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First Edition Cycling News, February 25, 2008

Date published:
February 25, 2008, 0:00 GMT
  • Milram's star sprinters to pair up in Valenciana

    Article published:
    February 25, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Paul Verkuylen in Geelong, Australia

    Team Milram will be putting both of its sprint aces on the roster together for the first time this...

    Team Milram will be putting both of its sprint aces on the roster together for the first time this season in the Volta a la Comunidad Valenciana. Erik Zabel and Alessandro Petacchi will challenge for the overall classification in the sprint-friendly race. In 2005, Petacchi won the overall classification and took three stages, while last year he took just one stage win, after being beaten by Italian Daniele Bennati on three stages.

    "Erik and Alessandro have already showed in their first races this season that they are already riding at a very high level," said team manager Gerry van Gerwen. "The Volta a Valenciana is an important preparation race for the whole team around our two captains, in looking to our first season highlight of Milano-Sanremo."

    Petacchi has already scored a total of four wins this season, including three in the Vuelta a Andalucia.

    Milram for Volta a Valenciana: Erik Zabel, Alessandro Petacchi, Alberto Ongarato, Brett Lancaster, Christian Knees, Igor Astarloa, Marco Velo and Volodymyr Diudia.

  • Gollan competes for final time on home soil

    Article published:
    February 25, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    By Paul Verkuylen in Geelong, Australia One of Australia's best known and well liked female...

    By Paul Verkuylen in Geelong, Australia

    One of Australia's best known and well liked female cyclists, Olivia Gollan, contested her final race on Australian soil before retiring at the weekend's Geelong Women's World Cup. Gollan was called to the stage by her Menikini-Selle Italia team-mate Nathalie Bates shortly after the winner's presentation, for a special presentation.

    Rumors of Gollan's retirement were riff, but the politely-spoken member of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games team was hoping not to make a huge fuss over the personal decision to leave the sport.

    "I am not really sure what to say, I was hoping to make a very secret exit from the sport," Gollan said, holding back the tears. "I am very pleased to have raced my last in Australia here in Geelong, with some of my good friends and family around."

    Bates presented Gollan with a book containing a photographic record of her achievement over the past six years, compiled and printed entirely by her colleagues. An emotional Gollan confirmed to the crowd that she would retire from the sport after this month's Women's Tour of New Zealand.

    "It has been an awesome time representing my country over the past six years and I would like to thank everyone who has been involved," she said.

    Gollan first came in to prominence on the women's cycling scene in 2002. At the time still learning how to race, Gollan took part in many of Australia's biggest one-day races including the Grafton to Inverell, which at the time didn't have a separate category for the women. She finished ahead of some of her more accomplished male counter parts and after realizing her talent became a regular on the national team.

    Hailing from Maitland, some 30 km inland from the NSW coastal town of Newcastle, Gollan won the Australian Open Road Championship in 2004 before moving onto a professional contract with Nurnberger in 2005.

    During her short but illustrious career Gollan represented...

  • Broken collarbone for Gusev

    Vladimir Gusev
    Article published:
    February 25, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Vladimir Gusev (Astana) became the latest victim of California's infamous 'Bott's dots' on Stage 6...

    Vladimir Gusev (Astana) became the latest victim of California's infamous 'Bott's dots' on Stage 6 of the Tour of California. Gusev had gone back to the team car for a last-chance feed with 26 km to go to the finish in Santa Clarita when his front wheel hit one of the raised lane markers, and he lost control of his bike.

    Gusev fractured his right collarbone in the resulting crash, and underwent surgery at the Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica to repair the break. The doctors inserted a plate and screws to stabilize the fracture and ensure a quick recovery.

    Gusev, one of the team leaders for the classics, is expected to resume training in 10 days, and is hoping to return to competition within a month's time.

  • 4 Jours de Dunkerque Time Trial canceled

    Article published:
    February 25, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    The 4 Jours de Dunkerque will lose one of its decisive stages with organisers announcing that the...

    The 4 Jours de Dunkerque will lose one of its decisive stages with organisers announcing that the Individual Time Trial of this year's edition has been canceled. The Time Trial was supposed to be held on the race's final day, Sunday, May 11, but opposition from the village of Coudekerque-Branche, which would have seen six kilometres of the stage in its city limits, forced director Joël Huysman to remove the stage altogether.

    The Time Trial was to be part of a split stage day, after a 97-kilometre half-stage. The morning's road race will instead be extended to 128 kilometres, and will finish with 10 laps, instead of the original seven, of a 6.5-kilometre circuit in Dunkerque.

    The 53-year-old race's woes began in November, when it announced it was having a hard time finding villages that were interested in hosting stage starts or finishes. This put the organisers' time table behind schedule by some five weeks.

    4 Jours de Dunkerque stages:
    Stage 1: Tuesday, May 6, 2008 - Dunkerque-Roost Warendin, 179km
    Stage 2: Wednesday, May 7, 2008 - Hénin Beaumont-Le Cateau Cambrésis, 192km
    Stage 3: Thursday, May 8, 2008 - Le Cateau Cambrésis-Saint Quentin, 191km
    Stage 4: Friday, May 9, 2008 - Wasquehal-Calais, 191km
    Stage 5: Saturday, May 10, 2008 - Calais-Sangatte, 190km
    Stage 6 Sunday, May 11, 2008 - Dunkerque-Dunkerque, 128km

  • Gerolsteiner's Italians shine in Haut Var

    Rebellin won for a second time in Haut Var
    Article published:
    February 25, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) took his first season victory by winning the Tour du Haut Var on...

    Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) took his first season victory by winning the Tour du Haut Var on Sunday. He broke away with two others on the last climb of the race and then outsprinted his two companions to win the race, which he also won in 1999.

    "Davide made a very good impression," said Gerolsteiner sports director Christian Henn. "He felt good and could make something out of that." The 35 year-old Italian said modestly, "My form is very satisfactory," and he also praised his team-mates. "That was a very strong team performance."

    "We had the race in our hands," Henn said. "It looked great." Andrea Moletta led an escape group, and shortly after it was absorbed, his countryman and team-mate launched his successful bid.

  • Eisel, Devolder celebrate Algarve victories

    Article published:
    February 25, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    By Susan Westemeyer Bernhard Eisel (Team High Road) has won his fourth stage in the Volta ao Algarve...

    By Susan Westemeyer

    Bernhard Eisel (Team High Road) has won his fourth stage in the Volta ao Algarve since 2005, taking Sunday's closing stage, while Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) wrapped up the general classification victory. Despite being a sprinter, Eisel did not let it come down to a sprint, instead he broke away from a small lead group to claim a solo three second victory over Portugal's Rui A. Costa (Benfica).

    "After 30 km I was able to get away with a Barloworld rider," explained Eisel on his website eisel.com. "Then seven riders came up from behind and joined us, and the field was never able to catch us. Quick Step pushed the peloton, but we were able to hold a slight lead to the end."

    The Austrian decided not to out-sprint his fellow escapees, opting for the solo victory instead. "1000 metres before the finish line I attacked, made it through, and got my first stage win of the year," he said. "Two years ago I won a stage in Algarve and in 2005 I won two. But this win today means the most to me."

    The 27 year-old will now turn his attention to the spring classics, with the Omloop Het Volk on March 1 being his next race, followed by Paris-Nice. "My form is right, I was very strong today," he noted. "That motivates me for the [Spring] Classics; Milano-Sanremo, Ronde van Vlaanderen, Paris-Roubaix and so on."

    While the Quick Step team wasn't able to completely control the final stage, Belgian Devolder managed to hold onto the lead he claimed after a commanding victory in difficult conditions on the Stage 4 Individual Time Trial. Devolder held out a 22 second margin over Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis Credit Par Telephone) while Lithuanian Tomas Vaitkus (Astana) took third overall just 10 seconds further adrift.

    "Everything went well," said Devolder. "The team has been strong and all the guys gave their best. It's really a team victory."

    The victory in Portugal was the 13th of Devolder's career, with the...

  • Contador focused on 2009 Tour

    Alberto Contador is looking forward to ride the Tour in 2009
    Article published:
    February 25, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Antonio J. Salmerón

    By Antonio J. Salmerón Tour de France champion Alberto Contador seems resigned to missing this...

    By Antonio J. Salmerón

    Tour de France champion Alberto Contador seems resigned to missing this year's Tour de France, after the event's organizer ASO didn't invite his Astana squad to contest the event. While other members of the Astana outfit have hopes the French race organizer will reverse its decision, comments made by Contador on Spanish radio indicate the 2007 winner has already come to terms with ASO's decision not to invite Astana to this year's event.

    "I am very optimistic and when they see that it's an exemplary team that has nothing to do with last year's team they will change their mind," the Spaniard told EFE radio. "I am not talking bout this year, as that is very complicated, but next year."

    Astana, under a completely different team structure and management, was thrown out of last year's Tour after Alexandre Vinokourov returned a positive anti-doping test. Despite the team's complete restructure, which has seen former Discovery Channel boss Johan Brunyeel take over the squad, ASO has adopted a wait and see approach to the outfit.

    While ASO waits for Astana to prove itself, Contador and his team-mates will be forced to sit out all of the French organiser's events, which include some the Europe's largest and most prestigious races.

    Despite the conundrum that will see the defending Tour champion watch the 2008 edition on television, Contador says he's not for a second considered moving to another, invited team. The Spaniard believes that even if such a move was contractually possible, he wouldn't consider it an option.

    "I have a contract to begin with and even if I wanted to leave it'd be practically impossible," he said. "But additionally it [has] never occurred to me because I am a man with principles. I understand that the decision to sign with Astana was a bit risky, but I am responsible if I have done the wrong choice.

    "Here is a team that... depends on me," he added. "What...

  • Rubiera readies for retirement

    Article published:
    February 25, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    By Kirsten Robbins in Pasadena, California Astana domestique Jose Luis 'Chechu' Rubiera confirmed...

    By Kirsten Robbins in Pasadena, California

    Astana domestique Jose Luis 'Chechu' Rubiera confirmed his planned retirement at the end of the 2008 season. Known for his domestique skills in the mountains, the Spaniard spent seven years with the US Postal turned Discovery Channel between the years 2001 and 2007, having turned professional in 1995. Rubiera was one of several riders to move from the defunct Discovery Channel squad with team-manager Johan Brunyeel to the revamped Astana outfit.

    Following many rumours, Rubiera was expected to retire at the end of 2007, but according to the climber he had always intended to compete in 2008, if a suitable contract presented itself.

    "It was a misunderstanding that I was going to retire last year," said Rubiera. "Last year I couldn't find a team and at the end of the Vuelta, I was looking for a team. The situation of cycling was really bad and I was not able to find anything.

    "I had a contract with Discovery, but thought that if I was not able to keep racing because I couldn't find a team, then I was prepared for retirement because there was no there option," he added. "Johan called me with the option of riding for Astana, but I have always planned I will retire after this year."

    Rubiera feels his season to date with Astana has been successful, with a good start at the ProTour's opening round, the Tour Down Under, in Australia and now at the Tour of California.

    With the season starting on a high already for Rubiera, the rider is hoping for one more piece of good news in the form of a Tour de France invite for his squad. Astana hasn't been invited to any of French race organizer ASO's races - including the Tour de France - but Rubiera is hopeful the decision will be reversed.

    "The team is really going well and I've been having a good time at the races away from Europe," said Rubiera. "As of right now we are not invited to the Tour but I hope that will change, if not I will...

  • UCI responds to Tour of California anti-doping complaints

    The Chaperones are in high demand
    Article published:
    February 25, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Kirsten Robbins in Pasadena, California

    By Kirsten Robbins in Santa Clarita, California The International Cycling Union's Anti-Doping Agency...

    By Kirsten Robbins in Santa Clarita, California

    The International Cycling Union's Anti-Doping Agency has reacted after receiving word of a complaint from Quick Step rider Kevin Hulsmans, after a female anti-doping chaperone followed the rider onto the team bus. According to Hulsmans, the female chaperone was politely asked to wait outside while he changed into dry clothing and his seven team-mates finished their post-race showers, however she refused to leave the bus.

    According to the UCI Anti-Doping Agency's inspector Pierre Blanchard, the agency's usual protocol is to have gender-specific chaperones at all times, except for unusual cases. According to Blanchard the reason there was a female chaperone during the Stage 4 post-race anti-doping protocols in San Luis Obispo was due to a shortage of male volunteers available to act as chaperone. Because there has been an extreme amount of testing conducted at the event, it resulted in a large demand for volunteers to take on chaperone duty.

    "We don't have enough male chaperones to cover all of the tests we need to conduct because we are conducting more tests here at the Tour of California than what is required," said Blanchard. Furthermore, Blanchard acknowledged that the UCI Anti-Doping Agency adjusted the protocol to allow riders being chaperoned to go back to their team bus to get dry clothes where they would normally have to report directly to the anti-doping tent.

    "It was a very special circumstance because of the cold and the situation of the race conditions," said Blanchard. "Yes, the female chaperone had to go on to the team bus, but that would not normally happen. They would normally go directly to the tent, but because of the extreme weather we didn't want the rider to freeze and that is why, we had to be imaginative and that is why asked the teams to be imaginative and respectful."

    While Blanchard admitted that the gender-specific protocol needs to be...