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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, January 28, 2008

Edited by Gregor Brown

Millar pleased with team's effort

By Shane Stokes in Doha, Qatar

David Millar please with his USA team in Qatar
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

Team Slipstream Chipotle went within two seconds of taking the win on Sunday's opening stage of the Tour of Qatar. The burgeoning squad finished just behind Quick Step in the eight-kilometre test held in the country's capital of Doha, and will be motivated to chase the race lead today.

"We are really happy," said David Millar to Cyclingnews on Sunday evening. "The team rode really well. We were well disciplined, very smooth. Crossing the line, everybody had got everything out so we have got no regrets or nothing to reproach ourselves for. It is a good start.

"This is our first race together; this is the first time any of us have raced on the same team together. I think this is a result that we can be more than satisfied with. It bodes well."

Aside from psyching those riders at the race, the showing also has a motivating effect on everyone connected with the Slipstream Chipotle team.

"The management is really happy," Millar said. "I sent a message to Doug Ellis... he was very pleased as he has obviously been very nervous. He said he will be able to sleep well tonight, knowing we are on the right way. I spoke to the other guys at the training camp in Silver City and the result has given them all a morale boost. It is good on all fronts, everybody is very happy."

He said that he hadn't yet had a reaction from race organisers ASO, who are tipped to give Slipstream Chipotle a wildcard to the Tour de France. "I haven't bumped into Christian [Prudhomme] since the ride, but I am sure that they would have liked us to have won. It would be good for them [as the team was an invited wildcard]."

Millar and the rest of the team head into Monday's 137.5-kilometre second stage well within striking distance of the race lead. The stage runs from Al Zubarah to the Doha Golf Club and offers three-, two- and one-second time bonuses at the two intermediate sprints, as well as 10, six and four at the finish.

He said that they will leave it all to the final sprint. "Tomorrow we are just going to be going for the finish... the intermediate sprints don't interest us so much. It is Julian Dean's birthday, and we will be all working for him. We are going to put all our eggs in one basket and help him at the finish.

"We are going to try our lead-out train because again that is something that we have never done before, except in training. We get to do it a race situation, so it is quite exciting really."

Dean is a known fast finisher and so it is likely that he will be the team's GC rider for the rest of the race. However Chris Sutton is also quick and so he could also come into play.

"I think our two guys will be Julian and CJ [Sutton]," he stated. "They are both in good form... CJ is going very well. So this is going to be a good experience. I think that neither of them has experienced a full-gas lead-out train before, so I think this is going to be a good opportunity for them to show their true colours."

Whatever happens, this race also plays an important part in helping the team gel, get to know each other and to develop competitively. "To be honest, the next five days are going to be experimentation for us, learning how each of us race, where our strong points lie, and getting the lead-out train going. We will be trying different things all week as a result. We will do the lead-out train tomorrow [Monday], we might try something else out the next day. It is great race training as such; we are looking forward to it."

Dean aims for yellow

By Shane Stokes in Doha, Qatar

As David Millar suggested, Slipstream Chipotle team-mate Julian Dean will be aiming to take the race lead from Quick Step's Matteo Tosatto on Monday. The New Zealander is a fast finisher and told Cyclingnews after the team time trial that he will give it a shot.

"I've been doing a lot of travelling lately, going from New Zealand to Europe and then to here," he stated. "But despite that, my legs felt surprisingly good today. If they are the same tomorrow I will definitely give it a go."

Some were surprised that the USA team went so close to victory yesterday. He was not, and indeed was hoping for more than second place.

"We really believed [beforehand] that we could win today," he stated. "We came in fully prepared to try to win, knowing that a top three was achievable.

"It is a great start because we showed that we are up there with the top teams. At this time of the year, Quick Step is always the best team in the world. Everybody there is focussed on the Classics. But today we showed that we can be right up there."

He and the rest of the team will be doing their utmost on stage two to start the Argyle revolution.

Quick Step predicted Tosatto as winner

By Susan Westemeyer

Race leader Matteo Tosatto
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Quick Step predicted before the first stage of the Tour of Qatar that Matteo Tosatto would be the winner – and it was right. "Just one hour before the start, Tom [Boonen] and Wilfried Peeters, our sports director, told me that I would be the first to cross the finish line," the happy winner said.

"It's true," said Peeters, who was pleased that the helper had won stage one. "Matteo is highly self-sacrificing, and has often put aside his personal ambitions to help others. This is the perfect reward for his earnestness."

It was not the Italian's first leader's jersey, though. He wore the pink jersey in the Giro d'Italia for three days in 2000 when he rode for Fassa Bortolo. "I'm totally satisfied," he said. "I'm almost 34 years old and I'm still enjoying myself immensely doing this job. I try to take it seriously and I'm beginning to see my sacrifices paying off. I hope this is just the beginning of the satisfactions for myself and for the team."

Enrico Gasparotto: Growing up

Enrico Gasparotto in Toscana during the team's training camp, where he talked to Cyclingnews
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Enrico Gasparotto – maglia rosa for two days the 2007 Giro d'Italia – faces some growing up in 2008 as graduates to a team where he will have more responsibility than he was given at Liquigas. Gregor Brown of Cyclingnews discovered that the 25-year-old Italian thinks the family-feel of Team Barloworld will give him the faith he needs as he tries to meet his season's goals.

The blonde-haired rider from Italy's northeast region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia burst into the limelight of cycling as a neo-professional when he won the Italian Championships in 2005. As only one of five first year professional to wear his country's famed maglia tricolore the fame could have gone to his head, instead 'Gaspa' kept his cool and played a perfect domestique role for his Liquigas team-mates while selecting his moments to shine.

Though winless in 2007, he gained confidence with a successful spring and his stint in the leader's jersey of the Giro while helping Danilo Di Luca claim the final overall victory. He crossed the line first in the opening team trial stage thanks to the hard work of the entire Team Liquigas and was able to wear leader's jersey. After losing the jersey the following day to team-mate Di Luca, he took it back a final time on stage three.

Gasparotto took a major step at the end of the season – switching teams and making the decision to finally move from his family's home and into his own apartment. Switching teams for the first time since turning professional in 2005, he left the team of Roberto Amadio and the acid-green colours of Liquigas, deciding it was a time for a change. He talked to Claudio Corti, and in November decided to sign a one-year contract for the Professional Continental team registered in Great Britain and backed by a South African sponsor.

Speaking from the team's training camp in Marina di Bibbona (Toscana), he described the new team atmosphere. "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 [Baden] Cooke, [Robert] Hunter and [Mauricio] Soler, and really, we don't lack anything. In fact, it is more of a small family atmosphere."

Read the full interview.

First-ever conference empowers women's cycling

By Sue George in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Retired elite women Alison Dunlap and Sarah Uhl at the first-ever conference empowers women's cycling
Photo ©: Sue George
(Click for larger image)

The first-ever Women's Cycling Leadership Conference hosted by USA Cycling at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, wrapped up yesterday evening. The conference aimed to empower and educate experienced and novice female leaders within the community of women's cycling.

32 attendees, including current and past racers, coaches, mentors and those involved in managing and promoting women's cycling from all over the United States convened to share ideas on women's cycling from the grass roots through the elite levels.

"We did it in part because of the research I've been doing," said Kristen Dieffenbach assistant professor of athlete coaching education at the West Virginia University. She co-hosted the conference with USA Cycling Coaching Education Manager Sam Callan.

"There's a discrepancy between the number of women participating and the number of women in leadership positions. It's not that the men aren't doing a good job. It's just our sport and we should be at the front of it."

The issue of leadership by women for women is not limited to cycling. Dieffenbach pointed to a study of the [US] National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), in which 90 percent of the coaches of its women's sports were women in 1970. By 2006, only 43% of the coaches of women's sports were women. Plenty of reasons have been cited for the changes, but no one really knows for sure what is causing the trend.

"At the [USA Cycling] summit in 2006, I saw a need," said Dieffenbach about how this conference came about. "We're strong people – we women involved in cycling leadership, but we're isolated. We want to increase the connection. This [conference] was a good fit given how women socialize."

Over the course of two days, presenters covered topics like sports nutrition, eating disorders, the female athlete triad, successes and failures within women-oriented grassroots and elite racing programmes, how to survive coaching, and training considerations for pregnant women and moms.

Retired former World Champion and two-time Olympian Alison Dunlap headed up an elite athlete panel that also included the recently retired Sarah Uhl, a former junior world track sprint champion and multi-time elite national track champion and Lindsey Bishop, an up and coming mountain bike racer who won the expert women's US National Championship last summer. The experienced athletes answered questions from attendees and shared their personal experiences on both ends of the spectrum of being coached and mentored.

After the conference, which Dieffenbach called a success, she said, "We need to do more. There is a lot of energy."

"This work [at the conference] isn't [Olympic] medal-winning based, but we can support USAC by what we do at the grassroots level. We need people to invest in grassroots and we need to empower them to do it and to show them that it matters." Attendees left the conference with new ideas about what to take back to their local communities to promote the growth of women's cycling."

According to Dieffenbach, just 12 percent of the current USAC membership is female, and the national governing body has never had more than 16 percent female participation. Given the motivation and energy of the women attending the conference, the potential for engaging more women in the world of cycling only looks brighter.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Sue George / Cyclingnews

Vannoppen can look for another new team

By Susan Westemeyer

Tom Vannoppen can start looking for a new team. After his positive test for cocaine was announced, AVB Team Manager Hans van Kasteren said that the rider would be released as of March 1.

The manager had hoped to speak with Vannoppen during the Cyclo-cross World Championships in Treviso over the weekend, but that didn't work out. "I heard that he knows how to have a good time," van Kasteren told Het Nieuwsblad. "Maybe he has too good a time and does not behave as a sportsman. Apparently he hasn't learned his lesson yet."

The 29 year-old was let go by Team Sunweb in December, and after a party following his dismissal, he tested positive for cocaine.

Algarve to be one for the sprinters

By Susan Westemeyer

The Volta ao Algarve is expecting to be a sprinter's festival again this year. While defending champion Alessandro Petacchi of Team Milram, who took the overall win in 2007 with three stage wins, will not be returning, most of the top sprinters will be there. In fact, the race boasts that ten of the last 12 winners of the Tour de France's green sprinter's jersey will be battling in Portugal next month.

Robbie McEwen (Silence-Lotto) and Erik Zabel (Milram) are the biggest names, but they will be joined by younger sprinters Gert Steegmans (Quick Step), Sébastien Chavanel (Française des Jeux) and Tomas Vaitkus (Astana), plus Bernhard Eisel (High Road), who last year won a stage and wore the leader's jersey for a day. Also trying their luck will be veteran sprinters Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner), René Haselbacher (Astana) and Robert Hunter and Baden Cooke (both Barloworld).

The Volta ao Algarve runs February 20 to 24. It will feature eight ProTour teams, six Professional Continental and seven Continental.

ProTour teams: Astana, Cofidis, Française des Jeux, Gerolsteiner, High Road, Quick Step, Silence-Lotto and Milram.

Professional Continental teams: Benfica, Cycle Collstrop, Mitsubishi-Jartazi, PSK-Whirlpool-Author, Barloworld and Topsport Vlaanderen.

Continental teams: Barbot-Siper, Centro de Ciclismo de Loulé, Fercase-Rota dos Moveis, LA-MSS-Póvoa, Liberty Seguros, Madeinox-Boavista, Palmeiras Resort-Tavira and Rabobank Continental.

Karpin Galicia ready for racing

By Antonio J. Salmerón

The Karpin Galicia training camp concluded with an overall feeling of satisfaction. The checks will come soon enough as the Spanish Professional Continental squad – directed by Alvaro Pino and led by Ezequiel Mosquera (fifth in the 2007 Vuelta a España) – start racing in early-February on two fronts: Tour de Langkawi, 9 to 16, and the Challenge de Mallorca, 10 to 14.

Pino talked about the work done during those nine training days in the region of Minho Baixo (in southwest Galicia). "The training sessions were divided into two groups; one of ten riders, who will start the season stronger, and the other one with those who are going to ride a little slower initially. The first group focused its training in the mountain, so that it carried out a more specific and intense work than the other one," he explained to Cyclingnews.

The riders' attitude was greatly appreciated by Pino. "Their attitude has been really very positive, especially when compared with last year."

Alvaro Pino also referred to Carlos Castaño, David Herrero and David Garcia, "because they should play an important role in the 2008 Karpin Galicia team." However, he was very hopeful with Juan Francisco Mouron Doldan and Serafín Martínez, "who have shown an excellent adaptation to the upper ranks, as well as [Gonzalo] Rabuñal and [David] Abad." We must not forget that the latter remains the youngest rider in our team."

Tinkoff returns to Langkawi with Brutt

Pavel Brutt after winning a stage in the 2007 edition
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Team Tinkoff Credit Systems will return to the Tour de Langkawi, February 9 to 17, with the aim to be amongst the front-runners for the overall crown. The Italy-based team will arrive with Russian Pavel Brutt, who won a stage in last year's race.

"It was a dream start of the year," reflected the 25 year-old. "The victory, my first one for the new team and actually the very first one of the team on the whole, was naturally a great inspiration. The race gave a good basis to dwell on, and had a very positive effect on the first half of the season, including the Giro [d'Italia].

"All in all, it goes well with my physique to start racing early on, in exotic locations on top of that. In my junior years I regularly raced in winter somewhere as far as Latin America."

Pavel Brutt will be joined by Sergey Klimov, Nikolai Trusov (Russia), Yauhen Sobal (Belarus), Walter Pedraza (Colombian) and Alberto Loddo (Italy), with Team Manager Claudio Cozzi.

The team also includes five-stage winner Alberto Loddo, who was signed in the off-season. The Italian sprinter will be backed this time around by a promising 22 year-old Russian sprinter Nikolai Trusov, who also rode last year's edition.

"The race was excellently organised and it was top level in every respect. Not a single detail got overlooked. Suffice to say, we were given a week to get adapted to heat and a new time zone. The Tour de Langkawi left the sensation of great discovery, fantastic days spent in a country so different from all I had visited before," continued Brutt.

Having made their maiden appearance in the Giro d'Italia last year, Tinkoff is chasing the world's biggest race – the Tour de France. "The Tour de France is a lifetime dream of our team boss Oleg Tinkov, and the dream is shared by all the riders and staff members. But at the same time it's a strategic goal which takes a serious foundation to base on. At the moment we are in the process of building this foundation."

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