April 24, 2006
OLN no more: Network to become Versus
You won't be tuning in to OLN in 2007 for your live Tour de France coverage. Later this year, the network will change its name, to “Versus.”
“Versus works on every level of what we do: man versus man, man versus beast, team versus team, country versus country, from stick-and-ball sports to bull riding to field sports,” he said, adding that it hits “the essence of our network.”
The new name will be introduced at the end of OLN's coverage of the NHL playoffs, and should be the network's primary identification by the beginning of the 2006-2007 NHL hockey season.
Landis takes 2006 Tour de Georgia; Haedo gets his stage win
Juan José Haedo, the Toyota-United sprinter who had made two podiums without a win, edged double defending TdG Stage 6 winner Gord Fraser and Phonak's Aurelien Clerc for the stage win.
Discovery Channel dominated the race, taking the team classification, the king of the mountains (Jason McCartney), the best young rider (Janez Brajkovic), a yellow jersey (Yaroslav Popovych), two stage wins (Popovych in Rome, Danielson on Brasstown Bald), and the 2nd and 3rd rung of the podium.
But the day belonged to Floyd Landis, who dug deep to hang with Danielson and Popovych on Brasstown Bald, protecting his 4-second race lead. He also survived a minor scare on Sunday, when he flatted late during the finishing circuits in Alpharetta, but was able to rejoin the field quickly.
An early 15-man breakaway was slowly reeled in, a few riders at a time, until only HealthNet-Maxxis' Jeff Louder and TIAA-CREF's Will Frischkorn stood between the sprinters and a podium, and Haedo's Toyota-United team and Fast Freddie Rodriguez' Davitamon-Lotto squad did the lion's share of the chasing.
I've posted a Flickr photoset of Stage 6.
More at my Tour de Georgia weblog.
April 23, 2006
Valverde again; wins Liège-Bastogne-Liège
VeloNews.com | Valverde wins Liège-Bastogne-Liège Alejandro Valverde followed up Wednesday's Flèche Wallonne victory with a big win at Liège-Bastogne-Liège Sunday. Michael Boogerd and Valverde's teammate Joaquin Rodriguez were caught with 6 km to ride; among the leaders with 5 km to ride were Davitamon-Lotto's Chris Horner alongside Patrik Sinkewitz of T-Mobile, Danilo Di Luca, Andrey Kashechkin, Paolo Bettini, Danilo Diluca, Damiano Cunego, and Frank Schleck and Ivan Basso of CSC. With 1k to ride, Sinkewitz attacked, with Basso following, but he couldn't get away. In the select sprint, Valverde was the strongest, continuing the European youth movement -- Valverde's 25. He's also the first Spaniard ever to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Top 10: 1) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, in 6:21:32 2) Paolo Bettini, Quickstep, same time 3) Damiano Cunego, Lampre, s.t. 4) Patrik Sinkewitz, T-Mobile, s.t. 5) Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank, s.t. 6) Miguel Perdiguero, Phonak, s.t. 7) Frank Schleck, CSC, s.t. 8) Chris Horner, Davitamon-Lotto, CSC, s.t. 9) Danilo Di Luca, Liquigas, s.t. 10) Ivan Basso, CSC, s.t. Also: cyclingnews.com | Liège-Bastogne-Liège live ticker
Posted by Frank Steele on April 23, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Andrey Kashechkin, Chris Horner, Danilo Di Luca, Frank Schleck, Ivan Basso, Paolo Bettini, Patrik Sinkewitz, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)
Danielson takes Brasstown Bald, but Landis holds race lead
But that's just what Landis did on the biggest climb in the Tour de Georgia, the 3 mile+ ascent of Brasstown Bald. Discovery's Danielson and Yaroslav Popovych took turns attacking Landis, who marked Danielson and eventually let Popo go. Discovery, realizing that Popovych wasn't going to get enough time to take the race lead, eventually let Danielson attack Popovych to try to finish Landis directly. Landis wasn't cracking.
Landis has got to top the short list of American Tour de France contenders, as he looks likely to add the 2006 Tour de Georgia title to the Tour of California and Paris-Nice titles he's already won this season.
Check out my Stage 5 Flickr photoset.
April 20, 2006
Popovych steals Stage 2 at Tour de Georgia
In the field sprint behind Popovych, Juan José Haedo of Toyota-United outkicked Freddie Rodriguez of Davitamon-Lotto. Rodriguez took 2nd on Tuesday, and now has only one more shot, in Sunday's finale, to take a stage win, his stated goal for this year's Tour de Georgia.
Targetraining is a new Continental team, and the sponsors got their money's worth on Wednesday, as Argentina's Alejandro Acton led the stage by more than 10 minutes at one point, and rode solo for nearly 100 miles. Acton was finally swept up just shy of the day's only King of the Mountains “climb,”the first ascent of Clocktower Hill. For his trouble, he'll wear the “most aggressive rider” jerseythrough tomorrow's TT and Friday's first mountain stage. Kirk O'Bee of HealthNet-Maxxis took the prime to be the first person in this year's King of the Mountains jersey.
Rodriguez took the sprint jersey, and sits 2nd, just behind Popovych, in the overall. The sprinters are likely to fall away tomorrow, as the riders face a long and hilly individual time trial from Chickamauga, Georgia to Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Lance Armstrong was reportedly in attendance, riding in the Discovery Channel team car. He took a sprint finish here in 2004.
Crossposted from TdGblog.com, where I'll be blogging live from the TT course on Thursday.
How I spent my WednesdayFlickr.com | Tour de Georgia 2006 Stage 2
My father and I spent the day chasing the racing, and caught up with the peloton 3 (almost 4) times. We missed the race finish, but caught Popovych at the bottom of the Rome finishing straight, and made our way up to the finish line to see the race interviews and presentations.
Alejandro Acton deservedly took the “most aggressive rider” jersey, and came right by us, when I got this shot. Look how totally wiped he was after that breakaway; he put everything into his nearly 100-mile escape effort.
April 19, 2006
Valverde takes Fleche Wallonne
Though 37-year-old Lars Michaelsen took the win at the Tour de Georgia Tuesday, the youth movement continues apace in Europe.
Caisse d'Espargne's Alejandro Valverde took his first classics win at Fleche Wallonne, beating CSC's Karsten Kroon and Euskaltel's Samuel Sanchez in the closing meters of the climb of the Mur de Huy.
Paris-Roubaix winner Frank Schleck was 4th.
April 18, 2006
Der Kaiser? More like der Kaiser Roll ...
The cycling web is buzzing over Bjarne Riis' interview with Danish daily BT (in Danish). Ivan Basso “crossed paths” with Ullrich while both were training in Tuscany, and Riis has heard that Ullrich looks more like Hugo from “Lost” than the 1997 Tour de France winner.
Riis said Ullrich's state is “absolutely catastrophic”:
“It’s clear that he doesn’t like riding his bike, and for that reason I don’t understand why he wants to be a cyclist, it’s a waste of his talent,” Riis stated. “He needs to wise up right away. My belief in him is dwindling.”
Riis rated Ullrich's form as near that of his expected Tour rivals, but well below Basso's fitness level.
Of course, every year, Ullrich is reported to look like the Michelin Man during his preseason training, and almost every year, he winds up on the Tour podium.
Truth or trash talk? We'll start finding out a week from today, when Ullrich kicks off his season in the Tour of Romandy.
Wiggins: Color me yellow
Bradley Wiggins has made his pick for the 2006 Tour prologue in Strasbourg, and it's ... Bradley Wiggins.
Wiggins told BBC Sport he is at his fittest:
“The difference between winning the yellow jersey and ending fifth will be minute but, as it stands, I'm a match for any of the top time triallers.”
That would include 2005 “non-prologue” winner David Zabriskie of CSC, 2004 prologue winner Fabian Cancellara, and 2000 prologue winner David Millar, who will be returning to racing after a 2-year doping ban.
A 2004 gold medal winner on the track, Wiggins was 7th at the Paris-Nice prologue and Top 50 at Paris-Roubaix, but didn't want to mix it up when the P-R going got tough:
“I could have gone with the eventual winners at Paris-Roubaix,” he added, “but I thought ‘what's the point in taking the risk?’ when it wasn't one of my season goals. I decided to save myself for the Tour.”
Lepheimer sits in at Copperopolis
He's in the US training now, and Merrick caught him at the Copperopolis Road Race on Saturday, the “Paris-Roubaix of Northern California.”
The rec.bicycles.racing thread the pics spawned is actually worth reading, to boot.
April 17, 2006
VeloNews offers TdG preview
Neal Rogers offers a preview of this week's race, but predicting (hoping for?) the possibility of an all-US podium featuring defending champion Tom Danielson of Discovery Channel, Phonak's Landis, and CSC's David Zabriskie.
Danielson is coming off a new record time in the climb of (the other) Lookout Mountain in Colorado, while Landis has already won the inaugural Tour of California and Paris-Nice this season. Danielson has an eye on next month's Giro d'Italia, while Landis has scrapped the Giro in favor of Tour de France preparation.
Rogers also mentions that organizers are planning to recognize Dalton native Saul Raisin during the ride; Stage 4 starts in his hometown on Friday.
Other TdG previews:
Amstel Gold photo galleries
Wesemann, Bettini, Schleck
April 16, 2006
Frank Schleck takes Amstel Gold
CSC's Luxembourg champion Frank Schleck has been in more breaks this season than Allan Iverson. Sunday, he took it to the hoop.
Schleck attacked out of a 10-man break with 9 kilometers to ride, to beat Steffen Wesemann of T-Mobile and perennial Amstel podium finisher Michael Boogerd of Rabobank. Shleck is the first Luxembourgian to win Amstel, and the first to win a classic since Marcel Erzner took Liége-Bastogne-Liége in 1954.
T-Mobile had three men in the lead group late, but Wesemann couldn't match Schleck's move. Pre-race favorite Paolo Bettini of Quickstep was 8th on the day, back 53 seconds.
Somebody noted the youth movement apparent in the classics so far, with Boonen, Cancellara, and Schleck all 26 or less.
Don't forget OLN has same-day coverage of Amstel Gold this afternoon on Cyclysm Sundays.
1) Frank Schleck, Team CSC, 6:25:39
2) Steffen Wesemann, T-Mobile, at :22
3) Michael Boogerd, Rabobank at :46
4) Karsten Kroon, Team CSC, at :48
5) Patrik Sinkewitz, T-Mobile, same time
6) Davide Rebellin, Gerolsteiner, s.t.
7) Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Phonak, s.t.
8) Paolo Bettini, QuickStep, at :53
9) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, at :57
10) Sergey Ivanov, T-Mobile, at 1:07
April 15, 2006
So, with the Tour de Georgia rushing toward us, I found myself finding links that I'm interested in because of the TdG, but that I'm not really sure are appropriate to TdFblog.
A quick domain-name check found that nobody was holding TdGblog.com, so, as of today, TdFblog has a new, close sibling.
The initial contents of the new site are all the articles in this site's Tour de Georgia category, but moving forward, I expect no more than about 20-25 percent overlap. Today, for instance, I've posted stories about the 2006 Tour de Georgia's TV coverage and what Litespeed is doing at the 2006 TdG, both exclusively on the new site. Look for race previews and reports on both sites.
April 14, 2006
Raisin out of coma, off ventilator
Saul Raisin is out of his coma. He's able to move his head, arms, and legs, but remains in intensive care.
He'll probably be released from the ICU next week.
His team doctor had previously said he expects some brain damage from the fall and the resulting brain swelling.
April 13, 2006
Simeoni, Armstrong withdraw defamation cases
Lance Armstrong's defamation trial in Latina, Italy is over after Filippo Simeoni and Armstrong withdrew defamation countersuits.
Simeoni sued after Armstrong told Le Monde he believed Simeoni was lying about Michele Ferrari's involvement in doping so Simeoni would get off easy if he were ever to test positive.
Already dismissed is a French defamation case by Simeoni.
This should finish the Armstrong-Simeoni court fight, as magistrates previously decided not to pursue a “sporting fraud” case resulting from Armstrong chasing a break including Simeoni down in the 2004 Tour.
Crazy Jane weighs in on Hincapie's Paris-Roubaix
Crazy Jane, proprietress of Le Tour Delicieux (which I can't remove from my blogroll, since it's such great reading, even if she didn't comment on the 2005 Tour), weighs in on the “devastating tragedy” that took George Hincapie out of Paris-Roubaix, his white whale.
You know what I do know though? Despite that crushing defeat at the hands of fate, George will be back next year, and his desire and his heart will be as full of unalloyed commitment as it always has been, because that's the kind of man he is. That's how George Hincapie rolls...
George will fight another day, and it will be freaking gorgeous. I can't wait to see him do it.
Seen at DailyPeloton.com.
April 12, 2006
Tour de Georgia final rosters announced
The Tour de Georgia has released the official final start list for the six-stage jaunt around Georgia, kicking off Tuesday in Augusta.
Last year's overall winner, Tom Danielson of Discovery Channel, returns, supported by Yaroslav Popovych, Viatcheslav Ekimov, new Discos Trent Lowe and Egoi Martinez, Michael Barry, Jason McCartney, and Janez Brajkovic.
QuickStep is a new addition for the Tour de Georgia, possibly a result of their acquisition by Georgia's Mohawk Industries, but they can't spare Tom Boonen or Paolo Bettini right now. Instead, they'll feature American-Italian Guido Trenti and Davide Bramati.
The Tour de Georgia page mentions Robbie McEwen as the headliner for Davitamon-Lotto, but he's not listed on the team roster just below. Daily Peloton shows a different roster, with McEwen instead of Pieter Mertens. McEwen's official website is mum on his upcoming calendar. In either case, “Fast” Freddie Rodriguez and Henk Vogels both are former Tour de Georgia stage winners who will spice things up. Chris Horner is staying in Europe.
Prodir-Saunier Duval rounds out the ProTour squads, with Luciano Pagliarini, Marco Pinotti, American Aaron Olson, and Canadian national champion Charles Dionne.
HealthNet-Maxxis headlines the 'Continental' teams. Gord Fraser and 2005 TdG sprint jersey winner Greg Henderson are joined by Nathan O'Neill, the only 7-time Aussie time trial champion living in Braselton, Georgia, coming off an overall win at the Tour of Redlands and a Commonwealth Games gold medal already this season.
Also in the field is the new Toyota-United Pro team, with Ivan Dominguez, Chris Wherry, former Discovery rider Antonio Cruz, and Juan Jose Haedo.
Hincapie escapes surgeon's knife, out only 1 week
George Hincapie will not need surgery, as originally reported, to repair damage in his shoulder from his crash late in Sunday's Paris-Roubaix.
Doctors diagnosed Hincapie's injury as a third-degree shoulder separation. He can return to the bike in “about a week,” and expects to line up next at the Dauphiné Libéré in June.
Saul Raisin improving, responds to parents
US pro cyclist Saul Raisin of Credit Agricole responded to questions from his parents in his hospital room Tuesday, squeezing their hands with his.
Raisin, a 23-year-old from Dalton, Ga., crashed at the Circuit de la Sarthe April 4th, falling hard on his forehead and breaking a rib and collarbone. He was conscious when he arrived at the hospital, but suffered a life-threatening hemorrhage April 6th, and has been in a coma since.
Apparently, no one saw a cause for his accident, and one of CA's directors initially told CyclingNews.com it was an epileptic seizure, but Raisin's team and family both deny that. Procycling.com quotes unnamed riders “who were close to the American at the time” who say Raisin “appeared to be in a trance-like state before he crashed.” Apparently, Raisin fell in an amateur race in 2003 and nearly choked on his tongue, but Credit Agricole team doctor Joel Menard says the tongue was swollen from the trauma, not from epilepsy.
There is a possibility of paralysis from the injuries, but a family friend told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Raisin is moving all his fingers and toes. Menard told VeloNews that doctors are “expecting some brain damage,” and compared the fall to Fabio Casartelli's horrific and fatal crash in the 1995 Tour de France, crediting Raisin's hardshell with saving his life.
VeloNews (April 9) | Wait continues for Raisin
VeloNews (April 7) | Raisin remains in coma, team doctor says
VeloNews (April 6) | Surgery eases pressure on Raisin's brain
VeloNews (April 5) | Farrar, Raisin injured in costly crashes
April 11, 2006
Leipheimer training at Sea Otter Classic
He took the opportunity to suit up at the Sea Otter Classic. Kwc was on hand to photograph and write about the race,
The pro race is contested on the Laguna Seca race course, and Jelly Belly's Matty Rice took the men's race.
VeloNews | Sea Otter Photo Contest
April 10, 2006
Paris-Roubaix: Cancellara conquers classicthe 2004 Tour prologue, escaping with classics specialist Peter Van Petegem and losing him on the Carrefour de l'Arbre.
Cancellara was aided by a train, whose inopportune timing led to Petegem and Discovery Channel's Leif Hoste and Vladimir Gusev being disqualified for going around the crossing barricades. Boonen and the rest of the field were held up for 15 seconds or so, and after that, with 10 kilometers to ride, Cancellara was home free. The judges' decision has unleashed a firestorm, since Boonen's group also went around the barricades, but after rather than before the train came through. CyclingNews.com offers UCI President Pat McQuaid's take on the ruling, and notes that Petegem's Davitamon-Lotto team has lodged a formal protest (in 3 languages).
Cancellara's DS, Bjarne Riis, on the win:
“This is perhaps the biggest result in the history of the team; it is most definitely one of them, but of course it's hard to compare the different races. In my eyes Paris-Roubaix is the most spectacular one day race of them all, and the way Fabian won it shows his great, great class.”broken steerer tube. Hincapie was riding a custom Trek, featuring an elastomer suspension and other features to minimize the vibration and pounding of the most rugged of the classics. Hincapie went down hard on his right shoulder, and reports on Monday say Hincapie will have surgery and miss 15 days of racing. Hincapie's prototype featured an aluminum steerer bonded to an OCLV fork, which Trek will reportedly be examining closely. That puts him out of next week's Tour de Georgia. ThePaceline.com has photos of Hincapie with wife and daughter in his cast and sling at the Atlanta Airport Monday.
Over at DailyPeloton.com, Vaughn Trevi, summed up Hincapie's day:
Hincapie undoubtedly in the best form of his career in an opportune situation with two of his team in the break was given the worst decision of the fates on this Sunday in Hell.Tom Boonen, the prohibitive favorite to repeat last year's victory, was isolated from the Quick.Step team that has controlled the spring classics calendar. CSC, Team Discovery, and some opportunists kept the pace at full hammer all day. The disqualifications left Boonen in 2nd, and meant he'll wear the hybrid World Champion/ProTour leader's jersey for a while longer.