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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, May 31, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

Kiryienka holds off wave of Giro hopefuls

"I was secure of myself today"

By Gregor Brown in Monte Pora

Vasili Kiryienka (Tinkoff Credit Systems)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Belarus' Vasili Kiryienka pulled off a number on the drenched Lombardia day to Monte Pora, Giro d'Italia stage 19. The 26 year-old of Tinkoff Credit Systems joined the day's major move at kilometre 57 and then confidently ditched his companions with 16 remaining, riding ahead of the overall classification slugfest between Contador, Di Luca and Riccò.

Kiryienka, a third-year professional, got on with his battle ahead of what was left of the day's original seven-man escape group and the charge of Italy's Danilo Di Luca, who was on the hunt for time over race leader Alberto Contador. He kept clear by 4'36" to claim his biggest win today over the 2007 Giro d'Italia winner, Di Luca.

He comes from a track background and comparisons were made to his 2006 World Points Race Championship title. "I had bigger emotions with with my gold on the track," he recalled after the stage. "However, today was great for me and the team." He added to Pavel Brutt's win in stage five to Contursi Terme.

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Though he is known for his speed on the track, Kiryienka showed well over the stage-ending climbs of Passo della Presolana and Monte Pora. "It worked out this way," he reckoned. "I am a world champion on the track and, unfortunately, I am not that strong on the climbs. I have become better on the climbs and usually don't go that slow."

When he bridged to join the escape it was done so with precision. "In a way my track background helped me out today. I calculated my leg spins, said 'If I don't enter the escape immediately, then it won't work.'"

The Belarusian might have been missing his simplified track bike at the base of Presolana. He was forced off his road machine and, for a minute, looked to be out of contention after suffering from a mechanical. However, a quick bike change and hard surge got him back to the front three riders, Nicki Sørensen (Team CSC), Alexander Efimkin (Quick Step) and Steve Cummings (Barloworld).

"I am a used to this," he explained "I throw the bike to the side of the road and I asked for another with a smile. They gave me another bike and I took back the others – I was secure of myself today."

Continue to the full feature.

Teamwork upends Giro standings

LPR gangs up on Astana, but Contador refuses to fold

Salvodelli slaves for Di Luca.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Teamwork has always played an important role in cycling, and Friday's Giro d'Italia stage to Monte Pora was a prime example of how self-sacrificing domestiques can change the outcome of a race. In the pouring rain, on the long, narrow and treacherous descent of the Passo del Vivione, the LPR Brakes team put on a awe-inspiring display of team tactics. The squad's leader Danilo Di Luca had an invaluable ally in the peloton's most skilled descender, Paolo Salvodelli, who also happens to be a former Giro d'Italia champion.

With more than 50 kilometres and two substantial climbs left in the stage, the pair broke free of a select group containing the maglia rosa, Alberto Contador, after the day's biggest climb. Then Salvodelli put his technical skills to good use on the descent, leading Di Luca away from the chasers and back into contention for the overall classification, and only Liquigas' Vincenzo Nibali could follow. As the road flattened, Salvodelli pulled flat out for his captain and then up ahead, from the breakaway, Giairo Ermeti was called back to help hold the gap as the race headed up the first of two climbs in the final 20 kilometres.

After using the last of the energies of his team, Di Luca forged on ahead, stamping his pedals to second on the stage, and gaining 1'08 on the chasing Riccardo Riccó (Saunier Duval) and 1'45" on Contador. With a time bonus on the stage, he moved into third overall, just 21 seconds behind Contador, and back into the race for the final maglia rosa in Milan - a possibility which seemed all but lost after his somewhat dismal performance in the Plan de Corones time trial. After the stage, Di Luca credited his team, saying, "I have to say thanks to 'Falco' Savoldelli. I started it and he joined me; we asked for Giairo to help."

Behind this drama, other teams were sacrificing good men to benefit their captains. Contador's Astana team did all it could to keep him in pink, but it ultimately came down to the young Spaniard to finish the job. "Di Luca attacked too fast, but Klöden and Colom did a good job," said Contador. "I could not answer the attack of Riccò. I am still glad I have the jersey, even if only four seconds, for the mental advantage. I am not afraid for tomorrow – the Mortirolo is a very steep climb and it is good for me, plus it is far from the finish. I am confident, as long I am in the jersey by one second."

While Astana used Andreas Klöden and Antonio Colom to limit Contador's losses to Di Luca, the Rabobank team was also sacrificing for its leader, Denis Menchov. The Russian moved into sixth overall, 2'47" behind Contador, thanks to a bad day by Gilberto Simoni.

Despite all the help from his team, Simoni did not deliver
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

"Everything came apart in the descent where Di Luca staged his attack, due to those narrow turns," Rabobank directeur Erik Breukink explained on the team's web site, "Mauricio Ardila gave it his all for Denis. So he has again played a very important role."

Menchov lost contact with the elite chase group when LPR made its move, and it was the help of the Colombian, Ardila, which allowed him to rejoin the pink jersey group after a tough chase. "It might have been game over if it had not been for Mauricio," acknowledged the team manager. "But that was also an intense effort by Denis, though. So it is good to note that he can ride that solidly on the very last climb."

Ultimately it is up to the team leader to do the work, and no amount of teamwork can make up for bad legs. Two time Giro champion Gilberto Simoni suffered after being dropped from the pink jersey group, and while he was briefly towed back into the group by his Diquigiovanni team-mate Gabriele Missaglia, he still came in more than twelve minutes behind stage winner Vasili Kiryienka - but with two of his team-mates standing loyally by his side.

Evans' form uncertain after knee injury

Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The upcoming Dauphiné Libéré is the season's first test for Tour de France contenders, but Australian Cadel Evans will be entering into the race with a question mark on his form. Last year's second place overall in the Tour and the odds-on favourite for this year's Grande Boucle was forced to take a week long break after experiencing tendonitis in his knee following an intensive training camp in the Sierra Nevada, Spain.

Evans has just resumed training, but he has cancelled a scheduled week of training in the Alps where he was to reconnoitre the mountain stages of the Tour de France. While his form might be uncertain, his participation in the Dauphiné (June 8-15) is not in doubt. "He'll be on the start line but we don't know yet in what physical condition," the team manager of Silence-Lotto Marc Sergeant told Le Dauphiné newspaper.

With the exclusion of the Astana team from the Tour, and the subsequent absence of last year's winner, Alberto Contador, as well as third placed Levi Leipheimer, Evans is considered to be the number one favourite for this year's Tour. The 31-year-old began the season in rare form, winning a stage in February's Ruta del Sol, another in Paris-Nice atop the Mont Ventoux, and then going onto a third stage and the overall victory in the Coppi e Bartali in late March.

His last appearances highlighted his continuing strong showing, with a close second in La Flèche Wallonne and a seventh in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. (JFQ)

Hansen finishes up

By Gregor Brown in Monte Pora

Team High Road is finishing the 91st Giro d'Italia on positive note thanks to three stage wins – two by Mark Cavendish and one by André Greipel. The American-registered team will look to make its next impact in the final stage to Milan, where Australian Time Trial Champion Adam Hansen may have his chance.

"It is a bit downhill, which is not the best for me," 27 year-old Hansen explained to Cyclingnews. "I would prefer it to be a little hilly. Of course I will have a go." The course, starting in Cesano Maderno and ending in Milan, is 28.5 kilometres.

"I am almost finished; two hard days and then the time trial is easy," Hansen confessed to being relieved on Friday morning. "We have nine riders and we did not think we would have nine riders at the finish, and it surprised us. Mark Cavendish has been really impressive on the climbs – he's won two stages – Greipel is doing well – he won a stage too. Everything is going well.

"The goal is to have all of us finish in Milan, we have already done enough and we don't need to do anything else."

Millar wants to rule Milano

By Gregor Brown in Monte Pora

David Millar
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

David Millar has a chance to rule the roads of Milan during the Giro d'Italia's final day, a 28.5-kilometre time trail on Sunday. The 31 year-old Scot of Team Slipstream Chipotle - H30 hinted that would be a good way to bookend the race.

Slipstream started the race with a bang thanks to its team time trial performance in Sicily. The win – six seconds over Team CSC – gave the team a big boost in its first Grand Tour and put its rider, Christian Vande Velde, in the race leader's maglia rosa. Millar has his eye on the final day in Milano and a chance to end the race the way the team started it – winning.

"It is good for me," Millar confirmed to Cyclingnews the morning of the mountainous run to Monte Pora. Millar made an impressive showing in the fifth stage to Contursi Terme – despite a mechanical before the final kilometre – and wants revenge on his bad luck with an individual stage win.

"I am just aiming for that now; I am taking it easy and hoping to be good for that," added Millar. He must pull himself over the Passo di Gavia and Passo del Mortirolo Saturday, and then get a good nights rest for the time trial. "I got to finish the Giro anyway," he concluded with his usual humour.

McCartney weighs up Giro and Voigt's win

By Gregor Brown in Monte Pora

American Jason McCartney is nearing the end of his third Giro d'Italia, and is proud of his CSC team-mate's stage win in what has been a wet ride from Silica to Lombardia. The 34 year-old explained that the team's spirit was lifted by Jens Voigt's win in Varese, something that could give McCartney encouragement for Sunday's time trial in Milano.

"Voigt really pulled it off for us," confirmed to Cyclingnews in Legnano's Piazza I Maggio. "I had a chance on the sixth stage and I kind of messed it up, so it was great to see yesterday. Everyone is super-psyched. ... He is just happy. It is an incredible feeling for him."

Following McCartney's attempt in the Peschici's stage, he suffered as the race headed north to the Dolomites. The winner of stage 14 in the 2007 Vuelta a España finished 22nd in the Urbino time trial before starting the first set of claiming stages; he now faces the Passo del Mortirolo and Passo di Gavia before he can have go in Milan.

"I had a little sickness in the middle; now, I am back and feel a little bit better. We will see what happens. ... Then it will be game on. Maybe I can do something special in the final time trial depending on how I get through the mountains."

The evidence was there of a wet Giro d'Italia while talking to McCartney; his white and red CSC jersey was actually gray and dark red. "Yeah, it is nasty and it seems like every day it has been raining," he confirmed. "Your shoes are always wet; you always have paper in them. [The roads are] always up and down – it has been a hard one. ... The Giro is always hard, the climbs are always steeper. They always have these climbs that are not even on the profiles that are just ridiculous."

He added of the feared Passo del Mortirolo (12.8 kilometres, with an average gradient of 10.3 percent), "I have done the Mortirolo so I know how hard that is."

World Cup's round seven heads to Canada

By Kirsten Robbins

Fabiana Luperini (Menikini-Selle Italia Master Colors)
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
(Click for larger image)

The Canadian city of Montreal, Quebec is ready to host round seven of the Women's World Cup series, the 11th annual Montreal World Cup, on Saturday, May 31. The event will showcase 23 international teams, with riders from each team battling to score UCI points during their final chance before August's Olympic Games in Beijing, China but one notable absence is 2007 UCI Women's World Cup winner Marianne Vos (DSB Bank).

At noon the world-class field will start 11 laps of a 10 kilometre circuit, equalling a 110 kilometre race of attrition. The event will start and finish on the Park Avenue, at the base of the event's significant two kilometre climb to the top of Mont Royal.

Following the decisive climb riders will descend through the technical twists and turns of Montreal's city streets and around Jeanne-Mance Park before their arrival back to Park Avenue. Once on Park Avenue the lap is still not over with the riders required to pass through a flat, fast section of the course before taking a hairpin turn which is followed by a 400 metre stretch to the finish line.

One notable rider from the 23 international squads is defending race winner Fabiana Luperini. The Italian won last year's event from a two-woman break away that included the current United States of America National Champion Mara Abbott (High Road). The 2007 edition saw a break-out performance by the young Abbott, who was riding for the domestic Webcor Builders squad at the time.

Former world champion Judith Arndt (High Road) will be a tough contender to beat, having won the event in 2006. The German is leading Vos, who has been competing in South America preparing for the Olympic Games, by just 15 points in the World Cup standings.

Continue to the full preview.

High Road plans World Cup defence

Team High Road will be pulling no punches in their defence of Judith Arndt's World Cup lead in the GP Montreal, the next round of the series, on Saturday. "We're expecting a very tough, classy race because that's what GP Montreal is all about," team boss Petra Rossner commented. "If you look back at the top 15 of all the GP Montreals, you'll see there are no fluky results in there, no accidents. All of the top riders in Montreal are there for a reason - because they're big hitters."

For Rossner the race route is "very straightforward, but no less tough for being so. Each lap has got a third uphill [up the infamous Mont Royal], a third downhill and a third flat.

"Attacks can go anywhere and everywhere, the weather can be incredibly variable - from rain to warm sunshine - and it's never clear what's going to happen. That's the beauty of Montreal, it's anything but predictable."

With some riders like Arndt and Teutenberg fresh from the Tour de L'Aude and others like Oenone Wood just back from a longish spell without races, Rossner argues they have "a squad which can cover all sorts of scenarios. There's no one favourite within our team for the race though, even though Judith is World Cup leader."

Rossner was adamant they would not change their approach to the race and be more conservative just because Arndt was in the lead. High Road, she insisted, would play as aggressive a game as ever.

"We won't be changing our strategy to defend the jersey. Rather we'll be looking to win this race, and win it well." Nor does she feel that riding the Tour de L'Aude could have blunted some of the High Road riders form. "I did l'Aude 20 times in my career, and sometimes it was harder, sometimes it was easier. You can't just automatically say that because you've done a long stage race you're going to be riding your next race tired"

"It would be better if this race had not been on the Saturday after L'Aude so the riders had more time to recover but that's just the way it is."

Last year Arndt finished third in Montreal, and the German World Cup Leader says the Canadian round of the World Cup is "a race I really like ." "I can understand that." adds Rossner. "There are always huge crowds, a great atmosphere, people out to spend the day as a family following the bike race. This is a real high point of our season."

High Road for GP Montreal: Kim Anderson (USA), Judith Arndt (Ger); Chantal Beltman (Hol); Kate Bates (Aus); Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Ger); Oenone Wood (Aus).

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