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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, March 31, 2008

Edited by Sue George with assistance from Susan Westemeyer

Chavanel repeats in the rain

By Brecht Decaluwé

France's Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) was delighted
Photo ©: Bert Geerts
(Click for larger image)

Four days after his solo victory in Dwars door Vlaanderen Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) repeated that impressive performance in similar wet weather conditions near Brussels by attacking the gathered opposition in the 48th Brabantse Pijl. "Mimosa", as the French 28 year-old is nicknamed, attacked on the ascent of the Bruineput with 28km to go, and stayed clear until the finish line in Beersel.

There were more similarities to last Wednesday's race; it was the winner's first participation in the race, and again he was the first French rider on the race's palamarès. With this victory Chavanel ended Oscar Freire's domination of this race. The triple world champion had won on the Alsemberg three times in a row since 2005, but wasn't able to follow the winning move in 2008.

"Just like Wednesday I didn't know this course, as these are all races in which I've never competed, but apparently they suit me quite well. I've got a great week behind me and I hope that I'll be able to extend this form until the Tour of Flanders next week. Do note that I'm not the top favourite although I won Dwars door Vlaanderen and the Brabantse Pijl, as the Tour of Flanders is much more difficult and much longer," Chavanel said when talking to Sporza TV after the race.

When congratulated with his "grand numéro" Chavanel remained modest. "I can't help that I can stand the poor weather conditions pretty well. It rained all day and it was stone-cold, but if you win then that is easily forgotten."

Boasson Hagen takes first win in High Road colours

Twenty year-old Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen successfully fended off some of professional cycling's best-known time trialists to clinch stage three of the Critérium International for Team High Road. Riding against specialists like Americans David Zabriskie (Slipstream Chipotle - H30) and Bobby Julich (Team CSC), David Millar (Slipstream Chipotle - H30) of Great Britain and Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d'Epargne), Boasson Hagen stopped the clock for the 8.3 kilometre course in a time of 10 minutes and 16 seconds. It was his first win in High Road colours after joining the team this winter.

Boasson Hagen's German team-mate Tony Martin proved to be the second fastest on the time trial, giving High Road the top two places on the stage. Germany's Jens Voigt (Team CSC) won overall.

"Edvald did a classy ride, he made no mistakes and calculated his strength perfectly," said an excited High Road directeur sportif Valerio Piva. "At the half-way time check he was one second down on Tony, and then he turned up the throttle to finish seven seconds ahead. That shows real control and power."

"The course was made a lot tougher because of the incessant rain, so even though our guys were off early they didn't have an advantage because of better weather conditions. It was the same for everybody. Even so, Edvald beat guys as well-known as Zabriskie and Millar. For a 20-year-old, it's an amazing achievement, and one which really bodes well for the future."

"On top of that Tony finished just seven seconds down. It's been a great day's riding for the team."

After riding the Hel van het Mergelland in Holland with High Road's other young pros next Saturday, April 5, Boasson Hagen's next top level challenge will be the Ardennes Classics at the end of April. Boasson Hagen's victory is the 15th for High Road's men's team this season.

Ciolek out sick, while the women excel Stateside

Meanwhile, High Road's young German sprinter, Gerald Ciolek, had to abandon the Critérium International on Sunday.

"We are not yet sure of Ciolek's health condition," team spokeswoman Kristy Scrymgeour told Cyclingnews. "He has not been feeling well since Milano-Sanremo, with sore muscles and not able to perform well. They decided that it was best for him to take a rest from racing until they do some blood tests to determine his condition. They should have some results next week."

The team's two captains are also out for the moment, Michael Rogers with Epstein-Barr virus and Linus Gerdemann with a double leg fracture and knee problems.

Meanwhile, High Road's women's team competing in the USA continued with their strong performances. Kim Anderson and Alex Rhodes repeated their wins in Saturday's San Dimas Road Race with another successful breakaway ride in Sunday's final stage. On Saturday, Rhodes won the stage and Anderson took the leader's yellow jersey.

The following day, the pair rode to the same result with Rhodes taking another stage win and Anderson confirming her lead and going home with her first stage race victory since 2004. Teammates Mara Abbott and Anke Wichmann worked to ensure the break stayed away, while Wichmann led out youngster Emilia Fahlin who won the bunch sprint for third place.

Anderson finished with not only the leader's jersey but also the mountain's classification. "It was really fun. The girls rode really well and it paid off. Now we have a few days rest before we start Redlands, so we're excited to see what we can do there."

Sydor takes it all in at Cape Epic

By Nic Lamond in Calitzdorp, South Africa

Rocky Mountain's Pia Sundstedt and Alison Sydor
Photo ©: Karin Schermbrucker / SPORTZPICS
(Click for larger image)

Alison Sydor's hands are sore. No, she didn't fall, although that would be forgivable even for a mountain biker of her experience and class as many skilled riders fell victim to Cape Epic's stage two thanks to a treacherous course. Her hands ached from braking hard. And she wasn't alone.

Over 1,000 other riders still intent on finishing the this year's Absa Cape Epic were icing stressed fingers and knuckles Sunday evening after the loose, rocky climbs, traverses and descents that they were forced to negotiate on stage two. Having survived searing heat and brutal climbs for over 100km, the final 30km run into Calitzdorp included a heart-stopping descent that would have been appropriate on a World Cup downhill track, not a nine-day cross-country stage race!

But Sydor was also happy. She and Rocky Mountain team-mate Pia Sundstedt hold the Cape Epic women's leaders' jersey for the second day in a row, and now sit over half an hour ahead of second-placed Trek/VW's Susan Haywood and Jennifer Smith. Not only that, but they are ahead of the first-placed mixed team of Nico Pfitzenmaier and Ivonne Kraft from Team Joybike Guided by Vmt and Maloja. The significance of that achievement was not lost on the seasoned mountain bike racer.

"It's the first stage race that I've ever been involved with where the first women's team is ahead of the first mixed team. That I've never seen before!" said Sydor.

The Rocky Mountain team had a shaky start to this year's race, with Sundstedt and Sydor suffering mechanical trouble on the prologue stage on Friday, and then Sundstedt struggling with a knee injury on the opening stage one. But, according to Sydor, that is all behind them, "Her first couple of days were not good, but she's coming around today. It was a much smoother day with no mechanicals, so we're feeling better. But it was still a very hard, demanding day for everybody."

That's the truth. Conditions were very tough with temperatures in the mid-thirties [degrees Celsius - ed.] by noon. "Thank goodness we started early," confessed Sydor. "I mean, I'm not really a morning person; a 7:00 am start is not too appealing. But it was so nice to have a bit of the morning riding, before the heat kicked in the desert today and up that last climb, it was just an oven! But we won, and increased our gap in the overall so it went well for us."

"Pia is just a tenacious athlete, and we trust each other that way. Even though she's had her struggles. I know she's not going to give up. I also know she's going to give her best."

But the standout for the evergreen Sydor may be the stunning terrain – worth looking around at despite the pain. "You see a lot of variation, like today," said Sydor. "Starting at the base of the lush mountain in George, then going over the mountain and then all of a sudden you're in the desert. As we have gone through from Knysna to here, I have been chatting to Pia and equating it to the various states in the US -oh, this is like New Mexico, this is like Arizona, this part is like California, Hawaii and other places I've ridden.

"Of course none of it is like seven degrees and rain in Vancouver yet! Thank goodness. But it is amazing the diversity we've seen in the terrain, the vegetation and the climatic conditions. Everywhere we go, every corner we turn, there is some new stunning scenery. It is a really gorgeous race. You have to take advantage of the place you're in, I mean we're riding through terrain that people aren't even allowed to go through. It would be a shame if you don't lift your head and check these things out."

Baggage team sets its own records at Cape Epic

It's tough enough to ride the Cape Epic, but behind the scenes over 700 staff and crew work night and day to stage the biggest full service stage race in the world. One of the integral teams servicing the riders, ensuring that their luggage arrive safely at the new destination and is sorted by number in time before their arrival, is the baggage crew – alias "the baggies".

Throughout the week they lift a total weight of 416 tons of more than 1,000 rider bags (averaging 26kg each) by loading and unloading the baggage truck. Their all time record in loading the truck and sorting the bags in numerical order is an unbelievable 20 minutes! The fourteen strong team, led by University Professor Tiaan Pool, comprises sport management, tourism and marketing students. Organizers speculate that the high degree of education of the baggage team helps them be so efficient.

Before departing from the previous stage, they pack the truck in rough numerical order. Upon arrival they lay out the tent floor with ropes to structure the numerical off-loading of the bags.

"Good music keeps our guys going, and to warm up early in the mornings we have an exercise class," said Pool. "We believe that we must make the life of our clients, the 'riders', as easy as possible. I always tell my students that we must never argue with the riders – they are tired and emotional and might say things they normally wouldn't. And if riders said something they regretted later, they always came back to apologise." The bag team also works hand in hand with local porters from the various communities who take the bags after the riders have checked them out, and carry them to the riders' tents for the exhausted mountain bikers.

UCI announces bikes for the world programme with LOOK

By Ben Atkins in Manchester

Bikes for the World
Photo ©: Ben Atkins
(Click for larger image)

This afternoon at the Manchester Velodrome Pat McQuaid, President of the Union Cycliste International (UCI) signed a contract with LOOK cycles to provide one hundred bikes per year for the next four years in a programme called "Bikes for the World presented by LOOK". Under the programme those bikes will be sent to national federations who want to develop cycling in their country. Frames, pedals, seat posts, track stems and handlebars will be provided by LOOK, the rest of the bikes will be provided by a range of the UCI’s other sponsors.

According to McQuaid, this programme is a "very, very important project" for helping to promote cycle sport in developing nations, one of the big aims of the UCI in its creation of the Continental Calendars that sit below the controversial ProTour.

"Outside Europe the sport is developing rapidly," said McQuaid. "The five Continental calendars are growing dramatically." He pointed out the success of the Africa Tour, where the number of UCI races has grown from four in 2002 to twenty-two in 2008.

Thierry Fourneir, Director General of LOOK cited the company's reasons for entering into the programme. It is, said Fournier important to not only provide support to high profile federations and teams, but also to support the sport at grassroots level. For example, LOOK is involved in the promotion of local races in China, provides bikes to schools.

This is not the first cooperation between LOOK and the UCI, as they have been a supplier of bikes for the UCI's World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland. They have been providing bikes to smaller federations for many years.

(For reports, photos and full results of the 2008 UCI Track Cycling World Championships, please see Cyclingnews' extensive coverage from day 5 featuring the Women's scratch, Men's omnium and Women's keirin.)


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Ben Atkins/

Broken bones for Rabobank

Team Rabobank paid a high price for no results in Saturday's E3 Prijs Vlaanderen. Gerben Löwik fell very early in the race and broke his arm. Not much later Marc de Maar went down, and joined his team-mate in the hospital with a broken elbow. Team leader Erik Dekker called it "a heavy loss. Not just for this race, but they were both set for the Driedaagse van De Panne, the Ronde van Vlaanderen, Paris-Roubaix and even the Giro. Now we'll have to think about what to do."

Bennett & Kintner capture US BMX titles

Olympic hopefuls Kyle Bennett and Jill Kintner captured elite titles Saturday at the USA Cycling BMX National Championships in Texas. BMX will make its Olympic debut in Beijing, China this summer.

Ranked number two in the world entering Saturday's contest, Bennett took the holeshot out of the gate in the eight-man final and held off the star-studded field, including reigning national champion and the number-three ranked rider Donny Robinson to claim the stars-and-stripes jersey in the elite men's event.

In the elite women's race, it was a battle of one-and-two as Kintner and Arielle Martin rode away from the rest of the field to finish in the same order as the pair stands in the current national BMX Rankings – the primary factor that goes into selecting the Olympic long team. The two finished neck-in-neck, the same way the two roommates fare in the standings with only two points now between them.

"We train together in the best facility in the world, we're roommates, we definitely push each other and that has helped separate us," said Martin. "It all works itself out on the track."

The elite men's championship class began with 31 of the top American BMX athletes lining up for three qualifying moto rounds, with the top eight advancing to the main. In the ensuing eight-man main, Bennett took the early lead and held off a hard charging Danny Caluag to take home the national championship and eight more points toward the Olympic Games.

"This is probably the most competitive national championship race in the world and that makes the title even more special," said Bennett. "Even though the track is very different from what we'll see coming up it is very good for my confidence."

The elite women were split into a pair of qualifiers which set up a main stand-off between eight of the top names in women's BMX. Kintner and Martin set themselves apart jumping to a lead out of the gate. In the end it was Kintner holding off Martin to win the stars-and-stripes jersey with Stephanie Barragan capturing the bronze.

In the other two championship classes, Denzel Stein and Terra Nichols earned national titles in the junior men's and women's races respectively. A local hero, Stein beat out junior men's rankings leader Logan Collins to earn the stars-and-stripes jersey. Nichols outperformed Alise Post, the heavy favourite and top-ranked rider, who placed third behind runner-up Shelbi Long after dominating qualifying heats.

In addition to national titles, championship class athletes were awarded points towards their USA Cycling BMX Ranking, which will help determine the long team from which the final Olympic Team will be chosen. The US is expected to contend for medals in both the men's and women's Olympic competitions.

Jazz Apple Team to return to North America

The predominantly New Zealand based Jazz Apple Women's Cycling Team announced a bolstered contingent returning to North America this year. In its third year, the team will embark on a Kerouac-like route following the North American NRC calendar from May through August.

Team founder and director Susy Pryde is a former NRC Champion and dual-discipline Olympian. Pryde spoke positively about the team's burgeoning new talent and their competition in the American NRC.

"The US calendar is the perfect synthesis for challenging racing as well as indoctrinating essential racing skills, with perhaps a less ruthless face than Europe," said Pryde.

Half the team is aged under 20, and Pryde added that one of its main aims is to "build long term racing relationships with the athletes; one that avoids burn-out in their nascent racing careers." Pryde pointed to second season Jazz Apple athlete Malidi Maclean as an example of an athlete who, as a first year senior, ably negotiated last year's experience to pick up essential tools that carried her to the NRC podium in her inaugural road season. "One way for us to keep the athletes wanting more is to make the learning dynamic as relaxed and pragmatic as possible".

Bolstering the team is New Zealand's 2008 Olympic individual pursuit contender, Ali Shanks, and Australian climbing sensation Ruth Corset. Corset is the team's first foreign rider and assistant team manager, Chris Drake said, "Ruth is a delightful addition and will fit very well with the team. We'll always maintain Kiwi flair but just like any other squad, we'll consider all appropriate athletes regardless of nationality or locality." Drake foresees that the 2009 athlete additions will most likely hail from North America as it is Jazz Apple's main market. Rounding out the 2008 team roster are 18 year-old double junior worlds' medallist Lauren Ellis, and second-year junior prodigy, Emma Petersen.

Jazz Apple for 2008
Ruth Corset, Townsville, Australia
Lauren Ellis, Ashburton, New Zealand
Malindi Maclean, Auckland, New Zealand
Emma Petersen, Te Awamutu, New Zealand
Susy Pryde, Auckland, New Zealand
Ali Shanks, Dunedin, New Zealand

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