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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Latest Cycling News, August 13, 2008

Edited by Greg Johnson and Bjorn Haake

USA may only get six Worlds spots

By Tomas Nilsson

Leipheimer may only have five team-mates to count on at the Worlds in Varese
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

The United States of America may not start next month's UCI World Championship in Varese, Italy, with more than six riders. Usually the 10 top nations on the ProTour rankings get nine spots each but the International Cycling Union (UCI) has decided to use another "international" ranking combining the ProTour ranking and the races on its so-called Historical Calendar.

This comprises some, but not all, of the races organised by the three Grand Tour organisers. The Giro d'Italia is included, but not the Tour de France. Other races missing include Paris-Nice and Flèche Wallone, while Liège-Bastogne-Liège is on - all three are organised by Tour organiser ASO. Tirreno-Adriatico is also missing, although it has the same organiser as the Giro d'Italia.

In any case, USA is out of the top 10 whether you count the extra races or not. USA earns its spots in the world's road race by its position on the American Tour. In the latest ranking on July 25, USA topped the American list with Venezuela as second.

It is not likely to change before August 15, which is the day the Continental rankings for the World Championships qualifications are made. The calendar for the first part of August is not likely to make any major changes in the rankings.

The 10 nations qualified from the "international ranking" for nine riders are, according to Cyclingnew's unofficial calculations, are: Spain, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Australia, Luxembourg, France, Netherlands, Switzerland and Russia.

From the American Tour USA and Venezuela will field six riders, while Argentina, Colombia and Canada may start three riders. One rider each from Cuba, Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Uruguay and Bolivia may also start since these nations have riders in the individual top 20 ranking on the American Tour. Brazil, however, is missing out completely.

The 16 top ranked nations in Europe, next to those qualified via the ProTour, are also qualified. Slovenia, Poland, Ukraine, Portugal, Great Britain and Denmark will field six riders while Austria, Croatia, Ireland, Sweden, Bulgaria, Estonia, Slovakia, Latvia, Serbia and Lithuania may start three riders each. The Czech Republic, Belarus, Finland and Kazakhstan are also qualified for three riders, since these nations have riders in the top 100 in the individual ProTour ranking. A lone Hungarian has also qualified by being in the top 200 in the individual Europe tour ranking.

From Africa the South Africans can field six riders as the top ranked nation while Tunisia may start with three. Morocco gets an extra spot by having one rider in the top five on the individual African ranking.

The biggest Asian team will be Iran with six riders while Japan and Uzbekistan can field three riders each.

And finally, since Australia is qualified by the international ranking, New Zealand takes the Oceanian spot for a three riders team.

Cancellara and Armstrong fastest along Great Wall

Cancellara scored another medal in Beijing
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Swiss Fabian Cancellara in the men's 47-kilometre race and Kristin Armstrong (USA) in the women's 23.5-kilometre equivalent have taken the gold medals in the time trial. Cancellara started out conservatively but eventually won by 33 seconds over Swedish rider and CSC team-mate Gustav Erik Larsson. Bronze went to Levi Leipheimer (USA) who held off Spain's Alberto Contador by eight seconds.

Armstrong took an equally convincing win ahead of Emma Pooley (Great Britain) in the women's race. The two were separated by 24 seconds. Karin Thürig of Switzerland finished third, making the nation in the heart of Europe one of the most successful so far in the cycling events. Two bronze and a gold medal speak for itself. Great Britain has won a gold and a silver (Cooke and Pooley) while the USA has a gold and a bronze so far.

In the men's race, Contador started out like a man possessed. After only 11 kilometres he was ahead by 18 seconds. It turned out the Spaniard started to fast and subsequently he dropped back to second at the second check, third at the third check and fourth at the finish. Leipheimer did it reversed, not reaching a medal place until it counted.

Men's top 5

1 Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland)          1.02.11 (45.350 km/h)
2 Gustav Erik Larsson (Sweden)                0.33
3 Levi Leipheimer (USA)                       1.10
4 Alberto Contador (Spain)                    1.18
5 Cadel Evans (Australia)                     1.23

Women's top 5

1 Kristin Armstrong (United States)                 34.51.7 (40.459 km/h)
2 Emma Pooley (Great Britain)                          0.24
3 Karin Thurig (Switzerland)                           0.59
4 Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli (France)                      1.00
5 Christine Thorburn (United States)                   1.02

Read more on the men's and women's time trials in Beijing.

McGee ready for fourth and last Olympics

By Jean-François Quénet in Beijing, China

Australia's Bradley McGee is ready for his last Olympics
Photo ©: Jean-François Quénet
(Click for larger image)

Some 12 years after his Olympic Games debut in Atlanta, United States of America, Australia's Bradley McGee is ready to tackle his fourth and final Olympics this weekend in Beijing, China. While McGee was just 20 when he claimed an individual pursuit bronze in 1996, the now 32 year-old rider's preparation for the Games started in Adelaide at just 16 or 17 years of age.

"It means half of my life has been related to the Olympics," McGee said.

McGee was a junior world champion when his home town of Sydney was awarded the Olympic Games back in 1993, seven years before the 2000 event. He almost missed the event due to a broken collarbone 17 days out, but managed to repeat the third place that made him famous in Atlanta four years earlier. In Athens, Greece, he moved one step up in the individual pursuit, but it was in the team pursuit he finally got a gold medal.

The same quartet is reunited in Beijing with Brett Lancaster, Luke Roberts and Graeme Brown all donning the green and yellow. The Australian squad is boosted by two up and coming pursuiters Mark Jamieson and Jack Bobridge.

"These young guys are going really well," McGee said.

McGee joined the other Australian riders in Büttgen, Germany, for final Olympic Games preparations, after recovering from his Giro d'Italia crash, which saw him break the same collarbone as in 2000. He will represent Australia in the individual pursuit again final against the other Bradley, Wiggins, the defending champion from Great Britain.

"This is for sure my last Olympics," said McGee. "I'm focused and relaxed. I enjoy every second of my life here at the Olympic venues."

Kupfernagel disappointed

Hanka Kupfernagel was disappointed with her 11th place
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

After the finish of the women's time trial Hanka Kupfernagel sat down near the Great Wall, clearly disappointed with her 11th place. The reigning time trial World Champion had the ambition to reach the podium, but fell short by 1'43.

She could feel right away that it wasn't her day and the weather didn't help. "The change of weather on Sunday wasn't so good for me." But having inspected the course in the winter, she also knew that it was a very tough course. "I was always a bit skeptical," she explained after the finish. Her preparation wasn't helped with sickness in the spring that delayed her training by five weeks.

Kupfernagel wasn't at her best today, but had no regrets. "I gave it my all. I couldn't have done more." Her tactic in the weather with the high humidity was too start conservatively. She had lost a minute and and a half at the first check. In the second part of the course she was doing better and lost less than 20 seconds versus Armstrong. It meant to move from 16th to 11th, but not more.

Kupfernagel had a simple explanation for the uncertainties of competitions. "I am not a machine where you can just press a few buttons. Neither are the others." As the famous cycling saying goes, sometimes you are the hammer and sometimes you are the nail. Today, Kupfernagel was on the receiving end.

The German kept her head high and was already looking towards the future. "I will be terribly disappointed now for two hours. Then we'll have to see, there will be something new around the corner. I can say that the Olympics were an incredible experience and I am glad I was able to be part of it."

Ladagnous back for Olympic target

By Jean-François Quénet in Beijing, China

France's Mathieu Ladagnous made a timely return from injury
Photo ©: Jean-François Quénet
(Click for larger image)

France's Mathieu Ladagnous, who made his Tour de France debut with Française des Jeux last year, has recovered in time to take part in the Beijing Olympic Games. The rider has had a hectic season following a crash during a mountain bike training ride on May 1.

"I remember ... I was only able to ride for 300 metres after that," he said. "Some ligaments were destroyed. My first thought was - my Tour de France is over. My second thought - will I be back for the Olympics?"

While doctors predicted two entire months away from the bike Ladagnous was already training on rollers five weeks later. He even took part in the French championship and the Tour du Doubs and also rode the Tour de Wallonie.

"I haven't returned to my level on the road yet," he said. "I lack the foundations. But I found a good form quicker than I thought, it sounds good for the track at the Olympics."

Together with Nicolas Rousseau, Christophe Riblon, Damien Gaudin and Fabien Sanchez, Ladagnous has set a first goal in Beijing: to beat the French national record of 4'02"87 in the team pursuit. "This year we are not able to go under four minutes like the best teams do nowadays," the 24 year-old from Pau said.

France is not a favorite against the likes of Great-Britain, Denmark and Australia. But Ladagnous has higher ambitions in the madison with Jérôme Neuville, who is a former world champion for the specialty.

"I feel good and I'm confident, but I hope I'll be able to finish the Madison without struggling at the end because of the too short training period," he said. "For now, I'm really focused on the Olympics. After that I'll do the Tour of Spain, but it's more as a preparation for next year. This year I only have 22 or 23 racing days on the road, I need more."

USA unmasks strong track squad

By Rob Jones in Beijing, China

USA track cyclists hold a press conference prior to the events in Beijing
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

The United States of America track team's press conference, just days prior to the start of competition at the Laoshan Velodrome in western Beijing, opened with inevitable questions surrounding their arrival in China wearing breathing masks a week earlier. The topic of air quality turned into controversy when four American riders disembarked from their flight in Beijing wearing protective masks.

While the general media jumped onto the topic and the US Olympic Committee felt the need to apologise on the rider's behalf, it did little to phase the American track team's preparations for this weekend. Both Sarah Hammer and Jennie Reed said they have put the matter behind them, although they are still using the masks.

"For me, I've just tried to surround myself with my family and friends," said Hammer. "This is my first Olympics, so it's overwhelming already, and the more attention that is made, the more stressed out I got. But I have put it behind me now, and moved on to training, and I'm looking forward to racing Friday."

Reed was more succinct. "It's sort of like a bad race, you have to put it behind you and refocus," she said. "There was no malicious intent, we were just taking precautions."

Hammer also said that she continues to use the mask. "I feel healthy after taking these precautions, just like I am coming into any other race," said Hammer. "Yes, I still wear it when necessary, but for the last couple of days it hasn't been necessary."

Hammer's pursuit competition will be spread over three days at this year's Olympic Games. While she outlined Great Britain's Rebecca Romero as her largest threat, after she won the World Championship in May, Hammer also believes she's well prepared for the new format of racing.

"Romero is definitely one of my strongest competitors, but for me it is best just to focus on myself," said Hammer. "The Pursuit has no tactics, you can only go as fast as you can go.

To read the full feature, click here.

No "three-peat" for Voigt?

Jens Voigt of Team CSC doesn't think that he will win the Deutschland Tour for the third time in a row. The race starts on August 31 in Austria, before heading to Germany and finishing on September 6 in Bremen. "I would be amazed if I can be near the lead in the Deutschland Tour, even if I would of course like to be mistaken about that."

The 36 year-old, currently in Beijing for the Olympics, told dpa, "my preparation will be all other than optimal: After my return from Beijing on August 15 I will make a few days vacation with my family on the Baltic Sea and ride a small race in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany."

Voigt has already ridden both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France this year. In the Olympic road race on Saturday, he was in a leading group for a long time before eventually dropping out. He is the replacement rider for the German time trial team.

The German cycling federation recently announced that Voigt had told them that he would not ride the Worlds this year, but, as he told the dpa, "I said that last year, too and then rode anyway. I'll see how I feel." (SW

Tour of Colorado series in final round

The Tour of Colorado series will go in its final round on August 17th. The North Boulder Park Criterium will conclude the six races of the event. Overalls in several categories are still so close that a change can happen on Sunday.

In the men's Pro-1-2 Kevin Nicol (Tokyo Joes Cycling) leads with 112 points. Jonathan Baker (Vitamin Cottage Cycling) is second, trailing by only eight points. Third placed Blake Caldwell (Garmin - Chipotle pb H3) has only 67 points.

On the women's side it is also an eight-point difference between first and second. Lisa Renee Tumminello (International Christian Cycling Team) has 108 points versus Susannah Gordon (, who has 100 points. A big name is in fifth place. Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli has 58 points. Longo-Ciprelli today finished only two seconds off a medal in the Olympics time trial.

Races were held in Boulder (two races), Durango, Fort Collins, Salida and Gateway.

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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