First Edition Cycling News, January 3, 2009
Edited by Peter Hymas
Can anybody challenge Cavendish in the 2009 sprints?
"Cocky", "brash", "arrogant" – you can say what you like about Mark Cavendish, but the statistics don't lie, and those statistics back up the Manxman's repeated assertions that he's merely stating a fact when he calls himself the fastest man in road racing. At the end of a winter break which turned out a little more restful than he expected or wanted, on his return from his team's first training camp of the winter in December, Cavendish spoke to Procycling's Daniel Friebe about some of the challenges which await him in 2009.
Cavendish won more major races than anyone else in 2008, no fewer than 17. The 23-year-old now begins the 2009 season with arguably the strongest team in the sport at his behest, time very much in his favour and the road to yet more success laid invitingly before him. Cavendish's sprint rivals needed no more ominous warning than Bouygues Telecom manager Jean-René Bernaudeau's recent prediction that the Team Columbia man is "set to win everything in [the sprinting] department for the next five years."
Procycling: Mark, the one thing everyone seems to know about your winter is that you injured your left calf muscle playing on the Nintendo Wii....
Mark Cavendish: It wasn't necessarily the Wii! I got on my bike, after my break at the end of last season, and after an hour I started to feel a little niggle. Normally you get a little niggle and you ride on, but I couldn't pedal with this – I couldn't stand up on the bike. I was in a lot of pain. Then the next day was same, and the day after that. This was mid-October, and I'd had four weeks off the bike. I kept trying to go out for a week, and it kept happening, so I finally said to myself that something was wrong. I called the physio and he asked me if I'd done anything which could have hurt it. The only thing I could think of was the Wii. I'd been caning this snowboard game, where your knees move laterally, so maybe it was that, but now everyone's like "Mark Cavendish fell off the Wii and injured himself." I honestly don't know – the Wii's just one possible explanation.
Breakaways decide Jayco Bay Cycling Classic's first day
2008 Tour de France stage winner Simon Gerrans, riding for the O2 Reflections Group, and three-time junior world champion Josie Tomic (Plan B Racing) claimed wins at the opening stage of the 2009 Jayco Bay Cycling Classic in Williamstown.
The start of the elite men's race was delayed by over an hour and a half to allow the event's main draw card, Robbie McEwen, to arrive after the Queenslander suffered flight cancellations at both the Gold Coast and Sydney airports. McEwen, who finished sixth, quipped after the race that he "was expecting a phone call from Sir Richard [Branson] this evening!"
Gerrans was delighted with the win saying "last year I had to wait until about March to get my first win, so to get one on the second of January – I'm pretty happy with that!" He admitted struggling with the pace early on. "I warmed up and cooled down about four times. By the time the race started I'd just about had enough for the day. I actually felt really bad for the first few laps of the race, starting absolutely cold like that."
Three-time junior world champion Josie Tomic (Plan B Racing) won the opening stage of the elite women's Jayco Bay Cycling Classic. Tomic burst from a small lead group with five laps remaining and extended her lead each lap to win by almost 20 seconds. "I just flew in yesterday and I just wanted to get through this race but I saw my opportunity and I went for it and I'm really happy. I knew against Rochelle Gilmore and Belinda Goss I wouldn't have a chance in a sprint so I just took a chance and it paid off today."
The opening laps of the women's race were run at a solid tempo, with Australian criterium champion Kirsty Broun (MB Cycles), Peta Mullens (Jayco VIS) and Nikki Butterfield (Skilled) setting the early tempo, before a massive four lap effort by another former junior world champion, Sarah Kent (Plan B), decimated the field.
Spaniard Mikel Pradera has left the professional peloton after 10 seasons. Pradera competed the last two seasons for the Portuguese Benfica team. He started his career at Euskaltel-Euskadi in 1999 and switched over to Spanish power house ONCE in 2001. From 2004 to 2006 he competed for the Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne outfit. While he never had a win as a pro, his work was always highly valued.
"I leave cycling very proud of the life it allowed me to live and everything that cycling has given to me. I am just sad that I never was able to dedicate a win to my family or my supporters," Pradera told Biciciclismo.
Pradera denied a lack of ambition. "I was ambitious as a domestique, and not very selfish." He is grateful to those who directed him. "I lived through good and bad times, both with Ruben Gorospe and Manolo Sáiz. Gorospe showed us all what life in the professional cycling was like."
His favorite directeur was Sáiz. "With him I had better performances and he was more concerned about his people. Sáiz was very demanding, but very human, too. I am appalled by what has been said about him. The cycling was different at Benfica. It was more easy going, which has given me a lesson of generosity."
The Spanish worked for great leaders, but also has his own idols. "I don't appreciate the popularity and fame of riders like Merckx and Indurain so much as when I was a child. Oscar Aranguren has really inspired me – he was a very good friend. He was disciplined, a gentleman from head to toe and a great rider. But sadly he died alongside his girlfriend, Nerea, in a traffic accident – that was an enormous blow for me."(MP and AS)
Nydam eager for Tour of California
Having had what could be termed a break-out year in 2008, Scott Nydam of the BMC Racing Team is eager to kick off the 2009 season with a bang. In last year's Tour of California, Nydam had his greatest success when he and his teammates defended the King of the Mountains jersey.
"That whole race was a special experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life-I will savor it forever," Nydam said. "My father had just been diagnosed as being gravely ill, I had just crashed out of the Tour of Qatar and was feeling a little defeated."
With the 2009 edition of the Tour of California just weeks away, Nydam has been using the past months to recharge his battery. "The weather in Northern California has been great for the most part, and some of the roads in Santa Rosa are simply the best you could imagine – epic rides start just outside your doorstep," Nydam said. "I was telling my boss Gavin Chilcott about a recent ride through Skaggs Springs and I think my statement was, 'I need to win some races so I can keep training!' In Northern California, it is possible to ride outside 99% of the time. You just need to be prepared with the right clothing and equipment."
"Like last year, I think that it is important that we hit the ground running," continued Nydam. "This year we have a bigger and better roster of riders and we should expect to build on everything that happened last year so that means going to many of the same races as we did in 2008, but this time with a lot more confidence and higher expectations. I crashed out of the Tour of Utah which kept me out of our final races of the year. That meant I wasn't able to be around to celebrate some of our biggest accomplishments with the team like Jeff's win at the Tour of Utah and his 5th at US Pro. So for me, the 2008 season ended a little anti-climatically. But things like that are sometimes good because it keeps you hungry."
Xacobeo Galicia schedules training camp
The Spanish Xacobeo Galicia cycling team will hold its team training camp from January 12 to 22 in the Baixo Miño region of Spain.This is the second consecutive year the squad has trained in the Baixo Miño region and the team will again be based in the village of A Guarda.
The terrain and weather are very appealing to manager-director Alvaro Pino. "It's quiet with no excessive traffic on the roads at this time of year. There are long stretches of flat terrain but the mountains are also very close. The weather and temperatures will also be much milder than we found on the Camino de Santiago."
The Xacobeo Galicia team held their first training ride of the year on Friday, consisting of a 120 km ride in the mountains. In the coming week team members will carry out individualized training programs and will not meet again until January 12 for the training camp.
New anti-doping code in Germany
The updated anti-doping code of NADA, the German National anti-doping agency, is valid as of January 1, 2009. The new code will likely be part of the bylaws of the German cycling federation (BDR), as long as it gets approved in the general assembly.
The complete code is now available. Some of the changes include the emphasis on unannounced controls and changes to some of the TUE (therapeutic use exemption) procedures.
Retired athletes can still be tested. The code also added more emphasis on the fact that the identity of a suspected doper should remain anonymous until the B-sample is examined. The code also clarifies the amount of urine needed for A and B sample.
Cyclingnews reader poll: Most improved rider & legend of cycling
Thank you to all who voted, and look for the winner of the 2009 Zipp 808 wheel set with the new 88/188 hub to be announced on January 5.
(Additional editorial assistance by Monika Prell and Antonio J. Salmerón.)
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2009)