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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News, July 26, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo and Ben Abrahams

Aldag: fatigue crucial for Saturday's test

By Hedwig Kröner in Montluçon

Many riders, like Bernhard Kohl after Alpe d'Huez, are quite fatigued.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

One day prior to the ultimate time trial of this year's Tour de France, speculation abounds as to the final overall podium in Paris. With four riders within 1'34 of each other, and a fifth at 2'39, the 53-kilometre race against the clock will decide the 2008 Tour winner by only small margins.

At this point, you could start comparing the favourite's times at the first time trial of the Tour, back in Cholet. But Team Columbia's directeur sportif Rolf Aldag said that the contenders' time trial skills weren't the only factor to take into account in the last test.

"At this point, after the Alps and almost three weeks of racing, everybody is tired," said Aldag. "So the time trial will not really be about time trialling talent, but more about tiredness; about who will somehow still be a bit fresh - and currently, nobody feels fresh. So we'll see how it goes."

Asked what his guess was as to the podium in Paris, the tall German sighed and smiled. "Currently, I would think Evans wins ahead of Sastre and Menchov," he said. "But it's really hard to say - you never know. Cadel also needed to work a lot on his own here, CSC had by far the strongest team in the mountains so they could play a little bit. It's really difficult to say how much energy that took out of Cadel. Usually, you would think that Cadel is the man for 53 kilometres of time trial. Also, last year, he was really, really strong in the last time trial. So you'd assume he can handle it, and come to the conclusion that he's the favourite."

As for the team's own GC contender, Kim Kirchen, who currently sits in 11th position at 8'35 behind Carlos Sastre, Aldag said his final overall result wasn't really important to the team. "Realistically, if he can stay with the best now, he has a chance to finish in the top ten. But his final placing, to be honest, doesn't really matter - whether he finishes eighth or ninth or tenth is not important to us. A top ten finish would be great, that's all."

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Kirchen shot into the limelight in the first week of the race when he scored the green jersey of best sprinter, and then the yellow jersey of overall leader. But he lost the lead in the Pyrenees, when the other favourites unveiled their skills, and fell back even more in the Alps.

"Maybe he invested too much energy in the first week; maybe his riding was too aggressive in the beginning," Aldag continued. "On the other hand, to finish sixth while riding defensively all the time wouldn't have been spectacular, either. This way, we had the yellow and the green jersey, and he was up front in many stages. So, if he ends up tenth in Paris - or even if he has a bad day and doesn't finish in the top ten - he definitely rode a good Tour and can be satisfied with himself."

Team Columbia's strategy for the Tour de France worked out, Aldag added. "We had a grand start in the Tour; we wanted to be there everyday in the first ten days. We actually did the complete opposite to CSC. They were completely anonymous in the first ten days, and now they are completely dominating. They were very impressive in the mountains, whereas we really dug in in the first half of the race. You have to make a choice, and ours was to say we want a really good start - and I think we achieved this."

Sastre or Evans? Evans or Sastre?

Cadel Evans (Silence Lotto)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The 2008 Tour de France is reaching its exciting climax, and the dilemma exercising hearts and minds since Wednesday has been: Evans or Carlos Sastre? Cadel Evans or Carlos Sastre? Cadel Evans or Carlos Sastre? BikeRadar's features editor Daniel Friebe has polled the press and the riders of the Tour peloton and reveals who everyone thinks will come out on top of the stage 20 time trial. You can find the results of his poll at BikeRadar's blog section.

Ever analytical, we've examined the average speeds of these riders during the past three Tours which, incidentally, provide an interesting insight to the riders' ability to race under pressure. In 2006, Sastre was just 12 seconds off of yellow heading into the final test - a 57 kilometre run over slightly undulating terrain. It was hot, humid, and Sastre cracked, losing 3'31 to Floyd Landis, and 2'02 to Oscar Pereiro. Andreas Klöden knocked him off the podium for a time, but after Landis was disqualified, Sastre ended up in third overall.

Consequently, Evans wasn't in contention for the podium that year, but put in a solid final time trial, ending up eighth 1'01 faster than Sastre.

Last year it was Evans' turn to chase yellow. He came into the final time trial 1'50" down on Alberto Contador, and made up all by 23 seconds of that in a 55.5 kilometre test. On the pancake flat course, Sastre was 2'33 slower than the Australian.

Looking back at 2005 when neither rider was chasing a podium finish, both performed well on a much hillier course than they will face on Saturday. All three Tours, Evans has out-performed Sastre in the final time trials over a similar distance, and on stage four, he was 1'16" faster over only 29.5 kilometres. But never underestimate the power of the yellow jersey and the fatigue of three weeks of racing.

The chart below gives the average speeds of both riders over the past three years, and what Saturday's time gap might be if they ride the same relative speeds. Does it give any answers? You decide!


2005 km/h

over 53 km

2006 km/h

over 53 km

2007 km/h

over 53 km

2008 km/h
stage 4

over 53 km

Carlos Sastre









Cadel Evans









0:01:34 gap

Sastre wins


Sastre wins


Evans wins


Evans wins


Schumacher to try in Tour's second time trial

By Gregor Brown in Montluçon

German Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

German Stefan Schumacher, winner of the first time trial in Cholet, has said he will go all guns blazing for another victory on the roads around Saint Amand Montrond. "I am surprised I am so strong in the third week," Schumacher told Cyclingnews Friday. "I will try tomorrow, an important day. I have shown I can win big time trials - I won the first one here."

Schumacher spent two days in the maillot jaune following the time trial win in Cholet and went on the hunt for more stage wins with back-to-back breakaways in the Alps. "I wanted to win another stage. Alpe d'Huez was not so close, but the stage before to Jausiers was close and it was also close today."

His last chance to double his success is in Saint Amand Montrond. "It is not too long for me," he declared of the rolling 53-kilometre parcours. The day will also serve as preparation for Schumacher's Olympic campaign. "The next important one is in Beijing - I will race the time trial and the road race."

Team management has not yet found a replacement sponsor for Gerolsteiner, but Schumacher believes there will be someone to fill the place of the German mineral water company. "I am really optimistic the team will go on. We had a great Tour and everyone has done his best - it gives me a good feeling."

Cancellara re-ups for three years at Saxo Bank

Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC)
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

Time trial world champion Fabian Cancellara has renewed his contract with the CSC-Saxo Bank team for three years, the team announced Friday. The Swiss rider was rumoured to have been offered twice as much to join Oleg Tinkov's new Katusha squad, but turned it down to stay with the team of Bjarne Riis.

"It means a lot to me that my future is secure with Team CSC Saxo Bank. This is where I belong and where I can reach my potential in the best possible way," Cancellara said. "When I reflect on the way I've evolved since joining the team and the things I've been through and everything the team and Bjarne have done for me, I'm totally convinced that I can be even better yet. I look forward to the next three years with my team-mates and the results we're going to achieve together."

Manager Bjarne Riis was happy that Cancellara re-signed. "Fabian is without question one of the best riders in the entire world and has been a part of some of the greatest results in the history of this team." Cancellara not only won the world championships twice while riding for the team, he also scored wins in major races like Paris-Roubaix, Milano-Sanremo as well as two stages of the 2007 Tour de France and a seven day stint in the yellow jersey.

Astana sacks Gusev for "irregular values"

Vladimir Gusev
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The Astana Cycling Team announced Friday that it has terminated its contract with Russian Vladimir Gusev as a result of "irregular values" detected by its internal anti-doping program run by Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard. The team's general manager Johan Bruyneel confirmed the news in a statement, although stopped short of saying that Gusev had doped.

"Though his results do not indicate the use of forbidden substances, Vladimir's values exceeded the normal parameters established by Dr. Damsgaard and were not compliant with the strict agreement signed by all thirty riders," Bruyneel said.

"Vladimir Gusev has been officially notified that he no longer represents Team Astana," Bruyneel said. "Our Kazakh sponsors have also been made aware of this decision and are fully supportive."

Gusev, 26, the now former team-mate of 2007 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador, came over to the Discovery Channel team from Team CSC in 2006. He followed Bruyneel from that team to Astana this year. A four-time Russian time trial champion, Gusev was considered to be a Classics specialist, finishing fifth in the 2007 Tour of Flanders. But he stunned the cycling world by taking a mountain stage win and the climber's jersey at the Tour de Suisse that year.

Gusev also wore the jersey of best young rider in the 2007 Tour after the prologue, and later won the Tour of Belgium.

"It's impossible for any team manager to know the activities of riders behind closed doors," Bruyneel said, "but we continue to enforce that Team Astana has a 100% no tolerance policy and any violators will serve the same fate as Vladimir. On a brighter note, this proves that Dr. Damsgaard's system works and we are committed to racing clean."

The Astana team adopted the anti-doping system of Damsgaard under Bruyneel as part of its effort to shake off the doping positives of Alexander Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin and Matthias Kessler, as well as the involvement of Eddy Mazzoleni in the 'Oil for Drugs' affair in Italy. The program is similar to that used by the CSC-Saxo Bank team.

"Certainly these situations are unfortunate," said Damsgaard, "but I truly believe that we are continuing to see a cleaner sport with a large majority of credible riders. Teams like Astana and CSC-Saxo Bank have shown their full commitment to my program and I, in return, have committed all my resources to their firm anti-doping stance."

Gusev is the third rider to be fired from a ProTour team for irregular blood values in the past two years. Igor Astarloa was sacked from Team Milram earlier this year, and Serhiy Honchar was let go from the T-Mobile team last year.

Sastre added to Spanish Olympics squad

Carlos Sastre, the CSC-Saxo Bank rider currently leading the Tour de France with two days to go, has been added to the Spanish Olympic cycling team, the Spanish cycling federation announced Friday. National selector Paco Antequera, finalised the team for the Beijing Games road race. Sastre will join Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Alberto Contador (Astana), the winner of this year's Giro d'Italia and the 2007 Tour de France.

Sastre takes the place of Oscar Pereiro, who crashed out of the Tour on stage 15 and had to undergo surgery for a broken arm.

For the time trial, Spain will be represented by Sanchez and Contador. Quick Step's Carlos Barredo was named as a reserve to replace Freire, Valverde or Sastre, while Caisse d'Epargne's Ivan Gutierrez would stand in for Sanchez or Contador.

Gianetti beefs up Scott, fights Saunier Duval withdrawal

Mauro Gianetti, the manager of the former Saunier Duval team announced Friday that the team had added a new title sponsor. In addition to Scott, the team added American Beef as co-title sponsor. The team also announced it would challenge the decision of former sponsor Saunier Duval to withdraw its sponsorship following the doping case of Italian Riccardo Riccò at the Tour de France.

"The team protested through its lawyers, [the] motives invoked by Saunier Duval to break the contract of sponsorship," Gianetti wrote in the statement which was co-signed by directeur sportif Joxean Matxin Fernandez.

According to the statement, Saunier Duval has been looking to pull out of cycling even before the Tour de France because of "the adoption of new commercial strategies". "We can not disclaim the fact that they took the opportunity of one of their riders' suspension to adopt this decision which was already carefully planned."

Saunier Duval was the sponsor of Gianetti's team beginning in 2004, but ended the relationship after Riccardo Riccò tested positive in the Tour, and the team withdrew from the race and fired Riccò and his compatriot Leonardo Piepoli for a "violation of the code of ethics."

The team temporarily suspended its racing activities, but will return to competition at the August 2nd Classic of San Sebastian. The team has also asked Unipublic, organizers of the Vuelta, a chance to regain its invitation to the Spanish tour.

Rasmussen to appeal Rabobank settlement

Michael Rasmussen will appeal the ruling by a Dutch court which decided that his former Rabobank team owed him 665,000 euros in contract fees and interest. The Dane sued his team for wrongful dismissal after being fired from the squad during the 2007 Tour de France.

The Danish news agency Ritzau reported that Rasmussen intends to challenge the decision, which was well below the 5.4 million euros he had asked for in the suit.

Rasmussen was leading the Tour de France when Rabobank pulled him off the race and fired him for lying about his whereabouts for UCI anti-doping controls. He told the authorities he was in Mexico last June, when he was actually in Italy and France. While he admitted to lying on his declarations, Rasmussen claimed the team knew where he was all along.

The Dane was leading the Tour and was a near certainty to win when he was fired for telling the International Cycling Union (UCI) he was in Mexico before the race when he was actually in Italy and France. He has admitted lying about his whereabouts to the UCI, but insists his team knew where he was.  

Poor conditions halt MTB World Cup opener

By Sue George with additional reporting by Dave McElwaine in Mont-Sainte-Anne

The sun was out and shining brightly Friday evening over the Mont-Sainte-Anne, Québec, venue hosting this weekend's round of the cross country and gravity mountain bike UCI World Cup, but it wasn't in time to prevent the 4X qualifications from being cancelled for the evening.

Heavy storms, especially this week, took a toll on the 4X course, with deep ruts and mud holes making the course unsafe for racing. Organizers decided to postpone the qualifications and are attempting repairs to the course.

Revised, tentative plans are for both the 4X qualifications and the finals to be run Saturday, instead of just the finals. Officials will have some tight scheduling; the 4X and downhill courses cross and thus, both events cannot be run simultaneously. In addition, with the downhill semi-finals and finals also set for Saturday, riders who are signed up to compete in both events will have an especially busy day.

Reports of the cross country and downhill courses are coming back muddy, too, with plenty of ruts and wet roots and some water running down the course. The forecast for the remainder of the weekend includes temperatures in the mid 20s (degrees Celsius) and a mix of clouds and sun with showers possible at times.

In related news, gravity racer Joanna Petterson crashed during training on the downhill course and suffered a concussion and a broken arm, which will leave her out of this weekend's racing.

Your chance to win in the Cyclingnews-Felt TdF competition!

You can win this!
Photo ©: Felt
(Go to the competition page)

Here's your chance to win some great prizes while the 2008 Tour de France is underway, featuring a prize roster of kit that is being tested in the world's greatest bike race by some of the world's leading cyclists.

Our lead prize is the 2009 model Felt AR road frame, currently being ridden in the Tour de France by members of the Garmin-Chiplotle professional cycling team, as well as supplementary prizes from Craft - manufacturer of team clothing to CSC-Saxo - and eyewear from BBB, supplier to Team Barloworld.

The US-based Felt Bicycles is becoming one of the world's leading bicycle manufacturers, with its bikes now being raced by the USA's Garmin-Chipotle in the 2008 Tour de France. The team are riding the 2009 model Felt AR, which combines Felt's expertise in time trial and track bike technology, while maintaining the necessary ride and handling characteristics of premium road bikes.

But wait! There's more. All entrants in the Cyclingnews-Felt 2008 TdF competition will also go into the draw to win great supplementary prizes from our friends at Craft and BBB. Cyclingnews also has four 2008 model Team CSC jerseys, designed and made by Craft, one of the world's leading technical clothing manufacturers, as well as 10 sets of BBB's BSG-29 Attacker eyewear, the exact eyewear used by riders from Team Barloworld in this year's TdF.

Our thanks to our friends at Felt, Craft and BBB for providing such awesome prizes. Hurry and enter now to be in the draw. Good luck!

Stage video highlights and podcasts

Just can't get enough of the Tour? Well fear not because Cyclingnews has expanded its coverage once again this year to bring you video highlights of every stage plus daily podcasts courtesy of and Procycling magazine.

Our video comes directly from Tour de France owners Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), and will be online shortly after the finish of each stage. We've also got highlights from classic Tours of the past so click here to see the full archive.

Check out the podcasts page in our Tour de France section for a full round-up of news and views from the Tour.

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