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Latest Cycling News for August 2, 2007

Edited by Gregor Brown

Valverde thoughts shift to Vuelta

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

The Tour de France has concluded and Caisse d'Epargne Directeur Sportif Eusebio Unzúe confirmed that Alejandro Valverde is now thinking of his home tour, the Vuelta a España, September 1 to 23.

There are some big-named riders that have already confirmed their participation the Spanish three-week race, such as Carlos Sastre, who finished fourth in the Tour de France, but others are still doubt. Although, with regards to the Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde, the decision to race seems probable.

"Valverde felt well during the last week [of the Tour]. After having passed through some bad moments during the long time trial in Albi, so there is hope to see how he has recovered in these days before confirming his participation," Unzúe expressed today to Cyclingnews.

"After confronting the Clásica de San Sebastián on Saturday [August 4]," Unzúe stated as the time to announce whether Valverde would start in the Vuelta, where he finished second overall last year. "Valverde will go to reinforce Caisse d'Epargne in its objectives, without any doubt."

Unzúe confirmed the participation of Oscar Pereiro, Vladimir Karpets and Luis León Sánchez, among others, but not his young hope José Joaquin Rojas, "who has already raced in the Giro d'Italia."

Unzúe was pleased with the Tour de France. "I was satisfied with the work done by Caisse d'Epargne." However, he admitted that, "we had wanted to win a stage." With respect to the performance of Valverde, the highest classified Caisse d'Epargne rider (sixth), the DS from Navarre did not mince his words. "There were better rivals than our leaders. ... Valverde was not so good.

"Valverde knows what is to finish the Tour and, in this way, has gained the necessary maturity to confront the Tour in 2008 with greater chances of success," Unzúe concluded.

Ghisallo memorial service held for Ryan Cox

Riders pass Madonna del Ghisallo in Giro di Lombardia
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

A memorial service has been arranged for Ryan Cox at Madonna del Ghisallo this Sunday, August 5. Cox passed away yesterday when the main artery in his left leg burst. The 28 year-old South African rider had undergone an operation in France on July 4 to treat a blood flow problem in his leg.

A memorial ride will depart from ComoBike in Como (Via Grandi 15), at 8:00 led by compatriot and friend Brent Copeland, and finish on one of Cox's "favourite climbs," Ghisallo. Service will be held at 10:00.

More details can be found on this web page.

Contador brushes off German allegations while enjoying his post-Tour de France

Contador in Holland
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

2007 Tour de France Champion Alberto Contador brushed off recent allegations from German anti-doping crusader Werner Franke and is enjoying his post-Tour time with money-earning criteriums.

"What the German Doctor [Franke] says does not have any importance for me. More controls than what they have done at the Tour are not possible to make. ... I am tranquil," said the 24 year-old Spaniard to AFP while at the 24th Profronde van Stiphout criterium in Holland.

Franke, who assisted with the Jan Ullrich investigation, is working with German police in its investigation by handing over Operación Puerto-related documents to the German Bundeskriminalamt (BKA - federal police).

Contador will continue his Holland stay with two more criteriums, on Monday and Tuesday, where he earns an estimated €50,000 per appearance. Contador's new manager, Tony Rominger, is scheduling the Spaniard's post-Tour appearances. He joined forces with the Swiss ex-cyclist prior to the Tour.

Rasmussen hacker arrested

Danish police have arrested the hacker who broke into Michael Rasmussen's e-mail account, according to the Danish newspaper B.T. They arrested a 30 year-old man from Herning, Denmark, and seized his computer.

It was announced earlier this week that the police were looking for the hacker, who contacted B.T. and offered to turn over Rasmussen's confidential e-mails to the newspaper. The e-mails allegedly included his termination notice from Rabobank and documents detailing his activities in the month before the Tour de France.

Euskaltel, Caisse and Lampre face Spanish Classics

The Spanish One-day races of Clásica de San Sebastián and Subida Urkiola coming on the heels of the Tour de France will field strong teams from Euskaltel-Euskadi, Caisse d'Epargne and Lampre-Fondital. The Spanish Classics, August 4 and 5, are based in the Basque Country and will favour the climbers with a punch.

For San Sebastián Caisse d'Epargne will send Spanish TT Champ Iván Gutiérrez and Alejandro Valverde, both fresh from their Tour participation, along with Joan Horrach, Pablo Lastras, David López García, Aitor Pérez, Joaquím Rodríguez and José Joaquín Rojas.

The following day in Durango, 2005 Subida Urkiola winner Rodríguez will lead Joan Horrach, Pablo Lastras, David López García, Alberto Losada, Aitor Pérez, Mathieu Perget, Rubén Plaza, Sébastien Portal and Constantino Zaballa.

Euskaltel-Euskadi, essentially the home-team, will look for Tour redemption in the grand Basque cities. Although the team has not yet released its full roster, it is expected to lead with Haimar Zubeldia, Mikel Astarloza and Samuel Sánchez with Iñigo Landaluze, Dionisio Galparsoro, Jon Bru, Rubén Pérez and Gorka Verdugo playing supporting roles.

It will use Subida Urkiola to showcase some of its younger talents. Amets Txurruka and Igor Antón will lead a team that is still to be announced.

Italian formation Lampre-Fondital will head to Clásica San Sebastián with Alessandro Ballan, Fabio Baldato, Paolo Bossoni, Marzio Bruseghin, Damiano Cunego, Marco Marzano, Paolo Tiralongo and Patxi Vila.

"In the team there will be riders from Tour de France and others that took part in Brixia Tour," Directeur Sportif Fabrizio Bontempi explained. "San Sebastián is a kind of race that could end with a sprint of 30 to 40 riders, and in this case we have good chances with fast athletes such as Ballan and Baldato.

"If there will be a tougher race, Bruseghin and Vila could realize a good performance using the condition obtained in Tour de France. For Cunego it will be a good opportunity in order to improve his fitness."

The team has yet to announce its Subida Urkiola line-up.

Three stagiaire riders for Lampre-Fondital

Italy-based Team Lampre-Fondital have announced that three stagiaire ('trainee') riders, Marco Bandiera, Maurizio Girardini and Leonardo Pinizzotto, will join its ranks in August.

Bandiera, born in 1984, is from team Zalf Fior and he's a "complete rouleur"; Girardini was born in 1984, he raced with Unidelta Bottoli and he's a rider that combines power and agility; Pinizzotto, born in 1986, is from Team Gs Mastromarco and the team considers him a "fast rouleur."

Petacchi to ride in Germany

Alessandra Petacchi will be riding Rund um die Heinleite in Germany on Sunday, even though the race organizers aren't every enthusiastic about his presence. Milram's 33 year-old sprinter tested "non-negative" for an asthma medication during the Giro d'Italia.

The Italian cycling federation (FCI) cleared him of the charges, but the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has decided to appeal FCI's decision.

"Team Milram has registered him. He has a license. Under the UCI rules, there is no way I can prevent him from starting, even though the Italian Olympic Committee is appealing his acquittal," said Race Director Jörg Werner. The only way to exclude Petacchi would be to rescind the invitation to the whole team. "That would affect innocent riders."

Brown relegated after controversial sprint

Graeme Brown crossed the finish line in the first stage of the Post Danmark Tour in third place, but by the end of the day he had been relegated back to dead last, 114th, due to changing his line in the sprint.

The Australian Rabobank rider didn't contest the charges, with both him and Directeur Sportif Adri van Houwelingen admitting that Brown didn't sprint in a straight line.

Van Houwelingen was not entirely satisfied, though. "I have seen sprinters going outside of their lane during the Tour, but they still won, ask Oscar Freire. It might have been partly caused by the fact that a crash took place during the sprint. Brown, I believe, would have still been ranked in the stage results had that not happened," he said on the team's website,

Brown's disqualification allowed T-Mobile's Mark Cavendish to move up to third place. "Brown often rides beyond the limits in sprints," said T-Mobile DS Brian Holm on "The jury's decision was right."

Women back in action

The women are returning to action this weekend, with the Bochumer Sparkassen Giro in Germany on Saturday and the Open de Suede Vargarda World Cup race Saturday in Sweden.

The Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung is severely handicapped by illnesses and injuries at the moment, and will be able to send only four riders to each race. "But we won't concede defeat and want to finish high in both races," said Team Manager Jens Zemke.

Nürnberger for Bochum: Charlotte Becker, Claudia Häusler, Regina Schleicher and Claudia Stumpf.

Flexpoint: Loes Markerink, Iris Slappendel, Suzanne van Veen and Madeleine Sandig.

Nürnberger for World Cup: Trixi Worrack, Eva Lutz, Andrea Graus and Marie Lindberg.

Team Flexpoint for World Cup: Susanne Ljungskog, Loes Gunnewijk, Mirjam Melchers, Luise Keller, Amber Neben and Trine Schmidt.

Victory for Lars Bak

Lars Bak took his second victory this season thanks to a solo move in the finale of the Tour de la Region Wallonne. The young Dane of Team CSC caught up to group on his own. The group had escaped early in the stage and counted about 10 riders - among them teammate Matthew Goss.

"It was great – also 'cause it was such a brilliant way to win. It wasn't just some random group, which had escaped, so the fact that I was even able to catch up to them on my own was a major boost. But winning was totally perfect," said Lars Bak to CSC's team website on his way to the airport after the race.

"Matthew also had a big share in this victory. He let himself drop back a bit at the beginning to help me reach the group, because there was a strong head wind, and after the group was split he worked really hard. Sports Director Scott Sunderland made sure the communication between us were good as well. The group came together again right after I'd escaped Hulsmans, so I also did it so Matthew wouldn't have to take any more leads and would have strength left over for the sprint. So the teamwork was no less than perfect. I think the team has worked together really well down here so we deserve a victory," concluded Bak.

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(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)

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