First Edition Cycling News for September 16, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones and John Stevenson
USPS leads by a hair; Spanish contenders line up
Vuelta rest-day wrap
By Martin Hardie & John Stevenson
La Vuelta has made it to Andalucia, the deep south where Spain almost touches Africa and day 12, the first rest day has been most welcome for all that comprise La Vuelta's caravan. In this Rest Day wrap up, we summarise where we have been, where we are and what we might expect in the coming days.
The US Postal Service team were the surprise beneficiaries of the opening day's team time trial and subsequently swapped the jersey around between team members for a few days before it came to rest with Floyd Landis. At the race's halfway point, Landis holds a lead of just nine seconds over Alejandro Valverde (Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme) and less than a minute separates the rest of the top six as Spain's climbing specialists queue up to try and knock Landis from his precarious perch.
As one of those six, Manuel Beltran, is a team-mate of Landis', he'll ride in support and be ready to step up to the plate should Landis falter. But Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears-Banesto) and Liberty Seguros's dangerous duo of Isidro Nozal and defending champion Roberto Heras will all be looking for their chance in the mountains to come.
Several favourites have already fallen by the wayside. After winning stage 8's time trial, Tyler Hamilton (Phonak) cracked the following day and is now ten minutes adrift. Joseba Beloki has not been able to regain his form of early 2003 after a tumultuous season of recovery and team uncertainty; his Saunier Duval team has changed tactics and is chasing stage wins, a goal already achieved with Leonardo Piepoli's victory atop the Alto de Aitana in stage 9.
The last two days have seen some of the most exciting racing of any stage race this year as contenders in every category battled for points in stage 10, with Eladio Jimenez victorious for the embattled Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme team and sprinter Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis) a startling second place after the brutal 20 percent climb of Xorret de Catí. Finally, yesterday saw a heroic solo escape by USPS's Dave Zabriskie, riding alone for 162 of the day's 165km.
Vuelta friction: Hamilton and USPS at odds
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
There were reportedly some weird vibes going on between Phonak's Tyler Hamilton and his former teammates of USPS-Berry Floor on Monday's Stage 10 to Xorret de Catí. While Roberto Heras and Alejandro Valverde gained some time on Vuelta a España front runner Floyd Landis on the Cat. 1 Alto Xorret de Catí, the determined American maintained his golden tunic of leadership by just nine seconds over Valverde. But on that steep, final ascent, Hamilton began yelling at USPS rider Triki Beltran to ride harder, which astonished the Spanish rider, who trying to maintain his tempo on the difficult climb.
When Hamilton descended Alto Xorret de Catí post-stage, he stopped to chat to USPS director Dirk Demol, who was surprised to hear the Phonak leader saying that he thought that the Postal squad should have ridden harder to support Floyd on Stage 10. Reached on rest day number one in Agua Dulce, team director Johan Bruyneel told Cyclingnews, "Dirk told me after the stage what Tyler said to him and I was very surprised. I'm really not happy with these comments from Tyler because we all know that our team has been supporting Floyd one hundred percent at the Vuelta a España. Everybody, without exception. Tyler is out of line...sure he can have his opinion on anything, but he should keep it to himself."
Bruyneel explained further that, "Floyd has told me and Dirk and the team how he's been really satisfied about the support we've given him at the Vuelta; from the Team Time Trial and every other stage, especially after Stage 10 on Monday. We've been defending the race win with everything we have. We want to win the Vuelta and it's disappointing to me that a rider of Tyler's stature expresses himself this way... perhaps he should make sure his team is OK first."
By Hedwig Kröner in Pirmasens
Last month in Athens, Luke Roberts (Comnet-Senges) achieved one of his career goals by winning an Olympic gold medal in the team pursuit. The Australian was part of the highly touted six member squad that went to Athens as the favourite to take the title, and rode in the final against the British team to claim gold. Roberts showed that he had lost none of his form by winning the first stage of the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt on Wednesday in a 13 man sprint. Cyclingnews caught up with him at the start of the stage and asked him what it felt like to be an Olympic champion.
"Winning the Olympic gold medal was the biggest dream I ever had," said Roberts. "For the last three years, we've won the World Championship, and nearly every year we've lowered the world record by a second or so. We've got it down to 3'56 now and I think it'll be a while before that's broken. So now I think I've achieved a complete set for the track with three World Championships, three world records and the Olympic gold. So I'll finish up now, I won't be riding any more World Championships or World cups next year. I'll concentrate one hundred percent on the road."
To achieve his next goal, Roberts said that he will likely not be staying with Comnet Senges. "No, I think I'm moving into another team," he said. "I need to get a bigger team, ride some bigger races, and get to hopefully riding a grand tour next year. Things are in the works right now, but nothing's concrete as yet."
When asked his goals for the rest of the season, Roberts replied, "I still have this race and possibly the World's - I'll find out today if I get selected. My objectives for that would firstly be the experience of it, and helping the others to finish in a good place: Stuart O'Grady, Cadel Evans should be in good shape. I'll also race the Sun Tour, where I made a mistake last year and lost on the last day. Hopefully I'll finish on top this time."
Leif Hoste discovering Discovery
By Hedwig Kröner in Pirmasens
At the start of the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt on Wednesday, Cyclingnews spoke with Belgian Leif Hoste, who finished second in the Ronde van Vlaanderen this year and is changing teams to Discovery Channel next season. "Yes, It's one of the biggest teams in the world so for me it's a chance to do better," Hoste said. "But I don't know about my role in the team yet. We will see. They took me for the Classics."
We also asked him about his chances of riding one of the three major tours next year. "When you're in the Pro Tour you have to ride the three big tours. So I'll probably do one of them."
As for Rheinland-Pfalz, Hoste didn't sound too positive. "Well, I was sick for a week, so not really. It's the end of the season, too." Like Roberts, Hoste's words were prophetic and he abandoned in stage 1.
Ballerini tips Rogers for World's
Italian national selector Franco Ballerini has tipped 2003 World Time Trial Champion Michael Rogers to take the title in Bardolino on September 29. Ballerini previewed the course together with Marzio Bruseghin and Andrea Peron, who will contest the event for Italy. "It's a difficult time trial, not one for specialists," Ballerini was quoted by ANSA as saying. "If I have to pick a favourite, I would say the Australian Rogers."
Ballerini described the course as follows: "There is a climb immediately, hard to go flat out, but also hard to take it easy. It will be important to warm up well. Also the descent is not easy. It's necessary to push all the time. In the finale, there are changes of rhythm that could make you lose important seconds or gain them. It should be a fine race, in which our guys will be able to do something."
Aussie Olympic team welcomed home
by Karen Forman in Sydney
Four members of Australia's most successful ever Olympic cycling team - Ryan Bayley, Anna Meares, Sara Carrigan and Katie Mactier - ranked highly as crowd favourites as they strolled with around 300 of their Athens peers from Circular Quay to Sydney Town Hall yesterday during the Sydney "Welcome Home Olympians" tickertape parade.
Around 100,000 people lined the streets five deep in places, frantically waving the free Australian flags handed out by organisers and shouting out the well-worn Sydney Olympics "Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi" chant, as their heroes, who brought home 49 medals including 17 gold, passed by in a sea of green and gold confetti shot up into the sky by powerful machines.
Awesome as it was, the atmosphere was typically Australian - the athletes appeared, informal relaxed and happy (Bayley wandering along in a bit of a daze, when he wasn't chatting on his mobile phone or being interviewed by the TV reporters covering the event live) or even, in the case of some of the rowers, dancing and hopping. The sport-loving Australian crowd was more than appreciative in its reception calling out to the athletes, begging to touch hands or stop for a quick photograph.
Among the first to arrive at Town Hall by the grace of cycling's "C" in alphabetical order of the sports, the cyclists were given a huge welcome by crowd members, many of whom were familiar with their names and their achievements. Bayley was overheard telling reporters later that he was "overwhelmed" at the fact he had gone away an ordinary person and returned a hero. Standing at the front of the podium at Town Hall, the KFC-fuelled King, Meares and Mactier then went out of their way to sign autographs for a hungry crowd, while they awaited the official part of the proceedings, during which the team received the keys to the city from Lord Mayor Clover Moore, a plaque from NSW Premier Bob Carr and congratulations from Governor-General Michael Jeffery. Some cycling fans had arrived well prepared - with large colour photographs of their heroes printed out, ready for autographing.
Swedish World's squad named
The Swedish Cycling Federation's DS Hans Falk has selected the riders for the World Championships. Magnus Bäckstedt and Thomas Lövkvist of the Olympic Team have decided not to start, and they will be replaced in the road race by Stefan Adamsson (Barloworld), who finished fourth in the GP Fourmies last weekend and Jonas Ljungblad (Amore & Vita), who had a couple of top ten stage placings in the Tour of Poland last week. Olympians Gustav Larsson (Fassa Bortolo) and Marcus Ljungqvist (Alessio-Bianchi) will do the time trial as well as the road race.
In the women's elite squad, European U23 champion Monica Holler (Laxå CK) is added to the Olympic line up of Camilla Larsson (Upsala CK), Madeleine Lindberg (Equipe Nürnberg) and the still undecided defending champion Susanne Ljungskog (Team S.A.T.S.). None of them will ride the ITT.
In the espoirs category only two riders, Jonas Holmkvist (Team Bianchi Nordic) and Andreas Johansson (Team Mälarenergi) are entered in the road race. None of them will ride the TT.
In the men's junior squad, last year's ITT bronze medallist Viktor Renäng (Kopparbergs CK) will try to better his performance. A second place in last weekend's Acht van Bladel ITT stage reveals that the form is coming. In the same race Fredrik Johansson (Kopparbergs CK) and Johan Lindgren (Falu CK), fifth in last year's road race, took the positions after Renäng. Lindgren will be the second TT rider in the World's while Johansson will concentrate on the road race where Jonas Bjelkmark (Södertälje CK) will be the fourth rider.
Finally, the women's junior squad consists of Marie Lindberg (CK Filip) and Catrine Josefsson (Spårvägens CF) who both will do the double. Josefsson took part in the MTB World's recently with a 10th place in the cross country race, while Marie placed second in the Danish Youth Tour stage race earlier this season.
Norwegian national champion Thor Hushovd has prolonged his contract with Crédit Agricole for another two seasons, reported L'Equipe. "I renegotiated my contract for the next two seasons," said Hushovd. "The conditions are noticeably better in the new one: I'll keep my bonus but my base salary is increased. I'm very happy in the team and everything is going well. They count on me a lot and have a very strong team."
Rona to end sponsorship
Radio Canada has reported that the four-year deal between Genevieve Jeanson's team, run by her coach Andre Aubut and sponsor Rona, a Canadian chain of hardware retailers, will not be renewed for 2005.
According to the station, Rona team spokesman Daniel Larouche emphasized that the separation between team and sponsor was not effective immediately, though Rona had expressed concerns about recent incidents such as the high haematocrit level that prevented Jeanson from riding at last year's world championships. Larouche would not say what would happen between Rona and the team beyond the expiration of the current sponsorship arrangement on December 31 2004.
US women's team for world's announced
Top male riders decline participation
USA Cycling has announced the elite women's team for the road cycling world championships in Verona, Italy,
All five of the female riders who gained automatic selection earlier this month have confirmed their participation. They are Kristin Armstrong , Dede Barry, Kimberly Bruckner, Tina Pic and Christine Thorburn. The five will be joined by Amber Neben, who gains a discretionary selection based on international results.
The USA has two place in the women's world championship time trial event and these will be filled by Olympic time trialists Dede Barry and Christine Thorburn, based on their respective silver medal and fourth place performances in Athens.
In the men's team, only two of the automatic selections have chosen to take their places in Verona. Fred Rodriguez and Jason McCartney are off to Italy, but Lance Armstrong, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Bobby Julich, and Levi Leipheimer have all declined, and USA Cycling is still awaiting a decision from Chris Horner.
USA Cycling has compiled a long team of discretionary nominations from which the remaining members of the team will be chosen. Those riders include Chris Baldwin, Michael Creed, Floyd Landis, John Lieswyn, Patrick McCarty, Kirk O'Bee, Guido Trenti, and David Zabriskie.
US collegiate track nationals start today
The Penn State Lehigh Valley Collegiate National Track Cycling Championships presented by Subaru start today, Thursday September 16 and continue through Saturday September 18 at the Lehigh Valley Velodrome, Pennsylvania.
"We have been working with Penn State all year to make this event the biggest Collegiate National Track Cycling Championships to date and so far everything is on track," said Jacob Burns, Velodrome marketing director.
Events to be held include individual events such as the sprint, pursuit, points race, and kilometer time trial along with exciting team events including the team pursuit, team sprint, and Italian pursuit.
Gates open at 6PM with racing to begin at 7PM each day of the Penn State Lehigh Valley Collegiate National Track Cycling Championships presented by Subaru. For more information about the event see www.lvvelo.org.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)