World Championship Cycling News, September 25, 2008
Edited by Sue George
Neben crowns career with TT win
By Hedwig Kröner in Varese
American Amber Neben produced a
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
American cyclist Amber Neben consecrated her professional career Wednesday
with the victory of the gold medal in the elite
women's time trial of the World Championships in Varese, Italy. A
dream came true for the 33 year-old, two-time winner of the Tour de l'Aude,
as she scored the best time on the difficult course around the North Italian
town: Neben raced the 25.15km-course in 33'51 minutes, averaging 44.57
"I don't have any words - I am so excited, so happy. I can't speak
right now, I don't know what to say. It's a dream come true," an
overjoyed Neben said at the post-race press conference, not used to the
Neben admitted that her main focus at the end of this season had been
on the Worlds time trial, and that she prepared thoroughly for it. "After
the Olympics, I went home, took a little bit of a break while still continuing
to ride," she explained. "I worked on some base fitness, with
the whole focus being on this race. I knew I still had a lot of motivation
left in me, even though it's late in the season."
proved a strong fitness in the Tour de l'Ardèche, taking the overall
victory - a first reward for her focus. "I came over to Europe and
did an eight-day racing block in Italy and France: two time trials and
the Tour de l'Ardèche in France, which I won. I used it to get
my confidence and fitness back," she continued, also praising the
efforts of her trainer, Dave Jordaan.
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"My coach designed a really structured build-up for me, and I have
to give him a lot of credit. He did a good job getting me ready. Everything
has to be perfect on the day - your preparation, your head, your body.
It all comes together. It's a fantastic feeling right now."
The race itself unfolded perfectly for Neben. "The course was very
beautiful, and very challenging," she said. "You had to stay
on the gas the whole time, keeping the power on, keeping it steady. It
was really heavy, so it was hard all the way round, and you had to had
to be thinking the whole time about what you were going to do, how you
were going to take on the corners, hit the different climbs and manage
the pacing efforts. I just tried to stay focused the best that I could,
and it turned out well."
Judith Arndt gave it all in Italy
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
But Neben had started the race as the 29th of 43 riders in total, so
she had to wait quite some time to get her victory confirmed. "There
were 13 riders still behind me. Obviously, the only chance to win a medal
was to have the best time when I finished - this was the first positive
step. But then, I was sitting in the hot chair... there was no TV there,
and I didn't have a good feeling as to what was happening in the race
and what the time splits were at the other points in the race. I knew
who still was to come so I didn't get too excited until those riders came
through. I was praying, waiting, hoping..."
Shortly after, Germany's Judith Arndt joined her for second place, but
no other rival could compete with her exceptional time - not even her
team-mates Christine Thorburn, bronze medallist from the 2006 Worlds in
Salzburg, and Kristin Armstrong, 2006 Worlds and Olympic champion, who
finished "only" fifth.
Asked how the American team worked as a group, with three of them being
favourites in the time trials, Neben said, "We have a good group
- we know how each of us are and where the boundaries are. We have a genuine
respect for each other, and we genuinely care about each other and want
each other to do well. We also want to see the sport to grow in the States,
so any of us getting a good result means good news for the sport in the
States. Of course there's competition, but it's a time trial as well,
so you focus on your own day, your own race and just try to get it done."
Thorburn's final act
By Gregor Brown in Varese
Christine Thorburn (USA)
Photo ©: CJ Farquharson
Christine Thorburn is enjoying her final act in professional cycling
at the World Championships in Varese, Italy. The American rider from Paolo
Alto, California, watched her teammate Amber Neben accept the gold medal
in the women's time
trial and left the event satisfied with her 12th place result.
"I did not have any pressure on myself coming here. It was one
last try, with Kristin [Armstrong] being Olympic Champion we had two other
spots," said Thorburn, 39, to Cyclingnews. The bronze
medallist from 2006 finished the 25.15-kilometre run with a time of
35:08, 1:17 back from teammate Neben.
Thorburn represented Team USA at the Olympics in Beijing with a fifth
place, 1:02 behind teammate and winner Armstrong. She took a well-earned
rest before travelling to Varese for her last professional race.
"After the Olympics, I went back to work for three weeks and took
a honeymoon I never had a chance to take three years ago," she said.
She balances training with working 40 hours a week as a rheumatic physician.
Her focus will shift away from cycling on Saturday after the women's road
race, her last race. "I am very excited and ready for it," she
"Originally, I thought might finish my season at the Olympics,
but I was able to come and do the time trial and the road race. I still
have some form, it is just not peak."
The mood was bittersweet in the USA camp immediately after the time trial.
Thorburn applauded Neben, but consoled teammate Armstrong, who finished
seven seconds out of the medals.
"She is such a good competitor and she wants to win all the time.
She has been a little bit racked by being Olympic Champion, and people
are putting a lot of pressure on her and demands on her time. ... [2008
Men's Olympic Time Trial winner] Cancellara did not even bother coming.
You have to give Kristin credit for going for it."
Thorburn will join her teammates tomorrow for a preview of the 138.4-kilometre
parcours and of her last race.
Samplonius accomplishes end-of-season goal
By Gregor Brown in Varese
Anne Samplonius (Canada)
Photo ©: WomensCycling.net
Canada's Anne Samplonius ended her season on target with an 11th place
finish in the women's
time trial at the World Championships on Wednesday. Samplonius, 40,
finished 1:07 behind gold medallist Amber Neben on the 25.15-kilometre
parcours around Varese, Italy.
"I finished 15th last year and my goal was to improve on that this
year," said Samplonius to Cyclingnews after being bumped out
of the medal running. She held on to top spot for forty minutes with her
time of 34:59 until Germany's Charlotte Becker posted four seconds faster.
Samplonius was ready for the "power course" around Varese.
"I rode it two days a go and then I did it right before the espoir
men yesterday, and then one more time in warm up I was prepared
The following women dashed her medal hopes, but the rider from Montreal
held on to better last year's 15th spot in Stuttgart, Germany. She finished
1:46 off of the podium.
"There were just way too many good riders to follow," Samplonius
said. "I knew I would not be in the hot seat for ever. When you start
fourth rider off..."
Samplonius races for trade team Cheerwine during the season and posted
wins in the national time trial championships, the Tour de Leelanau and
the Ronde van Gelderland this year.
"Mission double" for Chavanel
By Hedwig Kröner in Varese
Sylvain Chavanel at the Vuelta
Photo ©: AFP
2008 Tour de France stage winner Sylvain Chavanel will be heading the
French national team at the Worlds in Varese this year. Moreover, being
the French national time trial champion, he is doubling up the task, taking
pride in representing his home colours as well as he can in the race against
the clock on Thursday as well as the road race on Sunday.
Chavanel, who also wore the maillot oro in the Vuelta a España
after finishing second in the race's first time trial, left the event
after stage 16 to prepare for the Worlds. The 29 year-old said his lead-up
could not have been better.
"I quit the Vuelta early in order to be in top form here in Varese,"
said the Frenchman. "I think that racing the Vuelta was the best
possible preparation; those riders that were in front in the Vuelta will
also be there in the road race. Personally, my feelings were very good
in Spain, so I don't see why they should disappear within a week. The
riders who come here from the Tour of Poland, on the other hand, will
have a hard time as the weather there was really bad."
The Cofidis rider was surprised to discover the time trial course was
not as difficult as he thought. "It's very rolling; not as hilly
as I thought," he said after reconnoitring the Varese parcours on
Wednesday morning. "There will be an average speed of over 50 km/h,
especially if there's no wind. The pace will be very high. The last 10
kilometres will really break your legs because they're on a false flat
uphill, which is going to be hard in the end. Overall, the course is too
flat to my taste, but I'll still give it everything I have to get the
best possible result."
Chavanel will contest the road race as the leader of his French squad.
After a very successful 2008 season, which revealed his qualities both
as a strong Classics contender and attacking race finisher, totalling
six victories this year, the future Quick Step rider has a lot of responsibilities
on his shoulders - but this doesn't bother him.
"I have no problem with that," he said, "to the contrary.
I think it's a great opportunity. I opted out of the Vuelta to take some
time to prepare properly for the Worlds, and I come here feeling pretty
fresh. I haven't seen the road race course yet but I'm told it's hard,
so it could be good for me. Looking at the profile, it could be better
for me than the time trial. I want to do a good road race, too, that's
Italy's Ballerini eyes crono competition
By Gregor Brown in Varese
Pinotti took the final time trial
at the Giro d'Italia
Photo ©: AFP
Italian Directeur Sportif Franco Ballerini sees the competition stacked
high against his two time trial two men, Manuel Quinziato and Marco Pinotti,
in Friday's World Championship. Ballerini will oversee the national team
on the 43.7-kilometre test around Varese, Italy.
"Fabian Cancellara is not here, it will be tough. Michael Rogers
looks to be in form. At the Olympics he finished eighth. There is also
Levi Leipheimer," Ballerini said in a press conference Wednesday.
Quinziato finished third in the Vuelta
a España stage five time trial and Pinotti won the Giro
d'Italia time trial in Milano and the country's championships, but
neither is considered a medal hopeful for the time trial. Nonetheless,
the performance of Adriano Malori has encouraged Ballerini, and he believes
it is a positive sign for the elite men's future.
"Malori gave the team a morale boost; he has passion and likes
the time trial," he said of Malori, who won the Under 23 gold medal
on Tuesday. "He has a lot of hope for the future. The Italian team
always had this handicap in the time trial. We did not have any results
since the nineties. Cancellara taught us that when you are good in the
time trial you can win other races, too. He proved that Milano-Sanremo."
On Thursday afternoon, Quinziato will start his run at 14:10 and Pinotti
will start 26 minutes later, at 14:36.
Whitelaw happy with World Championships debut performance
Vicki Whitelaw (Australia)
Photo ©: Riccardo Scanferla
Australia's best performance in the elite women's
time trial came from Canberra's Vicki Whitelaw in 16th at the UCI
Road Cycling World Championships in Varese, Italy.
Whitelaw, 31, posted a time of 35'27.58 minutes for the 25.15km course.
She was one minute and 36.23 seconds off the pace of the newly crowned
World Champion Amber Neben (United States of America).
"I gave 100 percent, the best I could do for where I'm at so I'm
really happy," said Whitelaw after the race. "I couldn't have
done any better and it gives me a lot of incentive to be up here with
the best girls in the world and see where I can improve and where I can
go from here."
Whitelaw, who is an exercise scientist and soft tissue therapist, won
the Australian National Road Series in 2006 and 2007 and claimed the Oceania
Time Trial title last year as well. She was selected for the Australian
team for the 2007 World Championships but had to pull out due to illness.
This year racing with the Australian team in Europe she collected a win
in the time trial stage of the women's Tour of Italy, the Giro d'Italia
"This is my first 'world champs' and my first year riding overseas
and consistently performing well and to finish off like this and culminate
in the World Championships and finish in the top half (of the field) I'm
really happy," Whitelaw said.
The Varese course is literally down the road from the Cycling Australia-AIS
High Performance Program's European base and Whitelaw said knowing the
course certainly helped her Wednesday.
"For me I broke the course down into four sections so in the hill
section I was trying to get under 12 minutes and the ones on the podium
were really fastest over that section," she explained. "The
descent which is winding and quite technical but not too bad and not wet
so we could really dig into that .
"Then the back section with the cobbles and then the home run where
yesterday we saw through the tunnels a couple of the boys crashed so I
was playing it a bit carefully there and then the final little rise over,"
she said. "I had it in my head broken down to make it more manageable."
Australian team-mate Bridie O'Donnell, 34, finished 23rd while Alexis
Rhodes, 23, finished 24th. On Thursday, Australia's men will get their
turn. Michael Rogers and Adam Hansen will start the elite 43.7km time
Irish team get championships campaign off to a solid start
Olivia Dillon and Heather Wilson kicked off the Irish campaign at the
UCI Road World Championships in Italy on Wednesday with solid results
in the elite women's
time trial. Irish champion Dillon covered the 25.15km course in a
time of 38'16 minutes to finish with an average speed of nearly 40km/h,
and Irish 25-mile record holder Wilson finished in 39'13 minutes.
"They were tough conditions out there today," said Dillon.
"It was good to get the experience and now we know what we
have to work on for the next time around. I started off really hard and
suffered in the middle section but came round again towards the end. There
a number of things I know I can improve on as I hadn't raced on a course
like this before.
"It was a tough course against the best women in the world. It must
have been hard for Kristin Armstrong to come back from Beijing as Olympic
champion and to only get fourth today," she said sympathetically.
Wilson and Dillon will double up and also contest the road race on Saturday,
with both supporting Irish champion Siobhan Dervan.
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