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By Neal Rogers
It’s been nearly two weeks since my last column, so I suppose I got some ‘splaining to do. Let’s just say that with the VeloNews editorial staff spread out across France, Italy and the United States, we’ve been running a skeleton crew here at the office putting together our 132-page Tour de France issue.
Example: On Monday, July 12, our industrious intern Brock Adams, a junior at the University of Florida, brought his mother into the VN office, video camera and all, to say a round of goodbyes to the editorial staff before they made the drive back home. Sadly, every single member of our editorial staff was away on assignment or vacation, leaving our end of the building empty and mom’s home video even less exciting than it otherwise would have been. And our last correspondence with Brock consists of an email that began, “Well guys, it’s too bad that none of you were around when I took off…”
Now this happens about once a year, so worry not — the majority of the edit staff has since reassembled and is cranking out pages in an effort to have our Tour issue finished on Tuesday the 27th, 48 hours after the race ends, and into your hands three days later. And yes, there will be stories in the issue from Brock, who did some nice work for us over the summer. And if his mom’s video ended up a little sparse, he can console himself with the thought that after a few months of training at elevation, he should be mopping the floor with his flatlander training buddies, at least for the next few weeks.
So I’ve got a few holes to fill in, but first, from Thursday’s night’s “Late Show with David Letterman”…
Top-10 signs Lance Armstrong is getting cocky
10. Race starts at 9, Lance rolls out of bed around noon.
9. Has already figured out that the trophy can hold a 3-gallon margarita.
8. He eats frosting by the fistful.
7. For the last leg, he rode one of those crazy 1920s bikes with the big front wheel.
6. Deliberately crashing into things to get more air time on SportsCenter.
5. Making a couple extra bucks delivering pizzas during the race.
4. After the starter pistol is fired, he hangs around hitting on French babes.
3. Turns to the other riders and says, “Oooh, I’m sooooo scared.”
2. Instead of training, spent last two months pimping his bike.
1. Has started selling ad space on his ass.
How do they say ‘maillot jaune’ in Mandarin?
Lance Armstrong isn’t the only American currently leading a UCI stage race; after six of nine stages, Tucson, Arizona’s Phil Zajicek is leading the Tour of Qinghai Lake in China.
Considered one of the largest and most important cycling races in Asia, the Qinghai Lake event was won by American Tom Danielson (now with Fassa Bortolo) in 2002, and in 2003 by recent Giro d’Italia revelation Damiano Cunego (Saeco).
Zajicek’s Navigators Insurance squad has dominated the UCI 2.3 race from day one, with Belarussian “Concussion” Viktor Rapinski winning the opening 107km stage and taking the race lead.
Teammate Jeff Louder won the hilly second stage, with yet another teammate, David McKenzie, taking second on the day; after two stages, Louder, Rapinski and McKenzie were 1-2-3 on the general classification.
“The guys have held the jersey since the first stage, and kind of bounced it back and forth,” reported team director Ed Beamon in a midnight call from China.
Rapinski finished second in the stage 3 field sprint to reclaim the leader’s jersey (and the KOM competition) and then won the stage 4 bunch sprint, putting him 16 seconds ahead of Louder, with Maxim Iglinskiy (Kazakhstan National Team) at 28 seconds. Navigators’ Chris Baldwin took over the KOM jersey, while Rapinski also led the sprint competition.
The 173km stage 5 saw Zajicek escape at 60km in a foursome with teammate Burke Swindlehurst, Devis Miorin (De Nardi) and Jeremy Maartens (South Africa). With no teams willing to take up the chase, their lead grew to nine minutes over the next 40km. It wasn’t until the riders had only 65km remaining did the teams facing a major loss of GC position take up the chase.
Although four teams participated in the effort, their combined resources lacked the horsepower needed to completely bring back the escapees. The leaders crossed the line with an advantage of 2:40, and Maartens took the four-up sprint over Miorin, Zajicek and Swindlehurst. The time gap was enough to put Zajicek in yellow, the third Navigators rider to take the race lead. Rapinski slipped to third on GC while retaining the sprint leader’s jersey.
Zajicek managed to hold on to his leader’s jersey after a mountainous stage 6, won by Phonak’s Marco Fertonani, while teammate Chris Baldwin dropped to second on the KOM competition behind Tour de Langkawi standout Ghader Mizbani of the Giant Asia Racing Team.
“Things are going awesome,” Zajicek said. “We’ve won three of five stages, and I made it through [stage 6’s] big mountain day and I’ve still got the lead. I just need to get through tomorrow and two relatively flat days.”
Top three in general classification (after six stages):
1) Phil Zajicek (Navigators Insurance)
2) 2) Devis Miorin (De Nardi), at 0:05
3) Ryan Cox (South African National Team), at 2:09
Carney revs up swan-song victory at Gastown
In other race news, soon-to-be-retired perennial sprint threat Jonas Carney (Jelly Belly-Aramark) won the Tour de Gastown in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Wednesday night, beating out Tyler Farrar (Health Net-Maxxis) and Olympian Marty Nothstein (Navigators). It was Carney’s second win at Gastown, his first coming in 1990.
1. Jonas Carney (Jelly Belly-Aramark)
2. Tyler Farrar (Health Net-Maxxis)
3. Marty Nothstein (Navigators Insurance)
4. Svein Tuft (Symmetrics)
5. Russell Hamby (Sierra Nevada)
6. Glen Mitchell (Sierra Nevada)
7. Will Frischkorn (Colavita Olive Oil)
8. Ivan Dominguez (Colavita Olive Oil)
9. Alex Candelario (Jelly Belly-Aramark)
10. Eric Wohlberg (Sierra Nevada)
Mid-season personnel changes?
While on the topic of domestic squads, there have been a few mysterious roster disappearances from team Web sites recently.
Gone from the Colavita Olive Oil roster is team director Chad Davis, reportedly replaced by former Saturn pro Frank McCormack, brother of team rider Mark McCormack.
A few rounds of phone tag with Colavita’s general manager John Profaci Jr. hasn’t yet resulted in a conversation, and Davis didn’t have much to say on the matter, other than he was no longer with the team.
“I can’t really talk about it,” Davis said. “When I’m able to, I’ll drop you a line. Until then, you can’t get much from me. I’ve heard Frank McCormack is working with the guys. I’ve chosen to do other things. I haven’t said anything yet, but when I’m ready to I’ll let you know.”
In other news, Jelly Belly’s Adam Bergman is no longer shown on his team’s Web roster. Bergman made a name for himself by taking the overall lead at last year’s Nature Valley Grand Prix, in his first race as a pro.
Bergman shed little light on the matter, other than to say that he would be putting out a press release soon. Team director Danny Van Haute, working with juniors at the ADT Event Center velodrome in Los Angeles, had little to add to the mystery.
“I’ve got to go look at that [Web site],” Van Haute said. “Why isn’t he there? I don’t know. To tell you the truth, I haven’t looked at our Web site in a while. Other than that, I don’t have any comment on it. What does Adam have to say? I couldn’t tell you. I don’t know what’s going on.”
More on both situations as they develop…
Bessette and Johnson tie the knot
Upcoming Canadian Olympic road team member Lyne Bessette (Quark Cycling) and longtime boyfriend/fiancé Tim Johnson (Saunier Duval) finally got hitched at a quiet, private ceremony along the Metolius River near Bend, Oregon, a few days before the start of the Cascade Classic. Chris and Jerry Barnes, a local couple who have hosted the two racers dating back to their days together at Saturn, attended the ceremony.
Although it was nearly two weeks ago, I’ve still got one memory from the Cascade Classic I need to share: This photo of Carl Decker, the Broadmark Capital amateur (and Giant-Pearl Izumi NORBA pro), and his homemade aero’ time trial helmet.
Decker made news earlier this season as the first racer to win a NORBA event on a road bike, at the Sonoma Infineon Raceway’s short-track cross-country event. Now he’s making news again for an odd equipment choice — a homemade time trial helmet, made out of an ordinary helmet, a cardboard box, some ski goggles and plenty of clear tape.
Decker made the “head fairing” the night before Cascade’s 6.7-mile rolling time trial, working at the same time on his single-speed time trial bike, on which he ran a 54×17 over the rolling course.
Decker finished 40th out of 116 riders, 1:34 behind stage winner Chris Baldwin (Navigators).
I’ve got a few more memories I could share from Cascade, but you’ll have to buy me a Deschutes Brewery Bachelor ESB first.