PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
Fittingly, the newly Kazakh-registered Astana team's first victory has come from a home rider as Assan Bazayev when the bunch sprint into Bielefeld at the end of the rain-hit first stage of the Deutschland Tour. Lampre's Daniele Napolitano took second with Milram's Erik Zabel third. The overall lead stayed with Discovery Channel's prologue winner, Vladimir Gusev, thanks to strong riding by his team-mates.
Italy's Napolitano started the sprint, but he went from too far out and Bazayev came past him in the closing metres for a notable win.
Although the fourth place recorded by Andr Greipel was the best T-Mobile could do, the German team were still hard to keep out of the news. They announced that Jrg Ludewig will be staying with them until the end of the season following the rider's admission of "contacts with the doping world" back in 1998. However, although Ludewig will be kept on the roster, he won't race for the team before his contract runs out at the end of the year.
"I made a mistake back at that time, but now I am being punished," he said in Bielefeld. "I do not know how things will go for me now. Perhaps I will concentrate on another role in the periphery of cycle racing if I don't get a contract with another team."
Young T-Mobile rider Linus Gerdemann, meanwhile, has said he is going to cut his link with Italian training consultant Luigi Cecchini, who also works with suspended T-Mobile rider Jan Ullrich. "I will put my head not in the sand," he told German site Radsport News. "I was very annoyed when I heard the news about the [Floyd] Landis doping case."
Asked about his link with Cecchini, Gerdemann responded: "I did not want to give cause for speculation, and that reason I have terminated our co-operation." Nevertheless, he praised the Italian's advice, saying, "It will be difficult to find a new adviser who is as good."
Stage 1, Dsseldorf-Bielefeld
1 Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana 198km in 4.43.06
2 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Lampre
3 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram
4 Andr Greipel (Ger) T-Mobile
5 Alexandre Usov (Blr) Ag2r
6 Claudio Corioni (Ita) Lampre
7 Vicente Reynes (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
8 Manuele Mori (Ita) Saunier Duval
9 Roy Sentjens (Bel) Rabobank
10 Josep Jufre (Spa) Davitamon-Lotto
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM