The Vuelta a Andaluc¡a (Ruta del Sol) kicks off this Sunday, with a strong field of sprinters. Also,
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM Top sprinters at Ruta del Sol While some of the world’s best tour riders are racing in California next week, three of cycling’s top sprinters will clash in Spain at the 53rd Vuelta a Andaluc¡a (Ruta Ciclista del Sol). Tom Boonen (Quick.Step), Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto), and Oscar Freire (Rabobank) headline the field, along with 2004 Giro d’Italia winner Damiano Cunego, who will be making his season debut in the race. In all, 105 riders will take part from 15 different teams. The Ruta del Sol will run between February 18th and 22nd, through the provinces of Granada, Jan, C¢rdoba, Sevilla and M laga. The riders will cover 823.8 km in five stages, most of which are suited to the sprinters. The race kicks off at the Santa Clara golf club in Otura, with stage 1 finishing in La Zubia after 146 km. Stage 2 is between Vegas del Genil and Cazorla and features an uphill finish in the last 2.5 km, climbing 130m in this distance. The third stage between La Guardia and Jan also has an uphill ending, although it’s not quite as steep as the previous day. Stage four takes the riders through C¢rdoba, starting in Cabra and finishing in C¢rdoba on a run in that’s perfectly suited to the fast men. Stage five between Ecija and Antequera (M laga) has a couple of cat. 3 climbs in the last 30 km, and things could break up on the Alto Sierra de Chimeneas with three kilometres left. But it’s not a savage hill, and riders of the calibre of Boonen, McEwen and Freire could hold on to fight out a bunch sprint. Stage list Stage 1 – February 18: Otura Santa Clara Golf – La Zubia, 146.5 km Stage 2 – February 19: Vegas del Genil – Cazorla, 156.6 km Stage 3 – February 20: La Guardia – Jan, 170.6 km Stage 4 – February 21: Cabra – C¢rdoba, 179.2 km Stage 5 – February 22: Ecija – Antequera, 170.9 km Not quite a comeback for Dierckxsens Belgian Ludo Dierckxsens announced a comeback to the world of cycling earlier this week, but he has now revealed that it won’t be to top level racing. The 42 year-old, who retired a year and a half ago, will work as part of a sport-for-business campaign, along with swimmer Tine Bossuyt and athlete Tom Van Hooste. The three will promote their endeavour by racing in a triathlon in Brugge. The aim is to encourage more business people to participate in sport, and forming a triathlon team is a logical entry point. Dierckxsens will be the cyclist in the campaign, with the other two performing the swimming and running legs. “My condition is not good any more, but this is a fine initiative,” Dierckxsens told Sporza radio. “I want to get more people on their bikes.” He will have to race 40 km in Brugge, which he said, “I should be able to do. I have put on eight or nine kilos, but I will do more training now. In Brugge, we want to be at the top.” Women’s world cup opens in Geelong A number of the world’s top female road cyclists will compete in the opening round of the 2007 UCI Women’s Road World Cup Series in Geelong, Australia on March 4th. Prior to the world cup, over 100 riders will contest the three day Geelong Tour (February 17th to March 1st). Leading the charge will be the Raleigh Lifeforce Creation lineup that includes world number one and defending world cup champion Nicole Cooke (GBr) and Switzerland’s Priska Doppmann. Cooke was the bronze medallist in the road race at the 2006 World’s, and the Welsh star is keen to pick up points in her bid to win a third world cup series. T-Mobile should provide a strong challenge to Raleigh, as it includes 2004 world champion, Judith Arndt, 2006 Geelong world cup winner, Ina Teutenberg, and Oenone Wood, who won the world cup series in 2004 and 2005 and has won the Geelong Tour for the past three years. T-Mobile also includes 2006 Australian road champion, Kate Bates and 2007 Australian criterium champion, Alexis Rhodes. Two-time world champion Susanne Ljungskog will race in Geelong with Team Flexpoint, and Trixi Worrack, ranked fourth in the world, is lining up with Team Nrnberger. Japan’s Miho Oki has twice sprinted her way onto the podium in the Geelong world cup and is hopeful of victory for either herself or one of her Menikini Gysko teammates, who include Australia’s Olivia Gollan and Rochelle Gilmore. Athens Olympic champion, Sara Carrigan, returns to international competition after taking a break last year to concentrate on her studies. She will lead the Queensland Academy of Sport team, which includes ’05 Australian champion Lorian Graham and current Australian TT champion, Carla Ryan. National teams from Great Britain, New Zealand, Brazil, Germany and Australia are also entered along with several Australian regional teams. More information: www.geelongworldcup.com. Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.