Aussie sprinter Baden Cooke started the 2006 season off on a winning note after taking the final sprint in Tuesday’s Grand Prix de la Marseillaise in France to open the European racing season. Cooke – a former Tour de France green jersey winner now riding for continental team Unibet.com – out-kicked former FDJeux teammate Philippe Gilbert in the 140km race in southern France to open up the European calendar. Coming through third was Madrid world championship bronze medalist Anthony Geslin (Bouygues Telecom). GP de la Marseillaise, 140km
1. Baden Cooke (Aus), Unibet.com 3h17:55
2. Philippe Gilbert (Bel), Francaise des Jeux
3. Anthony Geslin (Fra), Bouygues Telecom
4. Arnaud Coyot (Fra), Cofidis
5. Bjorn Leukemans (Bel), Davitamon-Lotto – all same time
Dean under the knife
Kiwi sprinter Julian Dean underwent surgery to remove his gall bladder and appendix in New Zealand this week. According to wire reports, Dean abandoned the Wellington-Wairarapa race late last week with intense stomach pain and underwent surgery over the weekend. “It was just an intense pain in my stomach that I had already had and I thought I had better get to a doctor,” Dean told NZPA Monday. “They (the hospital) ran a couple of tests and suggested I get taken care of immediately. It (the pain) could’ve gone away, but it can also explode and get worse as well.
“There was always the chance it could have receded and I would never have had the problem again, but it’s a risk to take and I didn’t want to have problems later in the year with the Tour de France on the cards.” Dean, 30, rides for Credit Agricole and started the five-day Wellington-Wairarapa race after competing in the Tour Down Under earlier this month. He told the news service he’ll delay his return trip to Europe and will likely miss his European debut. He said he wasn’t too worried about the long-term impacts of the surgery. “When you’re looking as far down the track as the Tour, it’s no major drama. In the short to medium term, your body just has to overcome the operation,” said Dean, who’s had his fair share of injuries the past few seasons. “This is difficult, but not as difficult as some of the things I’ve had to deal with over the last couple of years. My team were very understanding and supportive and said to take my time. They want to make sure I come back healthy and strong and the Tour de France is the main objective.” AG2R feeling lumps, lineups for upcoming races
French team AG2R Prévoyance rider Simon Gerrans – winner of the Tour Down Under earlier this month – hit the deck hard late in Tuesday’s GP de la Marseillaise. Two other riders – Maurizio Carta (Miche) and AG2R teammate Philip Deignan – also went down hard. Both AG2R riders were transported to a hospital in Aix-en-Provence for observation. Team officials reported late Tuesday that Gerrans suffered a fractured left clavicle and ruptured ligaments as well as received stitches to his head. Gerrans will be transferred to a hospital in Nice on Wednesday for further observation. Deignan, who fell 5km from the finish, fractured his right clavicle and will be operated on Tuesday in Aix-en-Provence.
AG2R Prévoyance for Etoile de Bessèges (February 1-5):Hubert Dupont, Stéphane Goubert, Christophe Moreau, Mark Scanlon, Ludovic Turpin, Alexandre Usau, and Tomas Vaitkus, with Sylvain Calzati and Cyril Dessel as reserves.Tour de Langkawi (Malaysia, February 3-12): Renaud Dion, Julien Loubet, Laurent Mangel, Carl Naibo, Erki Putsep, and Christophe Riblon.Mallorca Challenge (Spain, February 5-9): José-Luis Arrieta, Mikel Astarloza, Iñigo Chaurreau, Samuel Dumoulin, Yuriy Krivtsov, Lloyd Mondory, David Navas, and Jean-Patrick Nazon. Reynés hit while training
Vicente Reynés, a rider with Illes Balears-Caisse d’Epargne, is recovering in a clinic in Palma de Mallorca after being hit by a car Sunday during a training ride on the Spanish island. Reynés, 24, was hit moments after leaving the team hotel for a training ride. Officials weren’t clear on the extent of his injuries, but he isn’t expected to start the Mallorca Challenge starting Feb. 5.