Latest Cycling News for March 20, 2007
Edited by Gregor Brown
Matteo Bono makes mark in Tirreno
Matteo Bono took his first professional win yesterday in San Giacomo. The Italian from Brescia, often seen in the service of captain Damiano Cunego of Lampre-Fondital, selected the right day to show his talents; the penultimate day of Tirreno-Adriatico, on the race's only true mountain top finish.
"How did I do it? They told me it was not true!" said the 23 year-old to La Gazzetta dello Sport after staking claim to stage six. It was evident that the rider who normally gives his all for Cunego was unaccustomed to winning. He will be joined with the Lampre-Fondital leader in the Critérium International, starting March 31, so they can build for this year's Giro d'Italia.
"More? I don't know what to say. From the second day, the first I worked for Danilo Napolitano, I tried to get into escapes. Today, on the last climb, the team said that the finish would be quite a bit harder than the previous days and so I knew to attack. In reality it [the win - ed.] would have still come... but I took it, you could see that I was going better than the others."
He finished 32 seconds clear of Enrico Gasparotto (Liquigas), crossing himself as he won. "I am a big believer," he quipped.
Born in Lago d'Iseo and currently living in Ome, he attributes his start in cycling to his father and brother, seven years-older, and who was a professional along side the likes of Davide Rebellin. "My dad was an amateur but above all I learned from the examples of my brother, Paolo. He was really strong; fifth in the Junior Worlds in Ecuador, and then professional with Liquigas, the same team as Rebellin. He was only professional for two years due to an incident that forced him to change his path. Now he works with marble."
Bono points towards another 'quiet' rider as his role model, Miguel Indurain, five-time winner of the Tour de France. "My role model has always been Miguel Indurain. ... I still have to race a lot of the races to see them. Last year I was in Belgium and it was crazy. It seems as though [the races] Belgium was not made for me." Bono jokingly finished, "But I am a complete rider, in the sense that I go slow everywhere!"
Klöden in Tirreno lead for Kazakhstan
By Susan Westemeyer
Andreas Klöden came to Tirreno-Adriatico just "to see where I stand," and after coming in second in the time trial over the weekend, he modestly noted, "I can say that it is going very well for me here." It is in fact going well enough that he was able to take over the leader's jersey on Monday and is now on the brink of winning the race.
He took the lead away from Gerolsteiner's Stefan Schumacher on Monday's queen stage, sending the young German down to fourth place. Klöden finished ninth on the day, 1'43" behind winner Matteo Bono. Schumacher was 19th, finishing 2'08" behind Bono.
The Astana rider attacked Schumacher on the last climb, and was able to build up enough time over Schumacher to take over the lead. "That was a hard piece of work. But at the end Andreas was able to take advantage of the fight for every second," Director Sport Mario Kummer told the press agency sid. "We were lucky enough to make a two-pronged attack against Schumacher with Vinokourov and Klöden."
"Of course I want to keep my lead," Klöden told the Belgian newspaper Sportwereld. "If I should lose, that would be too bad, but the Tirreno is actually not a big goal. This race only lies on my path to July. The Tour is the big goal of my campaign."
The German rider, who lives in Switzerland, paid tribute to a third country, one which has become very important to him this season. "I don't ride for Germany, I ride for Astana, and for Kazakhstan," he told Sportwereld. "We not only have the sponsors behind us but a whole country." He also explained why he was riding so well right now. "I have a winter without problems behind me. That is the reason for my success."
Klöden also thanked his team, "The whole team is responsible for the fact that I am now wearing the leader's jersey." He almost lost one of his helpers Monday, though. Austrian Rene Haselbacher was chasing an escape group just 20 kilometres after the start when he crashed in a left-hand curve. "Nothing particularly happened but about 20 kilometres later I suddenly had double vision," he wrote on his website, haselbacher.com. "I was really worried!" He quickly dropped back to the tour doctor, and "Fortunately the situation changed within a few minutes. Maybe it was caused by a light concussion." He was able to finish the race without further problems.
The future on display in Tirreno
Over the last week the Tirreno-Adriatico has show-cased some bright and emerging talents in cycling. Monday Matteo Bono, 23 years-old won the moutain stage to San Giacomo, finishing in front of Enrico Gasparotto (24, Liquigas), Giovanni Visconti (24, Quickstep-Innergetic).
Gasparotto has already made his mark in cycling when he surprisingly won the Italian Road Championships in 2005 but this year he is proving his form to be all better, and possibly a real threat for Milano-Sanremo on Saturday. "I think people had their doubts in me, above all the media," said Gasparotto to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "They talked very little of me last year, here in Tirreno and also in America. In the Tour of California time trial I had a normal bike but went really strong [34th in the prologue - ed.]. If I had a time trial bike I would have been in the top ten, for sure."
Visconti, from Palermo, is learning all he can this year from World Champion Paolo Bettini. "It was my best day as a professional," the second-year pro quipped after the stage. "After the first stage I felt bad, I wanted to abandon. But Bettini showed incredible bravery. He is an example; without him I would not be here but at home to see the race on TV."
This new generation of Italians, also 22 year-old Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), are even younger than riders Filippo Pozzato and Damiano Cunego, 25 years-old, who like Tom Boonen and Alejandro Valverde represent the class of 1980/1981. The young-guns are riding in competition against or with an even 'older' generation that includes Bettini, 32, Alessandro Petacchi, 33, and Ivan Basso, 29.
Other youngsters in Tirreno who are impressing included Janez Brajkovic (23, Discovery Channel), teammate of Basso and currently fifth overall, and last year's winner Thomas Dekker (23, Rabobank).
Tinkoff team spirit on display in Tirreno
"Come to think of it, we had a real chance to make the overall podium!" said Tinkoff Credit Systems Team Owner Oleg Tinkov just minutes after the queen stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. His charge Vasil Kiryienka made his moves on the final climb to San Giacomo but could only manage fourth, 45 seconds back on winner Matteo Bono.
"Vasil was so close... But he did his best; he didn't feel well at the end of the stage, yet demonstrated his willpower and remained at the front – so I can't say I'm unhappy with him.
"Generally speaking, the race gives me much more positive emotions than negative ones, because basically the team proved itself despite illness and crashes. The most important thing is the fact that now we know we can do it in ProTour races, there is nothing in them beyond our reach, so we'll fight on."
The team currently holds the number one spot in the team’s classification, 1'07" over Astana. "The top position in the team standings is not to be overlooked either. There is something symbolic about it, if you like, as our real strength is team spirit. Just look how Daniele Contrini worked in the breakaway for Vasil Kiryienka. I know what kind of work it was to stay in the lead for kilometres on end on a terrain like that!"
Oleg Tinkov knew what he was talking about as he scouted out the first part of today's route, including the first climb, with General Manager Stefano Feltrin, and not behind the wheel but in the saddle. They found it truly hard.
"It is a great pity for me I couldn't quite achieve what we were aiming for today," Vasil Kiryienka said. Tinkoff was the only team with two members in the 10-man escape that dominated Monday's stage. "The team did a great job; in the breakaway Daniele Contrini gave pulls so powerful that we could barely stay on his wheel, and it was owing to him that the gap reached more than five minutes.
"Already at the bottom of the final climb I didn't have much left in me, and I gave all what was left, unfortunately it wasn't enough for moving up to the top of the general standings."
Gerolsteiner's up-and-down weekend
By Susan Westemeyer
It was one of those "good news, bad news" weekends for Team Gerolsteiner. They won the leader's jersey in Paris-Nice on Thursday, only to lose it on Sunday, and took the leader's jersey in Tirreno-Adriatico on Sunday, only to lose it on Monday. Nonetheless, the team and the riders involved all proclaimed that they were satisfied.
In Paris-Nice, where Davide Rebellin wore the leader's jersey for three difficult days, was made even more difficult by the fact that on Sunday's final stage there were only three teammates left to help. The other half of the team had all dropped out earlier, having worn themselves out working for Rebellin. "After all that hard work, they just didn't have anything left," said Director Sportif Udo Bölts, adding, "They gave everything they had on the difficult stages."
Rebellin was second in the final classification. "There's nothing to complain about. Contador was the strongest rider in the field," said Gerolsteiner team manager Hans-Michael Holczer. "Davide showed that he is one of the greats in cycling." The Italian was also happy with his performance. "He was quite relaxed about it and saw it as a good omen," continued Holczer.
Over in Italy, Stefan Schumacher won the time trial on Sunday to take over the leader's jersey in Tirreno-Adriatico. "That was a super performance," said Director Sportif Christian Henn. "We're enjoying the moment and we will try to defend the jersey."
The moment to enjoy turned out to be a short one, and the defence didn't work. On Monday afternoon, Astana's Andreas Klöden proved to have the better legs in the mountains, and took over the lead. Schumacher dropped down to fourth overall.
But he was not terribly disappointed. "Sure, it's too bad when you have to give up the leader's jersey. But I wanted to see here what I could do. And I could do it," Schumacher said. "I can be satisfied with that."
Mayo happy about season start
By Monika Prell
Iban Mayo is satisfied with the beginning of his season and draws a positive note of his debut in Paris-Nice. "I did not go well, but I believe that I showed some good condition. I am in better competition form than the years before at this same time. This was not Mallorca or Andalucía, there was a high level and we went very fast every day."
According to the Spanish newspaper Marca, the Saunier Duval-Prodir rider is pleased to be riding so well and so early. He said that he has never been "good so early in the season. Being in front with the high level we had satisfied me."
The Basque star is unhappy about his crash in the last stage that forced him to abandon the race, above all because he liked the day's profile. He admitted to some suffering as a result of the crash. "I feel pain but we had exams to exclude any fractures of the elbow." According to todociclismo.com, Mayo does not suffer any fractures, but he has pain in his hip, his head and the ribs.
"We went one after another," Mayo continued of the crash. "The crowds were too big, so we could not see the traffic island. I fell and then four or five other cyclists fell on me. I suffered a big knock".
His next goals will be the Vuelta al País Vasco and the Giro d'Italia, where he will aid two-time champion Gilberto Simoni. "I always had the chance to win the Vuelta al País Vasco, and this year our objective is to win this race, either myself or a teammate."
Though, his major goal this year will be the Giro, where he will participate for the first time in his career. "I think that I will be in a good competition form in the Vuelta al País Vasco, but my objective is to arrive at 100 percent for the Giro. I know that in April I perhaps won't be on my highest level, but the Giro really motivates me because I have never participated and I want to start well", he concluded.
Carlos Sastre optimistic
By Monika Prell
After his crash in Vuelta a Murcia stage one, Carlos Sastre has resumed training and hopes to be able to participate in the Vuelta a Castilla y León, March 26 to 30. According to todociclismo.com, the CSC rider stated he has had trouble training. "I could not train normally since Murcia. After ten days I think that I'm recuperated so that I can start my training again," he said on Sunday after his first day training.
He is not sure but optimistic about a possible participation in the Vuelta a Castilla y León. For the moment "it's a doubt for me. During this coming week I intend to do well and train with prudence, with a goal to participate, but I don't want to make a rushed and perhaps a wrong decision."
Sastre is happy that "at the moment, the pains have disappeared and all is going well."
Unibet getting ready for Sanremo
By Susan Westemeyer
Unibet.com is happy to be riding in Milano-Sanremo this coming weekend, but is worried about its chances, since it missed Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico, both of which are usually considered important preparation for La Primavera.
"The competition has a step up on us," Team Manger Lucien Van Impe told Het Nieuwsblat. "I wouldn't want to be in the shoes of our riders now."
"The guys will want to to prove that they are worthy of the ProTour," he continued, adding worriedly, "Perhaps there is a risk in that. Perhaps they will act to hastily? But I will let them do it."
To try to compensate for the missing races, the team held a training camp last week. "We trained very well," said rider Gorik Gardeyn. "But of course a competition is something else. We will see what we can do in La Primavera."
Team Volksbank in Benelux
Team Volksbank is leaving its Austrian mountains for the wind and cobblestones of Belgium and the Netherlands. The team announced its line-ups for Nokere Koerse on Wednesday and the Ronde van het Groene Hart on Sunday. The races will see the season debuts of Tyson Apostol and Josef Benetseder.
In the Nokere Koerse, the team will be counting on René Weissinger, who had good chances in the race last year before finishing 13th. "My strength ran out on the final climb," he said. "I still have a score to settle there."
Volksbank for Nokere Koerse: Tyson Apostol, Josef Benetseder, Philipp Ludescher, Patrick Riedesser, Christian Pömer, Christian Lener, Simon Schärer, and René Weissinger.
Volksbank for Ronde van het Groene Hart: Tyson Apostol, Josef Benetseder, Werner Riebenbauer, Philipp Ludescher, Christian Pömer, Christian Lener, Patrick Riedesser, and Simon Schärer.
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