First Edition Cycling News for July 23, 2007
Edited by Sue George and Greg Johnson with assistance from Susan Westemeyer
Pain in the Pyrénées
By Paul Verkuylen
The peloton making its way along
this beautiful river.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
After the display put on by the climbers in yesterday's stage to Plateau-de-Beille,
one could be forgiven for thinking that it was the last mountain stage
of this year's Tour de France. In fact, you'd need to look back a number
of years to find the last time pure climbers were truly battling it out
for the Tour's yellow jersey.
But with five mountains in today's stage to Le Louron, today could once
again redefine the leader board. The 15th stage, which travels through
the heart of the Hautes-Pyrénées, from Foix in the Ariege region, sees
riders tackle the day's first climb after 27 kilometres of racing.
The Rabobank team of yellow jersey Michael Rasmussen showed the world
yesterday it is up to the task of protecting its leader in the mountains.
The Dutch ProTour team's youngster Thomas Dekker, and the ever popular
Michael Boogerd, who is contesting his final Tour, put in strong performances
on the 14th stage
to protect the Dane's lead. Today should see the team once again on the
front, guiding Rasmussen to the final 9.7 km Col de Peyresourde climb,
but Rabobank won't have the luxury of another team helping this time as
was the case yesterday with Saunier Duval. The Spanish squad tried to
tear the race apart for Iban Mayo, who in the end didn't have what it
takes to match it with the leaders on the final climb.
Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel) proved that he is climbing strongly
and the general classification contender will have another opportunity
to gain time on his rivals on today's stage, where he will be hoping to
steal the yellow away from Rasmussen. Discovery Channel leader Levi Leipheimer
minimised his losses on Stage 14, and still stands a chance of reaching
the podium in Paris, providing he can take more time out of Cadel Evans
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Stage 9 victor Mauricio Soler, Barloworld's sensation of the Tour, is
currently minding the polka dot jersey for Rasmussen. The Colombian was
seen sprinting for the King of the Mountain points yesterday, in an attempt
to take the outright lead in that competition, but was still trailing
by two points at the end of the stage - thanks to Rasmussen's strong final
climb to take second on the stage. The Colombian could attack again on
Stage 15 in order to build a lead in the mountains classification and
being 11 minutes down on classification, he poses no immediate threat
to the yellow jersey, which may just be enough for the leaders to let
Evans suffered in the final part of yesterday's climb and lost almost
two minutes to Rasmussen, as well as his second place on GC. The Australian
will try to stay with the leaders and, if the legs allow it, take back
some of the lost time from his rivals.
Astana's Andreas Klöden or Alexandre Vinokourov could well attack today.
Klöden cracked early on yesterday's final climb, but was able to keep
a steady tempo to re-capture and finish with Evans. Like Evans, Klöden
will be looking to take back some time and should be recovered from his
fall in the time trial.
After Saturday's time trial and yesterday's mountain stage, there is
bound to be lots of heavy legs in the peloton, which will make today's
stage even more exciting.
Stage 14 reactions
Erik Breukink (Rabobank manager): "The captain cannot perform
without a strong team behind him, and the efforts by Thomas Dekker, Michael
Boogerd, and Denis Menchov are to no avail if the captain is unable to
finish it. This was a dream scenario come true. Before the race you think
about what could happen and then you are hoping that Rasmussen will have
someone by his side for as long as possible. He started the concluding
climb with three men with him and they held on for a long time too. It
almost could not have been better. It was perfect.
"We have increased the lead on Evans and Klöden, and that
is today's gain. We quickly found out on Plateau-de-Beille that Klöden
and Evans were not in superb shape. That is why Boogerd gave a little
extra while in the lead and Menchov also gave a major tug. That paid off.
But Monday will be completely different. A stage with five climbs spread
out over the entire day. That will be very hard to control."
Thomas Dekker (Rabobank): "I used to watch the Festinas do
this. This shows that I am in good physical condition because there is
no way you can do this if you are not. In the end I limited my own losses
to five minutes. It is very satisfactory that I can take on this role
in my first Tour de France and it proves that much can be expected from
me in the future."
Michael Boogerd (Rabobank): "Thomas and I kept up a pretty
good pace while we were in the lead. We had no choice but to defend and
we did that really well today. Rasmussen yelled 'ho, ho' at first but,
looking back on it, I am glad that I kept going for a little longer because
we did good business today. I was hoping for the role I have now because
I would like to conclude properly. This is a good start. But I know the
Tour pretty well by now, and I know things are still going to get rough."
Iban Mayo (Saunier Duval): "I feel bad, because my fans traveled
far only to cheer on me and also because the team were great. I really
wanted to offer them a triumph. I believed I was doing better. The team
dragged the peloton very well in Pailhères, but in the final stretch
I hardly felt my legs and I had to slow down. Perhaps what happened today
was a consequence of yesterday´s time-trial, I don´t know...
Then, in Plateau-de-Beille, when I realised I wouldn´t be able to
make it I didn´t even try because, as I said before, my goal here
is to grab a stage win. Maybe on Monday or Wednesday... who knows."
Andreas Klöden (Astana): "It was a very tough day for
me. I suffered a lot because of my injuries at my right knee that I had
since yesterday after my fall in the time trial. Well, there are still
two very difficult stages to overcome. I'll see day by day."
Antonio Colom (Astana): "As my place in the overall ranking
isn't important, I waited for Klöden and Kashechkin as Contador and
Rasmussen passed me by. It's my job to work for the team, in order to
be on the podium at the end. Today, I'm happy with my performance but
I'm also a bit sad for the team. After yesterday's stage, I thought we
could make it again today. But that's life
Kim Andersen (Team CSC manager): "Sastre delivered today
and he demonstrated that he is between the strongest riders in the peloton
again this year. We knew, he wouldn't be able to keep up with Contador
and Rasmussen if they were on form, so his chance would present itself
if they were to run out of strength at some point, like some of the other
favorites did today."
Kim Kirchen (T-Mobile): "I performed as well as I could have
expected to. Already on the second last climb, the tempo of the favourite's
group was incredibly high. I knew then that I wouldn't be able to stick
it on the last climb, so I rode at my own rhythm."
Rabobank behind Rasmussen
Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Sirotti
While the queue of sponsors leaving cycling continues to grow, banking
giant Rabobank has thrown its support behind its embattled Tour de France
leader Michael Rasmussen. A spokesperson for the Dutch multinational has
declared the organisation has "no reason to doubt" Rasmussen, whose Tour
success has been shadowed by his axing from the Danish national team after
failing to follow anti-doping protocol.
"Of course, we are totally behind him," Rabobank spokesman Raymond Salet
told AFP. "There is no reason to doubt him."
Rasmussen's dumping from the national squad will see him miss the World
Championships in Stuttgart, Germany in September as well as the Beijing
Olympics in 2008. The decision by his national federation comes after
Rasmussen failed to declare his location to authorities on numerous occasions,
a requirement under anti-doping legislation in case a rider was to be
visited for random, out-of-competition anti-doping testing
Rabobank's stance has reassured the Dutch ProTour team's management,
after T-Mobile sponsor Adidas
announced it would be reviewing its half a million Euro sponsorship
deal of the German squad following Patrick Sinkewitz' positive out-of-competition
test. In addition to Adidas' review, car giant Audi is reviewing its commitments
to the sport, according to German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung,
while a spokesperson for Volkswagen - the parent company of Skoda Automotive
- has told The Guardian it would not pull its support during the
Tour, but will review its four year involvement and decide whether to
Reus slowly being awakened
Doctors in Grenoble, France, have started waking Rabobank's Kai Reus
from his induced coma, with mixed success. They reduced his medication
on Friday to bring him around, but he reacted with violent convulsions.
Things went slightly better on Saturday when Reus was able to recognize
his father before the convulsions set in again. He was then put back into
"He is making slight progress," a team spokesman told the
Belgian website vrtnieuews.be. "He recognized his father,
which is positive." He also added that the convulsions "seem
to be a normal reaction."
The 22 year-old crashed
while training alone. He suffered three broken ribs and a broken collarbone
as well as a brain hemorrhage.
By Susan Westemeyer
"I advise all the athletes who I represent to confess, if they have
something to confess to. And I advised Patrik [Sinkewitz] that way, too,"
attorney Michael Lehner told the German press agency dpa. "I
don't know if he has anything to say or not."
Sinkewitz tested positive
for testosterone. The A-sample results were announced while he was still
in the hospital recovering from severe injuries suffered in a crash following
stage of the Tour de France.
Team T-Mobile Sport Director Rolf Aldag visited the suspended rider
in the hospital the end of the week, and said that his operation had been
a success. "Patrik had surgery on his nose," he said on the
team's website, t-mobile-team.com. "And his jaw was stablized
with an elastic bandage." Sinkewitz has since been released from
the hospital. His B-sample is not expected to be opened before July 24.
Lehner, who has also represented Danilo Hondo, Matthias Kessler, and
Jörg Jaksche, said that he had not yet met with his newest client,
but would do so in the coming week.
The doping test was made at a T-Mobile training camp in the Pyrenees
the beginning of June. According to the German television sender ZDF,
it was possible that the riders were informed of the "unannounced"
control while they were training. In addition, the riders have claimed
that the tests were not properly carried out because the room where the
sample was taken was open to the public.
Appearing on ZDF's "Sport Studio" Saturday night, Helmut
Pabst of the German anti-doping agency denied any irregularities in the
testing procedure. "The athletes were held in a large meeting room
of the hotel. The urine samples were given in a neighboring toilet in
the presence of only the controller."
Lehner said that he had spoken with the other riders tested, who described
a chaotic situation in the testing room. Pabst denied that as well, saying
"Other than the riders, only the team leader and two soigneurs were
there. Strangers would have been told immediately to leave the room."
The attorney indicated that if the B-sample is also found to be positive,
it would be up to the German federation, the Bund Deutscher Radfahrer,
to prove that the sample was not manipulated by a third person.
Stablinski passes away
Four time French national champion Jean Stablinski has passed away, having
succumbed to a long-term illness. The 1962 world champion took his first
French title in 1960, before returning to the podium's top step in '62,
'63 and for the final time in '64. Stablinski, who took five stage victories
during his 12 Tour de France appearances, was also the victor of the inaugural
Amstel Gold Race.
Following his retirement from professional cycling, Stablinski went on
to guide the careers of budding young riders - most notably Lucien Van
Impe and Bernard Hinault. Stablinski was 75 years old.
Rhodes returns to Thüringen Rundfahrt
By Greg Johnson
Australian cyclist Alex Rhodes will join compatriot Katie Brown (Vrienden
Van Het Platteland) in returning to the event where the horrific
crash that claimed the life of the pair's Australian Institute of
Sport teammate Amy Gillett took place, after being named in her T-Mobile
squad's lineup for the 20th Internationale Thüringen-Rundfahrt der
Frauen. Rhodes, who will lineup with Australian T-Mobile teammates Kate
Bates and Oenone Wood, is returning to the event for the first time since
the 2005 accident after missing last year's race.
Rhodes and Brown were amongst the six cyclists hit by an 18 year-old
women who lost control of her vehicle, striking the bunch who were on
a pre-Thüringen-Rundfahrt training ride at the time of the incident.
Brown announced last
week the July 24-29 race would be her last in Europe for the time
being, with the rider planning on returning to Australia to continue her
Rhodes will be riding for German powerhouse Judith Arndt, who has enjoyed
a strong season to date. Arndt missed last year's race after suffering
from a viral infection.
"Judith has proved herself to be the most reliable tour rider this
year with excellent results in Tour de l'Aude and Giro and I expect another
awesome performance from her at Thueringen, especially as it is so close
to home for her", said T-Mobile director sportif Anna Wilson.
Arndt will also have the resources of fellow German Anke Wichmann and
the squad's highest placed rider at last year's event, American Kim Anderson.
"I finished the Giro feeling really good and I'm in top-fit condition.
I want to win here," said the 2004 World Road Race Champion.
T-Mobile Internationale Thüringen-Rundfahrt der Frauen roster: Kim
Anderson, Judith Arndt, Kate Bates, Alex Rhodes, Anke Wichmann, Oenone
Vos retains European title
Team DSB Bank's sprint sensation Marianne Vos has retained the Under
23 women's road race European Champion title after taking out the event
in Hungary over the weekend. Vos outsprinted Italy's Marta Bastianelli
and Lithuanian Rada Leleivyte to take the title.
The 20 year-old reigning elite women's World Champion was delighted with
what she described as "a beautiful victory, I gladly again had to
win. I am quite glad that I succeeded."
Fellow professional youngster Linda Villumsen (T-Mobile), who narrowly
missed out on the young rider's jersey at this month's Giro d'Italia Femminile,
took the European Under 23 Time Trial Champion title at the weekend's
Bruyneel still looking
Johan Bruyneel is still looking for a new sponsor to replace Discovery
Channel. "It's not easy to find someone who writes a $15 million
check," he told the AP.
He said that he might ask Lance Armstrong to help him with the search.
"It's only done when it's done," Bruyneel said. "There
might be strong interest and there may be people who are recently coming
Bruyneel's search may get easier after Discovery's successful week of
racing. Allan Davis took the final
stage and sprinter's jersey at the Tour of Qinghai Lake in China Sunday.
He wore the green jersey from stage 1 until the end of the race.
Meanwhile, on another continent, Bruyneel finds himself in the enviable
position of still having two serious Tour de France GC contenders in the
mix. After Sunday's Stage
14, Alberto Contador Velasco sits second at 2'23" and Levi Leipheimer
is in fourth at 4'29" behind yellow jersey wearer Michael Rasmussen
(Rabobank). Contador also wears the white jersey of the best young rider
Jaksche hoping for comeback
"I'm glad I confessed. I don't have to lie to anyone any more,"
Jörg Jaksche said in an interview with the Swiss newspaper NZZ.ch.
"I want to help cycling change."
earlier this month to having used banned substances and blood doping.
He hopes to ride in the peloton again in the 2008 season, and is looking
for a reduced suspension because of his confession. He intends to provide
prosecutors and investigators with information about those who deal in
doping products, but won't name other athletes, "who are always the
The German called for a basic change in cycling, saying that "doping
is long established and passed on from generation to generation."
He said that doping in the 1990s was not seen as fraud, since everyone
did it. "Jan Ullrich is right in saying that he didn't defraud anyone.
He didn't, except maybe for the three percent who were clean."
Milram for Sachsen Tour
Team Mliram is looking for stage wins in the International Sachsen Tour,
which starts and ends in Dresden, Germany, and runs from July 25 to 29.
Milram for Sachsen: Martin Mueller, Bjoern Schroeder, Sebastian Schwager,
Elia Rigotto, Dennis Haueisen, Sebastian Siedler, Carlo Scognamiglio,
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)