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Olympic Cycling News Round-up, June 27, 2008

Edited by Greg Johnson

Contador prefers Vuelta title to Olympic Gold

Alberto Contador recently added the maglia rosa of the Giro d'Italia to the maillot jaune won at the Tour de France last July
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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Spaniard Alberto Contador, winner of the 2007 Tour de France and 2008 Giro d'Italia, stated that he would prefer to sacrifice his Olympic performance to arrive on form for the Vuelta a España, August 30 to September 21. The 25 year-old of Team Astana was not allowed to race the Tour de France this year, but is determined to aim for a historic triple.

"It would be something more historic than winning an Olympic medal," Contador noted of the Vuelta a España, according to todociclismo.com. "I want to do have a good Vuelta and even if I don't arrive 100 percent at the [Olympic] Games, to be able to prepare myself better for the Vuelta a España. I have already taken the Tour and the Giro, and to take a triple would be something more historic than winning an Olympic medal," affirmed Contador.

He would become the first Spaniard in history to win all three events, adding his name to a list of four that includes Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil, Felice Gimondi and Bernard Hinault.

Team Astana, thanks to issues related to the previous incarnation of the team, was not invited to race the 2008 Tour de France. The non-invite left Contador, who followed Team Manager Johan Bruyneel from Discovery Channel to Astana over the winter, unable defend his maillot jaune.

He has no specific plans to watch the Tour de France. "If I will see it will be from home or from the beach. ... I am not going to have any envy, because the year is going on track, and with the Games and the Vuelta it could be a historic year."

Australia names Olympic contenders

Cycling Australia today named the 28 cyclists it intends to nominate to the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) for selection in its team for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.Led on the road by 2007 Tour de France runner-up Cadel Evans and Stuart O'Grady, who is participating in his fifth Olympics, the road squad will also include former world champion Michael Rogers in the time trial and Australian champion Matthew Llody and Simon Gerrans.

On the women's side, sprinter Oenone Wood will join Katherine Bates and Sara Carrigan, the defending gold medalist, for the road race.

The trackies will also see a rider in his record fifth Olympics, with Shane Kelly contesting the sprint events. He will join Ryan Bayley, the defending sprint champion, Mark French and Daniel Ellis, with Athens gold medalist Anna Meares the sole female sprint team member.

On the track endurance side, Bradley McGee, Jack Bobridge, Mark Jamieson, Luke Roberts, Graeme Brown and Brett Lancaster will contest the team pursuit, individual pursuit and points race. The Australians did not qualify a Madison team for the Games. Katie Mactier will contest the women's individual pursuit.

The athletes:
Track Sprint:
Ryan Bayley, Daniel Ellis, Mark French, Shane Kelly, Anna Meares
Track Endurance: Jack Bobridge, Graeme Brown, Mark Jamieson, Brett Lancaster, Katie Mactier, Bradley McGee, Cameron Meyer, Luke Roberts
Road: Katherine Bates, Sara Carrigan, Cadel Evans, Simon Gerrans, Matthew Lloyd, Stuart O'Grady, Michael Rogers, Oenone Wood
BMX: Tanya Bailey, Nicole Callisto, Jared Graves, Kamakazi, Luke Madill
Mountain Bike:
Daniel McConnell, Dellys Starr

The final selection of riders may be contingent on the outcome of any appeals lodged against non-nomination. The AOC is scheduled to confirm team selections within 48 hours of the final nomination deadline of July 4, subject to outstanding appeals.

Spitz preparing for the Olympics

Germany's Sabine Spitz is ready to add to this year's medal collection. After winning gold in the European Mountain Biking Championships and silver in the Worlds, she will be looking for another medal in Beijing, hoping to improve on her bronze from the Athens Olympics.

"The planning is going right," she said. "We did all the right things before the Worlds. This result is proof and gives us something to build on. Naturally, I was a bit disappointed" to finish second in the Worlds again, for a second year in a row, the 36 year-old admitted. "I really felt very good and had a real chance at the title."

She will now take a short break before getting back into training. "After a break of about a week, there is the altitude training in Engandin. Then I will start the Thüringen Rundfahrt [July 22 to 27] on the road, before I start the specific mountain biking training at home in the Black Forest. To get used to things, we will fly to Japan early before going to Beijing."

Spitz was surprised at the performance of the Chinese riders in the Worlds. "We had expected the Chinese to be stronger. A lot of people are wondering now what has happened to them. But I won't make the mistake of writing them off. We'll see." (SW)

French Olympic mountain bike team named

The French Cycling Federation announced its Olympic Mountain Bike Team just two days after the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships. According to Technical Director Patrick Cluzaud, the men's team will include 2004 Olympic champion Julien Absalon, Jean-Christophe Péraud, and Cédric Ravanel while Laurence Leboucher will serve as the sole female French representative.

Torrent out of Olympics

Spaniard Carlos Torrent will not be able to join his country's track team for the Olympic Games later this summer. The Madison partner of former World Champion Joan Llaneras crashed during the GP CTT Correios in Portugal last Friday, and returned to Spain on Sunday for surgery to repair a broken femur.

Didac Navarro, the national selector, has named Unai Elorriaga as Torrent's replacement in the country's Olympic pre-selection. He joins Sergi Escobar, Toni Tauler, Llaneras, David Muntaner, Asier Maeztu, Antonio Miguel and Leire Olaberría, the Royal Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) announced.

The news will come as a blow for Llaneras, who was grooming Torrent in the Madison after suffering the death of his long-time partner Isaac Gálvez in a crash at the Gent six day in November, 2006. Torrent had gone into the World Championships in Manchester earlier this year at less than full health after suffering another mishap, and the pair finished sixth in the Madison there.

Team Type 1's Aldape gets nod for Olympics

Mexican Moises Aldape qualified for the Olympics
Photo ©: Marco Quezada
(Click for larger image)

Moises Aldape of Team Type 1 will represent Mexico in the road race at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. The 26 year-old said the achievement caps an important goal. He will be his country's sole representative in road cycling.

"The Olympics happen only once every four years, so it is extra special," he stated. "I am also very happy to have this opportunity to reward my new Team Type 1 squad. I think it is a great accomplishment for a first-year team to place a rider in the Olympics."

Aldape recently finished third overall at the Tour de Beauce stage race in Canada while winning the sprint competition. He was seventh at the International Cycling Classic in Philadelphia on June 8 and his eighth place in April at the Tour de Georgia helped Team Type 1 finish third in the team competition.

Team Type 1 Sport Director Ed Beamon said Aldape's selection presents a tremendous opportunity to help the squad spread its message to a large audience. Team Type 1 was created in 2004 by two riders with Type 1 diabetes – Phil Southerland and Joe Eldridge – to inspire people living with diabetes to take a proactive approach to managing their health and overcoming the obstacles often associated with the condition.

"We have been trying to give Moises a race schedule that would help him get the points and exposure necessary to make the team and we will continue to help him get prepared for the big event," Beamon said.

Aldape will be one of approximately 85 athletes from Mexico at the Olympic Games, which begin August 8. At the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, the Latin American country earned two silver and two bronze medals.

(Editorial assistance and research provided by Susan Westemeyer)

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