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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News, March 12, 2008

Edited by Greg Johnson & Paul Verkuylen with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Steegmans psyched after double victory

Quick Step rider Gert Steegmans
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Quick Step rider Gert Steegmans, winner of Paris-Nice Stage 1 and Stage 2, has attributed his two victories to the work he's done with a sport psychologist. The 27 year-old began his career as the final lead-out man for Predictor-Lotto's Robbie McEwen before moving to Quick Step to join forces with sprint superstar Tom Boonen.

Last year the tall Belgian made a name for himself after winning the Tour de France's Stage 2 in an uphill sprint ahead of Boonen and Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas). Since then Steegmans has shown that he has what it takes to not only lead out the best sprinters in the world, but be one himself.

After winning the first stage which was shortened due to bad weather, Steegmans backed up his fine performance by taking the second stage ahead of current race leader Norwegian Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) in more bad weather.

"I wasn't confident enough to ride for the win in the past," Steegmans admitted to Belgian news site "I always had troubles with my sugar level and I always got hunger-flat after 200 kilometres of racing. We've worked on that last year and it's resolved now.

"I also went to see a psychologist, Jef Brouwers, quite a lot and my mental approach of the racing is much better now," he added. "I'm less stressed and more confident."

Steegmans' success represents natural progression of the Belgian's career, with the 27 year-old enjoying a bumper season in his first year with Quick Step last season. In addition to his Tour victory, Steegmans claimed stage wins at the Volta ao Algarve, Driedaagse van de Panne, Quatre Jours de Dunkerque and a double victory at the Circuit Franco-Belge last season.

"Paris-Nice cannot get much better," he said. "If I can go to Milan-Sanremo with the condition that I have now a lot is possible.

"The difference between now and then is I no longer think that the worst is going to happen," he explained. "I just take my own chances. Maybe that is due to Jef Brouwers."

The end of stage two looked like a Spring Classic, something that Steegmans can reasonably aim at winning himself now. "Winning a classic is difficult for me because there are many other riders in my team able to do it," said the Belgian rider, who is more used to putting himself at the service of Boonen than riding for himself in the biggest events.

"Today, I stayed calm enough to let Hushovd, (Sylvain) Chavanel and (Michael) Albasini do the work and only to go to the lead when it was needed," he said. "My Paris-Nice has been positive. Now I will work hard for the next two days for our GC riders just as they did for me over the past two days."

Lowe in perfect position before Ventoux

By Jean-François Quénet in Belleville, France

Luck keeps following Trent Lowe's (Team Slipstream) first appearance at the Paris-Nice. The young Australian was the 22nd rider to start Sunday's Prologue, where he clocked a time worth of a top 10 spot, placing him in a strong position for the remainder of the event.

"I was lucky with the weather," he said, referring to the dry conditions experienced by the first 29 riders over the start ramp. Over the following two stages Lowe has managed to avoid all of the crashes, unlike team leader David Millar who went down at the entrance of the town of Nevers on Stage 1 and again with 60 kilometres to go in Stage 2.

"The team waited for him but I didn't have to, I stayed with the leaders," Lowe explained in Belleville. "I actually didn't realize there was a crash."

Lowe's ride to date has shown the former mountain biker isn't just lucky, he knows exactly where to be placed in the peloton. The Australian isn't just talking the talk at Paris-Nice either, he's also walking the walk with the rider currently in fifth place on general classification, 29 seconds behind race leader Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole).

Lowe now wears the white jersey of best young rider after taking over from the Ukraine's Andriy Grivko (Team Milram), who was involved in the second stage's big crash and like Millar was unable to return to the front group. "It wouldn't be nice to get the jersey because of somebody else's crash but Paris-Nice is a big race and it's important for my team to get such a reward," said Lowe.

The Australian's high placing on general classification is especially important as the race enters the mountain stages, with Lowe currently the highest ranked pure climber. With Mont Ventoux coming up on Thursday, Lowe is in a strong position to surprise the peloton and take over the race lead.

"I hope to do well up the Ventoux," he said. "I'm feeling pretty good but I also hope the weather will be better now because I'm not used to the rain and the cold. In the past two years, with my trips from Australia to the US or to Europe at the right time, I've not experienced any winter time recently."

Landis' judgment day nears

Floyd Landis
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

Disgraced cyclist Floyd Landis will face the Court of Arbitration for Sport in New York City in one week's time. There, on March 19, the American will present his case to regain the 2006 Tour de France crown that was stripped from the former Phonak rider when he lost his appeal to the American Arbitration Association to overturn the sanction for his positive drug test from the race.

"It will be a hearing behind closed doors unlike the previous arbitration hearing," CAS secretary-general Matthieu Reeb told AP.

The CAS hearing is expected to run until March 24 in the chambers of a Manhattan law firm. It's not known when a final ruling on the matter will be announced. "There will be a statement at the end of the hearing to say when it will be issued," Reeb said.

Landis' CAS appeal gives Frank Sinatra's line "It's up to you - New York, New York" a whole new meaning, with the Court representing Landis' last chance to clear his name. Landis appealed to the AAA after testing positive for synthetic testosterone during the Tour's stage 17 in 2006, where reporters described his effort as "a comeback that defied logic."

The three-member arbitration panel at last year's hearing, led by president Patrice Brunet along with Christopher Campbell and Richard McLaren, was split 2-1 in the guilty verdict, with Campbell dissenting. The finding saw the UCI hand Landis a two-year ban, due to finish at the end of January in 2009.

Tour organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) held a presentation late last year to formally award original runner up Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) with the event's yellow jersey.

Cyclingnews' coverage of the Floyd Landis case

May 29, 2009 - French authorities summon Landis and Baker
September 28, 2008 - Landis takes case to US federal court
September 10, 2008 - Landis signing with current Health Net-Maxxis team for 2009
July 1, 2008 - CAS delivers final blow to Landis legal challenge
June 30, 2008 - Landis loses final appeal
June 28, 2008 - Landis decision due Monday
March 12, 2008 - Landis' judgment day nears
October 21, 2007 - Landis files appeal with CAS
October 18, 2007 - AFLD takes another look at Landis case
Thursday, October 11 - Landis continues fight, appeals to CAS
Saturday, September 22 - UCI officially names Pereiro 2006 Tour champion, Landis case raises issues
Friday, September 21 - Landis' appeal denied, two year suspension levied

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the Floyd Landis case

Fédrigo cleared of broken pelvis

Pierrick Fédrigo (Bouygues Telecom) has been cleared of a feared broken pelvis after a crash in the first stage of Paris-Nice. The former French national champion was taken to hospital after the crash for further tests, where it was revealed that his pelvis is not broken.

Fédrigo will be off the bike for at least two weeks while he recovers from the fall.

Leukemans still in with a chance

Björn Leukemans
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

Björn Leukemans still retains a chance of escaping a doping suspension. The Flemish Community disciplinary council announced that it has extended the date of the final ruling on his case because the arguments presented by the defence require further investigations, according to Belgian news site

The 30 year-old rider from Antwerp tested positive for testosterone in an out-of-competition control last September, just before the World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. Leukemans challenged the positive test saying that he had taken Prasteron in good faith after having it cleared by the now dismissed Predictor-Lotto team doctor Sam Vermeire.

The Disciplinary Commission initially dismissed Leukemans' challenge and in January handed down a two-year suspension. Leukemans did not agree with the verdict, opting to appeal. The council has requested more information on the medical condition of Leukemans at the time of his positive control and why Prasteron was prescribed.

Leukemans and Vewmeire will be questioned, behind closed doors, on April 8. Witnesses will also be called on the same day.

Gerolsteiner, Astana for Santarem

Gerolsteiner has riders competing this week in France's Paris-Nice, Italy's Tirreno-Adriatico and Portugal's Volta ao Distrito de Santarem. The latter race will feature a "mixed bag" of young and veteran Gerolsteiner riders. The group will be led by sprinter Robert Förster, who has already won two stages in Portugal this year, in the Volta ao Algarve.

Astana has also announced its line-up for the Portugal event, with the team to be directed by Alexandr Shefer. Andreas Klöden will lead the squad of eight men, that will also include Tomas Vaitkus and Benoît Joachim.

Gerolsteiner for Volta ao Distrito de Santarem: Francesco De Bonis, Robert Förster, Thomas Fothen, Mathias Frank, Johannes Fröhlinger, Volker Ordowski, Peter Wrolich and Markus Zberg.
Astana for Volta ao Distrito de Santarem: Thomas Frei, Benoît Joachim, Andreas Klöden, Andrej Mizurov, Dmitriy Muravjev, Gregory Rast, Tomas Vaitkus and Sergey Yakovlev.

Baby boom continues at Landbouwkrediet

Team Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner's Filip Meirhaeghe has become the father of a son, Bo. The baby was born on Monday, March 10, and mother Kelly and child are doing well.

It is the third team baby this year, as Bert Scheirlinckx and Wouter van Mechelen have also become fathers.

Team Strong Heart to Race Across America for charity

Local cyclists riding for Team Strong Heart, from Colorado and Minnesota in the United States of America, will again compete in the 2008 Race Across America on behalf of their chosen charity Camp Odayin. Team Strong Heart was organised in 2006 for the purpose of completing the 2007 Race Across America bicycle race.

For 2008, Team Strong Heart has organised a four-person Mixed relay team, headed by Team Captain Amy Xu. In addition, returning Team Strong Heart racer Timothy Case will be competing in the Race Across America in the Solo category, a first for the Team Strong Heart Organization.

The team is hoping to raise $100,000 USD for Camp Odayin during its RAA campaign. Camp Odayin provides residential, day and family camp experiences for children with heart disease.

The Race Across America is a bicycle race that covers approximately 3100 miles, 110,000 feet of climbing and 15 states.

Time Pro Cycling to hold development camp

Time Pro Cycling has put together a camp for Under 23 and 17-18 men of all ability levels to come together and receive expert-level input into their future cycling careers. The camp will take place May 16-18 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Riders will receive valuable physiological testing, the opportunity to establish networks with athletes pursuing similar goals, and the chance to meet informally with the directors of several UCI teams.

"You will leave this camp with the knowledge about what it takes to become a career professional and a clear understanding about how to market and present yourself to potential sponsors and teams," said Time Pro Cycling's Erik Saunders.

The performance camp will focus on three areas: mentorship, peer networking, professional networking. The TIME Pro Cycling Team will be selecting stagiaires for the 2008 season from this camp, providing an opportunity for any rider looking to get his foot in the door and into the world of professional cycling.

Registration for the camp will close on Thursday, April 16. Attendees will be notified of their acceptance on April 17. For more information and registration see

BikeNZ gets top BMX coach for Beijing

Leading Canadian coach Ken Cools will guide the fortunes of New Zealand BMX riders Sarah Walker and Marc Willers through to the Beijing Olympics in August. BikeNZ announced that it has secured the services of the top rating international coach to head the team and support the two Kiwi riders, both currently ranked No 1 in the world, as their sport eyes its Olympic debut in Beijing.

"Sarah and Marc really wanted me in their corner to help add what I bring to an already winning programme," Cools said. "I am positive with the level of these two athletes and the control they are giving me to mould the programme that Beijing is going to be a great race."

Cools, a former Canadian national BMX champion and top ranked professional for several years, has developed into one of the sport's most sought-after coaches. He has been the coach of two BMX world champions - Bubba Harris and his sister Samantha Cools.

The Austrian-born Canadian has provided coaching tuition for more than 75,000 BMX athletes in Canada, USA and worldwide over the last 12 years through his Camp Cools coaching programme. "I am so pumped on heading up one of the best countries in the world to some potential medals," he said.

BikeNZ High Performance Director Mark Elliott said that the involvement of Cools is a key appointment. "We have put together a good team around both Sarah and Marc in terms of support, training and sports science through the Academy of Sport and the North Harbour BMX Club," Elliott said. "Ken Cools gives us the BMX expertise at the highest level. Both Sarah and Marc know him well and were very keen for us to attract him to the BikeNZ team. That process has taken us some time but it was more important to get the coach that the riders wanted and respected."

Cools, who is already working with the riders, arrives in New Zealand in two weeks.

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