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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, June 4, 2009

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Dauphiné: A surprise winner on a surprising parcours?

Contador, Valverde, Evans and Basso versus 'the new generation' in the Alps

By Jean-François Quénet

Alberto Contador (Astana)
Photo ©: Susanne Goetze
(Click for larger image)

During its previous 60 editions, the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré has never travelled far from its roots. The headquarters of the daily newspaper of the same name emanating from the French Alps is in Grenoble, where the race will once again end on June 14; the event's start is dictated by commercial reasons, however.

The start in Nancy arises from the fact that the publication now belongs to a group that owns almost all the regional newspapers from the north to the south east part of France. This city, the capital of the Lorraine region close to Germany, will host an unusual prologue - a 'long', opening 12-kilometre test against the clock on an undulating course.

From the start, the favourites will provide an indication of their condition, despite the fact that the Dauphiné can often be a topsy-turvy race. As a pre-Tour de France event, it combines riders who are ready for the main period of the season with others who are preparing but who don't give their all or refuse to show all their cards and their real form.

Alberto Contador is the first name on the lips of those selecting the favourites. "The Dauphiné is a very important test for me," said the Spaniard, who has been on site earlier than his rivals. He went to reconnoitre the Alpine stages of the Tour de France and could already feel the 'heat' of the Dauphiné a week before the race.

As usual the event features the biggest climbs in the second half of the week. Stage two to Dijon in another regional capital known for the wine and the food of Burgundy is designed for the sprinters. That's where everybody will be curious to see Tom Boonen in action. The Belgian is on a mission to convince the organisers of the Tour de France to let him race this year despite another out-of-competition drug offence.

Continue to the full Dauphiné preview.

Time trial training for Evans & co.

Cadel Evans (Silence Lotto)
Photo ©: Edward A Madden
(Click for larger image)

The Tour de France roster of Silence-Lotto, including Grand Tour leader Cadel Evans, has completed a training session for the team time trial in Zolder, Belgium, on Monday. The 2008 Tour de France runner-up prepared specifically for the team time trial stage four of this year's Tour on the Zolder racing circuit, especially rented by the ProTour team.

"It was excellent training and fast! This was the ideal moment and the ideal place to prepare for the team time trial we’ll face at Tour de France," said Evans before flying back home to his European home in Switzerland.

"Whoever aims at a podium must consider this stage [stage four around Montpellier - ed.], and a good preparation and training are vital," said Evans. "One problem is that in May and June, the riders are all over Europe: Giro, Tour of Belgium, Dauphiné starting next Sunday, to be followed by Tour de Suisse." said the Australian, who will be the designated leader of the team going for the overall win.

Apart from Evans, Silence-Lotto had called ten other candidates to the training session, those riders who are also running for Tour participation in one month: Sebastian Lang, Charles Wegelius, Mickael Delage, Thomas Dekker, Jurgen Van den Broeck, Roy Sentjens, Greg Van Avermaet, Staf Scheirlinckx, Johan Vansummeren and Mario Aerts.

While most teammates were having a shower, Evans and Lang added one more hour of training on the circuit. The Australian will fine-tune his form at the Dauphiné Libéré, starting this Sunday - his last race before the Tour begins on July 4 in Monaco.

Astana for Dauphiné Libéré

Astana has announced its line-up for the upcoming Dauphiné Libéré, from June 7-14. The team's leader, Alberto Contador, will have the support of the following riders in the race preparing for the Tour de France: Alexandr Dyachenko, Jesús Hernández, Benjamín Noval, Sergio Paulinho, Sergey Renev, Tomas Vaitkus and Haimar Zubeldia.

The Dauphiné starts this Sunday with a prologue in Nancy. Contador, winner of the 2007 Tour de France, has never won the event leading up to the Grand Tour. Since his last race, the Vuelta a Pais Vasco in April, the Spaniard has reconnoitred the Tour's mountain stages in the Pyrenees and the Alps.

Cofidis to continue

By Richard Tyler and Hedwig Kröner

Eric Boyer, a relieved man
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image) Eric Boyer the team manager of Cofidis

The sponsorship contract of French Pro Tour team Cofidis has been extended until the end of 2010, it was reported on Thursday morning. The news represents a back-flip by the French financial services group, who had earlier told team management that support for the squad would cease at the end of the current season and that they should begin the search for new sponsors.

Instead, Cofidis have agreed to extend the team’s current one-year contract until at least the end of next season. The news of the contract extension has come as welcome relief to team manager, Eric Boyer, ahead of next month’s Tour de France.

"That's very good news indeed for our squad," Boyer told Cyclingnews on Thursday, confirming the news. "We didn't know whether Cofidis was going to extend the present contract or not, so we eagerly waited for their decision, which came last night. Had they bailed out, it might have condemned our team to cease, as it's very difficult these days to find a new sponsor. But fortunately Cofidis decided to continue its sponsorship - surely also because they are happy with our work, which will hopefully bear fruit soon!"

"The team manager pointed to last year's Tour de France victory by Sylvain Chavanel. Still, Cofidis have endured a wave of bad luck and publicity over the years. The departure of key riders and several doping scandals, culminating in the expulsion of the squad from the 2007 Tour de France in the wake of Christian Moreni's positive test for testosterone. "

The one-year deal extends Cofidis’ long held association with professional cycling, which began in 1997 when the team was formed by then team director, Cyrille Guimard.

Armstrong's comeback reasons reviewed by Walsh/Ballester

The authors of "LA Confidentiel", a book published in 2004 alleging that Lance Armstrong used performance-enhancing substances, have hit out at the cyclist once again. In their latest book, "Le Sale Tour" ["The dirty Tour" - ed.], Pierre Ballester and David Walsh write about the return to competition of the seven-time Tour de France winner and his apparent ambition to enter US politics.

The former journalist of L'Equipe and his colleague working for The Sunday Times allege that Armstrong's comeback to the sport after three years of absence is not to promote his Livestrong foundation against cancer, but that his real reasons for it are those of a businessman. According to Ballester and Walsh, Armstrong, after unsuccessfully bidding for shares of the company holding the Tour de France, came back to cycling to increase his personal wealth.

"Since last summer, his [non-profit] Livestrong foundation has a lucrative segment," said Ballester. "And when Armstrong receives 200,000 Euro to host a conference, he puts it into his pocket - unlike the leading cancer experts, who will donate the money."

The authors also claim that Armstrong has a political objective: become the governor of Texas in 2014. In the second half of the Book, Walsh and Ballester ask sports politicians about Armstrong's return, with former French sports secretary Jean-François Lamour saying, "This comeback is not a very good sign. It's even a kind of a masquerade."

Moreover, Ballester accused the organisers of the Tour de France, ASO, to privilege their business over the sports aspect at the Grande Boucle. "ASO's new strategy is more turned towards business than the credibility of the sport," said Walsh. "In allowing Armstrong to come back to the Tour, will be coming back also the ghosts of the past: doping, scheming, bribery... They must have weighed pros and cons, more important and less important, and decided in favour of Armstrong's return."

Columbia-Highroad announces Philly roster

Team Columbia-Highroad has released its roster for the 25th edition of the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship taking place in Pennsylvania on June 7. Team members preliminarily slated to take the start include Andre Greipel, Bernhard Eisel, Gert Dockx, Greg Henderson, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Marco Pinotti and Vicente Reynes.

The cyclists will complete ten laps of a 14.4-mile circuit through Philadelphia, which will include ten climbs up the 17 percent gradient Manayunk Wall. They will finish with three laps of Lemon Hill and Logan Circle, totalling 156 miles in one of the biggest single-day road race in the United States.

More surgery for Horrillo

Pedro Horrillo of Rabobank has undergone more surgery after being transferred back home from Bergamo, Italy, following his terrible crash in stage eight of the Giro d'Italia. The Spaniard had fallen over a guardrail 80 metres in a ravine and sustained many fractures, amongst other of the femur.

The femur, on which doctors in Italy had already performed surgery, was successfully operated on again on Wednesday at the university clinic of Pamplona. The intervention lasted four hours. Horrillo also underwent surgery already for his left kneecap and foot, on which a titanium plate was fixed.

ASO releases Tour route details

On Thursday, race organiser ASO has published the complete 2009 Tour de France route details on its official website. The complete breakdown of every stage, including a time schedule, can now be found on

The Tour de France will start in Monaco on July 4 and feature ten flat stages, eight mountain stages, two individual time trial stages and one team time trial stage. Fans travelling to see the event first-hand can now check out the exact race route by browsing the site.

Vandenbroucke tops podium in Le Bizet

Former Quickstep-Davitamon rider, Frank Vandenbroucke, claimed victory in a race in the Belgian town of Le Bizet, on Wednesday.

Riding for Belgian/Australian continental squad Cinelli-Down Under, the former Liège-Bastogne-Liège champion finished twelve seconds ahead of Jérémy Honorez (Lotto-Bodysol-P.C.W.) in a race for elite riders without a professional contract.

Touted as a cycling prodigy early in his career, Vandenbroucke has failed to re-find the form that saw him win the Belgian classics Het Volk and Ghent-Wevelgem in the late 1990s. (RT)

Back-to-back wins for Downing in UK's Tour Series

Dean Downing ripped to another big win at round three of the Tour Series, the UK's new urban road race series, in Woking, Surrey. The racing was furious from the start, with an early crash involving round one and two winners Graham Briggs and 2008 National Circuit champion Downing.

After 20 minutes of racing, four riders, including Malcolm Elliot, escaped and stayed away for almost 10 laps until the Halfords Bikehut train reeled them in coming through the second sprint of the night.

By this point the field had started to fragment - due in part to crashes and some high-speed pain being dealt out by the Rapha-Condor, Candi TV-Marshalls Pasta and Halfords squads.

As the race reached 45 minutes, Downing was at the head driving another small group of riders, seeing off some furious attacks. Racing then settled with five laps to go as a group of around 20 riders started to think about the final.

With four laps to go Downing launched himself off the front –- speeds were by now averaging 32mph - and quickly gained a gap of around five seconds, which he kept until the finish line.

Tony Gibb won the sprint for second and Steven Adams took third, meaning that (formerly Plowman Craven-Madison) won the team prize on the night, with Jeroen Janssen making up the three counters.

After three races of the 10-round Tour Series, Rapha-Condor took the overall team jerseys, with Candi TV-Marshalls Pasta moving down to second and in third.

The next stage of the Tour Series takes place tonight (Thursday, 4 June) in Peterborough. It then heads to Blackpool, Southport, Stoke-on-Trent, Colchester, Chester and Southend-on-Sea. You can follow the Tour Series on ITV4 at 7pm on Wednesdays and Fridays.

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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(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2009)