World Championships Cycling News for September 22, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones
World's Day 1 wrap up
By Shane Stokes and Hernan Alvarez in Madrid
Thürig repeats, Ironman beckons
Swiss rider Karen Thürig had the pressure of being the defending champion for the Elite women's time trial but she dealt with that well, racing to victory ahead of Spanish favourite Joane Somarriba and the USA's Kristin Armstrong. She admitted afterwards that she was a little worried about the parcours beforehand.
"I think that every victory is special. Right now, I don't have time to think much, but I feel that I am satisfied and I am happy with my race. When I looked at the course it was totally different from last year. I liked the roads then, you can see everything and for me this course was a little hard because of that. Especially with the downhills, there were no big curves and you don't have much space at all. So I was not sure if I would do well in it."
As if cycling isn't hard enough, Thürig still somehow finds the time to do some triathlons. "Yes, I'm still doing them," she smiled at the post-race press conference. "This year was special because I have to do the qualification for Hawaii. So in the middle of July I raced in the Ironman in Zurich. After that, I took a few days off and went to do high altitude training in Switzerland for three weeks. It was my first time to do that, I wanted to try it and see how I got on. I felt very strong afterwards, but that is four and a half weeks ago and perhaps this effect has already gone. But I know now that this is a very good thing to do next year.
"In Hawaii I will just try to finish in the top 10 as it will give me the qualification for the next one. If I have to do an Ironman in the middle of the season, it is really not easy because it is such a long race and after this race you are almost dead for a few weeks. Besides, to do a good time trial you need speed!"
Thürig was a little worried about her preparation, but glad that she came out on top. "I am lucky it went this way, because I don't have a trainer for this year. I didn't think that I could find somebody for all these disciplines, so I did it on my own! Okay, I have some people to ask about these things, but when you are on your own sometimes you are not sure if you are doing the right thing or not. I always want to do my best, so sometimes it was not easy."
Somarriba confirms retirement
Spanish silver medallist Joane Somarriba said earlier this season that she would be retiring from competition but her excellent ride on home soil in the world championships today prompted journalists to ask if she would rethink her decision. Somarriba described herself as "really, really happy" with the medal, adding that when she saw the parcours, she didn't think it was a course for me. However, despite her obvious strength, she wasn't planning on a rethink.
"I said at the beginning of the year that it would be my last one. Even if physically I still feel very strong, I will stick to that," she stated. "I had very good results this year, such as the second place at the Giro d'Italia. This world championships was my second objective of the year and I got a medal here, but I know that in my head it is time to retire. So I won't compete anymore.
"I have won many important titles during my career. I am happy. Perhaps the only thing I would change is the Olympic Games last year, that didn't go so well. But overall I am happy with what I have achieved."
U.S. team strong
American rider Kristin Armstrong was top of the leaderboard for much of the day but even though she was overhauled by Thürig and Somarriba before the end, she was pleased with her bronze medal. "I was starting to think I might have got it," she said. "I was a long time in the hot seat waiting. I had an early start as I didn't do the world championships last year, my last one being in Hamilton. So I spent a lot of time waiting.
"I was still little bit hopeful, even at the midway point. I think that one of my strengths is descending, so the second half of the course really suited me well. Even though I didn't get gold, I am really pleased with my performance. I am happy to be up here [on the podium] with Joane and Karen, both of whom I look up too. I hope to be in their seats in future years."
The 32 year old fielded what by now must be a very repetitive question, namely if she was related to Lance Armstrong. "No, we are not related," she said, with a smile. "I just have the honour and am pleased to share the last name as him. I am no connection, no relation, I just have the same name as his ex-wife."
She was then asked if she ran the London Marathon. "No, on that occasion it was his ex-wife!" she said, laughing.
The rest of the US team had an impressive performance today. Like Armstrong, Amber Neben spent much of the day waiting by the finish area as she was in provisional second place. However she was later bumped down to fifth when Karin Thürig, Joane Somarriba and Judith Arndt finished.
She said that she enjoyed the race. "It was good out there, it was actually quite a fun course and mentally stimulating. There were some trees here and there, some open road and the park was nice to come through. So I found it good. I did a real solid ride, a steady rhythm the whole time. There were a lot of downhills so I was hanging on for dear life. But I did what I could, so we will see what happens.
"It was a little bit harder than I was expecting beforehand, but it is the World Championship so I knew I would just have to go as hard as I could for the entire race, anyway. You don't really try to save anything. The downhills were fast but the way out was pretty hard, so I was pretty happy with that. All in all, it was good."
Team-mate Christine Thorburn was also in the top ten, placing eighth. "It is a really fast course," she stated. "I actually thought it was going to be harder than it was. I should have worked a little harder on the top part, there was a lot of downhill in the second half of the race."
Wood comforts Worrack
German rider Trixi Worrack was hoping to do a ride today but had big problems with her rear disk wheel, finishing over five minutes back in 36th place. Third last in the race, she was very emotional at the finish and was consoled by her trade teammate, Australian World Cup winner Oenone Wood, who wheeled to a halt at the same time.
Wood was also disappointed with her ride, placing 14th, but she tried to give some comfort to Worrack. "It's okay, it's okay, don't worry too much about it," she said, showing commendable compassion despite just finishing her own lung-busting effort.
She talked to Cyclingnews afterwards, giving her verdict on the course. "It is what I expected, no harder and no easier. There was no wind out there. It was just more that the road was continuously up and down, that made it hard."
Farrar top US rider in U23 Men's TT
Tyler Farrar capped off a successful day for the U.S. National Team on Day 1 of the World's, with a 10th place in the U23 Men's time trial. Farrar finished in 49'08.56 on the tough 37.9 km course, 1'44 off the pace set by winner Mikhail Ignatiev. Steven Cozza placed 42nd as the only other U.S. competitor in the race, clocking a time of 51:57.93.
Farrar started slowly, ranked 35th after the first time check, but continued to improve his position despite not specifically preparing for Wednesday's event. "The time trial has really not been my priority this year," Farrar explained. "I haven't done any specific time trial training all year. I've just been focusing on road racing and sprinting because one of my big priorities for this season has been the road race here at World's, so I was kind of riding this time trial to open up my legs for Saturday."
Still, Farrar was pleased with his performance in the race against the clock. "I'm really happy with the way I went for myself personally. I was really hoping for a top ten."
Farrar has shown some serious form in the last month, winning both the USPRO Criterium Championships against the best pro sprinters in North America and a stage of the Tour de l'Avenir, arguably the most prestigious European race for riders aged 25 and under. How that translates into success on Saturday remains to be seen, but Farrar likes his chances. "I feel confident. A one-day race is always a lottery, especially the World Championships where there's not even a caravan and all it takes is a flat tire to end your race, but I feel like I have good legs going into the weekend. I feel like my preparation has been spot on, now I just have to hope I have the luck."
Saturday's road race takes place on a relatively flat course which suits Farrar's style and his experiences racing in the U.S. this season will likely work to his advantage. "I watched the finish of the Vuelta a España (which was held on the same course as Saturday's U23 world championship) and it looked like it's all about that last turn. I've been racing a lot of criteriums in the U.S. this summer so I'm definitely used to that kind of finish. I'm not going to say it's going to be a field sprint, but I'm hoping for one and hope that I draw the right cards."
Men's TT preview
Top three against the rest
By Hernan Alvarez Macias in Madrid
The top three that finished on the podium in Verona 2004 are the last three riders for Thursday's Elite Men's time trial in the 2005 World Championships: Alexandre Vinokourov (third), Michael Rich (second) and Michael Rogers (champion).
The Australian Michael Rogers will be the last to start at 16:24 local time, while the first man on road will be Argentina's Matias Medici at 13:00. Rogers is ready to do it again. He was the best in Italy last year, fourth in Athens 2004 and world champion in Hamilton 2003 after David Millar was disqualified.
Vinokourov is a top class rider, capable of the best against the clock and also ready to do battle in other fields. He was third in the two individual time trials in the last Tour de France in stage 1 and 20. The Kazakhstani should be among the top contenders, although his recent form is questionable after he missed the Tour of Poland due to visa problems.
The German Michael Rich is the other from the big trio. The veteran from Freiburg is also German champion against the clock. Let's see how he races this time trial in the capital of Spain, which suits a powerful rider.
Day looking forward to TT
Defending champion Michael Rogers and Ben Day will represent Australia in tomorrow's elite men's time trial. The latter rode the course today and said just before doing so that he was excited by the thoughts of the test. "I am feeling really good, I am just waiting for it to happen. I am sick of waiting," he stated. "We checked out the course yesterday and are going to have another quick look now and to try and ride some of the more tricky bits at speed. You never really know how it is until you race it."
When asked what he was expecting from himself, he said that he was just going to give it everything. "I am really confident, but the thing with time trailing is that you can only go your maximum, leave everything out there. What everybody else does around you is going to affect your result so you can't control that. I just want to get the most out of myself tomorrow, I can't ask for any more."
O'Loughlin gets Irish campaign underway
Double Irish road race champion David O'Loughlin will begin Ireland's world cycling championship campaign on Thursday afternoon when he lines out in the Elite men's time trial on the Caso de Capo course in Madrid. The Mayo rider will compete against some of the world's top professional riders in the tough 44.1 kilometre test and is hoping for a decent ride.
"David has been in very good form lately and has worked hard for this," said Grant Thornton Team Ireland manager Martin O'Loughlin on Wednesday. "He has ridden the course several times and will be trying to go as well as possible. I think a top twenty or even a top fifteen place is possible, if all goes well for him."
O'Loughlin is certainly in good, if not intimidating, company. He will be chasing 2000 Olympic TT champion Viatcheslav Ekimov and be pursued by the Colombian Victor Hugo Peña, who rode well against the clock in this month's Tour of Spain and also wore the yellow jersey in the 2003 Tour de France.
After O'Loughlin, Siobhan Dervan will get the Irish RR campaign underway when she takes part in the 126 km Elite women's event on Saturday morning. Philip Deignan, arguably Ireland's best medal hope, leads a five man squad which also includes Paídi O'Brien, Miceal Concannon, Ryan Connor and Andrew McQuaid in the 168 km under 23 road race, starting at 1.30 pm.
Former world junior champion Mark Scanlon, David McCann and David O'Loughlin then take part in the Elite men's road race on Sunday.
UCI back in da house
IOC rejects complaints; Election to go ahead as planned
By Hernan Alvarez Macias in Madrid
The petition that the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) presented to a Swiss court against the UCI was rejected by a Swiss judge and therefore the elections next Friday will have UCI president Hein Verbruggen as the chairman. The general secretary of the RFEC, Eugenio Bermudez told Cyclingnews. "The judge decided not to name a substitute president. With 48 hours to go to the congress, and considering the situation, it wasn't worth it to name someone for this ceremony."
Thus, the annual congress should be held on Friday with all the UCI authorities present and with Verbruggen leading the act. The UCI had further reason to rejoice today as the IOC ethics commission rejected all complaints presented by Sylvia Schenk, Darshan Singh, and the RFEC, against the UCI, its President Hein Verbruggen and its management committee member Pat McQuaid. The IOC ethics commission stated, "The plaintiffs have not brought forward the proof that the UCI and its President have violated fundamental ethics principles as prescribed in the Olympic Charter."
Gregorio Moreno's opinion
Spain's Gregorio Moreno is one of the candidates who wishes to replace Verbruggen. Cyclingnews spoke to him while he was watching the World's time trials on Day 1. "I'm not actually happy with the current situation," said Moreno. "I think that the Spanish Federation is doing well looking for guarantees for the electoral process that didn't exist during the process. On the other hand, I didn't want to get involved in these accusations. There were things that shouldn't have happened in an electoral process and I wait for Friday's congress. I will accept every result; if I win or I lose. I hope that the congress runs in a normal way. In the end, the voters are the ones who have the final word."
We asked him about his platform, should he be elected. "I presented my candidature for president because there were some federations that were not happy, and some parts of professional cycling not happy with the current situation. I want to change the way of governing cycling. The problem that road cycling has at the moment is the UCI ProTour. I don't want to make the ProTour disappear. I want an elite competition with some things corrected."
Cyclingnews coverage of the UCI elections
24 - Spain's perspective on UCI election result
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