First Edition Cycling News, August 14, 2008
Edited by Sue George
Longo narrowly misses medal
By Jean-François Quénet in Juyongguan, China
High altitude training at 2,700m in Colorado prior to the Olympic Games may have Jeannie Longo good form, but she will return to France without any medals. Rain prevented the Longo from performing better in the road race, and she narrowly missed the bronze medal in the time trial by finishing just 1.63 seconds behind third placed Karin Thürig from Switzerland.
A mechanical incident hindered Longo's effort. She put her chain onto the small ring on the last curve climbing up toward Great Wall of China. "I heard 'bling' and it took me a bit of time to push on the pedals again," she said while her coach and husband Patrice Ciprelli confirmed that she lost two seconds in this incident.
Longo, however, had another explanation for missing out on a medal. "For the past two days I've been fighting sciatic pain that I haven't had for months," she said while in the mixed zone of the Olympic cycling venue in Juyongguan, China.
The pain resurfaced after her effort during the road race, which was characterized by torrential rain on Sunday. "Since [then], I've received massages but it didn't help much," she said. "I started my time trial like someone going to the war, ready to suffer. Apparently I had a good start, but I didn't think I could do well. When I heard that I was third at the half way point, I thought, well, I'll finished 13th – there were still ten riders left behind me."
She had mixed feelings when it came to analyzing her race. "I'm happy with my ride. I really felt powerful and in other years I hadn't trained like this," she said. "But I am extremely disappointed to miss out on the medal. I had two chances of getting a medal."
Longo was the Olympic road race champion in 1996 in Atlanta, and she finished third in the time trial in Sydney in 2000. She was almost in the best form of her life in Beijing for her seventh Olympic Games.
Longo might have been competing in her eighth Olympic Games, but women's cycling was not added to the Olympics until 1984 in Los Angeles. She won her first French Championship in 1979, just one year before the Olympics in Moscow.
Asked by a Spanish reporter why she continues racing, Longo answered, "And you, why do you continue writing articles?" Another question regarded her eventual retirement from Olympic competition. She replied that Beijing was "probably" her last Olympics, but she acknowledged that she wasn't sure, and her husband gave his answer with a "Who knows?"
Longo will turn 50 in October. She has no plans to stop racing and no plans to continue. "I don't know yet how the [world championship] course is in Varese," she said, thinking of the next month's race in Italy.
"The advantage of the Olympic Games, in my mind, is that only 60 racers participate in the road race," said Longo. "If it was always like that, I'd race more."
Longo has been enjoying her Olympic experience. When she first arrived in Beijing, she spent one night at the athlete's village and then moved to a hotel room booked by the French federation near the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium before returning to the village.
"In the past, only in Barcelona in 1992 did I stay at the village," she said. "I've loved it here. Even the biggest stars are humble. The other day as I took some tomatoes at the restaurant, somebody told me 'good luck for the time trial.' It was Fabian Cancellara! Rafael Nadal was there as well, it's the only place where we can see these athletes who are usually unapproachable. At the village, we're all kids!"
What remains to be seen is whether Longo will return in another four years.
Everything comes together for Cancellara
Two-time world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara came out on top again at the Olympic time trial on Wednesday in Beijing, China.
"It was a perfect day. Everything came together for me. I've been preparing for this as well as I possibly could and I've sacrificed a lot to get here, so I didn't have any excuses in case it didn't work out today," said Cancellara on www.teamcsc-saxobank.com. "Now I'll finally be able to return home with both a gold and a bronze Medal." Cancellara finished third in the Olympic road race on Saturday.
Although Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) was also a heavy favorite for the race against the clock, Cancellara proved the German's bid to win at an end when he caught him on lap one after starting a minute and a half behind.
"I knew that many saw me as the favorite and that can sometimes be hard, so I'm definitely proud of my performance," said Cancellara. "Of course it gave an extra boost to catch up to Schumacher, but I had my own agenda so it didn't change anything as far as my approach went."
Cancellara has missed spending time with his family this summer; he was busy competing in the Tour de France and then arrived early to Beijing to become acclimated to conditions.
"By going to Beijing early I gave myself the chance to get over my jetlag properly and relax mentally before embarking on the final preparations." He credited his family, team and fans with the support he needed to win two medals in Beijing.
Nibali takes a break before heading to Missouri
By Jean-François Quénet in Beijing, China
Vincenzo Nibali will go from China to the United States after claiming a 15th place at the Olympic Games time trial in Beijing, China. He represented Italy for the road race and time trial after the Riccardo Riccò was excluded due to a positive doping test at the Tour de France.
Nibali occupied the Olympic spot won for Italy by current national champion Marco Pinotti when he finished 14th at the World Championship in Stuttgart last year. "It's been a fantastic experience to come here and compete," said Nibali.
"During the race I was totally focused, but at training the days before I took my camera in the pocket of my jersey, and I have a lot of pictures of the Great Wall of China. This is a fantastic venue!"
Nibali's travels will continue after a break. He raced a frustrating Tour of Italy, but finished 20th and wore the best young rider's white jersey at the Tour de France.
"I need a rest now," he said in Juyongguan, China. "I'll take a break for three weeks, and I'll resume racing at the Tour of Missouri on September 8. From there, I'll see if I can do the World Championships."
Competition will be tough for positions on the squadra azzurra for a championship race to be held on home turf in Varese, Italy. Nibali was selected as a reserve rider last year in Stuttgart, but he may soon become an indispensable member of the Italian squad when the likes of Davide Rebellin and Paolo Bettini call an end to their careers.
Climbers ready for Utah hit-out
By Kirsten Robbins in Park City, Utah, USA
One of the most mountainous stage races in North America has returned to Park City – the 2008 Tour of Utah. The race is set to begin on Wednesday August 13 taking, the peloton on a five-day tour totalling 537-kilometres with over 30,000 ft of climbing. Riders will contest numerous sprint points, KOM ascents and battle for stage victories through the Rocky Mountain's Wasatch Mountain range before an overall champion emerges on Sunday August 17.
The peloton will start and finish in neighboring cities of Salt Lake City, Nephi, Snowbird and Ogden. The notorious ascents will challenge some of the best climbers in the country, including recent Tour de France participants Danny Pate and Will Frischkorn (Garmin-Chipotle).
Other riders to watch will be Scott Nydam (BMC), Chris Baldwin (Toyota-United), Moises Aldape (Team Type 1), Tyler Hamilton and Oscar Sevilla (Rock Racing), Rory Sutherland and Phil Zajicek (Health Net-Maxxis) and Anthony Colby (Colavita-Sutter Home). Utah State favourites include Jeff Louder and Darren Lill (BMC) and Burke Swindlehurst (Bissell).
The prestigious jerseys available include the yellow overall leader, the green best sprinter, the polka dot best climber, the blue best young rider and the red best Utah rider jerseys.
Stage 1 - August 13: The tour starts with a 162 kilometre rolling course held in Nephi. It is considered a day for the sprinters, with three intermediate sprints available to start the green jersey competition. The first KOM will also present itself as the riders approach the foothills of the mountain range.
Stage 2 - August 14: The second stage will be a pivotal 137 kilometre journey from Odgen to Salt Lake City. It passes four major climbs, with more than 10,000 feet of climbing on this stage alone.
According to event director Terry McGinnis it is much harder than it looks on paper. "It will be a great course for an opportunistic rider or a strong group of climbers," he said.
Stage 3 - August 15: After a big day of climbing riders face a 90-minute twilight criterium the following day in downtown Salt Lake City. The standard four corner course stretches around a 1.6 kilometre circuit. This is another day for the sprinters to shine, racing for lucrative primes and valuable sprint points.
Stage 4 - August 16: The queen stage is where the climbing with resume. After a chance to recuperate on the criterium, the riders face over 14,000 feet of climbing on this stage. The leg starts in Park City and will finish 160 kilometres later a top the scenic Snowbird Ski Resort mountain top finish.
"As in 2006, Stage 4 finishes at Snowbird Ski resort and will be the toughest test for all the riders, including our general classification leader," said McGinnis.
Stage 5 - August 17: The flat, 19-kilometre time trial will start and finish in the Miller Motorsports Park, Tooele. The short time trial will make the race tougher for riders hoping to make up time on the true climbers. However Utah's typical heat and high winds could make this a deciding finale.
Gerdemann captures overall win in Tour de L'Ain
Team Columbia's Linus Gerdemann took overall victory in the four-day Tour de L'Ain stage race on Wednesday, proving that he is back to his best after breaking his femur and damaging knee ligaments in March.
He had to miss the most of the first part of the season and the Tour de France but worked hard in the gym and with physiotherapists to make a rapid recovery from his serious injuries. Gerdemann's win in France rewarded him for all his hard work and patience.
On the final day, his Team Columbia controlled numerous attacks during the 138km stage, as Gerdemann marked main rivals David Moncoutié (Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone) and Stéphane Goubert (AG2R La Mondiale). The stage finished with three laps of a hilly circuit, and Moncoutié made a strong attack as a bid to win. Only 20 racers remained at the front, including Gerdemann, who with the help of team-mate Tony Martin, made sure Moncoutié did not gain any time.
Frenchman John Gadret won the final stage four with a late solo attack but Linus kept his 12-second lead on Moncoutié, with Goubert finishing third overall at 36 seconds.
"It wasn't an easy final stage but we came away with a morale boosting win for Linus. This is an important victory for him as he prepares for the Tour of Germany," directeur sportif Valerio Piva said after the race.
"This is good win for Linus and for the team," said Piva. "He hasn't raced a lot this year because of his crash but he's coming into some good form."
Gerdemann will race in Italy next week, riding the Trittico Lombardo back-to-back one-day races, before beginning his final block of training for the Tour of Germany.
"We are not doing the Vuelta a España but we've still got a very busy race programme in the final three months of the season," Piva said.
"We'll have a strong team in the Italian races, at the Eneco Tour that starts next week, at the Tour of Germany with Linus and also in the Tour of Ireland, the Tour of Missouri in the USA and the Tour of Britain." Piva was optimistic for the team's chances of more wins in the latter part of the season.
Klöden still deciding whether to race German or Spanish tour
Andreas Klöden has yet to decide whether he will race next in the Tour of Germany or the Vuelta a España. Though he had to miss the Tour de France in July when his team was not invited to compete, he has spent plenty of recent time in France – at both the Paris-Corrèze and then the Tour de l'Ain.
"The first days came after the long break and were tough, but I quickly felt that better from that day on," said Klöden, who will return again to France next week for the Tour de Limousin.
"Only then will I decide, with my Team Astana, whether to head to the Tour of Spain or the Tour of Germany at the end of the month," he said. His decision will hinge on his form and how he can best help his team.
"The Tour of Germany excited me as it's been an eternity since I've raced at home," said Klöden," but we will wait and see in the coming week."
IOC permits UCI to screen blood at Olympics
The UCI is one of just four federations the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is allowing to perform blood screenings on competitors at the Olympic Games in Beijing. The others are the International Association of Athletics Federations, the International Rowing Federation and the International Modern Pentathlon Union.
"These screenings will check several blood indicators before the athletes compete," an IOC official told Reuters.
When a similar program was implemented for cross country skiers at the winter Olympic Games in Turin, a few athletes were pulled from competition for a set period of time while awaiting blood values to return to "normal". For ongoing non-normal values, anti-doping tests were then performed.
The athlete's blood values are being input into a database.
Irish racer dies during club event
Former Commonwealth Games cyclist David McCall was killed in an accident during a club race near Belfast in Northern Ireland on Tuesday.
Along with business partner Martin Birney, McCall, 46, was the co-owner of SportActive, a company that had agreed to sponsor the Scottish Road Racing Championship for the next three years according to www.scuonline.org. As a coach, McCall was also involved in leading cycling, walking and triathlon holidays, often in Majorca.
An accomplished European and international cyclist, McCall competed for Northern Ireland in the team trial during the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, New Zealand.
Univest Grand Prix and Cyclosportif coming up in September
The Univest Grand Prix will run again in Pennsylvania in a few weeks. The Grand Prix will happen in Souderton on September 6, and a criterium will follow in Doylestown on September 7. More than 150 professional riders from 20 countries are expected for the UCI-ranked race.
In addition a recreational Cyclosportif 100K ride, children's races, regional foods, and a family fair will complement the weekend's activities in Souderton while an ArtCycle ride in Doylestown will precede the criterium surrounding the Doylestown Art Festival.
For more information, visit www.univestgrandprix.com.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)