Friday, September 28, 2007

Protour: Tour de France out, Tour Down Under in

Bizarre. But true! The Tour de France (and the other grand tours of Italy and Spain, for that matter) has excused itself from the ProTour, and the Aussies are in instead. Of course it's meaningless outside of recognising the very real break in relations between the grand tour organizers and the UCI, but it's fun to play with the idea that the Tour Down Under has replaced the TdF... from CN: The first non-European ProTour event status has been awarded to the the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Australia the UCI announced on Thursday. The South Australian race will kick off the 2008 ProTour calendar on January 22. With the exclusion of the Grand Tours from the ProTour calendar, the UCI will now focus more efforts globally, and the Australian race is the first beneficiary of the new direction for the series.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Luke Cridland - great result but...

Why do kids have to grow up so fast? Luke was just a little tacker hanging with his mum and dad at the Heffron Park crits and now he's doing this sort of stuff: Cridland 3rd in 8th stage of the Tour de Nouvelle Calédonie Young FRF NSWIS rider Luke Cridland has ridden an amazing race to finish 3rd on the 8th of the Tour de Nouvelle Calédonie. The 8th stage, which traveled from Bourail to the Mission de Nakety, saw large time gaps across the field. Results 1 Samuel Rouyer (Fra) AS Police SLN - Kleenex 2.44.24 (39.8 km/h) 2 Tom Hanover (NZl) Hot Cycle New Zealand 2 1.09 3 Luke Cridland (Aus) F.R.F. Australia 4 Mike Michel Villaz (Fra) Champion / New Caledonia 3.33 5 John Ebeling (Aus) F.R.F. Australia 6 Vincent Garin (Fra) Lyon Sprint Evolution 3.37 7 Ralph Justin (NZl) New Zealand 1 8 Jérome Maillot (Fra) Savexpress 9 Brodie Talbot (Aus) AS Police SLN - Kleenex 3.40 10 Jérome Bonnace (Fra) Champion / New Caledonia 5.24 11 Tony Hurel (Fra) SFAC. Via cyclingresults.

Goulburn to wherever it goes now

It was the Goulburn to Sydney, reversing to be the Sydney to Goulburn; then it was shortened due to traffic hassles, to end at Liverpool, 30km or so west of Sydney. It was still 200km, it was still tough. I did it 3 times to no good effect, either puncturing on Governor's Hill a mere 5km out of town or getting dropped with about 50km to go. I could never get it right. So even now, shortened to finish at Camden, some 50km out of Sydney, it's a race that commands my respect. To finish it is fabulous, but a top20 is magnificent:
1 Robert Williams (Drapac Porsche) 4.13.20 2 Shaun Higgerson (South 0.18 3 Mitchell Pearson 4 Joshua Wilson (Praties Cycling Team) 0.19 5 Stuart Shaw (Drapac Porsche) 2.11 6 Nash Kent (Equity IT) 7 Cameron Hughes (Ord Minnett Racing Team) 2.12 8 Ben Mather (Praties Cycling Team) 9 Brendan Brooks (FRF - NSWIS) 2.14 10 Steven Robb 2.15 11 William Ford (South 2.17 12 Peter Mcdonald (FRF - NSWIS) 13 Blair Martin 2.18 14 Robert Hodgson * 2.19 15 Angus Morton (Drapac Porsche) 2.26 16 Gilbert Gutowski (Ord Minnett Racing Team) 2.54 17 Grant Irwin (Ord Minnett Racing Team) 3.12 18 Nicholas Sanderson (South 3.13 19 Dean Windsor (Drapac Porsche) 20 Dale Scarfe (Team FSA) (via Cyclingresults).

Vuelta 2007 Stage 21: Menchov grabs the glory

Menchov takes the overall, Petacchi nosed out of the stage win by Bennati, yet again. Cadel finishes 4th. Not bad all round.

From CN: "This is the biggest success of my career," said the quiet Russian, who has ridden for Rabobank since 2005. Menchov, who lives in Pamplona, Spain, was also awarded the victory in the 2005 Vuelta after Roberto Heras' doping disqualification. "But you can't compare that with the win today," he said.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Steegmans: the Boonen you have when you don't have Boonen

Gert delivered, Graeme missed it - just. Tour de Rijke. From CN: 1 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic 4.24.30 (44.915 km/h) 2 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank 3 Stefan Van Dijk (Ned) Team Wiesenhof Felt 4 Borut Bozichz (Slo) Team LPR 5 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank 6 Kenny Dehaes (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen 7 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Skil-Shimano 8 Frederic Amorison (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner 9 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Quickstep-Innergetic 10 Aaron Kemps (Aus) Astana

Vuelta 2007 Stage 20: Sanchez takes another

Nice to see Samuel Sanchez and his Euskaltel-Euskadi team do so well in this race, but still a shame to see Evans knocked back another peg, and off the podium. It was on the cards after yesterday's faltering stage but given his still-recent efforts in Le Tour probably not surprising to see him now off his peak. Good to see Menchov claim the title without relying upon a doping-disqual this time. He was probably motivated to prove he was worthy without relying upon the failings of others. Or he just like to win.

From CN: Samu' has taken a step onto the final Vuelta a España podium in style. 29 year-old Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) won the 20-kilometre time trial in Villalba by 12 seconds over Denis Menchov (Rabobank) and 14 over Stef Clement (Bouygues Telecom) in third. By winning his third stage of the 2007 Vuelta and gaining 19 seconds over Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) he was able to move up onto the podium - a position he should keep when the three-week race concludes tomorrow in Madrid.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Vuelta a Espana 2007 Stage 19: Sanchez snatches it

2 stage wins now for Sanchez and he moves to within seconds of 3rd place overall. Tomorrow is a 20km TT and it hard to imagine Evans giving up any time to anyone at this stage, especially so since he lost time on this stage to a glued-on Menchov and an aggressive Sastre, dropping one place in the process. Still, Cadel obviously suffered today and may be at the edge...

General classification after stage 19 1 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 77.59.17 2 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 3.02 3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor - Lotto 3.49 4 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 3.58

Friday, September 21, 2007

Vuelta a Espana 2007 Stage 18: Rodriguez snatches stage

It was a more tactical, difficult stage and a big break got going, with Luis Perez Rodriguez first over the line. Evans and Menchov proved strongest, but Sastre the most aggressive and dangerous to the leaders. Efimkin weakened, dropping to 4th overall. Evans now 2nd, with Menchov looking solid on top of the GC.

From CN: Luis Pérez Rodriguez has signed off on 13 years as a professional cyclist in style. The 33 year-old Spaniard of Andalucia-Cayasur, who will retire on Sunday, won the 18th stage of the Vuelta a España to Ávila. Pérez Rodriguez powered clear of an escape group of race overall favourites at 10 kilometres to go.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Vuelta a Espana 2007 Stage 16: Put up your Duques

A Columbian shows off both his attacking and climbing prowess to take the stage, but nothing moves at the head of GC. Who will take the initiative in the remaining tough, mountainous stages? Will Menchov look to cement his lead, or will Efimkin and Evans take turns in doing him over?

Monday, September 17, 2007

7 hours on a bike... do you have to ask why?

Turning those pedal for 7 hours. From Grafton on NSW's north coast to Inverell, inland and high up over the escarpment... 230-odd kilometres of fun, fun, fun in the wind and sun. I say this from personal experience. Well, I almost made it - once - anyway. You'll see all of the winners - and any finisher is a winner - and the 2007 DNF's on this list at CyclingResults.

In 1987 I was on that DNF list, disgusted that Dave, the only guy left in my "bunch" wanted to quit just short of Glen Innes (about 180km or so from the start). So disgusted that I stopped too, threw my bike down (gently) and tossed my $100 Oakley glasses into a ditch. Now it seems harsh that I even slightly blame Dave (sorry Dave), and it was my fault that I was riding with Dave and not with the winning bunch, but there's more to this than meets the expensive US-made eyeglasses. 50km to go doesn't seem much unless you have already ridden 180km. And when you have what bike riders call a "sag" wagon following you, waiting to pick you up when your physical and/or mental day is over, and that wagon is now following just you, or just me as it now was, the pressure mounts really fast. Do I keep everyone enthralled, watching me creep along, or do I swallow my pride and say, 'oh well, that bike racing!'. Now 50 kilometres in that terrain when already exhausted can easily mean another hour and a half, or even 2 hours if the wheels really fall off. That could be a nine hour day on the pushie. So I quit.

Years later I went back to the same spot (believe me, it's etched into my memory forever) to look for my Oakleys. A forlorn gesture I know, but I had to stand there again and relive the pain... at least in some measure. They weren't there, or not visibly anyway. Now is that closure, or do I have to go back and ride the darn thing again?

McEwen makes it 3 in a row

I guess if you are going to have to sit out the Vuelta you may as well make the best of it. Is 3 in a row a good consolation prize?

Queensland’s Robbie McEwen has won his 3rd straight and 4th in total Paris-Bruxelles, edging out Brit Jeremy Hunt and Colombian Honorio Machado. Victorian Baden Cooke just missed out on a podium position for 4th.

Vuelta a Espana 2007 Stage 15: Sammy sparrow flies the coop

Samuel Sanchez took the prize today, out-sprinting Beltran and taking time from the leaders. Mind you, the leaders have plenty of time up their collective sleeves and are clearly just hanging in, keeping a close eye on each other and locking it down. So when does someone actually upset this apple cart?

Via Cyclingnews, the top 10:
1 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 62.32.27 2 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne 2.01 3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor - Lotto 2.27 4 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 3.02 5 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 4.01 6 Ezequiel Mosquera Miguez (Spa) Karpin Galicia 4.35 7 Manuel Beltrán (Spa) Liquigas 5.15 8 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne 6.17 9 Carlos Barredo (Spa) Quickstep - Innergetic 6.22 10 Igor Antón (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 7.41

Seriously, it's hard to imagine the winner overall not coming from the top 4. Barring total disaster of course.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Vuelta a Espana 2007 Stage 12: McCartney top of the pops

Disco rider Jason McCartney attacked his breakaway and soloed to a great win. That's how to do it. Be strong (train heaps), be motivated (need a new contract) and be low on GC (otherwise you are followed at every move). Then attack your breakaway companions and keep them behind you (easier said than...).

CN reports...Discovery Channel's Jason McCartney put on an impressive show by launching a solo attack to win the Vuelta a España stage 14.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Brown gets a win in Poland

Graeme Brown has taken a stage and the lead on GC at the Tour of Poland: Australian Graeme Brown (Rabobank) won the second stage of the Tour de Pologne by winning a traditional sprint on the streets of Olsztyn. He defeated Belgian Wouter Weylandt from Quick Step and Frenchman Said Haddou from Bouygues Telecom. (

Valverde: not guilty, but not welcome, either

Ah, the saga of the UCI vs Valverde continues. He's innocent, cleared of all matters related to Operacion Puerto one moment and then under the microscope again the next. Mind you he's not guilty - not yet, anyway. But we'll exclude him from the World Champs just in case. Of course. It's the cycling way.

CN reports here: The public tug-of-war over Spaniard Alejandro Valverde's participation in the World Championships reached a new level of intensity on Saturday after the UCI upheld its decision to exclude the rider from the race in Stuttgart at the month's end. The UCI reiterated that Valverde is officially under investigation for alleged doping, and according to the organisation's rules, he cannot compete. This comes one day after Spain defied the UCI and registered Valverde to ride despite the UCI's insistence that he was not allowed.

Bad taste for Bruyneel, what about us?

If Le Tour was a win for Disco and Contador it still left some bad tastes in many mouths... and for Disco's win to be followed by the sponsorship pullout and total disbandment of the team verges on... well, it's unusual, to say the least. And Bruyneel himself moving to the trouble-plagued Astana outfit? Possibly with Contador? Does anyone feel uneasy at all, whether justified or not?

Johan Bruyneel had some interesting things to say to CN here: Johan Bruyneel accompanies his star rider Alberto Contador to the USA for the Discovery Channel team's final race this weekend, the Tour of Missouri, bringing the Tour de France champion and a tinge of bitterness along for the end of an era. After eight years directing the organisation which was more successful than any team in modern memory, Bruyneel has eight Tour de France victories to remember but leaves with a bad taste in his mouth. Bruyneel became familiar with the whispers of doping which follow every modern Tour winner, having stood by Lance Armstrong as he fended off one doping accusation after another through press releases and lawsuits, but this year's Tour was too much."They have not let me enjoy Contador's victory in the Tour," the Belgian told Marca, complaining of the accusations of involvement with Operación Puerto which followed the Spaniard's victory. "With that atmosphere, it has been the worse Tour of my life," Bruyneel lamented. Not one month after the end of the Tour, the team's owner, Tailwind Sports, announced it would end its bid for a new title sponsor, effectively disbanding the organisation. Bruyneel hastily announced his retirement along with the news. He blamed the atmosphere surrounding Contador's win for his decision. "All of that was the main reasons why I did not desire to continue.

Vuelta a Espana 2007 Stage 10: Menchov of the mountains

Denis Menchov affirmed his leader's status with a fighting win in the mountainous 10th stage. We saw Sastre repeatedly attack, thinning the field, and Piepoli returned yesterday's favour by "possibly" pacing Menchov at times. Who knows, it look like some inter-team teamwork but then again... there's no sure way of knowing unless they admit to it. Evans tried to take the stage but Menchov countered. Efimkim hung in there too, so it's Menchov, Efimkin and Evans, 1-2-3.

From CN: Denis Menchov put a golden stamp on the Vuelta a España leading into its first rest day. Clad in the maillot oro of race leader, the 29 year-old Russian of Team Rabobank won the stage to the top of Arcalís ahead of Australian Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) and Spaniard Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi). "No, I think it's not that way," said Menchov answering a question about whether he was aided by Piepoli in the finale. "Truly, we didn't talk about anything for today. Leo always rides this way; he tried to change the tempo many times. I followed him just in case, to see if someone stays behind. Leo tried to put a strong rhythm."

Vuelta a Espana 2007 Stage 9: Piepoli in the Pyrenees

Piepoli, then Menchov. Evans again loses some time but stays calm, moving into 3rd place on GC. Horner is still with him. What a double act, 2nd Grand Tour in a row. It was tough mountain stage and the climbers were out in force, moving up the GC. Menchov is not a pure climber but a strong all-rounder with something to prove. He moves into the leader's jersey, but can he hold onto it?

Sadly both McGee and Pereiro are out.

CN reports: Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Prodir) earned a well-deserved victory atop the ski station in Cerler with relentless attacks that shattered the group of favourites, leaving only Rabobank's Denis Menchov able to stay in contact. Menchov did not put up a fight for the finish, and was instead content to relinquish the stage to the Italian with the knowledge he would don the jersey oro. Previous leader Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel) did not have a good day and lost contact at the lower slopes of the climb, losing nearly five minutes and his leader's jersey.

Vuelta a Espana 2007 Stage 8: Grabsch grabs the TT

Grabsch takes the TT win, Devolder the overall. Menchov gained time to close to within 30secs of the lead, and although he lost time today Evans cemented a top 5 placing. He's 1m 54 off the lead. Evans is either struggling a little, which would not be surprising given his strong TdF result, or is playing his usual waiting game and only doing enough to keep in the game. Or a combination of both, perhaps. Menchov looks the strongman, but can he keep it up?

From CN:German time trial champion Bert Grabsch confirmed his strength against the clock by setting a blistering 55 km/h pace to take the win in the stage eight time trial on the long, flat, draining course in Zaragoza. On a day which clearly favoured the time trial specialists, Grabsch edged out the Hungarian time trial champion László Bodrogi (Credit Agricole) by 34 seconds to take his first Vuelta stage win. "I knew that after the Tour I had good form, but the win does come a bit surprising," Grabsch told "I had been fourth and fifth at a Vuelta time trial before. It's nice that it was enough this time to win."

Vuelta a Espana 2007 Stage 7: Zabel, Davis, Bettini

In that order. Petacchi down. Efimkin leads on GC. From CN: The Grand Old Man of German cycling can still do it--Erik Zabel (Team Milram) won the sprint in the seventh stage of the Vuelta a España ahead of Allan Davis (Discovery Channel) and Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Innergetic). It wasn't a mass sprint though, as a crash about two kilometres before the finish blocked the way for all but about 12 riders. There were no changes in the overall classification.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Vuelta a Espana 2007 Stage 6: Oscar is never boring

Although taking 3 stages is the sort of repetitive activity that may lead to some strain, especially if you are Boonen or Petacchi. Where are they? Davis has slipped away, too. Cadel remains high on GC.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Stuart Shaw leading Aussie at Tour of Korea

Drapac Porsche rider Stuart Shaw is just 35secs back from the lead on GC in the Tour of Korea... that's gotta be a good sign, surely, with APEC hosted in Australia right now? Maybe, maybe not.

Vuelta a Espana 2007 Stage 5: Oscar takes advantage

With no McEwen around to spoil the party, Oscar Freire is clearly taking advantage. Petacchi was well out of it, as was Davis, minutes behind. Strangely, Brad McGee was last in... wassup, Brad? Bennati and Bettini picked up 2nd and 3rd.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Vuelta a Espana 2007 Stage 4: Efimkin takes a minute or 2

Look what happens when the road goes up: Efimkin puts a minute into Menchov and 2 minutes into Evans. Wow. Of course there was a small trick to it - he escaped with the right bunch and the others had to play catchup. Still, he had the power to get away and stay away...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Vuelta a Espana 2007 Stage 3: Bettini swerves to victory

Nothing like pinning a faster rider against the fence, is there? Not as badly as he once did to Baden Cooke, however there was a deviation in line... but that's sprinting, isn't it? Bettini first, Freire 2nd and still in gold. Davis remains consistent. Evans remains close on GC.

Vuelta a Espana 2007 Stage 2: Oscar the cat pounces

Chalk a grand tour stage win up for Oscar Freire, and a golden fleece as well. It's his first. It's nice to see Freire take both the win and the lead overall. He is a rider who seems to struggle at times then suddenly crop up and take the unexpected, like his surprising first world road championship - let alone his 2nd! More here at CN.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Vuelta a Espana 2007 stage 1: Bennati takes sprinter's stage

Italian ace Bennati takes the first prize of this last Grand Tour of 2007, besting Spaniard Freire, Italian Petacchi, Aussie Davis and Belgian Boonen... nice to see so many sprinters from so many countries in the mix. Bennati of course won teh last stage of Le Tour, so he's very much picking up where he left off. CN report here.