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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, June 20, 2008

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Teams announce provisional Tour line-ups

Barloworld for the plains and the mountains

Mauricio Soler hopes for second glory on the Champs Élysées
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

This year's Tour de France (July 5-27) is rapidly approaching and participating teams are busy defining their respective line-ups for the greatest bike race on earth. Team Barloworld's roster is almost complete and will be confirmed after the Ster Elektrotoer stage race in Holland that ends on Saturday.

The following riders have been pre-selected for the Tour de France: Mauricio Soler (Colombia), Robert Hunter (South Africa), Baden Cooke (Australia), Felix Cárdenas (Colombia), Paolo Longo Borghini (Italy), Moises Dueńas Nevado (Spain), Giampaolo Cheula (Italy), John-Lee Augustyn (South Africa) and Christopher Froome (Kenya). The reserves are: Hugo Sabido (Portugal) and Diego Caccia (Italy).

The line-up is designed to be competitive in both the flat stages early in the race and on the high mountains, where Mauricio Soler hopes to confirm his results of last year when he won a stage and the polka-dot climber's jersey on the final podium in Paris.

"We can't automatically expect to get the same impressive results but we will be aiming to do even better this year," team manager Claudio Corti said. "We won't be considered an 'outsider' this year and will be at the start in Brest determined to do well throughout the Tour de France."

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Columbian climber Soler was unlucky at the Giro d'Italia as he had to retire because of a micro-fracture in his wrist. The rider is currently in Colombia and is training intensely at altitude. "We're constantly in touch with him and we know that the injury to his wrist is still causing him some problems," Corti explained. "However, medical specialists told us that the complete healing of the bone only occurs after 40 days and so it is normal that he still feels some pain. The pain should ease over time."

Agritubel with outlaw rookie

French Pro Conti team Agritubel has already pre-selected six of its nine Tour de France riders. Sprinter and attacker Romain Feillu will return to the Tour, where he last year took three top ten stage finishes - an impressive performance for a rookie. Over the winter, Feillu was stricken with toxoplasmosis, and only recently returned to competition. "We think that he might not finish the Tour, but only for the first week, he has such a great talent that he is capable of anything," said director Denis Leproux. "Moreover, he will give us a lot of media attention."

With overall contender Christophe Moreau, the captain of the Tour squad, the 2006 U23 World's runner-up will have the necessary experience at his side. The complete Agritubel pre-selection is: Christophe Moreau, Romain Feillu, Jimmy Casper, Nicolas Jalabert, Geoffroy Lequatre and Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez.

Bouygues Telecom: 12 riders ready

ProTour team Bouygues Telecom has announced a 12-rider selection, of which nine will make the final cut to the Grand Tour in July. Leading the line-up is Thomas Voeckler, well-known since his 10-day ride in Yellow at the Tour 2004. Also listed in the provisional selection are: Jérôme Pineau, Anthony Geslin, Matthieu Sprick, Laurent Lefčvre, Vincent Jérôme, Jérôme Pichot, Pierrick Fédrigo, Yuri Trofimov, Xavier Florencio, Stef Clement as well as Johan Tschopp.

Kirchen on top in Tour de Suisse

By Shane Stokes in Verbier

Kim Kirchen (High Road) rides in the Tour de Suisse... on his way to the stage win and the overall lead
Photo ©: Isabelle Duchesne
(Click for larger image)

This season has seen Team High Road's Kim Kirchen step up to a new level in the sport, with victories in Flčche Wallonne and two stage wins in the Vuelta al País Vasco being added to on Thursday by his triumph on stage six of the Tour de Suisse.

Kirchen timed his effort to perfection on the day's final climb up to the village of Verbier, out-sprinting Andreas Klöden (Astana) to the line and taking time out of all of the other main contenders. Significantly, he gained 29 seconds over Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and wrested the yellow jersey from his shoulders. He is now 27 seconds ahead of Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas), with Antón a further six seconds back.

"I felt good at the end today," he said after the stage. "The riders went up the climb very strongly, with the group going very quickly due to early attacks. I kept my own rhythm. I had a little bit of a problem early on on the climb [due to the pace] but my morale went up when I saw some other riders being dropped. I remained calm. I knew I could do something today, especially as the yellow jersey Antón was in difficulty. My aim was to go for the yellow jersey but finally, the stage win came too."

He was keen to thank those who helped him. "The team were very, very strong with the young riders, and very motivated. My co-captain [Thomas Lövkvist] helped me and I also have to thank my team-mates and the directeur sportif. This year we have seen a very, very strong High Road team and I think that all the work done in the winter and at the beginning of the season has paid off. The morale is very good."

Kirchen has had a very solid career, with his results last season including seventh overall in the Tour de France and second to Le Louron (this was later upgraded to first when Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) tested positive – ed.).

While Kirchen has netted several professional victories, including wins in the Luxembourg national championship and on stages of the Tours of Luxembourg, Poland and the Settimana Ciclistica Internazionale Coppi-Bartali, he's jumped up a level this year and become more adept at winning.

Click here to read the full feature.

Devolder attacked "too early"

Belgian Champion Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) paid for his attack in the final kilometres
Photo ©: Isabelle Duchesne
(Click for larger image)

Stijn Devolder of Team Quick Step was fifth overall in the Tour de Suisse, only 22 seconds behind leader Igor Anton of Euskaltel going into yesterday's mountain stage. The Belgian champion stayed with the group of favourites up nearly until the end, when he broke out and went for the win – but he ended up finishing fifth. In the overall, he moved up to fourth place, but lost more time, putting himself 46 seconds behind the new leader, High Road's Kim Kirchen.

"Stijn tried, but it didn't work out," analysed team director Dirk De Mol on Sporza. "I told Stijn beforehand that he had to wait until the last two to three kilometres, but he went too early. We didn't know this climb, but knew that the last kilometre wasn't so steep. Out of temperament he attacked. Unfortunately he lost 20 seconds, which is too much time."

But De Mol did see a positive point in Devolder's attack. "Now it is proven that Stijn has an excellent condition." He added another bit of criticism, though, saying that he continued to show too much temperament. "I find him to be a fantastic cyclist. But the impulsiveness has to stop. He must learn to better balance things."

The 28 year-old still has a chance in Saturday's time trial, his directeur sportif believed, saying "anything can happen. 46 second is a lot of time, but it is a fight of man against man and Stijn has proved that he can win such things."

Klöden back in top shape

German Andreas Klöden (Astana) is happy at the Tour de Suisse
Photo ©: Isabelle Duchesne
(Click for larger image)

Andreas Klöden has recovered from the respiratory problems which forced him out of the Giro d'Italia and is returning to top form, as evidenced by his performance in Thursday's sixth stage of the Tour de Suisse. He finished second, in the same time as winner Kim Kirchen, at the mountaintop finish in Verbier.

Even though he had no time for any special preparations for the Tour de Suisse, "it was my goal to have good results," he wrote on his personal website, The race started out with mixed results for the German. He was happy with the opening stages, but then the bad weather set in. "It only got warm again for the difficult finale in Tessin," he noted. "Shortly before the mountain ranking, I had to fall back. The races of the previous months with the short-notice Giro participation, the Tour of Turkey and the Tour of Romandie all made themselves known to me in a feeling of tiredness."

But Klöden affirmed that he had no intention of letting a good GC placing or even a victory slip away effortlessly. He is currently ranked sixth on the overall, less than a minute behind race leader Kim Kirchen (CSC). "Now I hope that my legs will get somewhat better," he continued. "Of course I will give everything up to the end of the Tour. We'll see how much that is."

After the Tour de Suisse, he will take a vacation, recover from the full spring schedule, and then plan the remainder of his season.

Schumacher preparing for Tour

By Shane Stokes in Verbier

Gerolsteiner rider Stefan Schumacher finished 97th on Thursday's sixth stage of the Tour de Suisse, crossing the line 11'44" behind victor Kim Kirchen (High Road). However, he was relaxed about the result afterwards, saying that his priority was to get ready for the Tour de France.

"It was not my day," he told Cyclingnews. "I didn't feel very good because of the heat and the last climb was very hard.

"For me, this race is preparation for the Tour. My goal is to win a stage there. My condition is okay, yesterday I felt good and today was also okay. I will try to win a stage here, maybe I can go for it tomorrow or Sunday. We will see. I am relaxed, I will see if I can take a chance."

In 2004, the German was second in the national road race championships, netting silver behind Andreas Klöden. He will target this race again before the Tour de France, but there is a slight complication.

"I will target the road race, for sure. But I have to also do the time trial championships, so it is not so easy. That is on Friday and the road race is on Sunday. I want to do the Olympics so I need to do it to qualify. Anyway, I will try to win one or the other."

Deignan gaining form

By Shane Stokes in Verbier

Philip Deignan (AG2R) is looking forward to the 2008 Olympics
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
Click for larger image

Showing improving form after a somewhat difficult spring, Irish rider Philip Deignan rode strongly on the mountainous sixth stage of the Tour of Switzerland. The AG2R La Mondiale competitor went clear in an eleven-man breakaway group on the first climb of the day, the 2479-metre Col du Nufenen, and later rode aggressively in the final 15 kilometres.

He got into a four man breakaway group on the final climb up to the ski village of Verbier, and then pressed ahead with Mathias Frank (Gerolsteiner) with seven kilometres to go.

Realising that the bunch was closing, Deignan did the bulk of the work and was therefore vulnerable when Frank attacked three kilometres later. However, both were caught and passed by a group of race favourites, from which Kim Kirchen (Team High Road) proved strongest and took both the stage victory and the race leader's yellow jersey.

Deignan ultimately finished 26th, two minutes and 14 seconds behind Kirchen, but said afterwards that he was happy with his improving form. "My form has been a little bit up and down but hopefully this is the start of a good period," he stated. "We were just missing an extra two or three minutes at the bottom of the climb, I think. It is a pity because the group was never really working well together, there was always a few guys sitting on. The gap went up to ten minutes but could have been more. It was hard with the headwind all day, there was a really strong headwind in the valley and we were just missing a little bit on the last climb. It is a pity.

"It was really good for the morale anyway. Today a lot of strong guys were in the break because we went on the first col, it was 30 kilometres long. I had the legs to get into the break so that was a good sign, and so too the fact that I was going well at the end."

He may try again in this Tour de Suisse. "I don't know what I'll do for the rest of the race... I'll see how the legs are. Maybe I will go for another break. I'd like to go flat out for the mountain time trial as well, see how high up I can get. I will see what the legs are like."

Deignan received confirmation this week that he and Nicolas Roche have been selected to compete in the Olympic Games road race for Ireland. Neither will ride this year's Tour de France and so they will do a training camp in the Alps instead during July, with Beijing being an important target for him.

"I am delighted to be selected," he said. "It is going to be my big objective for the year. The Olympics only come around every four years so I am looking forward to it. It is on a hilly course which could suit me, but it suits a lot of other guys as well. There is nowhere really to hide. In other years you could sit in the bunch but this year I think the circuit and the climbs mean that there is nowhere to hide. Hopefully I will have the legs."

Gasparotto builds towards Italian Championships repeat

By Gregor Brown

Enrico Gasparotto (Barloworld) at the 2008 Giro d'Italia
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Italian Enrico Gasparotto is successfully building towards a second Italian Championships win thanks to his winning performance on the heels of the Giro d'Italia. The 26 year-old Barloworld rider proved that a three-week race did his legs well by taking the third stage of the Ster Elektrotoer and moving into the overall lead, ten days before the Italian championships in Bergamo. He leads the five-day race with 17 seconds over Vasil Kiryienka (Tinkoff Credit Systems).

Going into the Giro d'Italia at the beginning of May, Gasparotto had stated his goals were to perform well in the first week, but that did not happen and, adding to the team’s bad luck, his morale took a slight dip. However, the fifth-year professional pushed forward to finish the race on June 1 with an eye on the Italian Championships, June 29. In fact, after taking a week off his bike, he was simply going to race Ster Elektrotoer as a preparation race.

"I hope that I will be good in the end, better than April [in the Driedaagse De Panne] because I lost the jersey," 'Gaspa' expressed to Cyclingnews on the morning of stage four, recalling how he lost the De Panne leadership in the closing time trial stage. "I have a good team; my team-mates are really going strong because most of them are building for the Tour [de France]. I am really calm about today, I know they will work hard and I will be able to defend my seconds." (For more read Another jersey for a focused 'Gaspa'.)

Gasparotto revealed how the Giro d'Italia left him drained, but that the win in Belgium gave him a boost heading towards the 2008 Italian Championships, three years after he surprisingly took the Italian tricolore top.

"I took a week without touching my bike," he continued of his post-Giro d'Italia activities. "At the end, I was finished, not only my body but my mind. I wanted to do well in the first 10 days, but I did nothing good in the end. I was suffering and bored riding, so it was really good to do a week without the bike. Last week, I started to train again and after three days I started to feel good again.

"I came to the Ster Elektrotoer to have good training for the Italian Championships and I did not think to go so well, considering the week off the bike. However, now I can dream again of my national jersey."

The blonde, who recently re-located to Carnago (Varese), will rest on Sunday and "then two or three good training days on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and then rest, looking ahead to Sunday." His training partners include ex-team-mates Stefano Garzelli and Luca Paolini.

Canadian Olympic road team decided

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor

The Canadian Cycling Association announced its selections for their road cycling squad at the Beijing Olympics. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Chipotle,) Michael Barry (High Road) and Svein Tuft (Symmetrics) are the men's team, while Leigh Hobson (Cheerwine) and Alex Wrubleski (Webcor) represent the women's team.

Both Barry and Hesjedal are European-based riders racing in many ProTour events, while Tuft recently won Canada's Tour de Beauce overall and time trial, which likely sealed his spot on the team. His time trial performance there likely also earned him the TT spot along with Hesjedal.

The latter is slated to race the Tour de France with his team, which should be ideal training for the Games. "Going to the Olympic Games is something I've been thinking about doing since Athens," said Hesjedal in a statement. "I'm in the best position I've ever been and I've showed that with my racing this season. I plan on building on my successes."

Both Wrubleski and Hobson have had consistent placings on the North American circuit, as well as some significant international results. Hobson finished third in the Montreal world cup.

A third female rider is yet to be named, and the time trial contenders will be decided after the national championship in July.

Kashechkin heard in July

Andrei Kashechkin, who tested positive for homologous blood transfusion shortly after the Tour de France 2007, will be heard by the disciplinary commission of his native Kazakhstan cycling federation next July. According to French news agency AFP, the first hearing of the former Astana rider should have taken place one month ago but had to be rescheduled to July at Kashechkin's request, said UCI lawyer Philippe Verbiest.

In May, the Kazakh cycling federation claimed to not have received the file by the UCI. The world governing body of cycling in turn affirmed that it had sent the dossier twice already. Last December, the national federation handed out a one-year ban – instead of two years – to Alexandre Vinokourov, who was found guilty of the same offense as Kashechkin.

New 'Detour de France' film launched in Sydney

Private collection of rare Colnagos worth $300K also displayed

By Gerard Knapp

John 'Iffy' Trevorrow at the premiere in Sydney
Photo ©: Gerard Knapp
(Click for larger image)

John Trevorrow and Dan Jones, the principal duo behind Detour de France, the behind-the-scenes documentary on the 2005 Tour de France, have taken on-board what they learned from their first film and are back with a new film about the 2007 Tour de France.

The completely new film, called Detour The Movie, features the crew of Australian journalist Trevorrow (who was part of the Cyclingnews editorial team at the 2007 TdF), 'radio journalist' and raconteur Denis Donoghue and filmmaker Dan Jones as they follow the 2007 Tour and capture the key events of last year's dramatic edition.

Trevorrow, a former Australian road champion and now race organiser, has great knowledge of the sport and considerable contacts and access to the peloton, particularly the Australian contingent of the TdF field. He uses his access to secure many insights into the race that are captured in the new film that is being shown in advance screenings in Australia. It had already been shown in Melbourne to an enthusiastic audience, and last night it was premiered in Sydney at the Chauvel Cinema in Paddington.

The screening in Sydney also featured a display of a private collection of rare Colnago bicycles owned by Sydney businessman, and former Greek representative cyclist, Theo Drivas, arranged by Colnago's Australian distributor, FRF Sports.

Detour the movie covers each stage of the 2007 TdF, combining the official race footage with many interviews, anecdotes and colour stories as the Aussie larrikins doorstop, corner and cajole interviews and stories from some of the leading figures in the sport.

It has been released as a DVD which includes another 45 minutes of out-takes and stories from cycling photographer Tim Jenkins, such as a very social evening on the Tour with the president of the UCI, Pat McQuaid, in a very relaxed mood, enjoying the stories from Jenkins.

Once again, Trevorrow, Donoghue and Jones will be back at the 2008 Tour with the camera at the ready, hoping to capture what could be the first Australian victory on GC in the world's biggest bike race.

The Colnago collection

One of the most popular models
Photo ©: Gerard Knapp
(Click for larger image)

Standing in the corner of the Chauvel Cinema in Paddington was the private Colnago collection of Theo Drivas, now estimated to be worth AUD$300K. It included 14 rare Colnagos, nine of which have never been ridden. They include some of the rarest bikes made by Ernesto Colnago's venerable Italian firm, including a Master Piu, the gold-plated extravagance that is similar to the bike that Colnago made for Pope John Paul.

Drivas has secured unridden examples of Colnago's first-ever carbon-fibre bicycles, such as the C35 road and time trial bikes, dating back to 1989, and a pristine condition 1983 'Saronni' model, made in honour of the great Italian cyclist Giuseppe Saronni. The 'Saronni' is unique among Colnagos as it features the frame builder's named pantographed on virtually every component of the bike.

Other stand-out models in his collection are limited edition 'Colnago for Ferrari' range, including a CF1 that he purchased from a Chinese businessman who bought it as an "accessory" for his Ferrari F40 car.

Drivas' everyday bikes are either a C40 or C50 and he is very much still an active cyclist. He represented Greece in cycling from 1967-73 on both the road and track, and began his collection only several years ago. "It's not a matter of money," he said, "it's more about my passion for these bikes and cycling ... feeling the wind in your face as you ride down the road."

Born in Australia to Greek parents, Drivas returned to his family's homeland after completing primary school in Australia, and he remained there until he finished secondary school and his representative cycling career for Greece in 1973. He returned to Australia to achieve a degree in engineering before entering the property development business.

It could be said those ventures have been rather successful, as Drivas is now a principal of the Dockside Group, which owns several popular nightspots and venues on the foreshore of the Harbour city. Hence, he's been able to fund his passion in a way that is the envy of many cyclists.

But he's also a businessman. "I reckon these bikes have doubled in value in the past three years, while these original unused parts, I know they've tripled," he said, indicating that maintaining a collection of rare bicycles could also be a worthwhile investment.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Gerard Knapp/

  • At the premiere in Sydney of the new cycling film Detour the movie are (from l-r) director Dan Jones, Sydney businessman Theo Drivas, owner of the collection of Colnago bicycles seen in the background, journalist John Trevorrow, and Frank Fortuna, principal of FRF Sports, the Australian distributor of Colnago.
  • Journalist and presenter John Trevorrow in a still from the film Detour the movie, the latest from the larrikin Aussie journalist who captures the 2007 Tour de France in the latest film made with Dan Jones and Denis Donoghue.
  • At the Tour de France, nobody is safe from the 'Detour' crew, not even race director Christian Prudhomme, who was caught by 'radio journalist' and Detour member, Denis Donoghue. The interview is one of many in the new cycling film, Detour the movie.
  • Rare Colnagos. One of the features of the Sydney premiere of Detour the movie was the display at the Chauvel Cinema in Paddington of the collection of rare Colnagos owned by Sydney businessman, Theo Drivas, estimated to be worth AUD$300K.
  • An extremely rare example of the CF35 time trial bike. Note the size of the Ferrari decal, compared to that of Colnago.
  • A close-up of the Master Piu, a special limited-edition release that is very similar to the bike Colnago made for Pope John Paul. And yes, the pump is gold-plated, too.
  • One of the most popular models in the Colnago collection owned by Sydney businessman Theo Drivas is this pristine example of a 'Saronni', a 1983 Colnago made in honour of the great Italian cyclist, Giuseppe Saronni. Every component on the bike has the frame builder's's name pantographed.
  • A close-up of the gold-plated cranks and rear derailleur on the original C35 road bike, the first carbon fibre bicycle to be commercially released by Ernesto Colnago. It is among the collection of rare Colnagos owned by Sydney businessman, Theo Drivas.

Coming up: Downtown Austin Crit

The fourth leg of the USA Crit series is coming up in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, at the second annual Downtown Austin Criterium.

In the men's competition, cyclists such as Italy's Luca Damiani (Colavita Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light), who won the CSC Invitational, and USA's Rahsaan Bahati (Rock Racing), who missed winning his second 2008 USA Crits race by a whisker last Sunday at the Harlem Skyscraper Classic, will be going wheel-to-wheel against the likes of Cubans Yosvany Falcon and Frank Travieso (Toshiba-Santo presented by Herbalife), Australia's Hilton Clarke (Toyota-United), his brother Jonny, and Cuba's Ivan Dominguez and Australia's Henk Vogels. Vogels has a few wins under his belt already this year, including the Scott Kornfield Coal Miners Classic and stage 4 of the Tour of the Gila.

Even though the field is full of Texas-size rivalries, hometown favourites Texas Tough/Hotel San Jose are not just going to sit back and allow teams like Rock Racing, Toshiba-Santo, and Toyota-United to steal the limelight unchallenged. Led by Columbia's Carlos Vargas, the Lone Star state's 2007 rider of the year, Texas Tough/Hotel San Jose is ready to press their home court advantage.

In the women's competition, Tina Pic (Colavita Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light) will continue her rivalries with USA Crits stalwarts Kelly Benjamin, Laura Van Gilder, and Allyson Brandt (Cheerwine), Erica Allar and Rebecca Larson (Aaron's), and Jen McRae (Team Advil-ChapStick). Pic, the US National Criterium Champion, is also the current USA Crits 2008 Speed Week Champion. She will arrive in Austin fresh from winning the Cannon Falls Road Race and taking second place in the Minneapolis Downtown Classic. Also grabbing headlines is Pic's Colavita teammate Kristin McGrath, who is also heading to Austin after just being named Best Rider at the six-stage Nature Valley Grand Prix in Minnesota.

For more information, visit

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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