Latest Cycling News, February 10, 2009
Edited by Bjorn Haake
Gavazzi grateful for another victory
By Greg Johnson in Melaka, Malaysia
Mattia Gavazzi (Diquigiovanni-Androni) has won his second Tour of Langkawi stage but the Italian says it could be his final chance before the race finishes in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, as his team looks to conserve energy. The Italian has claimed the first two stage wins at the Malaysian event, giving him a 10-second lead on general classification.
"Yes, we're here for stage wins," he said. "But logically we can only take the race day by day – it's a race with six riders, making it difficult to control. Today again I sincerely didn't expect to win and now I have two stage wins and the leader's jersey."
Gavazzi had the help of climbers Jackson Rodriguez and José Serpa to bring back today's two-man break, setting up the 25-year-old's sprint victory. The Venezuelan and Colombian riders will now need to save themselves for the race-deciding climb to Genting Highlands on Friday, where they are favoured to win the stage and potentially the general classification.
"In Genting I have some teammates who will go for the general classification, but the team will have to rest a little bit before that," said Gavazzi. "We can not allow ourselves to ride this way all the way to the finish, we will have to give some responsibility to the other teams."
It was a combination of hard work and luck that set up a sprint for Gavazzi, according to Diquigiovanni-Androni team manager Gianni Savio. The Italian was full of praise for the day's two breakaway teams who, he said, "made a good race.
"Today we worked like yesterday, very hard in the first part of the race. In the second part, at the finish, the other teams failed," said Savio.
Two of the team's riders were feeling ill on stage 2. Luca Celli was one of five riders to not finish in the main peloton, instead rolling across the line 8:12 minutes down.
The Tour of Langkawi continues Wednesday with the 186-kilometre stage from Melaka to Melaka. The stage is again expected to be one for the sprinters.
Weltz talks Langkawi tactics
By Daniel Benson in Melaka, Malaysia
As the Tour of Langkawi moved into full swing on Tuesday, Garmin Slipstream's Directeur Sportif, Johnny Weltz, gave his impressions of the race so far and his insights on team tactics, riders to watch and how the race may develop.
Sitting on the bonnet of his Garmin team car before the start of stage two, the former US Postal director and ONCE rider gave his impressions on the race so far. "I know it's early in the race but by now the teams have figured who is competitive and who isn't and with the stages set to get harder and longer over the coming days each team has to be careful where and how they use their energies," Weltz said.
"That sounds pretty obvious but what we're seeing is a race with two speeds. The top European teams are competing against each other and then the smaller teams are racing at a level below that." Weltz's comments are backed up by the fact that both stages have ended in bunch sprints while Diquigionvanni-Androni, Garmin, Cervélo and AGR2 have been the most decisive teams at the front of the bunch.
Garmin narrowly missed out on victory in stage one and again came up short on stage two from Senawang to Melaka, with Chris Sutton finishing in 13th place after coming second the day before. "So far it's gone well for us with Chris getting support yesterday for the lead-out, although today was less successful. These things happen. We think our balance is good here though, with guys who can sprint and climb so it should be good for the rest of the race."
Weltz still pays attention to the smaller teams, though, who he believes could hold the key to the race with unknown hidden talents. "We pay them all respect as you could get a group go up the road with a Kazakh rider who could be the next Vino and the race develops so quickly that we have to be really attentive. So we do our research and find out who is who and what we can let get up the road." This includes scouting the local and national teams for riders to be watchful of and speaking to the local press.
South Africa going for Asian victories
By Greg Johnson in Melaka, Malaysia
South Africa's national squad is hoping to pull some upset victories at the Tour of Langkawi this week, after finishing third and second on the opening two stages. The squad isn't only hoping to go one better at a stage finish, however, instead aiming to climb into the leader's jersey on the Genting Highlands stage.
"[For now] our focus is for stage wins," said Janse van Rensburg. "We got a third place in yesterday's sprint and a second place today, so tomorrow we will see if we can get the win with our sprinter.
"The main focus is to go for the general classification," he added.
Rensburg climbed his way into the King of the Mountains leader's jersey on stage 2 on Tuesday. The rider took over from teammate Jaco Venter, a sprinter who took the jersey by being in the leader's group at yesterday's slight rise.
"We got King of the Mountains on the first day, but we weren't aiming to get King of the Mountains, we were aiming to get a rider into the first breakaway of the day," he said. "It's something to work for, it's something just to keep our mind on the race.
"I may just try to defend the jersey tomorrow [Wednesday - ed.] and maybe I'll hold on," he added. "I'm not going 100 percent to hold on to the jersey to the end."
Gilmore achieves early goal in Qatar
By Gregor Brown in Al Shahaniyah, Qatar
Rochelle Gilmore took what she came for in the Ladies' Tour of Qatar: a top three finish. The 28-year-old of Team Lotto Belisol won the bunch sprint behind the escape duo in Monday's stage to Al Shahaniyah.
"I was happy to beat the fastest sprinters in the bunch and to win a big bunch sprint in a race like this is encouraging," said Gilmore to Cyclingnews.
Gilmore thought she had won the day since she did not know about the winning duo of Veronica Andreasson and eventual stage winner Eva Lutz. With one stage left to race in the Tour of Qatar, February 8 to 10, Gilmore keeps focused on the season's goals.
"This year, I would like to have a couple of good World Cups, focus on Bern [Berner Rundfahrt, May 10 - ed.] and Nürnberg [Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt, September 13 - ed.] at the end of the season. Then, some stages at the Giro d'Italia and a strong performance in the Montréal and PEI Tours [both in June - ed.]"
Gilmore won three stages of the Tour de PEI in 2008. She also had several key second place results throughout the season.
The Ladies' Tour of Qatar finishes Tuesday with the third and final stage. Gilmore and the other 83 riders will cover 109 kilometres from Al Shahaniyah to Al Khor.
Van Dijk makes mark in Qatar
By Gregor Brown in Al Shahaniyah, Qatar
The Tour of Qatar's best young rider Ellen van Dijk hopes that she and the other women present at the three-day stage race this week can have a positive impact on young Qatari girls.
"I heard yesterday there was a bike race for the local girls. That is good because they learnt to ride their bikes only two weeks ago," said van Dijk to Cyclingnews.
The Tour of Qatar is the first professional women's race organised in the Middle East. It follows on the success of the men's stage race, this year in its eighth year and won by Tom Boonen of Team Quick Step.
Van Dijk claimed the blue jersey of best young rider on day one of the race when she made the key move of 21 riders. She leads the competition of under-25 riders by nine seconds over Suzanne de Goede (Nürnberger Versicherung).
It is her first year with Team Columbia-Highroad, the organisation owned by Bob Stapleton and which boasts a powerful men's squad. She has raced with Vrienden van het Platteland and successfully competed on the track over the past years.
"I started riding around the age of 10, but racing at 15. Before I was into speed skating; we trained a lot on the bike in the summer. I worked my way up through the national races."
Van Dijk is building for here world title ambitions in Poland, March 25 to 29. She will defend her title in the scratch race, and compete in the points race, individual pursuit and team pursuit.
After Qatar ends Tuesday, van Dijk will travel to Copenhagen for the final round of the Track World Cup, February 13 to 15.
Nolf's funeral planned for Saturday
Frederiek Nolf's funeral is tentatively planned for Saturday at 10:00 in his hometown of Kuurne, Belgium. The plans are still tentative because his body has not yet arrived home.
Nolf died in his sleep during the Tour of Qatar. He was to have been returned to Belgium on Monday night via a flight to London, but the plan has been delayed.
The current plans for Saturday would allow mourners to pass before his coffin at the community house before services at the Michielskerk. It is expected that his Team Topsport-Vlaanderen teammates will serve as pallbearers, carrying the coffin to the graveyard.
Burghardt injured again
Marcus Burghardt of Columbia-Highroad crashed for the second time in a week and had to receive stitches to an open wound on his elbow. Burghardt came down on the second stage of the Trofeo Mallorca on Monday.
Burghardt already went down hard in the Tour of Qatar last week.
The crash in Spain happened about 15 kilometres before the finish, according to radsportnews.com. "For some teams it appears to be the most important race of the year. At least that is the conclusion one can draw from the risky and hectic way of riding from some racers," Burghardt said.
It was not immediately clear if Burghardt will be able to resume the Spanish race.
Vuelta a Andalucía presented – Evans will ride it
By Antonio J. Salmerón
The 55th edition of the Vuelta a Andalucía was presented in Cruzcampo, near Sevilla, on Tuesday. The race will run February 15-19 and consist of a prologue and four road stages. Thirteen teams with a total of 91 riders will take the start in Jaén on Sunday. The total race distance is just shy of 670 kilometres.
Several top riders will show up, including Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto). Olympic champion Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Davide Rebellin, and Denis Menchov will also start the race. Pablo Lastras will be there to defend his title.
The race will pass the southern provinces of Málaga, Granada, Jaén and Córdoba. The prologue in Jaén is 7.3 kilometres long. The road stages are between 160 and 170 kilometres.
There will be a total of 13 KOM points and eight intermediate sprints. The last stage will be the queen stage, with five KOM points and the climb of El Torcal, the only category one mountain in the race.
Check out the stages and past winners.
Carroll and East seal UIV Talent Cup overall win
USA Cycling National Development Team riders Austin Carroll and Guy East became the first American Madison pair to win the UIV Talent Cup Amateur Six Day competition. The duo used four top six finishes to lock up the series title ahead of last week's finale in Alkmaar, Holland. The overall Talent Cup winners are now guaranteed a professional contract for competition in two UIV Professional Six Day events during the 2009-10 season.
Carroll and East combined their top four series performances to tally 65 points on the season and best the second-place Dutch team of Yoeri Havik and Barry Markus by nine points. The American pair was third in Munich, Germany, won in Dortmund, also Germany, finished second in Gent, Belgium and ended in sixth place in Copenhagen, Denmark. They had already clinched the overall title ahead of the series final in Alkmaar, Netherlands, where they finished sixth. The Americans join the likes of past series winners including Iljo Keisse, Dmitri de Fauw, Ingmar de Poortere, Tim Mertens, Mark Hesters, Michael Mørkøv, Roger Kluge and Eric Mohs.
"These two riders showed dramatic improvement over last year where they predominantly raced for sixth-place-finishes," commented USA Cycling Madison Program Director Clay Worthington. "They arrived for this race block physically prepared and with a much greater understanding of the exchange technique, racing tactics, and an idea about how to win these events."
Aside from the UIV events, Carroll and East contested the Noel Forre Memorial, the USA Cycling Elite Track National Championships, the Drei-Bahnen-Tournee and attended a USA Cycling training camp in Colorado Springs in September.
"The short term goal for our Madison programme is to facilitate the process of development and produce professional riders," said Worthington. "In the long term, our vision is to produce Olympic, world and world cup champions. We wanted to get our guys over there competing against the best, against the countries that are consistently producing medals in those events so they can gain that race experience and put us in position to earn some of those titles."
Carroll and East now plan to turn their attention toward the road where they will be racing all over the U.S. and Europe this summer as a part of USA Cycling's National Development Team. Although they will graduate from USA Cycling's Madison Program, the pair does plan to return to the UIV circuit next winter where they will be guaranteed competition in two of the prestigious UIV Six-Day Professional competitions.
No license for Team H2O
Team H2O will not exist in 2009, as it did not provide the necessary bank guarantee to the Luxembourg Cycling Federation, which it needed to obtain its license as a Continental team.
Vincenzo Centrone was the last of three Luxemburger riders to have contact with team manager Max Radoni. On Saturday, the manager told him that the guarantee was coming from a small Italian bank, but needed time to arrive in the small nation. It had not arrived by Monday, which would have been too late anyway, as the UCI deadline was Sunday. "It's too bad," Centrone told the Luxemburger newspaper tageblatt. "The project was very interesting."
Another rider, Jempy Drucker, signed with the team when it was applying for a Professional Continental license. "It's all over," he said. "The project looked good, it seemed to be very serious, but now...." He has not had any recent contact with the team, and said that if the Luxembourg federation had not informed him, he would have learned the bad news from the press.
Drucker said he doubted that the bank guarantee would arrive, and even if it did, it would not affect him, as he was now on the search for a new team.(SW)
Victorian bush fires trigger generosity
The devastating bush fires raging through Australia have triggered generosity in the cycling community. The 111th Austral Wheelrace and the Pimpama Road Race have put in place donations programmes.
The Austral Wheelrace takes place on Saturday 14 February and the organiser's will be offering free general admission to Saturday's race at Hisense Arena for anyone who brings a working bike to donate to the Victorian Bush Fire Appeal.
The Kinglake, St Andrews and broader Yarra Valley region affected by the fires are close to the hearts of many cyclists as key training areas.
Some of Australia's leading cyclists, like Tour de France star Cadel Evans and former Australian road champion Darren Lapthorne, regularly use the areas damaged in the bush fire as their training ground.
With memory of the not too distant fires in the Bright and alpine area, the tragedy has hit home with 1984 Olympic Games gold medallist Dean Woods, who is urging those who are in a position to donate a bike to the appeal to do so on Saturday night.
"Everyone is thinking about how they can help and if this is one way, although it might be minor, it's all the little things that add up," said Woods.
"Seeing the way people have responded, offering what support they can, has been heartwarming and is something the larger community can take great pride in.
"Hopefully for the kids, and the adults, in these areas having a bike to get around on once again will help them on the road to recovery as exercise is so important to our emotional wellbeing."
As many of the people in the affected areas are without a home and unable to receive such goods, bikes will be stored in association with CycleSport Victoria and distributed to people, once they are in a position receive them, through cycling clubs in these regions.
The Pimpama Road Race on Sunday, February 15 will be run to benefit the victims of the bush fires. All race entry fees will be donated directly to help the people who have lost their homes, livelihoods and family members in this terrible disaster.
No prize money will be paid. Entry fees will be a minimum of $10, and riders are asked to consider paying as much as they can toward this appeal. The Goldstars will cover any running costs incurred. All income will be donated.
The organisers hope for many people to come out and show their support for fellow Australians in this time of need.
The Pimpama road races are held near Dreamworld on the M1 Eastern service Road, with start/finish at Le Mans Kart Racing.
(Additional editorial assistance from Susan Westemeyer)
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2009)