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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News, May 25, 2009

Edited by Sue George

Savio scores with Bertagnolli

By Gregor Brown in Faenza, Italy

Leonardo Bertagnolli (Serramenti-PVC Diquigiovanni)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Serramenti-PVC Diquigiovanni manager Gianni Savio continued his good run in this year's Giro d'Italia, guiding his riders to win number two in Faenza on Sunday. The experienced team boss celebrated Leonardo Bertagnolli's victory just three weeks after signing him.

"We brought him on board the Tuesday before the Giro d'Italia stared in Venice," said Savio.

Savio found additional funding for the team and for Bertagnolli's contract from a subsidiary of American company PPG, Sigma Coatings. The Italian rider jumped at the chance to ride his home stage race and left Professional Continental team Amica Chips, which did not receive an invitation to the Giro.

Not content with Michele Scarponi's win last Thursday in Austria being the sole highlight of this year's Giro, Savio plotted a second stage assault whilst simultaneously focusing on the overall aspirations of team captain Gilberto Simoni.

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"As I have every morning, I spoke with team director Marco Baliani. We have done well in the stages up until today, but I wanted to continue on the success," said Bertagnolli. "It was going to be important to be a part of the break so we would not have to work from behind for Simoni."

Bertagnolli joined a move of 14 men – which included teammate José Serpa – at kilometre 27 into the 161-kilometre stage in Emilia-Romagna. The break disintegrated on the climb of Monte Casale, but Bertagnolli remained with Serge Pauwels over the final climb of Monte Trebbio.

However, Pauwels was ordered by his team to sit up and wait for captain Carlos Sastre and Bertagnolli was left to ride the final five kilometres solo.

"I was quite calm," said Bertagnolli. "Then, with the gap at 30 seconds, I started to become nervous. Luckily I was able to manage the gap."

He won with a 54-second advantage over Pauwels and nearly two minutes on the overall race favourites.

Boom or bust for Basso in Faenza

By Gregor Brown in Faenza, Italy

Ivan Basso puts Denis Menchov and Danilo Danilo Di Luca on the defensive.
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Ivan Basso fired his strongest salvo at rivals with little reward over a sweaty 161 kilometres to Faenza in Sunday's Giro d'Italia stage. The Italian made his move mid-way into the Monte Casale climb and gained an advantage of one minute before the break failed due to the collaboration of teams chasing behind him.

With six days left to race – including three mountaintop finishes – Liquigas' team captain believes that someone else will win the centennial Giro d'Italia.

"You have to be a realist; there are three minutes between me and the favourites. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) is going strong, the strongest rider in the group, the most consistent. The first three (on the GC), if they don't have a bad day, then it is a battle between them," Basso said to Cyclingnews.

Menchov leads the race by 34 seconds over Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini). America's Levi Leipheimer (Astana) is 43 seconds back, in third. The other pre-race favourites are more than two minutes back, with Basso at three-and-a-half minutes.

Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo) fled the group with Basso, and the pair was later joined by Andriy Grivko (ISD) and José Serpa (Diquigiovanni), who were caught after having escaped even earlier. The effort lasted around 26 kilometres.

"I owed it to myself, my team and my fans to try. It is the first Grand Tour in three years, and I think that this gives me confidence for the Vuelta [a España] and for next year's Giro. I am re-familiarising myself with attacking... an escape, the effort that you feel.

"In the end, the result was not sufficient, but I believe it was what I had to do."

Basso may have another chance to get a result in Monday's stage to Monte Petrano. The 237-kilometre stage finishes with a 10.4-kilometre climb, the fourth of the day. Menchov may be the man favoured by Basso, but the steady Russian is not letting his guard down.

"It was a very interesting move by Basso," said Menchov. "Today and tomorrow are the days to try. It did not work, but it was a good try."

The 2009 Giro d'Italia will finish on May 31 in Rome. Basso won the 2006 edition, but missed recent editions due to his involvement in the Operación Puerto doping investigation.

Gustov hopes Petrano tips in Sastre's favour

By Gregor Brown in Faenza, Italy

Volodimir Gustov is working for this man: Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)
With 15 Grand Tours in his legs, Cervélo TestTeam's Volodimir Gustov is predicting fireworks in tomorrow's stage to Monte Petrano and the beneficiary may be his captain, Carlos Sastre.

"It will be the decisive stage following these difficult days – Bologna and Faenza. We will have the heat, 240 kilometres and the climbs... Guys can lose five, four or three minutes," said the Ukrainian Gustov to Cyclingnews.

The Centennial Giro d'Italia enters its third and final week with the stage to Monte Petrano on Monday. With four categorised climbs, the last being a four-kilometre climb to the finish line, it has the potential to reshape the classification.

Sastre sits in fifth at 2:52 back in the classification, though, not in the top three which is occupied by race leader Denis Menchov, Danilo Di Luca at 34 seconds and Levi Leipheimer at 43 seconds.

"He is going strong now, but it [Sastre winning] depends a lot on the others. He was strong in the time trial, he was the top three on the climbs, but lost a bit on the descents."

Gustov lives in Peschiera, Italy, with his wife Silvia and son Riccardo. He knows the roads further to the south well due to his time with Fassa Bortolo, but the early summer weather has surprised him.

"With the heat like it is, Carlos is going to keep going stronger and stronger. If the others keep going just as strong, it will be hard to win, but if Di Luca or Menchov have an off day then Sastre will certainly attack."

Gustov knows Sastre well; he helped deliver him to last year's win at the Tour de France. The two raced together in 2007 and 2008 at Team CSC - Saxo Bank. Prior to applying his efforts to help Sastre, Gustov worked for captains Alessandro Petacchi and Ivan Basso.

Millar out, but eyes Tour after positive Giro

By Gregor Brown in Faenza, Italy

David Millar (Garmin - Slipstream)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)
David Millar pulled out of the Giro d'Italia stage race on Sunday, 16 days after it started in Venice and 10 weeks after he fractured his collarbone. He is returning to Girona, Spain, to focus on the Tour de France.

"I would like a stage win," the Brit told Cyclingnews of his French aspirations. "Then, for the team, will be aiming for that team time trial in order to get Christian [Vande Velde] as well placed as possible in the classification."

Millar sat in 99th after Saturday's stage, which is impressive considering the crash that forced him off his bike in March. Over the last 14 stages, he helped the American-based Garmin-Slipstream take second in the team time trial and led out Tyler Farrar in numerous sprints.

The mountain stage to Faenza and the next day's difficult stage to Monte Petrano were too much, though. He had missed out on training for four weeks because of the crash and returned to his bike only two weeks prior to the Giro d'Italia's start in Venice.

"I didn't even know I was coming to the Giro, and to get this far makes me happy. I am tired now, but I think this was the best way to come back from the injury."

Millar leaves his six teammates and a race that has shaped up to be a three-man battle amongst Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini), Levi Leipheimer (Astana) and current race leader Denis Menchov (Rabobank).

"It is going be very hard to beat Menchov. He probably has it wrapped up, to be honest. The only weakness Menchov has is his team, when the s**t hits the fan he will be isolated quickly. It's not ideal, but he is a pretty cool customer."

Millar will meet up with Vande Velde in Girona. Vande Velde crashed and left the Giro d'Italia in stage three, but has recently returned to training.

Following two weeks of training, Millar will race the Dauphiné Libéré stage race, the only race on his schedule prior to the Tour de France, July 4 to 26.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia.

Valverde takes Volta a Catalunya overall

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)
Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) completed the final stage of the Volta a Catalunya on Sunday on Barcelona's famed Formula One circuit safely in the main bunch to take the overall victory ahead of Garmin's Dan Martin and Haimar Zubeldia (Astana).

"I want to dedicate my victory to Juan, my father, who is really touched by what is happening and is currently in the hospital," said Valverde.

Valverde contested the race despite receiving a ban from the Italian federation for alleged involvement in the Operation Puerto doping scandal. The Spaniard said he hoped "this injustice will soon stop".

"The Caisse d’Epargne team worked to control the race and obtain a victory that is very important for me in the difficult context which everybody is familiar with. What motivated me most of all is the support I received, from the people who are at my side every day, my team, the public, the press which is supporting me more than ever.

"I hope that the injustice will stop very soon and that I can start again concentrating only on the races and nothing else."

The stage was won by Columbia-Highroad's Greg Henderson ahead of Lloyd Mondory (AG2R La Mondiale) and Fabio Sabatini (Liquigas).

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the final stage of the Volta a Catalunya.

Fullana wins at home

Absalon make its three in a row

By Rob Jones in Madrid

Margarita Fullana (Massi) leads
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)
As usual, Madrid proved to be an exciting venue for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup held on Sunday.  World Cup leader Marga Fullana (Massi) extended her lead in the overall standings with a win in this fourth round of the women's race, but the World Champion won by only four seconds over the defending World Cup champion Marie-Helene Premont (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain).

"It is a great honour to win in my home country; this was one of my big goals for the season," said Fullana.  "Of course, I was very concerned about Marie-Helene, because she is always strong, but I could see that I was better on the climbs, and I knew that I had to attack there in the final lap."

After a second night of heavy rain, the decision was made to shorten the women's race from five laps to four.  The wet ground made some of the climbs unrideable, and every corner had to be negotiated with care.  A group containing Fullana, Premont, world number-one-ranked Catharine Pendrel (Luna) and Lene Byberg (Specialized Factory Team) split away from the field.  However, Pendrel ran into shifting problems, as well as having difficulty with the muddy course after a night of rain.

Only Premont and Byberg could respond to Fullana's first attack as she tested her competitors and the trio pedalled on. Premont became concerned about being caught, and upped the pace, dropping Byberg, who would hold on for third, with less than a lap and a half to go. 

Fullana made her winning move on the final long climb, launching an attack and Premont could not respond immediately. The Spaniard held on to win her second consecutive World Cup. 

Fullana's win increased her lead in the World cup standings to 850 points, 190 over second place Osl, with Byberg in third at 565 points.  Pendrel moves to fifth at 470 points, and Premont jumps from 16th to ninth in the standings with 408 points.

Julien Absalon (Orbea) and Ralph Näf (Multivan Merida) got away
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

In the men's race, Julien Absalon (Orbea) padded his already comfortable lead in the men's UCI World Cup series by taking his third consecutive win of the season, and the 19th of his career.

The men enjoyed drier conditions and a finally rideable course by virtue of racing later in the day.

Multivan Merida's Ralph Näf had his patented fast start, and a sizable group of contenders formed at the front of the race by the midpoint of the first lap.  At the front, the lead group was rapidly whittled down, and by the third lap, it was just Absalon and Näf leading, with a chase group of four trailing at 29 seconds and including Jose Hermida (Multivan Merida), Roel Paulissen (Cannondale Factory Racing), Under 23 World Cup series leader Burry Stander (Specialized Factory Racing) and Nino Schurter (Scott-Swisspower). 

By the fifth lap, Näf felt it was time to put some pressure on Absalon, and launched a powerful attack near the end of the lap, gaining 11 seconds as the pair began their final lap.  But move proved to be premature, as Absalon steadily reeled him in, and then dropped the tiring Swiss rider to solo in with a gap of over a minute for his 19th World Cup victory.

"It was a bit of a tactical race with Ralph," said Absalon.  "He did a very good attack against me, and gained some seconds.  I wasn't able to keep his wheel when he went.  But I think maybe it was too much for him to keep going (like that), and I was able to get back up to him."

Absalon's lead in the series is becoming almost insurmountable, as the Olympic champion now has 950 points to second placed Wolfram Kurschat's 625, while Burry Stander sits in third at 580 points, and leads the Under 23 standings. 

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the elite men's and elite women's World Cup cross country races in Madrid.

Teutenberg wins final stage at Tour de L'Aude

Häusler secures overall win

Claudia Häusler (Cervelo Test Team)
Photo ©: CJ Farquharson
(Click for larger image)
Ina-Yoko Teutenberg sprinted to a final stage win ahead of five other women who had been with her in a breakaway for much of the day. Noëmie Cantele (Bigla) and Emma Johansson (Red Sun) followed in second and third place. Claudia Häusler (Cervelo Test Team) hung onto the overall lead, cementing her win after she took over the lead on stage 6.

It was Teutenberg's 18th career stage win in the Tour de L'Aude and her third for this year's edition of the race. Teutenberg credited her teammate Chantal Beltman for the win, citing the work Beltman had done.

"Without Chantal in the break with me today I would not have survived," Teutenberg said. "She worked hard all day in the group and at the end, she rode the last five kilometers from the front covering all the attacks."

Just eight kilometers into the race, three woman escaped off the front including Beltman, Teutenberg and Loes Gunnewijk (Flexpoint). Emma Johansson and Bigla racers Noeme Cantale and Modesta Vzesniauskaite joined them. Working well together, the break managed to stay away, albeit with just a 15-second margin thanks to the intentions of the chasing Cervelo Team riders to control the race and protect their race leader Häusler.

"Over the final climb Bigla started attacking, which was when Chantal had to work really hard to keep the break together," said Teutenberg. "She did the perfect job and delivered me to the line for the sprint."

"I'm totally exhausted. The course was really tough [with five categorized climbs], and it was really hot. Even after drinking about six litres of water today, I feel dehydrated, but it's nice to finish Tour de l'Aude with a win."

After crediting her Cervelo Team for her success, overall race winner Häusler said, "I am happy to be here today in the yellow jersey. It was great, but it has also been a tough 10 days here in France."

Cervelo Team Director Manel Lacambra said, "I am very proud of all the ladies! It was our goal to take the overall victory and we did it." In addition to Häusler's win, the squad won the team classification.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the final stage of the Tour de L'Aude.

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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