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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, June 9, 2008

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Evans: Not at a hundred percent

By Hedwig Kröner

Cadel Evans powered to sixth place in the prologue and is hoping to reach his maximum form in July
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Tour de France favourite Cadel Evans placed a very good sixth behind prologue winner Levi Leipheimer (Astana) in Avignon on Sunday. The Silence-Lotto leader was satisfied with his ride following the uncertainties resulting from his knee tendonitis during May. "I'm happy for now," he said. "It looks like I haven't been affected by my interruption in my lead-up to the Tour."

Evans' last race before the Dauphiné was the Belgian Classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège, where he finished seventh. The Australian had a very successful Spring campaign in which he won the Settimana Coppi e Bartali, the Mont Ventoux stage in Paris-Nice as well as a stage in the Ruta del Sol. But then he suffered tendonitis at the end of his training camp in the Sierra Nevada and admitted to Cyclingnews that he wasn't sure about his current form.

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"I'm back here at the Dauphiné to test myself and prepare for the Tour, like every year. There's no difference to other years," Evans said before tackling the 5.6-kilometre course. "But because of the tendonitis, I'm still not at a hundred percent. It's healed completely, I think, and hopefully I'll be fine to race. There's no pain anymore. But there's also this interruption in my build-up to the Tour, which was a bit worrying. But I'll do what I can to get better and now we'll see what level I'm at and how it goes towards the Tour."

Now, Evans faces two rolling stages towards the Alps, one time trial and four hard mountain stages to determine where exactly he stands compared to his rivals. These include Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), who also counts amongst the favourites for the July Grand Tour. The Dauphiné Libéré finishes in Grenoble next Sunday, June 15.

Breschel's biggest career win caps comeback

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Matti Breschel during the post-race press conference
Photo ©: Richard Schofield
(Click for larger image)

The winner in Philadelphia on Sunday, CSC's Matti Breschel, said it was the biggest win of his career. But considering what he had been through to get here, just being able to ride a bicycle was a victory in itself. Breschel crashed in March of 2006 when sprinting in the third stage of the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen. He and Robbie McEwen tangled, taking both to the ground with Breschel suffering the worst of it.

"I had a small fight in the sprint with Robbie McEwen. We both fell down and I broke my back, two vertebrae and hit my head pretty bad," said Breschel. "I was out for a couple of hours and woke up in the hospital and was lying there for two weeks.

"That was tough and really tough to come back, to rebuild the muscle around my back took a while. It was difficult [to return.] I had long weeks where I couldn't do anything but lay in my bed and think about life – if I could ever go on my bike again. It was tough mentally for sure!"

When asked if he is more hesitant about sprinting in a chaotic field sprint like the one at the end of Sunday's race, Breschel laughed, "Yes, you have to be really brave and be cool, and you need to have big elbows! You need to be fast, of course... and maybe a little bit crazy!"

Breschel said that this win was his biggest so far, due in large part to the long history of the race. "I had some nice victories but this is the biggest, that is for sure. They know the race over here, there is a lot of prestige in the race and it used to be the American championship so they know Philadelphia."

The 23 year-old Dane was also asked about the process of finding a new sponsor for 2009, as CSC announced it will not renew its title sponsorship.

"We just ride as good as possible and we are pretty confident [in finding a new sponsor.] You can never be too sure but I hope [Bjarne Riis] finds a new sponsor but I am confident [he will.]"

High Road takes another one

By Kirsten Robbins in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Dutchwoman Chantal Beltman scored the third High Road win in the third race
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

After recently solidifying her ticket to Beijing this August with the Dutch Olympic team, Chantal Beltman (High Road Women) turned her excitement into a solo victory for High Road during the Liberty Classic held in Philadelphia. All the more gratifying, given that success in this criterium-like event typically comes in a field sprint.

"This was a really big race on the women's calendar and the atmosphere was wonderful," said Beltman, who made her move over the top of Lemon Hill, three kilometres from the finish. "For our team, being a US-based team now, we were really focused on winning this race. It's so exciting that we were able to do it again."

The Dutch woman separated herself from a late-break of four that contained two of her own team-mates, soloing to the win, while her three companions were swallowed up by the main field. American Brooke Millar (Tibco) surprised the crowd when she initiated the gallop to the line with three hundred meters to go, holding off Triple Crown winner Ina Teutenberg (High Road Women) to take second place.

"I wasn't sure at all if I was going to be able to stay away from a sprinters' field but that's the great thing about being on such a strong team - you don't have to worry about that, you can just go," continued Beltman. "That made it easy for me to give it everything I had."

The Palo Alto, California, native Millar was happy to have taken second place, the best result of her career. "This was a race I was really gunning for and we had a great team presence, ready to win," said Millar, who was vying to be the first American to win the event and break the German winning streak.

Full results, report and photos are available.

Serrano: This race was like my entire season

By Monika Prell

Ricardo Serrano (Tinkoff Credit Systems)
Photo ©: Ainara Hernando Nieva
(Click for larger image)

A disappointed Ricardo Serrano ended up in the ambulance after the last stage of the Euskal Bizikleta. The Tinkoff rider, one of the most active racers over the three stages, had crashed in the ascent to the penultimate mountain of the day, the Alto de San Miguel. Nothing serious, but a shock and grazes at the left leg, arm and shoulder.

Despite the disappointment, Serrano, who spent the second stage in a large breakaway, talked to Cyclingnews after the race and stated that "In the beginning [of stage 3], I was present in two breakaway attempts, but the peloton was not interested in letting any of them go. So, they chased us down, and I tried to finish the stage as best as I could. Later, in the ascent to the Alto de San Miguel, in a curve there was oil on the road. I slipped and was not able to avoid the fall."

The rider from Valladolid, resident in the Basque country, was not satisfied about the race. "I can't draw a positive conclusion of this Euskal Bizikleta – of yesterday's [Saturday's] stage yes, but not of the entire race. I expected a lot of this race. I was really keen on participating, because I did not compete in many races this year, as I had bad luck with injuries. I had trained a lot and I felt very well. But then, the first day was quite bad and later the crash… this race has been like my entire season."

The 29 year-old, in the peloton known as "Richi", hopes that the rest of the year will be better: "I am already thinking about the Vuelta a España, because there I hope to be able to make up for the whole year. Until this race, I will have to be patient and hope to do better in my next races."

Team Type 1 ready to defend RAAM

The individuals are already under way, but the teams are starting only on Wednesday in the Race Across America (RAAM). Team Type 1 carries a two-fold mission into this year's Race Across America (RAAM): successfully defend the eight-person corporate team title it has won the past two years and send an inspirational message to people living with Type 1 diabetes.

"In an event such as RAAM, anything and everything will happen," Team Type 1 RAAM Team Director and racer Bob Schrank said. "We have the riders and the crew that are capable of breaking the team record and winning it all. We will need a little bit of help from Mother Nature; however, the hard work that has been done the last few months of training and racing will put us into the position to capitalise on whatever luck we earn.

"We have the millions of people with diabetes all around the world pulling for us every turn of the pedal. Even though this is our third entry in RAAM, our mission is the same – to inspire people with diabetes that, with good management, they can do great things."

Teams begin the 3,015-mile race Wednesday at 14:00 PST, traveling from Oceanside, California, to Annapolis, Maryland.

Team Type 1 is unique to the event because every rider has Type 1 diabetes, a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to properly control blood sugar levels. Its primary sponsors are all affiliated with diabetes care: Apidra (rapid-acting insulin made by sanofi-aventis), the FreeStyle Navigator manufactured by Abbott Diabetes Care, Insulet Corporation's OmniPod Insulin Management System and Dex-4 Glucose.

Current team members include Bob Schrank, Monique Hanley and Andy Mead who were part of Team Type 1's winning squad last year that established the current eight-person corporate team transcontinental record crossing of five days, 15 hours and 43 minutes (3,046 miles).

Team Type 1 was created in 2004 by Type 1 diabetes racers Phil Southerland and Joe Eldridge to inspire people living with diabetes to take a proactive approach to managing their health and overcoming the obstacles often associated with the condition.

Team Type 1's for the RAAM: Alex Bowden, Matt Brooks, Monique Hanley, Timothy Hargrave, Andy Mead, Tim Powell, Bob Schrank and Mark Suprenant.

Find out more about the team.

Reimer German U23 Champion

Martin Reimer from LKT Team Brandenburg is the new German U23 Champion, winning the title race in Lorsch. Reimer, who will turn 21 next Sunday, scored the victory on a very difficult 181.6-kilometre course in 4h55'07". He took the sprint of a four-man lead group, beating Sebastian Hans (Team Mapei Heizomat), Mitja Schlüter (Continental Team Milram) and Dennis Pohl (Team 3C Gruppe).

In the penultimate lap a lead group around defending champion Dominic Klemme, along with favourites like Kim Lachmann, Paul Voß, John Degenkolb and Simon Geschke, couldn't quite agree on taking turns, so they were caught. On the final way back to Lorsch, the decisive group went clear.

National coach Patrick Moster explained, "After that, it was immediately quiet in the peloton. Thüringer Energie didn't have to ride anymore, 3C neither, so behind they stopped pedaling."

500 metres from the finish, Hans started the sprint, but Reimer came around him. "That was incredible," Reimer said at the finish.

Moster added that Reimer deserved to win. "We saw a fascinating race; it was a tough parcours... Somebody who can't put some power on the pedals can't be on the podium here." Moster did admit that he hadn't considered Reimer amongst the favourites before the race. "Maybe with Reimer we didn't see a winner from the first string, but he also wasn't a complete underdog."

The day was marked by very hot temperatures and early attacks. But only in the last three laps of the 17-kilometre circuit did the race start in earnest. One of the strongest riders was Voß. "He was super-strong today," Moster noticed. The 3C-rider ended the day in fifth place. Last year's winner Klemme was eight in the end.

Shchebelin reigns in Marocco

The Tour du Maroc concluded in the capital, Casablanca, on Sunday, with Alexey Shchebelin taking the overall win. The Russian gained the lead with a win in stage 4, leading into Taza. Despite strong opposition, the rider from the Cinelli-OPD held on to the lead. Shchebelin also took stages 1a and 7.

Malcolm Lange of South Africa also took three stage wins (stages three, five and eight). Shchebelin's team-mate, the Italian Ivan Fanelli, took the second section of a split stage one and held on to the overall until Shchebelin put a firmer grip on the GC in stage 4.

Naturally, team manager Simone Biasci, who accompanied the team in the adventure in northern Africa, was very happy, stating that "This course can be thought of at being at the limits of 'normal' competitive racing. The reality is that this appears to be a [creation of a] new frontier in road racing... The crowds we encountered every day and the scenic background of Casablanca demonstrated that cycling is in the heart of the local population. I am sure that with the nice racing provided by Shchebelin and team-mates, the jerseys of Cinelli-OPD will remain in their memories for quite some time."

Biasci was also hopeful that the race provided good preparation for the team's upcoming races, culminating at the end of the month with the Italian Championships.

Cycling Australia nominations for Paralympic Games

Cycling Australia announced the list of cyclists it intends to nominate to the Australian Paralympic Committee for selection in the Australian Team for the 2008 Paralympic Games being staged in Beijing from September 6 to 17.

The nomination criteria was based on recording of a qualifying time, being eligible to compete in a 'ring fenced' event (Nations must select riders that are eligible for events that the IPC have selected to protect the viability of that event) or accepting a 'Bipartite Commission Invitation' (Riders selected by the IPC to compete at the Games to ensure the participation of the top athletes).

Cyclists have until 17:00 (AEST) on June 11 to lodge any appeal against non-nomination. Cycling Australia will nominate cyclists to the APC on June 18. The APC is solely responsible for the selection of the members of the Australian Team.

The men's team will consist of Gregory Ball (LC4), Benjamin Demery (BVI Tandem), Michael Gallagher (LC1), Steven George (Pilot for Lindores), Shaun Hopkins (Pilot for Demery), Tyson Lawrence (Pilot for Modra), Mark Le Flohic (CP Div 2 Trike), Bryce Lindores (BVI Tandem), Michael Milton (LC3), Kieran Modra (BVI Tandem) and Christopher Scott (CP Div 4).

The women's team will be made up of Toireasa Gallagher (Pilot for Hou), Lindy Hou (BVI Tandem), Felicity Johnson (BVI Tandem), Melissa Leckie (HC Div B), Claire McLean (LC1), Jayme Paris (CP Div 3) and Katie Parker (Pilot for Johnson).

German Junior time trial champions crowned

Janine Bubner is the new female junior champion in the time trial. She completed the 15-kilometre parcours in a time of 23'45, for an average speed of 37.895 km/h. Sabrina Schweizer and Anna Hunger were second and third.

Jakob Steigmiller stormed to victory in the male category. He completed the 23 kilometres in 30'07 (45.821 km/h). Johannes Kahra and Moritz Pfeiffer completed the podium.

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