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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, June 4, 2009

Edited by Sue George

Rast assumes Tour de Luxembourg lead for Astana

Gregory Rast
Photo ©: JF Quenet
(Click for larger image)
Astana's Gregory Rast became the first leader in the 69th Tour of Luxembourg on Wednesday after being the fastest rider to complete the prologue, a 2.7km time trial in the streets of the nation's capital. Three-time Swiss road champion Rast was pleased with what was his first win of the season.

"I had this prologue already in my mind for a long time. The last two years, I was good in this prologue, but could not win it. Now I am much stronger," said Rast. "My sprints are better. This prologue was a long sprint. Of course I will try to keep the leader's jersey."

"In 2007 I won the overall classification. I would like to repeat that victory. The climbs are not so steep or hard here. I hope to be able to not lose time uphill on the Schlecks and the Italian riders. On the other hand, with Assan Bazayev and Andreas Klöden, we have two other riders able to win this Tour of Luxemburg." Bazayev and Klöden finished fourth and sixth in the prologue.

Earlier this year, Rast wore the yellow leader's jersey in the Tour de Romandie for two days.

Rast's win came as good news after the team's financial troubles. The UCI allowed ProTour team Astana to start the race on Wednesday after the team guaranteed its finances. The team was authorized to compete again after it showed proof of sufficient funds for the short term.

"The UCI asked for new bank guarantees from Astana," said UCI spokesperson Enrico Carpani to the Associated Press. "Astana has respected the deadline and can take the start in the Tour of Luxembourg.

The UCI had imposed a deadline after the end of the Giro d'Italia on Sunday, for the team to show proof of the required bank guarantees or risk suspension. Astana had failed to pay riders for two months.

The news bodes well for Astana's intended participation in races such as the Tour of Switzerland and the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré leading up to the Tour de France, a goal of team stars Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador.

See Cyclingnews' coverage of stage one of the Tour of Luxembourg.

Meet ten former mountain bikers who've switched to the road

By Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

What do Floyd Landis, Amber Neben, Jakob Fuglsang and Cadel Evans have in common?  They all used to be mountain bike racers.  Find out about them and others who have made the switch from singletrack to pavement.  Cyclingnews' Sue George looks at some of cycling's most famous former mountain bikers and what they've been up to on the road.

Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto

Cadel Evans
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The 32-year-old Cadel Evans may be the best-known mountain-biker-turned-road-racer.  Evans has drawn plenty of attention in the road world with a second place at the 2007 and 2008 Tours de France.  He also won the UCI's ProTour competition in 2007.  The Australian is again one of the favorites going into this summer's Tour de France.

In 1995, Evans won bronze in the junior World Championship cross country mountain bike race and also in the junior World Championship time trial.  The next year, he finished ninth at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, which hosted the first-ever Olympic mountain bike race.  In 1997 and 1999, he finished second at the World Championships in the Under 23 category.

Evans used to race pro as a mountain biker for Volvo-Cannondale.  In 1998 and 1999, he won the overall mountain bike World Cup.  He was also seventh at the Olympic Games in 2000.

He now races on the road for Silence-Lotto, but he's previously been contracted by Saeco, Mapei, Team Telekom and Davitamon-Lotto.

Since moving to the road, Evans has won stages in races such as Paris-Nice, Ruta del Sol, Coppi e Bartali, Tour de Romandie and the Tour of Austria.  At the Olympic Games in Beijing last year, he finished fifth in the time trial and 16th in the road race.

Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Team Saxo Bank

Jacob Fuglsang
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Jakob Fuglsang spent three years as a pro mountain biker for Cannondale Vredestein.  He started riding with friends at age 12 and in 1998, he competed in his first mountain bike race.  By 2002, he'd made the selection for the Danish national team as a first-year junior.

After a few years of bad luck at the World Championships, Fuglsang became the Under 23 World Champion in 2007.

In 2008, the Olympic Games did not go as he hoped, and his prospects were starting to look good on the road.

Fuglsang started training on the road to help his mountain biking.  In 2006, he began a three-year part-time stint with Team Designa Kokken.  In 2007, he turned a few heads with a seventh at the Tour of Denmark and a third at the GP Tell.  Plus he raced the road World Championships.  He's also won stages at the Cape Epic mountain bike race.

In 2008, he won the Tour of Denmark and did two races as a stagiare with Team CSC – Saxo Bank.  In total that year, he logged 18 days of road racing and when the offer came from Saxo Bank to become full time with Bjarne Riis' team, Fuglsang said "yes".

"I'm happy to leave (mountain biking) now, but I still have scores to settle.  I'd like to be the senior World Champion, but I can't see that happening in the next two years, so it's time to move on. On the road there is a new challenge for me," said Fuglsang in a Cyclingnews' interview at the end of 2008.

So far in 2009, Fuglsang, in his first of a two-year contract, has raced Paris-Nice, Vuelta a Pais Vasco and Volta a Catalunya.

Read the complete feature.

Warm weather bodes well for Mt Hood Cycling Classic

By Heidi Swift

Mt. Hood off in the distance
Photo ©: Kurt Jambretz
(Click for larger image)

Coming off a week of seriously cycling-worthy warm weather, Oregon is gearing up for the 2009 Mt Hood Cycling Classic (MHCC)- a five-day, leg-breaking stage race renowned as much for its incredible difficulty as for its breath-taking beauty. The forecast is calling for the best conditions that MHCC has seen in its seven-year history and professional racers have flocked to Mt Hood from as far as France to get in on a piece of the action. The race will run June 3 through June 7.

Presented by Pacific Power, the race will return to its roots in 2009, bringing back the popular 3.1 mile Panorama Point Prologue to kick things off in the small community of Pine Grove, Oregon. The remaining stages will take the peloton past the picturesque orchards of the Upper Hood River Valley, through the historic Mosier tunnels and along the cliffside Rowena Loops, up to the Mount Hood Meadows Ski Resort and finally into downtown Hood River for a challenging criterium course.

Indeed, it's one of Bissell's Burke Swindlehurst's favorite events, "The courses here are amazing - great terrain and terrific beauty."

But the beauty won't come without a price. The pro men's race will cover nearly 250 miles and climb almost 25,000 feet while the women will climb nearly 23,000 feet in just 200 miles. And if the weather forecast actually pans out (hey, it's Oregon, don't count on anything), competitors can expect temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees as they battle up the 10,500 feet elevation gain that Saturday's infamous Wy'East Road Race will throw at them.

With both the men's and women's defending champions (OUCH's Rory Sutherland and TIBCO's Julie Beveridge) racing in Philadelphia this week, the top spots are up for grabs and the battle for the podium should yield some top-notch racing.

Swindlehurst, England bring backup

Burke Swindlehurst (Bissell Pro Cycling)
Photo ©: Kurt Jambretz
(Click for larger image)

Bissell Pro Cycling (currently sitting on top of the NRC team standings) will come out swinging, looking to have Burke Swindlehurst in the leader's jersey when the dust settles on Sunday afternoon. One of the strongest and most experienced climbers in the domestic scene, Swindlehurst (2nd at Gila, 3rd at Redlands and 4th at Tour of Utah in 2008) is well positioned to make a run at the GC. "The TT will be critical because it's so long [18.5 miles] and typically the winner of the TT ends up winning the overall, but I had an encouraging time trial at Gila this year and the course profile suits me since there is some significant climbing. I feel good about my chances to win."

With much of the Bissell crew racing on the east coast this week and only four teammates riding support, they'll have to play it smart and race strategically to make it happen. Luckily, Swindlehurst has some climbing power in teammates Morgan Schmitt and Paul Mach but, however you look at it, Bissell will have their work cut out for them as other top contenders set their sights on GC victory.

Justin England and a full eight-man California-Giant/Specialized squad will be among those on the hunt. After a solid 2008 season with Toyota-United (5th at Gila, 7th at San Dimas and 8th at Redlands in 2008) England's 2009 form appears to be coming around. If England is going well and the team plays its cards right, they could be well-positioned to give Swindlehurst and the Bissell boys a serious run for their money. Also watch for Cal-Giant's record-setting Ironman champion and TT powerhouse, Chris Lieto, to shake things up and make a run at the stage 2 win at the Scenic Gorge Time Trial.

Read the complete preview.

New technical director for Ceramica Flaminia

Omar Piscina
Photo ©: Team Ceramica Flaminia
(Click for larger image)

Ceramica Flaminia - Bossini Docce will get a new Technical Director, Omar, Piscina, effective for the 2010 season.

"I have known Omar for a few years, and I appreciated his work with LPR and Tinkoff," said Team Manager Robert Marrone. "In the past we would have liked to collaborate, but for various reasons, it's only becoming possible now."

"Surely with Piscina, the team will acquire more high quality experience, which will help the growth of our team," said Marrone.

"I'm happy about this post," said Piscina. "I'm thankful for the trust placed in me and am looking forward to the new challenge."The Ceramica Flaminia team is healthy and has great potential, and my task will be to work with the young athletes."

World Champion among those for Memorial Marco Pantani

Teams, including CSF Group-Navigare and Lampre-NGC, are gearing up for the Memorial Marco Pantani road race, a UCI category 1.1 event in Italy that's part of the UCI's European tour. The Memorial Pantani will be the first race after the Giro d'Italia for Lampre-NGC, and notably, the race will mark the return of reigning World Champion Alessandro Ballan after an 84-day break from competition due to illness.

He'll be joined by Emanuele Bindi, Mateo Bono, Buts, Mauro Da Dalto, Andrea Grendene, Manuele Mori and Simoni Ponzi.

"Of course we're curious to see Ballan in action," said Lampre-NGC D.S. Fabrizio Bontempi. "Alessandro is training with determination. We don't expect to see him at the top in this first race, but his fitness will increase in Tour de Suisse, his next race. For Memorial Pantani, I will really on Mori, Da Dalto and Bono, who have just finished the Giro and so they're in good form, and on the young Bindi, Buts, Grendene and Ponzi.

"Usually this race is characterized by a breakaway. We'll try to join the good one," he said.

Fortunato Baliani will lead the CSF Group-Navigare team on 183.7km of roads in Romagne, including three trips up the Montevecchio climb of Lonigiano and four finishing circuits. Baliani will be among those looking to attack and make the expected day's winning breakaway. He'll be joined by teammates Alessandro Bisolti, Michele Gaia, Umberto Nardecchia, Marcello Pavarin and Simone Stortoni, all guided by D.S. Roberto Reverberi

Luperini and Pucinskaite excited for Giro Donne

Fabina Luperini (Menikini - Selle Italia) shows off
Photo ©: Giro Donne
(Click for larger image)
Just a few days since the men's Giro d'Italia ended, and past winners Fabiana Luperini and Edita Pucinskaite are among those looking forward to the start of the Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile, also called the Giro Donne or women's Giro, on July 3 in Tuscany. Organizer Giuseppe Rivolta has prepared an exciting course for what will be the 20th edition of the race. Luperini won the race in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2008.

"This year will be very difficult," said Luperini. "I think the competition will be tough. Last year, I had great form, and not all years are equal. The race will be longer and the outcome more open." She will be preparing by racing the Giro del Trentino and the Italian Championship.

Luperini shared some of her favorite memories of the race, which she had done many times. "I remember well the 1996 edition, when I won five stages and the race in 10 days. It's still the record for total number of victories in the race."

Edita Puckinskaite (Equipe Nurnberger)
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)
Looking even further back, she said, "But how could I forget 1995? I was so young, and it was the first time I found myself on the international stage. I remember every moment of the Pianezze stage. What endless joy!"

Pucinskaite recalled her own experiences which include two overall wins. "To get the pink jersey: this was my goal which I pursued for many years. It was an obsession, a goal fixed in my mind. After an unexpected yellow jersey in the Tour de France and a rainbow jersey after that, all the rest of my career ambitions were colored pink!"

"But after difficult times and years, probably to make me appreciate it that much more, I got the best gift in 2006. It was a sea of emotions, ranging from disbelief to joy, indescribable joy and relief, too. I won in 2007, too. The Giro leaves a person with the feeling of having done something unforgettable."

The race will run from July 3 to 12.

Trek – Marco Polo fielding international team at Tour de Korea

The Trek – Marco Polo Cycling Team is getting ready for the Tour de Korea starting on June 5 and running for nine stages. The team will be sending an international team with riders from seven countries set to compete in the South Korean race.

The Tour of Korea traditionally is a successful race for Trek-Marco Polo, so the Chinese-registered team is expecting good results. The team has had several podium placings and stage wins in past editions as well as won the team and individual classifications.

The race is without any mountaintop finishes or time trials, so the GC competition will results from a tactical race. European pro Leon van Bon of the Netherlands will be leading the team's other riders from Asia and South Africa.

Joining Van Bon will be Chinese Xing Yan Dong, who got a third place finish in Langkawi; Malaysian Loh Sea Keong; Japanese Oka Toyohiro; and South Africans Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Jaco Venter, who is the national time trial champion and a strong stage racers. American Michael Carter will direct the team.

Valley Preferred Cycling Center track season kicking off Friday

Racing at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center
Photo ©: Valley Preferred Cycling Center
(Click for larger image)

The Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania, will begin its season on June 5. The popular Friday night professional racing series has a history of attracting the best cyclists from around the world.

Local Bobby Lea of Mertztown, will be returning to the velodrome. Lea, of Ouch Pro Cycling Team, will be challenged by a rising group of American riders led by first-year senior Lanell Rockmore and Shane Kline, as well as top international riders from countries including Argentina, Australia, France, Germany and South Africa, among others.

"I can't imagine a better place to come back to and start my summer again after competing in the Olympics," said Lea.  "This is where I grew up, where I learned how to ride my bike and I'm thankful that my Ouch/Maxxis road cycling team is letting me step away from their program, so I can come back and race here."

The 2009 series of races will include nine Friday night events, up from seven in 2008. This year's schedule includes three events each in June, July and August.

Valley Preferred Cycling Calendar
June 5: US 10 Mile Championships
June 12: Rodale Festival of Speed
June 26: Red Robin BRL All-Star Finals
July 10: The Golden Wheel Race
July 17: Keirin Cup
July 31: Tandem National Championships
August 7: Rodale US Sprint Gran Prix
August 14: Air Products Finals
August 28: Salamander Madison Cup.

KBS auctioning a hot lap for World Bicycle Relief

The Kelly Benefit Strategies (KBS) Pro Cycling team is auctioning off a "hot lap" in the team car to benefit World Bicycle Relief (WBR). The winner of the eBay-based auction, already underway, will get behind-the-scenes access to all the action as the KBS team race in the 25th Annual TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship on June 7. The hot lap auction will end Saturday, June 6 at 2:36 pm Eastern time.

"We're excited to give one race fan the ride of their life in one of the biggest races in North America today," said team performance director Jonas Carney.

The KBS Pro Cycling Team committed to raising awareness and funds for World Bicycle Relief throughout the 2009 season. As part of the partnership, KBS athletes will travel to Africa at the end of the season to witness first-hand how the WBR's funds are put into action.

For more information on how to bid, visit


Bikes for Kids Utah gives away 1,000 bikes

Just in time for summer vacation, 1,000 pre-selected second graders received brand new bicycles, helmets and a t-shirt from the Bikes for Kids Utah Bike Giveaway on May 30. The festival-style event in Murray, Utah, also included a Bike Safety Rodeo and instruction on nutrition.

"From the school administrators and the parents to the children and sponsors, everyone involved is filled with a sense of gratitude to be part of giving bikes to kids," said Debbie Reid, founder and executive director of Bikes for Kids Utah.

The next Bikes for Kids fundraising event will be the Bikes for Kids second annual Utah Red and Blue Time Trial on Saturday, August 29 followed by a dinner and silent auction at La Caille to be held the evening of September 1, 2009.

Official Tour de France Guide hits UK shops

Tour de France Guide
Photo ©: ProCycling
(Click for larger image)

June 4 is the day you've all been waiting for when the only UK Official Tour de France Guide – endorsed by Tour organisers ASO, and lovingly put together by the team behind Procycling magazine – hits the shops.

And, boy, was it worth waiting for! So much bigger and better is it this year, in fact, that it has become The Official 2009 Tour de France Survival Pack.

OK, so there's no Swiss Army knife or silver-foil survival blanket included, but otherwise there's everything you need to make following the 96th edition of the Tour de France this year your best ever.

Besides the massive 228-page official programme that you know and love, the pack contains an exclusive race-history DVD, which includes footage from last year's race, a giant wall chart on which you can fill in each day's stage results, four stunning glossy black-and-white photography prints from Tours past, plus the official, fold-out race-route map to stop you ever getting lost on the roads of France should you be lucky enough to be there following the race this year.

Phew! So, there's more than enough there to keep you busy between now and the start of the race in Monaco on July 4. And that's without even addressing those 228 pages that make up the magazine itself: exclusive interviews and profiles of all the main contenders, all the stage details and team information you could possibly need, Tour history, profiles of the major climbs, and an exclusive extract from British sprint sensation Mark Cavendish’s new book, Boy Racer.

The Official 2009 Tour de France Survival Pack, containing the Official UK Tour de France Programme: available from June 4 from all good newsagents in the UK, price £9.99 – guaranteed to sell like hot cakes.

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