First Edition Cycling News, November 30, 2008
Edited by Sue George
Sandy conditions mix up World Cup action in Koksijde
By Brecht Decaluwé and Bjorn Haake in Koksijde, Belgium
America's Katie Compton (Spike) and Erwin Vervecken (Fidea Cycling Team) won Saturday's fourth round of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Koksijde, Belgium.
Compton came from behind to outsprint World Champion Hanka Kupfernagel and Daphny van den Brand in the final sprint for her second World Cup victory in her career. The German Kupfernagel dominated most of the race while Compton overcame a poor start from back in the second row and joined the leaders later.
"This was a very hard course and it was such a long sprint, but I'm so happy I got this win," Compton said. "Maybe I wasn't the strongest today, but I definitely was the smartest."
The victory from Compton meant no threat for Kupfernagel's lead in the World Cup standings in which the German woman extended her lead over Van den Brand. However, Compton moved up to seventh position in the World Cup standings.
The duo of Kupfernagel and Compton entered the finishing straight in that order. "I was first in that last bend and shouldn't have been in that position; that was a mistake that I shouldn't have made," Kupfernagel said.
In the men's race, former World Champion Vervecken surprised many, including himself, by winning. The Belgian was among the four Fidea riders who joined Belgian Champion Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner) in front of the race in the ultimate lap.
Nys hit the finishing straight with a good-sized lead over Vervecken, but the headwind and Vervecken's character proved to be too much. Vervecken managed to overtake Nys on the line and took a record fifth victory in Koksijde.
"I didn't think that I could still win a World Cup race," said the 36-year-old Belgian. That opinion wasn't shared by Nys who said, "As long as Vervecken is riding he will cause trouble."
Thanks to his second place in Koksijde, Nys strengthened his lead in the World Cup.
"I'm happy for Vervecken, especially because he proved that he's not ready for the cyclo-cross museum just yet," joked Vervecken's teammate Zdenek Stybar, who finished third.
On the other hand, Vervecken was happy to see his teammate's progression and he promised he would buy the cake during training next week. "This is the race where it all started for me with my victory in 1993, and later my first podium finish in the World Championships. Now I'm winning this race for the fifth time, a record, but since Sven Nys is four years younger than me, I bet I'm not going to keep the record forever," Vervecken said.
The next World Cup race will be held in Igorre, Spain on December 7.
Voss balancing road with cross
By Bjorn Haake in Koksijde
Paul Voss did his first cyclo-cross race this season in Koksijde on Saturday. He was racing in his 3C Gruppe Lamonta outfit, but next season he will be taking race starts in a Milram outfit. Given that Voss has focused his training on the road and not prepared for 'cross, he was happy how the race in the Belgian dunes went for him although he suffered one problem.
"The technical section in the sand was difficult for me." So the World Cup race became a game of catch-up game for Voss. "I always rode up to groups, but in the sand, I lost it again." He struggled especially on the downhill and sandy sections. Some riders opted to run down rather than ride.
Voss had the goal of a top 20 finish and was not far off in 24th and just 24 seconds behind Richard Groendendaal, who was in 20th. Voss started strongly and was riding in front of Groendendaal in the earlier part of the race. "I think a top 20 would have been possible, but the technique will come over time," he said.
Voss no longer can race in the U23 category. "Otherwise, I would not have chosen to race here," he said with a smile. His situation was unlike that of his compatriot Philipp Walsleben, who has dominated the U23 races this season, but opted to race with the elite men today. Voss praised the efforts by Walsleben. "I think he wanted to know how he compares to the men. He is the best German 'crosser we have at the moment and I think one day he will be atop the podium in the men's races."
Voss has one big goal for his winter schedule. "My goal is to become German champion." He said he won't be disappointed if his plan doesn't work out, but said it was a driving motivator for him to do well on January 11 in Strullendorf. "Next year I am racing for Milram, and it would be nice to have the German championship jersey then."
It is not yet clear if Voss will have to battle Walsleben, who could opt for the U23 race instead of the elite men's race. "If he races with the men, he is the rider to beat. You have to concentrate on him."
To get ready, Voss will mix up the 'cross with the road schedule again. After Sunday's Superprestige in Gieten, Netherlands, he will do a 'cross race in Frankfurt. "After that, there is the Milram training camp in Mallorca." That the temperatures on the Spanish island won't be preparing him for the 'cross races doesn't faze Voss. "I have to also look out for my road training."
After the training camp, he will fine tune his form and skills for the German championships. "Maybe on Christmas I will do the World Cup race [Zolder, Belgium - ed.]? Then a couple of races in Belgium, then Herford and Vechta in Germany and then Nationals."
Kupfernagel focused on Stevens Bikes
By Bjorn Haake in Koksijde
Hanka Kupfernagel rode Focus bikes for the last few seasons. Her partner and manager Mike Kluge had a long relationship with the Focus company, but this year, it was time for Kupfernagel to switch, and she achieved on Sunday a second place at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Koksijde on a Stevens Bikes.
"On October 1, we officially switched over to Stevens," Kluge said. The timing was picked due to this year's schedule. "We decided to do the Olympics still on Focus and then switch."
Kupfernagel and Kluge had no problem agreeing on which bike to use Saturday, but what they couldn't agree on was what tyres to use for the day's race. Kupfernagel went with knobbier tyres versus the slicker ones that winner Katie Compton put on.
Kluge thought this played a part in the outcome of the race. "I think with the other tyre she could have won," he said.
Kupfernagel herself blamed a tactical error for what cost her the win. "After the last corner I was in front. That was a mistake." But she was happy with second and acknowledged the strength of her competitors.
Motivated Contador ready for Astana team training camp
Contador said he's been just as busy this winter so far as he was last winter after winning the 2007 Tour de France. "I have had many commitments [after winning the 2008 Giro d'Italia and 2008 Vuelta a España], and I have not been able to disconnect as much as I had wanted, but I already have my focus in my mind [for next season], and I want to begin."
He is eager to spend time with his old teammates meet his new ones as his colleagues and team management gather together to plan the 2009 season.
"It will be good to increase the connection among us," said Contador of his expectations for the camp, "because now we don't have any pressure. We will make a strong team together and we will work so that the [next] year goes well.
"The team of this year has been very good, and big reinforcements have come [for next year]. Haimar Zubeldia's quality is already known. He can play a fundamental part in the three-week races. Another great success of last hour has been the arrival of [Yaroslav] Popovych. He worked very hard in the Tour in 2007, and I have been very happy to know that he's returning with us.
"And also arriving are riders like Jesús Hernández, with whom I train regularly. This year, he will help the quality of the team jump up."
When asked about his most famous new teammate, Lance Armstrong, Contador said the team would benefit from Armstrong's experience. "He has been able to win seven Tours and knows what it takes physical and mentally. His contribution will be very positive for the team. His level is still unknown, but I am convinced that his presence will strengthen Astana even more."
Contador has his sights firmly set on his number one goal. "Without a doubt, the Tour de France. It is the biggest race in the world, the one that changed me the life and, since I could not be there this year, my biggest dream is to race it again.
"I already know that it is difficult to win, there are many great riders disputing it and that many things can happen in 21 days of competition, but I will fight to the maximum to achieve a win. Focusing on the Tour will allow me a more relaxed beginning to the season – also appropriate because the operation."
In addition to trying to win the Tour de France, Contador will work on improving his time trialing position to optimize his performance. He noted that although there is less time trialing in the 2009 Tour de France, he still wants to get better against the clock.
Motivation has proved no problem for the Spanish racer. "I am a rider to which doesn't find it difficult to train when I have an objective. I don't like training for training's sake. I like to give everything to obtain the maximum result in competition and then, I also like to rest, as much physically as psychologically because competition takes more out of me mentally."
Swedish National 'Cross Championships
Sweden held its first-ever national cyclo-cross championships in Gothenburg, Skatås, on Saturday. Ten women and 33 men contested the event which was won by Kajsa Snihs (IK Jarl Rättvik) and Jens Westergren.
Snihs defeated Hannah Myerscough (Trosa Vagnhärad CK) by 43 seconds and Martina Thomasson (Svanesunds GIF) by over a minute in the elite women's race while Westergren's winning margin was just three seconds ahead of Emil Lindgren (IK Hakarpspojkarna) and 52 seconds over Fredrik Ericsson (Team Cykelcity.se)
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of Swedish National Cyclo-cross Championships.
Contentpolis-Murcia adds sprint power for 2009
For 2009 the Spanish Pro Continental Contentopolis-Murcia squad has reinforced the sprinting prowess of its Mikel Gaztañaga by signing two new proven winners. Javier Benítez has won stages in the Vuelta a Chihuahua, and Francisco Pacheco has five wins split among the Vuelta a Extremadura, CT Correios and Volta Portugal. In addition, the team also signed local Claudio Casas, who has been racing for Andalucía Cajasur during the two last seasons.
Although there was some speculation about the future of the team after it missed the deadline for submitting some key documents to register with the UCI for 2009, the squad recently overcame budget issues and confirmed it will carry on next year and be part of the UCI's biological passport programme.
Walker and Duarte sign with Fuji-Servetto
The Fuji-Servetto ProTour team signed two young riders for its 2009 squad announced earlier this week: Australian William Walker from Rabobank and U23 World Champion Fabio Duarte from Colombia is Passion.
The 23-year-old Walker, one of Australia's hopes for the future, won his national U23 championship title in 2006. He was also the runner-up in the World U23 Championships in Madrid in 2005. He makes his move after two years on the Dutch Rabobank squad.
Duarte, 23, will head into his third season as a professional. He previously raced for Serramenti Diquigiovanni in 2007 and Colombia is Passion in 2008.
The pair will join four other 23 or under riders already signed, including Ermanno Capelli, Eros Capecchi, Arkaitz Durán and Beñat Intxausti.
O'Shea takes step toward Olympic dream
The former softballer switched to mountain biking just three years ago after being selected for a development program for mountain bikers. The "Dirt Roads to London" program aims to prepare Australian female riders for the London 2012 Olympics.
O'Shea praised the program aimed at building Australia's depth in women's cross country. "It's been fantastic. It got me into the sport and it's great having the other girls around to encourage you to turn up to these races."
She will head overseas to race internationally next year and when asked if her long term goal of making the London Olympics was now closer she said, "Yeah for sure. Bring it on."
In the race Saturday, O'Shea defeated series leader Jodie Willett and Jo Wall.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Australian National Mountain Bike Series round two.
Now online: 2008 Cyclingnews reader poll
It's that time of year again... the 2008 Cyclingnews reader poll is now online. Each year, we give you the chance to select the riders, teams, races, moments, equipment and photos that have really stood out from the pack in the last 12 months or so. To keep things simple, we'll be asking you to vote from a fixed selection in each category, as well as some 'free text' fields, so the survey should take you less than 10 minutes to complete.
As an incentive, we'll be giving away a pair of Zipp's 81mm deep 808 tubular wheels on the new 88/188 hub to one lucky entrant... So if you want to fly Fabian Cancellara this Christmas, let us know your thoughts on the rider of the year!
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2008)