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Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, July 24, 2009

Date published:
July 24, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Nibali survives Tour time trial

    Vincenco Nibali (Liquigas) talks to the press after finishing his time trial.
    Article published:
    July 24, 2009, 9:56 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Escrinet and Ventoux last chances for final podium spot

    Italy's Vincenzo Nibali held his seventh place overall yesterday in the Tour de France after the 40.5-kilometre time trial around Annecy.

    "It was truly a fast time trial. There were no recovery points and you had to keep the gears going the whole time," Nibali said.

    The stage went around the Lac d'Annecy and included a category three climb 12 kilometres from the finish. Nibali (Liquigas) suffered in the finale of the course and finished 26th at 2:06 behind stage winner and overall leader Alberto Contador (Astana).

    "Those last 12 kilometres were really fast, from the top of the climb to the finish. I had to put in as much as I could not to lose time to the specialists."

    Nibali remained seventh overall, but fell a minute further back to sixth-placed Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank). The three-week race ends Sunday in Paris, but today and tomorrow's stages suit the Italian.

    Friday's stage to Aubenas features the Col de l'Escrinet climb (787m) with 16 kilometres remaining. Nibali should be able to use his climbing and descending skills to gain time by the finish.

    Saturday's stage to Mont Ventoux, the great finale of this year's Tour, will be more decisive for the overall classification. The 22.1-kilometre Mont Ventoux climb features an average gradient of 7.6 percent and strong headwinds above the tree line.

    "Mont Ventoux is really hard, especially at the start. The Tour classification can completely change with this climb," said Nibali.

    Liquigas should win the mountains' classification with its rider Franco Pellizotti, but the team still wants to win a stage, added Nibali. Aubenas and Mont Ventoux are prefect opportunities for the young rider to win and move into the top three overall.

    Contador leads the race over Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) by 4:11, Lance Armstrong (Astana) 5:25, Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream) 5:36, Andreas Klöden (Astana) 5:38, Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank)...

  • Holczer, Van Gerwen want Matschiner to name names

    Gerolsteiner general manager Hans Michael Holczer
    Article published:
    July 24, 2009, 10:02 BST
    Daniel Simms

    Austrian claims Kohl provided Gerolsteiner teammates with EPO

    Hans-Michael Holczer and Gerry van Gerwen have challenged Stefan Matschiner to name the former Team Gerolsteiner rider or riders who he claims received EPO from Bernhard Kohl.

    In an interview with the Austrian broadcaster ORF, Matschiner alleged that he supplied Kohl with Dynepo, a form of EPO, which Kohl allegedly passed on to some of his teammates during the Tour de France 2007 and also in 2008. “I was only indirectly involved, and don't have any witnesses,” said Matschiner.

    He did, however, claim to have one witness for another transaction, involving a currently active rider who he did not name. “One of my co-workers met him in Rosenheim and gave him two packages of Dynepo. So I have a witness. He can back it up.” The rider paid Kohl for the drug, who passed the money on to Matschiner.

    Holczer, former Gerolsteiner manager, has already turned his lawyers loose on the subject. Currently at the Tour de France as a representative for Skoda, Holczer told German news agency SID that as soon as he heard the news he told his attorney to contact the Austrian. “He should name the names that he knows.”

    Gerry van Gerwen, manager of Team Milram, signed a number of former Gerolsteiner riders for this season. “If Matschiner is a man, then he should name names,” the Dutchman said. “We are Milram and not Gerolsteiner.”

    Kohl's attorney, Manfred Ainedter, denied all the charges, according to the APA news agency. “The fact is that Bernhard Kohl passed nothing along and so didn't receive any money,” he said.

    Kohl's former manager Matschiner is under investigation for violating Austrian's anti-doping and prescription medicine laws. The former German pro was suspended for two years after testing positive for EPO CERA during the Tour de France 2008.

  • Klöden not satisfied with TT

    German Andreas Klöden (Astana)
    Article published:
    July 24, 2009, 11:09 BST
    Daniel Simms

    German still one of five podium contenders

    Astana rider Andreas Klöden wasn't too happy with his performance in the time trial around the Annecy lake. Even though he retained his fifth overall placing in Thursday's major GC reshuffle, the tall German had hoped for a better result ahead of Saturday's mountain top finish on the Mont Ventoux, the last decider of the Tour's overall standings before its finish in Paris this Sunday.

    "I didn't achieve what I expected," Klöden told L'Equipe after the stage, which saw him finish in ninth place, 53 seconds down of overall leader and teammate Alberto Contador. "I simply wasn't feeling good. It's a pity because a better performance would have enabled me to reach out for a podium spot before the Ventoux."

    Still, the German has remained in contention with his closest rivals, the Schleck brothers of Team Saxo Bank, Bradley Wiggins (Garmin) and teammate Lance Armstrong all within two minutes of each other. While Contador's final victory in Paris seems untouchable at this point, the second and third placings will be decided on the slopes of the dreaded 'bald giant' of Provence.

    Klöden had good chances of achieving another podium finish this year - which would be his third - but an attack of his teammate Contador on stage 17 made him lose precious time on Wednesday.

    "It would be a dream if Lance [Armstrong] also made it on the podium. The three first placed of one team would be truly exceptional," added Klöden.

    Astana sports director Alain Gallopin believes the 34-year-old still has good chances. "Andreas hasn't said his final word yet. On the Ventoux, he can take advantage of many possible situations," the Frenchman said.

    Still, 1:27 behind Andy Schleck, Klöden needs to do some serious climbing on the Mont Ventoux to go past the current GC runner-up. Chances are team management will ask the German to help consolidate Armstrong's third placing instead of riding for himself.

  • BMC enjoys benefit of full roster at Cascade

    Jeff Louder (BMC) makes his way
    Article published:
    July 24, 2009, 17:25 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Louder in second overall

    BMC is enjoying the fruits of fielding a full squad at the Cascade Cycling Classic after an early season struggle to compete on the NRC calendar. The UCI exempted the American-based Pro-Continental squad from code 2.1.009 which prevents Pro-Continental teams from competing in non-UCI sanctioned events.

    "I think the morale on the team was low when it came out that we couldn't compete in most of the races in the US," said Mike Sayers, the squad's directeur sportif at the Cascade Cycling Classic. "We all appreciate what the UCI did for us by extending an exemption for us and we are really happy as a team to be racing here. Our morale is coming up and the guys are riding well."

    UCI code 2.1.009 prohibits ProTour and Professional Continental team from competing in national level events where only UCI continental teams of the country, regional and club teams, national teams and mixed teams may participate. A short-term agreement was made between the UCI and USA Cycling in provide an exemption that allows Team BMC to field full squads at national-level stage races for the remainder of the season.

    "Its nice to have a full squad here, wearing our jersey and having our team name in the results, that's great," said BMC's all-rounder Jeff Louder who is currently sitting in second place overall. "The bottom line is that I'm really happy that we've been exempt to be a part of the American races. It's important for us as BMC to race in America and as riders it's important for us to be here and be involved in the races."

    The code first surfaced from the rule books at the Tour of the Gila in April when teams Astana and BMC were prohibited from participating. At that time, discussions between USA Cycling and the UCI regarding the upheaval resulted in an agreement where both teams could start three riders wearing nondescript clothing.

    "It makes all the difference to us," Sayers continued. "We have some of our more experienced stage race here...

  • Powers calm in face of results confusion

    Allison Powers (Team Type 1) getting into her familiar skier's tuck on the decent.
    Article published:
    July 24, 2009, 17:30 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    Team Type 1 rider congratulates competitors after confusing podium

    Unofficial race results at the Cascade Cycling Classic stage three time trial placed Alison Powers (Team Type 1) at the top of the charts, but by the time the official results were post the US National Time Trial Champion had the third fastest time of the day. Powers congratulated her defeaters despite the confusion amongst the race results.

    "I'm surprised by these two girls who beat me," Powers said. "Jessica Phillips is super strong so maybe she had an amazing ride today, good for her and the other Alison [Starnes], I've never seen before and she's a surprise girl, super strong and thats good too.

    Former US National Road Champion, Jessica Phillips (Lip Smackers) won the 25-km time trial, her biggest win in recent history. Phillips took the parcours by the reins clocking in at 38:45, 10 seconds ahead of runner up Alison Starnes (TIBCO) and 12 seconds ahead of Powers (Team Type 1).

    The time trial course offered the women's peloton a good training platform for the up coming Elite National Road Championships held in Bend, Oregon the following week.

    "This course is supposed to be very similar to the nationals course," Powers said. "It has a good combination of fast sections and powerful sections. I like this course and I am super excited about nationals. I'm happy with how I rode today and I couldn't have done anything better."

  • Le Mével aiming for top 10 spot in Paris

    Christophe Le Mevel (FDJ) stayed in the top ten overall
    Article published:
    July 24, 2009, 17:34 BST
    Daniel Benson

    On track for best ride by a Frenchman since 2006

    Française des Jeux is two days away from securing France's first top ten finish since Cyril Dessel's seventh place in 2006.

    Christophe Le Mével, who sits ninth overall, just one second ahead of Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and 59 seconds ahead of Vladimir Karpets (Katusha), gained time on the peloton during stage 14 to Besançon and moved up to fifth overall.

    Impressive displays in the Alps and a solid ride in yesterday's time trial, where he finished 55th, means he is within touching distance of his aim.

    "I feel good and I would like to finish in the top ten when we arrive in Paris," Le Mével told Cyclingnews after today's stage finish.

    The 28-year-old, who won a stage of the Giro d'Italia in 2005 and finished tenth overall at Paris-Nice and Dauphiné Libéré this year, has been one of the quieter revelations of this year's Tour de France, with riders Bradley Wiggins and Vincenzo Nibali hogging the limelight.

    However, Le Mével has managed to surprise even himself with his strong form in what has widely been agreed as the Tour's toughest week.

    "Yes, I've been a little surprised with how I'm feeling in the third week but I've worked very hard to get to this level of strength and fitness."

    Le Mével will have to face a brutal stage tomorrow as the race heads towards Mont Ventoux for the Tour's penultimate stage.

  • Schleck brothers aim for podium in Paris

    Fränk and Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) hope to distance Alberto Contador (Astana) on Mont Ventoux.
    Article published:
    July 24, 2009, 17:35 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Andy Schleck still has aspirations for yellow

    Andy Schleck hasn't given up on winning the Tour de France but says that Alberto Contador (Astana) will need to have a disastrous day on Mont Ventoux if he's to wrestle the yellow jersey from him. Contador currently leads Schleck, second on GC, by 4:11 and has dominated the Tour mountains this year, with a commanding performance in Andorra and a stage win in Verbier. However, Andy Schleck, plus older brother Fränk who sits sixth at 5:59, intend to attack Contador on the race's penultimate stage Saturday.

    "There's always a chance. He'll have to have a really bad day to lose all that time but then again we will try. The goal is to have two [Saxo Bank riders] on the podium in Paris," said Andy Schleck after today's finish in Aubenas.

    Schleck also talked about the 21.1-kilometre climb of Mount Ventoux, not used in the Tour de France since Richard Virenque won in 2002. "In the beginning it's the steepness that gets you and then with six kilometres to go it's harder. If there's wind and heat then it can be [even] harder. It's much harder than L'Alpe d'Huez. L'Alpe d'Huez is a piece of cake when it's up against Mont Ventoux."

    Asked if there was a chance of Contador working with the Schlecks to put time into Armstrong, currently third overall and 38 seconds ahead of Fränk, in a bid to move the American off the podium, Schleck quickly dismissed the idea. "I don't think so. Lance might be the only guy there to help Alberto."

  • Ballan flies World Champion stripes on stage 19

    Alessandro Ballan rolls in after an unsuccessful breakaway attempt.
    Article published:
    July 24, 2009, 17:40 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Promising escape foiled by sprinters

    Alessandro Ballan put the rainbow colours of the world champion's jersey on show with an daring escape in the finale of Tour de France's stage to Aubenas Friday. While the sprinters' teams stopped him from winning the stage, he proved his form is improving after a virus prevented him racing in the spring.

    "The overall favourites did not attack and so I decided to give it a go," said Ballan. "Mark Cavendish and Thor Hushovd were still off the back, so it was a good time to make a selection."

    Ballan attacked and joined Laurent Lefèvre (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) on the category two Col de l'Escrinet as the sprinters were struggling to make it to the summit. The two made it over the top and started the 16 kilometre run to the finish with 13 seconds on a chasing group.

    Eventual winner Cavendish was pulled back into the group and his Columbia-HTC team started working to pull back Ballan and his French partner. They caught the two riders within the final two kilometres of the race.

    "The gap was staying at 10 to 15 seconds and so I thought we might make it. Instead, the sprinters got on it and closed it down. We kept trying, but I have to say, against guys like [Columbia's] George Hincapie it is hard."

    The escape was impressive considering Ballan missed much of the spring season due to a virus. He returned to racing in the Memorial Pantani June 6, and raced the Tour de Suisse and Italian Championships prior to the Tour.

    "The season hasn't gone so great, but the Tour is better than what I expected. My objective is to arrive in Paris and I think I will achieve that, and I have also finished two stages in the top ten."

    The three-week Tour ends after two more stages: tomorrow's mountaintop stage up Mont Ventoux and Sunday's stage in Paris. Ballan counted himself out of tomorrow's stage, but said he would try to upset the sprinters on Sunday.

    He wants help team Italy and possibly defend his...