First Edition Cycling News for September 29, 2004
Edited by Jeff Jones and Hedwig Kröner
Two more titles decided in Bardolino
The World Road Championships continued on Tuesday in Bardolino, Italy, with the Junior Men's and Elite Women's time trials being run over a 24 km parcours. The Germans scored well today, with Patrick Gretsch and Stefan Schäfer winning gold and bronze in the junior event, and Judith Arndt taking silver in the women's race. The Junior Men's silver was won by Czech Roman Kreuziger, who also placed second in the junior category at this year's Cyclo-cross World Championships in France. The Elite Women's race was won with a powerful ride from Swiss multisport specialist Karin Thürig, who clocked a time just 24 seconds slower than Patrick Gretsch to beat Arndt and Russian Zoulfia Zabirova.
It was Thürig's first cycling World Championship, after several podiums in the past few years. Thürig described her ride, saying, "I started very explosively as was my intention. After five or six kilometres I thought that perhaps I had gone out a bit fast as my legs were starting to get quite heavy. But at the halfway point I heard I was 16 seconds up and then saw Dede Demet-Barry ahead and could catch her. I knew the second half of the course would be better again for me and so I just went as hard as was possible from there to the finish.
"I can't really take this in yet - no time to think about it! I am sure I won't be able to sleep tonight, though, as I will be too excited when it starts to sink in. It will be like in Athens, where I took bronze - I was unable to sleep properly then. It is hard to decide which medal I value more...the gold today or the bronze in Athens. Athens will always be special as it was the Olympics, but to win here is very nice."
Not one to rest on her laurels, Thürig is now planning on doing an Ironman triathlon in October. "I have no idea if it is a good idea to go there, but I will tell you afterwards!" she said. "If I get in the top ten this time I get a slot for the Ironman next year, which is my big goal for 2005."
Second placed Judith Arndt was not too unhappy with he second silver medal in just over a month, after she placed second in the women's road race in Athens. "I am not really disappointed with second - Karin was 52 seconds faster than me so I don't know what I could have done differently," said Arndt. "Second is also good, but I would have liked to have heard the German national anthem!"
The time trials will finish tomorrow with the elite men's event at 14:30 CEST, which Cyclingnews will be covering live from start to finish.
Thorburn leads U.S. performance
American Christine Thorburn finished seventh in the Elite Women's Time Trial to be the best performed U.S. rider on the second day of the UCI Road World Championships, while Olympic silver medalist Dede Barry competed in one of her last world-class events as a pro, finishing 14th despite suffering though a nagging back injury.
In similar fashion to Athens, Thorburn temporarily held the lead with 11 riders of the 35 in the field yet to finish. After setting a then best intermediate split time, Thorburn finished in 32'37.67. But four riders later, Edita Pucinskaite (Ltu) knocked Thorburn out of contention for the world title, lowering the standard by nearly 12 seconds. Then Arndt became the first rider to crack the 32 minute barrier as she finished in 31'45.43.
Out on the course, Dede Barry's hopes for a podium finish were dashed after Thürig, who started 1'30 behind Barry, caught and passed her in the closing kilometres, eventually posting the winning time.
Thorburn's time was also surpassed by defending world champion Joanne Somarriba (Spain) and Mirjam Melchers (Netherlands) which moved Thorburn into seventh place. Thorburn said that she was wary of the strength of the field. "I had to go as hard as I could on the climbs because I knew I was going to lose some time down the false flats", she explained. "I felt really good today, but I knew it was going to be a challenge. A few of the girls were really riding strong last week in Toscana and I knew Thürig would be riding well too."
Barry's 33'11.21 placed her in 14th, 2'17.56 off the pace of Thürig. A back injury nearly prevented her from starting this afternoon but the accomplished veteran decided to give it a go in what was likely to be her last World Championship time trial. Leaning towards retirement at the end of the season with her mind on starting a family, Barry focused 100 percent of her efforts this year on the Olympic Games and faced the challenge of returning to form for the World's six weeks later.
"I knew my performance was going to be hit or miss", she said. "I haven't been able to train at the level I wanted to because of my injury but I hoped I would have fresh legs for today as a result. When Karen passed me it was pretty demoralising, but I had a pretty good idea that I wasn't going well early on because nobody bothered to tell me what my splits were."
Barry and Thorburn will now focus on recovering for Saturday's road race in which they will be joined by Kristin Armstrong, Tina Pic, Kimberly Bruckner and Amber Neben. "It's a long season and it's hard to be good all year long", said Barry. "But we have a lot of strong girls who can excel on a course like this."
Wood and Gollan in top 20
Australian World Cup Champion Oenone Wood finished 9th in the time trial, 2'08 slower than Thürig. "I felt solid and felt like I had a decent ride in terms of pacing it on what was a pretty tough course," said Wood who was the 12th of 35 riders to tackle the course. "I was in the hot seat with the fastest time for quite a while, but with more than 20 riders still to come in you know the top five will put in the top times."
Wood's seeding was despite the fact she finished sixth in the Olympic time trial in Athens but she conceded it would have made little difference to have started later. "I think it is a disadvantage to start so early but at the same time Karin put two minutes into me and even if I had been chasing her on the course I doubt I could have knocked another two minutes off," said Wood.
Wood's teammate Olivia Gollan was the fourth last rider out of the starting gate, and posted a time of 33'32.64 to finish 16th, 2'39 slower than Thürig. "I had no idea what times were coming in; all I knew was I had to have a really smooth ride and I did that," said Gollan. "I gave it everything I had on the day so I'm happy because it's the best I could have done."
Rogers wants a real gold
Australian Michael Rogers will be officially presented on Wednesday with the gold medal for the 2003 World Time Trial Championships by UCI President Hein Verbruggen. Rogers was officially promoted into the gold medal position last month after Britain's David Millar was found guilty of a doping offence and stripped of the title he claimed in Hamilton, Canada last year. Rogers was able to experience the feeling of racing in the rainbow jersey when he competed in the recent Grand Prix de Nations time trial in France but, it was the only race in which he was able to wear it as the 2003 world champion because the 2004 champion will be decided tomorrow.
"I didn't bring it here with me because I'm hoping to go away with another one instead," said Rogers who admitted he was disappointed with the situation of Millar's demotion. "It's nice to have the jersey, but it's always better to win it - do the ceremony, and be the real winner, let's say. Obviously it's disappointing but unfortunately it's history and we can't do anything about it now. It's made me more determined for this year."
Rogers has ridden the course several times in the lead up as he lives only an hour and a half away from the lakeside town of Bardolino which is hosting the time trials of the World Championships. "For me it's the perfect course and much like last year in Hamilton," he said. "I think I've prepared quite well for it over the last month riding it at least once a week. I think it's the best I've prepared for all the championships I've done."
Rogers, as reigning world champion, will be the last of the 47 riders to contest the 46.75 km course.
Ljungskog likely to race
By Gabriella Ekström
Despite some serious doubts after the Olympics and an unfortunate incident with a car, reigning World Champion Susanne Ljungskog (Sweden) decided on Sunday night that she would participate in the women's road race in Verona on Saturday. After the Olympics, Ljungskog underwent a serious of tests, and was diagnosed with an allergic reaction that left her with high fever after the time trial, where she finished last.
"It's hard to say how my form is today, but if I was at my best before the Olympics, I might be at 85 percent now," said Ljungskog, who hasn't raced since the Olympics. The tests will continue after the World Championships, and hopefully shed some light upon what kind of allergic reaction she suffered.
The accident occurred while training on Saturday when a car made a sudden U-turn in front of her. "I was riding along at 35 km/h and I passed a car parked at the roadside when suddenly he turned around," she explained. "I hit him at the front and then I hit the tarmac pretty quick."
The worst damage was done to her knee, which is now bruised and swollen, but probably without serious injuries. Susanne will receive treatment during the week, and expects the swelling and pain to be gone by Saturday.
McPartland in; Wilson out
After Scott Sunderland's withdrawal from the Australian team earlier today, Matthew Wilson has also pulled out of the elite men's squad. The Australians have substituted Dave McPartland from the reserve list, but will only start with 11 riders.
Russia to appeal against Hamilton decision
The Russian Cycling Federation says it will appeal the decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to let American Tyler Hamilton keep his gold medal from the Olympic Games, after the IOC couldn't conclusively prove that Hamilton had used blood doping. Hamilton's A sample tested positive for a "mixed red blood cell population" but the Athens lab destroyed his B sample by freezing it, meaning that neither a positive or negative result could be determined from it. IOC rules require an athlete's A and B samples to be positive before they are declared thus.
"The blood sample...should not have been deep frozen," said the IOC's medical commission chief Arne Ljungqvist. "It was human error. Hamilton's A sample was deemed clearly positive by a panel of outside experts and was also agreed upon by the chief of the laboratory in Athens."
Russian Viatcheslav Ekimov placed second in the time trial in Athens, and stood to win the gold medal if Hamilton was disqualified. Ekimov also won the time trial in Sydney four years ago. Russia now plans to take its case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne to try to overturn the IOC's decision.
"It was simply outrageous," commented Russian federation president Alexander Gusyatnikov to Sport-Express. "Any person with commonsense would laugh at the comments by Arne Ljungqvist that Hamilton's B sample was destroyed."
Adding weight to the Russian appeal is the fact that Hamilton returned an A and B positive for a mixed red blood cell population during the Vuelta a España, only a month after the Athens Games. His case is currently being examined by the US Anti-Doping Agency.
"It's good that they didn't manage to destroy his B sample from the Vuelta," remarked Gusyatnikov wryly. "In any case, if someone tests positive for a blood transfusion twice in a month, you can say with all certainty that person used blood doping on a regular basis."
Elite European Championships in 2006
The European Cycling Union has announced today that the first Elite European Championships will take place in 2006. The UCI Road Commission has welcomed the requests of some National cycling federations to remember the date of the first Men's and Women's Road and Time Trial Elite European Championships, which will take place in Arona, Italy.
Francesco Moser World Champ again!
After his World's victories in 1976 and 1977, Italian legend Francesco Moser did it again: He won the World Championships in Bardolino, Italy...in the journalists (Consultants) category last month [He was the only starter - ed]. Moser completed the 4 laps (38.8 km) of the circuit in 59'45, at an average speed of 38.962 km/h - still clearly in good shape.
Tomorrow morning, UCI President, Hein Verbruggen will officially award Francesco Moser with his rainbow striped green World Champion's jersey.
Paris-London charity race
The first Paris-London two-day race will be held on October 23-24, 2004, announced organisers A.S.O., the French embassy to the U.K. and its British counterpart. The race has been approved by the French cycling federation and will include about 300 French and British cyclists - some celebrities - who will cover almost 300 km in two days. The fundraising event will benefit a foundation against cancer.
10th 24 Hours of Moab
The 24 Hour Mountain Bike Race in Moab, Utah celebrates its 10th edition this year. On October 15, over 4,500 mountain bike enthusiasts are expected at the race. "We've seen record attendance each year and this year it looks like we're going to fill our 500 team limit earlier than ever before," says Laird Knight, race promoter and creator of the 24-hour racing format.
Cyclists of all types who step up to the start line at noon on the 15th will spend the next 24 hours racing on relay teams of four or five people. The objective is to complete as many laps as possible on the 15-mile course from noon on Saturday to noon on Sunday. The course has a reputation as one of the most challenging, but also the most scenic courses in the world.
For more information, visit: www.grannygear.com
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)