Olympic Cycling News, June 20, 2008
Edited by Greg Johnson
Contador confirms Olympic time trial and road race
Spain's Alberto Contador, 25, eyes
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Alberto Contador, winner of the 2007
Tour de France and 2008
Giro d'Italia, confirmed that he will race both road events in the
2008 Olympics: The time trial (August 13) and road race (August 9).
"I will do the road race and the time trial. Certainly, the time trial
is more to my liking, but the road race has a very difficult route and
everyone will have a chance," said the 25 year-old Spaniard in an interview
on Spanish public television.
Astana, the team of Contador, has not been invited to race the Tour de
France in July and his last race leading to the Olympics in Beijing will
be the Clásica San Sebastián, August 2.
Thürig eyeing the time trial of her life
Karin Thürig wouldn't have
minded a team time trial
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
Karin Thürig of Switzerland is tuning up her form at the Grande
Boucle Féminine International, where she is eyeing Friday's time
trial. But the race is just the first step toward the much bigger goal
of the Olympics in Beijing, where she will aim for gold in her specialty
discipline. Cyclingnews' Bjorn Haake spoke with the Cervélo
Lifeforce rider at the start of the race in Gent.
Karin Thürig knows the feeling of winning a major medal well. She
has won the time trial World Championship title two times in her career,
in 2004 and 2005. Additionally, she has been Swiss time trial champion
in 2002 and from 2004 to 2007. But even this impressive list of achievements
doesn't make her the favourite for Friday's race against the clock in
stage five; her main competition could come from within her own team.
Fellow Swiss rider Priska Doppmann secured her 2005 Grande Boucle win
in the final time trial that year, while Austrian Christiane Soeder won
the bronze medal at the time trial Worlds in Stuttgart last year. Carla
Ryan, a new addition to the team, is the 2007 Australian time trial Champion.
With such a powerful team, Thürig joked, the Cervélo Lifeforce
team's best event would be a team time trial, "over 100 kilometres." With
40.1 kilometres against the clock looming on stage five, Thürig wasn't
sure if the time trial would be the decisive part of the race given the
stages to follow. "It is difficult to say. The stages on Saturday and
Sunday have many vertical metres." But she admitted, "The time trial is
important for me personally and I think also for Christiane and Priska.
Otherwise, we try to do something as a team. We will look day by day."
The team aspect is indeed very important and Doppmann is not necessarily
the protected rider. Thürig explained, "We want to win as a team.
Christiane is also very strong; Carla too. It is also difficult to say
as we didn't have a race in a while, so you don't know where you are [in
terms of race fitness level]." Having just returned from a break from
racing, the Swiss rider said racing could be a bit difficult on the body
for the first few days.
So it all depends on how things go. "We will take today's race [stage
1 - ed.] and then see where we are. Today is not a hard race. Then tomorrow,
there are two stages. But even today something can happen."
Indeed, as predicted the race did break up a bit on its way through Belgium,
and Thürig was alert enough, despite her break from racing, to make
the front groups and was sitting in fifth overall, 34 seconds behind Diana
Ziliute after three stages.
the full feature.
Vos to Olympic time trial
Marianne Vos will be riding the Olympic Time Trial after all. The national
coach Johan Lammerts has changed his mind after consulting with the Dutch
cycling federation and the Dutch Olympic committee. Last week, Vos had
said she was considering
legal action to force the coach to name her to the time trial.
Vos is now scheduled to ride the road race on August 10, the time trial
on August 13 and the track points race on August 18. According to sportwereld.nl,
Lammerts had worried that the three races within eight day would be too
much for the 21 year-old.
The decision to include her in all three races was based on sporting
grounds. She recently won four of five stages and the overall of the Emakumeen
Bira race in Spain, which included a time trial win over World Champion
Hanke Kupfernagel. (SW)
Dessel puts his hand up for the Olympics
By Jean-François Quénet in Grenoble
Cyril Dessel aims for the Olympics
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
France doesn't have a top cyclist for the Olympic road race on August
9 in Beijing but at least a serious candidate with Cyril Dessel, who came
in sixth overall at the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré. He was the only
win a stage and it seems that his health problems of 2007 are past
him. The AG2R rider has now totally fully recovered from toxoplasmose.
"I think I'm back at the level I had in 2006," he explained at the end
of the Dauphiné. After the French Championship, he'll go back with high
ambitions to the Tour de France where he also finished sixth – and best
Frenchman – two years ago.
"After the Tour, I'd like to ride the Olympics and get a good result
in Beijing. For me, it's this year or never and I think the course suits
me. I really want to experience the Olympics." National coach Frédéric
Moncassin confessed the difficulty for him to select the riders since
he'll have to give his list of five men – including one who will double
up with the time trial, which will possibly be Sylvain Chavanel – on July
21, one week before the end of the Tour de France. He has kept in his
mind the memories of Athens, where the riders on form at the beginning
of the Tour were no longer able to compete for the victory at the Games.
Moncassin will form a totally different French team for the Olympics
in August and the World Championships in Varese in September.
Canadian Olympic road team decided
By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
The Canadian Cycling Association announced its selections for their
road cycling squad at the Beijing Olympics. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Chipotle,)
Michael Barry (High Road) and Svein Tuft (Symmetrics) are the men's team,
while Leigh Hobson (Cheerwine) and Alex Wrubleski (Webcor) represent the
Both Barry and Hesjedal are European-based riders racing in many ProTour
events, while Tuft recently won Canada's Tour
de Beauce overall and time
trial, which likely sealed his spot on the team. His time trial performance
there likely also earned him the TT spot along with Hesjedal.
The latter is slated to race the Tour de France with his team, which
should be ideal training for the Games. "Going to the Olympic Games is
something I've been thinking about doing since Athens," said Hesjedal
in a statement. "I'm in the best position I've ever been and I've showed
that with my racing this season. I plan on building on my successes."
Both Wrubleski and Hobson have had consistent placings on the North
American circuit, as well as some significant international results. Hobson
finished third in the Montreal
A third female rider is yet to be named, and the time trial contenders
will be decided after the national championship in July.
Ireland names Olympic roadies
By Gerard Cromwell
AG2R La Mondiale's Philip Deignan
in Team Ireland colours
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
Cycling Ireland has announced Ireland's two-man team for the Olympic
Games road race in Beijing, China on August 9. The only two Irish professionals
to ply their trade at cycling's highest level, the ProTour, Crédit Agricole's
Nicolas Roche and AG2R La Mondiale's Philip Deignan, will line up for
the 245-kilometre Olympic event.
Roche will follow in the footsteps of his father Stephen, who represented
Ireland at the Moscow Olympic Games in 1980 before going on to become
a legend in the professional ranks. Both 24 year-olds have plenty of experience
and have ridden together on numerous Irish teams at World Championship
Now in his fourth year as a professional, Roche has progressed steadily
each year and looked likely to make his Tour
de France debut in July. Illness three days before this week's Tour
de Suisse has forced Roche to skip what should have been his final
Olympic preparation race. Olympic selection though, has made that blow
a little easier for the Dubliner.
"I was disappointed to miss the chance of riding the Tour," said Roche.
"But I'm absolutely delighted to be going to the Olympics. I was hoping
to get the call today and I'm really, really delighted to be picked."
Roche has been in consistently good form this season taking numerous
top 10 placings, culminating with a stage
win and two days in yellow at the GP Internacional Paredes Rota dos
Móveis in Portugal last month. His record in big races over the years,
including good performances for Ireland at previous Junior (U-18) and
U-23 world road race championships, make him an automatic choice for selection.
The course around Beijing is a gruelling 24-kilometre loop, with 10 kilometres
of climbing on each of the seven laps, making it comparable to a Tour
de France mountain stage. The route takes in many of Beijing's landmarks,
passing through the city zoo, past the Great Wall of China, Tiannamen
Square, Yonghegong Palace and Temple of Earth Park.
"I've heard the course is very hard," said Roche. "With 10 kilometres
of climbing, followed by a long descent before going straight back up
again. People who rode the Olympic test race have told me it's crazy,
with a very hard climb each lap and that it's more like a mountain stage
of a big tour. So it's going to be hard.
"I'm going to focus my training in the next couple of weeks on mountain
climbing and myself and Philip will probably have a training camp in the
Pyrenees or the Alps after the Irish Championships next weekend," he added.
While last year's Tour de France winner, Spanish climber Alberto Contador,
is already being touted as a pre-race favourite, many of the world's top
sprinters have deemed the circuit to be too hard for them and withdrawn
from selection. The high humidity and dirty city air is sure to make this
a race of attrition.
"I don't mind the heat," says Roche. "I raced in Malaysia in February
and I reckon it will be the same type of weather, air quality and humidity."
The hilly Beijing course would suit an in-form Deignan, whose best results
have come in tough mountain stages of big tours. Although the Letterkenny
youngster missed much of the early season with injury, he completed his
second Grand Tour, the Giro
d'Italia, in May and is currently in action in Switzerland for his
French AG2R team.
Deignan took two top 12 placings on mountain stages of last year's Vuelta
a España and has also previously finished on the podium on mountain top
finishes at the Baby Giro and Tour de l'Avenir. The duo head for an Alpine
training camp organised the Irish Sports Council on July 14th.
"I've been racing with Philip since we were 15," says Roche. "He won
his first race and I was second. Since then we've been on Irish teams
together. We've roomed together and even lived together for a year in
Marseille with VC La Pomme.
"It'll be great to ride the Olympics together and we'll probably train
together up until then," he added. "Every athlete in every sport wants
to go to the Olympics at some stage. It's the dream and it's my goal for
the year. For me it's a very important race. I know we only have two riders
in the race, but the Olympics will be a lot different to the Worlds or
races where other teams can have 12-man teams. I'm really looking forward
US Olympic track team coming into focus
By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
Taylor Phinney placed 8th
Photo ©: John Pierce
Last week the top contenders for the few spots on the United States of
America Olympic track cycling team met in Carson, California at the ADT
Center to make their final case for selection and try to circumvent the
process by earning automatic nominations. While Taylor Phinney and Jennie
Reed had already secured spots for August's Olympic Games in China with
earlier performances, Taylor at the third UCI Track World Cup event and
Reed with a bronze at the World Championships, the rest of the spots were
to be chosen with a series of timed events.
The Madison and points race used two 3000 metre mass starts over two
days, with a minimum time standard to earn an automatic spot. After three
met the standard, the fastest would be an automatic selection while the
other spot would be chosen from the remainder. Bobby Lea set the fastest
time with a flying first 500 metre time of 29.525 seconds and finishing
with a 3000-meter time of 3:17.648, earning the spot.
Of the other three – Michael Friedman, Brad Huff and Colby Pearce – both
Friedman and Huff met the standard. Friedman rode a 30.359/3:24.229, while
Huff rode a 30.466/3:21.740 to eclipse the time standards and remain in
contention for the final spot.
In the sprint events, the men rode both a 250 metre standing time trial
and a 200 metre flying sprint. Michael Blatchford recorded the fastest
250 metres at 17.973 seconds, beating the 18.01 standard. Giddeon Massie
and Adam Duvendeck missed the minimum. Blatchford, Massie, Duvendeck as
well as Lea contested the flying 200 metre sprint for an automatic nomination
to contest the match sprint and keirin, however none met the 10.38 mark.
While already on the team, both Phinney and Reed attempted world record
marks at the selection camp. Phinney set a new junior world record in
the 3000 metre individual pursuit with a time of 3:16.589. The record
attempt was part of Phinney's training program leading into next month's
UCI Junior Road and Track World Championships in South Africa. Reed rode
the flying 200 and 500 metre time trials, but did not set world records,
though she came within .007 seconds in the 500 metres and did set a new
national record. Both her times bested the automatic selection time, despite
already having a ticket punched for Beijing.
USA Cycling director of athletics Pat McDonough said that the camp was
an illustration of the progress the track program has made since the previous
Olympics. "The performances by our athletes over the course of these last
couple of days are a good sign of things to come," said McDonough. "The
determination and intensity of the competition this week is indicative
of how far our track program has come since 2004. To have five athletes
meet demanding time standards less than two months from the Olympics means
everyone is raising their game for when it matters the most."
America's Day earns Olympic BMX spot
Californian BMXer Mike Day won the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team BMX Trials
on June 14, earning the second automatic men's nomination to the squad
that will represent the United States later this summer in Beijing.
Day won the multi-heat competition in convincing fashion by winning three
of four heats and placing second in the other - a performance so dominating
that Day was officially declared the winner before the finals. After four
heats, Day's advantage in the overall classification had rendered the
remaining six competitors mathematically out of contention, negating the
need to contest the finals.
Day began the morning with a victory in the individual time trial when
he clocked a winning time of 36.60 seconds. Twenty minutes later he added
to his advantage with a win in the first seven-man, head-to-head moto.
Entering the second moto with a comfortable 15-8 advantage over Donny
Robinson, Day finished second in the competition's third heat, as his
lead in the points standings was cut to 22-18 over Robinson.
In the third moto, Day again crossed the line in first to secure 10 points
while Robinson's fourth-place effort only yielded an additional 3. Mathematically,
Day was untouchable and the finals were cancelled with Day holding a 32-21
advantage over Robinson.
Day joins automatic qualifiers Kyle Bennett and Jill Kintner who ended
the 2008 season as the top-ranked athletes in USA Cycling's men's and
women's BMX Rankings respectively.
(Editorial assistance and research provided by Susan Westemeyer)
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