Latest News for October 10, 2003
Edited by Chris Henry
Rogers' fantastic day
Michael Rogers belied his young age of just 23 years when he rode to a silver medal in Thursday's Elite Men's time trial at the World Championships in Hamilton. Rogers gave Australia its first medal of the championships, and at the same time became the first Australian to finish on the podium of the Elite Men's time trial. Last year Robbie McEwen gave Australia a silver medal in the Elite Men's road race behind Mario Cipollini.
Rogers, who rides for Quick.Step-Davitamon, finished 1'25 behind winner David Millar, and exceeded his own hopes for the event despite already being considered a possible favourite by many.
"It's a fantastic day for me," Rogers said after the medal ceremony. "I would have been really happy with a top five but I happened to be really good on the day."
Rogers' ride was put in jeopardy by a flat tire and a slow bike change with 8km to race, but with helpful words of reassurance from former pro Neil Stephens in his ear, he managed to hold onto the silver medal ahead of Germany's time trial specialist Uwe Peschel.
"He just told me to settle down and get back into my rhythm which I did quite well and on the last climb I gave it all I had," Rogers said. "When I was a young fella around ten years old I was riding with ‘Stevo' when he was a pro out training and over the years we've built quite a relationship.
"Unfortunately I punctured and I think I lost about 30 seconds," Rogers added. "I don't think I would have won overall but I sure would have been a little closer to Dave Millar's time. When I punctured all that was going through my mind was to get that bike off that roof. We were having a lot of trouble and in the heat of the moment once I did get going I couldn't get my feet back in the pedals because I was shaking and carrying on."
Dario Frigo, Italy's only entry in the Elite Men's time trial, finished the day satisfied with his performance, despite being knocked from the podium after a brief spell as fastest rider at the finish. Frigo finished in 6th, 1'51 behind David Millar.
"I'm comfortable with my place," Frigo said in a Datasport interview. "The best specialists in the world are here, and the one who won was strongest, and also the favourite."
Italian selector Franco Ballerini was satisfied with Frigo's performance, even if both he and the rider were disappointed not to have remained on the podium. "There are no excuses," Frigo insisted. "This is a world championships and only the first three places count. I was only 26 seconds away from a medal, so you could say that frustrates me..."
Ben Day close to top ten
Australian national time trial champion Ben Day (Carvelhelhos Boavista) held the spotlight in the early part of the Elite Men's time trial, setting an impressive early time that didn't fall until Italy's Dario Frigo set a new marker halfway through the start list.
"I'm surprised that I did this as I had no idea what to expect," said 24 year old Day. "It would have been a dream to get top ten but it was awesome to see Mick [Rogers] do so well and I'm just happy I justified my selection."
Day ultimately finished 11th in his first World's participation, 2'20 behind David Millar.
"I finished off my season and tried to freshen up and work on a few little things before I came here but there's only so much you can do at the end of the season when you're slowing down and the body is a bit tired," he explained. "But hopefully I'll get selected again in future and things will get even better from here."
American Levi Leipheimer enjoyed the opportunity to race in North America as he contested the Elite Men's time trial Thursday in Hamilton, but confessed that his performance was "so-so." Leipheimer finished 13th, 2'36 behind race winner David Millar of Great Britain. Leipheimer rode himself back into form in the Vuelta a España after crashing out of the Tour de France on stage 1.
"The course was a lot of fun," Leipheimer commented. "My ride was so-so. I'm a slow starter by nature and it takes me a while to get warmed up, so I basically rode into the race and got better as I went along."
For Leipheimer the course suited his capabilities, but his slow start meant the finish came too soon. "I kind of wish the race was one lap longer," he said. "My strategy was to basically race to the top of the second climb, so I treated that like the finish, and after that I was done. The course was really challenging and it was even more difficult because after the first hill the wind hits you and there was just no opportunity to recover."
Julich ready to relax
Bobby Julich declared himself ready to relax and take a break after Thursday's time trial in Hamilton, where he placed 14th (2'43) behind compatriot Levi Leipheimer. Julich was not thrilled with his own performance, but chalks it up to a difficult season which began in January.
"This was my 100th race of the season," he said after the finish. "I've never done that many, so I was pretty tapped out. I've been racing since January."
Julich made no effort to hide his disappointment at being left off of Team Telekom's Tour de France roster. Telekom did not offer the American a contract for 2004, and for the moment's Julich's future is uncertain.
"I had the best form for the tour, and ended up using it to lay on my couch," Julich quipped. "I'm looking forward to going home and spending some time with my wife and new baby."
Disappointment for Colombia
Despite the absence of its reigning time trial world champion Santiago Botero, Colombia remained hopeful of a strong performance by its two riders for the Elite Men's event Thursday. US Postal Service's Victor Hugo Peña, a solid rider against the clock, represented Colombia alongside Marlon Perez (05 Orbitel), but both riders struggled on the Hamilton parcours.
"I don't think my legs ever responded," Peña confessed after his ride. "I was never comfortable. In a one day race like this you never know what's going to happen."
Peña managed only 32nd best out of 43 finishers, four and a half minutes behind winner David Millar. The day was equally disappointing for Perez, who fell more than five minutes behind Millar's pace by the finish.
"I felt good, and I did what I could," Perez said. "Unfortunately I couldn't do any more. There's not much else to say."
Van Petegem's verdict
"The [Hamilton] parcours is not as tough as people would like you to believe," Peter Van Petegem insisted in an interview with Belgian newspaper La Dernière Heure. The 1998 silver medal winner in the road race, and leader of the Belgian team for Hamilton, found the course to be less of a threat once he tested his legs on the Hamilton circuit.
"In Lugano in 1996, but also in Lisbon two years ago, the courses were, believe me, much harder than this," he insisted.
Van Petegem, who this year has won two of the biggest one-day races in the sport (Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix), is motivated to fight for the rainbow jersey in Hamilton. Nonetheless, he doesn't believe the course- despite the 42 climbs over a distance of 260km- will be particularly selective.
"You know, you can't rule out a sprint finish with forty or fifty riders," he explained. "Don't count out the rouleur-sprinters like Zabel. Even Petacchi could have made the selection in Ontario!"
Like most people, Van Petegem expects Italian Paolo Bettini to be the man to watch, but notes that even if Bettini is the only rider currently capable of bunch-shattering solo efforts, the Hamilton parcours may not be the ideal launch pad for an attack from this season's World-Cup winner. Hamilton's climbs do not include dramatic changes in rhythm and start 'softly' in Van Petegem's eyes.
"On analysis, I prefer that to a climb like the Jaizkibel in San Sebastian," he explained. "That is, a climb that fits Bettini like a glove. That's not the case here."
Nozal could replace Gonzalez de Galdeano
Forced to abandon Thursday's time trial in Hamilton due to breathing difficulties from a muscle contraction, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano may be forced to withdraw from Sunday's Elite Men's road race. Spanish team director Francisco Antequera is waiting to assess Gonzalez de Galdeano's recovery from Thursday's difficulty before making a decision.
"We have to wait and see how Igor recovers," Antequera told Marca. "Until then I don't want to make a decision, but I do know that I will not call any reserves because there isn't much time. If Igor doesn't recover it will be [Isidro] Nozal who takes his place."
Hardshell helmets in TT
Following confirmation that the mandatory helmet rule will become fully effective for 2004, the UCI also announced during the opening days of competition at the World Championships in Hamilton that hardshell protective helmets will be required in time trial events as well as on the road. Thus far riders have been permitted to use helmets which serve no purpose other than aerodynamics in time trials, but beginning next year rigid, more functional headgear will become mandatory. This rule will apply to both road time trials and timed events on the track such as the pursuit.
Saeco confirms new arrivals
The Italian Saeco team has confirmed the arrival of five new riders. The new recruits join 15 members of last year's team who have re-signed for 2004. The new recruits include Eddy Mazzoleni, Evgeni Petrov, Gabriele Balducci, Goradz Stangelj, and Sylvester Szmyd.
"Our main objective was to strengthen the team which has proven its value this season," team manager Claudio Corti explained. "The newcomers have been chosen with this in mind. After we confirmed out leaders, we looked for riders known for their experience, so they will be able to guarantee support in all of the major events, both stage races and one-day races."
Malaysian PM honoured
The UCI honoured Malaysian prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Hamilton Thursday for the country's contributions to the sport of cycling. Dr Mahathir will be presented next month with the award by the president of the Darshan Singh, president of the Asian Cycling Federation and member of the UCI's management board.
Dr Mahathir was recognized for development of cycling in Malaysia, and notably for the role played in the creation of the Tour de Langkawi, which has become a major race not only in Asia but also for European and other international teams.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)