Pro Cycling News – Boonen Wins Qatar, Leblacher at Besseges, Aitor Returns

Feb 3 2006

Man, too bad I didn’t stick around for Etoile de Besseges results yesterday. Jaan Kirsipuu took the stage in a bunch sprint, which is awesome because Jaan Kirsipuu is my hero. I’ll write a rant about it sometime. Frederik Willems retained his lead, and hopes to carry it to an overall win. In other results, Tom Boonen won again at Qatar, which easily gave him the GC victory. In fact, according the Quick.Step webpage the only reason he didn’t win Stage 4 (which would have given him a clean sweep in the event) is because he had “gearbox” problems. Moving further East, the Tour de Langkawi finished up Stage 1 today, as a massive 24-man break put seven minutes on the field. Though there are a few decisive moments at the Southeast Asian event, it’s unlikely that anyone will be able to square up a seven-minute head start, especially when the lucky 24 includes reigning TdL champ Ryan Cox and former Tour de Georgia stage winner Cesar Grajales. Oh, and Argentinian Maximiliano Richeze won the stage, continuing Panaria’s sprint dominance at the event.

Excellent! Today’s Besseges results are in and Frenchman Eric Leblacher of FdJ has triumphed. Not sure how, but from the surrounding names (2nd, Sebastien Joly (I think CA); 3rd, Steven Cummings (Landboucredit)) I believe it was from a small break. They couldn’t have gotten away by that much, though, because Willems has retained his lead. In rider news, Sven Nys and Simon Gerrans each seem to be working that “I’m getting better” schtick from Monty Python, as Nys will take the start this weekend at Lille, despite the crack in his hip, while Gerrans thinks he’ll be back on the trainer “four to five days” after his collarbone surgery. Even Aitor Gonzalez is getting back in action. It seems after testing positive for steroids at last year’s Vuelta, the Gonzalez fell into a deep depression, gaining weight and being let go by his team. Supported by a group of good friends, though, he has solidified his legal defense (a tainted supplement), and is now back in training, “hoping for better news”. Hmm, depression, weight gain, intervention by friends – yeah, doesn’t sound a thing like steroid abuse to me.

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