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Second Edition Cycling News, Friday, September 4, 2009

Date published:
September 04, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Boom suffers with Achilles injury

    Lars Boom leads the breakaway.
    Article published:
    September 04, 2009, 12:52 BST
    By:
    Richard Tyler

    Rabobank's most attacking rider set to continue at Vuelta

    One of the most visible riders at this year's Vuelta a España, Dutchman Lars Boom, is suffering with an injury to his Achilles tendon, but will continue in the Spanish race. Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reports that the 23-year-old Rabobank rider developed the injury on Thursday's stage five to Vinaròs.

    Boom was one of the last members of the peloton to finish the Vuelta's fifth stage. He crossed the line almost five minutes behind stage winner André Greipel (Columbia-HTC). Despite concerns about the injury, his team said he will continue in the race.

    "In the short term, he can still race, but he has problems with it," Rabobank Directeur Sportif Adriaan van Houwelingen told De Telegraaf. "It could be a problem later [in the race]."

    Boom has been one of Rabobank's most aggressive riders in the Vuelta so far. The 2008 Cyclo-cross World Champion spent stages three and four in the day's major breakaways. His efforts were rewarded with the most combative rider prize and the mountains classification jersey, on each stage respectively.

    Boom relinquished the mountain jersey to Aitor Hernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi) on the Vuelta's first day in Spain, on Thursday.

    Whilst he sits just one point behind the Basque rider in the climber's competition, Boom, a former U23 World time trial champion, is expected to focus his efforts on a stage win in the Vuelta's 30.3 kilometre individual test on Saturday's stage seven.

    He finished a lowly 44th in the Vuelta prologue in Assen, 26 seconds behind stage winner, Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank). Boom currently sits 186th on the general classification, 13:11 in arrears of race leader André Greipel (Columbia-HTC).

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  • Play La Vuelta Online fantasy game

    Test your skills as a team manager with La Vuelta's Online fantasy game
    Article published:
    September 04, 2009, 13:28 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    How good a team manager are you?

    Fancy yourself as the next Eusebio Unzue, team manager of Caisse d'Epargne? Why not have a go at La Vuelta Online, the cycling manager fantasy game that we're promoting this month.

    You can register for the game for free at www.lavuelta-game.com. Set up your team of nine riders, pick a strategy for each stage and see how you fare. And if you're more serious, you can spend real money on improving your riders' equipment and skills as the race progresses.

    Each stage of the Vuelta will be simulated by the game, taking into account all the participating teams' data. Once the 'stage' has finished, you'll be notified that the results are available and you can see how your team has done.

    There are prizes for the top 25 scorers in the form of Focus games. First place will receive five Focus games of their choice; second to fifth will win three games; and sixth to twenty-fifth will win one each. For more information on the game, go to www.lavuelta-game.com.

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  • Valverde and Gesink lay low at Vuelta

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), r, rides next to teammate Joaquím Rodríguez.
    Article published:
    September 04, 2009, 14:42 BST
    By:
    Richard Tyler

    General classification favourites bide their time in the heat

    The Vuelta a España's fifth stage may have seen André Greipel (Columbia-HTC) crowned as the new race leader, but for those more likely to hold the position in Madrid a fortnight from now, the stage was all about adjustment to a dramatic change in conditions. Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde and Rabobank's Robert Gesink were two overall favourites pleased to have got through an exhausting first day in Spain.

    "For me, today was a day of acclimatization," said Gesink on his team's website. "[The plan was to] not do anything crazy and keep a cool head. It is very hot here and it could be even more so in next few days, so it was good that we could lay low."

    Valverde echoed the Dutchman's comments about the weather. "Such a change of weather is always difficult," he said. "The difference between the temperatures in the Benelux and the sudden very hot ones here close to the Mediterranean meant that the peloton was very tired when they reached the finish."

    Despite a switch to dry conditions, both riders remained vigilant as a crash-spooked peloton continued on a nervous journey towards Vinaròs. Gesink said the drama of the first few days was atypical to his own experience of the Vuelta.

    "Normally it's not such a hectic race. Today the peloton was it still nervous," said Gesink. "The whole day we had to ride cautiously. It was different from what I remember last year in the Vuelta. I just have to stay alert, but I can't deny that it is going well so far."

    Gesink and Valverde both lost small amounts of time on stage five. However, with sprinters the beneficiaries of the advantage, neither rider will be too concerned as the roads begin to tilt to their advantage. Valverde remains in tenth place overall, 27 seconds behind Greipel. Gesink is a further six seconds further back, in 20th position.

    After another day of survival on stage six to Xàtiva the next real test for Valverde and Gesink will...

  • Huff looking for home-state win in Missouri

    Jelly Belly's Brad Huff in the peloton
    Article published:
    September 04, 2009, 16:50 BST
    By:
    Kirsten Frattini

    Jelly Belly riders looks forward to support from local friends and family

    Victory escaped Brad Huff (Jelly Belly) in the previous two editions of the Tour of Missouri. However, this year, the former USPro criterium champion hopes to triumph in front of an abundance of home-state fans.

    When asked if there was one particular stage that he targets, Huff responded, "not specifically but, I'm hoping to perform well the entire week. It will help being from the area, but it will be hard to focus on just one stage because it's not going to be easy."

    This year marks the third edition of the Tour of Missouri and the riders can expect some significant course changes. The seven-stage race has completely flipped in direction beginning east in St. Louis and headed west toward its conclusion in Kansas City. Not only is there the addition of a flat stage five time trial in Sedalia, several key stages have become more suited to sprinters like Huff.

    "It's definitely helpful for me that the stages are geared more toward sprinting," Huff said. "But, this race is still going to be a hard-man's race. The course profiles don't show how difficult the terrain actually is here. There may not be a sustained climb that causes separation but it's the constant number of hills that take it out of the riders."

    Domestic sprinters like Huff are gearing up for an opportunity to take on ProTour sprinters like Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC). Cavendish made history when he won his sixth stage of this year's Tour de France on the Champs-Elysées.

    "Yeah, I'm excited about it," said Huff who sprinted onto the podium at the Tour of Missouri last year and inside the top ten several times. "Last year I rode very well, considering the team that he has and that other Americans have. I hope for another podium place and to do as well as last year. I've come close in the previous editions of the Tour of Missouri and so I also hope to better that."

    The 2007 inaugural Tour of Missouri saw a large fan base for Huff, who was raised in...

  • Greipel thankful for Golden jersey

    André Greipel (Columbia-HTC)
    Article published:
    September 04, 2009, 19:30 BST
    By:
    Hedwig Kröner

    Columbia rider first German to lead Vuelta since Ullrich

    Vuelta overall leader André Greipel may have missed out on his third stage win of this year's race on Friday in Xàtiva, but the German sprinter has already carved out his own slice of history. Not only did he also take possession of his first Grand Tour leader's jersey on Thursday in Vinaròs, he also became the first German rider to wear the Vuelta's Golden jersey since Jan Ullrich in 1999.

    Despite finishing tenth on stage six, Greipel still holds the Vuelta lead by six seconds and once again collected the Gold jersey in Xàtiva. The Columbia-HTC rider has plenty of reason to be pleased with his accomplishments. He has used the opportunity to thank his family, his coaches and teammates for their support. "I need to thank many people," said Greipel on his personal homepage. "I have come so far in my career and I owe this to many people."

    Particular words of praise went to Greipel's lead-out man Marcel Sieberg and the rest of his team. "Sibi gets half of my jersey! Today's success is a very special one and amazing compensation for many years of hard work.

    "It was a tremendous feeling to be the first to cross the finish line and to secure the leader's jersey this way," the 27-year-old said after winning stage five to Vinaròs. The double accolade of the stage win and race should also make up for his non-selection to the Tour de France this July, where Columbia-HTC opted for Mark Cavendish as the team's main sprinter.

    "It was a very difficult decision to make," sports director Rolf Aldag had told Cyclingnews during the Tour de France. "Greipel would have been a team leader in his own right if we didn't have Cavendish. He would have deserved selection too."

    Cavendish had scored 13 victories before his six-win roll on the Tour de France, compared to Greipel's 11 successes by the...

  • Dekker's B-Sample analysis postponed six weeks

    Thomas Dekker (Middle)
    Article published:
    September 04, 2009, 20:09 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Austrian blood doping investigation will question Dekker, Boogerd

    The analysis of Thomas Dekker's B-sample has been postponed for six weeks, and will not be done until the end of September. The lab scheduled to do the testing is too busy testing samples from last month's Track and Field World Championships.

    Dekker's attorney, Hans van Oijen, told Sportwereld.nl that the test was now scheduled for September 23 at the doping lab in Cologne, Germany.

    The Dutch rider was suspended by Silence-Lotto on July 1, after a re-test of a December 2007 doping control returned positive for EPO. Dekker was with Rabobank when the test was conducted. The Dutch team let him go last August under unexplained circumstances, which included rumours that there were questions about his blood values. While that was denied at the time, the International Cycling Union (UCI) said in July that he was caught under the biological passport programme.

    Dekker and retired rider Michael Boogerd are also involved in the Vienna, Austria, Human Plasma blood doping case. Van Oijen said that Boogerd refused to travel to Vienna for questioning because he claims he has nothing to do with the affair.

    "He is prepared to co-operate but the investigators must come to him. I have told this to the Bundeskriminalamt (federal police) investigators, and they will soon do this. Then they can also take Dekker's testimony directly."

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  • Statistics show Columbia's Grand Tour dominance

    The Columbia boys after a successful day's work.
    Article published:
    September 04, 2009, 21:16 BST
    By:
    Susan Westemeyer

    American team lead the peloton both as a team and as individuals

    Team Columbia-HTC has dominated the stage wins in the Grand Tour this season, taking 15 of the 48 stages raced so far. It is also the only team to have won stages in all three Grand Tours in 2009. To add to its dominance, Columbia has more wins than any other team and its two top sprinters have both claimed more victories than any other rider in the peloton.

    Columbia have claimed six stages at each of the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France, and three at the Vuelta a España. No other team has won stages in all three races this year. Behind the American squad, Cervélo TestTeam has has won six stages; four at the Giro and two in the Tour.

    Columbia also leads with the most different winners, but just barely. The 15 wins are divided among five individual riders plus one team time trial, Cervélo have also won with five different riders. Columbia's five winning Grand Tour riders are Mark Cavendish with nine, André Greipel with two, and Edvald Boasson Hagen, Kanstansin Siutsou and Gregory Henderson with one each. Cervelo's Carlos Sastre has two stage wins, while Simon Gerrans, Ignatas Konovalovas, Thor Hushovd and Heinrich Haussler have claimed one each.

    Saxo Bank and LPR-Brakes both have four stage wins to date, but LPR may stand to lose two of those if Danilo Di Luca is disqualified from the Giro due to doping. Rabobank and Astana have three Grand Tour wins each. Both Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni - Androni Giocattoli, and BBox Bouygues Telecom have recorded two.

    Of the ProTour teams, AG2R La Mondiale, Cofidis, Française des Jeux, Fuji-Servetto, Garmin-Slipstream, Lampre-NGC and Quick Step have no Grand Tour stage wins so far in 2009. Euskaltel-Euskadi has one through Mikel Astarloza, although the Basque may be stripped of his victory after failed drug test. If so, the stage victory will be awarded to Française des Jeux's Sandy Casar.

    An overwhelming percentage of Columbia's...

  • Flat profile deceptive in Missouri

    Riders pass by one of the wineries on the way out of Hermann in the Tour of Missouri in 2008.
    Article published:
    September 04, 2009, 21:25 BST
    By:
    Kirsten Frattini

    Racing running in opposite direction for this edition

    The third edition of the Tour of Missouri has made significant course changes that include flipping the entire seven-stage event in the opposite direction. This year the race will take the peloton in a westward direction beginning in "the gateway to the west", also known as St. Louis, on September 7 and concluding in Kansas City on September 13.

    Changing the direction of the race was the idea of the organizing committee of promoters Medallist Sports as a way to spread the race into alternate cities that have been waiting in line to host the start or the finish of a stage.

    "We like to change things up," said Jim Birrell, race director.

    "So there's no one reason why we flipped the race other than there were new areas of the state that we needed to hit, and it would've been difficult to get them in. We had a lot of interest from new parts of the state, and it ended up blending well and making a competitive seven days of racing in Missouri."

    Instead of traveling from west to east as it has in the previous two editions, this year the race will travel from east to west. The most notable course change includes the stage five flat, 30-kilometre trial in Sedalia, which replaces the traditionally hillier course in Branson. "I think you'll see that of the three years, this will be the toughest course-wise and it will be interesting to see the accumulative (effects of the) climbing against the previous years. The overall composition is much tougher."

    According to Birrell, the flat stage profiles are deceiving since the true terrain throughout the stage race is predominantly rolling. Although the stage race as a whole is likely suited to a sprinter and a time trial specialist, the undulating terrain will nonetheless prove a difficult undertaking.

    "I think it will lend well to the sprinters and the time triallists," Birrell said. "It is certainly something a [Mark] Cavendish could win along with any of the defending champions...