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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News, May 22, 2009

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Catalunya: Martin close to lead

Daniel Martin (Garmin-Chipotle)
Photo ©: Graham Watson
(Click for larger image)

After stage four of the Volta a Catalunya, Irishman Dan Martin is reaching out for the leader's jersey currently worn by Alejandro Valverde. The Garmin-Slipstream rider rocketed up to second on general classification, just 15 seconds adrift of the Spaniard from Caisse d'Epargne, after placing second in a difficult mountain stage on Thursday.

During the race's queen stage counting 175 kilometres from Spain to Andorra, Martin was able to attack the overall favourites and especially Valverde on the last climb taking the peloton up to 2030 metres of altitude. The stage finish in Vallnord, Andorra, was taken by an escapist, Julian Sanchez (Contentpolis-AMPO), but behind him the battle for the general classification was on.

"At the bottom of the last climb with 20km to go the gap was down to 1.30 to one lone survivor of the break, Sanchez," said Garmin-Slipstream directeur sportif Johnny Weltz. "Then the front group exploded immediately with only the strongest in it - we had Dan [Martin] and Timmy [Duggan], as well as Christian [Meier] for a while.

"With 5km to go Dan took things in his own hands with a super hard attack - he was 55 seconds down on the overall leader Valverde, who couldn't follow Dan! Valverde had a teammate to lead the chase as he couldn't move, so it stayed a 15 second gap in between Dan and the race leader all the way to the finish," continued Weltz, who was very proud of his riders' performances.

The Best Young Rider of the 2009 Tour Mediterranéen came into the finish six seconds behind the stage winner, with Valverde just two seconds behind him. "This brought Dan to second on GC after a super performance, and as Dan said, really solid support from his teammates!" according to Weltz.

With three stages to go, the 22 year-old's chances for the overall classification are wide open, and current leader Valverde is taking the threat seriously. "Some riders tried to attack," said the Caisse d'Epargne rider in Andorra on Thursday evening. "The most dangerous one was the one of Dani Martin."

Also read: Dan Martin - the next big thing?

Petacchi rumour denied

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Even though Alessandro Petacchi is currently racing for Italian Professional Continental team LPR, the Italian sprinter was said to possibly be participating in the Tour de France this year. According to French sports paper L'Equipe on Friday, Belgian ProTour team Silence-Lotto was interested in signing the rider for the French Grand Tour, but the squad quickly and firmly denied the rumour.

"Nonsense," team director Marc Sergeant told Belgian media. "For two reasons: firstly, we could not pay Petacchi. And secondly, he wouldn't fit into our team on a sports level. Everybody knows that he needs a train in the sprint. Evans is and remains our man."

Indeed, the rumour would have more than surprised the Australian Tour de France contender, who is currently in the Sierra Nevada for a training camp with teammate Jurgen Van Den Broeck and expects his team to fully support him come July.

The talk came up after a conversation between Petacchi's manager and one of Silence-Lotto's sports directors, Roberto Damiani, at the Giro d'Italia. Damiani said he was "interested" in Petacchi if the rider wasn't under contract anymore.

Neben to work for Worrack in l'Aude

By Susan Westemeyer

Amber Neben (Equipe Nürnberger) was leading the race just a few days ago
Photo ©: CJ Farquharson
(Click for larger image)

Trixi Worrack of Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung won Thursday's queen stage of the Tour de l'Aude, moving her up to third place overall. The German will go for the overall title in the remaining three stages, and will have the support of teammate Amber Neben.

"Trixi had a good win," Neben told Cyclingnews. "Now I want to do everything I can to help Trixi move up. It will be a difficult task but there are still three days to go."

Worrack was one of six riders to break away on the first climb of the stage, but only three of them came through to the end. After 92 kilometres, the German was able to outsprint Cervélo TestTeam's Claudia Häusler and Kristin Armstrong. Häusler moved into first place overall, 1.11 minutes ahead of Armstrong, with Worrack in third at 1.51 minutes.

"The team still has a chance with Trixi, and I am motivated to do everything I can to help her," Neben said. "Trixi won the stage and moved on to the podium, so it was good for the team."

Neben had taken over the leader's jersey after the second stage time trial , but gave it up after the fourth stage. Since then, things have not gone as she would have wished.

The world time trial champion was one of the original six in the break group, but then had "some problems," as she admitted. "I dangled for a bit and then ended up in the chase group."

The 34-year-old was puzzled by her performance but also philosophical. "I am obviously disappointed, because I was there. It should have been no problem for me to stay there. I'm not sure what was going on.

"Regardless, I know life doesn't always flow perfectly. Setting goals always comes with the risk of failure. That won't stop me, though. I'll continue to battle as I always do."

Bos and Rabobank dominate Olympia's Tour

Theo Bos at the Tour of Turkey
Photo ©: JF Quenet
(Click for larger image)

Theo Bos got his road career off to a rocky start this year but he is not letting the controversy affect his riding. The 25-year-old has dominated the Olympia's Tour in the Netherlands, taking the leader's jersey after the opening team time trial prologue and winning both of the first two stages.

Bos brought down race leader Daryl Impey of Team Barloworld in the finale of the last stage of the Presidential Tour of Turkey. Although the Dutch rider claimed that this had not been intentional and that he merely tried to protect himself, he was disqualified from the race and now faces sanctions from the International Cycling Union (UCI) for the incident.

Rabobank's youth squad won the prologue's team time trial, with Bos leading the team across the finish line, and the former track star has gone on to win the sprints in both of the following stages. The team dominates the race in almost every aspect, also holding the team ranking as well as the jerseys for best young rider, points and intermediate sprints.

Oddly enough for a race held in the Netherlands, Rabobank Continental Team sports director Nico Verhoeven complained about too little wind. More wind and the peloton would have fallen apart, instead of staying together for a mass sprint. "With a little more wind, we would have had very big time differences. It was unfortunate."

Bos echoed those thoughts, calling Thursday's stage very tough. "It was really a hard journey but I was still there in the finale." (SW)

Briggs takes Tour Series opener

Yorkshire rider Graham Briggs (Candi TV) came back from a rib injury to take the first round of the UK's Tour Series in Milton Keynes on Thursday. In a controversial sprint finish, the Doncaster-based rider got the better of Olympian Rob Hayles, after race commissaires judged that the Halfords-Bikehut rider impeded Briggs in the last few metres.

The one-hour criterium in Milton Keynes, raced at 28 mph, was the first race of the brand-new Tour Series. Team Candi TV-Marshalls Pasta, which placed three riders in the top ten of the inaugural event, thus leads the all-important team classification of the series with Graham Briggs, Malcolm Elliot and Simon Holt making up the winning trio.

The Tour Series now moves to the south west as Exeter will welcome round two next Thursday evening at 7pm.

Win a signed Cervélo jersey!

Enter Cyclingnews' contest to win a unique piece of cycling memorabilia - a Cervélo TestTeam jersey, signed by all nine team members from the squad's 2009 Giro d'Italia line-up. To be in with a chance of winning all you have to do is pick today's top three finishers from stage 13 of the Giro in the correct order.

To enter the competition, join our forum, and post your top three prediction. Entries will close when the first rider hits the 20-kilometre to go banner.

You must pick all three top finishers in the right order. The first to submit the correct entry wins. Sounds easy, right? But it took us a number of stages to give away the Columbia jersey earlier in the race!

The jersey has been signed by the following riders:

Carlos Sastre (Spa)
Philip Deignan (Irl)
Simon Gerrans (Aus)
Volodymir Gustov (Ukr)
Jeremy Hunt (GBr)
Ted King (USA)
Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu)
Daniel Lloyd (GBr)
Serge Pauwels (Bel)

Good luck and have fun with it!

Celebrate with Cyclingnews' Giro Sweepstakes

The centenary edition of the Giro d'Italia has started off with exciting finishes, beautiful terrain and great performances by the superstars of cycling. We're celebrating the Giro in the best way we know how - working the race to bring you daily race reports, photos, features and live coverage.

Thanks to our friends at BMC, you can share in the celebration - simply enter our BMC-Cyclingnews Giro d'Italia Sweepstakes for a chance to win.

One lucky Grand Prize winner will receive a BMC SLC01 Pro Machine road bike frame - the same frame ridden by the riders on the US-based BMC Racing Team - as well as an Assos-made BMC team jersey, cap and socks.

Enter the contest at All you have to do is answer two questions and complete the entry form - you don't have to buy anything! Please only enter once and good luck!

Entries close May 31, 2009 at 11:59PM Pacific time.

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