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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Tour of Britain Cycling News for August 31, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones, reporting by Shane Stokes

Hammond to target stage wins

Former British champion Roger Hammond was seen as a contender heading into the Tour of Britain, but lost out on yesterday's first stage when he was stranded back in the main bunch, finishing over 22 minutes down. Usually competing in the colours of the Discovery Channel squad, Hammond is guesting with the GB team this week. He told Cyclingnews that he has set other targets for the remainder of the race.

"I will try to pick up stage wins now. That is all I can do. I think all the other things - overall, points, etcetera are out the window, especially with such a short time trial stage. So I basically have to go for stage wins, that is all that is really left."

When asked if he had been aiming to win the race, the 31 year old said that he turned up with a wait-and-see approach. "I came in with an open mind. I wouldn't have thought we'd lose so much time, though, especially on a stage like yesterday. The problem is that I have ridden so many ProTour races this year that you just don't expect people to be pulling out of the line after ten kilometres of racing. It is a harsh reminder. I was hoping that we might have got away with it, but we didn't. It is unfortunate."

Hammond is using the race to prepare for the world championships. "I am trying to build on the form I have for Madrid. After this, I will do the Tour of Poland, then have a week before the World's to fine-tune my form."

Rogers happy with stage one

Michael Rogers (Quickstep)
Photo ©: John Pierce
Click for larger image

Wearing dossard number 1 in the race, world time trial champion Michael Rogers is one of the big favourites to take the Tour of Britain title. He was happy after yesterday's opening stage of the Tour of Britain, placing fourth in Castle Douglas behind the day's winner, team-mate Nick Nuyens.

"It worked out well for the team today," said the Australian after the finish. "We were both feeling strong so the plan was that one or other of us would go for the stage win. We had the race pretty much under control. Nick and Blaudzun nipped off on the final climb and had thirty or forty metres for a long time. I was trying to control the group behind to make sure nobody could get across. They got ten seconds but the group almost had them back at the finish. It was a well timed move.

"We had a few guys coming into this race. Nick is in good condition, Paolini is in good condition but he missed the move. And my condition is getting better, so I will hopefully come out of this in good shape for the worlds."

Rogers will be gunning for his third consecutive world time trial title in Madrid. He's playing down his chances in the 4 km TT in the Tour of Britain, though. "I have heard there are a lot of corners. It is not really up my alley, but I will give it my best shot anyway."

Hunt disappointed

British sprinter Jeremy Hunt placed third yesterday, just missing out on getting back up to the two leaders after yesterday's opening stage. "It was disappointing, we were close to them at the end. My ambition coming into the race is a stage win so we missed out today.

"I'd like to do a good ride in the worlds. I hear that a bunch sprint is expected so as I am the fastest guy [of the GB riders], I hope to get a ride."

Cox nearing end of season

Tour de Langkawi winner and current South African road race champion Ryan Cox has had a long season, training hard since last November and winning the Malaysian event in February. He's looking forward to a break, but told Cyclingnews this morning at the Tour of Britain start village in Carlisle that he will give the world championships a go first. "It's been a long year but I'd like to ride well in Madrid. I'll take some time off after that.

"As regards next season, I'm not sure what my goals will be yet. The team [Barloworld-Valsir] are not applying for a ProTour licence for 2006, but if the current standoff between the Grand Tour organisers and the ProTour continues, we could be able to get a place in the Giro. If so, I will focus on that. We'll probably do the Tour de Langkawi either way, that is a nice race."

McCann rues missed chance

Irish time trial champion David McCann was hoping for a good ride in the Tour of Britain but like Roger Hammond and Ryan Cox, missed the split yesterday. "It was very frustrating. We [the Irish team] all rode hard with a couple of other teams to try to get the break back. We had them to less than a minute at one point, but then the gap went out again."

McCann was frustrated at the GB team's tactics. "They didn't do anything until the other teams were all knackered," he said. "They left it until way too late. If they had come through early on, we would certainly have got the break back."

Power happy with contract

Navigators team manager Ed Beamon confirmed to Cyclingnews yesterday that the two Irish riders on the team, Ciarán Power and David O'Loughlin, would be retained for next season. Power said he was happy with the decision today. "We sorted things out earlier this week. It is a bit of a relief because I have had a very hard year due to injury."

Power has experienced an intermittent leg problem ever since he finished 13th in the Olympic road race last year. Losing strength when it flares up, it was initially thought that a pinched nerve in his back was to blame. However now they are looking at other possible causes. "I will go and see a specialist after this race," he said. "It's my last one of the year, I've got to go and get this sorted. It has been very, very frustrating for me. I've been training hard but haven't been able to go properly at all. The good thing is that I am raring to go, I am very hungry to get a big winter in and be at 100 percent for the start of next season."

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