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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News, May 11, 2008

Edited by Ben Abrahams

Vande Velde hopes team-mates can also have jersey

By Shane Stokes in Palermo

Vande Velde described today's win as the best moment of his career.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Grinning broadly, dressed in the maglia rosa as he sat at the post-race press conference, Christian Vande Velde was clearly satisfied with the Team Slipstream Chipotle H30 performance on day one of the Giro d'Italia.

The American Professional Continental squad justified its invite to the race with a resounding win, covering the 23.6 kilometre course in a time of 26 minutes and 32 seconds, six faster than CSC and a further one ahead of High Road. It followed on from the team's second place in the TTT at the Tour of Qatar and its win in the same discipline at the Tour de Georgia.

Vande Velde crossed the line just ahead of US TT champion Dave Zabriskie and in doing so, took the first Grand Tour leader's jersey of his career. While he's delighted to be in pink, he said that if he loses it, he'd like to see the jersey go elsewhere in the Slipstream squad.

"We came here with one objective and one objective only and that was to win today," he stated. "We did that. It is a pretty unreal thing to do, especially when you are a second division team and in your first year of really getting together. We are over the moon.

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"Now we will just take it day by day. We are easy, we are happy with one day in pink. The next objective for me, personally, would be to pass it to one of my team-mates. I was lucky enough to have it for one day and I want to spread that around.

"It wasn't me who won today, it was my team. If it could be Ryder [Hesjedal], it could be Magnus [Backstedt], I don't long as one of my other team-mates gets a share of the glory."

Reassuringly, the team has a strict anti-doping policy and so the win on day one of the Giro is a boost for the sport. "I think it is a great sign," he continued. "I think it is a sign of a new cycling. You can't forget about CSC and High Road [second and third] either, who do great performances and who have the same programmes as ourselves.

"The first three teams today plus Astana were those with the biggest anti-doping programmes within their teams. So that shows you that clean teams are winning now. You can say without a doubt that a clean team won today."

Continue to the full coverage of the opening stage of the Giro d'Italia.

Millar: 'The hard work has paid off'

By Shane Stokes in Palermo

David Millar (centre) during the TTT in Palermo
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

David Millar is one of the big influences in the Slipstream Chipotle H30 team, both in terms of his leadership qualities and also because he is an example of a rider who represents both the old and the new way in the sport. He served a doping ban but came back and has been outspoken ever since about the need to eliminate such problems from cycling.

Millar is also a talented time trialist and was a big part of Slipstream's win on the opening stage of the Giro d'Italia. He said that the team had done a huge amount of work in the leadup to the race in order to achieve this victory, their main focus for the three-week event.

"We've been working really hard and we've been learning so quickly on a day-to-day basis," he said after the team were feted on the podium. "We finally started gelling yesterday, and today we rode it perfectly. There is nothing else to say...we earned that victory through hard work and detail.

"You should have seen us...we did everything. All the equipment has been perfect, we have done everything vests and all that. God is in the details and we didn't miss one detail.

"And Christian was just unbelievable...he earned us six seconds on his own in those last five kilometres. I could barely hold his wheel. I haven't spoken to him about it, but in the back of all our minds, if anyone was going to cross the line first, he deserves it."

The team stepped up to the big time this season, investing a lot to bring some big names on board and also to push for a place in the Grand Tours. Slipstream is taking part in its first Giro, and in less than two months time will line out in its debut Tour de France.

Millar is very satisfied that things are moving in the right direction and Saturday's team time trial result is part of that. "It is like mission accomplished, we have worked so hard for the win. It has been an objective for a long time. We congregated in Girona eight days, nine days ago, and we have been working towards this. We have earned it.

"This is the biggest success for the team thus really is. Jonathan [Vaughters] and I built it around the potential of being a great team time trial squad, and the details that Jonathan puts in are great. Then Whitey [Matthew White] as a directeur [sportif] added to things - he has gelled it all together in this past week. He has been the missing link. He gave us a team talk last night that none of us had ever had before. We all left and we were like, 'wow'. We have never had anything like that before.

"It is forming. I reckon in another year, we are going to have a dream team." As for the team's goals for the rest of the week, Millar said that the pressure was off. "Now it is all icing and cherries, isn't it," he stated.

McGee psyched, form coming back

By Shane Stokes in Palermo

Sidelined for quite some time due to a back problem (which later turned out to be caused by a cyst in his knee), Australian rider Brad McGee and his CSC squad went frustratingly close to taking victory on Saturday's opening stage of the Giro d'Italia. They finished six seconds behind winners Slipstream Chipotle H30 in the 23.6 kilometre test, but McGee was nevertheless able to look on the bright side.

"They are never easy, those team time trials," he told Cyclingnews. "Time trialing is hard enough by yourself but you have got to think about eight team-mates out there. A circuit like that is very technical and thus very demanding too, both physically and mentally.

"We are happy with our ride. We are never happy to get second place, of course, but everyone is quite confident that we got the maximum out of ourselves today and that is all you can ask for. Okay, maybe we could have saved a little on a corner here or an exit there, but what does that mean? It [a team time trial] is the whole package, and that was us today."

McGee has been on the road to recovery ever since that knee cyst was discovered and drained. He said that things are very solid now. "I feel awesome, really great. I'm delivering some nice power and recovering well. It has all gone just fine."

Four years ago he was eighth in the Giro d'Italia. When asked about his goals this time round, he speaks cautiously. He's got two reasons for that; the tough nature of the course, and the fact that he's missed out on training and racing due to his injury.

"Look, it is a crazy Giro," he said. "If you look at the parcours, I think it is one of the hardest that has ever been around. People don't realise how demanding this first week is going to be, let alone the last week.

"It is also going to be a very hard race tactically, as regards where do you put the power don't want to be caught out on any of these days, because if you do it is all over. I am not here for GC, let me say that. But I do want to be up there on particular days, time trials and a few blokes might want a hand towards the end of the race for GC."

A solid Giro might be expected to lead on towards a good Tour de France, but McGee plays down any speculation about the French race. In fact, he's unlikely to be there this year.

"I don't think so, nothing has been set in concrete as regards riding the Tour," he said. "But at the moment I haven't got it marked in my diary. We will see how the Giro goes first.

"But for me, the Olympics is the number one goal. I'll be doing the two pursuits on the track, rather than trying to do the road time trial. After that, because I will have such a break from road racing, it will take me a couple of weeks to get back into it after the Olympics. But then I can't see why I wouldn't take on the complete rest of the season. Maybe the Vuelta and the Worlds."

Pinotti content with High Road performance

By Shane Stokes in Palermo

Italian time trial champion Marco Pinotti held the leader's pink jersey during last year's Giro, and returns to the race motivated to ride strongly. His High Road team was third in the TTT, nine seconds behind winners Team Slipstream Chipotle H30.

"The race was good, for most of the time it was perfect," he said afterwards. "I think we just lost some seconds in the final part. We couldn't speed up too much as we could have left some riders behind."

Riccò eyeing Giro's second stage

After a fairly unspectacular opening to his Giro d'Italia campaign, Saunier Duval leader Riccardo Riccò already has his thoughts on a possible early victory on stage two. The Italian, whose team finished 15th out of 22 on the stage one team time trial, believes tomorrow's undulating 207 kilometre route across Sicily will be to his liking, as well as being an opportunity to assess the form of his rivals.

"The first stage for us was not exciting, but I am happy because the team gave everything they had," said Riccò. "Even last year, in Sardinia, the result was not very good, but still it was the prelude to an unforgettable tour. The race has only just begun and there is still a considerable way to go. Tomorrow's stage, at least on paper, suits my characteristics, but also suits those of many other riders."

Earlier this season, the 24 year-old had suffered from bronchial problems that derailed his Spring Classics campaign, but after spending the past two weeks training in the Dolomites, Riccò is looking forward to testing himself in the Giro's high mountains.

"I remain convinced of my ability," he added. "But I still must verify fully my condition. For me it was a turbulent start to the season. With the falls and physical problems I was never able to really test myself until now. However, the sensations are good and in a few days after the first mountains we will see what chances I have."

A son for Petacchi

Alessandro Petacchi finally received some good news on Saturday afternoon when his wife Anna Chiara gave birth to a son, named after his father. It is the couple's first child. The Team Milram sprinter was recently given a one-year suspension for a non-negative doping test for Salbutamol in the 2007 Giro d'Italia. (SW)

Vervecken to change teams in 2009

Former world cyclo-cross champion Erwin Vervecken will move to the Revor Cycling Team as of January 1, 2009 according to Sport Wereld. Revor owner Jan Maes is said to have confirmed rumours that the Belgian has agreed to leave his Fidea team and will start the Grand Prix Sven Nys in Baal, the first cyclo-cross event of the year, wearing the Revor jersey.

The Revor team, based in West-Flanders, has also secured the signatures of Jan Soetens, David Commeyne and David Willemsens. Besides the loss of Vervecken, Fidea will also see Klass Vantornout move to Sunweb-Pro Job in 2009, but will retain the services of Bart Wellens and Czech champion Zdenek Stybar.

Grabsch to return in Neuseen Classics

Team Milram's veteran all-rounder Ralf Grabsch will return to racing Monday at the Neuseen Classics in Germany after being forced to stop training due to injuries sustained in Paris-Roubaix. The 35 year-old damaged his left knee by hitting it against his handlebars during the cobbled Classic.

"I am happy that I have fully recovered from the painful knee injury and am looking forward to my return to racing," said Grabsch, who had to cancel his appearance in the Rund um den Henninger Turm on May 1.

The 1.1 classified Neuseen Classics is held on a 191 kilometre course through the Braunkohl region south of Leipzig. After a 161 kilometre loop, the riders will face two laps of a 15 kilometre circuit before returning to the finish in Zwenkau.

The Milram lineup will consist of: Ralf Grabsch (Ger), Christian Knees (Ger), Sebastian Schwager (Ger), Christian Kux (Ger), Björn Schröder (Ger) and Luca Barla (Ita).

(Additional research and assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer).

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