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Latest Cycling News for July 8, 2006

Date published:
July 08, 2006, 1:00 BST
  • MDonnelly Junior Tour

    Article published:
    July 08, 2006, 1:00 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent The MDonnelly Junior Tour...

    By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

    The MDonnelly Junior Tour riders will face six days of intensive competition in one of the ancient kingdoms of Ireland whose rulers, the O'Connors were displaced by the Anglo-Norman De Burghs in the 13th century. Not that they'll be overawed by that information, but the event, which runs between July 11-16, is based in Co. Mayo were tourism is a big factor, and indeed the cycling promoters in the region have been instrumental in making their contribution.

    The 'JT' as it is known, has an excellent sponsor in MDonnelly. The modus operandi is entirely out of Castlebar, which makes life that little bit easier for the organisation and the competitors alike.

    The route for the 29th edition of an event which in the past has brought past winners to the fore on the world cycling stage is testing. There is an interesting mix of terrain and next Thursday, the competitors will visit Achill Island, which is Ireland's largest island, for a complete stage. The island has an area of 148 square kilometres. This will be the first time that an entire race has been run here and the stage distance will be 72 miles.

    The stages

    Stage 1 - July 11: Castlebar/Time Trial, 2.8 miles (19:00 start time)
    Stage 2 - July 12: Westport-Westport, 69 miles (12:00)
    Stage 3 - July 13: Achill Island, 72 miles (12;00)
    Stage 4 - July 14: Ballina-Ballina, 67 miles (12:00)
    Stage 5 - July 15: Thurlough-Windy Gap, 66.5 miles
    Stage 6 - July 16: Castlebar-Castlebar, 59 miles

  • Brard shows the tricolore jersey

    Florent Brard (Caisse d'Epargne)
    Article published:
    July 08, 2006, 1:00 BST
    By:
    Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

    French champion Florent Brard (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) was one of the three breakaway...

    French champion Florent Brard (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) was one of the three breakaway riders, together with Magnus Bäckstedt and Anthony Geslin, in yesterday's sixth stage into Vitré. As usual, the sprinters' teams caught them with four kilometres to go, and another breakaway was finished.

    "Of course we know it is almost impossible for a break to go to the finish during the first week of the Tour, because the sprinters' teams won't let you, but if you don't even try, no chance!" said Brard after the finish. "Today's stage pleased me a lot because we entered a territory where cycling really drives the public crazy. I will try again on July 14, because it is the national festival of my country, but I know it won't be that simple because everybody will expect me to do so. I already looked at the course and I like it because there is a climb a few kilometres after the start and I will try to go there. If they left me, of course!"

  • Le Lance coming to Le Tour

    Article published:
    July 08, 2006, 1:00 BST
    By:
    Tim Maloney, European Editor

    By Tim Maloney, European Editor Currently preparing to host the ESPN ESPY Awards in Los Angeles,...

    By Tim Maloney, European Editor

    Currently preparing to host the ESPN ESPY Awards in Los Angeles, Lance Armstrong told the Austin American Statesman's Suzanne Halliburton that he has changed his mind and his program, and will now attend the Tour De France later this month. Armstrong was originally planning to visit Le Tour when Cyclingnews chatted with him at the Giro d'Italia in May, but since then, his busy schedule was keeping him away from his kids and Armstrong had decided to stay in Austin in July.

    However, Armstrong told the Statesman's Halliburton Friday, "I'm not gonna run and hide like some other former champs might. With all that happened before the start (of the 2006 Tour), I feel as if the sport and even the event needs fans and supporters right now," Armstrong declared. "It's not the time for me to run and hide. I need to stand up and say how great cycling and the racing is."

    Armstrong will likely revert to his original plan to come to the Tour in the last week to provide moral support and key advice to his Discovery Channel teammates, and not to snack at the Village Depart and have coffee with Jean-Marie Le Blanc.

  • No excuses from Boonen

    A wan smile
    Article published:
    July 08, 2006, 1:00 BST
    By:
    Jeff Jones, Bikeradar.com

    By Jeff Jones Tom Boonen has been coming under increasing pressure in the last few days to win a...

    By Jeff Jones

    Tom Boonen has been coming under increasing pressure in the last few days to win a stage in the Tour. Not happy with just the maillot jaune, the world champion sprinter has been frustrated in all his attempts to win one of the bunch sprints. Robbie McEwen has three, Jimmy Casper and Oscar Freire one each, and Matthias Kessler also managed to sneak under the sprinters' noses. But the closest Boonen has been able to get is second, and that hasn't made him happy.

    Before the start of stage 6 in Lisieux, Boonen wasn't talking to the press, partly because it has been critical of his sprinting tactics. And after the stage finished in Vitré, he also didn't offer any comments. No more excuses, Boonen just has to win. But McEwen, so far, has proved himself to be the fastest, while Boonen has lacked explosivity.

    "Tom is really happy with the yellow," team director Wilfried Peeters explained to AD yesterday. "Many teams would love to be in our situation. That Tom doesn't win, is hard. But in fact, we can only lose. Tom couldn't sprint well again today. He was boxed in."

    Yesterday, it appeared to be more than that, however. The peloton was in one line, with Quick.Step's Tosatto leading out until 500m to go, before Alessandro Ballan took over for his captain Bennati. Boonen's last man De Jongh was ready, but when Gert Steegmans came from behind with McEwen on his wheel at 400m to go, Boonen wisely switched trains and tried to jump onto McEwen's wheel. The Steegmans TGV proved to be too fast, and when McEwen jumped past the big Belgian with 150m to go, he already had a massive advantage. It looked like Boonen just didn't have the power or the snap to match the two Davitamon riders.

    Boonen also rode an aggressive race yesterday, getting into a breakaway after 50 km and working hard for another 25 km, before CSC and Lampre pulled it...

  • Rogers is ready for yellow

    Michael Rogers (T-Mobile)
    Article published:
    July 08, 2006, 1:00 BST
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé in Saint-Grégoire

    By Brecht Decaluwé in Saint-Grégoire Saturday's stage features the first long time trial, and it is...

    By Brecht Decaluwé in Saint-Grégoire

    Saturday's stage features the first long time trial, and it is expected that Tom Boonen will not be able to keep his yellow jersey. There are several GC riders close to the world champion, but there are also some time trial specialists within reach of the Belgian. David Millar and Michael Rogers, for example, might be able to grab the yellow jersey if they can pull off a great time trial. Michael Rogers is closest to Tom Boonen on GC, and Cyclingnews spoke with him at the finish in Vitré on Friday.

    "I hope to do well tomorrow. I expect to have a good ride because I feel quite good. I'll do the best ride I can."

    Rogers has the best cards to make an attempt in grabbing the yellow jersey. "Certainly, there is a possibility of the yellow jersey but also, there are some other very good riders behind me like Hincapie, Landis, Evans, Millar - heaps of guys who can take the jersey as well. Because I'm second in GC doesn't mean I will take the jersey. I will have to ride very quick but I'm looking forward to it."

    The length of the time trial suits the Australian rider perfectly, but at first sight, the course doesn't look that easy. "The first half is rather up and down. The second half is very fast, open, flat and I think that's good for me. Normally, no matter how the course is, you go well," Rogers concluded.