Road

Wednesday’s EuroFile: Serrano takes Milano-Torino; Postal gets farewell win; Tour to Germany?; Høj to Gerolsteiner; Peron done

Serrano upsets Italians at Milano-TorinoMilano-Torino is an Italian race if there ever was one, with Mirko Celestino and Michele Bartoli racking up the last three victories. But Liberty Seguros rider Marcos Serrano pipped the local favorites Wednesday in the 199km semi-classic from Milan to Turin across northern Italy, edging Eddy Mazzoleni and Francesco Casagrande to become just the third Spanish winner of the Italian classic that dates back to 1876. Riders were jumpy right from the start, with aging tiger Andrea Tafi (Alessio-Bianchi) going an early solo move at 70km. The former classics

By Andrew Hood

Serrano upsets Italians at Milano-Torino
Milano-Torino is an Italian race if there ever was one, with Mirko Celestino and Michele Bartoli racking up the last three victories.

But Liberty Seguros rider Marcos Serrano pipped the local favorites Wednesday in the 199km semi-classic from Milan to Turin across northern Italy, edging Eddy Mazzoleni and Francesco Casagrande to become just the third Spanish winner of the Italian classic that dates back to 1876.

Riders were jumpy right from the start, with aging tiger Andrea Tafi (Alessio-Bianchi) going an early solo move at 70km. The former classics strongman built a lead north of three minutes, but got sucked back with 30km to go.

As expected, the climb at Monte Superga with 17km to go delivered up to its promise to be the race-breaker. Several riders attacked hard on the climb, with Mazzoleni and Casagrande leading the charge. Aussie Cadel Evans (T-Mobile) counter-attacked and only Serrano could follow, creating a quartet over the summit nursing a 25-second lead over a group of about 20 chasers led by Damiano Cunego (Saeco).

Evans tried attacking on the descent, prompting a strong chase from the others in the break and widening the lead to the main bunch to nearly 40 seconds with 6km to go.

Mazzoleni and Casagrande seemed determined to retain national pride and unleashed attacks in the final kilometers that momentarily shook Evans and Serrano. The two foreigners chased back with 500 meters to go and Serrano immediately attacked to take the win.

Mazzoleni and Casagrande came in second and third to round out the podium while Evans took fourth. The main bunch came through led by Danilo Hondo (Gerolsteiner)

88th Milano-Turino (UCI 1.1), 199 kilometers
1. Marcos Serrano (Spa), Liberty Seguros 4 hours, 32 minutes, 10 seconds
2. Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita), Saeco +0:02
3. Francesco Casagrande (Ita), Vini Caldirola
4. Cadel Evans (Aus), T-Mobile – all same time
5. Danilo Hondo (Ger), Gerolsteiner +0:31

Van Heeswijk wins as Postals shut down season
U.S. Postal Service will be saying adieu after nine years as a title sponsor and the team gave the agency a nice going-away party with a win by Max Van Heeswijk in the Putte-Kapellen race in Belgium.

The next time the world will see the team, its riders will be sporting the Discovery Channel colors as the media company takes over title sponsorship going into next year’s Pro Tour. Team boss Johan Bruyneel said it was nice to go out with a win.

“Finishing the season with a win in the last race of the year is a very nice way to finish,” Bruyneel said. “Especially as this was one of our most successful seasons in terms of wins and with Lance winning his sixth Tour de France.”

Bruyneel said Van Heeswijk’s win – the Dutch flier’s 13th on the season and the 33rd for the team on the season – disproved the notion that the Posties are a one-trick pony.

“Last year was a great year as well, winning both the Tour and the Vuelta, but this year we won many races with many different riders the whole year – from February to October,” Bruyneel said. “We have definitely proved we have a very deep team, contrary to what others may say, that we are focused on the Tour only. I don’t agree with that as we have been performing and winning the whole year.”

Van Heeswijk was Postal’s winningest rider, taking two more wins than team captain Lance Armstrong in 2005. Beginning with a pair of stage wins at the team’s first event, the Ruta del Sol, back in February, van Heeswijk kept it going for nearly the entire year, winning races in every month but April, July and September. Key victories included stages at the Tour of Catalunya, Tour of Holland, Four Days of Dunkerque, Tour of Belgium and the Tour of Murcia. He also wore the leader’s jersey at the Tour of Spain as well as at the Tour of Murcia and Tour of Holland.

“For Max, this was his best season by far,” Bruyneel said. “If he even had some luck in the spring, he would have won a big race as well, but for the team, he has shown his value to us all year long. It’s good to have a rider like that on the team, knowing when you go to a race you have a good possibility to win.”

Tour to return to Germany?
Reports leaked Wednesday that the 2005 Tour de France will make tracks into Germany, though the official route won’t be unveiled until Oct. 28 in Paris.

The German news agency SID reported that Karlsruhe and Pforzheim will host stages, possibly one of the Tour’s time trials. Tour de France officials refused to comment on speculation about the 2005 course.

The last time the Tour entered Germany was in 2002, when newly crowned 2004 world champion Oscar Freire won a stage into Sarrebruck. German fans love the Tour and huge crowds have turned out to watch the race every year it snakes across the border.

While final details won’t be released until later this month, it’s already been revealed the Tour will start in the Vendée region along France’s western coast.

Høj signs with Gerolsteiner as CSC waits for co-sponsor
Danish classics star Frank Høj has signed a two-year contract with the German team Gerolsteiner after Team CSC has been unable to find a co-sponsor to provide extra backing to sign riders.

Høj was among several Team CSC riders who are waiting for Team CSC boss Bjarne Riis to find a co-sponsor. Olympic time trial bronze medalist Bobby Julich is giving Riis more time to find extra money in the budget to sign riders, but reportedly has a two-year offer from Davitamon-Lotto as a backup.

“We still haven’t landed a co-sponsor, which makes us incapable of matching Gerolsteiner’s offer and we just have to accept this fact,” said Team CSC manager Bjarne Riis. “I’m still very optimistic and confident we’ll be able to complete all our contracts for next season very soon.”

Team CSC has many of its core riders under contract season for next season, including Tour de France stage-winner Ivan Basso, Paris-Nice winner Jorg Jaksche and German star Jens Voigt.

“I would’ve preferred to stay at Team CSC, no doubt about that, it’s been my priority all along,” said Høj. “I’ve improved tremendously during this season and I’ll definitely take a lot of the things I’ve learned here with me.”

Peron done for season
The 2004 season came to an expected end for Andrea Peron on Monday when the Team CSC rider crashed in a training ride, resulting in a broken left hand.

The veteran Italian voiced his disappointment at not being able to help the team in the final races of the season in Italy culminating with Saturday’s Giro di Lombardia.

“I crashed in a turn on a descent. I wasn’t going very fast and I’d noticed the road was a bit wet, but I lost control and landed on my left hand. It makes me sad that I won’t be able to participate in the last few races,” said Peron, who bounced back from a broken hip early in the season to race the Tour de France in July.

Somarriba to postpone motherhood for one more year
Spanish rider Joane Somarriba said she’ll hold off motherhood for one more year so she’ll have the chance to race in the 2005 world championships set for Madrid on home soil.

“I’ll race another year and then that’s it. I will retire in the world’s in Madrid,” Somarriba told the Spanish daily DEIA. “I’m excited to become a mother, but I can wait one more year. Whatever happens in the race, good or bad, it will all end there. That’s for sure.”

The 32-year-old Somarriba has won three women’s Tours de France, but said she’ll likely race the Giro d’Italia and some one-day classics instead of the Tour.

Tour de Langkawi gets upgrade
The Tour de Langkawi has moved up a notch in status, becoming Asia’s first race with a hors category designation from the Union Cycliste Internationale.

“LTdL previously had a status of 2.2 and now we have received the highest status, namely the hors category. This makes Malaysia the first country in Asia and outside Europe to receive it,” said Abdullah Kamal Shafi’i, executive chairman of organizers First Cartel Sdn Bhd.

According to Utusan Malaysia Online, next year’s 10th edition of the race will be held over 10 days beginning January 28 and reinstate Langkawi Island as its start. The 1281.1km race will pass through nine states, with new venues including Kepala Batas, Kuala Berang, Maran and Bachok, and two climbs instead of three —the stage-3 leg from Gerik to Tanah Merah and the arduous Genting Highlands climb in stage 8.

“The 2005 race will provide a balanced route with equal opportunities for sprint kings, climbers and time-trial experts to shine,” Abdullah said. — Utusan Malaysia Online

2005 Tour de Langkawi

Stage 1 – 106.9km
Langkawi Island

Stage 2 – 171.5km
Kangar to Kepala Batas

Stage 3 – 172.9km
Gerik to Tanah Merah

Stage 4 – 20km
Bachok (time trial)

Stage 5 – 164km
Kota Bharu to Kuala Terengganu

Stage 6 – 152km
Kuala Berang to Chukai

Stage 7 – 166.8km
Maran to Raub

Stage 8 – 97km
Kuala Kubu Baru to Genting Highlands

Stage 9 – 165.0km
Kuala Lumpur to Putrajaya

Stage 10 – 65km
Kuala Lumpur (criterium)