March 31, 2007
Tour de Georgia future on line as state senate axes funding
The Tour de Georgia's future may be in doubt, as the Georgia state senate removed $1 million in supplemental funding from the midyear budget bill on Wednesday.
The House version of the bill included the funding, along with a number of other programs sponsors of the senate bill are calling “pork.”
Chris Aronhalt of Medalist Sports promised that this year's race will run as scheduled, with every vendor being paid.
Whether it returns for a sixth time in 2008 is another question. "It's almost needed for this event to continue," he said of the one-time appropriation from the state. If the $1 million is not approved, he said, it would be "one heck of a serious challenge for Medalist to overcome."
The state is already the largest sponsor of the race, through its Department of Economic Development, which is contributing $400,000 to promote tourism.
I'll be following further developments on this story at my Tour de Georgia weblog.
March 26, 2007
Some other racers I'm following
I know some of you will remember I'm involved with Bike Hugger, a Hugger Industries site that tries to embrace all things bicycle, including bike commuting, bike travel, bike culture, and even racing.
But in keeping with the all-inclusive nature of the site, we wanted to get involved with citizen racing, people who race for the love of it, and arrange their lives to support their racing habits. So we hooked up with some very dedicated women in the Pacific Northwest, who just competed at the Redlands Classic, and who are blogging about their season over at Team.Bikehugger.com. If you've ever considered racing yourself, check it out.
March 20, 2007
2007 Tour de Georgia teams announced
Tyler Hamilton and his Tinkoff Credit System team and David Millar of Prodir-Saunier Duval are two new additions likely to ride in this year's Tour de Georgia. Rider lists aren't confirmed, but it looks like Leipheimer, Hincapie, and Danielson highlight Discovery Channel; Chris Horner, Cadel Evans, and maybe Freddy Rodriguez for Predictor-Lotto; and Dave Zabriskie, Bobby Julich, and Juan José Haedo for CSC.
This is a great chance for East Coast fans to see ProTour teams compete, and a great chance for US racers to make a splash against Euro-quality talent.
Among ProTour teams:
Prodir-Saunier Duval (which races in Europe as Saunier Duval-Prodir)
Three familiar Pro Continental squads are joined by Hamilton's Tinkoff Credit System:
Health Net presented by Maxxis
Team Slipstream presented by Chipotle
Tinkoff Credit System
Five US Continental squads:
Priority Health presented by Bissell
Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light
And, of course, the USA Cycling National Development Team.
More at my Tour de Georgia weblog.
Posted by Frank Steele on March 20, 2007 in Bobby Julich, Chris Horner, Dave Zabriskie, Fred Rodriguez, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Tom Danielson, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
March 19, 2007
Germans invade Italy: Schumacher, Klöden lead Tirreno-Adriatico
Stefan Schumacher, better known as a classics rider, took over the race lead at Tirreno-Adriatico Sunday with a strong time trial.
Gerolsteiner's Schumacher rode the 20.5-kilometer (12.7-mile) course in 27:08, one second faster than Astana's Andreas Klöden and six seconds ahead of T-Mobile's Kim Kirchen. It was a great day for former T-Mobiles: Schumacher, Klöden, and 4th-place Astana rider Alexandre Vinokourov all have ridden for the team.
Schumacher takes the overall race lead, 3 seconds up on Klöden, and 11 ahead of Vinokourov.
Riccardo Riccò, who won both Stage 3 on Friday and Stage 4 Saturday, was well off the pace Sunday, clocking a 29:14 that dropped him back to 17th on GC.
Tinkoff's Tyler Hamilton, still reportedly suffering from the flu, finished in 148th on the day, at 4:38. Other Americans: Jason McCartney, 34th at 1:41; Freddie Rodriguez, 142nd at 4:25.
March 18, 2007
Contador takes Stage 7, Paris-Nice, ProTour lead
Photo: Graham Watson/VeloNews
Davide Rebellin had taken every punch that Discovery Channel threw this week, but every day, he found himself with fewer supporting teammates, and on Saturday, survived by reeling in Contador with less than 2 kilometers to ride.
Sunday's Stage 7 was reminiscent of Discovery Channel's Lance Armstrong days: Everybody knew what they were going to do, and they went out and executed to perfection. With Rebellin down to 3 teammates in the race, Discovery put Sergio Paulinho and Stijn Devolder in a break with just 5 kilometers ridden.
Thomas Voeckler was also in that break, nailing down the overall climber's jersey, and leading the field over the day's first two climbs. Just behind him over the Col de la Porte, setting a torrid pace, were the Discos, with Danielson, Leipheimer and Popovych leading Contador, and Caisse d'Epargne's survivors and Rebellin just behind.
On the day's third climb, La Turbie, Discovery whittled the field to less than 50 riders, reeling in Voeckler, and setting up a Rebellin-Contador showdown on the day's final climb, the Col d'Eze. When Contador launched, no one could match him, and he quickly opened up 30 seconds on Rebellin.
But Rebellin wasn't giving in, taking help where he could find it, and driving the pace himself where he couldn't. With less than 10 kilometers to ride, Contador had 25 seconds in hand, and Rebellin, working with Frank Schleck of CSC, closed the gap to about 17 seconds. If Contador took the stage, bonus time would guarantee a win, so with about 2 kilometers to ride, Rebellin soloed out of his little group riding all-out for the victory.
But Contador wasn't going to be caught today, and in the end, he finished 19 seconds ahead of Caisse d'Epargne's David Lopez and Joaquim Rodriguez, who overtook an exhausted Rebellin before the line. Rebellin finished 8th on the day to take 2nd overall, but all eyes were on the 24-year-old Contador.
“The key for my victory was the team work,” he continued. “The other days I was struggling in the last kilometers. Today I was well. I won with a lot of rage. I finished the job that was unaccomplished yesterday. I knew I had only one occasion to break away. With 1.5km, I saw the victory more clearly than before. Only when I passed the red flag was I sure that no one would catch me anymore.”
Contador also won the race's young riders competition. Voeckler takes the climbers jersey, Franco Pellizotti of Liquigas the points jersey, and Caisse d'Epargne the team competition.
Given the current state of ASO-UCI relations, it's no surprise there was no ceremony recognizing Contador as the first leader of this year's ProTour, but so he is.
Basso exits Tirreno-Adriatico; likely to miss Milan-San Remo
Ivan Basso's wrist injury on Friday led him to abandon Tirreno-Adriatico on Saturday morning.
Basso strained a ligament in a fall with teammate Vladimir Gusev. He said he narrowly missed a fracture, and that fluid had collected in the injured area.
As a result, Basso is likely to miss next weekend's Milan-San Remo. More importantly for Basso's Giro d'Italia preparation, he'll miss today's time trial stage at Tirreno-Adriatico.
“I don't want to risk anything,” he stated. “If I got tendonitis in the wrist then I would compromise all of my season.”
Armstrong's "separated at birth" partners
TMZ.com notes that the pattern continues with Armstrong's latest girlfriend, designer Tory Burch.
TMZ doesn't mention the, um, more Freudian aspect of the story -- Armstrong's mother, Linda Armstrong Kelly.
March 17, 2007
Disco revival: Popovych takes Paris-Nice Stage 5
Ukraine's Yaroslav Popovych took his first victory of 2007 with a signature attack out of a strong breakaway group to win Stage 5 at Paris-Nice.
Popovych got in a quality break, along with Dave Zabriskie, Predictor-Lotto's Johan Van Summeren, Rabobank's Koos Moerenhout, T-Mobile's Bert Grabsch, and 8 others, right after the start. The lead group, whittled down to 7, stretched its advantage to 4 minutes at the summit of the Côte des Agnels. Gerolsteiner set a furious pace to keep Popovych from threatening leader Davide Rebellin.
Indeed, Gerolsteiner set such a fast pace on the mountainous stage that they dropped their own Heinrich Haussler, who started the stage in the race's climber's jersey and had to solo in alone for 60 kilometers, finishing dead last on the day. Almost half the field finished more than 5 minutes back, with 60 riders more than 12 minutes back. Haussler somehow holds the polka-dot jersey for at least another day.
With about 20 miles to ride, Popovych decided to go it alone, and was the only member of the break who could outdistance the chase, finishing with 14 seconds in hand. Francisco Ventoso of Saunier Duval took the field sprint, ahead of AG2R's Samuel Dumoulin and Caisse d'Epargne's David Lopez.
It's been a very good year so far for the Discovery Channel team. Levi Leipheimer took the Tour of California, his first appearance for the team. Thursday, Alberto Contador, a late signing after being linked with Operación Puerto, took Stage 4 at Paris-Nice, and sits just 6 seconds back of Rebellin. Look for Discovery Channel and Gerolsteiner to slug it out Saturday and Sunday.
T-Mobile's Michael Barry didn't make the start, choosing to return to his European base, recover from a cold, and and return at the Vuelta al País Vasco in April.
There was one possible setback for Discovery Channel, as Ivan Basso took a fall with teammate Vladimir Gusev at Tirreno-Adriatico on Friday, and injured his wrist. X-rays were negative, but Basso may have to pull out of the race.
March 16, 2007
Y'all come - 2007 Tour de Georgia gets green light
This year's edition of the Tour de Georgia is a definite go, after organizers canvassed existing sponsors, teams, and some additional Georgia businesses to make up for the lack of a true title sponsor.
The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports that the race still faces a shortfall of around $200,000, and that organizers continue to seek “additional opportunities for fundraising.”
Among the new sponsors: Garmin, vacuum maker Bissell, and Maxxis Tires, which has previously sponsored the race's sprint lines and co-sponsored the HealthNet team.
March 14, 2007
Saul Raisin aiming for US Pro return
Saul Raisin, the Credit Agricole rider who suffered brain injuries last year at the Circuit de la Sarthe, is training competitively again.
Raisin did a baseline time trial up Fort Mountain, near Dalton, Georgia, last Wednesday, and averaged about 400 watts for 30 minutes. He followed that up with 6 15-minute hill repeats on Friday.
Raisin told his coach he hopes to return in September:
"I want to come back for the U.S. professional championships," I told Jim. "And I want to come back in a big way. I want to win."
Raisin's “Raisin Hope” ride is scheduled for March 31 in Dalton, and there's also a silent auction of items through eBay including a number of signed team jerseys (from Discovery, Team CSC, Cofidis, and Credit Agricole) and a Look 585 team bike.
March 13, 2007
Di Luca takes Milano-Torino
Looks like Danilo Di Luca is going to use 2005 rather than 2006 as the template for this season.
Two years ago, Di Luca won the ProTour title on the strength of a tremendous spring, when he won Amstel Gold, La Flèche Wallonne, and two stages of the Giro d'Italia. Last year, he focused on the Giro d'Italia, and had a single victory, Stage 5 of the Vuelta a España.
Di Luca's first win of 2007 came at Milano-Torino, on a breakaway from about 10 miles out with Barloworld's Mauricio Soler. Kim Kirchen of T-Mobile led the field in for 3rd place.
March 11, 2007
Millar takes Paris-Nice prologue
David Millar made it all the way back, with his biggest win since returning from an EPO suspension.
Saunier-Duval's Scottish time trial specialist scorched the 4.7 km course in 6:01. CSC's Bobby Julich won the prologue last year, but was slightly slower this year, finishing 11th on the day, at 6 seconds. Roman Kreuzinger of Czechoslovakia, riding for Liquigas, was just a tick back of Millar, and a tick ahead of FdJ's Sebastian Joly to fill out the podium.
Discovery Channel's Levi Leipheimer was 6th, 3 seconds behind Millar.
Dave Zabriskie was back in action after his accident at the Tour of California, finishing 40th, 14 seconds behind Millar. Discovery Channel's late signing, Alberto Contador, was 5th on the day.
1) David Millar, Great Britain, Saunier Duval, in 6:01
2) Roman Kreuzinger, Czechoslovakia, Liquigas, at :01
3) Sébastien Joly, France, Francaise des Jeux, at :02
4) Luis Sanchez, Spain, Caisse d'Epargne, at :02
5) Alberto Contador, Spain, Discovery Channel, at :02
6) Levi Leipheimer, USA, Discovery Channel, at :03
7) Francisco Ventoso, Spain, Saunier Duval, at :04
8) Reinbert Wielinga, Netherlands, Saunier Duval, at :04
9) Thomas Lövkvist, Sweden, Française des Jeux, at :04
10) Joost Posthuma, Netherlands, Rabobank, at :05
11) Bobby Julich, USA, Team CSC, at :06
12) Thomas Voeckler, France, Bouygues Telecom, at :06
14) Franco Pellizotti, Italy, Liquigas, at :06
17) Cadel Evans, Australia, Predictor-Lotto, at :08
21) Luke Roberts, Australia, Team CSC, at :09
38) Simon Gerrans, Australia, AG2R, at :11
40) David Zabriskie, USA, Team CSC, at :11
43) Tom Danielson, USA, Discovery Channel, at :11
44) Yaroslav Popovych, Ukraine, Discovery Channel, at :11
49) Brett Lancaster, Australia, Milram, at :12
54) Tyler Farrar, USA, Cofidis, at :14
56) Tom Boonen, Belgium, Quick Step, at :14
62) Greg Henderson, New Zealand, T-Mobile, at :15
70) Chris Horner, USA, Predictor-Lotto, at :16
74) Christian Vande Velde, USA, Team CSC, at :17
86) Aaron Kemps, Australia, Astana, at :18
95) Mathew Hayman, Australia, Rabobank, at :21
125) Axel Merckx, Belgium, T-Mobile, at :26
126) Matthew White, Australia, Discovery Channel, at :26
136) Michael Barry, Canada, T-Mobile, at :28
Posted by Frank Steele on March 11, 2007 in Alberto Contador, Bobby Julich, Cadel Evans, Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Levi Leipheimer, Paris-Nice 2007, Thomas Voeckler, Tom Boonen, Tom Danielson, Top Stories, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
March 06, 2007
Michaelsen, Jaksche to retire
CSC's Lars Michaelsen, 38, will retire after Paris-Roubaix next month. Michaelsen won Ghent-Wevelgem in 1995, a stage of the Vuelta in 1997, and a stage of the Tour de Georgia (into Macon) last year, giving him the overall race lead at that point.
Also expected to retire is Jorg Jaksche, unable to find a new team after being named in the Operacíon Puerto investigation. Jaksche, 30, rode for ONCE, CSC, Liberty Seguros, Astana, and two other teams, and has ridden in 6 Tours de France.
He once looked likely to sign with Volksbank, the team that last week signed Jan Ullrich as an adviser, but Eurosport reports that Tour of Germany organizers pressured the team to avoid Jaksche.
He's among 7 riders suing ActiveBay, the management company that ran Liberty Seguros, for back pay.
March 05, 2007
UCI, ASO, IPCT reach temporary agreement
The embarrassing showdown between the Grand Tour organizers and the International Cycling Union has been postponed until September.
In a face-to-face meeting today in Brussels, representatives of the UCI, ASO, and the International Professional Cycling Teams reached a stopgap agreement that lets teams start Paris-Nice on Sunday without fear of retribution.
The UCI agreed that the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, and Vuelta a España (and the races run by their organizers) can invite only 18 of the 20 ProTour teams, and that their organizers do not have to present the ProTour jersey at their events. Apparently, the Big Three organizers will “examine in a positive spirit the granting of wild cards to the teams Astaña and Unibet.” There appears to be some wiggle room about the wild cards, so we'll see how things go.
All parties agreed to monthly meetings aimed at reaching a new and permanent agreement by September 21st, just before the world championships.
March 01, 2007
Hincapie has wrist surgery, will miss Paris-Roubaix
US road champion George Hincapie had surgery on his left wrist Wednesday, and looks almost certain to miss Paris-Roubaix April 15.
"The surgery went well, straightforward and no complications," Discovery Channel sporting director Johan Bruyneel told the AFP. "Now we just have to wait and see how he recovers."
Bruyneel believes that Hincapie will recover quickly, as he did after breaking his wrist in Paris-Roubaix last year, but thinks the very nature of the Hell of the North will keep Hincapie out of the race.
"He will be able to ride his bike pretty soon, but it's not very realistic to think about Paris-Roubaix," Bruyneel said. "It's not just a Classic. It's the cobblestones. That's the issue."
This year's edition of Paris-Roubaix features an extra section of cobbles, the Chemin du Moulin, in addition to the 27 cobbled sections riders negotiated last year.