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First Edition Cycling News, March 23, 2009

Date published:
March 23, 2009, 0:00 GMT
  • Omloop beats the big guns in Groene Hart

    Article published:
    March 23, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    By Bjorn Haake Gert Omloop of the Palmans-Cras team surprised heavy favourites Graeme Brown...

    By Bjorn Haake

    Gert Omloop of the Palmans-Cras team surprised heavy favourites Graeme Brown (Rabobank) and Robert Förster (Milram) to win the sprint of a seven-man front group in the Ronde van het Groene Hart. Brown was a close second, with Aart Vierhouten (Vacansoleil) in third. Förster missed the podium, finishing fourth.

    ProTour teams Milram and Rabobank, as well as Professional Continental outfit Vacansoleil had the numbers in the end, but couldn't prevent the upset from the lone Palmans rider. There were several attacks from Vacansoleil team inside the last 20km, the most promising coming from Aart Vierhouten.

    But besides shelling Paul Martens (Rabobank) and Tom Stamsnijder (Rabobank), the attacks did little to the integrity of the remaining seven riders. They reached the final kilometre together, with Förster opening up the sprint early – too early, as it turned out. Milram's directeur sportif Ralf Grabsch was happy nonetheless. "We are on the right way. Everyone was very strong today, we used our initiative to bring about the decisive move."

    Get the full report and results.

  • Gutiérrez shoots for Castilla y León

    Enrique Gutierrez (Rock Racing) will ride the Castilla y León TT
    Article published:
    March 23, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Having ridden the Tour of California and Vuelta Mexico Telmex, Rock Racing's Quique Gutiérrez is...

    Having ridden the Tour of California and Vuelta Mexico Telmex, Rock Racing's Quique Gutiérrez is looking forward to the team's European campaign. The American team will start the Vuelta a Castilla y León on Monday.

    Gutiérrez finished tenth in Mexico. "I am really looking forward to the race in Spain, as I am on good form. I go with high expectations and want to fight for the overall victory," he said.

    The former Spanish time trial champion has already made out where the race can be won. "The key will be the time trial on the second day." Gutiérrez has worked on his TT position and is confident he can deliver a good result.

    He doesn't known the mountain stages, but it doesn't bother him. "The climbs aren't that hard and in the mountains in Mexico I felt really great."

    Gutiérrez said his role in the team, "will be decided after the time trial. We have a good team with [Oscar] Sevilla and [David] Vitoria, although we don't know how [Francisco] Mancebo is after his crash."

    There was another reason why Gutiérrez can't wait to get to the front of the peloton on Monday. "Finally we are being televised and the fans can follow us!"

  • O'Grady's Classics season is over

    Stuart O'Grady's Spring Classics campaign is over for 2009
    Article published:
    March 23, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Stuart O'Grady's Spring Classics season is over, with a broken collarbone forcing the Australian to...

    Stuart O'Grady's Spring Classics season is over, with a broken collarbone forcing the Australian to skip the rest of the spring racing. O'Grady crashed after 29 kilometres in Saturday's Milano-Sanremo.

    The Saxo Bank rider received a more detailed check-up in a clinic in Monaco Saturday night. His right collarbone is broken and he also fractured a rib. To top it off, O'Grady has an edema between the lungs and the ribs.

    O'Grady couldn't believe his bad luck. "It is extremely sad to see the Classics disappear for my part, because of a crash. The past several months of hard work had a purpose and focus: Classics and especially Paris-Roubaix. Now I see it all crumble, but hopefully I get the opportunity to come back later." O'Grady won Paris-Roubaix in 2007.

    Saxo Bank's team physician Piet De Moor said that the initial diagnosis in the hospital was only bruises. "But when they looked more carefully at the X-ray images, he was called back. The most serious is his edema between the lungs and ribs, which required surgery yesterday and he might have to go back to get more."

    Even though the fractures are minor and the edema easily treatable, De Moor did not have good news for O'Grady. "It is not likely that he gets on the bike and will be able to train hard in the next few weeks. Seen in that perspective, the Classics, unfortunately, are over for Stuart."

    De Moor knows that O'Grady is a tough guy. "If everything goes well he can come back and go fast again in a month's time. He has certainly had his share of accidents in his career, but I think on the other hand, that he – if anyone – has the strength and morale to come back quickly."

    Team owner Bjarne Riis was also taken aback by the news. "Nobody can replace the experience and what Stuart would contribute to our Classics line-up, and it is really unfortunate that he will be missing out on the races he is best at. He had...

  • Valverde with less racing to more success

    Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) gets going
    Article published:
    March 23, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Compared to previous years Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) had a reduced programme this year....

    Compared to previous years Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) had a reduced programme this year. His next race will be the Vuelta a Castilla y León, which starts on Monday. Despite the lack of racing Valverde feels on track towards a successful Tour de France.

    "As of now I only took part in two stages of the Challenge of Mallorca, the two stages of Tour of the Haut Var and the Clásica of Almería, but in spite of that I feel pretty well and I believe that my level is rather good."

    He did admit that the upcoming race will be rather competitive and he will have to get used to the high race rhythm. "I don't believe I have to be afraid, but of course I have a lot of respect for those riders because I can see which level some of them have already reached and it is obvious that I am still behind that a little bit."

    Valverde wants to further refine his time trialing abilities, which he will need if he wants to make the Tour de France podium. "I have shown last year, for example in the Dauphiné Libéré, that I am even able to win a 30-35-kilometre long time trial. On the other hand I still have to improve on the time trials that are longer than 50km."

    Valverde won't be eyeing the overall, instead just trying to adapt to the race pace. "But if I feel well then why not try and win a stage?" Valverde said.

    His main goal remains the Tour de France and he won't be changing his programme after Castilla y León. "I'll do the Grand Prix Miguel Indurain in Estella, the Clásica Primavera in Amorebieta, Paris-Camembert, the Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. After that, in May I will be in the Tour of Catalunya and in June in the Dauphiné Libéré before defending my title in the Road Spanish Championship."

    Castilla y León will give him a first chance to meet Lance Armstrong in competition. "That's really great and I am...

  • Contador's first race with Armstrong

    Armstrong and Contador will be racing together this week
    Article published:
    March 23, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Bjorn Haake

    Alberto Contador (Astana) will race with his new teammate Lance Armstrong as well as Levi Leipheimer...

    Alberto Contador (Astana) will race with his new teammate Lance Armstrong as well as Levi Leipheimer together for the first time in the Vuelta a Castilla y León (March 23-27). Contador sees it as a benefit to race with Armstrong before the real goal, the Tour de France in July.

    But it wasn't really planned that way. "It was a coincidence. It will help us to see each other in the race now, but it can't be really called a rehearsal, as the racing is different here [than in the Tour]," Contador said. "We will try to win here, but there is not the same pressure."

    Contador said that the race is a little different this year. "The time trial is much longer [28km] than in previous years, but the mountains aren't as hard." Contador expects bigger groups to arrive in the hilly days, which is why he is not too concerned about winning it for a third time in a row. "If we win it is great, but we won't make it an obsession."

    He did admit that circumstances that cost Astana a win in Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico are less likely to repeat. "Here the race will be easier to control with a strong team like ours."

    His own preparation is going well, despite the loss in Paris-Nice. "You can't always win. But I am fresh physically and mentally. The results have given me confidence to continue my preparation towards the Tour de France."

    The Astana team in Castilla y León: Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador, Jesús Hernández, Levi Leipheimer, Benjamín Noval, José Luis Rubiera, Tomas Vaitkus and Haimar Zubeldia. Directeurs Sportifs Sean Yates and Viatcheslav Ekimov.