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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Regional Cycling News for August 14, 2006

Edited by Anthony Tan

GB juniors on top of the world

Great Britain's junior track cycling team returned from the junior world road championships in Belgium with a record haul of medals and the accolade of being the top nation at the event.

The four day championships were held in Gent, Belgium (August 5-8). The GB team arrived at the championships with high hopes following their most successful ever European Championships, just a couple of weeks before. All expectations were exceeded as the team collected ten medals, five of them gold.

Star performer was 18 year-old sprinter Jason Kenny from Bolton who picked up three golds, winning the sprint and keirin and sharing in the team sprint gold with Christian Lyte and David Daniell. GB's top female sprinter Anna Blyth was also in outstanding form, winning the keirin and finishing runner-up in the sprint. Endurance rider Peter Kennaugh, from the Isle of Man was also a multiple medal winner, collecting a gold in the scratch race and a bronze as part of the team pursuit quartet.

The GB Team's Performance Director, Dave Brailsford, was understandably pleased with the success of the team: "The team performed superbly in Belgium. The performances are a credit to the riders and to the support staff who work with them," he said.

"We only launched our junior programme 18 months ago, and as recently as 2002, we only sent two riders to the championships and came away without a medal. So, to be the number one nation at this year's World Championships is some going, I think!" exclaimed Brailsford.

Speaking after her Keirin win, Anna Blyth gave credit to the system, which has helped her achieve her success. "We have had training camps during the school holidays and coach-led weekends each month. Now we go to races with a lot of experience of tactics to use," said Blyth. "A lot of us also go to senior squad sessions when we can. I have also had a good programme of conditioning training."

Great Britain medal winners:

Gold
Team sprint: Christian Lyte, Jason Kenny, David Daniell
Keirin: Jason Kenny
Scratch: Peter Kennaugh
Sprint: Anna Blyth
Sprint: Jason Kenny

Silver
Kilo: Christian Lyte
Points: Jonny Bellis
Sprint: Anna Blyth

Bronze
Kilo: David Daniell
Team Pursuit: Alex Dowsett, Jonny Bellis, Steven Burke and Peter Kennaugh

US out of medal count at junior world's

After mixing it up with the world's best 17 and 18-year-old riders in the road race on Sunday, the United States Cycling Team left the junior road and track world championships with not one medal.

The week-long event concluded yesterday with the junior men's and women's road races. Current U.S. junior national champion in both the road race and the cross country discipline of mountain biking, Chris Barton (Ojai, Calif./Bicycles of Ojai), was the top finisher for Team USA in the 122.4-kilometer junior men's road race. Barton placed 81st, 1 minute, 37 seconds off the pace of winner Diego Ulissi of Italy.

Racing nine laps of a 13.6-kilometer circuit that included five significant climbs, only 123 riders in the 174-rider peloton finished the race. Of the 51 riders that retired, three were Americans as Bjorn Selander (Hudson, Wis./Alan Factory), Benjamin Bradshaw (Winchester, Calif./IE Bikes Racing) and Peter Salon (Brooklyn, N.Y./GS Mengoni) did not finish.

The final U.S. competitor, national time trial champion Tejay Van Garderen (Fort Collins, Colo./5280-eSoles), finished 99th, 7:16 off the pace.

The junior women raced five laps of the same circuit for a total of 68 kilometres. Lauren Shirock (Emmaus, Pa./South Mountain Cycles) was the top U.S. finisher, placing 45th, 3:13 behind winner Rasa Leleivyte of Lithuania. Jacquelyn Crowell (Maitland, Fla.Colavita) placed 60th, 4:24 back and Arielle Filiberti (Worcester, Mass./Hot Tubes Development) finished 71st, 16:02 down.

At the end of the week's competition, the best American performance was a sixth-place effort courtesy of Shane Kline (Bally, Pa./Team Fuji) in the men's 10-kilometer scratch race on the track last Saturday.

Aussie sprinters begin Beijing build-up with clean sweep

Australia's sprint cyclists have scored a clean sweep at the Los Angeles Cycling Classic in the first event of their preparation program for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Olympic and Commonwealth Games champions Ryan Bayley (WA) defeated team-mate Victorian Mark French in two straight heats in the men's sprint while Victorian Shane Perkins did the same to Canadian Travis Smith. French had qualified fastest in 10.62sec but Ryan (10.71sec) proved too strong in the head-to-head competition racing from the front to post two emphatic wins. Perkins qualified in 10.78. Bayley again took the front position in the men's keirin, but French pipped him on the line by a narrow margin to clinch the victory. 2005/06 World Cup keirin champion Malaysia's Josiah Ng was third.

In the women's events, Commonwealth Games gold medallist Anna Meares (QLD) was the stand-out, clinching both the sprint and the keirin events. Meares secured the top seeding in the sprint with her qualifying ride of 12.11sec and made light work of her rivals to move into a final match up with team-mate and fellow Queenslander Chloe McPherson (12.62sec). Meares then showed her class to down McPherson in two straight heats. In the keirin Meares again dominated to collect her second win ahead of McPherson.

"Anna was the emphatic winner in both events and was clearly the strongest rider out there," said Australian coach, Martin Barras. "This trip serves a double purpose: Australia's geographic location means we are not able to enjoy the consistent racing they have in Europe and we have found in the past that we are sometimes 'under raced' when we get to major competitions."

The squad is racing two events in the US before heading to Germany for a series of three Grand Prix sprint meetings. "This trip will let the riders gain more international racing experience so we can come into the major events sharper and better prepared," explained Barras.

The races the squad is contesting also offer UCI ranking points which contribute to the qualification for the World Championships to be raced in Palma de Mallorca in Spain in March 2007. "It's been a good, solid start," said Barras. "We're doing everything required to make sure all steps are taken so we can arrive fully prepared and competitive for any event at the Beijing Olympics."

The squad will line up in Trexlertown, Pennsylvannia, on Friday before heading to Germany for races in Cottbus Hannover and Duddenhofen. "Then we'll head back to Australia to fine tune preparation for the opening round of the World Cup Series, which is being staged in Sydney from November 17th," Barras added.

CiCLE Classic goes international in 2007

By Gerry McManus

Britain's Ronde Van Vlaanderen: the Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic
Photo ©: imageking.co.uk
(Click for larger image)

Although the East Midlands of Britain will miss out on a stage of this year's Tour of Britain cycle race in September, cycling fans in the area will only have to wait until Sunday 29th April next year to see international cycle racing at its best, with the announcement this week that the Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic will in 2007 become a UCI Class 1.2 international race.

First held in 2005, the race, which was granted Premier Calendar race status by British Cycling, became an instant success with riders and spectators alike. In addition, and unusually for Britain, the race received a coveted local award for 'Event of the Year' from the local regional newspaper. The second edition in 2006 was even more spectacular, and with coverage by Eurosport and BBC East Midlands TV, began to reach the level of audience that has long been unknown to British cycling events.

Based on the two Northern classics, the Ronde Van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix, Rutland-Melton follows a 100 miles (160 kms) course interspersed with a succession of short sharp climbs, and 12 special sectors of very poor to unmade roads. With the start and finish in the two major towns in the area, Oakham, the county town of Rutland England's smallest county; and Melton Mowbray; better known for pork pies than sport; the race carries with it strong community support along its route.

This year's winner was Robin Sharman of Britain's current top team, Recycling.co.uk, with international interest from the five-man Australian based FRF Couriers-Caravello team, and several individual entries from Ireland. On describing his win Sharman referred to the event being "a MANS race", and no one who witnessed the racing that took place would disagree with that definition.

"The race has come a long way in just two years," said race director and founder Colin Clews, "but I made no disguise from the outset that my aim for the race was to reach international status within 5 years. To have been able to make this move in just three shows the appeal of the race not only to the riders but also to local sponsors and community groups who see cycle racing at this level as something that they want to be involved in.

"This year the race had 150 places for riders, and in addition had to send back 43 entries. For next year initial discussions have commenced with the police regarding a 180 rider field in order to accommodate the popularity of this unique race. This would give the Rutland-Melton the accolade of having the biggest ever entry for a single day road race in Britain outside of a World Championship or World Cup race."

For 2007, the race will also increase its continental atmosphere with a 'race permanence' (HQ) within historic Oakham Castle. This will further showcase the tourism opportunities of the East Midlands area to those visiting from the continent, who are likely to be from countries served by airlines operating from Nottingham East Midlands Airport; one of the race's main sponsors.

After the success of events associated with the start and finish of this year's race, plans are also in hand to build upon this for 2007, including the staging of mass participation leisure rides over varying distances, and parts of the CiCLE Classic course one week before the international race.

"With its low traffic volumes, picturesque and quiet, challenging roads, the East Midlands offers an environment for cycle racing which is not available in most other areas of Britain," continued Clews.

"With London 2012 looming on the horizon, Britain has a need for major races to showcase the sport and to provide the levels of international competition opportunities for British cyclists that are regularly available to their continental counterparts. The CiCLE Classic has now set down a benchmark that others will hopefully now strive to emulate."

New US Continental team next season

Échappée Pro Cycling plans to become a new Continental team on the UCI America Tour in 2007. The team will consist of 8-11 riders based throughout the US, and will aim to compete a full US NRC Calendar as well as UCI races in Western Europe. Échappée Pro Cycling is in the process of securing sponsorship from a large US financial services firm. The team is currently collecting rider resumes as well as offering a sponsorship opportunity to potential co-sponsor. Interested parties should contact: echappeeprocycling@yahoo.com.

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