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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, September 25, 2008

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Aiming high on home soil

Pinotti is cautiously optimistic ahead of the time trial
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Italian time trial champion Marco Pinotti is one who could surprise in the elite time trial. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes spoke to him after his Tour of Ireland victory, hearing about his season assessment and his aim to ride well in Varese.

Although other riders' Worlds records may mark them out as more likely for success, Marco Pinotti's strong 2008 season means that he should be considered as a dark horse for the elite time trial on Thursday.

The 32-year-old took his third Italian championship earlier this season and also won the final stage of the Giro d'Italia, a 28.5-kilometre race against the clock. His strong performances in other races – including overall victory in the Tour of Ireland, third in the Tour of Romandie, ninth overall in the Tour of Denmark, fourteenth in the Tour of Missouri and fifteenth in the Tour du Pays Basques [as well as high stage placings in many races] show his season-long consistency. These results and his increased confidence suggest that he will improve considerably on the 17th, 20th and 14th places he achieved in the last three editions of the Worlds.

The race being held in Italy will also ensure much greater fan support, even if he said that he would be determined to do well regardless where the race will be held. "I am always motivated when I wear the national jersey," the friendly Team Columbia rider stated. "This year, there will be more eyes on me, but this is a motivation. I don't get crazy about it, though - I always do my best. I don't really need this kind of incentive to perform."

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Pinotti subscribes to the view that aiming for a perfect individual performance on the day rather than opening targeting a specific place is the way to go. "My goal is to ride at my best. Because it is a world championship, the competition is perhaps even higher than the Olympics because there are more elite people doing the time trial. So the competition is a little bit higher and everybody is hoping for a top five or a top 10.

"But the differences will be very close. If you don't count Cancellara [now not riding – ed.] or Zabriskie, who should be the favourites, all the others can achieve a podium place. Like Clement last year. The medal would be a dream come true. But my aim is to do my best, and the results I would then say depend on the others."

Read the full feature ahead of the time trial.

Belgian time trialists with different goals

Stijn Devolder started the year with a win Vlaanderen and hopes to end it on the podium today in Varese.
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Stijn Devolder and Leif Hoste will represent Belgium in today's time trial. Devolder is eyeing the podium, while Hoste is not in great shape and has no ambitions in today's 43.7-kilometre race.

Even the start times are sort of indicating the reversed circumstances for the two Belgians. Hoste will set of very early, 13:16 (rider number nine to go). Devolder on the other hand starts 15th from last, at 14:26.

The selection of Hoste was a surprise to some, having expected Jurgen Van den Broeck instead. However, national coach Carlo Bomans explained his reasoning to Belgian news site "Van den Broeck has done nothing after his terrific seventh place in the Giro d'Italia. Conversely, Dominique Cornu didn't start showing stuff until just before August."

Cornu is off a good Vuelta, where he finished ninth in the first time trial and 19th in the mountain time trial. Then there was Sébastien Rosseler, but he wasn't interested. That left little choice for Bomans. "Who else could I have chosen, besides Hoste."

But Hoste himself expressed his doubts about his form to "After the Tour de France, I took too long of a break. With a top five, I'd be happy."

Devolder on the other hand showed more ambition. "Thanks to my victory in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, I didn't do much else this year to prove myself. Tuesday, I went over the course five times and I also checked out downtown. It is very pretty. Wide roads and long stretches ... it will be very fast. Perfect for me."

Farrar wins in France

Tyler Farrar won stage 1 in France but won't defend the jersey all the way, due to the world championships
Photo ©: Kurt Jambretz
(Click for larger image)

Tyler Farrar of the Garmin Chipotle team won the sprint of stage 1 in the Tour du Poitou Charentes et de la Vienne in France. His Garmin team kept the break of the day in check and reeled them in in timely fashion, with six kilometres left to race.

Farrar took over the leader's jersey, which the team will now try to defend. However, Farrar already knows he won't be able to take out the overall victory, as he is scheduled to drop out on after stage 2. This step is necessary, as Farrar is heading to the World Championships in Varese, Italy.

Christophe Laurent, Tom Peterson, Mike Friedman and Kilian Patour were those pulling early to bring back the escapees, which had gotten a four-minute lead. One of the crucial riders in bringing the break back later was Steven Cozza. On the team's website he recounted the events of the day. "We were going flat out at this point [with 20km to go] and I was going cross-eyed. We didn't catch the three escapees until about six kilometres to go."

Cozza then was confident to leave it up to his speedy teammate to get another win for the team. "After that, Tyler took over. He gave the final sprint everything, as always. I had a hunch he was going to win today. It felt so great to cross that finish line and hear the announcer shouting Tyler's name. I couldn't help but throw a fist into the air."

Despite the scheduled dropout of Farrar, Garmin hasn't given up hopes on the overall win just yet. If Tom Danielson can be reasonably close before the next to last stage on Saturday, things would be looking good. Danielson is expected to do well in the 23-kilometre time trial from Saint-Germain to Saint-Savin.

Cozza concluded that the team is still hungry. "This season is far from over for us guys in Europe. We have a lot of races and work ahead of us. For a few of us, our last race will be in Italy on October 18th. Until then it's game on.

Pound critical over Armstrong return

Former WADA president Dick Pound was critical of the return of Lance Armstrong into the peloton. Pound has long been at odds with Armstrong.

Pound told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that he wasn't convinced it was a clean return. "With his comeback not all doping accusations go away." Pound was still wondering about the six samples of the 1999 Tour.

The samples at the time were not treated according to protocol, which is why the results were purely speculative. Armstrong has announced that he will work together with anti-doping expert Dr. Don Catlin.

Even that couldn't satisfy Pound. "As long as there is no WADA or IOC accredited lab created, his plan is irrelevant," Pound told De Telegraaf.

Llaneras will say adíos in Valencia

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Joan Llaneras has the best medal record of all Spanish Olympians
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

The veteran Spanish track rider Joan Llaneras, double Olympic medalist in Beijing, has chosen the XIX International Cycling Criterium of the Comunitat Valenciana on October 5 to say goodbye to professional cycling. He spent 18 years of his life racing as a professional.

Llaneras is the Spaniard with the most Olympic medals now, adding two in Beijing for a total of four. He won the gold medal in the points race and the silver in the Madison, with Toni Tauler. Previously, he had taken gold in the points race in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and silver in Athens in 2004, also in the points race. The four medals equal those of tennis player Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and rower David Cal, but Llaneras has more gold in his selection.

The 39-year-old Mallorcan will end his career in the Criterium of the Valencia where he will participate along with other Olympic medalists, such as as Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

The president of Podium Sport Events, Javier Castellar, who will organise the event, was happy Llaneras would be part of it. "To count on Llaneras is a luxury for all of us." Therefore, Castellar announced a surprise for Llaneras. "He will receive a fitting tribute to his entire career at the conclusion of the event.

"Podium wants the next October 5 to be unforgettable for him." In this regard, Castellar announced that he "is preparing a very emotional ceremony worthy of the leader of the Spanish Olympians."

Gretsch recovering from U-23 crash

Patrick Gretsch will now need some recovery time, following his crash
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Patrick Gretsch's injury from the U-23 time trial wasn't serious enough to keep him from winning the silver medal, but it turns out to be serious enough to keep him off the bike for a week. "The second place makes up for everything," the 21 year-old told the sid news agency. "It still hurts and the doctor gave me a strict one-week racing ban, but that doesn't matter now."

The young German crashed Wednesday with about three kilometres to go, and the accompanying TV motorcycle crashed over him. Gretsch told Cyclingnews after the race what had happened. "When I was down the motorbike went over me. It is hard to believe!" He suffered a deep flesh wound on his ankle, open to the bone, which had to be stitched back together at the hospital.(SW)

Bikes for Kids in Utah raises $10,000

Derek Parra, sponsors and University of Utah and Brigham Young University cycling enthusiasts helped this non-profit achieve fundraising success with its Dinner Auction and Red vs. Blue Time Trial.

Bikes for Kids Utah, a non-profit 501(C)3 organization that annually provides 1,000 new bicycles to underprivileged Utah children, today announced the combined fundraising efforts of its annual Dinner Auction and time trial event raised $10,000.

"Bikes for Kids Utah had, yet again, a successful year," said Debbie Reid, founder of Bikes for Kids Utah. "Whether it was through donating items for the auction, purchasing seats at the dinner or riding in the time trial up Traverse Ridge, we are so grateful to all the community members who came out and supported our efforts to provide new bikes for Utah children."

The Bikes for Kids Utah Dinner Auction had several items to bid on. Some of the more popular ones were a weekend getaway at Snowbird Resort, dinner and brunch at La Caille, a private bike ride with Eric Heiden and a session of speed skating at the Olympic Oval with Derek Parra.

Parra, the first-ever Mexican American to win a medal in the Olympic Winter Games, spoke at the Dinner Auction about the confidence cycling gave him to pursue skating and the positive influence it can be in the life of a child who has the opportunity to own a bike.

"Whether it is confidence on skates, or confidence on a bike, learning something new gives kids the opportunity to be challenged and have personal success," Parra said after he reflected on the confidence-building experiences he had on his bike as he was riding to his skating training sessions.

Parra continued, "I promised my daughter that I would buy her a new bike as soon as she learned to ride her first bike without the training wheels. The first time she got on that new bike, she rode it from Draper to Taylorsville without falling, a three hour ride. It really hit me that her first cycling experiences are preparing her to live a confident and successful life."

Red vs. Blue Time Trial

To raise funds for Bikes for Kids, close to 80 cycling club and team members, alumni and fans of Brigham Young University (BYU) and the University of Utah (Utah) gathered at Traverse Ridge for a three-mile hill climb time trial with an elevation gain of more than 1,300 feet and 10 percent to 12 percent grades in some locations.

According to Millisecond Sports Timing, which averaged the top 10 speeds of each university's official cyclists, Utah cycling team won the team race with an average time of 18 minutes, 39 seconds. BYU's club followed with an average time of 20 minutes, 13 seconds.

However, when including the schools' fans and alumni in the average, BYU finished the race in 22 minutes, 4 seconds and Utah finished in 22 minutes, 21 seconds.

The Utah cycling team was awarded a $1,000 cash prize to help with its future racing efforts and BYU was awarded the O.C. Tanner Cup for the fastest overall time, including fans.

Michael Romero of the Bad Ass Coffee Co. racing team faced Traverse Road as confidently as he hopes the Bikes for Kids recipients will approach the opportunity to own a bike. "Hello hills!" Romero said to introduce himself to his cycling challenge for the day. "My name is Michael. I'm here to conquer you."

Romero started building his cycling confidence as a child. "I first learned how to ride on a bike that probably cost around 50 bucks," Romero said, "If I can give a kid a new bike, helmet and lock for that same price, I want to donate what I can to make that happen."

The next Bikes for Kids Utah event will be the annual bike giveaway scheduled to take place on May 30, 2009.

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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