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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News, June 15, 2008

Edited by Ben Abrahams

Chris Anker Sørensen: The next great Dane

By Jean-François Quénet in La Toussuire

Chris Anker Sørensen (Team CSC)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

In the history of bike races going up to the Alpine ski resort of La Toussuire, there is Iban Mayo who won a stage in the Dauphiné Libéré two years ago, Michael Rasmussen at the 2007 Tour de France and now Chris Anker Sørensen. But the Dane who took a magnificent victory at the Dauphiné on Saturday wants no comparisons between himself and his now infamous compatriot.

"I definitely don't want to be the new Rasmussen, let's forget about Rasmussen," said the 23 year-old in response to a question about the former yellow jersey of the Tour de France, whose career is now in limbo after lies about his whereabouts last year. "But I hope to become the new Danish climber for the Tour de France," added Sørensen with a smile of determination.

"My first pro win couldn't be a greater one than the queen stage of the Dauphiné, which is a great race with the Col de la Croix-de-Fer, one of France's most beautiful climbs," he continued. "I used to watch the Tour de France pass through it when I was a kid. It's a dream come true for me to win here."

Sørensen rode the Giro d'Italia before the Dauphiné but didn't quite fulfill his goal of making the top 20. He wore the white jersey of best young rider for several stages and finished 27th in Milan. "I would have made the top 20, if I hadn't been sick for one night, I had a very bad day after that," he remembered. "I'm satisfied with my Giro. It was much harder than I thought. I've learned a lot."

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As a resident of Altzingen in Luxembourg, just 10 kilometres away from Mondorf-les-Bains, he takes good advice from his training partners Fränk and Andy Schleck. "Hopefully in the future we'll race a lot together as well," he said, while dropping in the name of his CSC-Saxo Bank team. The Danish investment bank will take over as title sponsor after the departure of CSC this year.

A rider clearly not afraid to speak his mind, Sørensen crossed the line making the gesture of a fisherman taking a fish out of the water. He explained it as a private joke with some friends back in Denmark, following the manner in which Paolo Bettini celebrated his world championship victory in Stuttgart.

He's definitely a name to remember – and not to be confused with the other Sørensen, Nicki, who congratulated him as he crossed the line while the younger of the two was on the podium already. There's no way that this ambitious climber wants Danish cycling to be remembered for Rasmussen's downfall after winning at La Toussuire.

Freire back to winning ways

Oscar Freire (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Riding his first race since Liège-Bastogne-Liège on April 27, Rabobank's Oscar Freire found his winning legs right away on stage one of the Tour de Suisse. Following the Spring Classics, the Spaniard took a holiday to Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt and then began his build-up to the Tour de France. Saturday's victory was the 32 year-old's fourth of the season after two stages in Tirreno-Adriatico and the Gent-Wevelgem semi-classic.

The opening stage of the Tour de Suisse was a 146 kilometre affair featuring five climbs over 1000 metres in altitude. After the day's three-man break was reeled in by the sprinters' teams, Freire got the better of Swiss Martin Elmiger (AG2R) and Luxemburger Kim Kirchen (High Road) took take the leader's jersey.

"The Tour de Suisse has a great tradition and a high level of competition," Freire told the race website. "It was a difficult stage, I knew it was going to be tough. I really thought the breakaway would stay away to the finish."

Freire is almost certain to lose the leader's jersey on Sunday's stage – a 197 kilometre journey from Langnau to the top of the category one Flumserberg pass, 1391 metres above sea level. "Being the race leader is fun, but I have no chance of keeping the jersey after Flumserberg," he said. "I would prefer to do the climb in a car than a bike race! It's better that I focus on the stages that suit me."

Gilmore explains Flexpoint deflection

Rochelle Gilmore (Menikini-Selle Italia Master Color)
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
(Click for larger image)

Australian Rochelle Gilmore has explained her unusual decision to switch teams mid-season, leaving Italian team Menikini Selle Italia to join the Dutch Flexpoint outfit. Gilmore has enjoyed a successful 2008 season so far, with eight podium finishes in UCI events, including three wins, plus fourth and fifth placings at World Cup races.

"After long, concentrated discussions with the Australian National Team coach we have decided that this is not an opportunity we can decline," Gilmore told Cyclingnews. "Team Flexpoint have a reputation of being one of the most professionally run organisations in women's cycling."

One of the key draws for Gilmore is the experience of Flexpoint team manager Jean Paul Van Poppel, a former professional cyclist who has won nine stages of the Tour de France along with stage wins in both the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España. "I'm excited to have the opportunity to work under such an accomplished cyclist," added Gilmore. "Over time I believe I'll benefit from Van Poppel's knowledge and experience as a sprinter.

"Flexpoint have a strong roster of riders including Mirjam Melchers Van Poppel and Amber Neben. Mirjam has achieved many major results including a number of World Cup wins. Amber Neben is a stage race specialist – she won Tour de l'Aude twice in 2005 and 2006."

Gilmore's first race with Team Flexpoint will be the Rabobank Ster Zeeuwsche Eilanden tour starting next Thursday, June 19, followed by the Giro d'Italia Femminile from July 4-13.

Perfect tactics give Sparkasse one-two finish in Beauce

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Saint-Georges, Québec

Andreas Shillinger and Eric Baumann (Sparkasse)
Photo ©: Mark Zalewski
(Click for larger image)

Andreas Shillinger and Eric Baumann (Sparkasse) out rode a large breakaway group on the tough circuit course in Saint-Georges, which featured 15 laps up a 1.5km climb to the finish. Each lap shed a few more riders until the penultimate lap when the German duo attacked up the climb, leaving all but Frenchman Paul Brousse (A-Style Stomn) behind. The two Sparkasse riders attacked Brousse on top of the course, easily escaping him before rejoining on the final descent and climb for an impressive shared victory.

"For both us it was a hard day," Shillinger told Cyclingnews. "The breakaway group went on the first lap and every team had one rider, so we all worked together." Sparkasse was one of three teams with two riders apiece in the break, along with Team Type 1 and Pezula. "All the time we tried to be in the first group because many riders did not want to ride – they saw three teams with two riders," said Baumann. "So we had to always be in a good position."

While Baumann took a podium spot on the opening stage, he told his team-mate in the break that today was not his day. "At the beginning of the race my legs did not feel so good, so I went to Shilli and told him it is your day and I will ride for you. But then my legs came around and I saw the group [I was in] was tiring."

The group had rolled up to more than a four-minute gap before the Symmetrics team started pulling back the time. With the split coming down and remaining riders beginning to suffer on the finish climb, Shillinger put the first back-breaking attack in. "Five laps before the end I just decided to go up the hill faster," he said simply.

Baumann watched the rest of the break's reactions to his team-mate's attack before deciding his legs had finally come around. "There was a group away with Shilli and Chris Jones was riding full block to get back to this group," he said. Baumann took the ride behind Jones to reach his team-mate which then set-up the final attack. "On the second to last climb Shilli attacked and I was waiting, waiting. Everyone was tired and then I went to make two of us on the front."

For full coverage from stage five of the Tour de Beauce, click here.

Ullrich planning a book

Jan Ullrich retired in February 2007
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Making a rare public appearance at the opening of his brother's bike shop in Berlin on Friday, Jan Ullrich announced his intention to write a book. The German reportedly wants to tell his side of the story after the revelations from the Operación Puerto doping investigation forced a premature end to his cycling career and virtual disappearance from the sport.

"I will write a book, to put forth my view of things, but first I have to gather energy for it," Ullrich told German press agency dpa. "Cycling will clean itself," he added. "The sponsors go away, the money goes away. Then people will ride for the love of it."

Now 34 years old, Ullrich revealed that he only rides his bike "out of passion". He has withdrawn from the public eye almost entirely since announcing his retirement in February 2007, a decision he described as "like shooting a hole in my heart". The 1997 Tour de France winner said he may watch this year's race on television, but only sporadically. "That brings back too many memories," he said. "Of course it is painful."

Dehaes out with broken hand

Belgian sprinter Kenny Dehaes is expected to be out of competition for three to six weeks after breaking his hand on stage two of the Delta Tour Zeeland in The Netherlands. The Top sport Vlaanderen rider crashed in the stage finale on Saturday after tangling with Dutchman Bobbie Traksel (P3 Transfer - Batavus). Both riders were able to finish the stage, but Dehaes, winner of a stage at the Tour of Belgium was taken to hospital afterwards.

"At the hospital in The Netherlands we discovered he had a crack in his hand," team manager Christophe Sercu told Sporza. "He will have a further examination on Monday, but is already out for at least three weeks. Kenny is very disappointed. He missed the opportunity for a victory. This race was a big goal for him and for our team."

CAS sets dates for cycling hearings

The Court of Arbitration for Sport announced on Friday that it has scheduled hearings in two further cases involving cyclists, Aketza Peña and Matthias Kessler.

Peña's case is scheduled to be heard on July 3. He tested positive for Nandrolene in April 2007 and was suspended until August 9, 2009. Kessler tested positive for testosterone in April 2007, and was suspended for two years by the Swiss Cycling Federation. His hearing is scheduled for July 23.

The Court currently has two other cycling cases pending. It is expected to announce its decision this month on the Floyd Landis case. In May it held a hearing on charges that Iban Mayo tested positive for EPO at last year's Tour de France.

Swiss Olympic team complete

Swiss Olympic, the national Olympic committee of Switzerland, has nominated its final seven cyclists for the Beijing Olympics. Fabian Cancellara and Michael Albasini will ride the road race for the men, with world champion Cancellara also riding the time trial.

For the women, Nicole Brändli-Sedoun, Priska Doppmann and Jennifer Hohl will ride the road race, with two-time world champion Karin Thürig and Doppman in the time trial. Jenny Fähndrich will ride the BMX event while it has already been announced that Bruno Risi, Franco Marvulli and Thürig would ride the track events.

(Editorial assistance and research provided by Susan Westemeyer)

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