World Championships Cycling News for September 21, 2006
Edited by Jeff Jones
USA kicks off with two medals
The USA started its world championships campaign in fine style by winning the gold and bronze medals in the women's time trial. Kristin Armstrong (Boise) became the country's third ever elite women's TT champ by beating two time champion Karen Thürig of Switzerland by 25.57 seconds, while teammate Christine Thorburn won the bronze medal. The other US competitor, Amber Neben, placed 10th in the event.
Armstrong joins 1994 victor Karen Kurreck and 2000 winner Mari Holden as the other American world champions in this discipline, which was introduced to the world's program in 1994.
Going into the event, Armstrong was one of the pre-race favourites after winning the Euregio Tour. She suffered a mishap early on as she dropped her chain on the second of three climbs on the course, which cost her some 10 seconds, but she recovered well.
"When I got to the first climb, I kept a nice rhythm," Armstrong said, "but going up the second climb, I put just a little too much pressure on the pedals when I shifted down into my little chainring and dropped it. It's just a mistake you make sometimes when you're going too hard. I actually went over that scenario in my mind yesterday after training, but for the third hill. On the second hill, I thought there was no way that would happen.
"Our mechanic was great. He ran out, calmed me down, pushed me, and I was back in. (Team Director) Jim Miller was behind me in the car and got me refocused and told me we were still on track. I didn't know if he was lying to me or not. If you have a mechanical, as an athlete, you can either go one way or the other. You can give up because you just lost ten seconds, or you can use it to get a little bit of an adrenalin rush. I think I used it to my advantage. It was pretty early in the race, maybe 11 or 12 minutes into it, so I just had to refocus and do what I can. When he (Miller) said 'you can win if you go hard, if you give it everything you have,' I knew that he wouldn't put that winning idea in my head unless I really could."
Armstrong also won a bronze medal in the world's in Madrid last year, although she was contemplating retirement at the end the season. She lost motivation after the 2004 Olympics, but decided to have a try for the 2008 Games in Beijing. "One of my other dreams before I retire from cycling was to wear the world champion's jersey. After I placed third last year, I remember telling myself I have three more tries if I go through 2008. The rainbow stripes, in the sport of cycling, continue with you forever. Olympic medals do too, but there's really a different respect when you carry the rainbow stripes in the peloton. It's great I have them early enough to carry them for the rest of my cycling career."
Armstrong's teammate Thorburn had the fastest time for a while, until she was bettered by Armstrong herself. "I've been in that position before," recalled Thorburn. "In Athens I went pretty early and had the fastest time for a while and was in a similar situation at the world championships in 2004, so I tried not to think about it too much when I was in the hot seat. I knew Priska (Doppmann, 4th-place finisher) was a good time trialist and she was in second place at that point. To be honest, I was a little bit surprised that some of the other favourites came through with slower times.
"I did pretty well at nationals, so I decided to focus on time trialing instead of the road race," Thorburn explained. "I figured if I focused on time trialing, it's fewer hours I'd have to train and I could still do well in the time trial and be useful in the road race."
Zabriskie hopes for a good day
By Hedwig Kröner in Salzburg
Hanging out with his American U23 colleagues in the start area of Wednesday's time trial at the World Championships was Dave Zabriskie, always happy to entertain the national team with his famous dry humour. The Team CSC rider was taking things easy on the eve of the big day, upon which he has definitely set his mind.
"The course is very difficult," he said, having reconned it several times. "It's not that technical, rather challenging with some turns and the climbs. Very rolling, but not extremely technical."
Zabriskie is very motivated for the victory, but he knows that he's up against some big guys like "Vinokourov, Rogers, Cancellara and Millar. Of course I would like to win, but so does everybody else. I haven't done a lot of races lately - which is good, because I'm tired - but that way I can't say how I compare to them. Hopefully well!"
The 27 year-old has been struggling with fluctuating performances lately. "Some days it's good, some days it's like... oh, what happened?" Zabriskie said about his current form, 19 days after he won the USPRO Championships time trial. "It's also the end of the season, and I feel a bit tired. My form is just changing from day to day - I hope tomorrow is a good day."
"It is what it is" for Bookwalter
By Hedwig Kröner in Salzburg
Brent Bookwalter from the American team felt comfortable with his result in the U23 time trial in Salzburg on Wednesday, finishing 40th behind gold medallist Dominique Cornu from Belgium. "Not completely satisfied," as he explained after the finish, "but I can't complain, either. I did everything I could, I gave it my all, and now this result is what it is. Just physically, I wasn't feeling on my absolute top."
The 22 year-old said that the course suited his capabilities. "I liked the course, actually - I thought it was good for me," Bookwalter continued. "It might have been a bit too long, and I think a lot of the guys were in the same situation. The longest time trials I did this year were 30 kilometres, I might have done one of 40 once in my life before."
Asked what he had expected for this event, Bookwalter replied, "Originally, if you would have asked me a month ago, I would have said the Top 10. But my form dipped in a little bit, so now I think I'm here for the experience only."
The American was enjoying his first road cycling world championships, having participated already in the junior cyclo-cross and mountainbike world's. "It's great, being here with the American team against all of these nations; all the best cyclists in the world," concluded the young rider from Michigan, who will be changing to an U26 program next year. Bookwalter will not race the U23 road event on Saturday, so he might have a day or two to relax and enjoy the Austrian city.
By Nick Warren in Salzburg
New Zealand placed two riders in the top 10 in the U23 men's TT, with last year's bronze medalist Peter Latham in 9th and Logan Hutchings in 7th. "It was alright," Latham told Cyclingnews after the finish. "It was a really hard course. You had to be on a good day to do a good ride and I just wasn't on top of it."
Hutchings was also fairly happy: "That was OK. The course was pretty hard and I was hoping to go faster. It was really hard to judge with the timing (of my effort). Maybe I went out too slow but it was pretty hard to know."
On Saturday's race, Hutchings said, "I'm quite confident. It's another hilly course and I'm climbing well so as long as I can stay out of trouble at the start and with a bit of luck it could go well."
Crash takes out Vansummeren, ends Wauters' career
On a day where Dominique Cornu won gold in the U23 men's TT, the Belgian men's team suffered a blow when both Marc Wauters and Johan Vansummeren crashed during training and eliminated themselves for Sunday's road race. Vansummeren tore ligaments in his left shoulder, and will have to rest for six weeks. It was worse for Wauters, who broke his right collarbone, and will therefore end his career on a slightly disappointing note, as the Belgian had already announced this season to be his last.
Wauters made his professional debut in 1991 for Lotto, also riding for Wordperfect and Novell in the 1990s before making the move to Rabobank in 1998. He has 29 victories to his credit, peaking in 1999 when he won Paris-Tours, the GP Eddy Merckx (with Erik Dekker), two stages and the overall of the Tour of Luxembourg, PruTour, and one stage and the overall of the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt. In 2001, he realised a dream when he won a stage of the Tour de France into Antwerpen. The next day, he was able to ride through his home town wearing the yellow jersey of race leader. Wauters' other achievements include being Belgian national time trial champion in 2002, 2003 and 2005.
On October 15, a farewell party and a criterium will be organized for Marc Wauters on the racing circuit in Zolder, Belgium.
Three riders unfit to start
The UCI performed 18 blood controls on Wednesday morning from 7.30-9.00am within the following teams: Brazil, Argentina, Switzerland, Australia and USA. UCI medical inspector Marc Vandevyvere declared three riders inapt to start: Martin Garrido and Matias Medici (both Argentina) and Magno Nazaret (Brazil).
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)