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First Edition Cycling News, September 18, 2008

Date published:
September 18, 2008, 1:00 BST
  • Armstrong Peugeot Festival of Cycling

    Article published:
    September 18, 2008, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Bjorn Haake

    One of New Zealand's most cycling-friendly cities will host the Armstrong Peugeot Festival of...

    One of New Zealand's most cycling-friendly cities will host the Armstrong Peugeot Festival of Cycling. The four year-old Christchurch-based event will bring together elite and recreational riders and is scheduled for December 6-7.

    The festival will open with the Armstrong Peugeot Harbour Ride, an 80km fun ride around the iconic Port Hills and Lyttelton Harbour bays. The following day festivities head downtown with riders and spectators alike getting a taste of cycling Euro-style with the Armstrong Peugeot City Criterium.

    The Harbour Ride, which draws elite racers and recreational riders, has been known among Cantabrians since the 1930s as "Long Bays". Beijing Olympic medallist Hayden Roulston won it in 2006. The City Criterium will be run on a closed circuit outside the Oxford Terrace café strip. Two years ago, Marc Ryan and Roulston wiped the floor with New Zealand's best around this circuit.

    Other past winners have included Kiwi world champion Greg Henderson, Australian world champion Katie Mactier and Denmark's women's Tour de France champion Linda Villumsen.

    A variety of other events will be held in conjunction with the festival. Visit www.festivalofcycling.co.nz for more information.

    (Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer)

  • Barras changing roles

    Article published:
    September 18, 2008, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Bjorn Haake

    After seven years in the role of AIS/Cycling Australia Head Track Cycling and Sprint Coach, Martin...

    After seven years in the role of AIS/Cycling Australia Head Track Cycling and Sprint Coach, Martin Barras will be offered a new position with the AIS/CA High Performance Program. Full details are expected in mid-October after an agreement is finalized.

    "Martin has made a significant contribution to the program and has been at the helm through a period of unprecedented success for Australia on the track," said National Performance Director Shayne Bannan. "During the time he has worked in his current role Australia has achieved a record medal haul at World Championships, Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games.

    Barras coached the Australian track team to win nine medals at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, in 2004, although the squad won just one track medal at the Olympic Games in Beijing, China, this summer.

    No reason for the change was provide in a statement provided by Cycling Australia for the change in Barras' role.

    "We look forward to Martin working across some other areas of the sport that we believe will benefit from the expertise, enthusiasm and commitment he delivers as a coach," said Bannan.

    For his part Barras says he is looking forward to a new challenge in the sport but admits leaving the day-to-day coaching relationships he currently has with the sprint cycling group will be difficult.

    "I'm thankful for the opportunity I have had to coach the national track team for the past seven years and I relish the time I've spent with the team," said Barras who is on annual leave for the next few weeks. "I've let the riders know of the change and I'm sure they'll continue to improve and succeed in the sport."

    "Martin has been my coach since I moved away from home in 2003 and it's hard to put into a few words what he means to me and what he's done for me," said Anna Meares, who won Olympic gold, silver and bronze medals and achieved success at World Championships and Commonwealth Games under Barras. "I guess you...

  • Verbrugghe to retire

    Belgium's Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis)
    Article published:
    September 18, 2008, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Bjorn Haake

    Belgian pro cyclist Rik Verbrugghe (Team Cofidis) will retire after the Giro di Lombardia on October...

    Belgian pro cyclist Rik Verbrugghe (Team Cofidis) will retire after the Giro di Lombardia on October 18.

    According to the AFP, Verbrugghe has struggled to recover from a crash in the 2006 Tour de France. "I went through a dark period back then, a difficult reassessment, and even though I returned to the top level, after that incident I started to think of ending my career," admitted Verbrugghe, who broke his leg in that crash.

    Verbrugghe, 34 years-old, won three stages in the Giro d'Italia (2001, 2002, 2006) and one stage each in the Tour de France (2001), the Tour of Romandie (2002) and the Eneco Tour (2005). He also won the Flèche Wallonne in 2001.

    He has previous ridden for Quick Step and Lotto; in August, he fractured his collarbone in the San Sebastian Classic.

  • Tour of Poland stage annulled

    Article published:
    September 18, 2008, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Bjorn Haake

    Stage four of the Tour of Poland was annulled following a rider protest in the second of the three...

    Stage four of the Tour of Poland was annulled following a rider protest in the second of the three planned closing laps. Riders complained about the conditions, including heavy rain and a dangerous run-up to the finish.

    No stage winner was declared and Allan Davis of Team Quick Step remains the leader.

  • Tour de France samples to undergo further anti-doping tests

    Article published:
    September 18, 2008, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Bjorn Haake

    The French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) said it will be re-testing several blood samples taken during...

    The French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) said it will be re-testing several blood samples taken during the Tour de France this July. According to the Associated Press, the lab found results of urine sample tests from several riders "inconclusive" based on initial testing in Lausanne.

    "I have decided that we will retest – with blood testing – all those who showed up as suspicious during the urine samples," said Pierre Bordry of the AFLD to the AP. "When we did the urine samples of those athletes, we had a serious suspicion that there was CERA [third generation of the blood boosting, performance enhancing drug EPO - ed.].

    "The laboratory could not say definitively. The same analysis will be done, but in the blood samples," he said."

    Samples will be returned to France, where the tests will be conducted at the Chatenay-Malabry lab. The AFLD declined to name the cyclists who had produced the suspicious samples.

    Bordry estimated that the additional testing would take nor more than 10 or 15 days, which means results could be available as soon as before or during the World Championships in Italy.

    Several riders tested positive during the 2008 Tour de France including Riccardo Riccò (for EPO-CERA), Manuel Beltran (for EPO) and Dmitriy Fofonov (for the stimulant heptaminol). Riccò's teammate Leonardo Piepoli also confessed to his team manager to using the same banned substance as Ricco.

    Moises Dueñas Nevado secured his place on the doper's list Wednesday after his "B" sample came back positive for EPO, confirming "A" sample results. He had previously confessed to...

  • A good and bad day for Zabel

    Erik Zabel rolls to the start.
    Article published:
    September 18, 2008, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Bjorn Haake

    Milram team captain Erik Zabel was given a special honor before the start of stage 17 of the Vuelta...

    Milram team captain Erik Zabel was given a special honor before the start of stage 17 of the Vuelta a España. The director of the race, Abraham Olano, recognized the German for his participation in all three Grand Tours this year. In addition to Zabel, Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre) was also awarded.

    "It is a great honor to receive an award for my athletic performance and professional attitude," said Zabel.

    Unfortunately for Zabel, the rest of his day did not go so well. A rear flat tire just seven kilometres before the finish cost him chances for a stage victory in the final dash to the line. After a bike change and with the help of teammate Fabio Sabatini, he regained the peloton with just two kilometres remaining. Without enough time to move up, he finished in the peloton - 81st for the day.

    It was Zabel's second day of poor racing luck. In Tuesday's stage 16, Zabel took to the wrong exit from a traffic circle and found himself behind the barriers.

  • Hunting for good health

    Cool customer: Great Britain's Jeremy Hunt (Credit Agricole)
    Article published:
    September 18, 2008, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Bjorn Haake

    By Bjorn Haake Jeremy Hunt of Crédit Agricole is hoping to get well again after falling sick during...

    By Bjorn Haake

    Jeremy Hunt of Crédit Agricole is hoping to get well again after falling sick during the Vuelta a España. The British rider wants to recover for the final stages and hopefully contest another sprint before the race ends in Madrid.

    Getting sick during a Grand Tour is not much fun; Hunt caught something a couple of days ago and has been suffering ever since. "I was up the whole night for two days," he said.

    Fortunately for Hunt, he came out of the tough Asturian mountains not completely exhausted. He explained his simple strategy for getting through them.

    "You gave to get over the first two categorised climbs then you just ease into it," he said. "When you hit 20km to go mark, you have to be with the first group. Once you have done that you can just ride your own pace."

    Riding your own pace makes the days in the mountains a bit easier. And Hunt also found help from the many spectators, something Hunt wasn't used to. "In the Vuelta a few years ago when we did mountain top finishes, it wasn't anything like the Angliru. On the Angliru there were thousands!"

    That left him wondering how all those fans got up there. "You could see a few guys who camped up there, but many did not." Indeed, a throng of fans walked up the Angliru. And they had to walk back down after the race. It was a sort of gigantic pilgrimage near the Camino de Santiago.

    Last but not least, Mother Nature helped Hunt get through the Angliru. "We were lucky for the weather. I can't imagine it in the rain. I was watching it on TV a few years ago, and there were crashes just everywhere."

    Hunt speculated that the Angliru was probably the hardest mountain that the pros race, but he said it wasn't the toughest hill. "I went to Colombia once for the World Championships [in 1995], and there are hard climbs there as well."

    Going into the latter stages of the race, Hunt observed that his team's strategy is shifting....

  • Gesink ­ Dutch Grand Tour hope

    Dutchman Robert Gesink (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    September 18, 2008, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    By Bjorn Haake in Valladolid Robert Gesink is only 22 years-old, but he is already mixing it up with...

    By Bjorn Haake in Valladolid

    Robert Gesink is only 22 years-old, but he is already mixing it up with the big guys in his first Grand Tour. Gesink currently lies fifth overall in the Vuelta a España, less than six minutes behind leader Alberto Contador (Astana)

    Gesink was certainly happy with his standing. "I was hoping for a top 10 maybe." The Rabobank rider has used the mountains to his advantage and especially on the Fuentes de Invierno did a stellar race to finish fourth, only 20 seconds back.

    That is not bad for a rider from a country without very long climbs. "I just do my mountain training at home, but of course there aren't any climbs like here," said Gesink, explaining that most of his climbing is done in the many races he does throughout the year.

    One thing he hadn't done before was the Angliru, although Gesink had done a similarly tough mountain before. "Last year in Germany we did a climb that was about as long and a steep as the Angliru." In fact the Rettenbachferner in Germany averages 10.7% over 12km, so is about the same as the Angliru. But the latter has a steeper maximum gradient, with 23.5%. The Rettenbachferner has "only" 16%.

    As for finishing up his Vuelta on a high note, Gesink put no pressure on himself. "I have never experienced a three-week race before. I don't know what to expect at the time trial on Sunday. I will just try to do the best I can. We'll see what is possible."

    After the Vuelta there is only one race left for Gesink, the World Championships. He has already familiarised himself with the course. "I have been there [in Varese] after Liège. I don't think it's really difficult. The climb is not so steep."

    Gesink felt that other factors would play more of a role than the hill. "Maybe the distance makes it hard. You know that riders like [Paolo] Bettini and [Alejandro] Valverde can drop anybody on a...

  • Gerdemann uncertain for Worlds and 2009 team

    Linus Gerdemann
    Article published:
    September 18, 2008, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Linus Gerdemann won the Deutschland Tour with a stiff neck, which is still giving him problems, and...

    Linus Gerdemann won the Deutschland Tour with a stiff neck, which is still giving him problems, and may, in fact, stop him from riding in the World Championships next week. It is also not clear whether he will remain with Team Columbia in the coming season.

    "He has had the problem since the third stage of the Deutschland Tour. It hasn't really gotten better," said Team Columbia Sport Director Rolf Aldag to the sid press agency.

    Gerdemann has flown to Mallorca to train, in light of the bad weather at his home in Switzerland, and will decide over the weekend whether he will ride in Varese or not.

    Gerdemann is apparently considering a transfer to Team Milram, which would involve a buy-out of his Team Columbia contract, which runs through 2009. "There have been and are discussions with Milram," Aldag said. "We must still wait a few days. At any rate we would like to continue working with him."

  • Sastre to skip Worlds

    Carlos Sastre (CSC) gets support from Spanish fans
    Article published:
    September 18, 2008, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Bjorn Haake in Valladolid

    Spaniard Carlos Sastre (Team CSC - Saxo Bank) announced Wednesday that he would not race the World...

    Spaniard Carlos Sastre (Team CSC - Saxo Bank) announced Wednesday that he would not race the World Championship in Varese, Italy, later this month.

    Although he had been selected for his nation's team, he told the selector Paco Antequera that he was declining his nomination. Sastre has had a long season, including winning the Tour de France. He currently sits in third in the Vuelta a España.

    "I have said that I am very tired, especially on a psychological level, and that in these circumstances, I prefer to give my place to another rider - one who is more rested, who has more ambitions and desire than I have and who can bring something more than me to the team."

    "I have to make this decision because I have always felt very proud to represent Spanish Cycling in this type of race, but I think it's better for me and for the selection."

    He added that he wished the team "good luck" and hoped they would bring home the title for Spain.

  • Quick Step trades winners

    Wouter Weylandt (Quick Step)
    Article published:
    September 18, 2008, 0:00 BST
    By:
    Gregor Brown with additional reporting by Bjorn Haake in Valladolid

    By Gregor Brown with additional reporting by Bjorn Haake in Valladolid Team Quick Step made it two...

    By Gregor Brown with additional reporting by Bjorn Haake in Valladolid

    Team Quick Step made it two stages in a row at the Vuelta a España with a win on Wednesday at the end of 148.2km from Zamora to Valladolid. But it wasn't Tom Boonen taking the win as he did in stage 16; instead, it was Wouter Weylandt, 23, taking the final dash to the line ahead of Matti Breschel of Team CSC-Saxo Bank and Alexandr Kolobnev of AG2R La Mondiale. A timely bike throw by Weylandt gave him the final advantage.

    "It's amazing. It was not a good year for me. In 2007 I had seven wins, this year just seconds," said Weylandt. "This makes up for a lot."

    Weylandt's win came at the end of a day with no categorized climbs. Spaniards Pedro Horrillo (Rabobank) and José Ruiz (Andalucía-Cajasur) spent much of the day off the front, but the duo was swept up with six kilometres to go, just four kilometres after the two main groups of the peloton reunited for the run - in to Valladolid.

    Caisse d'Epargne launched a move by Imanol Erviti in the final four kilometres. The action brought Liquigas to the front for Filippo Pozzato, who was second yesterday. A wave of Quick Step men on the right cleared a surge of Pozzato's green men. Instead of Boonen, who was driving at the back of the pack, it was Weylandt sitting in last wheel of the train.

    Quick Step kept it going under the final kilometre banner despite a surge by Rabobank. Tosatto was on the front after the final corner – a 90-degree left – at 750 metres. The Italian pulled off early to give the advantage to Weylandt.

    Weylandt charged on the left of Kolobnev and he kept Denmark's Breschel at bay on his other side. A bike throw topped his long charge to the line and netted him his first win since March's win at Nokere-Koerse.

    "I found out that I was...