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May 31, 2006

Time waits for no mag -- I pick VeloNews TdG contest winners

I couldn't wait any longer -- the VeloNews Tour de Georgia photo contest pictures have been posted for about 3 weeks, with no winner announced, and a new weekly gallery has been posted, so I went ahead and picked TdG gallery winners over at my Tour de Georgia weblog.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 31, 2006 in Links, Tour de Georgia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Comunidad Valenciana likely to lose Tour spot

procycling.com | Comunidad Valenciana for Tour chop

Procycling quotes this article at AS which suggests Tour organizers will kick 2006 Tour wildcard Comunidad Valenciana out of the race by Friday. Their director, Ignacio Laberta, is reportedly implicated in the ongoing investigation of blood doping in Spain.

ASO, which runs the Tour, has the authority to remove CV because they're a wildcard, but would need cooperation from the UCI to remove the Würth (formerly Liberty Seguros-Würth) squad, because they're entered under the auspices of the Pro Tour.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 31, 2006 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Doping, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

UCI clears Armstrong, but deplores report

SI.com | Armstong cleared of doping charges

The UCI report on allegations that Lance Armstrong used EPO in the 1999 Tour is in, and it “exonerates Lance Armstrong completely.” Unfortunately, the UCI itself is jumping up and down and declaring the report “premature:”

The International Cycling Union has learned with great surprise de declarations conveyed to the Dutch press by Mr. Emile Vrijman, independent investigator within the frame of the urine sample analysis during the 1999 Tour de France case.

The UCI firmly deplores the behaviour of Mr. Vrijman, who has prematurely voiced, offending the agreements that foresaw that all parties implied would be informed before any public comment on the report content would be done.

Still waiting the receive the definite version of the said report written by Mr. Vrijman, the UCI underlines its deep displeasure with regards to the regrettable development of this case.

Upon reception of the document, the UCI will study in details the content before publishing it in its whole.

Talk about bipolar. It reads as if they couldn't even wait for the translator.

The report results from stories in L'Equipe last year, which claimed that samples from Armstrong's first Tour win were among those tested as a baseline when the UCI started testing for EPO use, and that some had tested positive.

The samples were labeled with only numbers, but the newspaper matched those numbers to IDs used on riders' daily doping control forms, which were mistakenly provided by the UCI. A UCI doctor was suspended for releasing the forms.

The preliminary report also called for further investigation into who leaked the test results, and for possible sanctions against the World Anti-Doping Agency.

WADA itself has responded, saying it wasn't provided with the report, but that the organization “continues to stress its concern that an investigation into the matter must consider all aspects — not limited to how the damaging information regarding athletes' urine samples became public, but also addressing the question of whether anti-doping rules were violated by athletes.”

Update 3 p.m.: Armstrong has released a statement, showing no love to WADA head Dick Pound:

"I am pleased that they confirm what I have been saying since this witch-hunt began: Dick Pound, WADA, the French laboratory, the French Ministry of Sport, (French sports daily) L'Equipe, and the Tour de France organizers (ASO) have been out to discredit and target me without any basis and falsely accused me of taking performance enhancing drugs in 1999.

"Today's (Wednesday) comprehensive report makes it clear that there is no truth to that accusation."

Posted by Frank Steele on May 31, 2006 in Doping, Lance Armstrong, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 30, 2006

Next up: The Dauphiné Libéré

Cycling4all | Dauphiné Libéré provisional start list

We're just a few days from the race that's become the most important Tour warm-up, the Dauphiné Libéré. Cycling4All has a running start list, and there are few surprises. Lots of Americans have team leader numbers, including Levi Leipheimer, David Zabriskie at CSC, and Chris Horner at Davitamon-Lotto.

It's a South American riding in Phonak's lowest number, Santiago Botero, although of course Floyd Landis is using the race to test his fitness before the Tour. Yaroslav Popovych wears 31 for Discovery, which also brings George Hincapie and Jose Azevedo.

Vinokourov and Kaschechkin both will start for the team formerly known as Liberty Seguros, while Alejandro Valverde leads Caisse d'Espargne.

Missing riders? Quick Step's Tom Boonen, Davitamon-Lotto's Robbie McEwen, and T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich, as well as Giro d'Italia champion Ivan Basso.

Some of these guys have 4 weeks of racing in their legs since April 20: A lot of the Saunier Duval (Pinotti, Olson) and Davitamon-Lotto riders (Henk Vogels, Jan Kuyckx, Nick Gates, Van Hecke) started both the Tour de Georgia and the Giro d'Italia.

Action kicks off Sunday with a 4-km prologue in Annecy.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 30, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Chris Horner, Dauphiné Libéré, Dauphiné Libéré 2006, Dave Zabriskie, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Santiago Botero, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tour de France intro makes Fortune magazine

FORTUNE | Pack mentality

Paul Hochman, familiar to OLN's regular Tour viewers as “that guy with the glasses,” has a Tour preview in the current issue of Fortune magazine, of all places.

In keeping with the neighborhood, he explains the Tour as a commodities marketplace, where the various players buy stage wins at the expense of GC placing, buy TV time for the price of a suicide break, and even dominant champions find themselves allying with opponents when the situation is right.

Hochman quotes Bob Roll, who says it's less corporate than that:

"It's basically a penitentiary," says Bob Roll, a former Tour rider and an anchor for OLN TV. "You've got your walking boss, you've got that sneaky little bastard who was in "The Longest Yard," you have the honorable veterans, and then the guys who are just doing time, which is most of them. Nobody wants to be anybody's boy, but sometimes you have no choice."

If you're a regular, most of this won't be news for you, but it's definitely worth keeping around for friends and coworkers looking for an introduction come Tour time.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 30, 2006 in About the Tour, Tour 2006 previews | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 29, 2006

Basso triumphant, anointed Tour favorite

Eurosport | Ivan Basso wins Tour of Italy

Ivan Basso took the next step in his development as a rider, wrapping up the Giro d'Italia in Milan yesterday. Basso nailed down a dominating 9:18 margin of victory, and became the consensus favorite to win the 2006 Tour.

Gerolsteiner's Robert Forster took the sprint finish to take Stage 21, but Team CSC wasn't letting anything else happen on the stage.

Gilberto Simoni is still mouthing off about Basso's win in Saturday's Stage 20, when Simoni claims Basso asked for money to let Simoni take the stage win. Basso admits that he convinced Simoni they should ride together on the descent of the Mortirolo, but says the rest of Simoni's story is a fabrication.

The two biggest surprises of the Giro have to be defending champion Paolo Savoldelli's 6th overall and José Enrique Gutierrez taking 2nd.

Juan Manuel Garate takes the climber's jersey, Paolo Bettini both the points jersey and the 110 Gazzetta competition (normally the Intergiro).

Jan Ullrich, who still plans to show up at the start of the Tour July 1, held a press conference Friday night to discuss his Giro exit and his condition after almost 3 weeks of competitive racing. Ullrich says he and director Rudy Pevanage had planned to withdraw Thursday night, but decided that would look “ill-timed” in light of the doping allegations coming out in the Spanish press. With his back hurting on Friday, apparently the result of a strength imbalance between Ullrich's legs, the two decided there was no reason for Ullrich to continue.

On Basso's Giro mastery:

Ullrich: He makes a strong impression. And his CSC team is well-balanced. Ivan is on top of his game. However, I don’t think he will win the Tour. The competition is Italy is distinctively weaker than the one in France. And I want to have a say in it, too. (laughs)

Also:

IHT.com | Cycling: Above the pack, but not suspicion?

Samuel Abt gives Gutierrez a well-deserved callout, and examines Simoni's comment on Saturday that Basso “seems like an extraterrestrial,” with the connotation that something more than good training habits were responsible for his performance.

ProCycling | Basso crowned Giro king

Eurosport | Ivan Basso wins Tour of Italy

CyclingNews.com | General Classification | Stage 21 Results

Posted by Frank Steele on May 29, 2006 in Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 27, 2006

Basso wins Stage 20, Giro

Ivan Basso flashed a picture of his newborn son Santiago as he crossed the finish line with a Stage 20 victory today, leading Gilberto Simoni across the line by 1:18.

Basso again showed an extra gear that no one else could match. He and Simoni shed the field to top the Mortirolo together, and stayed away together until the final 2 kilometers of the Passo Aprica, when Basso just flew away from the 2-time Giro champion.

At 2:51, Damiano Cunego led in José Enrique Gutierrez, who cemented his 2nd place overall. Defending champ Paolo Savoldelli could manage no better than 5th, at 6:03, and that moves Cunego into 4th overall, dropping Savoldelli into 5th.

Barring a lightning strike, Basso will win his first Giro d'Italia championship tomorrow in Milan.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 27, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Paolo Savoldelli, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

Danielson exits Giro, will lead Discovery at Vuelta

VeloNews.com | Danielson leaves Giro; Confirmed as leader for Vuelta

Discovery Channel's Tom Danielson didn't take the start this morning at Stage 20 of the Giro d'Italia. Team director Johan Bruyneel said Danielson has been suffering from sinusitis, and that his fever worsened overnight.

Danielson had hoped for a top 10 finish, but was sitting in 16th after yesterday's stage.

Bruyneel also confirmed that Danielson will be the team's Vuelta leader:

"He has combination of time-trailing and climbing that you need to be a contender in major tours, but only time will tell whether he's a guy who can go for the top five, the podium or the win in major tours," Bruyneel said. "He finished in the top ten in his first full major tour and that was really good to see, but we're not going to raise our expectations too high either. We have to be realistic."


Posted by Frank Steele on May 27, 2006 in Tom Danielson, Vuelta a España | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 26, 2006

Flickr'ing the Giro

The Rose Jersey
The Rose Jersey,
originally uploaded by Sergio Maistrello.
I had hoped this year's Giro would be heavily posted on Flickr, but so far, it's been pretty disappointing. Finally, today, Sergio Maistrello posted 18 photos from the start in Pordenone.

There are a few from yesterday's stage, too -- I'm partial to this shot (which two minutes later got a few more cameras), and AllessioAllessio's set from Livorno.

Frescafresca
Frescafresca,
originally uploaded by kreeno.
Also, this one shot by Giovanni Lentini.

Here's a composite from the prologue that's a nice idea, and a great panning shot of Bobby Julich (at right) in the ITT.

So is there any other shared gold out there on the other photo sharing sites? Feel free to link good Giro photography in the comments. Here are Flickr collections for Giro d'Italia and Giro.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 26, 2006 in Bobby Julich, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Photo galleries | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Garate takes Stage 19, new papa Basso comfortable in Giro lead

On paper, Stage 17 was this year's Giro queen stage. But when weather and team dissent led organizers to behead the queen, chopping off the top of the stage, today's stage stepped in. With four big climbs in 224 kilometers, it was the best chance for somebody to try to put the hurt on king-to-be Ivan Basso, celebrating the birth this morning of his second child, a son.

A solid early break got 5 minutes on the field over the second major climb. The highest placed rider was Danilo Di Luca, 12th at 18:27, and some other familiar names were along, including Bobby Julich and Jens Voigt of CSC, Paolo Bettini and Juan Manuel Garate of QuickStep, Johan Tschopp of Phonak, and Francisco Vila of Lampre.

On the Pordoi, Bettini and Julich were quickly off the back, and Ceramica Panaria's Fortunato Baliani led the group over the top, nearly 7 minutes ahead of the pack, to take the lead in the climber's jersey competition.

At the foot of the last climb, Di Luca, Garate, and Voigt were riding with Tschopp, Lampre's Evgeni Petrov, Tadej Valjavec, and Francisco Vila, Ceramica Panaria's Baliani, Laverde, and Emanuele Sella, Patrice Halgand, and Ivan Parra.

Valjavec launched the first attack, joined quickly by Voigt. Parra and Villa tried to bridge, but never quite made it. Parra fell off Villa's pace, to be replaced by Garate, and that pair caught Valjavec and Voigt. Valjavec quickly attacked again, and was countered by Garate, who gapped the trio, only to have Voigt (!) jump out and catch his wheel.

Back in the field, Piepoli turned on the burners, and Simoni, Cunego, and Basso were the only ones who could match him. Once again, Savoldelli was quickly off the back, and once again Discovery's Tom Danielson led him in. Gutierrez drifted off the leaders' group, and Simoni smelled 2nd on the GC, and attacked. Basso and Cunego countered, but Cunego couldn't match the pace, and yo-yoed desperately on and off Basso and Simoni, slowly drifting back, but passing break survivors along the way.

In the last few kilometers, everyone had to be thinking back to the 2005 Tour, and George Hincapie's win over Phonak's Oscar Pereiro after Pereiro had set pace all day. Today, we had a big generalist/superdomestique, Voigt, teammate of the overall race leader, riding alongside a climber, Garate, with an uphill finish, and again, it looked like the big man, Voigt, had played all his cards right for the win. Voigt patiently sat in, and then, with less than 300 meters to go, he patted Garate on the back, gave him a little push, and sat up.

Garate couldn't believe his luck; he had tried to ride Voigt off his wheel unsuccessfully, and now, he was handing Garate the win? The little man, riding in his Spanish champion's jersey, put a safe cushion behind him, still glancing nervously several times back at Voigt, then with 50 meters to ride, he pointed back, acknowledging the gift, zipped his jersey, and took the stage.

Back with the GC riders, the question was, where's Gutierrez? Simoni looked a little like Gibos past, and he and Basso led in all riders not involved in the break, finishing 7th and 8th at 2:15. Behind them, Cunego and Gutierrez, both of whom had looked near popping, were clawing for every inch, and Gutierrez came 11th at 2:39 and Cunego 12th at 2:40. Savoldelli, Piepoli, Baliani, Danielson, Sandy Casar and Victor Hugo Peña finished together at 4:16, while Pellizotti came in at 5:11.

On GC, that means Basso leads by 6:07, with Gutierrez in 2nd, 4:27 clear of Simoni, who now has a 2:25 cushion on Savoldelli. Pellizotti falls from 5th to 6th, while Cunego pole-vaults from 8th to 5th, now 15:13 back.

One notable DNF, as Jan Ullrich drops out, complaining of back pain.

Five riders were still competing in Liberty Seguros jerseys, and the team ownership promises the team will continue through the end of the season, even without a large portion of the 8 million euros Liberty was kicking in.

cyclingnews.com | Report & Results

Posted by Frank Steele on May 26, 2006 in Bobby Julich, Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, George Hincapie, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jens Voigt, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Leonardo Piepoli, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fly the 2006 Tour route without leaving your computer

Google Earth Blog | Tour de France 2006 in Google Earth

Alpedhuez_approach.jpg

Earlier this month, I mentioned that a 2006 Tour route map was underway for Google Earth.

It's done. The entire route of this year's Tour is now available for download. It's an amazing demonstration of what Google Earth can do, as you can tilt and zoom to get an idea of a course's elevation profile, overlay roads to plan a Tour trip, and easily pick out intermediate sprints or mountaintops.

It's both convenient and awesome.

Harry Love, who participated in last year's Google Earth map, has posted a number of suggestions for how people can extend on this year's map, including geotagging photos at sharing sites like Flickr, YouTube, and Google Video, using the "tdf2006" tag, and, for riders and teams, providing data feeds that could integrate with the course map.

Above is a still from Stage 15, which finishes atop Alpe d'Huez.

(Spotted at Bikeforall.net.)

Posted by Frank Steele on May 26, 2006 in Links, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006, Tour Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 25, 2006

Bombshell: Liberty Seguros ceases sponsorship of team

procycling | Liberty Seguros pulls plug on Saiz! The Spanish arm of Liberty Mutual will stop sponsoring one of Spain's premier cycling squads, after the team's director was arrested in connection with a blood doping probe. Six riders from Liberty Seguros are still contesting the Giro, but ProCycling quotes a release from the parent company that they are ceasing sponsorship as of today. The Boston-based company had modified its sponsorship after team rider Roberto Heras tested positive for EPO during last year's Vuelta a España, and cited the tighter anti-doping terms in ending its sponsorship:

"The implications of Manolo Saiz's detention are highly alarming: they damage our name and cycling's name," the statement continued.

Among the team's riders are Alexandre Vinokourov, Alberto Contador, Davide Etxebarria, Andrey Kashechkin, and Allan Davis; the fate of the riders' contracts is currently up in the air. Also: VeloNews.com | Liberty pulls plug on sponsorship VeloNews quotes from this L'Equipe story (in French | Google English translation) that a Spanish radio network is reporting that Jan Ullrich was among Fuentes' clients, along with about 200 others, after claiming Tuesday that Basso was. Both riders have previously worked with Luigi Cecchini, mentioned in some stories as a friend and collaborator with Fuentes. Like Basso, Ullrich denies receiving medical support from Cecchini, but says the doctor has assisted with his training. In any case, Ullrich said on the T-Mobile web site: “I have never worked together with Fuentes.” VN also reports that Vinokourov says, characteristically, that he's riding the Tour, team or no team. cyclingnews.com | Liberty Seguros terminate contract

Posted by Frank Steele on May 25, 2006 in Alberto Contador, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin, Doping, Jan Ullrich, Jorg Jaksche, Joseba Beloki, Luis Sanchez, Manolo Saiz, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 24, 2006

Saiz released, Spain pledges doping crackdown

Eurosport | Saiz released by police

Manolo Saiz has been released, but will likely be called before a judge during the investigation, Eurosport reported today. EFE reports that Saiz is suspected of being a client of the doping group, not an organizer (ProCycling story in English | AS story en Español). El Pais also reports that 200 bags of blood were found in the raid, and that investigators had pictures of former ONCE doctor Eufemiano Fuentes handing off doping supplies to Saiz.

Fuentes remains in custody in the case, as do Ignacio Laberta, assistant director of the Comunidad Valenciana team, former mountain biker Alberto León, and hematologist and lab owner Jose Luis Merino.

Apparently, the group had been under surveillance for 4 months or more, and investigators are reportedly looking through images to identify athletes who have visited the clinic, after which they'll try to match athletes to identifiers on the blood bags or through DNA testing.

Meanwhile, ProCycling quotes “reports in the Spanish press” in a story suggesting that Giro leader Ivan Basso may have been working with Eufemiano Fuentes. Basso denied this, saying of Saiz:

“We are good friends. But it’s too much to say, without any proof, that doctors within his circle have been involved in my preparation.”

Another interesting angle ProCycling picks up from a story in AS is: “the three-month investigation has been focused on the Canary Islands. They also report more people are likely to be detained in the coming days.”

Posted by Frank Steele on May 24, 2006 in Doping, Ivan Basso, Manolo Saiz, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Piepoli pips Basso on shortened Stage 17

Saunier Duval's Leonardo Piepoli took another stage win today, as organizers chopped off the brutal final 5.5-kilometer final climb to Plan de Corones in recognition of the nasty weather. Race temperatures were below freezing on the mountaintops, and a steady rain fell for much of the stage.

Piepoli sheltered team leader Gilberto Simoni until late on the climb, then rode across when the leading pack broke into two 4-man bunches, joining CSC's Ivan Basso, Phonak's José Enrique Gutierrez, and Ceramica Panaria's Julio Perez. Gutierrez saw Simoni was isolated and pushed the pace, but in the last kilometer, he gave way to the Italian duo, and Piepoli showed a little in the last few meters to discourage Basso from contesting the finish.

The stage conclusion pretty much mirrored what we've been seeing throughout the Giro: Basso and Piepoli are the strongest climbers in the Giro, and Gutierrez of Phonak is a tick behind. Double Giro winner Simoni of Saunier Duval-Prodir just doesn't have the legs to contend in the overall, but he did back onto the podium today, with Discovery Channel's Paolo Savoldelli losing 1:29 and third place overall, and being shepherded in by (major correction: provisional results had Tom Danielson) teammate José Rubiera in 16th place. Savoldelli told CyclingNews:

“Well my Giro is getting worse day by day,” lamented Savoldelli. “I still have motivation, but I'm not competitive. But I'm hanging tough and my team is working really well. Because of the rain, I'm feeling better today from my allergies, but I'm still not competitive. I want to do more but I just don't have the legs.”

Damiano Cunego climbed much of the final ascent on his own, down around 9th place, then caught and passed Simoni in the day's last meters, to finish 7th on the day at :41, improving to 5th overall.

Liquigas' Franco Pellizotti managed to bridge to Basso in the last couple of kilometers, but was dropped along with Gutierrez when Piepoli and Basso smelled the finish line. Look for more from him tomorrow, as the Giro travels to his home region.

Ullrich watchers: He was 120th, at 11:11.

Top 10:

1) Leonardo Piepoli, Saunier Duval-Prodir, in 3:21:26
2) Ivan Basso, Team CSC, same time
3) José Enrique Gutierrez, Phonak, at :15
4) Franco Pellizotti, Liquigas, at :19
5) Julio Perez, Ceramica Panaria-Navigare, at :28
6) John Gadret, AG2R, at :37
7) Damiano Cunego, Lampre, at :41
8) Gilberto Simoni, Saunier Duval-Prodir, at :48
9) Sergio Ghisalberti, Team Milram, at :58
10) Giampaolo Caruso, Liberty Seguros, same time

Posted by Frank Steele on May 24, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Filippo Pozzato, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Jan Ullrich, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Leonardo Piepoli, Paolo Savoldelli, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saul Raisin transferred to outpatient facility

Saul Raisin Racing - Home

Credit Agricole's Saul Raisin expected to be transferred to an outpatient facility in Atlanta yesterday for 3-4 weeks of rehabilitation. Raisin wrote on his website:

I am getting stronger and getting better every day...I hope after the new rehab center I will be getting back to my self soon.

Raisin has also posted a recovery photo gallery showing how he's progressing.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 24, 2006 in Saul Raisin | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 23, 2006

Manolo Saiz, Liberty Seguros physician arrested, suspected of doping

eitb24.com | Liberty Seguros cycling team director and physician arrested

There's a report out of Spain that Liberty Seguros DS Manolo Saiz was arrested today in Madrid, along with team doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, in connection to a doping case.

At least three others have reportedly been detained, and the investigation apparently centers on blood boosting, the process of extracting blood for later transfusion to riders, boosting their red cell count to as near the 50 percent UCI hematocrit limit as possible. Saiz formerly led Team ONCE, the Spanish powerhouse.

Jesus Manzano, formerly of Kelme, in 2004 told Spanish daily AS that blood boosting was widespread, and often involved transfusing one rider's blood into another rider. Phonak's Tyler Hamilton and Santiago Perez have both since been suspended for having traces of another person's blood in samples they provided.

Liberty Seguros lost Roberto Heras to a positive EPO test during last year's Vuelta, and are expected to be led at this year's Tour by Alexandre Vinokourov. No riders have yet been named in the investigation.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 23, 2006 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Doping, Manolo Saiz, Roberto Heras, Top Stories, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 20, 2006

Piepoli takes Stage 13; Basso still the man

cyclingnews.com | Giro d'Italia Stage 13


Saunier Duval-Prodir's Leonardo Piepoli descended faster than a Falco Saturday to win Stage 13 at the Giro. Piepoli, a climbing specialist, took his first Giro win.

Ivan Basso once again showed he's the class of the contenders, blowing up the field on the ascent of Colle San Carlo, and actually losing time on the closing descent to La Thuile, as he took it gently on slick roads.

Piepoli, who spent last Sunday's climb to the Maielletta shepherding team leader Gilberto Simoni, was given free rein Saturday, and made the most of it. He crested the last climb with Basso, then put 44 seconds into CSC's leader on the descent.

José Enrique Gutierrez of Phonak and Simoni, were 3rd and 4th on the day, at 1:19 to Piepoli, losing 35 seconds to Basso. They topped the climb at 1:24, but pulled Basso back somewhat on the descent. Damiano Cunego, who looked like the most promising contender on last Sunday, rode in with Discovery's Paolo Savoldelli, 2:36 back of Piepoli.

Basso just keeps building his cushion on the GC, now leading Gutierrez by 3:27, Savoldelli by 5:30, Wladimir Belli by 7:35, and Simoni by 8:00. Danielson's 7th, at 8:35, Cunego's 8th, at 8:58, and Di Luca is 9th at 10:36.

Selle Italia's José Rujano, who animated last year's Giro, abandoned on the road, possibly owing to his strange contract, which has him moving to Quick Step June 1. Thomas Vaitkus, who won Stage 9, also abandoned on the road. T-Mobile's Michael Rogers didn't start because of a toothache, while triple stage winner Robbie McEwen didn't start, complaining of a minor illness.

Also:

VeloNews.com | Basso tightens grip on Giro as Piepoli earns tough win

cyclingnews.com | Stage 13 photo gallery

GrahamWatson.com | Stage 13 photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on May 20, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Leonardo Piepoli, Michael Rogers, Paolo Savoldelli, Robbie McEwen, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 18, 2006

Ullrich rocks Giro, takes TT

VeloNews.com | Ullrich shows his form; Basso solidifies grip on jersey

Looks like Jan Ullrich is TT-fit for the Tour de France.

T-Mobile's 1997 Tour champion scorched the 50-kilometer (31 mile) time trial course today, finishing in 58:48, for his first race victory since last year's Tour of Germany.

Ullrich showed he's got the numerator down on the power-to-weight ratio, and the upcoming mountains should help him shrink his, um, denominator.

"To beat Ivan Basso is going to give me a huge morale boost. I knew right from the start that I was going to have a good day.

Giro leader Ivan Basso of CSC was 2nd on the day in 59:16, 28 seconds back, but ahead of Italian TT champion Marco Pinotti, at 1:01, T-Mobile's Sergei Honchar, at 1:09, and Paolo Savoldelli, at 1:19. Phonak's José Enrique Gutierrez rounds out the top 6 at 1:42.

Damiano Cunego, who was best able to hang with Basso on Sunday's first big climb of the Giro, lost 5:06 (!) to Basso in today's TT, and Gilberto Simoni and Danilo Di Luca did only slightly better.

In the GC, Gutierrez remains in 2nd, now 2:48 back, while Savoldelli slips to 3rd behind Honchar at 3:24 and 3:26. Discovery Channel's Tom Danielson is now 5th overall, 5:38 back, with Cunego 8th at 6:54, Simoni 9th at 7:13, and Di Luca 10th at 7:33.

Also:

cyclingnews.com | Jan's one mean motor scooter

Enormous picture of Ullrich at Gazzetta dello Sport

Posted by Frank Steele on May 18, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Paolo Savoldelli, Sergei Honchar, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 15, 2006

Vaitkus takes Giro Stage 9

Eurosport | Vaitkus wins in photo-finish

Finally, somebody managed to outkick Robbie McEwen at the Giro, and it was Lithuania's Thomas Vaitkus of AG2R.

Paolo Bettini threw up his arms in celebration as the leaders crossed the line, and he was moving faster than Vaitkus, but photo review showed that Vaitkus was first over the line, followed by Bettini and T-Mobile's Olaf Pollack.

Vaitkus has been among the leaders in the Giro's other sprint finishes, and his finishing kick today makes him the first Lithuanian to win a Giro stage, and also contributes to the cycling youth movement, as Vaitkus is just 24.

McEwen could salvage only 4th, as he followed Pollack's wheel, but started the sprint too late.

No change to the overall GC.

Also:

CyclingNews.com | Giro Stage 9 wrapup | Results< | Overall standings | Photo gallery

GrahamWatson.com | 2006 Giro Stage 9 Photo Gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on May 15, 2006 in Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Paolo Bettini, Robbie McEwen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cancellara conquers Catalonia kickoff

VeloNews.com | Cancellara takes his best shot and wins Cataluyna kickoff

CSC is firing on all cylinders. Their Fabian Cancellara took the first stage in the Tour of Catalonia today. Echoing his prologue win in the 2004 Tour de France, Cancellara finished the 12.5-km time trial in 14:55, 3 seconds faster than Illes Balears' Vladimir Karpets, Discovery Channel's Janez Brajkovic, and Phonak's Robbie Hunter.

Cancellara told VeloNews his personal ambition at the 2006 Tour is another prologue win:

"My entire Tour will be less than 10km. After that, I will do my all to help Ivan win," Cancellara said. "After that, I still have goals. I'd like to win the world (time trial) title in Austria."

Christian Vandevelde was 8th on the day, Levi Leipheimer 13th, and Cadel Evans 20th.

Also:

CyclingNews.com | Stage Results | Photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on May 15, 2006 in Cadel Evans, Christian Vande Velde, Fabian Cancellara, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tour of Britain to pretest '07 Tour route

BBC SPORT | London finale for Tour of Britain

The concluding stage of this fall's Tour of Britain will include a 50-mile stage across London, including 20 laps of St James's Park in front of Buckingham Palace.

Beginning at Greenwich Park, the stage will follow part of the route for next year's Tour de France, and cross Tower Bridge.

It will also echo the proposed route of the road race for the 2012 Olympics over Hampstead Heath then through Regent's Park and Hyde Park on its way down to the final circuits.

The stage is scheduled for September 3rd as the sixth stage of the UCI 2.3-rated Tour of Britain.

More details:

TimesOnline | Cyling: London to star in stage show

Posted by Frank Steele on May 15, 2006 in Tour de France 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Armstrong loses race up l'Alpe d'Huez: See Graham Watson photos

Triple Crankset | Elementary My Dear Watson, Elementary

Cycling photographer Graham Watson was AWOL from stage 6 through 8 of the Giro d'Italia last week. It's not unusual for him to shoot partial coverage of a longer stage race during the early season, when a spring classic might overlap with a stage or two, but it's pretty unusual in a Grand Tour.

Turns out, Watson was shooting a rolling birthday party on l'Alpe d'Huez, featuring 7-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong and honoring Livestrong Foundation board member and Austin venture capitalist Joe Aragona.

Watson's photo gallery is here: it's fascinating to see the mountain covered in spring flowers instead of screaming fans. If you've ever wondered what Jim Ochowicz rides, you may be surprised: He's on a Team Phonak BMC, while Aragona is on a Specialized, probably hoping to meet the Angel at the mountaintop.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 15, 2006 in Lance Armstrong, Photo galleries | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lindsey: Race to Replace has "excellent disaster potential"

Mountain Bike | There’ll Never Be Another Lance

Joe Lindsey is afraid that the gimmick casting/reality show that is Discovery Channel's Race to Replace is a bad, bad, idea.

In case you've been under a rock, here's the basic idea: Team Discovery needs to find the next Lance Armstrong to lead the team. Contestants will sign up online, and on August 12th, some group of contestants will race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The contest winner will line up with the team at the US Pro Championships in Greenville, SC, in September.

Says Lindsey:

Details at this time are, as they say, sketchy. Is it mass-start or a time trial? Will there be categories? Is it part of any official USA Cycling program? Will pro racers like Danielson, or even USAC-licensed elite amateurs, be allowed to compete?

We don’t know. Here’s what we do know: This has excellent disaster potential.

What if the winner's a Fred, and wipes out half the field? What if he's dropped 500 yards into the race? Lindsey thinks the whole thing belittles the long monastic struggle most riders face before they can line up with the elite pros.

I'm a little more sanguine about the whole thing. The whole idea still isn't fleshed out, but I'll bet there's no intention for somebody with zero pack racing experience to actually race the full pro championships in September. I'm betting the winner will either a) be part of the U23 team Discovery sponsors (or another national-level amateur), or b) some member of Joe Public. If it's “A”, this is a great chance for the Discovery networks to showcase the talented young racers out there. If it's “B”, I imagine he'll get to ride with the pack through the neutral start, then, with loud cheers and plenty of media attention, be escorted off the course.

And it may yet wind up that the contest is only for “team leadership”: The team has promised a series of “webisodes” looking at candidates to replace Armstrong as the leader of Team Discovery starting today. They're pretty much who you would expect: Danielson, Popovych, Hincapie, Ekimov, Rubiera, Savoldelli, and Azevedo. How this “contest” links to the other contest is anybody's guess.

In any case, the ads (featuring personalities from Discovery shows) are cute and memorable, any interest in the contest is a plus for US cycling awareness, and the whole project should help maintain Discovery's image as the leading American cycling team.

For now, there's this teaser, a free iTunes version of the RtR's TV ad (All the other ads are available free, as well), and “raw footage” from the making of the webisodes here.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 15, 2006 in George Hincapie, Lance Armstrong, Links, Paolo Savoldelli, Television, Tom Danielson, Viatcheslav Ekimov, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Leipheimer back in Europe for Tour of Catalonia

IOL | Leipheimer seeks strong showing in Catalonia

Levi Leipheimer is back in Europe for the Tour of Catalonia (aka the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya). A number of other 2006 Tour likelies will also take the start, including Phonak's Santigo Botero, Rabobank's Denis Menchov, T-Mobile's Giusepe Guerini, CSC's Fabian Cancellara and Stuart O'Grady, Cadel Evans, Francisco Mancebo, Inigo Landaluze (fresh from an overturned suspension), Thor Hushovd, Erik Zabel, and Filippo Pozzato.

Today's stage is a short time trial, 12.6 km (about 7.5 miles) in length.

Update: VeloNews reports this morning that, in pre-race blood tests, former Liberty Seguros rider Jan Hruska of the Czech Republic, now riding for 3 Molinos (sponsored by The Wallflowers?) failed his hematocrit and is barred from racing for 2 weeks.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 15, 2006 in Cadel Evans, Denis Menchov, Erik Zabel, Fabian Cancellara, Filippo Pozzato, Francisco Mancebo, Levi Leipheimer, Santiago Botero, Stuart O'Grady, Thor Hushovd | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 14, 2006

Basso ascendant: Takes Stage 8, Giro lead

CyclingNews.com | Stage 8 - Sunday, May 14

Ivan Basso announced his presence with authority on Sunday, taking control of the 2006 Giro d'Italia.

Basso rode alongside the other race favorites on the day's final climb, and one by one, they cracked. Race leader Sergei Honchar was among the first, but surprisingly, Discovery Channel's defending Giro champ Paolo Savoldelli also quickly went off the back, as did 2005 Giro revelation José Rujano.

Hometown hero Danilo Di Luca was next, yoyoing off a small group, while Basso sat spinning comfortably on the wheel of teammate Carlos Sastre. Like Basso, Gilberto Simoni was riding with a teammate, Leonardo Piepoli, and also in the leading group were Damiano Cunego, Phonak's Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Luca Mazzanti and Giampaolo Caruso.

Rujano bravely fought back onto the select group, and launched the first attack. Sastre let him dangle off the front like a rabbit leading the greyhounds, and Rujano was recaptured within a kilometer or so. Next to go was Cunego with 4k to the summit, and he went hard. Only Basso could hold his wheel, but he did so with seeming ease, and after perhaps 150 meters, Basso soloed off the front.

Cunego couldn't respond, and 2-time Giro champ Simoni watched Basso ride away, seemingly content to ease in, riding on Piepoli's wheel. This was a stage where Simoni needed to regain some of the time lost in Saunier Duval-Prodir's team time trial, but instead, he lost another 1:15. That's got to depress his team, which spent much of today controlling the race to give Simoni a chance at the stage and some GC. Simoni after the stage:

"When Cunego went I was already at my limit, so I couldn't respond," said the two-time Giro champion. "Basso, on the contrary, had no fear. This was impressive. He did a great climb today. He's going to be difficult to beat, because he also has a very strong team."

Di Luca was trapped in no-man's land, behind the leaders, but ahead of the group that formed around Savoldelli and Andrea Noè.

When the dust cleared, Basso had won the stage, and sits 1:34 up on Phonak's José Enrique Gutierrez in the GC. Savoldelli was shepherded to the line by Tom Danielson, but lost 2:20 on the day. Il Falco's Giro may not be over, but he's going to need some extraordinary performances and extraordinary luck to win it - he's 2:35 back, with 2 weeks featuring loads more of the same to go.

Savoldelli quoted in CyclingNews:

"The Giro is not finished here...I knew Basso was strongest and I knew that I wasn't on a good day right away when the climb started. I went into the red zone right away and couldn't hold the pace. Thanks to Danielson, I was able to limit the loss. But the next step is the TT and then, the last week is so hard. But to lose 2'35 on the first climb, that's a lot... it should be 1'20". But I'm still optimistic."

Basso's ride was just stunning. He looked so comfortable, turning an easy rhythm and dropping everyone in sight, and credit for his freshness has to go largely to Carlos Sastre, who did a monster turn setting tempo on the final climb to Maielletta.

Also:

Eurosport.com | Basso claims pink jersey in style

VeloNews.com | Advantage Basso

CyclingNews.com | Results | General Classification | Photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on May 14, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Leonardo Piepoli, Paolo Savoldelli, Sergei Honchar, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 12, 2006

UCI Armstrong doping probe to wind up within 2 weeks

Reuters.com | Armstrong doping inquiry result due in next two weeks

UCI president Pat McQuaid says he expects results within 2 weeks from an independent investigation into allegations raised by L'Equipe that Lance Armstrong used EPO during the 1999 Tour de France.

McQuaid was visiting the Giro d'Italia in Forli, Italy, when he said a Dutch lawyer, Emile Vrijman, is finishing the report “and I understand the results will be published in the next two weeks.” Vrijman formerly headed the Netherlands' anti-doping agency.

The UCI's medical chief, Mario Zorzoli, provided the documents L'Equipe used, apparently in the mistaken belief that there was no way to trace the results to any particular rider. Zorzoli was suspended for a month when the L'Equipe story broke.

McQuaid makes it sound like the UCI doesn't know what it will do with the report: “I haven't a clue what's in the report but we will be given a copy and it is possible it will be made public.”

Update: The report was released on May 31.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 12, 2006 in Doping, Lance Armstrong, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

McEwen again, as Pollack takes Giro lead

cyclingnews.com | Giro d'Italia Stage 6 Live Report

With Alessandro Petacchi recovering from a fractured kneecap, Robbie McEwen is clearly the class of the sprinters at the Giro. Today's stage reminded me of a pro basketball game -- not that much reason to tune in until the last 5 minutes.

The doomed break of the day was Ceramica Panaria's Sergiy Matveyev, Dredit Agricole's Christophe Edalaine, and Euskaltel-Euskadi's Andoni Aranaga, who spent 200+ kilometers (about 125 miles) in front, and were relentlessly reeled back by a field powered mostly by Jan Kuyckx and Preben Van Hecke of Davitamon-Lotto.

The D-L riders' efforts would pay off handsomely at the line. In a finishing field sprint that reportedly hit 71 km/hour (44 mph), McEwen beat T-Mobile's Olaf Pollack by half a bike's length, and took his 3rd stage win of this Giro. With a time bonus, Pollack moves into the overall race leadership. AG2R's Tomas Vaitkus was 3rd, with Leonardo "L." Duque 4th.

Top 10:
1) Robbie McEwen, Davitamon-Lotto, in 5:24:13
2) Olaf Pollack, T-Mobile, same time
3) Tomas Vaitkus, AG2R Prevoyance, s.t.
4) Leonardo Duque, Cofidis, s.t.
5) Koldo Fernandez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, s.t.
6) Fabrizio Guidi, Phonak, s.t.
7) Paolo Bettini, Quick Step, s.t.
8) Elia Rigotto, Team Milram, s.t.
9) Axel Maximiliano, Ceramica Panaria-Navigare, s.t.
10) Manuele Mori, Saunier Duval-Prodir, s.t.

Pollack's bonus time moves everyone around, but doesn't really affect the gaps between overall hopefuls. Honchar's at :02, Voigt and Rogers at :08, Basso at :13, and Savoldelli at :22.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 12, 2006 in Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jens Voigt, Michael Rogers, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Robbie McEwen, Sergei Honchar, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 11, 2006

So what happened to Discovery?

VeloNews.com | Basso gets big boost as CSC storms TTT

ThePaceLine.com (free reg. required) | Graham Watson: Stage 5 TTT Analysis

ThePaceline.com | Giro d'Italia Stage 5 TTT Report

Maybe the biggest surprise today was the subpar showing from Discovery, which has been dominant in recent Tour TTTs, and finished 3rd, 39 seconds back, or to make it sound worse, 3 seconds in front of Liquigas.

The Paceline's TTT wrapup noted that the team wasn't using aerobars across the board, with only the first 3 riders tucking. Graham Watson points out that Savoldelli wasn't taking many pulls, which he says “hints that the team was saving his legs and energy for a forthcoming stage.” Danielson, on the other hand, was “doing long, long turns on the front of the train, a demonstration imitated by Jason McCartney as well.” Somebody wasn't pulling through, though, because Ekimov got so cooked he was dropped on the finishing straight.

My guess, from seeing the web stream and the photographs, is that the team's inexperience in the discipline is what cost them. Neither Danielson nor McCartney had ever done a TTT before. The squad lost most of their time on the front end, dropping 24 seconds in the first 9.7 kms, 9th best. From then on, Discovery was a solid 3rd at each time check. Danielson told VeloNews he had trouble grabbing a wheel after his pulls, and perhaps the team wasn't as coordinated as in past years, when Discovery reportedly practiced the TTT with an eye toward the Tour.

And hey -- maybe it was just bad luck. Sean Yates is running the team here, and rode in the Giro's last team time trial in 1989. Near the finish, a black cat ran onto the course, catching Yates's wheel and causing a chain reaction in the 7-Eleven squad.

Either way, the damage was slight, and Danielson also told VeloNews, “I feel like I'm getting stronger every day of this Giro.”

Jan Ullrich's teammate, race leader Sergei Honchar, says the team is focused on July, not May, and that it was all he could do to stay with the squad when Ullrich and Rogers reached full boil: "In the last 5k I was having trouble breathing, they were pulling so hard."

Of course, mad TTT skillz won't mean diddly come July -- the Tour won't feature a team time trial this year.

Also:

cyclingnews.com | Driver's seat: Scott Sunderland's Giro diary 2006

Posted by Frank Steele on May 11, 2006 in Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Michael Rogers, Paolo Savoldelli, Sergei Honchar, Tom Danielson, Viatcheslav Ekimov | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Samuel Abt profiles Floyd Landis

IHT.com | Late-blossoming Landis enjoys fruitful spring

New York Times cycling correspondent Samuel Abt sat down with Floyd Landis in Belgium this week to discuss his remarkable spring, and whether he can extend the success into July.
“I don't know for sure that I can or will win the Tour, but I think that I can,” he said in an interview as he visited his Phonak teammates during the early days of the Giro d'Italia, which started in Belgium.

After a long pause to consider his words, the 30-year-old Californian continued, “I've told myself, I've convinced myself for a long time that I can do it, since I started road racing” in 1999 after a successful career as a mountain biker.
Landis thinks he may be getting some payback for the chaos of last winter, when Phonak lost Tyler Hamilton and Santiago Perez to a doping suspension, and didn't know whether the team would make the ProTour or not.

Like Alexandre Vinokourov, Landis is skipping the Giro. Landis won't race again until the Dauphiné Libéré next month.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 11, 2006 in Floyd Landis | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Giro TTT photo galleries from around the web

Graham Watson:

(l-r) Disco slowdown, T-Mo gogo, Honchar trades magenta for pink

(Click through to GrahamWatson.com for full-size images)

cyclingnews.com:

Armstrong hitchin' a ride; Basso, CSC on the top step

Click through to cyclingnews.com for full-size images)

AP/ESPN:

New pink jersey leading T-Mobile, old pink jersey w/Gerolsteiner squad.

Click for AP cycling photo wire. Unlike the others, this will be current when you click through.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 11, 2006 in Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Lance Armstrong, Photo galleries, Sergei Honchar, Stefan Schumacher | Permalink | Comments (0)

OLN partners with Yahoo! for web streaming of Tour, other sports

MediaPost Publications | Yahoo Sports To Stream N.H.L., Tour de France

Stuck in an office during this year's Tour? Yahoo to the rescue, as the internet giant Yahoo! has signed an agreement to stream "video recaps and updates" from OLN's TV coverage of the event, as well as their NHL game coverage, the Giro d'Italia (can't find a link, so I guess it will start next year), bull riding, the Arena Football League, the Boston Marathon, AMA Motocross, the Davis Cup, and the Dakar Rally.

Also:

OLNTV.com | OLN and Yahoo! Sports bring network's sports programming to the web

Posted by Frank Steele on May 11, 2006 in Television | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CSC takes Giro TTT; T-Mobile's Honchar new race leader

cyclingnews.com | Giro d'Italia Stage 6 results

Team CSC turned on the afterburners today to scorch the Giro d'Italia's team time trial. One of my favorite cycling stages, the TTT is a combination of power and cooperation, with teams riding in tight rotating pacelines, varying the workload so their strongest TT men spend more time pulling, and lead-group riders are awarded the time of the 5th member of their team to cross the line. The course today was a pure power course, flat to gently descending, with few turns and wide roads.

Most of the early teams came in around 38 minutes, but CSC, starting 5th from last, came in at 36:56. Jan Ullrich's T-Mobile squad, riding here in support of Ukraine's Sergei Honchar, departed 5 minutes after CSC, and four of their riders finished in 36:55, but Matthias Kessler was gapped at the finish, and came in 2 seconds back to give T-Mobile a 2nd place in (correction) 36:57.

Then came Team Discovery, which had dominated the TTT of recent Tours de France. Without Armstrong and Hincapie, this was a different Discovery, and they finished at the front of the 2nd tier, 39 seconds behind CSC, which held up for 3rd on the day. They were already 24 seconds down at the 10 km (6-mile) mark, and didn't put on the late-stage rush they've shown in the Tour.

Gerolsteiner, riding last with race leader Stefan Schumacher, could manage only 6th, at 1:03.

T-Mobile can take solace in the race leadership, as Sergei Honchar now leads CSC's Jens Voigt and T-Mobile teammate Michael Rogers by 6 seconds. Among GC threats, Basso is 4th at 11 seconds, Savoldelli drops to 5th at 20 seconds, Danilo Di Luca is 12th at 44 seconds. Damiano Cunego's Lampre squad was 1:04 back, and Gilberto Simoni's squad was 1:26 behind CSC. I'll post their new placings when I see them.

The day's big winner has to be Ivan Basso. He's picked up 39 seconds or more against the real Giro threats (sorry, Sergei), and he's no slouch in the mountains. Di Luca, too has to be pleased, as Liquigas limited the damage, finishing 4th on the day at 42 seconds.

The big loser is Gilberto Simoni, who just took 90 seconds of damage in a 40 minute ride.

This was the first TTT in the Giro in 17 years, and there will be none in the Tour de France this year. Organizers had watered down the TTT the last few years to help the Euskaltel-Euskadis of the world, but it's a shame to see it eliminated. The TTT is a very photogenic (and telegenic) event, and it emphasizes the team aspect of cycling in a very visible way.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 11, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Michael Rogers, Sergei Honchar, Stefan Schumacher, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 09, 2006

Petacchi confirms: won't start '06 Tour

Eurosport | Petacchi out of Tour de France

Team Milram's Alessandro Petacchi won't start the Tour de France, as he faces surgery for a fractured kneecap.

Petacchi injured his knee yesterday in a fall during Stage 3 of the Giro d'Italia.

"Even If I recover from surgery, I will never have time to get fit," Petacchi told French sports daily L'Equipe on Tuesday of his prospects of lining up for the first stage of the Tour de France on July 1.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 9, 2006 in Alessandro Petacchi, Top Stories, Tour 2006 previews | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 08, 2006

Kristin Armstrong on Oprah; whatever happened to Lance?

Every divorcee's nightmare will come true for Lance Armstrong on Tuesday as his ex-wife Kristin visits the Oprah Winfrey Show and dishes with Oprah about their marriage and “why it ended” (check local listings).

Update: Here's the former Mrs. Armstrong in Glamour's Sex & Love column. Hat tip to my wife (I swear!).

Meanwhile, Armstrong has not settled into a quiet retirement, sitting lazily around the ol' fishing hole. The 7-time Tour winner, whose philanthropic battle with cancer is featured in a cover story in this week's Sports Illustrated (cover), is in Belgium taking in a couple of stages of the Giro this week, then will participate in Livestrong Day May 17. On May 28, he'll strap into a special Corvette Z06 pace car as he paces the Indianapolis 500.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 8, 2006 in Lance Armstrong, Links, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Schumacher takes classics-style Giro stage, Petacchi out

VeloNews.com | Schumacher takes lead after wet, ugly day at Giro

Schumacher's powerful win
Schumacher's win at Namur
Fotoreporter Sirotti/cyclingnews.com
Stefan Schumacher took an enormous win in Belgium today, winning Stage 3 of the Giro on the ascent to the citadel of Namur.

Schumacher wisely marked QuickStep's Paolo Bettini, who dropped the field to try to reel in Discovery Channel's Jose-Luis Rubiera, but couldn't close the gap. At about 800 meters to ride, Schumacher squashed the Cricket, kung-fued Chechu, and took the biggest win of his career. Chechu was 2 seconds back for 2nd, and Schumacher's Gerolsteiner teammate Davide Rebellin led in the field 6 seconds back.

Factoring in his margin of victory over Paolo Savoldelli, and the 20-second stage win bonus, Schumacher finds himself in the race leader's jersey, 13 seconds ahead of Savoldelli, 23 seconds ahead of Davide Rebellin.

Despite losing the race lead, Paolo Savoldelli gained time on most of his overall GC rivals, and now leads Sergei Honchar by 18 seconds, Danilo Di Luca by :23, Ivan Basso by :28, Damiano Cunego by :30, and Gilberto Simoni by :49.

Team Milram sprint superstar Alessandro Petacchi got tangled up in a late race pileup, needed medical attention, and came in 14:38 back. After the race, he abandoned, with a fractured kneecap. He's returning to Italy for surgery, and may not be able to start the Tour. Petacchi has 19 stage wins in the last 3 Giros.

Tomorrow's the Giro's last day in Belgium, with a rest day Wednesday and the team time trial from Piacenza to Cremona on Thursday.

Also:

Eurosport.com | Petacchi leaves the race

cyclingnews.com | Giro Stage 3 wrapup | Full results

Posted by Frank Steele on May 8, 2006 in Alessandro Petacchi, Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Davide Rebellin, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Sergei Honchar, Stefan Schumacher, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tour's devil builds World Cup bike

Reuters UK | Big bike for a big fan

The Red Devil of the Tour de France is branching out.

Didi Senft, who appears annually dressed as a devil at many of the Tour's toughest stages, wants to be a part of the publicity surrounding the upcoming soccer/football World Cup, kicking off in June in Germany.

He's built a giant, rideable tricycle using regulation soccer balls as tires. It looks to be a modification of his world record bicycle, since it shares some dimensions: 7.8 meters long, 3.7 meters high. That's about 26 feet long. Check out the video above to see Didi take it out for a little ride.

Seen at Bikeforall.net.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 8, 2006 in About the Tour, The Tour Devil | Permalink | Comments (0)

Giro Stage 2 photo galleries

Aaron Olson w/Simoni, Missaglia, McEwen outfoxes Petacchi

Click through to GrahamWatson.com

Savoldelli, McEwen (click through to CyclingNews.com)

Posted by Frank Steele on May 8, 2006 in Alessandro Petacchi, Gilberto Simoni, Paolo Savoldelli, Photo galleries, Robbie McEwen | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 07, 2006

Reminder: Same-day Giro Stage 2 coverage on OLN today

Today's Cyclysm Sundays episode is 2 hours devoted to the Giro d'Italia so far. It airs at 5 Eastern on OLN-TV.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 7, 2006 in Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Television | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

McEwen rides Milram train to Giro Stage 2 win

Team Milram's Alessandro Petacchi had made no secret of his desire to take today's Giro d'Italia Stage 2, from Mons to Charleroi.

As the peloton approached the finish line, his Milram team executed the plan to perfection, as his teammates slowly fell off, keeping the pace high enough to discourage opportunistic attacks, and launching Petacchi with 200 meters to go.

But today, the sun didn't rise in the East, the roadrunner didn't escape, and Petacchi couldn't finish out the sprint. Instead, Davitamon-Lotto's Robbie McEwen, following Petacchi's wheel, was able to come around and take the first road victory of the 2006 Giro.

T-Mobile's Olaf Pollack (who took the sprinters' points jersey at the Tour of California) was 2nd, Paolo Bettini of QuickStep was 3rd, and Petacchi was 4th. Leonardo "L." Duque of Cofidis rounds out the top 5.

Maybe there's still some life in the old-timers: McEwen is 33, Pollack, Bettini, and Petacchi are 32.

With the sprint finish, there was no significant change in the overall, where Discovery Channel's Paolo Savoldelli (celebrating his 33rd birthday) still leads Française des Jeux's Bradley McGee by 11 seconds, and José Enrique Gutierrez by 13 seconds.

Top 10:
1) Robbie Mcewen, Davitamon-Lotto, in 4:51:40
2) Olaf Pollack, T-Mobile, same time
3) Paolo Bettini, Quick Step, s.t.
4) Alessandro Petacchi, Team Milram, s.t.
5) Leonardo Duque, Cofidis, s.t.
6) Tomas Vaitkus, AG2R Prevoyance, s.t.
7) Alberto Loddo, Selle Italia, s.t.
8) Koldo Fernandez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, s.t.
9) Axel Maximiliano, Ceramica Panaria-Navigare, s.t.
10) Graeme Brown, Rabobank, s.t.

As it happened tickers:

cyclingnews.com | VeloNews | Eurosport | Daily Peloton

Posted by Frank Steele on May 7, 2006 in Alessandro Petacchi, Bradley McGee, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Robbie McEwen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Giro Stage 1 photo galleries posted

Graham Watson:

(l-r) Simoni, Cunego, Basso, Savoldelli

(Click through to GrahamWatson.com for full-size images)

cyclingnews.com:

José Enrique Gutierrez, Danilo Di Luca

Click through to cyclingnews.com for full-size images)

AP/ESPN:

Ullrich looks big.

Click for AP cycling photo wire. Unlike the others, this will be current when you click through.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 7, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Paolo Savoldelli, Photo galleries | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Giro 2006 web resource roundup

Get on the Giro train
It's the Giro train, and it's left the station
Flickr photo by Benoit Veys
Here's everything you need to know to successfully follow the 2006 Giro via the web.


TV:

OLN is repeating their approach from last year, providing a weekly recap show on their Cyclysm Sundays show and live coverage of Monday - Saturday stages through a partnership with Cycling.TV, at $19.99 for the entire Giro. If you already subscribe to Cycling.TV, that's another $19.99 to get the Giro. Mac users note: it works if you've installed Windows Media/Mac and/or Flip4Mac; I had better luck in Firefox and Safari than Camino.

OLN | Broadcast schedule | OLN/Cycling.TV web streaming

Tickers:

Look for live text coverage from VeloNews, cyclingnews.com, and Eurosport, with commentary most days at Daily Peloton.


Online Resources:

The official site, in English, Italian, French, Spanish, and German.

cyclingnews.com | Giro Preview | Stage breakdown | Giro map | Start list


Previews:


Journalists:

VeloNews.com:
A team-by-team look at the Giro d'Italia

Basso (and CSC) ready to dominate the Giro

Eurosport | Giro by numbers

Daily Peloton team previews:
Team CSC | Euskaltel-Euskadi | Liquigas | Lampre/Fondital | Milram | Panaria-Navigare | Phonak | QuickStep

Cycloblog.com | Giro 2006: One for the mountain goats


Riders in the race:


Jason McCartney's Giro Blog

cyclingnews.com | Interview with Bobby Julich, May 3, 2006


Riders sitting out the Giro:


PezCycling News | Magnus Maximus : Giro Watching

AMDProCycling | Michael Barry : Grande Giro

Posted by Frank Steele on May 7, 2006 in Bobby Julich, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Links, Magnus Backstedt | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 06, 2006

2006 Tour emerging on Google Earth Hacks

Google Earth Hacks - File Downloads - Current Events - Tour de France 2006

Over at Google Earth Hacks, “Lucifer” has an exact map of this year's prologue in Strasbourg, and a provisional map for Stage 1, and will be filling in more route details as they become available.

If you're planning on seeing the Tour firsthand, this will be an invaluable resource, since you can “prefly” the route to pick good locations.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 6, 2006 in Links, Tour 2006 previews, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Savoldelli takes Giro Stage 1

Defending Giro champion Paolo Savoldelli of Discovery Channel took today's short time trial in Belgium.

Savoldelli was the only rider to covered the 6.2 kilometers in less than 8 minutes. His 7:50 was 11 seconds faster than Française des Jeux's Bradley McGee, and 13 seconds ahead of José Enrigue Gutierrez of Phonak.

Among other favorites, Danilo Di Luca was 10th on the day, at 19 seconds, Ivan Basso was at 23 seconds, Cunego was at :25, and Gilberto Simoni was at :26.

Paolo Bettini, who had hoped to wear the race leader's jersey after Stage 3, came in at 8:32, so he'll need to take 42 seconds out of Savoldelli.

Among Americans, Bobby Julich finished in 8:35, Tom Danielson was in at 8:11, Jason McCartney at 8:21, Phonak's Patrick McCarty, starting his first grand tour, was 93rd in 8:44, and Saunier-Duval's Aaron Olson, likewise starting his first GT, finished in 9:07.

Jan Ullrich finished in 8:39 for 80th on the day.

Top 10:
1) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, in 7:50
2) Bradley McGee, Française des Jeux, at :11
3) José Enrique Gutierrez, Phonak, at :13
4) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, same time
5) Serguei Honchar, T-Mobile, at :15
6) Francisco Perez, Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears, at :16
7 José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears, same time
8) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, at :17
9) Davide Rebellin, Gerolsteiner, at :18
10) Danilo Di Luca, Liquigas, at :19

Also:

VeloNews.com | Savoldelli throws down the gauntlet

Eurosport | Back in pink for Savoldelli

cyclingnews.com | Full results | Photo gallery

Tickers: Daily Peloton | VeloNews | cyclingnews.com

Posted by Frank Steele on May 6, 2006 in Bobby Julich, Bradley McGee, Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Davide Rebellin, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Michael Rogers, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Sergei Honchar, Stefan Schumacher, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Giro visiting extreme northern Italy

The Giro d'Italia kicks off today, in Seraing, Belgium.

Today's stage is another of those “non-prologue prologues,” 6.2 kilometers (or about 4 miles) in length, with a healthy climb in the middle.

The official Giro page calls this year's race the five-star edition, with defending champion Paolo Savoldelli, Ivan Basso, 2004 winner Damiano Cunego, 2003 winner Gilberto Simoni, and Danilo Di Luca the five favorites.

We'll also get to watch Jan Ullrich riding into condition, facing a very difficult final week of racing.

To follow today's stage, check out:

cyclingnews.com | Giro d'Italia LIVE race ticker

VeloNews.com | Giro Race Viewer (having problems at 10:40 Eastern)

I'll be posting a Giro roundup later today.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 6, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Paolo Savoldelli | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 03, 2006

"I am the Kaiser. I crush the souls of the weak."

myspace.com | Jan: Male, 32 years old, Berlin, Germany

All due respect to FatCyclist, but this may be the funniest internet bike-racing meme since Dave "Hill" Harvey. Complete with German techno soundtrack.

Just a taste:

The Jan has just done the finishing of the stage two of the tour of Romandie. Romandie is being the worst country the Jan has ever been to. It is smelling like cabbage, and the all the women are looking like wooly sacks of potatoes. Preferably the Jan must dine on the liver of fourteen virgins every morning to be strong, but there are not being 14 virgins in all of Romandie, the Jan is thinking. So I am not crushing as many souls as I am normally doing.

Seen at Podium Cafe.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 3, 2006 in Jan Ullrich, Links | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saul Raisin update: back in US, recuperating

Saul Raisin Racing | Believe it or not it is me Saul

Credit Agricole's Saul Raisin, injured at the Circuit de la Sarthe last month, dictated an entry to his weblog yesterday:

Dictated by Saul typed by Mom: Well here I am no racing for me...Only racing to get well...Got the new Pro Cycling Giro Edition Mag...To bad I am not doing the Giro... I want to thank everyone for their support and get well thoughts... I hope to be leaving the hospital in a couple of weeks...I am in a super nice Hospital and the staff here is TRES BON...Check my web site for more updates and pictures... I love you all...Saul

Another entry, from his parents on Monday, notes that Raisin is still in the ICU, but is reading and “using his cell phone to call Daniela.”

Posted by Frank Steele on May 3, 2006 in Saul Raisin, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack