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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, June 14, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

Trofimov is the new Russian star

By Jean-François Quénet in Morzine

24-year-old Trofimov took his second win
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

When Russian Yuriy Trofimov crossed the line first on stage five of the Dauphiné Libéré, there were plenty of fans scratching their heads and asking, "who?" - but for those who have been paying attention, the first year professional for Bouygues Telecom has been turning in some impressive performances.

The 24-year-old began his season by storming to a stage win in the Etoile de Bessèges, the 57 seconds he put into the field held up to give him the overall win as well. He then went on to place 14th in La Flèche Wallonne. But his solo exploit en route to Morzine recalled the days when Alexander Vinokourov won the overall classification of the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré in his second year pro back in 1999 with Casino.

A former U-23 champion in mountain biking, the Bouygues Telecom rider didn't expect to collect such a result on the road so quickly in his career. "This victory is a big surprise for me," Trofimov explained on the finishing line. He had to respond to reporters' questions via a phone conversation with a translator based in Bordeaux since he doesn't speak any other language than Russian, and nobody in Morzine seemed to be able to assist. "It's hard for me to realize what I've done."

"At the beginning of the stage, I didn't think I could win it," he added. "It was only at the end that I had an opportunity to do it. As I was first at the top of Joux-Plane before going down to Morzine, I became confident because my mountain-biking skills made me good at going downhill."

Trofimov still races as mountain-biker. After the Classics, he quit the Bouygues Telecom team for a month in order to take part in two World Cup races for MTB, where he secured a spot in the Russian team for the Olympics in Beijing. He might do the Tour de France as well. "But it's not up to me to choose," he said.

The staff of the French squad is seriously considering lining up in Brest on July 5 their Russian recruit who joined from the Moscow Stars continental team that was formed on the foundation of the Dynamo Moscow. He's a rookie at the ProTour level but not a totally true neo-pro as he had some racing experience in category 1 races in France before.

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In 2005, at the age of 21, he took third in the Tour du Finistère behind Simon Gerrans and David Moncoutié. Also in the west of France, he was second in the Classic Loire-Atlantique behind Nicolas Jalabert, and got him noticed by the local organization managed by Jean-René Bernaudeau who had already attracted a Russian rider from Moscow Stars, Evgeny Sokolov, in his feeder team of Vendée U.

Now both Sokolov and Trofimov ride for Bouygues Telecom. They share an apartment in Le Poiré-sur-Vie in Vendée and regularly train with Thomas Voeckler who is almost a neighbor. In Morzine, the former yellow jersey of the Tour de France described Trofimov as "a very kind person." "The only problem is that the Russians don't speak much French but at the same time, if I had to learn Russian in three months, I'm not sure about what the result would have been."

"Many teams must envy us to have recruited him," added Voeckler about Trofimov whose only problem seems to be a fragile knee that forced him to pull out of Paris-Nice. But he doesn't want to hear about that. "Now my ambition is to make a top 10 overall in the Dauphiné," Trofimov said. And there is more to be seen from him in the future.

Cyril Dessel, the rebirth of a Tour de France hero

Dessel scores a win
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

After a year of doubts and struggling, Cyril Dessel has come back on the front line with stage wins in three consecutive races: the Four Days of Dunkirk, the Tour of Catalunya and the Dauphiné Libéré. Cyclingnews' Jean-François Quénet spoke with the French hero of the 2006 Tour de France in the Alps.

The Tour de France can have both sides for a bike rider. Nobody knows that as well as Cyril Dessel. In 2006, he was just a solid French rider who lined up in the world's biggest race for the second time only at the age of 32 but he found glory in the Pyrénées as he came in second to Juan Miguel Mercado in Pau but wore the yellow jersey for one day. He kept going well in the mountains after that and finished sixth overall and best French rider. One year later, he hadn't yet recovered from toxoplasmosis, but he started the Tour and was forced to quit on stage 15.

"When I pulled out, I was in a bad state of shape," he recalled in the Dauphiné Libéré at the start of the race organized by the French daily paper from the Rhône-Alpes region. "I went back home and I was like a vegetable. I knew from the beginning that I would have been hopeless, I was hardly able to just go back to the service car and collect drink bottles, but my team had thought that my presence at the Tour would still have produced some media exposure."

Expectations were high after his ride in 2006, but in 2007, the disillusion of the French fans was just as high. Starting the Tour was a big mistake, he now realizes, and that is why he gave strong advice to Romain Feillu, who suffered the same disease at the beginning of 2008: "Take at least two months off without riding your bike at all."

"Had I rested properly, I could have done a good end of 2007 season and a good start of 2008," Dessel reckons. "It was my plan to go well at Paris-Nice and other races at this time of the year, but I was still in the process of rebuilding myself as a rider. Mentally it had been hard to come back after the disease and the bad results. I had a lot of doubts about myself."

Continue to the full feature.

UCI approves 'no start' rule

The UCI's Management Committee announced Friday that it has approved the so-called 'no start' rule which will allow the organization to use data from the biological passport programme to keep riders with abnormal values out of competition for 15 days. The committee made the decision at its meeting in Snekkersten, Denmark. This type of rule has been applied in the past to the riders' haematocrit values, where a value over 50% would result in a temporary ban from competition.

The biological passport has now been officially integrated into the UCI's Anti-Doping Rules, as was expected after the 'no start' proposal was announced last week. The 'no start' rule was devised as an first course of action before imposing a formal suspension, since a sanction "requires a greater degree of certainty."

A value will be considered to be anomalous if it does not conform to previous values detected in the riders' samples.

Kirchen aiming high in Switzerland

Kirchen seeks to recapture the same joy he felt in April.
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Team High Road's Kim Kirchen took second in the Tour of Switzerland last year, and with some stellar results already under his belt in 2008, Kirchen will be hoping to take one more step up on the GC ladder. The winner of La Flèche Wallonne and two stages of the Vuelta al País Vasco has been honing his form in the mountains in preparation.

"Kim was going well in the Bayern Rundfahrt even after a long break from racing in May," commented team sports director Brian Holm. "But he told us that he was quite tired after the team training camp we've just had in the Pyrenees."

"We're hoping he'll move up another level here in Switzerland, it's clearly a race that suits him," Holm continued, but added that there is no pressure. His main focus is, of course, on the Tour de France, a race which he finished in seventh overall last year.

"We're not too worried about him going in too deep here then paying the price in the Tour de France. He finished second here then seventh in the Tour in 2007, so you can't say riding hard here did his chances much harm in July!"

While last year's Tour de Suisse route favoured his explosive power, the presence of a mountain time trial will certainly test his abilities in going uphill fast. "Kim should be able to handle it. The big mountain time trial [on the penultimate stage] is what will make all the difference."

High Road for Tour of Switzerland: Marcus Burghardt (Ger), Edvald Boasson-Hagen (Nor), Gerald Ciolek (Ger), Kim Kirchen (Lux), Thomas Lövkvist (Swe), Morris Possoni (Ita), Vicente Reynes (Spa) and Marcel Sieberg (Ger).

FFC removed from Worlds bid

A day after the UCI decided to suspend the French Cycling Federation (FFC) for its role in hosting the Paris-Nice and Tour de France outside the auspices of the UCI, its Management Committee has removed the FFC's applications to host the 2012 Track World Championships and the 2012 Cyclo-cross World Championships from consideration.

The move is the latest shot in the war which has brewed between the UCI and the Grand Tour organisers since the inception of the ProTour in 2004. While the French Federation will not be punished by having riders excluded from the Olympic Games or the World Championships, it has suffered the exclusion of its representatives from any UCI committee or commission - something the FFC intends to fight with the backing of the French government.

The committee also responded to what it called 'lies' in the FFC's response to the suspension. The FFC alleged the suspension was a threat intended to silence its criticism of the UCI's planned calendar. The committee's statement responded firmly, stating, "the stakeholders in the cycling family may express themselves, but this does not give them the right to break the UCI rules."

The statement continued, reiterating is stance that it must defend its own rules. "The strength of the FFC's reaction does not alter the seriousness of its infractions."

The UCI also warned that the FFC's sanction "could be compounded if the FFC continues to flout the UCI Statutes and Rules," by allowing the Tour de France to be held under its organization.

ASO hints at Vuelta plans

Patrice Clerc
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Last week the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) announced it had acquired a 49 percent share of Unipublic, the organiser of the Vuelta a España, and speaking in Madrid on Friday, ASO general manager Patrice Clerc outlined some of the changes which may unfold as a result of the partnership.

Clerc promised that the Vuelta would keep its character, but said he wanted to elevate the status of the Vuelta. "For ASO, the Tour is a monument. We do not want a Tour de France in Spain. The Tour has its own personality, richness and specificity. We want the Vuelta achieve international recognition it deserves," said Clerc., according to Europa Press.

Vuelta director Victor Cordero did not rule out a change in the race's position on the calendar, although he did say that any change would not occur before 2011. "We are open to a reconsideration of the calendar. It is one of the main problems of cycling," he said.

The cycling calendar has fallen into "complete chaos," according to Clerc. The ASO and Unipublic, together with Giro d'Italia organiser RCS Sport have long rallied against the UCI's ProTour, objecting to rules which forced them to invite all of the ProTour teams - especially when the number of teams grew to 20.

After three long years of fighting, the UCI capitulated and removed the Grand Tours from the UCI ProTour calendar, proposing instead a special calendar which would consist of the three organisations' events.

The UCI would not, however, back down on insisting that all 18 ProTour teams be invited to the Tour de France, and indeed, the ASO went so far as to exclude the team of last year's winner, Astana. That same requirement was not imposed upon the Giro or Vuelta.

"The UCI has wanted to impose a particular system and we have requested that since the Giro and the Vuelta are in their calendar, that they have the same conditions," Clerc explained. "The international calendar is a complete chaos. There will be a day when the right wins the battle over madness and, at that time, it may reconsider the issue," Clerc continued.

Clerc said that the two sides have been close to an agreement several times, and that the fight with the UCI should have ended long ago. "If these energies had been designed to promote cycling, it would be the top sport on this planet," he said.

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split

Aero testing nearly costs Evans

Cadel Evans takes second
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The search for a more aerodynamic position has been the key to a Tour de France contender's preparation ever since Greg LeMond's legendary defeat of Laurent Fignon in the 1989 Tour. The American used special bars to streamline his form on the final stage, and put 50 seconds into the Frenchman, winning the Tour by a slim eight seconds. But that bit of cycling history nearly cost Australian Cadel Evans his best shot at becoming the first Australian to win the Tour.

According to an interview in The Australian, Evans' hours in a wind tunnel led to his tendonitis, which became serious enough to warrant a full stop from training. The first pains in his left knee came in mid-may as he was on a training ride in Switzerland.

"I thought, 's#!&, the more I ride, the more it hurts - this could be serious, and what a time for it to happen,'" Evans said. The 31-year-old came second to Alberto Contador in last year's Tour, and with the exclusion of Contador's Astana team from the race, he is arguably the top favourite to win.

The injury was the result of the tweaking to his position done in the wind tunnel. "We were working on a more aerodynamic time-trial position but we had to rush it a little bit and my body didn't adapt to the training with a new position on the bike," he said. "We do so many hours in one position that if you just change one little thing it can have big consequences.

Evans took some time off the bike, and had weeks of physical therapy to correct the injury, and went into the Dauphiné Libéré unsure of how his form would be. Needless to say, after coming in second on the fifth stage and putting many of his rivals into the pain box, Evans is satisfied that the setback was only temporary.

Gilmore heads to Flexpoint

Australian Rochelle Gilmore will make an unusual mid-season team switch from her Italian Menikini-Selle Italia squad to the Dutch Flexpoint Team. The 26-year-old is coming off a strong first half of the year which included three stage wins in the Tour of PEI last week.

Gilmore will join the new team starting June 15, and her first race will be the Dutch stage race, Ster Zeeuwsche Eilanden, which begins June 19. Her contract runs for one year.

Rasmussen signs with Swift

Danish rider Dorte Lohse Rasmussen has signed with the British Swift Racing team, it announced Friday. Coming from Team Cmax Dila, the former Danish champion placed 5th in the Omloop door Middag-Humsterland for her new squad, and is placed 47th in the world ranking.

For the team, this signing is very significant. "It's been four years hard work to get to this point for Swift Racing. We now have great backing on the team from our sponsors, and can now start to think about attracting some of the world's best riders. I feel this is needed to help us develop the young talent that we have on the team," said manager Stefan Wyman.

Wyman added, "We have the security of a long term agreement with our head sponsors Swift Motorhomes that takes us up to 2012. We are not going to just sit back and be happy with where we are; we are looking to challenge the best in the world. So the addition of talented riders, both young and old in on our agenda.'

"The increase in interest in the team from both riders and sponsors is encouraging. PowerBreathe have recently increased their sponsorship of the team and this signing is yet more good news for everyone connected with the team."

Tour de Nez route announced

The route for the upcoming Northstar-at-Tahoe Tour de Nez, which begins June 18, was announced Friday. The six day professional cycling event will take place in Reno, Truckee and at Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort.

The first stage will take place in Reno with a Criterium at the Grand Sierra Resort, with a relatively flat six-corner course along the perimeter roads of the casino.

The second day will include two stages: a time trial at Northstar-at-Tahoe and the Downtown Truckee Criterium. The time trial will be approximately 3.5 miles and all uphill with a 7% grade. It begins at Highland View Road of Hwy 267 at Northstar-at-Tahoe and will pass the mid-mountain lodge and the site of the new Ritz Carlton.

The Downtown Truckee Criterium will follow the same, classic technical course with one long straight followed by a few greater than 90degree turns at the end and a chicane on the backside.

The event will then head up to Northstar-at-Tahoe on June 20th and 21st for the two circuit races. The Northstar-at-Tahoe Mountain Circuit Race will be 100 kilometer (10 lap) circuit with plenty of climbing which tops out at a 15% grade. The Northstar-at-Tahoe Village Circuit Race will be one our on a two-mile circuit which starts and ends above the Village at Northstar. This course offers cobbles and a few steep climbs. Both the women's and masters competitors will follow the same course.

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