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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News, March 17, 2008

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Teams to sign participation contract with ASO

Tour de France teams announced in one week

By Hedwig Kröner in Nice

Eric Boyer is the head of the AIGCP, in addition to duties as Cofidis' manger
Photo ©: Ben Atkins
(Click for larger image)

In the morning before the start of the ultimate stage of Paris-Nice, an important meeting took place between the representatives of the International Association of Professional Cycling Teams (AIGCP) and Tour de France organiser Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO). The head of the AIGCP, Cofidis team manager Eric Boyer, said the meeting had been a success.

"We discussed the team invitations to their next races," he told Cyclingnews in Nice on Sunday. "We don't want to experience again what we had prior to this Paris-Nice, so this meeting was necessary, and it went well."

The team manager said that ASO seemed to have decided that its next races on French territory, which include Paris-Roubaix, the Tour de France and Paris-Tours, will again be carried out under French sports law. "We spoke of the conditions of participation, and wanted to know whether the next ASO races will be held within the same framework as Paris-Nice. It seems that this is so. We will then negotiate our participation conditions as we did for Paris-Nice," he added.

The French stage race, after years of conflict between the organiser of the event, ASO, and the International Cycling Union, UCI, was sanctioned this year by the French cycling federation, FFC. In the weeks leading up to the event, the participating teams were under heavy pressure not to race, as the UCI threatened sanctions against teams and riders. Still, the race went ahead as planned.

Now, a new chapter in the conflict will be opened, as the teams will negotiate race participation conditions not only for the next event organised by ASO - which would be Paris-Roubaix - but for all of the competitions owned by the organiser. "ASO will announce the team invitations to its races in one week approximately," Boyer explained. "Then, we will sign participation contracts for the whole season."

The head of the UCI, Pat McQuaid, had suspended contacts with the AIGCP last week. Still, Boyer insisted that "it's them who cut ties with us, not vice versa. I'm still open to discuss with McQuaid. He just has to understand that our interest is to race, and that we cannot boycott an organiser who owns the most important race on the calendar."

Enrico Gasparotto gives all for Castelfidardo

By Gregor Brown in Civitanova Marche

Enrico Gasparotto is eyeing a win in today's stage, even willing to sacrifice his second place overall
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Italian Enrico Gasparotto will give it full gas for today's Tirreno-Adriatico stage to Castelfidardo. The Barloworld rider, who held the overall lead following stage two and threatened to take it back in yesterday's time trial, will risk his second place overall to Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC) for a chance at winning 196-kilometre stage.

"I am on good form, I am happy about that," he noted Monday morning to Cyclingnews, while wearing the maglia ciclamino of points leader. "I have been thinking about Tirreno-Adriatico since this winter. Last year, I had really good form, but I had to work for my team-mates. This year, I can do my own race by trying to win some stages and the overall."

The stage today features four finishing circuits of 14.7 kilometres, each one ending with the four-kilometre rise to Castelfidardo. "It is a hard day; It is one of the hardest," he continued of the climb that averages a 4.5 percent gradient. "I will give up my second overall in the general classification to concentrate on winning this stage."

Team Barloworld is backing the rider 100 percent in his quest. "If an escape goes we will judge it. If the team can close it, then we will, and I will try my chances in Castelfidardo."

Gerdemann breaks leg

Linus Gerdemann crashed at 60 km/h and finished the race with a broken leg.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

A bad crash in the time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico left Linus Gerdemann (High Road) with a broken femur. He told that he will have surgery on Monday, in Innsbruck/Austria and is likely out of competition for six weeks. This may also dampen his hopes for the Tour de France.

The German had just passed Danilo Di Luca, who started one minute before him, when he touched the barriers in a corner and did a somersault. The crash happened less than two kilometres from the finish. He also hit and badly bruised his tibia on the curb. After the race, the High Road rider was taken away in an ambulance to a nearby hospital.

He said that "when I checked out the course beforehand, I thought I could ride it on the handle bar [in the time trial position - ed.] I was going about 60km/h and somehow slipped."

Doubly bad luck for Gerdemann was fact that he seemed to be en route to winning the race. "Based on the intermediate times I probably would have finished second to Cancellara. That would have been enough for overall victory. And that without real preparation." Gerdemann had a 30-second lead over Cancellara going into the time trial. Eventual runner-up, David Zabriskie (Slipstream Chipotle - H30) ended the race 22 seconds behind the Swiss rider. Gerdemann did manage to get up and finish the race, 1'16 behind Cancellara.

Tirreno-Adriatico will end on Tuesday.

Zaugg part of the winning team

Oliver Zaugg (Gerolsteiner) was happy to assist his team captain, Davide Rebellin finally achieve the win at Paris-Nice. In his diary on the Swiss rider explained that "sure, I was nervous before the start. For Davide, the overall victory was on the line and as a helper, you want to do your job to the satisfaction of the captain." Zaugg was happy to report that he had a good day and was able to assist Rebellin until the end.

The preparation was more meticulous than is customary for a road race. "To not take chances, we all warmed up on the rollers for 20 minutes before breakfast." The Swiss rider described the stage as fairly controlled, except at the end, when all groups came together. "If Nocentini would have won the sprint, he could have passed Davide [in GC]." But the attack by Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d'Epargne) helped Gerolsteiner secure the win.

The last day of a stage race is usually very hectic, with riders trying to make their planes or otherwise trying to get home as soon as possible, so "I didn't even get a chance to congratulate Davide."

Zaugg will now "be at home for a few weeks," where he'll train before tackling his next races in Spain, the GP Miguel Indurain (April 5) and the Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco (April 7-12).

Worlds course tested

On Sunday, the Giro del Mendrisiotto took place, which the Volksbank riders Andreas Dietziker, Florian Stalder, Elias Schmäh and Pascal Hungerbühler tackled as part of a Swiss national team selection. They used the race to test the 2009 Worlds course, with the loop being virtually identical to what will be used for the championships next year. Dietziker won the Mendrisiotto race last year. The competition was held over 12 laps, for a total of 151.2 kilometres.

Before the race, Dietziker expected an elimination race and added that "the decision will be made on the three-kilometre long climb, to be done 12 times. In the end, a small group will fight for the win." And this is how it ended up, with eventually 13 riders contesting victory. Dietziker was in the group, but could not repeat his 2007 win. He finished fourth, which is still a good result, considering that "my form isn't comparable to last year."

An excellent result was achieved by Australian Wesley Sulzberger. The rider for the AIS South Australia team managed to slip onto the podium, in third, behind two Italians, winner Eddy Serri (Miche-Silver Cross) and Enrico Rossi (NGC Medical-OTC Industria Porte).

Untamable Wild strongest in Omloop Het Volk

By Brecht Decaluwé in Deinze

Kirsten Wild (AA-Drink Cycling Team) claims victory in Het Volk
Photo ©: Marc Van Hecke
(Click for larger image)

The women's season's first big clash was contested in the famed hilly region of Flanders during the third edition of the women's Omloop Het Volk, with Dutch rider Kirsten Wild (AA-Drink Cycling Team) taking victory in the race dominated by her squad. The weather gods didn't fancy the women who took part in the Omloop, as the peloton was offered a series of rain showers from start to finish.

The top European rider were present in Deerlijk for the start, with UCI-points points on offer at the race which can lead to an Olympic Games berth, provided they manage to finish within the top-100 of the rankings. The most well known names at the start were inaugural winner Suzanne De Goede, Mirjam Melchers (Team Flexpoint), Judith Arndt (Team High Road) and Trixi Worrack (Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung).

Wild wasn't too surprised about her victory in the third Omloop Het Volk. The 26 year-old Dutchwoman explained that the team's directeur sportif pointed out that it should happen for the team today. "And that's just what we did," Wild smiled. "With Irene Van Den Broeck in front we were allowed to relax in the peloton."

"I'm born with this talent, and I'm not unhappy with it," added Wild of her sprinting abilities. "This race was on my wish list, so I'm delighted I managed to win here. My next goal is the Tour of Flanders, in April."

Wild claimed victory after an early breakaway was caught with 25 kilometres remaining before the finish line in Deinze. After two laps of the finishing circuit, Wild was able to ride away down the home straight, capitalizing on a final corner mistake by lead-out rider Emma Johansson. Wild powered home ahead of German Angela Brodtka (DSB Bank), while team-mate Johansson was able to regroup and join Wild on the podium with her third place.

Read up on the entire details of the women's classic in Belgium.

Leigh Howard named Victorian Cyclist of the Year

Leigh Howard is the Victorian Cyclist of the Year
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)
Geelong cyclist Leigh Howard has capped another stellar year by taking out the Victorian Cyclist of the Year award, presented at The Australian Club in Melbourne on Friday night. In front of almost 200 guests, CycleSport Victoria gave out the prizes in the respective categories.

Unable to accept the award in person due to Australian team commitments in a track training camp in France, Howard's mother Kim was on hand to accept his trophies, with a live video message also being broadcast to the crowd.

In the 2007 Road season, Howard's consistency was second to none. He picked up stage wins and podium placings in the Tour of Tasmania, plus podium placings in the Tour of Murray River.

In the 07/08 Track Season, Howard was unstoppable. His list of achievements includes gold medals in the Australian Scratch Race, Australian Teams Pursuit, Australian Madison Championships, Victorian Pursuit Championship, Victorian Points Race Championship, Victorian Omnium Championships, Victorian Madison Championships, Bendigo Madison and Melbourne Cup on Wheels. He also won silver in the individual pursuit at the Australian championships.

Female track cyclist of the year

For the third straight year, Tess Downing (Carnegie Caulfield CC) claimed the honours in the 07/08 Female Track Cyclist of the Year award. Downing won gold in the Victorian Scratch, Individual Pursuit and Points Race Championships, in addition to the Sid Patterson Grand Prix Women's Handicap. She also picked up silver in the Australian Individual Pursuit and Australian Points Championships, plus bronze in the Australian Teams Pursuit.

Female road cyclist of the year

Australian road time trial Champion Bridie O'Donnell claimed the Female Road Cyclist of the Year award after a brief, but dominating road season. The former rower and triathlete, who has completed the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon in under 11 hours, won the Australian time trial championships in Ballarat in addition to the Victorian time trial and road championships. The 33 year-old now heads to Italy as part of the Australian road team.

Club of the year

Currently Cycling Australia's largest affiliated cycling club, the Carnegie Caulfield CC took out the Club of the Year award.

Their development program is the envy of clubs around the country, as it possesses a full program of 65 junior cyclists, aged 8 - 15, training twice weekly all year round. They use the facilities at Packer Park velodrome whilst maintaining a fleet of more than 30 track bikes and wind trainers to enable families to experience the junior development program at minimal cost.

They operate a track program for senior riders at DISC under the tutelage of Hilton Clarke, which caters for riders of every level of fitness and experience, with Novice Clinics at Glenvale to teach young riders how to race safely and successfully.

They host 45 Tuesday twilight & Sunday morning criteriums, with fields close to 200 and promotes the Phillip Island Cycling Grand Prix teams race in addition to being a strong supporter of track racing, hosting a Track Open and weekly club racing.

Junior cyclist of the year

15 year-old LaTrobe Valley cyclist Shannon McCurley took out the Junior Cyclist of the Year award.

Her performance at the 2007 Australian Junior Road Championships where she won gold in the W17 criterium and three bronze medals in the W17 time trial, road race and pairs time trial sealed her win.

She also was dominating at the 2007 Victorian junior road championships, where she claimed three gold medals in the W17 time trial, W17 road race and W17 criterium. Also, at the 2006/07 Victorian junior track championships she won silver in the W17 2000m individual pursuit and two bronze medals in W17 time trial and points race.

Club-promoted event of the year

The Midlands Tour took out the Club Promoted Event of the Year, following a great display in all aspects of event management.

It featured full rolling road closure, interstate teams participation, one of the best courses on the calendar, with the level of support provided to riders second to none and the feedback from riders overwhelmingly positive.

It was run by a passionate team of organisers under the leadership of Vito Depetro and Mark Zanatta.

Volunteer of the year

A tireless volunteer, David James (Blackburn CC) assisted CycleSport Victoria wherever he could in 2007/08 by attending junior development camps, delivering school development programs across Melbourne and also at DISC throughout, assisting at the 2007 Victorian schools cycling championships.

He is currently conducting an eight-week school program at DISC on Wednesday mornings and is also a leader in the development of women and provided coaching at Women's Development Series in September of 2007.

Official of the year

Known as the 'Nomad of cycling officials', Graham Bull, the Ararat & District CC, officiated at no less than 35 open events, road and track, in the past two seasons, in addition to club events. He is very approachable and well respected by all in the Victorian cycling community.

Always open to new forms of technology, he applied to officiate at all events conducted by all promoters and genuinely has the best interests of cycling at heart.

Armstrong and Jacques-Maynes fastest in California

Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo-Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team) dominated the women's time trial at the Sequoia Cycling Classic in Visalia, California, while Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Pro Cycling) won the men's event.

Armstrong blasted through the 40 kilometres in just over an hour, leaving her closest rivals, Alexis Rhodes (High Road) and Felicia Gomez (Aaron's Pro Cycling Team) over four minutes behind. Jacques-Maynes won ahead of Cyclingnews diarist Rory Sutherland. Jonathan Mumford (Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast) finished third.

In the women's crit it was High Road's Ina-Yoko Teutenberg who added another win to her season. Teutenberg beat the Team TIBCO duo of Brooke Miller and Lauren Franges to the line.

The men's crit was won by Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Colavita Sutter Home p/b Cookin). The famous last name almost requiring him to do well in a sprint, he beat Cody O'Reilly (Successful P/B Parkp). Haedo's team-mate Alejandro Borrajo finished third.

Full reports, results and photos are available.

School first for young German riders

Twin brothers Sebastian and Maximilian May as well as Oliver Giesecke of the Thüringer Energie Team were doubly stressed in their recent cycling adventures. All three had to write some math pre-exams for their Abitur, the German equivalent of a High School degree. All three attend the 'Sportgymnasium' in Erfurt. The word Gymnasium in German is used for a higher-level school, rather than a place for sports, as in English. Sportgymnasien are special high schools for talented athletes that allow them to coordinate the time-intensive workouts with getting a decent education.

The exams were written at the same time as their class-mates back in Erfurt wrote them, on March 13. The May twins were at a training camp on Mallorca, where they could easily work their training schedule around the exam. Giesecke had a little more trouble trying to fit it in, as he is currently racing at the Istrian Spring Trophy. Giesecke had to get ready for his 12:30 prologue, start right after finishing the math problems. The exams arrived in sealed envelopes and the respective directeurs sportifs, Jens Lang and Gerald Mortag, were supervising the riders.

The riders will graduate this summer and will have a very busy schedule until then. Manager Jörg Werner said that "Aside from sports we do emphasise a good education for our athletes... If cycling doesn't work out for them, they should not have disadvantages finding a job. School is important. We stress and even require this." Werner is very happy with the close collaboration with the Sportgymnasium Erfurt.

The next race for the team will be Cottbus-Görlitz-Cottbus, the first Bundesliga race of the season, on March 24.

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