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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News, July 29, 2008

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Valverde's busy programme

By Antonio J. Salmerón in Paris

Alejandro Valverde signs autographs
Photo ©: Antonio J. Salmerón
(Click for larger image)

Alejandro Valverde started the Tour de France convinced that he could be on the podium in Paris. But after cracking in the Pyrenees, he managed only ninth, 7'12 down on the winner, Carlos Sastre. The two will meet again at the Vuelta a España (August 30-September 21). Before that, both riders will head to the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Valverde was getting ready for the lap of honour that each team gets to enjoy on the Champs-Elysées, when he summed up his Tour for Cyclingnews. "After three weeks I have demonstrated that I am capable of fighting with the best. But I had a bad day on the Tourmalet and a crash, from which I managed to recover... although I am not sure how far I could have gone without it," he said. Valverde made no secret about the fact that he prefers the Alps over the Pyrenees. The longer, more gradual climbs are his preferred terrain.

If Valverde expects to win a Grand Tour, he will have to improve his time trialling abilities. "In Cholet I lost more time than I would have expected. But it was a course for the specialists who can push the big ring. I am not like that, although I have improved. I also wasn't good in the penultimate stage. Maybe because I wasn't competing for the podium, I was lacking a bit of motivation."

Despite the setbacks, Valverde was satisfied with his Tour. "I got the first victory that was so important to our team, because of the sponsorships. This triumph encouraged us a lot, especially with having the yellow jersey. We tried another time, in Super Besse. But after the great work from my team-mates we couldn't pull it off." Valverde was really impressed with his Caisse d'Epargne squad this year. "The team was very consistent the entire Tour, especially taking into account the abandoning of Oscar Pereiro."

The Caisse d'Epargne captain was not only happy for his own success. "I was really happy about the victory of my compatriot and friend Luis León Sánchez, and – why not – for Oscar Freire and Carlos Sastre. There were others on the team that came close to victory, like David Arroyo." Arroyo finished third in stage 16.

On Sunday, Valverde will travel to Beijing, together with the Spanish team. It is comprised of Oscar Freire, Samuel Sánchez, Carlos Sastre and Alberto Contador. "I barely have time to rest and enjoy hanging out with my family. But I have an appointment to fulfil a dream – to be in the Olympics. I can't make predictions for the road race, but we have a very competitive team."

His busy fall programme then sees him racing his home Tour. "Yes, I will be in the Vuelta a España, but only to go for stage wins, not the overall. That will be up to riders like Contador, Sastre, Samuel Sánchez... and others who have really prepared for this race."

Teams' reviews of the 95th Tour de France

All 20 teams went into the Tour de France with great hopes. Some planned to win the Tour, others went for stage wins, and others were hoping merely to gain as much exposure as possible. How did they do? CSC-Saxo Bank and Columbia dominated the race in various ways, while other teams did little more than put in their daily kilometres. Cyclingnews' Susan Westemeyer takes a look back at the first ten teams' performances, in order of their start numbers.


Cadel Evans was the big favourite
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The Belgian team was hoping to win the Tour with Australian Cadel Evans, but a weak team wasn't able to provide enough support for him in the mountains, and his nerves apparently let him down in the stage 20 time trial, when he had the opportunity to make up the 1'34 on leader Carlos Sastre. Still, he managed to repeat his second place from 2007, which is nothing to be ashamed of. He had planned on the help of Yaroslav Popovych in the mountains, but the Ukranian proved he wasn't up to the task, losing nearly 16 minutes on the 10th stage run up to Hautacam. Silence-Lotto's other iron in the fire, sprinter Robbie McEwen, had to get along without any helpers in the sprint, and it showed. The little Australian managed only two top ten finishes, coming in second in the 13th stage and fourth in the final stage. Overall it's hard to see their Tour as a success. If Cadel had taken yellow and had his Lotto team led the bunch into Paris on Sunday, it would have been the first time we'd seen them on the front of the bunch. That says it all really.

Mark out of ten: 6/10

CSC-Saxo Bank

Two stage wins, the best young rider, winning the team's classification, six days in the yellow jersey and the overall winner, nearly everything went right for the Danish team. Kurt-Asle Arvesen kicking things off with a surprise win in the 11th stage Fränk Schleck took over the yellow jersey after the 15th stage but only held on to it for two days, handing it over to team-mate Carlos Sastre, who blasted his way up L'Alpe d'Huez in a day which many conceded to be a stunning example of Bjarne Riis' master tactics. The Spaniard held on to the jersey and turned in an exceptionally strong time trial to arrive in Paris in yellow. Andy Schleck won the best young rider jersey, and CSC-Saxo Bank was one of only three teams to arrive in Paris with a complete nine-man squad. On the negative side Fränk Schleck turned in a remarkably weak closing time trial, and escape artist Jens Voigt didn't do his breakaway tricks this year. With key riders like Sastre still without a contract for next year, the only question is whether they can keep their strongest riders together.


Read all about the first ten teams.

McEwen leaving Silence-Lotto in 2009

Robbie McEwen will leave Silence-Lotto
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

Robbie McEwen of Silence-Lotto didn't win a single stage at this year's Tour de France. This was partially down to the fact that he had little to no support from his team, and this may have something to do with the fact that he has announced he is leaving the Belgian team at the end of the year. In fact, he said, he already has a new team lined-up.

"I've signed with a new team for next year but I'll wait until later in the year to make any announcements about what I'm doing and let the new team announce it," McEwen said, according to The Australian News. " According to the newspaper, it is the new Russian team Katusha, which is the follow-up team to Tinkoff.

The little Australian was disappointed that he didn't win anything at the Tour this year. "That's what I came here to do, but the team was a whole different set up," he said. "It's been a difficult Tour for me because riding the sprints on your own is very, very hard when you've got to try and do the job of three guys alone. But that's something I knew coming into the Tour."

Tinkoff was financed by Russian Oleg Tinkoff. Signings for the new squad include Italian Filippo Pozzato as well as Belgians Gert Steegmans and Kenny Dehaes (SW)

Garmin main sponsor of Deutschland Tour

Garmin has become the official main sponsor of the Deutschland Tour. Garmin will also sponsor the sprints competition in the week-long race (August 30- September 6). The mobile navigation specialist already took over the main sponsorship of Team Slipstream earlier this year.

Deutschland Tour organiser Kai Rapp was delighted to be able to announce the news. "We are happy that with Garmin we found a partner that fits strategically to our tour. It is also an important sign for cycling in general. It shows that engaging in this sport here in Germany is attractive and makes sense." Especially Hans-Michael Holczer, who has not found a sponsor yet for his Gerolsteiner team, will hope Rapp's words find some sponsor's ears.

Garmin itself hopes to increase awareness of its products in the German market. Tom Mühlmann, Garmin's Marketing Communications manager for Germany, said, "The Deutschland Tour is the most important cycling event in this country. In our quest to find a partner with whom we can make our products – in sports as well as in street navigation – we found an event that relates directly to our products."

Garmin will sponsor the 21 sprints that are at stake in the 2008 Deutschland Tour. The jersey and the sprints will feature the Garmin lettering.

Garmin was founded in 1989 by Gary Burrell and Dr. Min Kao. It has currently 9,000 employees. Garmin manufactures devices for mobile navigation. The German headquarters are near Munich.

UCI says Dekker's blood values ok

Thomas Dekker has released to Cyclingnews the letter he received from the UCI confirming his right to ride.

The letter, which was sent by e-mail and signed by UCI doctor Dr. Mario Zorzoli, said, "This is to confirm that all tests results of 2008 that are known to UCI show that the blood values of Thomas Dekker ... did not exceed any limits which would have required the imposition of a declaration of incapability under UCI's current regulations."

This week a Dutch newspaper published allegations that Dekker was on the verge of leaving Team Rabobank and that he had shown "irregular blood values". The Dutch youngster denied the charge.(SW)

Future for Gerolsteiner?

Gerolsteiner Manager Hans-Michael Holczer still hopes to attract a new sponsor
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

The Tour de France is over, and it is time for members of the Gerolsteiner team to consider their future. While Tour stars Bernhard Kohl and Stefan Schumacher already have offers in hand, team manager Hans-Michael Holczer is still scrambling to find a new sponsor for the team.

Kohl, who finished a surprising third overall and won the King of the Mountains jersey, would rather stay with the current team, if possible. "The Gerolsteiner team is my first discussion partner," he told the Austrian website His attorney, Siegfried Fröhlich, confirmed that, but noted that "It would have to be clear that in the future Kohl would be the team captain."

Fröhlich knows, of course, that Kohl's future is dependent on a new team sponsor. "We want to wait and see how it goes with Gerolsteiner. Something must happen by the Olympic road race." Otherwise, he doesn't really see any problem finding his client a new team. "There are five teams with which it would be worthwhile to negotiate."

Team-mate and double stage winner Schumacher is also expected to have little difficulty finding a team.

Meanwhile, team manager Holczer hopes to have a sponsor lined up this week before he flies to Beijing to accompany the German Olympic team. "I hope to have results by Friday, otherwise it will be hard," he told the German press agency sid. "If I want to keep this great team together, we need a quick decision." (SW)

Gerolsteiner for Denmark

Sven Krauss is going directly from the Tour de France to the Tour of Denmark. He will be one of the Gerolsteiner youngsters taking on the 888.1 kilometres around the Scandinavian country. The team will be led by Swiss national champion Markus Zberg.

Despite, or maybe because of the sponsorship situation, the team will likely be very motivated to continue its run from the Tour de France, in which the team had a lot of success.

Gerolsteiner for Denmark: Thomas Fothen, Johannes Fröhlinger, Oscar Gatto, Sven Krauss, Tom Stamsnijder, Carlo Westphal and Markus Zberg. (SW)

Sydney crash driver misses court - again

By John Stevenson,

The driver accused of causing a multiple-bike crash in Sydney, Australia has again failed to turn up to court to defend himself against charges arising from the May 8 incident, according to The Australian.

Thirty-four-year-old Hassan Bakr was due to appear on Tuesday but on Monday sent Waverley Local Court a note saying that he would not be attending and nor would his lawyer.

Bakr was initially charged with not supplying particulars, but charges were recently added of negligent driving, cutting in front of a vehicle and travelling in a transit lane.

In his note to the court, Bakr asked to enter a plea of not guilty to all charges.

He was due to face court last month, but failed to attend, claiming mechanical problems with his car prevented him from getting to Sydney from the country town of Albury, over 500km to the south-west.

On May 8 Bakr is alleged to have stopped suddenly in front of a group of about riders including top track rider Ben Kersten and Kate Nichols, a survivor of the 2005 crash that killed Australian team rider Amy Gillett. Kersten was injured in the ensuing crash.

Eyewitnesses described the driver's actions as intentional.

(Editorial assistance and research provided by Susan Westemeyer)

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