By Andrew Hood
Clerc takes Burgos finale
Aurélien Clerc, a Swiss flier on the Quick Step team, sprinted to victory in the final stage of the Vuelta a Burgos in northern Spain on Thursday. Clerc was a clear winner ahead of Alexandre Usov (Phonak) and Roger Hammond (Mr Bookmaker.com) in the rolling stage to cap the four-day Burgos tour.
Alejandro Valverde (Kelme) finished safely in the main bunch, choosing not to contest the final sprint after charging to three consecutive victories to claim the overall title for his 14th win of the 2004 season.
Early in the rolling stage a group of 16 riders tore away from the main bunch to build a 3:18 lead until Liberty Seguros put the pressure on to neutralize the escape, setting up the mass gallop.
Quick Step’s Pedro Horrillo tried to surprise the bunch with a move in the final 800 meters, but he was caught 200 meters from the line, just in time for his teammate to shoot past and grab the victory.
26th Vuelta a Burgos (SPA 2.1), Stage 5, Miranda de Ebro to Burgos, 172km
1. Aurélien Clerc (Swi), Quick Step, 3:54:16
2. Alexandre Usov (Blr), Phonak
3. Roger Hammond (GBr), MrBookmaker.com-Palmans
4. Allan Davis (Aus), Liberty Seguros
5. Crescenzo D´Amore (Ita), Acqua e Sapone – all same time
Final overall standings
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa), Kelme, 14:59:07
2. Denis Menchov (Rus), Illes Balears, at 0:03
3. Leonard Piepoli (Ita), Saunier Duval, at 0:06
4. Marcos Serrano (Spa), Liberty Seguros, at 0:50
5. Jonathan González (Spa), Costa de Almeria-Paternina, at 0:53
Bernabeu narrowing in on Elias
Portuguese rider Sergio Paolinho (LA Pecol) won the seventh stage of the Tour of Portugal after attacking hard in the closing kilometers of the climbing finish atop the Category 3 hill.
Race leader José Miguel Elias (Relax-Bodysol) lost contact with the leaders and gave up 22 seconds on David Bernabeu (Milaneza), who’s now poised 40 seconds back with three days of racing left.
66th Volta a Portugal (POR 2.2), Sanoto Joao de Madeira to Gouveia, 152km
1. Sergio Paulinho (Por), L.A. Pecol 3:49:59
2. Candido Barbosa (Por), L.A. Pecol
3. Nuno Alves (Por), Barbot-Gaia
4. David Bernabeu (Sp), Milaneza-Maia
5. Rui Lavarinhas (Por), Milaneza-Maia – all same time
60. Tim Johnson (USA), Saunier Duval, at 1:56
81. Tom Danielson (USA), Fassa Bortolo, at 4:44
Overall standings after seven stages
1. José Miguel Elias (Sp), Relax-Bodysol, 30:38:30
2. David Bernabeu (Sp), Milaneza-Maia, at 0:40
3. Nuno Ribeiro (Por), L.A. Pecol, at 0:50
4. Rui Lavarinhas (Por), Milaneza-Maia, at 0:56
5. David Arroyo (Sp), L.A. Pecol, at 1:07
48. Tom Danielson (USA), Fassa Bortolo, at 30:36
106. Tim Johnson (USA), Saunier Duval, at 1:20:09
Vino’ wins Regio ITT
Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile) won Thursday’s 19km individual time trial at the Regio Tour in Germany with a time of 25 minutes, 15 seconds.
The Kazakh, back to racing after missing out on the 2004 Tour de France, finished ahead of Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner), second at 37 seconds, and Stephan Schreck (T-Mobile) third at 39 seconds. Former mountain biker Cadel Evans (T-Mobile) was fourth at 47 seconds back. Schreck was fast enough against his teammate to retain the overall lead.
Guidi takes over Denmark lead
Italian sprinter Fabrizio Guidi (CSC) held off Tom Steels (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) Stefan Van Dijck (Lotto-Domo) to win the 210km second stage of the Tour of Denmark.
Stuart O’Grady, winner of Wednesday’s opening stage, could only muster fifth and forfeited his hold on the lead to Guidi even though both riders have the same collective time.
The 14th Tour of Denmark continues Friday with a split stage, with a 115km road stage from Arhus to Vejle in the morning followed by an 11.7km individual time trial in Fredericia in the afternoon.
14th Tour of Denmark (DEN 2.2), Stage 2, Varde to Arhus, 210km
1. Fabrizio Guidi (Ita), Team CSC, 5:03:45
2. Tom Steels (Bel), Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
3. Stefan Van Dijck (Ned), Lotto-Domo
4. Giosué Bonomi (Ita), Saeco
5. Stuart O’Grady (Aus), Cofidis – all same time
Overall standings after two stages
1. Fabrizio Guidi (Ita), Team CSC, 8:23:10
2. Stuart O’Grady (Aus), Cofidis ,s.t.
3. Tom Steels (Bel), Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, at 0:04
4. Michel Van Haecke (Bel), MrBookmaker.com-Palmans, s.t.
5. Stefan Van Dijck (Ned), Lotto-Domo, at 0:06
Bettini wants another Clasica win
Paolo Bettini, who won last year’s Clasica San Sebastián en route to a second World Cup title, wants more of the same in the World Cup stop Saturday in northern Spain.
Bettini, fresh off victory in Wednesday’s GP Citta di Camaiore, is charging into the second half of the World Cup season with intentions of winning a record third World Cup crown.
“I am going to San Sebastián to win and I’m also interested in the World Cup,” Bettini told Diario Vasco. “(Davide) Rebellin didn’t race in Camaiore to be fresh for San Sebastián. It’s a race I like to do well in. It’s a lot better for me than Hamburg (HEW Cyclassics).”
Bettini, who will be racing in the Olympic Summer Games later this month for Italy, said he’s feeling strong for the Clasica and GP Zurich, set for August 22 in Switzerland. The Quick Step rider finished second at HEW Cyclassics last weekend to pull within 64 points of series leader Rebellin.
“After the Tour I trained calmly to recover myself. In Hamburg I didn’t win but I did everything I could in the race. I attacked, I had an escape and I fought out in the sprint. I felt very strong for Camaiore,” he said. “I believe I can be the same Bettini of last year during the month of August.”
With such a wide margin, Rebellin can likely cement the World Cup title at San Sebastián with a strong ride. Bettini, however, promises to fight to the end.
Scarponi hopeful for upcoming classics
Michele Scarponi, the Italian hope on Domina Vacanze, is hoping to put his strong form to good use in Saturday’s Clasica San Sebastián. The 24-year-old climber struggled through the Tour de France after a strong ride in the opening stage in the Pyrénées to La Mongie. Scarponi crashed in the Alps, but gamely fought on to arrive to Paris, but without the success he was hoping for, either a stage victory or the best young rider’s jersey.
“I still have good physical condition that I want to take advantage of,” said Scarponi. “I still haven’t shaken off the Tour, but I’ve trained and I want to make an impression at San Sebastián or Zurich, the two World Cup rounds which I like. After that, I will race in Italy.”
Rumsas back in action
There was a familiar name back in the bunch in Wednesday’s GP Citta di Camaiore in Tuscany on Wednesday. Raimondas Rumsas, the rider who finished third behind Lance Armstrong in the 2002 Tour de France, was racing for the first time since serving a one-year racing suspension.
Rumsas, racing on the second division Acqua & Sapone team, 43rd in a group three minutes behind winner Paolo Bettini (Quick Step). Rumsas tested positive for Aranesp, a banned blood booster, during last year’s Giro d’Italia. His wife, Edita, who was held by French authorities following the 2002 Tour after she was found with a cache of performance-enhancing drugs in her car, is reportedly awaiting the birth of the couple’s fourth child.
Klöden hits market
Tour de France runner-up Andreas Klöden could be looking for a new team after T-Mobile boss Walter Godefroot refused to sign the German national champion to a two-year contract extension.
“I asked my team manager, Walter Godefroot, for a two-year contract extension before the Tour, and he refused,” Klöden said following last Sunday’s HEW Cyclassics event in Germany. The German’s manager, former Swiss rider Tony Rominger, expects Klöden to remain at T-Mobile but believes he must move on if he wants to challenge for individual honors.
“T-Mobile has a good structure, but if Andreas wants to ride next season as a team leader, he’ll have to change,” said Rominger.