Shorts: Freire, Valverde, Cooke, Giro

Freire continues his winning run in Hamburg, Valverde tops ProTour standings and gets hometown honou

Freire continues his winning run in Hamburg, Valverde tops ProTour standings and gets hometown honou



Oscar Freire’s victory in Sunday’s Vattenfalls Classic in Hamburg was only his second major one-day win outside the world championships. Like his success in the 2004 Milan-San Remo, the Spaniard narrowly got the better of Erik Zabel in the bunch sprint, with Filippo Pozzato finishing third on this occasion.

“After the Tour I had some problems because I had to leave the race just before the end, and although this was a tough race to win, I managed it,” said the Rabobank rider. “I don’t know what happened coming into the finish, I didn’t look up once, and I had to wait to see who the winner was,” added the Spaniard, who became his country’s first winner of the 11-year-old event.

The victory was not quite enough to move Freire into the top 10 of the ProTour standings, which continue to be led by his compatriot Alejandro Valverde.

1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne-Illes Balears 195
2 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak 175
3 Frank Schleck (Lux) CSC 150
4 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step 145
5 Ivan Basso (Ita) CSC 138
6 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 120
7 Christiphe Moreau (Fra) Ag2r 118
8 Jorg Jaksche (Ger) Astana 110
9 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre 110
10 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre 106
11 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank 99
12 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Quick Step 95

– Still recovering from his own injury problems at the Tour, Valverde was honoured this weekend in his hometown of Las Lumbreras de Monteagudo, where a street has been named after him. Valverde said he was “very proud” with the honour and also said his recovery from a broken collarbone is going well, and he expects to be ready for the start of the Vuelta on August 26.

Nicole Cooke took two huge steps towards victory in the World Cup series when she finished second in Friday’s Vaargaarda event in Sweden to local favourite Susanne Ljungskog and then took first place with her Univega team in Sunday’s Golden Hour event in Denmark.

Cooke broke away with Ljungskog and France’s Magali LeFloch on lap eight of the 11-lap race in Sweden, leaving her main competitors for the World Cup, Judith Arndt and Onene Wood in a third group some minutes down. On the next lap, LeFloch could not hold the pace and dropped back to the chasing group of five. In the sprint, Ljungskog narrowly beat Cooke, with a gap to the chasers of 22 seconds.

In Denmark, racing with Priska Doppmann, Christaine Soeder, Karin Thurig, Sarah Duster and Joanne Kiesanowski, the Welsh star, 23, edged Buitenpoort Flexpoint into second place. The victory contributed 35 more points to Cooke’s World Cup total, extending her lead to 118. There are three more events left in the series, starting with the GP Plouay on August 26.

1 Nicole Cooke (GB) Univega 354
2 Judith Arndt (Ger) T-Mobile 236
3 Susanne Ljungskog (Swe) Buitenpoort 197
4 Oenone Wood (Aus) Nurnberger 170


– A report in Verona’s daily paper Arene suggests that next year’s Giro d’Italia will finish in that city rather than its traditional location of Milan. According to the report, the race is set to finish with a time trial from Bardolino to Verona, similar in fact to the 1984 race, won by Francesco Moser with a time trial into Verona.