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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, September 14, 2009

Date published:
September 14, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Aldape aims to secure Missouri polka-dots

    The Team Type 1 vehicle chases mountains leader Moises Aldape Chavez over the 30-kilometre course.
    Article published:
    September 13, 2009, 6:01 BST
    By:
    Kirsten Frattini

    TT1 aiming for ninth KOM jersey in two years

    Moises Aldape’s aggressive bid for a breakaway put him in the Tour of Missouri’s King of the Mountain leader jersey after the first stage. Now he heads into the final stage with a 13-point lead over Saxo Bank’s Chris Sorensen. With four more climbs to contest a total of 24 points are still up for grabs in the stage seven circuit race held in Kansas City today.

    “Our tactics have been to go with these aggressive attacks, especially in the first stage because, for us, it is a little bit difficult in the time trial and the sprints,” Aldape said. “We don’t have a sprinter here. It’s better for us if we stay aggressive during each stage and try to get into all of the breakaways. We look to ride hard on the last day and see what happens.”

    The peloton will complete seven short but challenging 16-kilometre circuits, totaling 114-kilometres. There are two significant climbs on each circuit, the first located three-kilometres in to the lap at the top of Kessler Rd while the second is located six and half kilometres in at the top of Summit St.

    "So tomorrow I will have to be very attentive,” said Aldape, who has calculated his winning scenario. “There are two KOMs on lap three. If Sorensen doesn't get any points on either of those two, I'll be the winner."

    The battle between the top 20 overall contenders, who are within two minutes of one another, will also resume. USPro Time Trial Champion and stage five winner David Zabriskie’s (Garmin-Slipstream) holds a 30-second cushion over second placed Gustav Larsson (Saxo Bank), meaning fans could see some tough racing for the yellow jersey.

    Aldape will no doubt be attentive in who moves up the road when calculating his points. Given that Team Type 1 has won eight KOM jerseys since its inception in 2008, chances are good that he will be able to solidify the polka-dot jersey on the finale podium.

    “I...

  • Schleicher, Scholz retire from racing

    Streamlined and set to go. Ronny Scholz (Gerolsteiner) about to head off in the tt
    Article published:
    September 13, 2009, 10:24 BST
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    German veterans to bid farewell in Nürnberg

    German riders Regina Schleicher and Ronny Scholz are taking their leave of the sport as of the end of this season, and both will make their farewells to their German fans at Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt today. Former World Champion Schleicher of Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung is not riding in the race, but will attend it. Milram's Scholz will be riding the men's race as his last in Germany.

    Schleicher, 35, began riding competitively 25 years ago, and decided it was now time to call it quits. “I ride races to win them,” she told the Nürnberger Zeitung. “Right now I am not in the proper form to do that. It would be unfair to my teammates if I had been nominated anyway.”

    She can look back at a long list of wins, including the 2005 Worlds road title. The sprinter was also German champion that same year. She has won three World Cup races and six stages of the Giro d'Italia, among others.

    Scholz, 31, told the Nürnberger Nachrichten that “I am ending my career after this season. The race in Nürnberg is the last one that I will ride in Germany." Back problems have hampered Scholz this year and he admitted "I haven't had a good season.”

    Scholz turned pro in 2001 with Team Gerolsteiner, where he stayed until the team folded last season. He is married to the daughter of former Gerolsteiner manager Hans-Michael Holczer.

    His last win was, coincidentally, Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt in 2005, and he would like to repeat that performance today. “I'm in good shape,” he said.

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  • Exhausted Freire leaves Vuelta

    Oscar Freire (Rabobank) talks to Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) after the finish line.
    Article published:
    September 13, 2009, 10:53 BST
    By:
    Richard Tyler

    Rabobank surprised by departure as Spaniard measures effort before Mendrisio

    Rabobank's Oscar Freire was one ten riders to abandon the Vuelta a España on Saturday, in a second successive day of attrition in the mountains. Despite Rabobank's initial surprise at Freire's early exit, team Press Officer Luuc Eisenga told Cyclingnews on Sunday that exhaustion was the reason for the Spaniard's decision, which came just two weeks before the World Championship road race.

    "[Freire] was not feeling well. He was dropped from the grupetto twice, so he decided to call it quits," said Eisenga on Sunday morning.

    On Saturday afternoon, Rabobank Team Manager Erik Breukink had expressed his surprise at Freire's decision. "The withdrawal of Oscar surprised us a little bit," said Breukink on the Rabobank website. "We are not happy. I need to talk to Oscar and find out what is going on. In any case, it wasn't planned."

    However, Breukink did acknowledge that his riders had faced several tough days in Spain's southern mountains. Freire's abandon occurred during the second of three stages at altitude.

    Freire was not the only sprinter to call an early end to his race on the stage to Sierra Nevada; Quick Step's Tom Boonen also retired on the 13th stage. Freire and Boonen's departures followed that of fellow sprinter Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream) on the second rest day of the race.

    Asked whether the exodus of sprint rivals had played any factor in Freire's decision, Eisenga explained that, for a sprinter, the decision to stay-or-go was a double-edged sword.

    "There are some tough stages ahead," said Eisenga. "For sure, [as a sprinter,] if you stay in the race, the chances of a win are greater. On the other hand, you don’t want to jeopardise your chances at the Worlds."

    Freire, who will retire at the end of next season, has made no secret of the fact that this month's World Championships are a major goal....

  • Two Ukrainian riders arrested in France

    Article published:
    September 13, 2009, 11:53 BST
    By:
    Richard Tyler

    Tour de l'Avenir participants charged with posession of products illegal in France

    Two members of the Ukrainian national team competing at the Tour de l'Avenir have been taken into custody, charged with possession of pharmaceutical products illegal in France, judicial authorities in Vesoul, France, have announced.

    Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reported that the two, as yet unidentified riders, were arrested on Saturday in Besançon, charged with "possession of and smuggling of products whose sale is banned in France."  The whole team subsequently withdrew from the race, and none of its riders started the stage eight time trial on Saturday.

    The products in question could "certainly be used as doping, but they are not on the list of banned doping products," said Jean-Francois Parietti, attorney of Vesoul.

    The arrest of the two riders followed the arrest on Friday of the father of one of the riders and the team's physiotherapist. The latter two were stopped by customs officials in Sauveur and were allegedly found to be in possession of suspect products and syringes.

    While the names of the substances discovered on Friday and Saturday are yet to be officially released, Het Nieuwsblad identified one of the products as Actovegin, a calf-blood derivative designed to enhance recovery from injury or trauma.

    Although Actovegin is not listed on the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) list of banned substances, the sale and importation of the drug is illegal in France.

    The Ukrainian team for the Tour de l'Avenir was: Artem Topchanyuk, Yehor Dementyev, Yuriy Agarkov, Oleksandr Grygorenko, Mykhaylo Kononenko and Dimitri Chuzhda.

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  • Valverde moves closer to overall victory

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) took a big step towards overall victory today on La Pandera
    Article published:
    September 13, 2009, 20:26 BST
    By:
    Shane Stokes

    Crisis averted on final climb

    Spanish fans let out a huge sigh of relief today when Vuelta a España race leader Alejandro Valverde recovered from a bad moment and tightened his grip on the overall leader's maillot oro. Distanced on the steep middle section of La Pandera, the Caisse d'Epargne rider made a superb recovery and caught, dropped and distanced his closest GC challenger Robert Gesink (Rabobank). He also took time out of Cadel Evans (Silence Lotto) and Ivan Basso (Liquigas), who had also managed to shed him on the toughest slopes.

    Valverde has always had a bad day in previous Vueltas but this day, the last stage with a major summit finish of the race, he moved a big step closer to finally winning his home Grand Tour. He ended the 14th stage 31 seconds ahead of Gesink in the general classification, adding four seconds to his advantage. And while Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel Euskadi) and Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia) succeeded in taking time out of him, making their move when he was in difficulty, their 14- and 12-second gains still leaves both relatively far back.

    Sanchez must now make up a minute and 10 seconds to take the maillot oro, while Mosquera is almost two minutes behind. With no more summit finishes to come, things are looking better and better for Valverde's chances.

    "I think I am 70% towards winning the race," he said after the stage. "There are dangerous points still ahead such as the stage to Avila and the climb of Navacerrada, but we have a very good team and we will do everything we can to control things. The other general classification riders are still pretty strong, and we'll have to keep an eye on the others in the top six."

    Known as an attacking, explosive, slightly unpredicatable rider, he's made a conscious effort to improve his consistency this year. A lighter spring programme plus less of an emphasis on the Classics saw him build up more slowly for a Tour de France he ultimately never took part...

  • Cunego takes Vuelta stage victory number two

    Damiano Cunego (Lampre-NGC) drives on, oblivious to the battle raging behind him
    Article published:
    September 13, 2009, 23:15 BST
    By:
    Shane Stokes

    Lampre rider makes strong case for worlds team leadership on the climb to La Pandera

    The runner-up in last year's World Championships, Damiano Cunego posted a clear message that he is ready to triumph this time around when he won his second stage of the Vuelta a España on Saturday. The Lampre rider once again triumphed on a mountain top finish, this time using an early break as a springboard for his success in stage 14. He went clear early on with eight others for company, then shed his breakaway companions with less than 15 kilometres to go and powered alone up the leg-sapping wall of La Pandera.

    "This victory was much harder than the first one [at Alto de Aitana] as I was in the break for a long time today," the smiling Italian said afterwards.

    "Today everything went perfectly, and this beautiful victory is the result. I spoke with the sports directors beforehand and we worked out what I had to do. It was necessary to attack from far away as it would not have been so simple to battle with the top climbers; the stage was short and I prefer longer distances.

    "So, yesterday I saved my energy and I dropped back in the overall classification. Today I tried several times to join the right breakaway until I got into the winning one, and then gave everything on the final climb so that this victory became reality."

    Cunego was asked who he saw as the favourite for the final win in the Spanish Tour. The 27-year-old said that Valverde was the logical choice and that providing he recovers well, the Caisse d'Epargne rider could also ride strongly in the worlds.

    He nominated Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) and Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) as two other threats for the Mendrisio road race, which he describes as his big focus for 2009.

    "The worlds is the biggest goal of the year for me, and the Vuelta is the best preparation for that. So these victories give me a lot of confidence," he stated.

    They also send a clear message to the Italian selector Franco Ballerini that he should be one of the protected...

  • Fuglsang goes close in Spain

    Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) flies past
    Article published:
    September 14, 2009, 1:07 BST
    By:
    Shane Stokes

    Building form for worlds

    Saxo Bank’s Jakob Fuglsang proved as good as his word on Vuelta a España’s stage 14, telling Cyclingnews beforehand that he was going to ride aggressively and try to get clear. So it proved, with the Dane forging ahead with eight others and ultimately placing second on the stage.

    “I will try to get in the breakaways. That is how we [Saxo Bank] are going to try to do it from now on,” he said. “We have nobody left for the overall and I think with the riders we have left in the race and also with my own condition, our chance is in those moves.”

    The 24-year-old former mountain bike rider sealed Saxo Bank’s attention when he won the Tour of Denmark last year. He defended his title again this season, as well as winning the Tour of Slovenia. However one of his most notable results came in the Dauphiné Libéré, where he placed fifth on the stage to Mont Ventoux and sixth overall, matching his final general classification position in the Volta a Catalunya.

    That ride prompted his Saxo Bank team management to say that it had wished it had selected him for the Tour de France team. It had already been finalised at that point and so he’d end up making his Grand Tour debut in the Vuelta.

    It’s turned out to be probably more difficult than he anticipated. “I’ve been suffering a lot in the past few days,” he admitted. “It has been really, really hard. But hopefully it is going better. I feel a little bit stronger today than I did yesterday. We will see. I think the stages after today are going to be easier.

    “I will try to go for a stage win but there are not many stages left for me. I’ll try though, if I think I can do it,” he added.

    After the wheels stop turning in Madrid on Sunday, he’ll head to Mendrisio and the venue of this year’s International Cycling Union (UCI) World Road Championship. He...

  • Gesink digs deep but can’t distance Valverde

    Ivan Basso (Liquigas) and Robert Gesink (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    September 14, 2009, 9:20 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Unsuccessful bid to scoop the Maillot Oro

    Dutch rider Robert Gesink made his bid for Vuelta a Espana success today, throwing down the gauntlet when race leader Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne) got into difficulty on the final climb of La Pandera. The tall Rabobank rider followed through after initial efforts by Ivan Basso (Liquigas) and then Cadel Evans (Silence Lotto), accelerating to the front and later dropping that duo.

    Gesink continued alone to the summit but Valverde somehow managed to claw his way back on, then himself accelerate clear. He eked out a further four seconds’ lead, moving to 31 seconds ahead in the overall classification.

    “I’m satisfied enough with the stage,” he said afterwards. “Everybody was attacking a little bit and, at a certain moment, I thought it was my chance to give it a go. I heard on the radio that Valverde was in trouble and then dropped, but unfortunately he came back to me. It keeps the status quo [of him in second overall].”

    Gesink spoke to Cyclingnews immediately prior to the start of the stage. He said then that he was relatively satisfied with his showing on stage 13, even if Valverde beat him to the line. “I wanted to do maybe a little bit more but in the end it was really hard,” he stated. “Of course Valverde took the sprint and a few seconds, but I think I am satisfied about the general classification.”

    Given that the Spaniard is expected to do a better time trial in Toledo, he said that he hoped to drop him on today’s final big summit finish of the race.

    “It would be really great to get time,” he said. “I was strong on Friday, he was going well on Saturday. It is always like that in a big Tour, going well one day and maybe a little less another day. There is not that much difference between the top guys in the general, but you have to do what you can when someone has a bad day.”

    While he didn’t manage to...