By Andrew Hood
Slipstream earns wild-card for Cataluyna
Team Slipstream earned an important wild-card bid for next month’s 87th Volta a Catalunya race in Spain. The U.S. team’s invitation was among five issued Tuesday by organizers for the ProTour race set for May 21-27 in Spain’s Catalunya region. Other teams earning nods to join the 20 ProTour teams are Spanish teams Andalucia-Caja Sur, Relax-Gam, Fuerteventura-Canarias and Karpin-Galicia. Slipstream’s European base in nearby Girona, Spain, probably helped the squad to obtain the important invite. Earlier this year, Slipstream earned a berth in the Criterium International, organized by Tour de France organizer, ASO. The race opens with a team time trial in Salou along Spain’s Med coast before pushing north into the Pyrenees with a traditional stop in the mountain enclave of Andorra. Podium view for Miller
The USA Cycling Women’s National Team continued its European tour last week as first-time international competitor Brooke Miller led the team with several solid performances in three Dutch one-day races that included a visit to the podium, USA Cycling’s Andy Lee reported.
The U.S. team gained valuable international racing experience at the Drentse 8 van Dwingeloo on April 12, the Ronde van Drenthe World Cup on April 14 and the Novilion Internationale Damesronde van Drenthe on April 15.
In the UCI 1.1-ranked Drentse 8 van Dwingeloo on Thursday, Miller led the way for Americans with an eighth-place effort in the 125-kilometer race, just two seconds off the pace of winner Regina Schleicher of Germany.
On Saturday, Miller once again led the way for the National Team in the third round of the UCI Women’s Road World Cup with a 14th-place finish in the Ronde van Drenthe, finishing a mere 14 seconds off the pace of winner and hometown favorite Adrie Visser of Holland.
The National Team remained in the Netherlands on Sunday to compete in the 139-kilometer Novilion Damesronde van Drenthe, another UCI 1.1-ranked single day race. Miller placed 58th, but scored one of her biggest career accomplishments in winning the sprinters jersey after spending 30 kilometers off the front of the peloton in a breakaway.
Facing its third-straight race on European cobblestones and narrow Dutch roads, the team, which also included Kristin Armstrong (Boise, Idaho/Team Lipton), Alison Powers (Boulder, Colo./Colavita-Sutter Home-Cooking Light), Katheryn Curi (Mountain View, Calif./Webcor), and Rebecca Larson (Gainesville, Fla./Aarons), put forth a solid team effort to ensure Miller’s career highlight. Lauren Franges (Ashville, N.C./Team Lipton) also competed for the squad in the first two Dutch events.
The Women’s National Team next competes at the Ronde van Gelderland in Holland on April 21, followed by the fourth round of the UCI World Cup, La Fleche Wallone in Belgium on April 25, the Giro di San Marino in Italy, May 4-6 and the Magi Pache Time Trial in Switzerland on May 6.
— By USA Cycling
Tire pressure costs Hammond
After two frustrating seasons with Discovery Channel, British rider Roger Hammond is back on track following a pair of impressive performances last week over the cobbles.
He scored his best result since finishing third in the 2004 Paris-Roubaix with a second behind T-Mobile teammate Marcus Burghardt in Ghent-Wevelgem and seventh on Sunday after sneaking into the day’s big breakaway early and then hanging onto the wheels to finish safely within the top 10.
Hammond said in an interview on T-Mobile’s web page that too much air pressure in a neutral support service wheel foiled his chances for a podium in the decisive late cobblestone sectors.
“Most frustrating was that I punctured in the break and had to take a neutral service wheel. And the tire was pumped up really hard on it, so I struggled on the cobbled sectors,” he told t-mobile.com. “I think it cost me dearly towards the end. I was bouncing on the cobbles instead of floating over them. It was on the third last sector that the Flecha group went. On another day I would have been fine, but with the really hard front tire it was impossible to follow. And it wasn’t because I was finished energy-wise, because we nearly came back to them at the finish, it was just because I couldn’t go over the cobbles as fast as them with the tire pressure in the front tire.”
Hammond also had a different take on the late-race tactics of Tom Boonen (QuickStep-Innergetic). Boonen was in a huff at the finish line after complaining that other riders were too afraid to collaborate with him and only marked his wheel.
“Boonen didn’t help us, as far as I was concerned he made tactical errors there, which was a really a pity because if he hadn’t then I think we would have caught (Flecha group),” he continued. “As soon as he caught us he attacked us. And rather that ride with us, he tried to drop us straight away. So then I thought ‘okay, I am not going to give you 100 percent immediately, because I want to see how strong you are first before you attack me again’. And (Enrico) Franzoi didn’t work at all then. Franzoi and I were working happily together until Boonen came across and attacked us. So then Franzoi was just afraid of dropping back to the next group behind and losing out on a top 10 place. That’s what he was thinking, so with that we lost 30 percent of our workforce.”
Up next for Hammond is GP de Denain and a short break before returning to action for the Tour of Rheinland-Pfalz.
Jaksche to debut with Tinkoff
Jorg Jaksche – the German rider whose name appeared in the police dossier as part of the Operación Puerto doping investigation in Spain – will make his return to racing later this week.
Jaksche, who’s denied working with controversial Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, has penned a deal to join Tinkoff Credit Systems for the remainder of the 2007 season. The ex-Liberty Seguros rider was facing an uncertain future and, at one point, reports had him retiring.
The former Paris-Nice champion will line up for the Giro de Abruzzo from April 19-22 in Italy and could be a key member of the Giro d’Italia squad next month if he’s fit.
Boonen won’t race Scheldeprijs
Tom Boonen (QuickStep-Innergetic) has pulled out of Wednesday’s Scheldeprijs with a bum stomach, his team reported Tuesday. “Today I have to stop my training because of these problems. Together with the team medical staff we decided to don’t take risks,” he said in a team release. “Traditionally this is the last race of my first part of the season. I cannot take the start but I want to be in Antwerpen and Schoten to say hello and thanks to all my supporters and to support my teammates during the race.” Boonen also was involved in a minor car crash on Monday when he swerved to avoid a cat that had run onto the road.
“Yesterday evening at 9 p.m. I was driving my car in the neighborhood of Balen. Near a traffic lights a cat crossed the road,” he said. “I avoided the cat but the car finished in the road bump. I damaged the front part of my car but fortunately the cat is still alive!”