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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, June 10, 2008

Edited by Paul Verkuylen

Valverde in form

By Jean-François Quénet in Privas

Spain's Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) wins stage one over Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole), who has become the new overall leader
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) has sent a warning to his rivals as he build up his form for the Tour de France. He took the first stage of the Dauphiné Libéré in an uphill sprint ahead of Norwegian Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole).

Of note was the fact that Cadel Evans, Levi Leipheimer and Haimar Zubeldia took part in the sprint for the stage win. They finished fifth, sixth and eighth respectively – none of them hiding their strength, setting up expectations of a great battle in the mountains later in the week.

"Since yesterday I had good sensations," said Valverde, who took third at the prologue in Avignon. "With this stage win, I have completed one goal already, now we'll see how it goes in the mountains, I hope I'll keep going well. It means a lot to me to win a stage here. It's a good motivation for the team who has done phenomenal work today."

Coming up on

Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

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The Murcian appreciated the uphill terrain in Privas. "I'm a complete rider," he admitted. "But as a sprinter, on a flat road, there's no way I can beat riders like Hushovd. Today's sprint was a special one. I accelerated with power 300 metres before the line.

"I'm having a good season so far," he continued. "I race less and my preparation is different. It pays off apparently, and I have the Tour de France in mind. I considered myself as one of the five or six contenders for GC. It also requires a bit of luck to win the Tour de France but I'll try."

The Astana team of race leader Levi Leipheimer chose to sit out of the work to control the race rather than use up their energy so early, and it was up to Crédit Agricole to do most of the work. "All the other teams knew that I wanted to take the yellow jersey," explained Hushovd who did so by only one second. "I'm very happy to become the race leader because it's my first time at this race and I like the Dauphiné a lot. I came here to win a stage. After tomorrow, it will only be training for me and I'll enjoy the landscapes of the mountains."

Full coverage of stage one of the Dauphiné Libéré.

Boonen caught with cocaine?

Boonen at the Tour of Belgium
Photo ©: Yoni Peeters
(Click for larger image)

Belgian super star sprinter, Tom Boonen has allegedly been caught in an out of competition test for cocaine, according to Belgian newspaper The out of competition test allegedly occurred three days before start of the Tour of Belgium, where Boonen won the final stage.

The Belgian paper also reported that the homes of Boonen's parents and girlfriend in Postel and Lore respectively were searched last night. The non-negative test has also not yet been confirmed by the International Cycling Union (UCI). Boonen's Quick Step team was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

This is not the first time that Boonen has been linked to the drug. Last December, his good friend and cyclo-cross star, Tom Vanoppen was caught by the Flemish doping controllers with cocaine. During questioning Vanoppen allegedly named Boonen as his dealer, a claim Boonen later denied. Following the claim, Boonen's parent's house was searched.

Boonen's brush with the law does not stop there however. Just last week, he lost his drivers license for the second time in six weeks. On Tuesday night he was pulled over by the police travelling at 180 km/h in a 90km/h zone on the Mol ring road. He had a blood alcohol reading of 1.0.

Six weeks earlier he lost his license for 14 days for travelling 120km/h in a 70km/h zone. In 2006 Boonen was the face of the Belgian roads and traffic authority, promoting safe driving.

No Tour but joy on home soil for Joly

By Jean-François Quénet in Privas

The breakaway with Joly, Kux and Labbe
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

It's been almost one year since Sébastien Joly was diagnosed with cancer. Last year after the Dauphiné, his cycling career was in limbo. After the treatment, he resumed riding his bike in mid-September but he had no idea how strong he would come back as a competitive cyclist. "I might have ridden my bike with too much enthusiasm to forget about my disease," he admitted.

The Française des Jeux rider found his way back in the peloton at the Majorca Trophy in February but felt exhausted in March and was forced to take a break. "I've understood that I'd have to be patient and accept that my physique and my morale would have some ups and downs."

A decision was quickly taken with the staff of FDJ that he'd skip the Tour de France this year. "But I wanted to do the Dauphiné anyway," he said on the finishing of Privas that he reached after being in a breakaway for 167 kilometres passing through the province of the Drôme where he lives and finishing in the province of Ardèche where has was born.

"I decided to break away only because I'm from here," he stated. "It was a lot joy to ride ahead of the bunch on the roads that I use at training. My family was here. If there is a small chance to go for a win, the chance has to be taken. Two years ago it worked when I did a similar breakaway in stage one of the Dauphiné with my team-mate Philippe Gilbert who won it, but it was a harder course."

"Today, I realised there wasn't much hope. I didn't get too excited about the idea of winning. Crédit Agricole didn't let us play much of our game in the front. But I don't have anything bad to say about what they did. I felt the same when I led the Tour du Limousin, I wanted to defend straight away. All teams are here for winning, not for making gifts."

Joly is happy to ride on home soil, it's obvious. "I could have done the Tour de Suisse but I feel much better here," he added. He'll take another break after the French championship in July and he has in mind to ride a solid program in August and September, including the Tour of Spain, before going back to the winter schedule he was used to prior to his cancer. "2008 is a season of transition for me," he warned.

Quick Step for Dutch Food Valley Classic

Belgium's Quick Step team will be sending a team seemingly built around their top sprinter Tom Boonen to the Dutch Food Valley Classic. The race, formerly known as Veenendaal - Veenendaal fills it's traditional Wednesday slot on the calendar tomorrow. The event is ranked as a 1.

Supporting Boonen will be a strong team of primarily Belgian and Dutch riders.

Quick Step for the Dutch Food Valley Classic: Tom Boonen, Wilfried Cretskens, Steven De Jongh, Ad Engels, Kevin Hulsmans, Hubert Schwab, Wouter Weylandt and Maarten Wynants.

Menzies out for months after Philly week crash

By Mark Zalewski, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Karl Menzies (Healthnet)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Aussie Karl Menzies (Health Net-Maxxis) was unhappy with his personal performance in the first half of the season. However, he told Cyclingnews at two recent races, the CSC Invitational and the Lehigh Valley Classic where he placed on both podiums, that he was relieved his racing form was finally coming around. Well bad luck struck the strong man from Tasmania. Coming down one of the three KOM climbs of Mt. Penn in the Reading Classic last week, part of the Commerce Bank Triple Crown, Menzies was taken out by a crash in front of him – landing on his back over a curb he suffered a broken wrist and ribs, a punctured lung and injuries to his back.

"The second time over the hill it was all single file and I was towards the back," Menzies told Cyclingnews. "A guy in front of me went through the corner and hit something, skipping out into the gutter. As I recall I came in a guy or two back and had to change my line, jammed on my back brake, but my wheel hit a pothole, so when I jammed on the brake it flicked my rear straight up. I went up and over and landed on my back over the gutter"

"I got up straight away but knew I was in trouble because I had that feeling. I laid back down and Tamayo was right there and doctors were there – I was in hospital within 10 minutes. I have a broken wrist – the radius and navicular bones – five broken ribs and they said it was a punctured lung. They kept me overnight for observation but [the lung] healed by the next morning. My T-10 and T-11, where the muscles attach to the back, were pushed in. My back and ribs is where it just whacked the gutter, so it's mostly muscular."

While the wrist and rib fractures will heal in a few weeks, the injuries to his back are a little more tricky. "You have to be careful; the wrist will be in a cast so that will be okay, but the back... you have to give the muscles time to heal."

Menzies was understandably disappointed in the crash with his recent good form. "It's definitely a shame to miss out on some great racing, the finish of Reading and Philly, then Nature Valley and the crits – the list goes on from there. I missed Nature Valley last year and was looking forward to it; all was looking good with getting some form and getting the legs back."

As for when he will be back racing, Menzies hopes it will be before the end of the season. "I hopefully can do some crits and Tour of Missouri. It's going to be tight but we have a great doctor that works with the team. It's good to have a doctor's point of view who looks at the athlete's angle."

Tour de Beauce starts today

By Mark Zalewski

Twenty teams will make-up the peloton in the Tour de Beauce, Canada's major International Cycling Union (UCI) stage race for men which starts today in eastern Quebéc. The composition of the field is a good balance from within North America – between Canada, Mexico and the United States of America – as well as good representation from overseas. As with past editions the ascent up the tough Mont Megantic after 153km, followed the next day by a individual time trial, will likely be the deciding moments of the race.

Both Symmetrics and Team R.A.C.E. make-up the Canadian UCI teams, with both understandably interested in winning their 'home' race. 2007 runner-up Svein Tuft will lead a Symmetrics team that has had strong showings in many of the major North American races of the year, including the Tour de Georgia and a recent final stage victory at Mt. Hood with sprinter Andrew Pinfold. Mark Walters will lead Team R.A.C.E.

A number of Canadian elite amateur teams will get a chance to show their stuff on a bigger stage, along with a sprinkling of guest riders, such as Charles Dionne riding for the Quebéc Team. Adding even more motivation for the Canucks to perform well is the fact that Beauce will be the final race before the Canadian Cycling Association chooses its Olympic team.

The USA will be represented by Team Type 1, made up of many former Navigators riders which dominated this race the past two years. The UCI Continental Pro team Slipstream-Chipotle-H30 was scheduled but suffered in the streets of Philadelphia. They cannot post a full team. Jittery Joe's is the other American UCI team with strong ties to the region through their equipment sponsor Louis Garneau. The Mexican Tecos-Trek team will be back with many strong climbers to contend the rolling parcours in defence of the climber's jersey. This will be a tall order with the inclusion of the Colombian National Team.

The German Sparkasse team, which held the yellow jersey in the last two editions, leads an overseas contingent. Amore & Vita-McDonalds from Poland, the Irish Pezula Racing team and Rapha Condor from England make up some of the other European teams.

The major change to the parcours is a switching of the final two days' circuit races – swapping Saint-Georges and Quebéc City in order to the finish the race in conjunction with Quebéc City's 400th anniversary celebrations. The very demanding course could make holding onto the yellow jersey a little more difficult than in past year.

Cyclingnews will once again have full reports and photos of every stage.

Day breaks Hampsten's 21 year record

The 2007 Tour de Beauce champion, Ben Day, has broken a 21 year old record set by American Andy Hampsten. Day, who is not returning to Canada to defend his Beauce title, bested Hamstens record time for the Vail Hill climb of 26.33 by 45 seconds.

Hampsten, still the only American to have won the Giro d'Italia, set his record up the tough climb during the 1987 Coors Classic. Day (Toyota United), a former Australian Time trial champion is racing in Vail as part of the Teva Mountain games. Chris Baldwin, a Toyota United team-mate of Day, came home for second in a time of 26.29, putting him four seconds under Hamsten's record.

Jonathan Baker rounded out the podium in third, while mountain biking legend, Ned Overend at the ripe old age of 52 finished fifth, in a time 27.23.

Sutherland and Goldstein lead NRC rankings

The women's pro race at the Commerce Bank Liberty Classic marked the 18th event on the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar on June 8. The 1.1-rated UCI women's event saw Dutch woman Chantal Beltman (High Road) out sprint the all-star women's field to the line on Sunday in downtown Philadelphia.

With 12 men's races and 16 women's events on the 2008 NRC now complete, Australian Rory Sutherland (Health Net Maxxis) continues to hold a commanding lead in the overall individual standings on the men's side while Canadian Leah Goldstein (Valueact Capitol) is the current women's leader. The teams currently atop the standings include the Health Net Pro Cycling Team presented by Maxxis in the men's rankings and the Cheerwine Professional Cycling Team in the women's.

The next race on the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar will be the 2.1-rated Nature Valley Grand Prix which takes place throughout Minnesota from June 11-15.

Men's Individual Standings

1 Rory Sutherland (Aus) Health Net-Maxxis                            976
2 Ted King (USA) Bissell                                             407
3 Darren Lill (RSA) BMC                                              350
4 Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell                                   338
5 Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Colavita-Sutter Home                         321

Men's Team Standings

1 Health Net Pro Cycling Team p/b Maxxis                             1806
2 Colavita/Sutter Home Men's Cycling Team p/b Cooking Light          1361
3 Bissell Pro Cycling Team                                           1214
4 Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team                                     1122
5 p/b Parkpre                                   840

Women's Individual Standings

1 Leah Goldstein (Can) Valueact Capitol                              596
2 Felicia Gomez (Can) Aaron's                                        576
3 Tina Pic (USA) Colavita-Sutter Home                                568
4 Mara Abbott (USA) High Road                                        555
5 Julie Beveridge (Can) Aaron's                                      547

Women's Team Standings

1 Cheerwine Professional Cycling Team                                2441
2 Aaron's Cycling Team                                               1665
3 Colavita/Sutter Home Women's Cycling Team p/b Cooking Light        1490
4 Team Tibco                                                         1244
5 Valuact Capitol Cycling Team                                       905


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