First Edition Cycling News, August 15, 2008
Edited by Laura Weislo
Board talk: A preview of the Olympic track events
With the road events done and dusted, attention turns now to the Laoshan Velodrome for the 10 track events. Procycling's Ellis Bacon and Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo tell you who to look out for – and they're not all Brits...
With seven men's track events and three women's events here at the Olympics, just how many will be taken by the all-powerful Brits? The British track team dominated proceedings at the last world championships on home turf in Manchester in March, and are hoping to do the same in Beijing. Look out, though, for those Aussies, Dutchies and Frenchies...
Men's team sprint
We begin proceedings on Friday afternoon with the team sprint. A team of three rides three laps, losing a man off the front each lap. The opposing team does the same, starting on the opposite side of the track. The British and French have a rivalry as fierce as that between the USA and French men's swim relay, and it will take a Jason Lezak-style final lap for the Brits to overpower the reigning world champions.
Grégory Baugé, Mickaël Bourgain, Kévin Sireau and Arnaud Tournant are four of the fastest men in the world, and have shown that they can win in any combination. Bourgain will concede the anchor leg to the more experienced Tournant in hopes that France can redeem itself after a major disappointment in Athens where they failed to make the gold medal final, but will be present as an alternate for the final should any one of the three falter.
The competition for the three places on the British team was fierce. Former BMX racer Jamie Staff will kick things off, with either young Jason Kenny or Ross Edgar taking the front for the second lap before ol' tree-trunk-neck himself, Chris Hoy, is let off the leash for the final lap. Edgar, Hoy and Staff have had plenty of time to perfect their laps since taking silver in the worlds. But they'll all have to keep an eye out for the Dutch squad with superstar Theo Bos, who were just five hundredths off in Manchester.
Men's and women's individual pursuit
Again, it's current world champ and Britain's track golden boy, Bradley Wiggins, who should be top of the pile in this, the blue riband track event. Nothing's guaranteed, though, over the 4,000m distance, with the riders starting on opposite sides of the track. The show's over either when the distance is completed or when one rider catches the other, which doesn't happen too often at this level.
Speaking of levels, watch out, too, for the USA's Taylor Phinney. Son of former road professionals Connie Carpenter and Davis Phinney, the just 18 year-old might surprise a few people. Australia, too, come to Beijing with a strong presence in Brad McGee and Luke Roberts. Britain's Mark Cavendish, despite the rumours, will not ride.
In the women's event, held over 3,000m, Karin Thürig of Switzerland, who took the road time trial bronze on Wednesday, will be hoping to upgrade her medal colour, but former world champ Sarah Hammer of the USA will have something to say about that. As will Britain's Rebecca Romero, the reigning world champion, who has taken to track cycling like a duck to water having changed disciplines from rowing, where she won silver at the Athens Olympics four years ago. Oh, and she plays the violin and piano, too
Continue to the full preview of the Beijing track events.
Team sprint rivalries add fire to track opener
Kenny confirmed as third Briton
The rivalries between the top trios in the men's track team sprint have risen to a fevered pitch on the eve of the inauguration of the Laoshan velodrome in Beijing. The French may be the top favourite after taking consecutive world championships, but they will have to overcome the lack of focus which cost them a chance at the gold medal four years ago in Athens. In 2004 they qualified fastest, but then failed to get enough speed in the second round to advance to the gold medal final, and had to be content with bronze.
French coach Gerard Quintyn has put together a nearly unbeatable combination with Grégory Baugé, who has arguably the fastest opening lap in the business, Kévin Sireau and veteran Arnaud Tournant for the qualifier. Ready in the wings will be French sprint champion Mickaël Bourgain, who could step in for the final.
"We've got a chance, but we have to go out and take it," Quintyn said to AFP.
While their coach was decidedly understated in his comments, middle man Sireau was more confident. "I have beaten Hoy before and I'll beat him again," Sireau said to The Guardian. "We are able to equal the Brits here [in Beijing]. I hope they won't perform as well as at the world championships – they were at home there."
Hoy, Kenny and Staff make up British charge
Double world champion Chris Hoy had a message for the French after practicing on the new Laoshan velodrome, where he turned out times which left him sure that the team would have a good result. "[The French are] in for a shock, because we are going better than we were in Manchester," Hoy said.
"Doing another personal best in training this week shows I'm where I want to be. We know we'll do the fastest time we've ever done, and that's all we can do."
Hoy confirmed that his younger team-mate Jason Kenny would be taking the third spot in the opener with he and Jamie Staff, putting Athens veteran Ross Edgar on the bench. "Ross is going very, very well," said Hoy, "but Jason has stepped up to a whole new level. It's tough on Ross, but nobody could have foreseen how well Jason would go. [Kenny] coming into the squad means we're significantly faster than we were in Manchester."
Dutch star Theo Bos agrees that the British have looked strong in practice, and is tipping them to get ahead of the French. "Their times, their attitudes on the bike – in these things I see that the Britons are well off," he told ANP. For his own team, he feels hopeful that they can improve on the sixth they took in Athens.
"If everything goes according to plan, the chances for a medal are good," he said, but added that they still have some improvements to make on their technique. "When Teun [Mulder] goes so hard at the start, sometimes I miss his wheel and I have to accelerate during the lap. That is hard on Tim [Veldt], who then can't hold my wheel.
"Then there are people who think that I can't keep up," Veldt added, but said that they had ironed out the problems in practice. Mulder warned that he is going a full two-tenths of a second faster on his lap. The Dutch missed silver at the world championships by 5/100ths of a seconds, and Mulder said, "I knew I had to improve – that we could get the most gain from our start."
Germans count on track riders for medals
The German cycling team has won a medal at every Olympics since 1896, except for the Los Angeles games in 1932, and it is beginning to look as if 2008 will be the second time. The team went into the road races with high hopes, especially in the time trials, but its hopes were dashed when the top finisher of the four races was Judith Arndt, who came sixth in the women's time trial.
Now the team is looking to the track riders to save its honour. "We absolutely want a medal," said Stefan Nimke, who already has a gold medal in the team sprint in Athens, 2004. "Why shouldn't it work out? After all, we are defending champions," he told the dpa press agency. In Athens he rode with Rene Wolff and Jens Feidler, both of whom have since stopped riding.
In Beijing, Nimke will ride with Maximilian Levy and Rene Enders, but the squad sees its best bet for a medal in the Madison, with Olaf Pollack and Roger Kluge. The duo is a combination of youth and experience: Kluge is 22, while Pollack is 34. Kluge is also a strong contender in the points race.
After the Olympics, Kluge hopes to concentrate on road racing. And if the German trackies don't bring in the hoped-for medal, the German federation can still look to the mountain bikers, who come in later in the games. (SW)
Dekker and Rabobank call it quits
By Susan Westemeyer
The end of Thomas Dekker's rocky relationship with his team came quickly Thursday afternoon, when Rabobank announced that they are parting company with the promising young rider, effective immediately. The team and rider were unable to reconcile their "differences of opinion", according to a statement. Dekker's contract will end as of Friday, August 15, and he will then be free to look for a new team.
Dekker's manager, Martijn Berkhout, confirmed that Dekker has left Rabobank. He denied rumours that the 23 year-old would sign with the US team Garmin-Chipotle, telling Cyclingnews, "I can tell you that he is not going to Garmin, 150%. We are speaking with several teams at the moment. But we want to take our time. It's an important decision and Thomas wants to be 100% sure to take the right one. In addition, he must get used about the idea that he is not a Rabobank rider anymore."
Dekker has in fact been a Rabobank rider for six years, having joined the Rabobank junior team in 2002. He moved up to the ProTour team in 2005. While wearing the orange-and-blue jersey, he has brought in a number of wins, including including the overall titles in Tirreno-Adriatico (2006) and the Tour de Romandie (2007).
Moreno questioned by police
Spaniard Maribel Moreno, who became the first doping positive of the Olympic Games, was questioned by police in Lleida, As.com reported Friday. Moreno tested positive for EPO in an out-of-competition control taken in Beijing on August 31. She returned home from China before the results of the control were known.
The report suggested that the rider is cooperating with authorities which, under Spain's anti-doping laws, could earn her a reduced sentence for identifying those who provided her with any performance enhancing drugs.
Garmin-Chipotle starts Utah in yellow
By Kirsten Robbins in Nephi, Utah
Jason Donald (Garmin-Chipotle) triumphed in a three-up sprint ahead of break companions Sheldon Deeny (Fan Sports Network) and Brad White (Successful Living) in the opening stage of the Tour of Utah on Wednesday. The trio fought for victory after a lengthy 150-kilometre break away.
"In the past couple of weeks my sprint has become pretty good," said Donald, who is better known for his time trailing. "I was confident that I would be able to sprint well with those guys today."
The winning break sprinted to the line 20 seconds ahead of the main field. Donald picked up the full time bonuses on the line to take the event's early lead by four seconds over Deeny and six seconds ahead of White.
"The first goal was to get the KOM and after that we kept getting luckier and luckier with the time we gained," said Donald, who also took the full points in the stage's single KOM sprint. "My climbing at this moment leaves a bit to be desired so I would love to pass it on to one of my team-mates.
"My confidence for the mountains is less than it was today but having the leader's jersey always helps," he added. "We would love to keep it within the team tomorrow.
Continue to Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Tour of Utah.
Tour of Britain unveils Scottish stage
The organisers of The Tour of Britain today unveiled the route of stage 7 of the 2008 race, which will take the riders south from Glasgow, the host city of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, through the beautiful countryside of the Southern Uplands to Drumlanrig Castle.
The penultimate stage, which will take place on Saturday, September 13, will cross Mennock Pass close to the village of Wanlockhead, the high point of the 2008 Tour of Britain at 467m, before finishing in front of Drumlanrig Castle, which is sure to be one of the most spectacular and scenic stage finishes of the race.
With the hilly 153.4km (95mile) leg coming so close to the overall finish of The Tour of Britain, it is sure to be one of the most exciting stages of the race, as the rider's battle for the stage win and also the chance to don the Yellow Jersey for Sunday's final stage.
The stage begins at Glasgow Green, scene of the exciting climax to the 2007 race, before heading south out of the city through East Kilbride to the picturesque town of Strathaven in the Avon Valley.
The peloton then continues south through the Ayreshire Hills to Muirkirk, where the stage turns left on its way to the first Hot Spot Sprint of the day at Glespin. The road turns uphill at Crawfordjohn for the day's first E.ON King of the Mountains climb, before heading down to Sanquhar.
Further time bonuses will be on offer at Sanquhar for the first three riders to cross the line at the Hot Spot Sprint in the town.
The second E.ON King of the Mountains climb is Mennock Pass in the Lowther Hills. Located just after Wanlockhead, the highest village in Scotland, this will literally be the high point of the 2008 race and is sure to show just who is the races' best climber.
After passing through Elvanfoot and Watermeetings, The Tour of Britain drops down into Nithsdale and heads for the final Hot Spot Sprint at Thornhill, where the race will turn back on itself and head into the 120,000 acre Queensberry Estate, home to Drumlanrig Castle.
Tour of Britain Route Director Graham Jones said, "As the penultimate stage of the race, the riders will be extremely tired by now, but will know that this could be their last chance to shape the overall classification of the race.
"I'm sure we'll see a small group escaping, and the size and location of the E.ON King of the Mountains climb at Mennock Pass will help them stay clear to contest the finish in front of Drumlanrig Castle."
Bajadali scores in Pyrenees
Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast rider Andrew Bajadali took home a win in the points classification and second in the general classification at the Tour des Pyrénées in France last week, won by Britain's Daniel Fleeman (An Post - Sean Kelly Team). The 35-year-old was part of a three-man break in stage one over the Col d'Aspin. Despite being unable to catch the lead rider, he out sprinted his breakaway partners and took second on the stage, just five seconds down on the stage leader.
"It was great to see Baj have a chance to really show what he's capable of on some of these big European climbs," said team director Jonas Carney. "He was amazing on the big climbs through the Pyrenees and our whole squad rode incredibly strong to support him."
In stage three, Bajadali attacked on the descent inside the final 30 kilometres, gaining 30 seconds to move into overall second place with a points lead and a third place stage finish. In the final and fourth stage from Almudevar to Zaragoza, Jonny Sundt jumped early and kept the break away strong until the finish, ensuring Bajadali retained his overall points classification and finishing sixth on the stage himself.
"This was a great experience for us to come to Europe and race so competitively," adds Carney. "We've made it clear, our program is built to race well domestically in the United States and compete increasingly on the international level. It's a natural team progression for us and the best way for our athletes to grow and develop. It also gives us phenomenal momentum, as we head into the USPRO Criterium, road race and time trial."
Page to host Wisconsin 'cross clinic
Six-time national US cyclo-cross champion Jonathan Page will be hosting a cyclo-cross clinic on Saturday, August 30 at Badger Prairie County Park in Verona, Wisconsin, just outside Madison.
Page, arguably the most successful American cyclo-cross racer in history, took a silver medal performance at the 2006 World Championships, and will provide a rare opportunity for amateurs to learn from one of the world's best cyclo-cross racers. A morning clinic will be for those new to cyclo-cross and the afternoon session will be for experienced racers looking to improve and gain an edge on the competition.
The clinic will consist of demonstrations and practice of various cyclo-cross skills including mounting/dismounting, handling barriers, and other skills needed for 'cross. Page can also answer questions about training, pre-race prep and other issues you've been eager to learn more about. Page will be assisted by other top local racers on the Planet Bike team.
Cost for the clinic is $40. Schedule and registration information is online at www.madcross.org.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)