By Andrew Hood
Vande Velde ready for Vuelta
Christian Vande Velde (CSC) is pumped for the Vuelta a España, which kicks off later this month in Granada, Spain.
“I’m psyched to have a good Vuelta,” Vande Velde said. “We’re going to be helping Carlos. He’s looking strong for the race.”
Vande Velde will be part of a motivated Team CSC for the Vuelta, the season’s final grand tour. Spanish rider Sastre will be looking to post a strong result in the GC while the always-ambitious CSC will be on the hunt for stages.
Joining Sastre and Vande Velde will be former Tour de France stage-winner Jakob Piil, Nicki Sorensen, Manual Calvente, promising German rider Linus Gerdemann, Andrea Peron, Russian hard-man Vladimir Gusev and Italian veteran Giovanni Lombardi, who will be starting his third grand tour of the season.
“It’s the strongest Vuelta team we’ve ever had,” said Team CSC sport director Kim Andersen. “We’ll provide good back up for (Sastre) have a string over very motivated riders who have the potential to take stages along the way.”
Vande Velde rode a strong Giro d’Italia in May, where Team CSC cleaned up with stage victories but fell short of overall victory after team captain Ivan Basso struggled in the Dolomites after getting zapped by a stomach bug.
Vande Velde skipped the Tour de France to reload for the second half of the 2005 season, which included a bittersweet detour through the Tour of Benelux.
Vande Velde rolled out of the Benelux race with mixed feelings. He won the King of the Mountains jersey, but saw his efforts in a three-man breakaway collapse into chaos when the main peloton accidentally veered off course. Race officials forced Vande Velde and his fellow escapees to stop and wait for the peloton, taking the wind out of the break’s sales.
Team CSC for Vuelta a España
Carlos Sastre (Spa)
Christian Vande Velde (USA)
Andrea Peron (Ita)
Manuel Calvente (Spa)
Jakob Piil (Den)
Nicki Sorensen (Den)
Vladimir Gusev (Rus)
Giovanni Lombardi (Ita)
Linus Gerdemann (Ger)
Petacchi’s road to world’s goes through Vuelta
Alessandro Petacchi is hoping to find his winning legs during the upcoming Vuelta a España just in time to make a run at the world title in late September in Madrid.
The Fassa Bortolo sprinter is still recovering from a crash at the HEW Cyclassics earlier this month that left him with a broken finger in his left hand, which is still causing him some problems steering his bike.
Petacchi was scheduled to race the Copa Bernocchi in northern Italy as he prepares for the Aug. 27 Vuelta start in Granada.
“In Spain I hope to regain my fitness for the world championships and above all, my self-confidence,” Petacchi told the Spanish sports daily AS. “I won’t miss a chance to win in the sprints, but I also won’t risk everything to win.”
Petacchi called Robbie McEwen his most dangerous for the Madrid course, calling the Aussie ace, “very ambitious in a sprint finish.”
German tour ambitious
Tour of Germany officials see a bright future for their ever-expanding national tour, which continued Thursday with an epic climbing stage into Austria.
“We hope to be the second most important stage race after the Tour de France,” race director Kai Rapp told the French daily L’Equipe.
The nine-stage, 1510km race continues through Aug. 23 and includes Jan Ullrich and Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile), Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), Bobby Julich (CSC) and Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) among a star line-up of riders.
By repositioning their race from late May or June – where it was since its inception in 1999 – to August, race officials want to make the Tour of Germany the race where Tour de France disappointments can be remedied.
“This year, while we didn’t have the Tour winner or second-place finisher, five of the top 10 in the Tour are here,” he said. “Our objective in 2006 is to have the podium of the Tour de France at our race.”
The race increased its budget by 20 percent, an increase to 4.2 million euros, all in the backdrop of the ever-efficient German style.
“It’s obvious that our image will never be the same as the Tour, Giro or Vuelta,” he said. “But our race can be judged by other criterium, like the quality of organization and the quality of our field.”