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  1. Posted on 13 July 2007 - 08:53 http://images.supersport.co.za/VinokourovAlexandre070712InactionAIbg.jpgTour de France contenders Alexandre Vinokourov and Andr?as Kl?den needed hospital treatment to stay in the race after crashing in Thursday's frenzied fifth stage. Kl?den had a hairline fracture to his tailbone, and Astana teammate Vinokourov left hospital at around midnight local time with stitches in his right knee andelbow. Tour director Christian Prudhomme predicted stage five from Chablis to Autun would be spectacular and shape the race. He was right. "Some of the favorites suffered," Prudhomme said. "It was like a trap stage. A sumptuous finale full of emotion and suspense." Oh, and there was an exciting sprint finish won by Italy's Filippo Pozzato, while Fabian Cancellara of Team CSC retained the yellow jersey. Although Astana team officials said Vinokourov and Kl?den were expected to line up for Friday's sixth stage, that depended on how they recovered overnight from their injuries. What is certain is that they will be hampered if they make it to the Alps this weekend. Climbing the Alps is hard enough without having chronic back pains or pedaling with only one fully functional leg. "It would be a pity to lose the Tour like that, but life goes on," Astana manager Marc Biver said. DECEPTIVE STAGE FIVE The toughness of stage five was its deceptiveness: Not so much because of the intensity of the eight hills that wound through Burgundy's wine region - none of them was tougher than category two - but because they just kept on coming. "Today you had to be really vigilant with dangerous descents taken at full speed and throttling climbs," veteran French rider Christophe Moreau said. Having spent days of coasting in the pack during traditional early sprint stages, riders were caught off guard. Vinokourov, third in 2003, and Kl?den, the 2004 runner-up and third last year, fell within about an hour and 50 kilometres of each other. His chain came off, he told his team. Kl?den ended up in a ditch, while Vinokourov landed on hot tarmac that tore skin off his knees and right buttock. Both rode on, Kl?den more successfully because the German didn't lose any time. But Vinokourov needed his teammates to frantically work for him as other teams sought to profit from his spill along the 182-kilometre trek. The Kazakh finished one minute, 20 seconds behind the winner and fell from 12th place to 81st, trailing leader Cancellara by 2:10 - although it's the gaps with the other main contenders that are significant. Vinokourov is more than a minute behind Vladimir Karpets, Cadel Evans, and Oscar Pereiro. This is not considered a big deficit so early on - unless you're chasing fit rivals with a busted knee. There were five other crashes including Benjamin Noval of the Discovery Channel team, who slammed into the windscreen of a Bouygues Telecom car and lacerated his right arm while protecting his face. Prudhomme wants "to see this type of stage continue in the Tours to come" because his aim is to "break the litany of sprints during the first week" and give spectators an earlier dose of panache. Moreau was next to Vinokourov when he crashed inside the last 25 kilometres "You can't win the Tour in the first week, but you can lose it," Moreau told French television. Astana manager Biver must be thinking he's cursed by now. Before the Tour, Astana suspended Matthias Kessler for elevated testosterone levels and Eddy Mazzoleni because he was among a group of four riders questioned by Italian prosecutors in the 'Oil For Drugs' case. Pre-Tour press conferences consisted of endless questions about Vinokourov's relationship with Italian doctor Michele Ferrari - cleared by an Italian appeals court last year of distributing health-threatening doping products to athletes. "Friday the 13th is tomorrow," Biver said. "If these kind of accidents prevent us from contending for overall victory, then we'll put it down to fate. There's not much we can do about that." The peleton sets off on Friday for a 199.5-kilometre trek from Semur-en-Auxois to Bourg-en-Bresse.
  2. Posted on 12 July 2007 - 20:22 http://images.supersport.co.za/KloedenAndreas060123WithUlrichAIbg.jpgGerman Andreas Kloeden sustained a suspected coccyx fracture after crashing during the fifth stage of the Tour de France, Astana manager Marc Biver said in Autun, France, on Thursday. The 32-year-old, who is second in the overall standings, is a major doubt for Friday's sixth stage. Asked if he was concerned about team leader Alexander Vinokourov who also crashed on the stage, Biver said: "He is a warrior, I'm not too worried. I'm more worried about Kloedi, who has a suspected coccyx fracture." The medical staff of the Tour de France said the former T-Mobile rider had been taken to hospital for a scan on his pelvis. Kloeden crashed after 107 km of the stage, a 182.5-km ride from Chablis to Autun, but finished in the main pack. Astana team leader Alexander Vinokourov, who crashed 25 km from the finish line, was also taken to hospital for further checks on a deep wound on his right knee.
  3. Posted on 12 July 2007 - 22:59 http://images.supersport.co.za/RasmussenMichael070708CyclingRbg.jpgDanish climber Michael Rasmussen was glad to see the back of the tricky Tour de France fifth stage here Thursday, which left two of the race favourites with a worrying trip to the hospital. Rasmussen has won the King of the Mountains title for the past two years, and despite playing a support role for Rabobank's top contender, Denis Menchov, the fans will be expecting to see the skinny Dane claim some glory for himself. The 33-year-old from Saelland, a slightly hilly part of Denmark, is prone to going on long solo attacks - he won the 16th stage last year during Floyd Landis's spectacular collapse, and the ninth stage in 2005. That kind of aggressive racing often puts Rasmussen in contention for the polka dot jersey, but he may put aside both ambitions until later when some difficult climbing awaits the peloton over stages 14-16 in the Pyrenees. Until then, he will be praying there are no more stages like Thursday's. With eight categorised climbs - but none which compared to anything in the Alps or the Pyrenees - Rasmussen coasted over the 182.5km ride from Chablis to here. However the stage took its toll on a few top riders, with Alexandre Vinokourov and Andreas Kloden joining Spaniard Iban Mayo in hitting the deck. Rasmussen believes the organisers should be doing everything to make sure the peloton avoids the kind of tight, winding roads which virtually guarantee some early drama on the race. "It wasn't my type of riding. It was a very nervous stage, and a lot of fighting going on," the Dane told AFP. "The course was hard, so it wasn't so difficult for me to stay at the front, but the second last descent, where Vinokourov and Kloden came down, was very, very fast. "I don't think these roads are suited to the Tour de France peloton, especially in the first week of the race. There's too much at stake." Rasmussen feels that with all the demands made on top cyclists - signing anti-doping charters, undergoing dozens of random doping tests and wearing helmets - the least the organisers could do was guarantee their safety. "I mean they (cycling authorities) ask us to have health checks, and to sign charters and wear helmets, they think they can do what they want with us," he added. "But what about the roads? I think it's a bit hypocritical." Thursday's stage led to a long pursuit of a four-man breakaway which had topped nearly 15 minutes. In the end Italian Filippo Pozzato dominated a bunch sprint on a long uphill home straight, and Rasmussen admitted the teams had been pursuing with the thought of Oscar Pereiro's 35-minute breakaway last year still fresh in their memories. "Everybody has got a bit wiser after last year," he said. "When it got to 15 minutes I was starting to have flashbacks of last year. I suppose there was a common interest to bring the break back." Despite three days in the Alps beginning Saturday, Rasmussen said he is in no hurry to go on a long solo attack. "I'll go into the Alps and just see what happens. I don't have any ambitious plans for the moment."
  4. http://www.supercycling.co.za/images/headline_international_L.gifhttp://www.supercycling.co.za/images/headlinemiddle.jpghttp://www.supercycling.co.za/images/headlinelab_news_r.gif Posted on 11 July 2007 - 10:09 http://images.supersport.co.za/HunterRobert070116InactionGbg.jpg'Patience' -- that is what South Africa's Robbie Hunter asks of his fans for the duration of the Tour de France cycle race. Hunter, captain of team Barloworld, has been inundated with questions from fans who want to know why Barloworld have not already been in a breakaway and why he does not have his team around him to lead him out at the finish. On his website on Wednesday, Hunter had the following answers. "Well, as for me at the finishes, I like to do my own thing and follow other riders, much like Robbie McEwen. If by chance I should have a teammate there in the last kilometre, I will follow him, but he has to be there. "Some people say I have to have more support around me, but then again you cannot expect climbers to get invloved in a bunch sprint. "Quick step have so many riders in the front because more than half the team are made up around Tom Boonen. They only have one pure climber and that is Garate. In our team we have got more climbers and, trust me, they will be there when the time is right. "As far as breakaways are concerned, be patient. There is no point in sending riders into the breaks just to waste their legs. We will try and get into breaks when the chances are better of getting a break to the finish. "And about me and sprinting, some people forget this is my sixth tour and not my first. And as for my teammates, Cardenas has won a stage in the Tour before. Just because we are riding for Barloworld and they are South African, does not mean we are not in the same league as the other teams. "We deserve to be here because we are among the best in the world and we will get results, just be patient, it is a three-week tour. "Lastly I know im not the fastest guy in the world, but on a good day when my condition is good, like now, I think I am good enough to beat anyone. I have been winning races since my first year as a professional and in some of the biggest races I finished ahead of guys like McEwen and Boonen," Hunter wrote.
  5. Posted on 12 July 2007 - 04:51 http://images.supersport.co.za/CancellaraFabian070710LeadingGbg.jpgThe riders in the Tour de France will have a foretaste of the mountains on Thursday's 182.5 km fifth stage from Chablis to Autun, which is scattered with eight climbs. Even though no first category climbs are on the menu, there is no flat road and the main contenders should ride up front. "Things are getting tougher now," said Tour competition director Jean-Francois Pescheux. "It looks a bit like the road of one of Belgium's Ardennes classics, there is no respite," he added. However, the stage is tailor-made for the escape artists, who are very likely to be in the spotlight in the Morvan region. There is little chance of the stage ending in a bunch sprint. "We will have to be very cautious if we want to retain the yellow jersey," overall leader Fabian Cancellara of the CSC team said on Thursday.
  6. Points Classification 1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep - Innergetic 98 pts 2 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram 86 3 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Predictor - Lotto 84 4 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld 81 5 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cr?dit Agricole 79 6 S?bastien Chavanel (Fra) Fran?aise des Jeux 70 7 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quickstep - Innergetic 66 8 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank 62 9 Robert F?rster (Ger) Gerolsteiner 59 10 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel 57
  7. http://images.supersport.co.za/BicyclingCoverJuly2007_150.jpgNorway's Thor Hushovd claimed his first victory of the year when he clinched the fourth stage of the Tour de France, a 193-km trek from Villers-Cotterets to Joigny on Wednesday. The Credit Agricole rider, who won the green jersey in 2005, launched the bunch sprint 350 metres from the finish line to edge Barloworld's South African rider Robert Hunter for the win. Spaniard Oscar Freire, who has yet to win a stage this year, was third for the Rabobank team. Hushovd's fifth victory on the Tour means the Norwegian leapfrogs German Andreas Kloeden for second place overall thanks to time bonuses, with Briton David Millar now out of the top three. Swiss Fabian Cancellara, who finished safe in the main pack, retained the leader's yellow jersey. Belgian Tom Boonen was a disappointing eighth in the stage but retained the green jersey. Hushovd, who won last year's opening prologue and the closing sprint on the Champs-Elysees, paid tribute to Australian team mate Julian Dean, who piloted him through the pack in the last km. "He is the best in the world to launch the sprints," said Hushovd. Frenchman Matthieu Sprick launched a breakaway after 30 km and was followed by compatriot Sylvain Chavanel, Spaniards Juan Antonio Flecha and Gorka Verdugo, and Germany's Christian Knees. The fugitives built a four-minute gap but were inexorably swallowed by the peloton with seven km remaining. The Caisse d'Epargne team were reduced to eight men after Spaniard Xavier Zandio retired with a fractured collarbone following a crash early in the stage. "He fractured his right collarbone, he really cannot go on," said manager Jose-Luis Jaimerena. "It is a huge loss for the team because he is a rider who can work on any type of course. It's a pity." Another rider, Remy di Gregorio of the Francaise des Jeux team, was involved in the crash and sustained an elbow injury. Di Gregorio, however, managed to reach the finish line almost eight minutes after Hushovd. Thursday's fifth stage takes the peloton over 182.5 km from Chablis to Autun.
  8. Posted on 10 July 2007 - 17:29 http://images.supersport.co.za/UllrichJan070331ConferenceRbg.jpgJan Ullrich criticized former teammates Rolf Aldag and Erik Zabel for "acting like saints" once they had admitting their doping past. Ullrich, who won the Tour de France in 1997, was one of several riders kicked out on the eve of last year's race after being implicated in a Spanish doping investigation called Operation Puerto. A sample of Ullrich's DNA was later matched to one of the blood bags in the doping affair. Several former riders of Team Telekom - including Zabel and Aldag -recently admitted they used EPO during the 1990s while riding with Ullrich, who has retired and denies any wrongdoing. "To carry on working they need to confess their error," Ullrich said in an interview with sports daily L'Equipe. "It makes me laugh, because I know they spoke about my case while acting like saints." Ullrich was particularly angry with Aldag. "When I heard Aldag talking nonstop about me on radio or on television, I was really outraged by his attitude," Ullrich said. "He made a lot of money because of me. If he found it so dirty, why did he never give it back?" Ullrich said he also threatened to publish his thoughts about Aldag in a book. "I could not take it anymore." he said. "Ullrich was the only word on Aldag's lips. So, I sent him a text message saying that if I wrote a book, he would be the main protagonist. "That must have got to him, because since he has never spoken badly about me." Ullrich also poked fun at the world of cycling. "I don't ride my bike anymore. Why? Because it's a sport full of doping," he was quoted as saying. "No, I'm joking." The former Olympic champion says he just wants to be left alone. "I've nothing to say, my career is over. I'm just Jan Ullrich, a normal citizen," he said.
  9. Posted on 09 July 2007 - 15:18 http://images.supersport.co.za/CavendishMark070708SignsGbg.jpgBritish hope Mark Cavendish has refused to let a poor start to the Tour de France dent his confidence. The 20-year-old T-Mobile rider, seen as one of the most promising sprinters in the bunch, was forced to change bike twice in Sunday's first stage between London and Canterbury. He also hit a spectator with some 20 kms to go and was then unable to get back in the peloton to take part in the final bunch sprint. "I was really furious," Cavendish told reporters ahead of Monday's 168.5-km second stage from Dunkirk to Ghent. "But I now am all the more motivated to win a stage, which I think I can do."
  10. Posted on 08 July 2007 - 11:32 http://images.supersport.co.za/Hanco%20Kachelhoffer180.jpgHanco Kachelhoffer has racked up yet another national selection by making the All Africa Games Team, competing in Algeria on the 14th of July. He will be accompanied by Tiaan Kannemeyer (Konica Minolta), Nolan Hoffman (Exel), Darryl Impey (MTN/Microsoft) and two development riders. The Road Race is circuit style, totalling 150km for the day. There is no Time Trial event in the games and the Ladies race is on the same loop, a day later. The team flies on the 6th of July with the rest of the All African Games Squad and will be returning on the 16th of July where the team will be together for the rest of the year?s upcoming classics. Michael Sowerby will be racing at the Knysna Oyster Festival Road Race on Sunday the 8th of July for the team and Durwan Benjamin has just recently returned from the Cape from racing the UCI B World Championships. Both Rupert Rheeder and Juan van Heerden are in recovery after both sustaining knee injuries that have forced them off the bike for a period of time.
  11. Posted on 09 July 2007 - 12:38 http://images.supersport.co.za/McEwenRobbie070707InactionAIbg.jpgAustralia's Robbie McEwen started the second stage of the Tour de France in Dunkirk on Monday despite sustaining a nasty wrist injury in a crash before winning Sunday's first stage at Canterbury. McEwen produced a trademark burst of power to finish a bike length ahead of Norwegian Thor Hushovd at the end of Sunday's 203km of racing from London. However the crash on a tight road with 23km still to race, left the 34-year-old Predictor-Lotto star nursing a sore wrist - and with major doubts for the coming days. Monday's racing takes the peloton from Dunkirk over into Belgiam and the city of Ghent.
  12. Posted on 08 July 2007 - 18:19 http://images.supersport.co.za/MillarDavid070708InactionGbg.jpgBritain's David Millar set his home crowd buzzing with an early breakaway on the first stage of the Tour de France on Sunday which earned him the polka-dot jersey for the race's top climber. Time-trial specialist Millar and France's Stephane Auge both have five points after the three category-four climbs on the 203-km route from London to Canterbury but the Briton wears the jersey by virtue of his third place in the overall standings. Millar attacked seven km into the stage and was soon joined by five other riders including Auge. The breakaway built up a maximum gap of six minutes before the riders were slowly swallowed back into the peloton. However, by then Saunier-Duval rider Millar had given the watching crowds, estimated at two million people, something to cheer about. "I just want to say thank you to the British public for the support they've given us," said the 30-year-old, who has won three Tour stages in his career. "I just rode out of my skin today and that was a thank you to everybody for coming out, that was amazing." Millar, who returned from a two-year doping ban shortly before last year's Tour, was a disappointing 13th in Saturday's prologue in London but has promised there is more to come. "I'm going to win a stage here. I can guarantee I'm going to win a stage," he said after the prologue.
  13. Posted on 08 July 2007 - 16:45 http://images.supersport.co.za/McEwenRobbie070708CelebratesAIbg.jpgAustralian Robbie McEwen recovered from a crash to clinch the first stage of the Tour de France, a 203-km ride from London to Canterbury on Sunday. The Predictor-Lotto rider, who already has three green jerseys to his name, outsprinted Norway's Thor Hushovd and Belgian Tom Boonen for his 12th Tour stage victory. McEwen crashed 21 km from the finish line but was soon back on his bike with a bruised knee and a sore wrist. The 35-year-old Australian entered the last straight safe in the bunch and claimed an impressive win with a late burst of speed. "I can't believe I've won, the moment I crashed I thought that's that, and even my Tour could have been over," McEwen told reporters. "But I pushed through and I've really got to thank my team mates for the work they did to bring me through." YELLOW JERSEY Swiss Fabian Cancellara of the CSC team retained the overall leader's yellow jersey after finishing comfortably in the peloton. Briton David Millar, who finished 13th in Saturday's prologue round the streets of London, took the polka dot jersey for the best climber after a 165-km breakaway and is third overall. "I just want to say thank you to the British public for the support they've given us," said Millar. "I just rode out of my skin today and that was a thank you to everybody for coming out, that was amazing." The stage started from Greenwich and went through the county of Kent in south east England, watched by an estimated two million people. Millar broke away some seven km after the start and was soon joined by Frenchmen Stephane Auge and Freddy Bichot, Ukraine's Andriy Grivko and Belarus's Aleksandr Kuschynski. The escapees built a six-minute gap with Millar and Grivko being dropped 35 km from the finish line. Cofidis rider Auge then went solo only to be swallowed by the peloton with 18 km remaining. British hope Mark Cavendish lost any hope of clinching victory after mechanical problems forced him to change bike twice in the last 20 km. Spaniard Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez of the Agritubel team was the first casualty of the Tour. He was forced to retire with a shoulder injury after smashing the windscreen of a Caisse d'Epargne car.
  14. Posted on 05 July 2007 - 19:46 http://images.supersport.co.za/BoonenTom070705PotraitRbg.jpgSprinter Tom Boonen has eased up on his Tour de France preparations after putting his indifferent form in last year's race down to too much work. Boonen was one of the favourites for the special sprinters' green jersey a year ago but, although he briefly led the overall standings, the 2005 world champion failed to win a stage and abandoned the race with stomach problems. "I was in good shape before the Tour, I worked too hard that was the only problem," the Belgian told a news conference on Thursday. "I did too much work in the mountains and because I did so much work, the sprints went a little bit down. It cost me one, two, three percent in the sprints and that's the difference between winning or losing," said the 26-year-old Quickstep rider. "I think I was more sure of myself last year but it didn't work out so good. This year my legs are not 100 percent but it's always in these kind of situations I get my best victories," added Boonen, who has not had a major win this season. The Belgian has won four stages on the Tour but said he had a love-hate relationship with the world's most famous cycling race. "I like the Tour and I dislike it a little bit because it's so hard. It's very much a way of getting to know yourself." Boonen is again one of the contenders for the green jersey and will not have to face Italian Alessandro Petacchi, who is out of the Tour after his non-negative doping test at this year's Giro d'Italia. "It won't make the sprints harder or less hard, it just means one sprinter less to compete with," Boonen said of his rival's absence.
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