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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, June 4, 2008

Edited by Gregor Brown

Contador keeps Kazakh flags waving

Spain's Alberto Contador, 25, after winning the 91st Giro d'Italia
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Following a press meeting yesterday in Pinto, Spain, Spaniard Alberto Contador is looking forward to returning to vacation. The 25 year-old had been drafted to contest the Giro d'Italia while on vacation with his girlfriend and went on to win the three-week race ahead of Italy's Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Scott). Due to Team Astana's non-invite to the Tour de France, Contador will have most of July free.

"Honestly, I did not expect it any more," Contador declared on the situation between the Tour de France organiser, ASO, and Team Astana. "I only have the impression that they are punishing themselves and the cycling fans."

Contador emphasised that it was also important to recognise the people who have enabled him to accomplish this dream. "The country of Kazakhstan and the officials believed in this team and I am honoured to have the name "Astana," the symbol of Kazakhstan, on the winning Giro d'Italia jersey. It made me happy to see Kazakh flags in the streets of Milano. This is nice as well for the festivities around the 10th anniversary of the city of Astana."

Belgian Johan Bruyneel, who gained his eleventh career Grand Tour title in his first year as the Team's General Manager, stated that the Giro d'Italia was a significant victory for the Kazakh nation. "It is the mission of this team to foster national pride and I believe that the Giro d'Italia victory and the team's 2008 successes are major milestones for the country. All Kazakhs should be filled with pride knowing they have the best stage racing team in the world. This team is extremely motivated to win and will continue to represent Kazakhstan with class.

"I was touched as well by the support we got from fans from all over the world, many coming from Kazakhstan. The people there followed us. Kazakh television came to the Giro. The popularity of the sport will continue to grow there, and wasn't that the big purpose of the sponsoring initiative of Minister Danial Akhmetov? When cycling sport in Kazakhstan continues to evolve like it does now, the Kazakh Cycling Federation and country President Nursultan Nazarbayev may maybe dream of a future Kazakh big Tour winner."

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Kazakh political and cycling dignitaries honoured Contador Sunday evening in Milano, following the final stage. One day later, he was warmly welcomed back to his hometown of Madrid, Spain. Greeted by a few hundred fans at Madrid's Barajas Airport, Contador preceded to the Real Casa de Correos de la Puerta del Sol, where he was honoured by Madrid's Mayor Esperanza Aguirre. In front of 2000 Contador supporters and cycling fans, Mayor Aguirre praised the rider for capturing the race overall win and recognised him as a champion of fair play and clean cycling. He was later paraded in a convertible automobile to his Pinto neighbourhood, where he was embraced by local supporters wearing pink shirts with the message, 'Pinto con Alberto Contador. Gracias Campeón.'

High Road's successful Giro

USA Team High Road goes 1-2 in stage 17; it closed out the Giro d'Italia with four stage wins.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Team High Road was not at first invited to the Giro d'Italia, with the apparent reason being that it was only planning to use the Giro as preparation for the Tour de France. But in the end, the team won four stages, one of three teams to accomplish that feat. Young sprinter Mark Cavendish finally won his first – and second – Grand Tour stage, out-sprinting none other than maglia ciclamino Daniele Bennati (stage four and stage 13). The team also took another sprint, when Cavendish's lead-out man André Greipel shot across the finish line while Cavendish held Bennati back in stage 17.

That wasn't even High Road's only one-two finish. In the closing time trial, Italian National Time Trial Champion Marco Pinotti beat his young team-mate Tony Martin by seven seconds, with Bradley Wiggins just missing an all-High-Road podium by finishing fourth.

Cyclingnews diarist Adam Hansen also put his stamp on the Giro d'Italia. After having to leave the 2007 Giro d'Italia after the second stage due to serious injuries suffered in a crash, he was determined to do better this year. He didn't achieve his desired stage win, but in the eighth stage he was in a group that stayed away for 150 kilometres. When the others sat up and let the peloton absorb them with 15 kilometres to go, the "Crocodile Man" refused to give up and kept on going before finally being overtaken with only three kilometres to go.

High Road finished the race with eight riders, losing Kanstantsin Siutsou on the 20th stage to Tirano. (SW)

Australian ProTour team looking more likely

By Paul Verkuylen

Australian Road Cycling (ARC) received a boost overnight when it was announced that it has the full support of Cycling Australia in its plans to have a ProTour team racing by 2010.

"We've come to the agreement that we'll get a working group moving forward and we're happy to play a role in that," Cycling Australia chief Graham Fredericks told the Canberra Times.

"There is a memorandum of understanding saying we'll work together and we'll help each other but it's very simple."

For the past few months ARC has been busy implementing the first phase of its greater plan to have a ProTour team in 2010. A development squad which has the support of the Victorian Institute of Sport and head coach Dave Sanders will be presented at the end of the month in Melbourne. The team will be made up primarily of younger riders between 16 and 20 years of age.

A continental team is planned for the 2009 season and will serve as the feeder team for the planned ProTour squad in 2010. ARC is compiling the necessary documentation for the International Cycling Union (UCI), which needs to be submitted by October 31, 2008.

Preliminary discussions with Alain Rumpf, the UCI's ProTour manager at the Tour Down Under in January, proved positive, with Rumpf expressing his support for the squad and an Australian ProTour team in general.

"I think that we have the talent to be the best in the World," Benjamin Fitzmaurice, ARC director told Cyclingnews. Fitzmaurice explained that talks have already begun with some high profile Australian cyclists, for inclusion in the ProTour squad.

The teams main sponsors are primarily foreign, due in part to a lack of financial commitment from Australian based businesses. Malaysian sports drink company, Rhino Two Horns, has come on board as the main sponsor while Singapore Airlines are also involved in the project.

"Most of the sponsors we have are on board with a view to being part of the ProTour team in the future. But of course some will change as the team gets bigger," Fitzmaurice explained.

Home rider to win five-day Luxembourg race?

Andy and Fränk Schleck of Team CSC and Filippo Pozzato of Liquigas will challenge returning champion Gregory Rast of Team Astana at the Tour of Luxembourg, running today through Sunday. The younger of the native Luxemburger Schleck brothers, Andy, is the favourite for the title in the five-day race. The race hasn't been won by a Luxembourg rider since 1973.

The race opens Wednesday evening with a 2.4-kilometre prologue, which is expected to go hands-down to the Schlecks' team-mate, Time Trial World Champion Fabian Cancellara. It is followed by four stages over rolling terrain, from 157 to 192 kilometres. Mass sprint finishes are expected to go to Juan José Haedo (Team CSC) or Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas).

Five ProTour teams will be at the start: Astana, Rabobank, Team CSC, Crédit Agricole and Liquigas. They are joined by Elk Haus-Simplon, Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner, Agritubel, Preti Mangimi, Skil-Shimano, Benfica, Cycle Collstrop and Differdange Apiflo Vancances.

Differdange and Preti Mangimi are both Luxembourg-based teams. The latter will be sending Salvatore Commesso and Serhiy Honchar, who was released by T-Mobile Team last year following "irregular blood values." (SW)

Grabsch brothers in Bayern

Bert Grabsch (High Road) in the final stage of the Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Sonja Csury
(Click for larger image)

The two Grabsch brothers went into the Bayern Rundfahrt with different goals and came out of it with different opinions. Older brother Ralf, who rides for Team Milram, was pleased with his first stage race back after a knee injury, while younger brother Bert, with Team High Road, didn't get the stage win he had aimed for.

Bert, 33, had planned to win the 25.9-kilometre time trial, but instead finished ninth, nearly a minute down. On the final stage, he was in a breakaway group which attained enough of a lead to give him the "virtual yellow jersey," but the group was caught with 20 kilometres to go. After a break at home with his family, he will next ride the Dauphiné Libéré.

Ralf, 35, was testing his knee after banging it up in Paris-Roubaix and again later in training. The Bayern Rundfarht "was five hot, hard, but also good days. Through my optimal training in advance I was well prepared. Even though I usually take a while to warm up, this time everything went without problem from the first race kilometre," he wrote on his website, The race went well for his team, with Christian Knees taking the overall win and Niki Terpstra finishing third.

Ralf will know ride in two smaller races before heading off to the Tour de Suisse. (SW)

Teutenberg wins in Lehigh Valley Classic

Germany's Ina Yoko-Teutenburg (High Road) on her way to winning the Lehigh Valley Classic
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

High Road's Ina-Yoko Teutenberg has won the first round of the Commerce Bank Triple Crown – Lehigh Valley Classic, 40.2 kilometres in Pennsylvania. The German went against the odds to win the race without the support of a team.

"I actually was not expecting to win today," stated Teutenberg after the race. "Quite a few strong teams were on the start line and I was really wishing that I had a teammate with me."

Last year, Teutenberg won all three Triple Crown events, including the two criteriums in the lead up to the weekend and the Liberty Classic which takes place on Sunday. However, it was with the help of team-mate Kim Anderson. "The rest of the team is in Canada racing the Tour of Montreal," explained Teutenberg. "They'll be here on Friday in time for Sunday's race. That is the race that we are really focussed on."

The short race was aggressive from the gun with Cervelo Lifeforce starting the attacks. Teutenberg found herself in a break with Kristin Armstrong but Cervelo was not happy with the combination and neutralised the advantage. A later break eventuated with riders from all of the major teams leaving Teutenberg back in the bunch. The gap opened to 35 seconds. With eight laps to go Teutenberg made her move.

"It's a good start to the week," said Teutenberg. "I always have fun during this week of racing. I hope I can feel good on Sunday for the Liberty Classic."

Arndt takes stage in Montreal

Judith Arndt of Team High Road won the second stage of the Tour of Greater Montreal after breaking away with ten kilometres to go. It was close, though. "In the end I finished only five seconds ahead of the bunch," she said. "It really hurt."

The win left Arndt in second place, in the same time as first-stage winner Regina Schleicher of Equipe Nürnberger, who finished second in stage two. "That was a very hectic stage with a lot of attacks," Schleicher said. "We had to work a lot at the end, to reduce Arndt's lead. Of course we were hoping for a good sprint. I feel better all the time and see that my form is improving."

The duo has only a one-second lead over Schleicher's team-mate Suzanne de Goede, who is in third place and also has the sprinter's and climber's jerseys.

Wednesday features a two-part stage, with a 3.5-kilometre time trial to be followed by a 50-kilometre criterium in Montreal's "Petite Italie." (SW)

Your chance to win in the Cyclingnews-Rapha competition - competition extended!

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

This is your chance to win a full outfit of team kit plus the official team bike as raced by Dean Downing, the joint leader of the British Rapha-Condor-Recycling racing team. The bike, valued at over US$5600, is the Team Leggero. This is a bespoke carbon frame and is the official 2008 Rapha Condor Recycling Team bicycle.

Featuring hand-cut tubes, rear-ends and carbon lugs, the frame is hand-made to Condor's unique specifications and is built up with tubing from the highly respected Italian company Dedacciai, one of only a handful of companies in the world capable of producing such quality tube-sets and forks. It also features a full Dura-Ace groupset (including Dura-Ace wheels) and components from Deda Elementi, Fizik and Continental.

But wait! There's more. Yes, a full set of of Rapha's high-end cycling clothing is also included, featuring a pair of bib-knicks, a short-sleeve jersey, a jacket and cap. Make sure you enter to go into the draw as the competition has been extended with entries open until June 6, 2008.

Our thanks to our friends at Rapha for providing such awesome prizes. Good luck!

(Additional research and assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer).

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