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International Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt
 
By Staff
Date: 4/30/2006
International Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt
 

International Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt - Stage 3 & 4
Ed Beamon and the Navigators check in from Germany

International Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt - Stage 3 (UCI 2.1):
BadNeuenahr-Bad Marienberg…144 km

Blitzkrieg!! Fast, focused, and disciplined. The German fighting machine was infamous for its rapid advance and precise dissection of its opponents. Today’s third stage of Rheinland-Pfalz showed that the German cycling machine could be equally focused and devastating, but would not be met without resistance as the feisty Spanish Kaiku squad, and Navigator’s lads took their stabs at victory. The up and down course was spiked with several short hard climbs and three laps of a demanding finishing circuit.

Gerolsteiner took control from the start. When a 5-man break including Navigators Insurance’s Shawn Milne went to over 1 minute, the German team put the field to the gutter and the breakaway’s life was soon in jeopardy.

Gerolsteiner controlled the action, setting a brisk pace that whittled the field until the day’s final KOM. Rocketing up the short climb, Haselbacher’s team snapped the field with only 40 riders able to hold on and withstand the assault. The dwindled peloton sped to the finishing circuits as the Gerolsteiner juggernaut exerted it’s dominance over rival German teams of T-Mobile, Lamonta, and Weisenhof-Akud. The Navigators had Sergey Lagutin and Glen Chadwick in the mix, but the cold temperatures had weakened climbing ace Grajales, and he barely missed the split.

With the Spanish Kaiku team reluctant to surrender, Gerolsteiner kept the pace high on the difficult circuit until Navigators’ Lagutin fired a successful shot on the penultimate lap. Building a 15 second advantage, the former World Champion defied the Fatherland’s home team, and forced their challenge. Although a game effort, the attack was too early, and Gerolsteiner brought it together for the final 6 km lap. The Spaniards were not finished though, and they kept the pressure on the Germans, who responded with disciplined control.

The bunch kick set up almost a full lap ahead of the main peloton as Gerolsteiner’s Haussler took the prize ahead of Kaiku’s Urtasun and Serpellini. Lagutin managed 7th in a game effort. “I cramped a little in the sprint” commented Lagutin. “I lost a little because of the attack. Maybe I went too early, but there were still a few good sprinters in the group, and I thought I should try to win from the front. We wanted to try to win, so I took a chance.”
Tomorrow’s stage is the longest, and perhaps hardest of the tour.

Stage Result:
1 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner 3.30.42 (40.89 km/h)
2 Pablo Urtasun Perez (Spa) Kaiku
3 Marco Serpellini (Ita) Unibet.com

Overall GC:
1 Rene Haselbacher (Aut) Gerolsteiner 11.25.27
2 Pablo Urtasun Perez (Spa) Kaiku 0.05
3 Thomas Ziegler (Ger) T-Mobile Team 0.08

Frankfurt, Germany April 29, 2006
International Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt - Stage 4
Bitburg-Koblenz….195 km

Today the Rheinland Palz race moved south to Bitburg, just 20 km from the Luxembourg border, and then raced north through one of Germany’s premiere wine producing regions to Koblenz. The Mosel and Rhein rivers meet in the beautiful and historic city of Koblenz.

The river valleys of the two major waterways are lush with dramatic vineyards that lay in tiers along the steep cliffs that reach up from the busy channels. The pitches of the vineyards are so steep in some cases, that one wonders how the grapes are harvested without tumbling into the river below. Today’s course would use the country roads through these vineyards to the fertile plateaus above to create the race’s longest, and most challenging stage.

Yesterday’s storm troop assault by Gerolsteiner established their control of the race, but today’s course would provide ample opportunity for a counter offensive.

Rolling North out of Bitburg, the first 50 km presented 5 short climbs followed by 50 km of rolling terrain leading to the Morsel Valley. Then, three successive climbs up and over the river cliffs would surely test the strength of the leaders and challengers.

After yesterday’s triumph by the German consortium, the Spanish Armada of 2nd placed Urtasun Perez was ready to fire back. Navigators Insurance was racing for their Uzbek Champion Sergey Lagutin, and was expecting a hard attack from the Kaiku squad. The Spaniards did not disappoint.
The Cotillion sowed their guns early, and with a volley of attacks, unleashed two of their riders at the 20 km mark. Jose Gil Lopez was only 34” back, and he had the company of team-mate Gustav Cesar Valosa, Rene Schild of Regiostrom Senges and Tim Klinger of Wiesenhof. Navigators’ race captain Hilton Clarke rapidly barked the order…”last chance, we need to get across immediately”. Shawn Milne took the task and fired out ahead of the Gerolsteiner controlled field on the final opening climb. Milne powered away from the field, and as he moved across the gap, the Spaniards recognized his value to their escape efforts, and slowed their pace to hasten his arrival.

Gerolsteiner recognized the danger, and were careful not to let the breaks advantage get too out of hand. Keeping the escape to just over 2 minutes, the powder blue squad seemed to have things under control…then came the Mosel, and it’s challenging climbs away from the river bed. On the second climb the Spaniards pulled out their “Big Guns”. Four Kaiku’s sped past the Geroslsteiner train and stretched the field to its limit.

Urtasun attacked and was immediately clear. As he hit the plateau above he was more than half way across, and would join his compatriots shortly after the decent. The three Kaiku amigos drove a desperate pace along the river bank for 20 km before hitting the final climb. As the Spaniards set the pace in the lead group, Gerolsteiner was riding a strong tempo behind.

The gap was over 2 minutes as the leaders crested the climb. That’s when Navigators Insurance made their play. Lagutin vaulted out of the field with Lamonta’s Bjorn Glasna. Both riders were serious GC threats, but Gerolsteiner was already at their limit, and Haselbacher did not respond. The Germans stayed together and continued their pace as Lagutin and Glasna tore into the gap. Urtasun and his boys were driving hard, and Milne dropped back to pick up Lagutin. Now there were 5 in the front group with the two Navigators and Glasna chasing, and Gerosteiner leading the field 3 minutes behind.

Lagutin was on fire, and the gap closed to 45 seconds, but the three Spaniards were riding hard, and the Navigators were making their gains slowly. Gerolsteiner was in serious trouble, but others were losing out as well.
T-Mobile had enjoyed the leaders jersey after stage one, but now they were at risk of falling out of the top five, so they were now in the chase as well, and someone convinced Unibet that the chase was a good parley, so they were on it with most of the team as well. The young German national team was eager to impress, soon the 4 teams worked to pull back the escape.

At 25 km to go, the gap was still nearly 3 minutes to the 5 leaders, and 2:15 to Lagutin, Milne, and Glasna. The run along the Mosel to Koblenz was dead flat, but the wind was working into the equation.

With 15 km to go, Milne finally succumbed to his day long efforts. The gap was about 40 seconds to the Spaniards, but the German and Belgian chase was gaining momentum. At 10km the group was back together, and the sprint was inevitable. Navigators’ Clarke \had benefited from the controlled climbs, and battled to stay with field, so the team now turned its’ attention toward their sprinter.


Andre Greipel Tour of California Stage 7 (3rd Place)
 Photo c. www.dailypeloton.com

T-mobile got control, and in the final km they were in charge. The Navigators had put Clarke in good position, but his many efforts earlier in the race to support the climbers had tapped some of his speed. T-Mobile grabbed the 1 and 2 spots with Greipel and Pollack followed by Volksbank’s Rienbauer, and Clarke in a respectable 8th place.

“We had to go for it today” said Navigators DS Ed Beamon. “The Spaniards were very clever, and rode an excellent and exciting race, but we were anticipating their tactics and tried to take advantage of the scenario to move Sergey into the podium. It’s too bad they didn’t wait for him...I think Gerosteiner was in trouble, and 8 guys might have been able to hold it, but with two GC guys in the chase, I can understand Kaiku’s reluctance to wait. We’ll be ready to give it another go tomorrow”.

Stage Result:
1. André Greipel T-Mobile
2. Olaf Pollack T-Mobile
3. Werner Riebenbauer Team Voralberg
4. René Weissinger Skil-Shimano
5. Steven Caethoven Chocolade Jacques
6. René Haselbacher Gerolsteiner
8 Hilton Clarke (Aus) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team

Overall GC:
1. René Haselbacher Gerolsteiner 16:01:18 Std.
2. Pablo Urtasun Kaiku 5 Sek. Zur.
3. Ricardo Serrano Kaiku 7 Sek. Zur.
4. Thomas Ziegler T-Mobile 8 Sek. Zur.
5. Gerhard Trampusch Wiesenhof-Akud 10 Sek. Zur.
6. Bert Dewaele Landbouwkrediet 14 Sek. Zur.
25 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team 0.36
 

 
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