By Andrew Hood
Tyler Hamilton is back at his home-base in Spain after an amazing run when he became the first American to win Liege-Bastogne-Liege and then pulled off the rare double to take the overall title at the Tour of Romandie.
Only Ferdi Kubler (1951) and Bernard Hinault (1980) have equaled the feat and Hamilton’s the first to do it since Liege was bumped back a week in this year’s racing calendar.
“It’s been an incredible eight days,” Hamilton told VeloNews on Tuesday. “I didn’t have time to really reflect on my Liege win before I started Romandie. I didn’t want to rest on my laurels and relax too much. Romandie had been a big objective all spring. I stayed focused and things worked out.”
Hamilton admitted the back-to-back wins exceeded his expectations.
“We really focused on these two weeks; Liege and Romandie. I believed I could win Romandie more than Liege. I had won one hors categorye race before (Dauphine Libere in 2000), but Liege is a different story. I believed I could have good form and be ready. If I was top-10, okay, top-5, great, but to win a one-day World Cup race like that’s such an important race, such a historic race, it really was incredible.”
Hamilton said he will take it easy this week before getting back on the bike to prepare for the Tour de France. He said he plans to head down to Barcelona to enjoy the city life for a few days and let his historic double sink in a little bit.
“So many people have been calling me, congratulating me. I don’t know how I feel. I haven’t had time to absorb it,” he said. “It’s been two really beautiful Sundays. I feel fortunate that everything clicked for one race, but two? I’m a lucky guy. It’s a nice feeling.”
Giro news: No room for sprinters at Saeco
Sprinter Ivan Quaranta will be watching the Giro from the sidelines as Saeco comes with a team loaded with helpers for captain Gilberto Simoni. Quaranta hasn’t been in top form all season, which made the decision even easier for the team. Simoni comes to the Giro with the best form, winning the Tour of Trentino and the Tour of Appenines last week.
Gilberto Simoni (I)
Marius Sabaliauskas (Lit)
Giro news: Rebellin won’t start Giro
Gerolsteiner’s Davide Rebellin won’t be starting the Giro after all. Rebellin crashed hard at Fleche Wallone and cracked a bone in his shoulder, but bounced back to race at Liege thanks to work by a physical therapist. He even pipped favorite Erik Zabel to take the Rund um den Henninger Turm in Germany on May 1.
But Rebellin’s injuries are too grave to endure the punishing wear of a three-week stage race and he might not even start the Tour de France. Instead, the team will lead with Georg Totschnig for the overall.
Daniele Contrini (I)
Gianni Faresin (I)
Robert Förster (G)
Uwe Hardter (G)
Ronny Scholz (G)
Marcel Strauss (Swi)
Georg Totschnig (A)
Gerhard Trampusch (A)
Steffen Weigold (G)
Giro news: Pantani prepares in Spain
Marco Pantani’s been in Spain gearing up for Saturday’s start of the 86th Giro d’Italia. Pantani missed the Tour of Trentino last month with a tooth-ache and instead made tracks for Spain where he’s been training far away from the Italian media glare since January.
Despite big words from Pantani this spring, his results have been less than spectacular. It remains to be seen whether or not The Pirate will be strong enough to fight for the overall victory or just make a run for a stage-win. Pantani is expected to arrive Wednesday in Lecce for the opening stage.
Giro news: Fassa all for Aitor
With the final-day time trial in their favor, Fassa Bortolo is betting 2002 Vuelta a España Aitor Gonzalez will be able to deliver the goods. Gonzalez finished fourth in Sunday’s final time trial of the Tour of Romandie, but was nowhere to be seen in the mountains.
Teammate Dario Frigo, strong throughout the spring with victories at the Tour of Valencia and Setmana Catalana, also struggled in Romandie and even pulled out before the fifth stage.
“I’ve had some problems with my health, but I am confident I will be able to ride into form as the Giro progresses and be fresher for the more decisive stages later in the race,” Gonzalez said. “I will have 18 days racing, maybe a little light, but at least I will not be tired.”
Fassa will also have Alessandro Petacchi to challenge Mario Cipollini in the sprints while Gonzalez will count on the help of former mountain biker Dario Cioni and Marco Velo.
Aitor Gonzalez (Sp)
Dario Frigo (I)
Marzio Bruseghin (I)
Dario Cioni (I)
Alessandro Petacchi (I)
Matteo Tosatto (I)
Marco Velo (I)
Kim Kirchen (Lux)
Guido Trenti (USA).
Giro news: Casagrande, Rumsas put it on the line
With the Tour de France looking highly unlikely, Lampre is throwing everything into the Giro. Francesco Casagrande, aka “Frank Big House,” will share leadership duties with Raimondas Rumsas, third overall at last year’s Tour.
Casagrande will be looking to make amends for last year’s Giro, when he was kicked out of the race after judges ruled he barged a rider on an otherwise insignificant Category 3 climb. Rumsas has his own demons to exorcize, following the controversial detention of his wife after last year’s Tour when she was caught by French police with the car-boot loaded with banned products. Rumsas never failed any doping tests, but remains tainted by the experience.
Wladimir Belli and Patxi Vila will help in the mountains while Mariano Piccoli and Jan Svorada will have some freedom to hunt for stage-wins.
Francesco Casagrande (I)
Sergio Barbero (I)
Wladimir Belli (I)
Simone Bertoletti (I)
Manuel Quinziato (I)
Raimondas Rumsas (Lit)
Jan Svorada (Cze)
Patxi Vila (Sp)
Giro news: Lion King ready to roar
Mario Cipollini will have his entire all-Italian Domina Vacanze team at his disposal as he zeroes in on the all-time Giro stage victory record. The Lion King is just one win shy of the 41 wins set by Alfredo Binda and will be super-motivated after a somewhat disappointing spring. Giovanni Lombardi and Daniele Bennati will have some freedom to hunt stages when Cipollini’s not in the mood and Michele Scarponi will make a run in the GC.
Mario Cipollini (I)
Mario Scirea (I)
Giovanni Lombardi (I)
Daniele Bennati (I)
Giro news: Kelme goes with eight
Eight is enough, at least Kelme’s Vicente Belda is hoping so. With health problems stressing out his boys in lime green, Belda will only bring eight riders to the dispute the Giro as the lone representatives of Spain for the second year in a row. David Munoz snapped his collar-bone and Belda wants to keep the rest of his riders fresh for the Tour de France. “We will look for stage wins, but to say we will not fight for the overall is something only cowards would do,” Belda said.
While Belda cannot expect an Aitor Gonzalez-like breakout, he’s hoping Zaballa or Gutierrez will make something happen. Sprinter Isaac Galvez will do his best against the Italians in the sprints.
Carlos García Quesada (Sp)
Adolfo García Quesada (Sp)
Isaac Gálvez (Sp)
Constantino Zaballa (Sp)
Jordi Riera (Sp)
Julián Usano (Sp)
Alexis Rodríguez (Sp)
Ignacio Gutiérrez (Sp)
Giro news: fakta amped for Giro
Fresh off some big wins last week, Team fakta is excited about its chances in the Giro. Julian Winn won the GP Villers-Cotterets and Frank Hoj took the GP S.A.T.S. last week, so the team has some confidence in its pedals. Kurt Alse-Arvesen and Jorgen Bo Petersen will lead the fight for the GC, while Hoj, Scott Sunderland and Magnus Backstedt will hunt for stage-wins.
“We’re excited about the Giro. We have high expectations because the race is important for the team and the sponsor,” Backstedt said over the weekend. “We’re trying to secure the sponsorship deal for the team for next year, so we want to show we can fight with the top teams. This is a good group of riders and everyone is motivated.”
Kurt Asle-Arvesen (N)
Magnus Backstedt (S)
Lars Bak (Dk)
Frank Hoj (Dk)
Rene Jørgensen (Dk)
Jørgen Bo Petersen (Dk)
Werner Riebenbauer (Dk)
Scott Sunderland (Aus)
Julian Winn (GB)
Former Aussie trackie gets hard time
Former world champion cyclist Stephen Pate of Australia was handed a 20-month jail term Tuesday for wife beating.
Pate, 39, pleaded guilty in a Melbourne court to 11 charges related to assaults on his wife in November and February. Judge John Barnett said in addition to the damage and injuries caused by Pate, the gravity of his offences was worsened by the fear he had instilled in his wife and children.
Pate was a dominant figure in track cycling in the 1980s and 1990s, winning the world professional sprint championships in 1988. But he was left off Australia’s gold-medal-winning team for the Sydney 2000 Olympics, a setback the court heard led to Pate turning to alcohol and squabbling with his wife.
Pate was first arrested last year for a domestic violence incident but was released on bail and quickly returned to the family home and threatened his wife with a knife, prosecutors said. He violated court orders and returned to the home twice in February, the court was told.