By Andrew Hood
Brad McGee – winner of the 2003 Tour de France opening prologue – sliced his way through a short, technical course in Geneva to win Tuesday’s opening prologue of the 58th Tour of Romandie.
Fueled by his recent success on the track, McGee put his excellent time trial skills to good use on the narrow 3.4km course to claim the victory three seconds faster than Olaf Pollack (Gerolsteiner).
Defending champion Tyler Hamilton (Phonak) didn’t take any unnecessary risks and finished fifth at eight seconds back. Hamilton’s Phonak team, motivated to win the race on home soil, put three riders into the top five.
Starting last and wearing the yellow jersey, Hamilton deftly handled the tight corners, but didn’t want to chance crashing. Phonak teammate Alex Zülle did fall, but rebounded to finish ninth at 12 seconds slower.
American Tom Danielson, making his third stage-race start of the season for Fassa Bortolo, rode to a strong 41st place at 16 seconds back. Pre-race favorite Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola) was somewhat flat and finished 56th at 18 seconds slower.
The race continues Wednesday with the 175km first stage starting and finishing in Yverdon les Bains. The rolling stage opens with an unrated climb in the opening 30 kilometers and hits two Category 4 climbs; the first at 106 kilometers and the second at 158 kilometers. There’s another unrated climb before the fast finish.
58th Tour de Romandie(SWI 2.HC)
Prologue – Geneva
1. Bradley McGee (Aus), FDJeux.com, 3.4km in 4:24 (46.363 kph)
2. Olaf Pollack (G), Gerolsteiner, at 0:03
3. Martin Elmiger (Swi), Phonak Hearing Systems, at 0:07
4. Alexandre Moos (Swi), Phonak Hearing Systems same time
5. Tyler Hamilton (USA), Phonak Hearing Systems, at 0:08Other
41. Tom Danielson (USA), Fassa Bortolo, at 0:16
Euskaltel takes quiet approach to Tour prep’
Tour de France contenders Haimar Zubeldia and Iban Mayo have been quiet this spring, but that’s all part of Euskaltel-Euskadi’s plan to bring the pair as fresh as possible for a run at the Tour podium.
Neither is racing in this week’s Tour de Romandie and neither has raced since the Tour of the Basque Country in early April. Both riders have been quietly training near their homes in the Basque Country of northern Spain and will return to racing at Alcobendas on May 8-9.
Zubeldia and Mayo, fifth and sixth respectively in last year’s Tour, expect to roll up to this year’s July 3 prologue in Liège with about 20 days of competition in their legs, according to a story in the Diario Vasco.
Zubeldia’s schedule also includes Euskal Bizikleta (June 2-6) and Volta a Cataluña (June 14-20) while Mayo – winner of the Alpe d’Huez stage in last year’s Tour — will race Alcobendas, Vuelta a Asturias (May 12-16) and the Dauphine Libere (June 6-13).
Zubeldia and Mayo, along with key teammates, are expected to preview certain Tour stages sometime in late May or June. LA ‘ahead of schedule’
Fresh off his dramatic victory in the Tour de Georgia, five-time defending Tour de France champion says he’s content with his form with just over two months to go before July’s big event.
“Honestly, I didn’t know how I would do,” said Armstrong, who predicted before the race he didn’t expect to win. “I think it’s better to be vague and under-promise, then hopefully you can overachieve. My training has been good, but I didn’t think I would feel this good in the race.’”
With all eyes on scoring an historic sixth Tour title, Armstrong said he believes he is “ahead of schedule” in his Tour preparations after winning the Georgia race Sunday.
“I’m maybe even a little ahead of schedule,” he told reporters. “I’ll have to adjust things and take a good bit of recovery after here before the final gear-up, the final push for the Tour.”
Armstrong was the big draw in Georgia that included a strong international field with such stars as Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze), Bobby Julich and Jens Voigt (CSC) and the top Americans. Armstrong took control when he won both the third stage and the individual time trial that followed.
“It’s important,” he said after winning. “It’s always nice to win. It’s also nice to come and meet some objectives like doing a good time trial, doing some climbs, working the team well. It was a complete week.”
While Armstrong believes he’s on track, Tour rival Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) is denying charges he’s behind in his preparation. The 1997 Tour champion didn’t start Sunday’s World Cup race and isn’t expected to race again until May.
Armstrong, meanwhile, is expected to return to Europe in early May and is scheduled to race again in the Tour du Languedoc-Rousillon (May 19-23).
Kelme denies troubles
Following reports in the Spanish press Monday that Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme is on the verge of being banned by the UCI, the team issued a statement denying the allegations.
Kelme officials say they are in “permanent contact” with UCI officials to clear up any legal wrangling over the team. Comunidad Valenciana, which took over the title sponsor from Kelme, said it’s working with UCI officials to complete the necessary paperwork to finalize the team’s contract.
Seven riders, including 2001 Vuelta a España champion Angel Casero, have been unable to race this season because of incomplete paperwork.
“The UCI has not placed any time limit for the presentation of the necessary documentation, neither has it communicated the possibility of suspension of the team from the upcoming races in the international calendar,” the team said in a statement released to the Spanish media.
Tour eyes London start
Tour de France organizers are scheduled to meet with London officials Tuesday to discuss the city’s application to host the opening stages of the race. Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc, who will meet London’s mayor and other city officials, said the Tour could not begin from London until at least 2007.
“It is a first meeting,” Leblanc told AFP. “It is a very prestigious proposal indeed and we are receptive to the idea of organizing a prologue in the center of London.”
If the London bid is accepted, it would be the third time the island nation has hosted the Tour since hosting Tour stages in 1974 and 1994. Ireland hosted the Tour depart in the ill-fated 1998 Tour, later overwhelmed by the Festina doping scandal.
Other foreign cities are vying for the Tour start, including the Dutch cities of Rotterdam and Utrecht; Herning, Denmark (home of 1996 Tour winner Bjarne Riis); Quebec, Canada and Lugano, Switzerland.
Cunego ready for Giro
Damiano Cunego – the young Italian who stormed to victory in the Giro di Trentino and the Giro dell’Appennino last week – said he’s ready to help team captain Gilberto Simoni in the upcoming Giro d’Italia.
“It’s a fantastic moment for me,” he said on the Saeco web page. “I’ve got great form and thanks to the work of the team everything is coming easily. I know it won’t always be like that but I’m happy because I’ll start the Giro d’Italia with incredible enthusiasm.”
The 22-year-old is being hyped as a future Giro winner but Cunego says the future is just fine by him.
“Simoni is the Saeco team leader for the Giro d’Italia and there’s no question about that. My objective is to help Gilberto win the maglia rosa, learn as much as I can and perhaps gets some results myself,” he said. “That’s enough for now.”
Racing today: Opening prologue of the Tour de Romandie (UCI 2.HC), a largely flat 3.4km course in the narrow streets of Geneva.
Results: Prologue – 58th Tour of Romandie
1. Mc Gee Bradley (Aus), FDJeux.com, 4:24
2. Pollack Olaf (G), Gerolsteiner, 4:27
3. Elmiger Martin (Swi), Phonak, 4:31
4. Moos Alexandre (Swi), Phonak, 4:31
5. Hamilton Tyler (USA), Phonak, 4:32
6. Lastras Garcia Pablo (Sp), Illes Balears-Banesto, 4:33
7. Schnider Daniel (Swi), Phonak, 4:33
8. Sanchez Fabien (F), FDJeux.com, 4:35
9. ZÜlle Alex (Swi), Phonak, 4:36
10. Casar Sandy (F), FDJeux.com, 4:36
11. Mori Manuele (I), Saunier Duval, 4:37
12. Basso Ivan (I), CSC, 4:37
13. Reynes Vicente (Sp), Illes Balears-Banesto, 4:37
14. Piccoli Mariano (I), Lampre, 4:38
15. Schleck Frank (Lux), CSC, 4:38
16. CamaÑo Iker (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 4:38
17. Glomser Gerrit (A), Saeco, 4:38
18. Martin Ludovic (F), R.A.G.T. Semences-MG Rover, 4:38
19. Aranaga Azkune Andoni (Sp), Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdo, 4:39
20. Milesi Marco (I), Sidermec Vini Caldirola, 4:39
21. Sastre Carlos (Sp), CSC, 4:39
22. Stangelj Gorazd (SLO), Saeco, 4:39
23. Camenzind Oscar (Swi), Phonak, 4:39
24. Jeker Fabian (Swi), Saunier Duval, 4:39
25. Horrach Rippoll Joan (Sp), Illes Balears-Banesto, 4:39
26. Gonzalez Jimenez Aitor (Sp), Fassa Bortolo, 4:39
27. Ardila Cano Mauricio Alberto (Col), Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdo, 4:39
27. Zanotti Marco (I), Sidermec Vini Caldirola, 4:39
29. Krivtsov Yuriy (Ukr), Ag2R Prevoyance, 4:39
30. Laiseka Roberto (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 4:39
31. Jaksche JÖrg (G), CSC, 4:39
32. Kostyuk Denis (Ukr), Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdo, 4:40
33. Blaudzun Michael (Dk), CSC, 4:40
34. Ordowski Volker (G), Gerolsteiner, 4:40
35. Mancebo Francisco (Sp), Illes Balears-Banesto, 4:40
36. Vaugrenard Benoit (F), FDJeux.com, 4:40
37. FÖrster Robert (G), Gerolsteiner, 4:40
38. Dumoulin Samuel (F), Ag2R Prevoyance, 4:40
39. Rudenko Maxim (Ukr), Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdo, 4:40
40. Petacchi Alessandro (I), Fassa Bortolo, 4:40
41. Danielson Tom (USA), Fassa Bortolo, 4:40
42. Sevilla Oscar (Sp), Phonak, 4:41
43. LÜttenberger Peter (Aus), CSC, 4:41
43. Loosli David (Swi), Saeco, 4:41
45. Gonzalez Gorka (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 4:41
46. Verheyen Geert (B), Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdo, 4:41
47. Bertogliati Rubens (Swi), Saunier Duval, 4:41
48. Quinziato Manuel (I), Lampre, 4:41
49. Seigneur Eddy (F), R.A.G.T. Semences-MG Rover, 4:42
50. Brard Florent (F), Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdo, 4:42
51. Rinero Christophe (F), R.A.G.T. Semences-MG Rover, 4:42
52. Calcagni Patrick (Swi), Sidermec Vini Caldirola, 4:42
53. Inaudi Nicolas (F), Ag2R Prevoyance, 4:42
54. Portal Nicolas (F), Ag2R Prevoyance, 4:42
55. Valjavec Tadej (SLO), Phonak, 4:42
56. Garzelli Stefano (I), Sidermec Vini Caldirola, 4:42
57. Cioni Dario (I), Fassa Bortolo, 4:42
58. Etxebarria David (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 4:43
59. Montgomery Sven (Swi), Gerolsteiner, 4:43
60. Bileka Volodymyr (Ukr), Landbouwkrediet – Colnago, 4:43
61. De Waele Bert (B), Landbouwkrediet – Colnago, 4:43
62. Laurent Christophe (F), R.A.G.T. Semences-MG Rover, 4:43
63. Strazzer Massimo (I), Saunier Duval, 4:43
63. Cheula Giampaolo (I), Sidermec Vini Caldirola, 4:43
65. Facci Mauro (I), Fassa Bortolo, 4:43
66. Totschnig Georg (A), Gerolsteiner, 4:43
67. Landaluze IÑigo (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 4:44
68. Zampieri Steve (Swi), Sidermec Vini Caldirola, 4:44
69. Gustov Volodymir (Ukr), Fassa Bortolo, 4:44
70. Pinotti Marco (I), Lampre, 4:44
71. Lopez De Munain Alberto (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 4:45
72. Piepoli Leonardo (I), Saunier Duval, 4:45
73. Rodriguez Joaquin (Sp), Saunier Duval, 4:45
74. Radochla Steffen (G), Illes Balears-Banesto, 4:45
75. Berthoud Eric (F), R.A.G.T. Semences-MG Rover, 4:45
76. Duma Vladimir (Ukr), Landbouwkrediet – Colnago, 4:45
77. Larsson Gustav Erik (SWE), Fassa Bortolo, 4:45
78. Bourquenoud Pierre (Swi), R.A.G.T. Semences-MG Rover, 4:46
79. Astarloza Mikel (Sp), Ag2R Prevoyance, 4:46
80. Gadret John (F), Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdo, 4:46
81. Scholz Ronny (G), Gerolsteiner, 4:47
82. Calvente Manuel (Sp), CSC, 4:47
83. Vogondy Nicolas (F), FDJeux.com, 4:47
84. Matzbacher Andreas (A), Saeco, 4:47
85. Pagliarini Luciano (BRA), Lampre, 4:48
86. SÖrensen Nicki (Dk), CSC, 4:48
87. Sanchez Pimienta Julian (Sp), Fassa Bortolo, 4:49
88. Belli Wladimir (I), Lampre, 4:49
89. Peschel Uwe (G), Gerolsteiner, 4:49
90. Buffaz MickaËl (F), R.A.G.T. Semences-MG Rover, 4:49
91. Albizu Joseba (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 4:49
92. Fritsch Nicolas (F), FDJeux.com, 4:49
93. Balducci Gabriele (I), Saeco, 4:50
94. Svorada Jan (Cz), Lampre, 4:50
95. Zandio Xabier (Sp), Illes Balears-Banesto, 4:50
96. Beuchat Roger (Swi), Sidermec Vini Caldirola, 4:50
97. Colom Mas Antonio (Sp), Illes Balears-Banesto, 4:50
98. Zaugg Oliver (Swi), Saunier Duval, 4:50
99. Verstrepen Johan (B), Landbouwkrediet – Colnago, 4:50
100. Bernard JÉrÔme (F), R.A.G.T. Semences-MG Rover, 4:51
101. Szmyd Sylwester (Pol), Saeco, 4:51
102. Sgambelluri Roberto (I), Sidermec Vini Caldirola, 4:52
103. Casagranda Stefano (I), Saeco, 4:52
104. Chaurreau IÑigo (Sp), Ag2R Prevoyance, 4:52
105. Gryschenko Ruslan (Ukr), Landbouwkrediet – Colnago, 4:53
106. Sabaliauskas Marius (Lit), Saeco, 4:54
107. Kvachuk Oleksandr (Ukr), Lampre, 4:55
108. De La Fuente David (Sp), Saunier Duval, 4:55
109. Piatek Zbigniew (Pol), Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdo, 4:55
110. Wilson Matthew (Aus), FDJeux.com, 4:57
111. Goubert StÉphane (F), Ag2R Prevoyance, 4:58
112. Oriol Christophe (F), Ag2R Prevoyance, 5:00
113. Adyeyev Sergiy (Ukr), Landbouwkrediet – Colnago, 5:02
114. Anza Santo (I), Landbouwkrediet – Colnago, 5:03
115. Hardter Uwe (G), Gerolsteiner, 5:06
116. Bertoletti Simone (I), Lampre, 5:11
117. Mourey Francis (F), FDJeux.com, 6:13