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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News, September 18, 2008

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Schumacher hot for Worlds

By Bjorn Haake in Valladolid

After an excellent Tour de France, Schumacher hopes for Worlds glory
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Stefan Schumacher is using the Vuelta a España as his last preparation race for the World Championships in Varese, like many of his Gerolsteiner colleagues. Schumacher is very optimistic to get a good result in Italy. Even though he hasn't gotten any results recently, the German was happy how his Vuelta went for him so far.

Schumacher emphasised how valuable the three-week race in Spain is for him. "The Vuelta is so difficult this year that there is enough training to be fit for the World Championships." He did acknowledge it would have been nice to get a success, and added that there are still a few days left. But the main goal is the Worlds. "I have no pressure. If the form is there, then I will be OK for Varese."

Schumacher said the Vuelta was hard right from the start, even more so because of a different programme, with the potential rest after the Tour replaced by the Olympic Games in Beijing. He also suffered health issues from the climatic conditions in China. "In and especially after Beijing I wasn't quite fit and I couldn't train well. So for that I am happy how I am doing here now." He added that he had to make sure not to overdo it in the Vuelta, to not jeopardise his Varese preparation.

For that the double Tour de France time trial winner felt he is on a good way and he has done his homework. "Yes, I know the course. I am not just going there at random. I think the course is difficult." When asked if he agreed with Oscar Freire, who said that a group of 30 or 40 will arrive, Schumacher said no. "I think it will be similar guys like in Stuttgart last year. From the difficulty I estimate the parcours equally hard as Stuttgart." Schumacher took the bronze medal last year in Stuttgart.

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In Andorra he told Cyclingnews that he may target one specific stage in the Vuelta, otherwise he was mostly just going to get the training miles in. The day he chose was the stage to Suances. "I felt good and it was an interesting profile for me." Unfortunately, he was left behind with Alejandro Valverde on a wet descent. "It was a strange situation. It's not meant to be an excuse, but the race was very calm. I went to the car to get a rain jacket so I wouldn't get sick, as it was cold."

Then the front guys started hammering very hard, when they realised that they could get time on Valverde, who was still close in the overall at the time. Schumacher acknowledged it was a new situation for him, even though he has been a pro for a few years now. "You always learn something new... I wasn't even all the way at the back. There were only something like 50 riders in that front group."

Other than that, he mostly drew strength from the Vuelta. He also noticed his teammate Heinrich Haussler going well. "Heinrich finished third yesterday [stage 16] in the sprint, maybe we can still take out a stage. He has good legs." Schumacher will try to help him as much as he can, provided he can stay on course. In the hectic finale on that sixteenth stage, he took a wrong turn with a few other riders. "It's better than crashing, but I lost Heinrich that way..."

Last minute change in GB Worlds team

Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia) prefers not to race the Varese Worlds
Photo ©: John Pierce
(Click for larger image)

Mark Cavendish has dropped out of the Great Britain World Championships only hours after being named to the team. His place in the road race is expected to be taken by Geraint Thomas.

Cavendish, 23, has had 17 wins this season, including most recently three stage wins in the Tour of Missouri. He was selected by British Cycling to race the Worlds road race, but shortly after the announcement, his name was taken off the list again with the mention that he "withdrew".

"Mark has had a long season," explained Kristy Scrymgeour, Team Columbia spokeswoman. "He is mentally tired and feels that he doesn't have the form to compete at the top level at World Championships next week."

The men's road team will now have David Millar, Chris Froome, Steve Cummings, Russell Downing, and Ian Stannard, with Geraint Thomas still to be confirmed. Millar and Cummings will also ride the time trial.

Olympic Champion Nicole Cooke will lead the women's team. She will be supported by Sharon Laws, Emma Pooley, Lizzie Armitstead, and Jess Allen. Law and Pooley will ride the time trial.

For the U-23 team, Ben Swift, Peter Kennaugh, Alex Dowsett, Jonny Bellis and Jonny McEvoy will ride the road race, with Dowsett and Russel Hampton in the time trial.

Hansen looking forward to Worlds

By Susan Westemeyer

Adam Hansen
Photo ©: Team High Road
(Click for larger image)

Adam Hansen of Team Columbia started his year out winning the Australian national time trial championship in January, and he hopes to close it out by helping an Australian win the World road title. That would top off what he calls "a great year".

Hansen, 27, told Cyclingnews, "It's been a great year for me, and it's a first for many things, including riding and finishing the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France. And now I get the chance for the first time to race in the Worlds for the road race." The Australian has also received a new two-year contract with Team Columbia.

"Most of my focus will be on the road race," he continued, a race in which he will ride for Michael Rogers and Robbie McEwen. "I think we have some good riders who are able to do something special. I hope I can play a major role for supporting them to achieve it."

Last year Hansen rode the Worlds time trial, finishing 38th.

Garzelli angry at non-selection

Garzelli was overjoyed by his win in Belgium, but could not understand being left out for the Worlds
Photo ©: Isabelle Duchesne
(Click for larger image)

Stefano Garzelli won a race in Belgium this week, and after a good season, doesn't understand why he wasn't selected for the Italian national team which will ride the Worlds only a few kilometres from his home.

Garzelli races for the Professional Continental team Acqua & Sapone-Caffe Mokambo, and leads the UCI's Europe Tour rankings. He burst into tears after winning the GP van Wallonie this week. "I am in such a good form and the national coach doesn't take me to the World Championships that are only five kilometres away from my home," he said, according to the Belga news agency. "Especially since you can best compare that course to the one here. I can't defend my chances now, and I find that a pity."

The 35 year-old thanked his team "which controlled the whole game and could stop each gap." He admitted that he rode the race with "feelings of revenge, of course, because I wanted to be in Varese. A world championships is being held in my backyard. I have shown today that I should have been selected."

Swiss, Norwegian and Czech Worlds teams official

Swiss Cycling has announced its selections for the men's team for the World Championships next week in Varese, Italy. World and Olympic champion Fabian Cancellara has been selected for both the road race and the time trial, but will decide only after the Tour of Poland whether he will participate.

For the road race, the following riders have been selected: Michael Albasini, Rubens Bertogliati, Fabian Cancellara, Martin Elmiger, David Loosli, Gregory Rast.Danilo Wyss, Oliver Zaugg and Markus Zberg. Alternates are Andreas Dietziker, Thomas Frei, Michael Schär and Roger Beuchat.

For the time trial, the committee selected Cancellara, Bertaglioti and Frei.

The Norwegian selection for Varese consists of Tour de France stage winner Kurt-Alse Arvesen, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Lars Petter Nordhaug. Hagen has won three stages in the Tour of Britain recently.

Roman Kreuziger will be the leader of the Czech selection in Italy. The 22 year-old, 13th-placed in the Tour de France will be supported by Martin Mares and Frantisek Rabon, who will also ride the time trial. Entering the U23 race will be Martin Hacecky and Jakub Kratochvila. The women's squad for the road race as well as for the time trial will include Jarmila Machacova and Martina Ruzickova.

Armstrong no theme for Columbia

It is not yet known for which team Lance Armstrong may be riding next year, but it is clear which team it won't be - Team Columbia. Sport director Rolf Aldag has denied any interest in the seven-time Tour de France winner.

"There haven't been any discussions with him," Aldag told the sid news agency. "Armstrong is a theme for all of cycling right now, but not for us. He will probably work together with his former cohorts like Johan Bruyneel anyway."

Armstrong has scheduled a press conference on September 24 to announce his more specific future plans.

Dekker not to CSC-Saxo Bank

CSC-Saxo Bank team spokesman Brian Nygaard has denied that the squad directed by Bjarne Riis is looking to hire Thomas Dekker. On Tuesday, Dekker's manager Martijn Berkhout said the 24 year-old was in talks with the Danish team, but Nygaard said CSC-Saxo Bank was not considering to offer Dekker a contract.

In Dutch radio show Langs de Lijn, Nygaard said the team management was busy trying to sign other riders that would fit into the team better than Dekker. They did request the blood values of the rider from the UCI, but "every team that is looking for new riders does this. The UCI told us there was nothing against him."

Since his split from Rabobank, Dekker has been linked to several other teams. Last Friday, he said that he would announce his plans for next season by the end of September.

Düsseldorf drops out of 2010 Tour bidding

Düsseldorf, Germany, has withdrawn its application to hold the start of the 2010 Tour de France. Mayor Dirk Elbers said that the city "had expected to get a good image throughout the entire world with the race. But considering the current circumstances around the Tour, that it not a certainty. It is not even sure whether German television will carry the race."

In addition, it was expected that the city would have had to pay about six million Euro. According to the Rheinische Post, the cost was too high for the city, the politicians and the sponsors. Elbers had earlier told the newspaper that he would advise against bidding for the start if the cost exceeded six million Euros. The estimate came in a 5.996 million, "a 'coincidence' which had been forecast by some members of the committee and which was received with amusement and disgust." The city's sports committee subsequently decided to withdraw its bid.

According to the newspaper, Elbers had earlier said that he was not worried about the doping risk, but that the threat by the two German TV broadcasters ARD and ZDF to not carry the Tour "obviously changed the mood at City Hall."

Howard hopes for Tassie victory

Leigh Howard won the Devonport criterium last year
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Australian rider Leigh Howard hopes to win the Scody Cup series finishing with the 2008 Tour of Tasmania in early October. The annual cup is centred on four events - the Lakes Oil Tour of Gippsland, won by rival Bernard Sulzberger, the Australian Cycling Grand Prix at Ballarat, the Timbercorp Tour of the Murray River, in which Howard triumphed, and finishing with the Tour of Tasmania from September 30-October 5.

Howard, 18, the rising star of Australian cycling, leads the prestigious Scody Cup series narrowly in front of Tasmanians Sulzberger and Nathan Clarke.

"I'm a lot better prepared for Tassie this year and certainly a lot fitter," said Howard, who hopes that his good results will pay off in a European ProTour contract one day. "I was looking through some old programs last night and saw some of the winning names of the cup series. A lot of these riders have gone on to get overseas ProTour contracts - it's a good indication that I am on the right track.

Howard won the Devonport and Westbury criteriums in last year's Tour of Tasmania and surprised all rivals when, as a 17-year-old, he triumphed in the Ulverstone-Penguin stage, via some steep climbs around Gunns Plains.

The six-day Tour of Tasmania will start with criteriums in Devonport and Latrobe on Tuesday, September 30, and end with a grand finale street race at Westbury on Sunday, October 5.

Australia's NRS decided this week-end

Two riders still have the chance to win Cycling Australia’s National Road Series in this Saturday's 48th Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic, the last on the calendar. With a forecast of fine conditions and the temperature to reach 27 ° Celsius, the riders' only weather concern will be the customary headwind they will have to battle on their way to Inverell.

Current NRS leader Tim Roe of Savings & Loans and his team are intent on protecting his 97 point series lead in the 228km race. On the other hand, Virgin Blue Cycling’s David Kemp is going into the event looking for a win and the 180 points on offer to overhaul the South Australian rider.

With a quality field of riders in the race, Roe and Kemp will have more than each other to contend with, like German LKT-Team-Brandenburg who have brought a strong team including Beijing Silver medallist Roger Kluge and climber Mathias Belka.

VIS/Jayco coach Dave Sanders is bringing a young team including triple junior world champion Glen O’Shea and Commonwealth Games Gold medallist Sean Finning. While Team Budget Forklifts will be looking to the experience of last year's winner Cameron Hughes to create history with back to back wins.

NSW teams Panasonic, Mace and NSWIS all have riders capable of winning the race. Mace rider Brendan Jones, who lives in Inverell, will be looking to use his local knowledge towards the end of the race while Panasonic’s Chris Jory is fresh from a third place in the Goulburn to Citi last weekend and is sure to attack the field.

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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