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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News, September 11, 2008

Edited by Sue George

Freire punches out another win

By Bjorn Haake in Burgos

Freire thoroughly enjoys his podium time.
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Oscar Freire punched out another great victory in his illustrious career. In a true mano a mano, Freire held off Tom Boonen (Quick Step) on stage 11 into Burgos. It was his seventh stage win at the Vuelta a España.

The wins in the Vuelta come despite not specifically preparing for it. "I always come to the Vuelta to prepare well for the Worlds. But it is also important to do well here [in Spain]," so he doesn't let any opportunities slip by. "Today I was fighting for the win." Showing determination and gritting his teeth, Freire held off a charging Boonen.

Freire was helped by his returning form. "I didn't feel great in the beginning of the Vuelta, but the last couple of days were better." An in-form Freire is hard to beat, and despite putting in strong attempts to do so, none of his rivals could get past the Spaniard.

Last year, Freire's Vuelta started off well. He got second in the first and third stages and won stages two, five and six. His preparation this year was similar to the previous season, but with a little more rest before the Vuelta. "Last year, I was training well for the Vuelta and the Worlds, but in the end I was lacking a bit. This year, I arrived fresher at the Vuelta."

Despite his good Vuelta in 2007, he finished only 14th in the road race at the World Championships in Stuttgart, on a course that should have suited him well enough to battle it out with Bettini and company.

The win today may well be a good sign for the World Championships, Freire's preferred battleground. The triple World Champion (1999, 2001, 2004) would love to add a fourth rainbow jersey to his collection.

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It would also make the Spanish sporting year perfect, even without counting its football team winning the European Championships and Rafael Nadal finally beating Roger Federer at Wimbledon's tennis mecca. "It's true that Spanish cycling is pretty complete, with wins in the Giro, the Tour and the Olympics," he said. All that is lacking now is a win at the Worlds through Freire.

Just like at the Olympics the Spanish team goes into the Worlds as a favorite. "Theoretically, it is the strongest team," Freire said. "The team will work once again for the common victory."

He will spend the two weeks between the end of the Spanish three-week Grand Tour and the Worlds doing some specific training. Perhaps giving some hope to his competitors, he said, "I don't know if I will be at my best level," yet not too much..., "but I think I will be..."

Freire was happy to be back on the podium of a major race. "My last victory was at the Tour de France." The win was also special because his family was here to witness it, which made Freire really relaxed.

Wednesday's triumph may well motivate him to add another victory to his palmarès in the near future, but Freire wasn't too optimistic about the following stage into Suances. "I am realistic about it. Others like [Alessandro] Valverde or [Paolo] Bettini have better chances on such a parcours. Of course anything can happen." Freire has the advantage of knowing the course, but still thinks it will be difficult.

Despite playing down his chances, the punchy rider can do well on hilly courses. A win Thursday certainly would be no surprise. And even after that, he has a few more chances at enjoying the victory kisses. Getting fresh to the Vuelta may have had its benefits.

After his win, Freire offered his opinion on the return of Lance Armstrong to the pro peloton. "I think it's good news and important news. He is a great rider. I am not sure if he wasn't satisfied yet with what he had [already] done and now he wants to return. But his return is certainly not bad news."

Walsh ponders Armstrong's return

Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

The man who co-authored L. A. Confidentiel : Les secrets de Lance Armstrong, a book in which he published circumstantial evidence alleging doping by Lance Armstrong, is looking forward to Armstrong's return to professional road cycling.

After hearing Armstrong's comeback news, Walsh said, "Overall I'm pleased. It will let us decide on what his lasting legacy will truly be.

"In a rather curious way I’m not at all surprised that Lance has decided to come back," said Walsh to Cyclingnews. "I remember vividly that during his string of Tour wins he said he wouldn't care about what people thought about him once he'd retired from the sport. 'I'll be sitting on a beach drinking beers,' was his response to some of the questions regarding how people viewed him.

"For me, that didn't really wash," said Walsh, "I was sure that he would care what we [press] and the public would think.

"Of course many people see him for a great champion and his work for cancer awareness is very laudable," said Walsh. "However there are people, and I'd say it's a growing amount, especially in the US, that don't see him like that.

"They look at the allegations that L'Equipe placed on him and I'm sure that Lance has picked up on that swell of opinion. His feeling might be that he didn't exist the sport in the way that he should have and that by coming back he can perhaps exit cycling in a better light," said Walsh.

"The sport has changed since he was riding," he said, referring to the stricter attitudes against doping and subsequent more rigorous anti-doping testing. "So whether or not his comeback is good for cycling is a very good question. We all thought that this year's Tour was a much cleaner race overall.

"Will Lance's arrival bring back some of the doubt? I don't know yet. Cycling is certainly cleaner now, so perhaps Lance feels that he can come back into the sport and compete on a similar level and in a clean way."

Such a comeback wouldn't ease Walsh's suspicions about how Armstrong accomplished his past glory. "However what this comeback won't do is change the perceptions that I have and others have of the achievements he made during that run from 1999 to 2005."

Nonetheless, he looks forward to seeing how Armstrong will fare in the world of cycling that's evolved since his retirement in 2005. "We may be able to see if after all if he was the greatest sportsman of all time. I can imagine that he can win the Tour though. That's going to be the biggest motivation for him."

Walsh's first book was originally published in 2004 in the Sunday Times, which Armstrong later successfully sued for libel. More recently, Walsh wrote, From Lance to Landis: Inside the American Doping Controversy at the Tour de France.

Armstrong to race again this weekend

By Sue George

Just a few days after formally announcing his comeback to the sport of professional cycling, Lance Armstrong will participate in another mountain bike race, the 12 hours of Snowmass in Snowmass, Colorado.

"Armstrong will race as a member of a three-person team along with local Max Taam and another person yet to be named," said promoter and long-time Subaru / Gary Fisher pro mountain biker Nat Ross.

The high altitude of Snowmass Village and the 12-hour duration should suit the two riders well as they both completed the Leadville 100, a 100-mile mountain bike race, last month. In Leadville, Armstrong finished second behind Dave Wiens, who broke his own course record while Taam finished sixth.

Ross is promoting the brand new event on September 14, which will benefit local charities Aspen Youth Center and Extreme Sports Camp. The race will run from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm on an "intermediate-level" course according to Ross. He picked the venue in order to create a ski resort-type course.

"I always loved ski resort courses," said Ross. "They were once very popular in mountain biking [in the 1990s and early 2000s - ed.], but are less prevalent on the circuit now."

For more information on the race, visit

O'Grady extends with CSC

Stuart O'Grady worked hard for his team at the Tour de France this summer
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

One of the Team CSC - Saxo Bank's most well known racers has extended his contract going into the 2009 season. Australian Stuart O'Grady will remain with Team CSC Saxo Bank for the next two seasons. His announcement comes after Carlos Sastre decided to leave the team and ride for the new Cervélo team next season.

"It's been an easy choice for me because I simply couldn't imagine working for another team," said O'Grady on "The results I've achieved here I wouldn't have been able to get anywhere else, and at the same time I'm extremely happy to have been a part of all the triumphs my team-mates have achieved.

"I've had my fair share of crashes throughout the last couple of years, but the team has always allowed me the time it took to recover and been there for me through the tough times. Our friendship and the mutual respect between the riders are very unique and it's the main reason for my extension.

"I look forward to the next two seasons and I'm happy to work for the world's best cycling team," said the 35 year-old O'Grady.

"Stuart has been extremely valuable to our team ­ both in terms of his results but also his vast experience," said team director Bjarne Riis. "He's one of the most experienced riders on the team and he's also the type of rider who can decide a Classic or a stage in the Tour. I'm really happy we get to keep Stuart with us for the next two seasons and I know we've secured ourselves a key player for the Classics as well as the big stage races."

Riis Andersen banned for two years

Danish mountain biker Peter Riis Andersen received a two year suspension from the doping committee of the Sports Confederation of Denmark after testing positive for EPO prior to the Olympic Games. His suspension runs from July 22, 2008 and covers all training and competition activities within the framework of the Sports Confederation of Denmark.

Andersen was a pro for the Team Alb Gold and won the Danish Championships this summer but was stripped of his title, which was awarded instead to his team-mate Klaus Nielsen instead.

The Rory Sutherland Tour of Missouri diary

Stage 1 - September 8: St. Joseph - Kansas City, 90 miles

Rory Sutherland is back again – the 26 year-old Australian from Canberra is reporting from the 2008 Tour of Missouri for Cyclingnews, following on from his incredibly popular Tour of California and Tour de Georgia diaries. The 2004 Australian Under-23 National Champion will keep readers up to date every day on his and Team Health Net's progress. (For more read his 2008 diaries.)

The Tour of Missouri
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

I am back in Missouri, or as the locals seem to be saying, Missourah. Farm lands, rolling terrain, great people and a good race for the team. There has been a pretty big lax in my diary writings for the last few months. There is a reason for this, and I'll elaborate on that a little later in the story.

The Tour of Missouri is a great way to end the season. We are closing out a big season, but the guys are motivated and striving to win. It's fun to see all the boys on the other teams, catch up with other staff members, former directors and team-mates. It's good fun, and at the end of the day, that's why we race!

Day one is done. Anyone might have mistaken today for a race somewhere in Northern France. Rolling hills, farms, rain, wind and an international peloton. Did I mention crashes? Lovable Karl "Karlos" Menzies came back from two-month injury (broken arm, wrist, five ribs, edges of his spine, and a punctured lung) to touch down again today. Poor guy. And even though I cringed when I saw it, I couldn't help but laugh seeing him spinning like a top on his bum, while trying to protect his past broken arm by holding it in the air. Hahaha, good one champion! Tim, the roommate of roommates, just told me that the Kansas City road works department has in fact informed him that Karl will be billed for the damages his bum caused to the pavement.

It has been a learning curve over the last few months and things haven't always gone as planned. A lot of stress was involved, as well as too much time on the phone, and way too much time deliberating on my future. I've learnt a few very good lessons on trust, speculation and dreams. At the end of the day it has all worked out, but I'm still kicking myself for forgetting a certain trait that I had been preaching all year. You race well when you're happy and stress free. Simple, isn't it! Unfortunately I got a little bit sidetracked and spent too much time trying to create a perfect future when I should have been concentrating on the present and finishing off the season.

Read the complete diary entry.

British team dominates the track in Paralympics

By Matthew Cole,

The British has dominated the track cycling event at the Paralympics, currently taking place in Beijing.

Winning a total of 12 titles and coming away with 11 new world records, the Brits blew away the opposition, with only Australia putting up anything resembling a fight on what event organisers claim is one of the fastest tracks in the world.

Britain's Darren Kenny was unstoppable winning three golds – in the men's individual pursuit (CP3), men's 1km time trial (CP3) and as part of the men's team sprint (LC1-4 CP3/4). Simon Richardson, Mark Bristow, Jody Cundy, Anthony Kappes and Aileen McGlynn all won two gold medals, smashing at least one world record each on their way to victory.

Australian Kieran Modra set a new world record and won a gold in the men's individual pursuit (B&VI 1-3). Chris Scott also struck gold in the men's individual pursuit for Australia by beating Japan's Ishii Masashi by a slither. Michael Gallagher put a pause to the British national anthem when he demolished Germany's Wolfgang Sacher in the final of the men's individual pursuit (LC1).

Britain's Mark Bristow, usually more at home as a team sprint rider set a new world record time while taking gold in the men's 1km time trial (LC1). Meanwhile, Anthony Kappes and his pilot Barney Storey smashed the opposition in their men's sprint (B&VI 1-3) and 1km time trial races, taking a double gold.

Aileen McGlynn and her pilot Ellen Hunter took the gold for Britain in both the women's 1km time trial (B&VI 1-3) and the women's individual pursuit (B&VI 1-3), wrecking the hopes of the Australian team of Lindy Hou and Toireasa Gallagher.

Sarah Storey joined the deluge of British gold winners on the last day, winning the women’s individual pursuit (LC1-1/CP4) and knocking four seconds off the LC1 world record she set in the qualifying round. Jennifer Schuble of the USA won silver.

The British men's team wrapped up the goldfest in the men's team sprint (LC1-4 CP3/4), beating surprise finalists China to make it 12 gold medals out of 12.

Other medal winners included Italy's Paolo Vigano in the 1km Time Trial (LC3-4), as well as America's Jennifer Schuble grabbing gold in the LC1-2/CP3 time trial, and Barbara Buchan beating Natalie Simanowski of Germany to win gold in the women's individual pursuit (LC3-4/CP3).

The Czech Republic, New Zealand and China all took medals home too, but Britain's overwhelming dominance on the track can't be overstated enough, and they'll be hoping to translate victory on the track to the road event which takes place from Friday September 12.

See Cyclingnews' coverage of the Paralympics.

Webcor team brings best to San Francisco

Dr. Christine Thorburn (USA)
Photo ©: Casey Gibson
(Click for larger image)

When the start gun fires at the inaugural San Francisco Twilight Criterium on September 13, there will be no shortage of talent on the start line. In the pro women's race, Webcor Cycling Team will line up its best riders including two Olympians and national champions.

Two-time Olympian and 2004 National US Time Trial Champion Christine Thorburn, who placed fifth in this summer's Olympic time trial, will make the San Francisco Twilight one of her last races before she retires at the end of September to concentrate on her "other" full-time career as a rheumatologist.

Also riding for Webcor will be Gina Grain, a member of the Canadian Olympic Team, 2007 Canadian National Road Champion and 2008 US Open track omnium champion.

According to Andy Ball, president of Webcor Builders and owner of Webcor Cycling Team, the team is thrilled at the prospect of racing on their home turf and reviving a time when more people came to watch cycling than baseball or football.

"This is a great opportunity for our women's professional team to race in front of locals," said Ball. "The number of people who came to the San Francisco Grand Prix a few years ago was just amazing, so we expect the San Francisco Twilight to be a big draw, too."

The start line for the men's race will also have its share of stars, including 2008 National Criterium Champion Ken Hanson (California Giant/Specialized), 2008 Northern California/Nevada Criterium Champion Jesse Mendonca (Adobe/HDR) and Jonathan Cantwell (Jittery Joe's), who just won the overall at the 2008 International Cycling Classic, also known as "Superweek".

The race will serve as the next-to-last race in the USA Crits series and promises aggressive racing and team tactics as series leaders - Kelly Benjamin (Cheerwine) and Yosvany Falcon (Toshiba-Santo) work to defend their leads. Racers will also be fighting for a piece of the US $15,000 cash purse.

The overall series winner will have the most points earned by the number of laps led, placement in a special mid-race "prime" lap during each race, and the racer's finish in each race. The final race in the series will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 25.

For more information on the San Francisco Twilight Criterium, visit

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Tomas Nilsson and Daniel Benson.)

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