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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News, June 30, 2008

Edited by Sue George

A second French title for Vogondy

By Jean-François Quénet

Nicolas Vogondy (Agritubel)
Photo ©: Fabrice Lambert
(Click for larger image)

Six years after winning the French championship for the first time and one and half year after being close to putting an end to his career, Nicolas Vogondy won, for his second time, the blue, white and red jersey of French champion. His win came after a long, solo effort.

Unlike his captain Christophe Moreau, the Agritubel rider was not a favourite. The defending champion but got trapped in the main group together with the most successful French rider this year, Sylvain Chavanel. But Vogondy attacked at the right time in pursuit of the early escapees.

"When I did it [attack - ed.], I didn't think I'd be able to stay alone till the end", he said. "But everybody was at their max. I was a bit disappointed to have finished fourth in the time trial on Thursday but before the road race, a few people made me notice that I had the number 13 on my back, just like the guy [former mountain biker Jean-Christophe Péraud, - ed.] who had won the amateur race yesterday. I am a superstitious person, so I believed there was a chance for me to win today."

The 30 year-old from Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher near Blois in the Loire valley, who turned pro 11 years ago, remembered that he might have already been retired. At the end of the 2006 season, his contract wasn't renewed by Crédit Agricole, the team he had re-joined after eight years with Française des Jeux. "As I became the French champion at the age of 24, maybe I've thought I had achieved everything and I took it easy," Vogondy admitted. "I'm very thankful to Agritubel that they called me at the end of November that year. I'm super happy to keep the jersey in the team."

It was the first time that the Pro Continental outfit won the French championship, but they have had the distinctive jersey in their ranks since Moreau joined them at the end of last year. "I was suffering cramps at the end of the race," Vogondy commented. "It was hot and 240km was a lot. As I was alone I didn't keep any energy for later. I think I was under a good star today."

Neo-pro Roelandts silences Quick Step

By Brecht Decaluwé in Knokke-Heist, Belgium

Winner Jurgen Roelandts
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

Jurgen Roelandts (Silence-Lotto) was the unexpected winner of the Belgian Championships. The 22 year-old took the first professional victory of his career in a bunch sprint. He popped ahead of cyclo-cross specialist Sven Vanthourenhout and good old Niko Eeckhout in coastal town Knokke, where the Belgian riders had covered 254 kilometres on a flat but windy course.

The much disputed pre race favourite Tom Boonen was not helped by his team-mate Wouter Weylandt who touched his rear wheel and crashed himself. Tornado Tom was then taken to the side of the road by Eeckhout and eventually finished fifth.

Roelandts, who will celebrate his 23rd birthday in three days, was overwhelmed by joy after crossing the finish line. "I really can't believe it... a whole year in the jersey ... my first victory," Roelandts started to realize that he would be wearing the "tricolore" for the next 365 days.

"I didn't see anything of the crash, it happened behind me," said Roelandts, who has always ridden for Lotto on its youth teams. He didn't turn pro until this year after he finished his studies, earning a bachelor of physical education and movement science. By claiming this victory Roelandts has shown that he dealt well with the transition from school to pro racing.

Quick Step leads the peloton
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

"It was each man for himself in the finale, but eventually I ended up on the wheel of Greg [Van Avermaet], and he piloted me splendidly; the whole team rode divinely today," Roelandts said to Cyclingnews while heading for the podium in Knokke.

"I think the guys from Silence-Lotto were in defense all day long and probably they were losing heart when we went to the front with our team in the finale," said Boonen. "Nevertheless Roelandts launched himself perfectly in the sprint and he is the well deserved winner," Boonen said after the race, while standing in the doorway of the Quick Step team bus surrounded by hundreds of fans. "It's a pity that I couldn't defend my chances too well, but you won't hear me say a bad word about that boy," Boonen applauded the winner from the Silence-Lotto team.

Weylandt took a couple of other riders down with him, like Jurgen Van Goolen (Team CSC) but Bert De Waele seemed to be the biggest victim with a broken collarbone.

Ivanov Russian champion for fifth time

Astana's Sergey Ivanov wins
Photo ©: Chris Baldwin
(Click for larger image)

Astana had only two riders out of 180 in the Russian National Championship, but one of them won. Sergey Ivanov finished first in Krylatskoe event after 16 laps. It was the fifth national title for the 33 year-old. He also won in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2005. His win comes after finishing seventh in the Amstel Gold Race, third in the Tour of Belgium and 11th in the Tour of Switzerland so far this season.

Each lap brought five short, but steep climbs, making for a challenging race. With the help of the new time trial champion and team-mate Vladimir Gusev, Ivanov managed to move up from groups in the back to the front of the race.

With 22km to go on the second to last lap, Ivanov, a former Tour de France stage winner (2001), attacked, and nobody followed. He built a 1'30" gap inside of one lap. After a solo ride he arrived first at the finish in Krylatskoe. Alexander Bazhenov finished second followed by Roman Klimov in third.

Valverde to wear Spanish National Champion's jersey at Tour

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) was crowned the new Spanish National Champion in Talavera de la Reina after 202 km including three trips up the Alto de Piélago. The rider from Murcia was able to take advantage of the work of his team-mates in order to defeat Oscar Sevilla (Rock Racing) in the sprint. Valverde's team-mate Oscar Pereiro finished third.

"Today, as they have been doing since the beginning of the season, my Caisse d’Epargne team-mates did a perfect job, and I had nothing to do but finish what they started," said a happy Valverde after winning his first Spanish national title.

"The course of this championship was very difficult and that was a very good thing for me," said Valverde. "I thought I was able to go alone behind Sevilla who was in the lead and I indeed caught him. From that moment on I was very quiet because I knew my team-mates perfectly controlled the race behind. Logically I am faster than Sevilla but you never know what can happen in such a sprint with only two riders. But I won the race!

"And now the Tour!" he said, "that is another story, but I am very proud to present myself at the start [next weekend] with the jersey of Spanish champion on the shoulders."

Simeoni's surprise attack holds for Italian national win

Filippo Simeoni (Ceramiche Flaminia Bossini Docce) captured the men's road Italian National Championship on Sunday in Bergamo after 254.8 km including 13 laps with one trip per lap up the Colle Aperto. The rider from Milan finished ahead of Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) and Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas).

The 37 year-old won with tenacity, determination and courage after he attacked with four kilometers to go. He quickly got 12 seconds over his former break companions. It was a long way to the finish and his chasers were driving hard to close the gap, but Simeoni made it to the final Piazza Vittorio Veneto with time to raise his arms.

"This tricolour jersey gives me so much joy," said the new Italian Champion. "I have dreamed of it since I was a small child. I have risked my attack and in the end it paid off."

"I was afraid I would not make it in the last kilometer, but I kept pedalling and in the last 100m, I understood I had won. I dedicate this to all who have wished me well and to my wife Annalisa and my son Simone, who followed me on TV."

It was thought to be Simeoni's final season, but now with the tricolor jersey on his shoulders, another year in the peloton is possible.

Last race for four-time Belgian champion

By Brecht Decaluwé in Knokke-Heist, Belgium

Tom Steels rode the last race of his career,
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

Quadruple Belgian champion and winner of bunch sprints in the Tour de France, Tom Steels, rode the final race of his career on Sunday at the Belgian National Championships in Knokke-Heist.

The 36 year-old sprinter rode an attentive race and was able to show himself in the finale when he played all or nothing – without success. He finished in the belly of the peloton in thirtieth.

FdJ for Tour de France

The Francaise des Jeux picked Philippe Gilbert and Sandy Casar to lead its squad at the Tour de France starting this weekend on July 5. Arnaud Gerard, Yoann Le Boulanger and Jeremy Roy were three newcomers picked to support their more experienced team-mates.

"The choice was not easy because three-quarters of the guys were on the same level," said Team Manager Marc Madiot to AFP.

Francaise des Jeux for the Tour de France: Sandy Casar, Sebastien Chavanel, Remy Di Gregorio, Arnaud Gerard, Philippe Gilbert , Lilian Jegou, Yoann Le Boulanger, Jeremy Roy, Benoit Vaugrenard.

Menchov: A quiet storm

By Daniel Friebe

Menchov knows how to suffer
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Denis Menchov is certainly no quote-machine, but, at the age of 30, the Russian thinks the time has come to sew his doubters' lips as tightly shut as his invariably are.

Thankfully for some, yellow jerseys aren't awarded for charisma. If they were, it's safe to say the only way five-time Tour winner Miguel Induráin could have got his hands one was by scouring eBay or mail order catalogues. The same, we're afraid to say, now applies to Russia's Denis Menchov…

Perhaps it's got something to do with Pamplona, the northern Spanish city that gave us Induráin (aka "The Bore de France"), and which Menchov has made his home since emigrating to Spain as an amateur. But the common ground isn't purely geographical; Menchov started his career with the Banesto team where Induráin once ruled, he's not totally unlike "Big Mig" in stature or riding style, his attacks are as rare as Induráin's once were, plus – as we've established – to call both men "monosyllabic" would be to overestimate their loquaciousness.

The Russian can come across as cold
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

There is, though, also one crucial difference: Induráin did win those five Tours de France, while Menchov has yet to win even one. In fact, the 30 year-old has never really threatened to become Russia's first Tour champion, except briefly after a Pyrenean stage win in 2006, followed shortly afterwards by an unseemly collapse in the Alps.

Last year, Menchov's only mention in the same breath as the yellow jersey came amid rumours that he was one of the few individuals who knew where team-mate Michael Rasmussen was hiding in the build-up to the Tour. When Menchov finally quit the race on stage 17 – the day after Rasmussen's exit – his exhaustion was as much mental as it was physical.

With precedents like these, you might well ask why Menchov features in anyone's list of favourites this year. The answer resides partly in his two Vuelta a Espańa wins, in 2005 and 2007, and partly in the fact that Menchov is one of the last men standing after the mass cull of cycling's stage race royalty that has taken place in recent years. Of the men who occupied the top 10 places at the end of the 2005 Tour, retirement, doping scandals and politics dictate that only two, Oscar Pereiro and Cadel Evans, are likely to be present in Brest on July 5.

Read the complete feature.

Martin dominates Irish road race championships

By Shane Stokes

One week after winning the prestigious Route du Sud stage race, Daniel Martin confirmed his exceptional talent with an utterly dominant win in the Irish national road race championships in Midleton, Co. Cork.

The 21 year-old nephew of Stephen Roche was in the thick of the action from the word go, getting into a break in the first ten kilometres. These were clear for the next 65 kilometres, and while they were then reeled in by a large group containing most of the race favourites, Martin was able to get up to a subsequent break formed by Paídi O'Brien (An Post M. Donnelly Grant Thornton Sean Kelly) and Brian Kenneally (

The trio rode together until the penultimate lap where, with a vicious attack on the long Saleen climb, Martin broke the other two. He soloed the remaining 25 kilometres to the line, opening up a three minute five second lead over silver medallist O'Brien and Kenneally. Martin's dominant display also won him the Irish under 23 title.

Germans for Beijing Olympics

Germany will be represented at the Olympics in Beijing in August by male road racers Fabian Wegmann, Gerald Ciolek, Jens Voigt, Bert Grabsch and Stefan Schumacher according to Teletekst. From that collection of riders, two will be designated to compete in the individual time trial.

Notably absent from that list are Erik Zabel and Andreas Klöden, who finished second in the Tour de France in 2004 and 2006. Zabel may have been omitted in light of a confession from last year that he used EPO in the 1990s.

Skil-Shimano renews sponsorship

Skil-Shimano renewed its sponsorship with its two partners for the next few years. Japanese component maker Shimano was re-signed for four years while Skil tools re-signed for three additional years.

The team said its objectives will be taking Chinese and Japanese racers to the Olympic Games in London in 2012.

"A participation in a three-work tour is another objective we could reach within the new sponsorship period," said Team Director Iwan Spekenbrink according to the AFP. Spekenbrink said his team's international efforts would be focussed in France, the Benelux countries and Germany.

KBS racers go one-two in Pennsylvania

Canadian David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies / Medifast Pro Cycling Team) wins
Photo ©: Scott Schaffrick
(Click for larger image)

David Veilleux and Keven Lacombe of the Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast team blew the field apart in the penultimate stage five at the Tour of Pennsylvania on Saturday when the pair created a 13 second gap to take first and second places. The move gave the team both the leader's yellow and sprinter's green jersey going into the final stage Sunday.

After an aggressive race, the field entered the final finishing circuits of Pittsburgh with an eight-man breakaway less than one minute up. The team's Ben King and Clay Murfet chased hard to bring down the gap and then with 2.5 kilometers remaining, the Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast team launched a surprise attack. The unexpected move from Jake Keogh, Veilleux and Lacombe caught the field off guard, allowing Veilleux and Lacombe to open up the six-second lead, guaranteeing both the win and yellow and green jerseys for Veilleux.

The results came just one day after Veilleux also won stage four.

"We had a great plan for today's stage," said performance director Jonas Carney. "The whole day we were waiting to execute a sudden attack where we'd use our sprinting power to surprise everyone. This win would not have been possible if everyone on the team had not bee committed or executed the plan flawlessly."

A 50 mile criterium Sunday will decide the final standings.

Welch injured at Tour of Pennsylvania

Most aggressive racer Alex Welch (Team VRC: NOW-MS Society) had just finished a volley of attacks up the final climb of stage five of the Tour of Pennsylvania when he crashed badly on a 45 mph descent.

Welch tangled with another rider who crossed in front of him and caught his front wheel. At first, Welch lay in a heap not moving, but Tour of Pennsylvania medical staff were on the scene immediately and took him to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for treatment.

Visited in turns by his team-mates, Welch was in pain, but good spirits at the hospital. He was kept overnight pending results of CT and abdominal scans. His team reported he suffered a broken collarbone and a concussion.

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