March 31, 2005
Devolder takes La Panne
Discovery Channel took its second consecutive win at the Three Days of La Panne Thursday. This year it was Belgium's Stijn Devolder, whose time trial was good enough to overtake Lampre's Alessandro Ballan.
Discovery's ageless wonder Viatcheslav Ekimov took the stage.
Ballan was second overall, with Davitamon's Nico Mattan 3rd.
Armstrong's assistant says he saw androgens
Mike Anderson, the former personal assistant embroiled in a lawsuit with Lance Armstrong, said in a brief filed in the suit that he found a box labeled "Androstenine, or something very close to this" in Armstrong's Girona apartment in early 2004.
Anderson said he checked the product name on the WADA or USADA website, verifying that it was a banned substance, then put the box back, fearing for his job. Later, after Armstrong left to train in the Canary Islands, Anderson said he looked for the box, but didn't find it.
Anderson's attorney says his client never saw Armstrong take steroids, but the brief says the two discussed drugs in sports, and Armstrong said "Everyone does it."
Anderson went to work for Armstrong in November 2002, and worked on his bikes, shopped for food, and did other odd jobs. He asked for and received a raise in late 2004, but was fired soon after, and offered a severance package totalling about $7,000. Anderson says Armstrong also demanded a confidentiality agreement with $1 million liability.
Armstrong's company filed suit first, claiming that Anderson had demanded $500,000, an autographed jersey, and help setting up a bike shop. Anderson countersued for fraud, breach of contract, and emotional distress. He claims Armstrong had promised the help when he was offered a job via Blackberry.
The MSNBC story above has a poll asking if people think Armstrong has used "banned substances"; it's currently running 76 percent "No".
Armstrong testifies in Simeoni case
Lance Armstrong flew to Italy on Wednesday to meet with an Italian magistrate about the Filippo Simeoni case. Prosecutors are investigating whether Armstrong verbally assaulted or slandered Simeoni after Simeoni testified against Michele Ferrari in his doping trial. Ferrari was convicted last year.
Armstrong had worked closely with Ferrari before the doping case against him was launched, then broke off the relationship.
At last year's Tour, Armstrong chased down a break that included Simeoni, then told the group that he would let it escape only if Simeoni was not involved.
La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that magistrates are investigating whether Armstrong asked Mario Cippollini to pressure his Domina Vacanze management to get teammate Simeoni removed from the team. That accusation apparently comes from Vincenzo Santoni, still managing Simeoni while Cippollini moved on to Liquigas-Bianchi.
Simeoni also has a libel suit pending against Armstrong in France, stemming from Armstrong calling Simeoni "a compulsive liar" and saying Simeoni had been doping before he ever hooked up with Ferrari.
2006 Tour to kick off in Strasbourg
Tour de France organizers announced today that next year's Tour will kick off in Strasbourg, on the border with Germany.
Strasbourg will host the 2006 Tour prologue July 1st, a stage starting and finishing in the city on Sunday, July 2nd, and the start of the 2nd stage Monday, July 3rd.
The prologue and Stage 1 routes are available at the official Tour site, while Stage 2's route is yet to be announced.
March 30, 2005
What will Armstrong announce April 18?
At a post-race press conference at Paris-Camembert, Lance Armstrong reiterated that he will absolutely ride the 2005 Tour de France, but didn't stop there:
"I'll be there. I swear it... And it will maybe be my last," he said after finishing Tuesday's Paris-Camembert in preparation for the Tour of Flanders on Sunday.
Armstrong turned almost wistful in an interview with Le Figaro, saying victories for him at Paris-Roubaix or the Tour of Lombardy "will never happen."
"And then there's the hour record which is so far removed from what I do normally. It remains a possibility, but I'd have to think about it. This record, it's a fascination, not an obsession."
Last Monday, Velogal mentioned that Armstrong would make "an announcement at the end of the Tour de Georgia that people will be interested in." He made a similar statement (story, in French) to L'Equipe: "If I were you, I'd come to the Tour of Georgia. I've planned an important announcement."
At this stage of Armstrong's career, there are only a few possible announcements I could see him building up: 1) His retirement, 2) He's engaged to Sheryl Crow, 3) He's got a place and a timeline for the hour record, 4) He's actually not riding this year's Tour.
Since he's explicitly said he WILL ride the Tour, and he's backpedaling a little on the hour record, smart money has to be on the retirement, but when? Would he want to do a victory lap with Discovery Channel?
March 29, 2005
Brochard takes Paris-Camembert
Laurent Brochard took his third career victory at Paris-Camembert today, breaking away 15 km out in a misting rain.
Eurosport is kind enough to call Brochard "pony-tailed," but we all know he's the outstanding example of the Euro-mullet. He's now 37, and had previously won here in 2001 and 2003.
Outkicking the select group of 30 still in the hunt at the line was Australia's Brett Lancaster of Panaria and Sandy Casar of Francaise des Jeux. Thomas Voeckler, Lance Armstrong, and Patrice Halgand were also in the first group.
Discovery Channel's six-time Tour winner Armstrong was active in the race, and finished 24th overall. He's tuning up for Sunday's Tour of Flanders, where George Hincapie and Stijn Devolder are Discovery's best bets.
"I needed to test my legs after ten days of training around Tenerife where I had put in sessions of over six hours over quite difficult terrain."
"I feel better than ever this year," he added.
Armstrong will return to the US on Monday to prepare for the Tour de Georgia, starting April 19th, where he won last year.
Armstrong, Vandevelde, Brochard. Also a shot of Credit Agricole's new American Saul Raisin, who Watson misidentifies as "Paul".
Chris Carmichael provides his take on Armstrong's early-season conditioning.
Ullrich's Tour prep firming up
Jan Ullrich reports on his website (in German) that he will first race April 5th at Circuit de la Sarthe, then Vuelta Ciclista a Aragon April 13th and the Volta a Catalunya May 16th.
Still up in the air is the Tour of Switzerland June 11th-19th: Ullrich is still considering racing instead at the Dauphiné Libéré June 5th-12th and the ProTour's team time trial at Eindhoven June 19th.
March 27, 2005
Freire takes Brabantse Pijl; Armstrong back in pack
Oscar Freire continued his strong spring, winning at Brabantse Pijl/Fleche Brabanconne in a breakaway with QuickStep's Marc Lotz and Davitamon's Axel Merckx. Neither Lotz nor Merckx had the finishing kick to sprint with the current world champion after riding away from a group of 15.
1) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, 3:38:56
2) Marc Lotz, QuickStep, same time
3) Axel Merckx Davitamon-Lotto, same time
4) Wim Van Huffel, Davitamon-Lotto, at :37
5) Karsten Kroon, Rabobank, same time
6) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, same time
7) Nick Nuyens, QuickStep, same time
8) Simon Gerrans, AG2R, same time
9) Vladimir Gusev, CSC, same time
10) Sébastien Joly, Credit Agricole, same time
Lance Armstrong returned to racing, riding in support of George Hincapie, who got into the lead group, and finished 6th on the day. Next up for Armstrong is Paris-Camembert on Tuesday, then the Tour of Flanders Sunday, where Freire must head the list of favorites.
Julich wins CI with TT stage victory
CSC's Bobby Julich continued an amazing season, taking the overall crown at the Critérium International.
Julich had expected to ride for teammate Jens Voigt, who won the race in 2004, but found himself the best-placed CSC rider after Sunday morning's mountain stage, won by Thomas ("Don't call me Erik") Dekker, and won the afternoon time trial to take overall victory.
For the stage:
1) Julich, CSC, 10:05
2) Voigt, CSC, at :03
3) Kurt-Asle Arvesen, CSC, at :11
4) Dekker, Rabobank, at :11
Levi Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner - 10:17
Floyd Landis, Phonak - 10:34
Top 5 overall:
1) Julich, CSC
2) Dekker, Rabobank, at :08
3) Jorg Jaksche, Liberty Seguros, at :23
4) Ivan Basso, CSC, at :50
5) Voigt, CSC, at 1:28
CSC continues to dominate; three riders in the top five, plus Jaksche, who joined Liberty this season from CSC.
Keep an eye on Thomas Dekker: He's only 20, and riding his first pro season.
Jaksche took the overall climber's jersey, leading over 7 of the 8 climbs on Sunday morning's stage.
It's Julich's second overall victory in a stage race this season, after winning Paris-Nice.
March 26, 2005
Galvez takes CI lead with 1st-stage sprint win
Isaac Galvez of Illes Balears outkicked Erik Zabel for the stage win at Criterium International. Gerolsteiner's Robert Forster was third.
A long break by Frederic Finot, Denis Robin, and Igor Anton came to nothing, thanks to a hard chase by Liberty Seguros, riding to place Allan Davis in the final sprint.
Time bonuses put Galvez up by 4 seconds overall, but Jens Voigt, last year's winner, finished 8th, high in the field sprint, and is 10 seconds back.
Acqua e Sapone riders tested after doping raid
Belgian police raided the hotel of ProTour team Acqua e Sapone on Thursday, after an undercover cop saw a rider trying to hide a bag in a dumpster.
Eurosport reports that three riders were found in possession of doping agents, and that drug tests are being done on the team.
March 22, 2005
A summit finish would have looked funny...
Covers the whole cycle of a typical "ends-in-the-town" mountain stage, with three riders working through the rollers, one rider straining for the summit, three streaking down the back side of the climb, but too late, as the yellow jersey is clear for the stage win.
March 21, 2005
McEwen chucks the classics
Robbie McEwen will skip the spring classics, focusing instead on getting over the flu, and being well in time for the Giro d'Italia in May.
"It's already the second flu attack in two months. I've had enough, I want to be healthy again, so riding the bike is now the second most important thing, the first of course is to be healthy," said McEwen.
That's a shot in the arm for Fast Freddie Rodriguez, normally Davitamon-Lotto's second sprinter.
March 19, 2005
Petacchi takes Milan-San Remo
It's Petacchi's 13th 2005 win, following three stage wins in Tirreno-Adriatico last week. Pre-race favorite Oscar Freire apparently got boxed out of the finishing sprint.
Stuart O'Grady was 4th, and Freire finished 5th.
Discovery Channel's two best hopes in the race, Max Van Heeswijk and George Hincapie, both scratched, leaving Stijn Devolder the team leader.
Similarly, Robbie McEwen withdrew, leaving American Fred Rodriguez the Davitamon-Lotto designated sprinter.
March 18, 2005
Armstrong to ride Paris-Camembert
Lance Armstrong will return to action at Paris-Camembert a week from Tuesday. Discovery's other riders will be Jason McCartney, Tom Danielson, José Azevedo, Jose-Luis Rubiera, Fumiyuki Beppu, and Jurgen Van Den Broeck.
March 17, 2005
Milan-San Remo previews
When I saw procycling's story, I thought a disaster had befallen last year's Milan-San Remo winner, Oscar Freire, coming off a victory and three stage wins at Tirreno-Adriatico, and he wouldn't be riding Saturday.
Turns out, he's been told he can't wear his rainbow jersey, representing his current world championship, because his win at Tirreno-Adriatico vaulted him into the lead of the UCI ProTour competition.
Since the UCI sets the rules, the white jersey awarded to ProTour leaders has precedence over the rainbow (as the rainbow takes precedence over national championship jerseys).
Freire said he has practical reasons he would prefer to wear the rainbow jersey:
“I’d be better wearing the rainbow jersey because people let you pass when you’ve got it on.”
Even the UCI's road racing coordinator admits the situation is "not ideal:"
“Imagine if Freire has a fantastic season and remains leader of the ProTour throughout, then we would never see the world champion’s jersey in the big events all year. The UCI’s management committee has asked us to mull over this issue.”
Their picks: Freire, of course; Paolo Bettini, who won in 2003; Erik Zabel, who should be out for blood after blowing last year's race at the line; Alessandro Petacchi, who may not have the gas for a race this long; and Australia's Allan Davis of Liberty Seguros.
March 16, 2005
Armstrong not alone: Spanish Tour threats also behind
Procycling reports that Eukaltel's Iban Mayo and both Joseba Beloki and Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano are behind thei training goals.
Mayo had to have a knee drained, and lost some training time.
Beloki has already pulled out of two regional races already, and won't start Semana Catalana next week as originally planned. He'll likely race next at the Tour of the Basque Country in April.
Gonzalez de Galdeano (2nd and subsequent ref: "G de G") is still suffering what procycling calls "a long-term malaise" dating back to early last season. G de G is on the start list for Milan-San Remo, but procycling suggests his place may go to Australian teammate Aaron Kemps.
Armstrong says he's behind in Tour prep
"I'm going to try and get in shape. I have to admit I'm a little bit behind, more than I would normally be," Armstrong said. "I picked Paris-Nice for a lot of reasons that were decided before. Perhaps I shouldn't have started with a race like Paris-Nice."
The shortened stages were run at very high speeds, not exactly conducive to riding your way into shape.
Armstrong also revisited his comments on the 2012 Olympic Games, picked up and run with by the New York Post:
"As an American my heart has to be with New York City, and I have to support the bid for New York City," he said. "But you also have to be fair and say Paris has a good bid. Are they deserving cities for the Olympic Games? Absolutely. They're great cities, legendary cities, historical cities.
"Perhaps I wasn't strong enough when I said my vote was for New York City. Since it wasn't strong enough they said 'He's a traitor. He's a weasel."
Associated Press notes that Armstrong wore "a sharp Ralph Lauren suit" and was accompanied by Sheryl Crow.
CyclingNews published an interview Euro editor Tim Maloney did with Armstrong last Wednesday, as Johan Bruyneel was considering pulling Armstrong from Paris-Nice.
Of note, Armstrong downplayed the likelihood of an hour record attempt, joking "We're considering breaking into the subway station in Brussels to take Eddy Merckx's bike. How do the purists like that?" If, after the Tour, Armstrong's camp decides to attempt the record, he says there will be attempts both at altitude and at sea level.
Armstrong also plays the Tugboat card, discussing his new yellow labrador, Rex, who has problems with his heart valve.
March 15, 2005
Petacchi takes a 3rd stage, Freire the overall at Tirreno-Adriatico
Alessandro Petacchi took another stage at Tirreno-Adriatico Tuesday, his 3rd stage of the race and 12th victory of the season.
Rabobank's Oscar Freire didn't contest the sprint, and took the overall victory, after winning three consecutive stages himself. Freire becomes the 2nd leader of the UCI's new ProTour competition, bumping Paris-Nice winner Bobby Julich.
Mario Cipollini was 2nd on the day, and Gerolsteiner's Danilo Hondo, who has factored in almost every sprint in a sprinter's tour, was 3rd.
The overall top 10:
1. Oscar Freire (Rabobank), 32:37:19
2. Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo), at 9 secs
3. Fabrizio Guidi (Phonak), at 25 secs
4. Danilo Hondo (Gerolsteiner), at 25 secs
5. Laurent Brochard (Bouyges Telecom), at 33 secs
6. George Hincapie (Discovery Channel), at 36 secs
7. Angel Vicioso Arcos (Liberty Seguros), at 37 secs
8. Marcus Zberg (Gerolsteiner), at 40 secs
9. Patrice Halgand (Credit Agricole), at 40 secs
10. Andreas Klier (T-Mobile), at 42 secs
Attention now turns to Sunday, and La Primavera, Milan-San Remo.
Eurosport notes that Robbie McEwen went down in the last 3 kms and finished at the back of the pack.
March 14, 2005
Petacchi takes Tirreno-Adriatico stage, Freire maintains lead
Alessandro Petacchi isn't giving up without a fight at Tirreno-Adriatico. His Fassa Bortolo team did its thing, pulling off rider by rider, then letting Petacchi dance to the line.
Mario Cipollini tried to jump off Petacchi's wheel, while overall leader Oscar Freire looked to outsprint Petacchi on the opposite side of the road. It was not to be, as Petacchi took his 11th victory of the young season, and 2nd of the race.
"Contrary to the first day, this was a much harder sprint," he told Italian television. "It was punctuated by a number of irregularities. Freire launched the proceedings, but he's more at ease in slightly uphill finishes and I came back strongly."
Freire then tapped Petacchi on the arm on a gesture of goodwill between the two hot favourites for Saturday's Milan-San Remo.
Freire was 2nd on the day, Robbie McEwen 3rd, with Cipollini easing off to 7th and Baden Cooke 8th.
With the time bonus, Petacchi moves to within 19 seconds of Freire, with only Tuesday's stage remaining.
Armstrong back in training
Lance Armstrong, who dropped out of Paris-Nice after Wednesday's stage, rode 3.5 hours on Saturday, and is very likely to ride the Tour of Flanders April 3 as planned.
According to Discovery staff, it will be between 12 to 14 days before the Tour champion’s spring programme, expected to still include the Tour of Flanders on April 3, is finally confirmed.
“Maybe Lance bit off more than he could chew by starting this race after the busy winter he’s had,” said Armstrong’s team director, Sean Yates. “Now he needs a solid block of hard training, but with the class that he has he will soon be back in form.”
The thing nobody seems to be saying is that maybe Armstrong has finally reached that age where it takes a little longer to ride into shape. The flip side of that being that it also takes a little longer (especially in a stage race) to recover fully.
On the other hand, it could just be, as they say, that he just didn't get his base training in as early as he usually does, and a few weeks of big-mile days will put everything right.
Graham Watson Paris-Nice photo gallery
Knaven takes Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 5
In a move reminiscent of his stage win in the 2003 Tour de France, QuickStep's Servais Knaven took shelter in a daylong breakaway, then soloed late to the line to take the day.
Rabobank's Oscar Freire retains the overall race leadership, leading Alessandro Petacchi and Danilo Hondo by 23 seconds with two stages to go.
Along with Knaven, the early escape included Discovery's Pavel Padrnos, CSC's Andrea Peron, Saunier Duval's Marco Pinotti, and Credit Agricole's Christophe Le Mevel.
Sheryl Crow a Page 3 girl?
The long-lens paparazzi scored a coup last week, catching Sheryl Crow topless during a photo shoot in Malibu.
She's in great shape at 43, as everyone could see when she stripped during a photoshoot on a hillside over Malibu on Wednesday.
Seen at ohnotheydidnt.
March 13, 2005
Julich takes Paris-Nice!
Alejandro Valverde won the final stage at Paris-Nice, but he couldn't close a 19 second gap to race leader Bobby Julich, who becomes the first winner of a ProTour stage race and the first US winner of Paris-Nice.
Valverde was 2nd overall, jumping over Saunier Duval's Constantino Zaballa, who finished 3rd. Julich's teammate Jens Voigt was 4th overall, at 44 seconds, just ahead of Liberty Seguros' Jorg Jaksche at 45 seconds.
It was CSC's 2nd consecutive win in the Race to the Sun, as Jaksche took the overall last year, while riding for CSC.
David Moncoutie ensured himself the climber's jersey with his part in a breakaway over today's climbs, while Voigt took the sprinter's jersey off Tom Boonen, who abandoned during the stage along with almost 50 other riders, by winning some points at the intermediate sprints today. Valverde takes the (blue) young rider's jersey.
T-Mobile's Alexandre Vinokourov made a serious go at the stage win, but his break-mate, Alberto Contador, wouldn't work, and the pair's jockeying helped the field overtake Vinokourov in the last 100 meters.
Julich will likely sit atop the ProTour standings only until Tuesday, when Oscar Freire is likely to win Tirreno-Adriatico.
Discovery Channel briefly set the pace late in the stage, trying to place Yaroslav Popovych in position for a stage win, and Popovych was 4th on the day.
March 12, 2005
Freire, Freire, Freire!
It's like everybody is just racing for 2nd at Tirreno-Adriatico this week, as Oscar Freire of Rabobank took his third consecutive stage, outsprinting Danilo Hondo and Fabrizio Guidi.
Freire was "aw-shucks" about the three-peat:
"I didn't go out to win this stage especially, I wasn't even that well positioned for the final sprint. I had to make a special effort to get back to the front."
Looks like Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico are changing fortunes: The riders in Italy are now the ones riding aside snowdrifts.
Julich one day closer to big win
Joost Posthuma of Rabobank took a big win Saturday, riding away from an 8-rider breakaway on the Col du Tanneron and soloing the last 20 kilometers into Cannes.
American Bobby Julich rode in the peloton, protected by a strong CSC squad, and his lead was never seriously threatened.
Tomorrow may be another day, however, as the race's final stage features a 2nd-category and three 1st-category climbs before finishing in Julich's adopted hometown of Nice.
Alejandro Valverde, sitting third overall:
"You could see Julich was very strong at Mont Faron," said third-placed Valverde. "We're running out of road to make up any time. Sunday's stage presents a favorable course, but the CSC block is also very solid. I see it as difficult."
Julich sounds optimistic:
"I know every single one of the climbs tomorrow, so I am very confident," Julich said.
Sherman, set the Wayback Machine to 1989
Before he was a six-time Tour winner, he was an 18-year-old doing triathlon and working out with the national cycling team.
The Sunshine Network covered Lance Armstrong competing in the 1989 sprint triathlon championships, at The Waterways at Aventura, and the sponsors have converted that video to Flash for the web.
Several interesting things here: 1) I'm still wearing the no-name version of the big, "face-shield" sunglasses Lance is sporting, 2) You can see the swimmer's upper body that worked against Armstrong as a climber in the early years, and 3) THREE YEARS LATER, this kid rode away from the world's best bike riders to win the World Championships in Norway.
(Via el ruben del mar.)
March 11, 2005
Freire holds lead with another sprint win at Tirreno-Adriatico
Oscar Freire hit a railing in the last kilometer, but sprinted free of the bunch to take a 2nd consecutive stage at Tirreno-Adriatico. As he was yesterday, Laurent Brochard of Bouyges Telecom was 2nd, and Gerolsteiner sprinter Danilo Hondo was third.
Discovery's George Hincapie was 6th.
Freire holds the overall lead, 10 seconds free of Alessandro Petacchi, who was 8th today.
The day's top 10:
1. Oscar Freire, Rabobank, 5:52:07
2. Laurent Brochard, Bouygues Telecom, same time
3. Danilo Hondo, Gerolsteiner, same time
4. Emanuele Sella, Ceramica Panaria, s.t.
5. Mirco Lorenzetto, Domina Vacanze, s.t.
6. George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, s.t.
7. Ruggero Marzoli, Acqua & Sapone, s.t.
8. Alessandro Petacchi, Fassa Bortolo, s.t.
9. Fabian Wegemann, Gerolsteiner, s.t.
10. Fabrizio Guidi, Phonak, s.t.
Graham Watson Stage 5 gallery available
Julich looks for big win at Paris-Nice
Bobby Julich will face off against Alejandro Valverde and Jorg Jaksche this weekend to try and defend his lead at Paris-Nice.
Julich's 3rd place in the 1998 Tour de France was the post-Lemond high-water mark for US Tour participants, but Lance Armstrong's emergence and a series of disappointing results for Julich had him considering retirement two years ago.
Julich hooked up with Bjarne Riis at CSC, and has experienced a rebirth, capped by his bronze medal in the TT at the Athens Olympics.
Before the start of the stage Julich had struck a pact with room-mate Jens Voigt: "I said to Jens, 'If the yellow jersey isn't in our room tonight, we both have to sleep on the floor…' "
Julich had particularly kind words for Valverde:
"It's the first time I've raced against Valverde," said Julich, "but what he did last year particularly is impressive. I'm a fan of his. He has huge class and looks to be the future of Spanish cycling."
One interesting quote from Part II is Julich on David Zabriskie, now with CSC:
The first thing was total disbelief was that Postal Service wouldn't sign David Zabriskie. I was blown away and I had to ask (Riis), are you sure that he's available? Absolutely, 100 percent this is the guy you want because by far he is the top American talent under the age of 25. I saw him race, he's great time trialist, great worker. He is one of the future stars of American cycling.
Armstrong Tour prep being reconsidered
Lance Armstrong may not start the Tour of Flanders April 3, as previously announced.
Armstrong's early withdrawal from Paris-Nice with a sore throat, complaining of poor conditioning, has Armstrong and team director Johan Bruyneel reconsidering Armstrong's early season.
The link above references this story at La Derniere Heure (in French) (rough Google translation), where Bruyneel says he's looking at Catalan Week March 21-25, but might also target one or more one-day races.
One side-effect of Armstrong's early withdrawal, and the growth of the Discovery squad to compete in the ProTour, is that Bruyneel didn't get much of a chance to see how most of the Tour de France squad jells with its leader.
Bruyneel says one reason he's not worried is that Ullrich, Heras, Mayo, and Basso haven't raced yet, but Basso is actually racing at Tirreno-Adriatico this week.
Update: CyclingNews has that quote as "It's still far too early in the season for Bruyneel to panic. 'Ach, Ullrich, Basso, Mayo and Heras have also barely raced yet. He's at their level, so what?' " which squares with reality. Also that the Tour of Flanders is a lock, but some of the supporting dates might get moved around.
New helmet rule DQ's Merckx and Van Summeren
The UCI now requires that riders wear helmets at ALL times, even on closing climbs. Previously, riders could ditch the lids at the end of climbing stages once the roads turned up and the speeds cooled down.
Axel Merckx and Johan Van Summeren got stung by the rule after Friday's stage, and are out of Paris-Nice.
"I accept the decision. The most bizarre thing is that I always wear my helmet, even when I'm training.
"Today it was the bus driver who told me to take my helmet off at the foot of the climb, and I did it without even thinking about it."
Simoni takes Stage 5, Julich the lead at Paris-Nice
Gilberto Simoni rode away from the field 2 kilometers before the finish atop Mont Faron, and won his first race as a member of the Lampré team.
Simoni, whose climbing won him the Giro d'Italia in 2001 and 2003, was followed by Cadel Evans of Australia, and David Moncoutié at the summit.
Julich finished 10th on the day, 40 seconds behind Simoni, and leads Saunier Duval's Constantino Zaballa by 19 seconds, and iBanesto's Alejandro Valverde by 20 seconds.
Reuters notes that T-Mobile's Alexandre Vinokourov, who won this climb in 2003 on the way to overall victory, was "dropped early in the climb and looks to have lost all hopes of a final victory".
Tour de Georgia '05 route details available
Route details for the 2005 Tour de Georgia have been posted. If you're coming down for the race, there's a page for each stage, with detailed maps and route sheets, and links to local chambers of commerce.
Stage 2 (April 20th) incorporates a sprint line directly adjacent to the very successful Silver Comet Trail in Rockmart.
Looks like the transfers are a little smoother this year, as one of the long transfers is after the time trial, and most of the longest transfer of the race, from Macon to Fayetteville, is right up I-75.
Daily Peloton talked to the Tour de Georgia's executive director last week.
Fast Freddie will not be at the Tour de Georgia. Organizers have suggested there may be an additional Euro squad yet to be named in the race, but time's a-wastin'.
DId I say Paris? I meant New York....
Lance Armstrong reportedly clarified his opinion on the 2012 Olympics yesterday, a day after saying "Paris deserves the Olympics."
Or, in the language of the New York Post:
Lance Armstrong threw up his arms in surrender yesterday and insisted in true weasel fashion that he's really rooting for New York, not Paris, to clinch the 2012 Olympics.
"If I were on the selection committee, I would be rolling for New York City," Armstrong sniveled a day after snubbing his own country when he said in interviews that he wanted Paris to get the Games.
Anybody got a link to the Post photo illustration they mention? They Photoshopped Armstrong "in front of the Arc de Triomphe wearing a beret and clad in a bike jersey decorated with a weasel head and the words, 'Axle of Weasel.' "
Graham Watson Stage 4 gallery
Julich CSC's Paris-Nice pick?
Procycling tips Bobby Julich as the likely beneficiary of a strong CSC squad through the remainder of Paris-Nice.
He made it into the telling break yesterday and, with three days of climbing to come, is now facing his best shot for a long time at big-time stage race success.
March 10, 2005
Freire takes lead at Tirreno-Adriatico
Three-time world road champion Oscar Freire of Rabobank took Stage 2 of Tirreno-Adriatico Thursday, outsprinting fellow former world champ Laurent Brochard and Angel Vicioso in Tivoli.
Discovery Channel's Stijn Devolder was 4th on the day, while Stuart O'Grady was 6th in the field sprint.
You can throw a blanket over a big chunk of the field, as the top 42 are within 10 seconds of each other.
TDFBlog favorite Magnus Backstedt is 19:36 back, in 180th overall.
Full stage and overall standings are available at RoadCycling.com.
Cancellara takes Stage 4, overall lead at Paris-Nice
Swiss heartthrob Fabian Cancellara, who took the prologue and wore the leader's jersey at the 2004 Tour de France, took over the lead at Paris-Nice with a stage win over Estonian sprinter Jaan Kirsipuu.
Cancellara made a crucial break late with Fassa Bortolo teammate Juan Antonio Flecha, CSC's Bobby Julich, 2004 Paris-Nice winner Jorg Jaksche of Liberty Seguros, and Phonak's Nicolas Portal.
Cancellara and Flecha now lead the overall, with Flecha 15 seconds back. Then it's Bobby Julich at 20 seconds, Tom Boonen at 31 seconds, Erik Dekker at 33 seconds. CSC's Arvesen, Voigt, and Gusev are riders 7 through 9. CSC looks set up for a very nice overall.
Tomorrow's stage, to Mont-Faron, finishes with two 2nd-category climbs and a 1st-category up to the finish line.
1. Fabian Cancellara, Fassa Bortolo, 2:11:03
2. Jaan Kirsipuu, Credit Agricole, same time
3. Juan Antonio Flecha, Fassa Bortolo, @ 2 secs
4. Bobby Julich, USA, CSC, @ 5 secs
5. Nicolas Jalabert, Phonak, @ 5 secs
6. Jorg Jaksche, Liberty Seguros, @ 5 secs
7. Iker Camano, Euskaltel, @ 8 secs
8. Nicolas Portal, AG2R, @ 10 secs
9. Paolo Bossoni, Fassa Bortolo, @ 22 secs
10. Tom Boonen, QuickStep, @ 32 secs
1. Fabian Cancellara, Fassa Bortolo, 10:09:50
2. Juan Antonio Flecha, Fassa Bortolo, @ 15 secs
3. Bobby Julich, CSC, @ 20 secs
4. Tom Boonen, QuickStep, @ 31 secs
5. Erik Dekker, Rabobank, @ 33 secs
6. Vicente Reynes, iBanesto, @ 35 secs
7. Kurt-Asle Arvesen, CSC, @ 36 secs
8. Jens Voigt, CSC, @ 37 secs
9. Vladimir Gusev, CSC, @ 40 secs
10. Philippe Gilbert, Francaise Des Jeux, @ 47 secs
March 09, 2005
Armstrong ditches Paris-Nice
Lance Armstrong will not start Thursday's stage of Paris-Nice. Discovery director Johan Bruyneel said the six-time Tour de France winner is suffering from a fever and sore throat, exacerbated by the cold that's led to two stages so far being shortened.
At left, a picture of Armstrong struggling on Wednesday's climbs from Graham Watson's daily photo gallery.
Petacchi takes Stage 1 at Tirreno-Adriatico
After coming third in the Tour of Lucca last week, Alessandro Petacchi showed he's in remarkable early-season shape, beating Bernard Eisel of Francaise des Jeux and Robbie McEwen of Davitamon-Lotto for the stage win and first leader's jersey of Tirreno-Adriatico.
Mario Cipollini, who beat Petacchi at Lucca, was dropped on the last climb and reportedly "complained of breathing problems at the finish."
Also in the day's top 10 were Oscar Freire, Thor Hushovd, and Paride Grillo.
Tomorrow's stage has an uphill finish into Tivoli.
CyclingRevealed history of Milan-San Remo
CyclingRevealed is a very pretty webzine with lots of Tour de France content. They've posted their March edition, which looks at the history of next week's big race, Milan-San Remo.
Armstrong supports Paris for 2012 Olympics
Lance Armstrong told the Associated Press today he's torn between the competing bids by New York and Paris to host the 2012 Olympics, but thinks Paris "deserves the Olympics."
"I think they were arguably the best candidate in 2008 but for different reasons Paris didn't win, and they went to Beijing."
International Olympic Committee officials, fresh from a visit to New York, are in Paris to evaluate the city's bid. Also in the running are London, Madrid, and Moscow.
"Paris is one of the legendary cities in the world," Armstrong said, adding that the Stade de France would be a "special place for the opening ceremony."
But Armstrong also said his heart is with New York, given "everything they went through the last four-five years" — an apparent reference to the trauma of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
But he added: "If they don't win in 2012, they could win in 2016."
Armstrong has raced in three Olympic Games: 1992, 1996, and 2000. He skipped the Athens games in 2004 after being selected to the US team.
A decision is expected July 6.
Reynes outsprints Trenti, Rodriguez at Paris-Nice stage 3
Vicente Reynes, of Illes Balears, took his first professional win Wednesday, on a shortened stage 3 at Paris-Nice.
Reynes led QuickStep's Guido Trenti and Lotto's Fred Rodriguez across the line. Trenti carries dual Italian-American citizenship, while Rodriguez is a 3-time USPRO champion.
Tom Boonen retains the overall lead.
Looks like Thursday's stage may also be modified, since Le Chambon, intended to be today's finish and tomorrow's start, is difficult to reach.
Procycling mentions that Floyd Landis was in an early break, but the official site says he fell back late in the stage. Discovery's Yaroslav Popovych, who was 3rd on yesterday's shortened stage, also factored in the break, which was eventually closed down by CSC and QuickStep. David Moncoutié's place in that break has him in the climber's jersey, for now.
March 08, 2005
Voigt doubts Armstrong will start Tour
CSC's Jens Voigt, who will one day win someone a bar bet after becoming the first ever leader of cycling's ProTour, says he doubts six-time winner Lance Armstrong will even start this year's Tour de France.
In an interview with Berliner Morgenpost (rough Google translation), Voigt says teammate Ivan Basso can win this year's Tour, "above all because I don't think Armstrong will be there."
"Lance knows nothing goes on forever, and he certainly doesn't want to finish second," Voigt said.
If, however, Armstrong follows through with his announced plan to race the Tour, Voigt thinks he'll take home a seventh title with a five-minute lead.
Voigt finished second behind Armstrong at last year's Tour de Georgia. Both are racing at Paris-Nice this week.
Seen at CyclingNews.
Tirreno-Adriatico set to kick off
If you're wondering where the superstars of racing are, and why they're not at Paris-Nice, it's because they're in sunny Italy, readying for the 2nd race of the ProTour, which kicks off tomorrow in Civitavecchia.
Most of the world's best sprinters are on hand, including both Mario Cipollini and Alessandro Petacchi, Stuart O'Grady, Erik Zabel, Robbie McEwen, Oscar Freire, and Paolo Bettini, last year's winner.
We'll get a look at Joseba Beloki, who's back on a Spanish squad with Liberty Seguros, T-Mobile's Andreas Klöden, CSC's Ivan Basso, and Discovery's George Hincapie.
Tirreno-Adriatico runs seven stages, and most of these riders will also contest Milan-San Remo a week from Saturday.
Posted by Frank Steele on March 8, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Andreas Klöden, Erik Zabel, George Hincapie, Ivan Basso, Joseba Beloki, Mario Cipollini, Oscar Freire, Paolo Bettini, Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Tirreno-Adriatico '05 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Graham Watson Paris-Nice Stage 2 gallery available
Boonen takes stage, lead at Paris-Nice
Tom Boonen took another sprint finish, and the 10-second bonus for the win put him in the overall lead.
Riders transferred to Aigueperse, planned to be at 144.5 km, for the start, shortening the stage to just 46.5 km, which they covered in 53:51. Clearly, nobody wanted to stay out in the weather.
Wednesday's third stage, scheduled to include a first-category climb and finish at about 1000 m above sea level, may also be shortened. Update: In a members-only story at ThePaceline.com, Johan Bruyneel said tomorrow's stage is likely to include the two climbs (including the first-category Cote de Lavet) which are in the first 80 kms, then a 40-kilometer loop not on the scheduled course.
Today's top 10:
1. Boonen, QuickStep, 53:51
2. Kurt-Asle Arvesen, CSC, same time
3. Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery, same time
4. Vicente Reynes, Illes Balears, s.t.
5. Olaf Pollack, T-Mobile, s.t.
6. Erik Dekker, Rabobank, s.t.
7. Constantino Zaballa, Saunier Duval, s.t.
8. Jerome Pineau, Illes Balears, s.t.
9. Vladimir Gusev, CSC, s.t.
10. Alejandro Valverde, Illes Balears, s.t.
In the overall, CSC is lurking, with riders lying 3, 4, and 5:
1. Boonen, QuickStep 5:17:55
2. Erik Dekker, Rabobank, at :03
3. Kurt-Asle Arvesen, CSC, at :05
4. Vladimir Gusev, CSC, at :09
5. Jens Voigt, CSC, at :09
Armstrong suffering at Paris-Nice
Six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong told Eurosport he's really hurting in his first race of the year:
"I think my condition is bad or not great, but I also think that this is a later start than usual for me," he told Eurosport before the start of Stage 2 of the Paris-Nice. "Last year I started racing in early February, but this year I chose to stay in the States longer and to start here now.
"I wouldn't normally suffer in a race like this as I would have competed prior to the event," he added, "but training is very different from race conditions as this is how you get the speed into your legs."
Armstrong dropped to 70th overall on the stage, which was shortened due to snow. He also confirmed his upcoming racing schedule will include the Tour of Flanders, Tour of Georgia, and Dauphiné Libéré, and his website confirmed Monday that he'll ride the team time trial in Eindhoven June 19th.
Procycling reports that Armstrong will ride Paris-Camembert March 29th. They also report that Armstrong wants to race Paris-Roubaix, but that team director Johan Bruyneel doesn't want to take the risk of riding the cobble-heavy Hell of the North.