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World Championship Cycling News, September 24, 2008

Edited by Greg Johnson

Rogers wants Worlds podium finish

Michael Rogers
Photo ©: Team High Road
(Click for larger image)

Australia's Michael Rogers is aiming for a podium finish at this week's UCI World Championship Time Trial race, after a disappointing season. The rider spent much of the season unable to compete due to serious illness, and with his bout of the Epstein Barr virus now behind him the three time World Champion has big ambitions for Friday's race.

"I feel I'm getting better and better as the year progresses and I haven't finished out of top three much since the Olympics so I think my condition is quite high and I hope to top it off with the last few races," said Rogers. "I'm quite happy with the form."

"I know this course (Varese) quite well and have had the chance to train over it since Beijing so I am really hoping to go back on the podium because it's been a couple of years since I've been on so certainly to jump up on the podium would be great and it's a very achievable goal," he added.

Rogers' goals come a day after compatriot Cameron Meyer claimed bronze in the Under 23 Time Trial race. Meyer named Rogers, who lives near Varese, as an inspiration for his career (see separate story).

Walker to replace O'Grady

Stuart O'Grady won't start the Worlds
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

William Walker will replace former Paris-Roubaix winner Stuart O'Grady in Australia's line-up for this weekend's UCI World Championship road race. O'Grady has withdrawn from the event after feeling "a bit flat" following the Olympic Games, according to national performance director Shayne Bannan.

"Stuey headed back to Australia after the Olympic Games for a short break and since returning to Europe has ridden a couple of races but has been feeling a bit flat," said Bannan. "He doesn't think he's in the form he needs to be to do the job for Australia this weekend and rather than let down the team he's decided not to compete."

Walker, who rides for Dutch squad Rabobank, lives and trains in Varese during the season and is very familiar with the course. He was also on the Australian team for last year's World Championship race in Stuttgart, Germany.

"I'm very, very happy about rejoining the team because it's a special honour to ride for Australia at the World Championships," said Walker. "The fact that it's a few kilometres from my house makes it even better.

"I've had a really hard year what with a virus that laid me low and then I was hit by a few cars which slowed me down a bit," he added. "I've been riding resonably well for the past couple of months though and when you ride for Australia you always ride above yourself and find something extra so I'm really motivated for Sunday."

Kirchen passes on Worlds

Kim Kirchen has decided to forego the UCI World Championships road race in Varese, Italy this Sunday. The Luxembourger was earmarked as one of the likely challengers for the title, but feels that his form is not at a standard to be competitive.

"My condition is not good enough at the moment to achieve a good result," he explained.

Kirchen has enjoyed his best season to date in 2008. After winning La Flèche Wallonne in April and a stage at the Tour de Suisse he went on to wear the yellow jersey at the Tour de France for three stages and the points jersey for six days.

He will be replaced by Claude Wolter in the Luxembourg national team.

Big gear provides big rewards for Malori

By Gregor Brown in Varese, Italy

Adriano Malori
Photo ©: Riccardo Scanferla
(Click for larger image)

Italy's Adriano Malori made an impressive push to the Under 23 UCI World Time Trial podium's top step in Varese, Italy today. The 20 year-old's agility has improved since finishing fifth in Stuttgart, Germany last year. The step up in the youngster's performance enabled him to power a 55x11 ratio and take the rainbow jersey ahead of Germany's Patrick Gretsch and Australia's Cameron Meyer.

"The sun that came out at two o'clock was a sign that the day would go well," said Malori. "I needed the physical and weather conditions to be right - everything to take the medal. I don't race very well on the wet roads."

The morning's heavy rains passed by the start of the Under 23's race and the roads were truly dry by the start of Malori's run, at 15:34 local time. He safely manoeuvred on the roads where silver medallist Gretsch crashed.

"It is my nature to ride with this big gearing," he said. "I saw the course and I knew that the gearing would be right. I am sure that it was the right choice. This gearing allowed me to take the win.

"I worked specifically for the time trial with respect to the last year," he added. "I did not use this gearing last year very efficiently; I was very fatigued from the gearing. I think I have improved and the others stayed the same."

His directeur sportif, Rosario Fina, kept him informed through the race. Fina told him that he had the best splits coming into the finale, but the fans confirmed the results.

"Rosario told me through the headset that I was going well," he said. "When I arrived at the top of the climb, he said I had a good advantage. I also thought that the gearing was good, and it all gave me a good morale.

"I am very happy with this jersey; it is incredible for my career and special because I am in Italy," he said. "I think that a boy is not able to understand all that is going on...all the emotion. It is something indescribable. When I reached the finish, I knew I had won from their cheers."

Malori, who followed Lance Armstrong's career as a youngster, is not sure how he will develop as a rider. He prefers to give himself time to develop and for cycling to become a better work environment.

"I think that a boy of 20 years old can't answer what he expects from the future," he said. "Right now, I can only understand the Under 23 situation. I don't know how it is going in the professional ranks, I know it is getting better and there will be a better future for cycling."

David Millar: David a Golliath once again?

British Time Trial Champion David Millar (Garmin-Chipotle) posted a strong
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

He got a rainbow jersey once before, but had to hand it back. This time round, David Millar is aiming to win it for real. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes spoke to a confident Millar prior to the World Championships.

With Fabian Cancellara missing from this year's UCI World Championships, the list of possible winners is suddenly a lot more open. One of those who should be in the running is David Millar, the Scot who beat Cancellara to win a time trial stage of the 2006 Vuelta a España.

Millar has a mixed history at the Worlds, with silver in 2001 behind Jan Ullrich the high point of his palmares. He actually stood on top of the podium in 2003, but was later disqualified following a confession of Erythropoietin (EPO) usage. Since his return to the sport in 2006 he has finished 15th and 18th in the Worlds, not a true reflection of his ability, but he hopes that things will be different this time round.

Millar showed good form at the Tour of Ireland, before heading to the Tour of Britain and focusing on specific preparation for this week's event. "Things have been hard but good since the Tour of Ireland," he said. "It's taken a strong shared belief from myself and JV [team director Jonathan Vaughers] to get to this point.

"After how I was feeling towards the end of the Tour and the few weeks after, it would have been easy to think riding well in the Worlds would be beyond me," he added. "I've just kept plugging away with this one goal in mind, and slowly but surely I've started to come around."

He's now satisfied that he is in strong shape. His confidence is rising and he is aiming for the top step of the podium. "In the last few days I consider it realistic to be racing for the win," he said. "I will be very pleased to be battling it out for that…I've not been in that position for many years. I hold this race close to my heart and would love to win it."

Millar showed good form at the start of the season, riding solidly in races such as the Tour of Qatar, and headed into the Giro d'Italia aiming to ride strongly. He went close to a stage victory but was foiled by a broken chain; after the end of that Grand Tour, he set about preparing for the Tour de France, his main goal of the year. He was third and fifth in time trials there; that said, an error in his training caused him to become very run down, and he has only recently recovered from that.

"I was a bit of 'man-down' after the Tour de France, the last two weeks of that race, and in the three weeks after that I was just terrible," he said at the end of August. "10 or 11 days ago, I could barely ride my bike. I have come round very quickly, which is great.

To read the full interview, click here.

Meyer third in third time trial

By Gregor Brown in Varese, Italy

U23 Men's time trial podium
Photo ©: Riccardo Scanferla
(Click for larger image)

Australia's Cameron Meyer, in only his third official time trial, impressively captured a bronze medal in the Under 23 UCI World Championships. The Perth youngster finished with a time of 42:40 on the 33.55-kilometre course around Varese, Italy.

"I was happy with the result I got," said Meyer. "It is very hard to get a medal at the World Championships."

Meyer's first time trial was at the 2006 UCI World Championships as a junior, with his second coming earlier this year as part of a stage race.

The rider thought the medal would slip out of his hands during yesterday's race. He held the provisional top spot for 30 minutes and the silver medal for another half-hour, until Italy's Adriano Malori came to the line with the top time.

"It was nervous sitting there," he said. "It got to the final 10 riders and I was still in first. I was hoping I would not finish in fourth. I finished fourth in the Olympic Games points race, and I did not want that again. I was really exited to hang on."

Meyer referred to three-time UCI World Time Trial Champion and compatriot Michael Rogers as a beacon for his career. He hopes to be making waves in the professional ranks over the coming years.

"Michael is a great role model," he said. "I would love to be professional on the road and produce great results. I would like to progress like him. It is where I would like to be in a couple of year's time."

Former Swedish pro returns as an U23

By Jean-François Quénet in Varese, Italy

It's not often a former member of a ProTour team returns racing as an Under 23 rider, but that's exactly what Johan Lindgren did in Varese, Italy yesterday. The rider placed 15th in the Under 23 UCI World Time Trial Championship race.

The Swede had quit the Under 23 category for a professional contract with Française des Jeux at the end of the 2006 season. At the end of last season Lindgren asked team manager Marc Madiot to forget about the second year of his contract, as he felt he wasn't the right man for the life of a professional cyclist. Instead Lindgren chose to give priority to his family and returned to Sweden to work with his father Anders, who distributes Shimano in Scandinavia.

"I could have continued but I preferred to be fair with Française des Jeux instead of doing one more year and quit, I would have taken somebody else's spot," Lindgren said in Varese.

But Lindgren's passion for the sport continues to linger, so he now splits his time. "I work half time and cycle half time," he said. "I've done some races in Scandinavia and America with my local team and I'm happy with this situation."

Considering his part time work, the Swede was happy with his time trial effort yesterday. At the age of 22, Lindgren is just a cycling lover with no specific hopes or ambitions for the future.

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