews Teams Database.

Trofeo Laigueglia with 24 teams confirmed

The 45th Trofeo Laigueglia has already confirmed 24 teams for its race, February 23. The Corsa Ligure, which recently announced its new date, will see top riders take to the hotly contested Italian classic, including past winners Filippo Pozzato, Alessandro Ballan and Danilo Di Luca.

The teams registered include Tinkoff Credit System, Liquigas, Lampre-Fondital, Rabobank, Team CSC, Bouygues Telecom, Silence-Lotto, Team Milram, Acqua Sapone-Caffè Mokambo, CSF Group Navigare, Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli, Slipstream Chipotle - H30, Barloworld, LPR Brakes, NGC Medical-OTC Industria Porte, Ceramica Flaminia Bossini, Amore & Vita-McDonald's, Top Sport Vlaanderen, Mitsubishi-Jartazi, Preti Mangimi, Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner, Cofidis, High Road, Nippo Endeka.

Russian Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff Credit Systems) will return to defend his title.

The 183.3-kilometre parcours includes two passes of the Passo del Ginestro (670m) and the Passo del Balestrino (690m). The Balestrino leaves 32 kilometres to the finish line on Via Aurelia.

Mitsubishi-Jartazi goes Estonian

The nation of Estonia is entering the professional peloton – the Professional Continental Team Mitsubishi-Jartazi presented itself as an Estonian team at its presentation Tuesday in Lochristi, Belgium. The team features 24 riders from seven different nations.

Main sponsor automaker Mitsubishi has connections to the Estonian cycling federation and co-sponsor Jartazi (sportswear) also wanted to extend to that part of the world. "It will be difficult to be as good as last year," said sport director Jef Braeckevelt. "We had no less than 18 wins [in 2007]. Now we must do without our French sprinter Dennis Flahaut, but we can make up for that with the Dutch riders Stefan van Dijk and Hans Dekkers. They must defend our colours in the mass sprints."

The team already has its first win of the season, as Maxime Vantomme won the third stage of the Tropicale Amissa Bongo Ondimba in Africa earlier this month.

"I hope that the rest of the team will live up to this performance," Braeckevelt said. He would like to win such a "prestigious" race as Dwars door Vlaanderen, GP Cerami, Dreidaagse von West-Vlaanderen or 4 Jours de Dunkerque. "I think our team has the depth to be even stronger than last year. Perhaps we will aim for 20 wins this year."

The biggest name on the team is Frank Vandenbroucke, who has a history of difficulties. "Of course I hope that he does well. Who wouldn't do that? But we must wait and see how he feels," said Braeckevelt. The 33 year-old said "My ambition for 2008 is to be competitive after rehabilitating my left knee, which is still taking up my time. I don't want to pin myself down by saying I will win this race or the other." He continued, "I have a serious hunger for competition, but I will not force myself. I hanker now to return to the 'fight.' I will never love training, but I know what I have to do for my condition."

For the team's full roster see the Cyclingnews Teams Database.

Giro di Sardegna cancelled

The 27th Giro di Sardegna is rumoured to be cancelled for 2008. The stage race on Italy's second largest island was last held in 1997 and has a list of past winners that included Gregor Braun, Roger De Vlaeminck, Eddy Merckx and Jacques Anquetil.

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