World Championships Cycling News for September 22, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones
An interview with Bobby Julich
One last big push
Bobby Julich has been undoubtedly one of the star performers of 2005, riding with impressive form from the start of the season right up until the end, taking victories at Paris-Nice, the Eneco Tour of Benelux, and Critérium International. The 34 year old American has no hesitation in describing 2005 as his best year yet, and says that it would be a perfect finale to the season if he was able to take home a rainbow jersey. He spoke with Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes before Thursday's big test against the clock.
Julich rode the Tour of Poland in order to prepare for his worlds goal, and while he was beaten in the TT there by Thomas Dekker, he says that he is confident that he will be at full power in Thursday’s elite men’s time trial. "The Tour of Poland TT result wasn't crucial," he said on Wednesday. "I had bonked so hard on the day before due to the conditions and coming through the caravan [after puncturing] that I didn't really feel that good in the time trial. It has no relation whatsoever to the this time trial; that was basically an uphill TT and he [Dekker] had the motivation of going for the overall in the race. My motivation was just to get through it and concentrate on the worlds."
Julich will be up against a host of strong riders on Thursday. Defending champion Michael Rogers, Alexandre Vinokourov, Fabian Cancellara, Thomas Dekker and Michael Rich are just some of those he must overcome to take gold. However the Olympic bronze medallist knows that this year he has stepped up another level in terms of form and, fuelled by a bigger hunger than perhaps at any point in his career, he will give his all to realise that rainbow ambition.
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An interview with Mick Rogers
Aiming for number three
Having won the world time trial title in 2003 and 2004, Michael Rogers is in the unique position of potentially becoming the first person to take three consecutive TT gold medals when he contests the elite men’s race on Thursday afternoon. Rogers spoke to Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes prior to the event, talking confidently about his chances for the time trial and also discussing his predictions for the road race. He says that the final 180 degree turn on Sunday favours Australian team-mate Robbie McEwen, but adds a word of caution.
Rogers has shown mixed form this season, going close to what would have been a superb victory in the Tour of Switzerland and also riding strongly in other events such as the Tour du Pays Basques. However, his bid to achieve a high GC placing in the Tour de France came to naught, meaning the 25 year old had to come back and rebuild both his form and his morale after the disappointment of July. To his credit he has done just that, finishing fourth and fifth on stages of the recent Tour of Britain and placing seventh overall.
"I am not so convinced that it is going to be a sprint finish," he states. "It's a very, very long race; 270 kilometres or something, and sprinters can get tired and thus bring guys like Bettini into the equation. It starts to change things a little bit. But saying that, you never know and especially with teams now only having nine riders each. Who is going to chase? Nine riders isn't much, especially with a couple of those expected to lead it out for the sprint. So there aren't really that many riders to play the domestique role. I think that could change the outcome of the race a little as well."
Cyclingnews: What have you been up to lately?
Michael Rogers: My form has been pretty good since the Tour of Britain, I think I've come a long way since then. I went there to try and find some condition for this race and I am quite happy with the way my form has come on since then. I certainly feel I am on par with last year, so I'd be happy to repeat that performance.
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Worlds 'a lottery' for McEwen
Australia's big hope for Sunday's world championship road race, Robbie McEwen, has told Belgian newspaper HNB that the final corner of the course won't be easy to negotiate, saying, "I hope the UCI will change their mind by Sunday and change the finish."
McEwen, who many tip to actually benefit from the final turn said, "That last turn is definitely not on. They could draw the finish line six hundred metres further along, or draw the line before that turn. Everyone is talking about the McEwen-turn, but it'll be a lottery for myself as well." He also speculated on tactics, saying, "Whoever waits the longest to use the brakes and can fly through the inside of the U-turn has got most chances for the win."
McEwen is known for his confident nature, and in the lead up to Sunday's race in Madrid he's no different. "I'm the only one to beat Petacchi fair and square three times during the Giro," said McEwen, before illustrating the characteristics of Petacchi's final sprint. "As always you have to get hold of him first and then go around him. Petacchi has the habit of starting the sprint on the side and then deviating to the middle of the road."
McEwen likes the nickname 'David Copperfield of the sprint' which Petacchi admiringly gave him. "I thought that was funny. Every time they think that Robbie isn't there, I'll pop up. And they don't know where I'm coming from." McEwen explained his tactics further by adding, "I adjust my tactics to the situation of the moment. I'm always grabbing the best wheel of the people sitting in front of me."
In relation to his World's campaign, the two-time Tour de France green jersey winner was upbeat, saying, "I had a spotless preparation. I didn't have to ride a Vuelta for that. In Zolder I finished second after Cipollini without riding the Spanish tour. I've headed for Barcelona with my family for eight days, where we stayed with my sister-in-law."
McEwen believes he's ready for whatever challenge can be thrown at him in Madrid, but it won't be easy. "I feel I'm getting better every day, but the question is how they will race on Sunday. I expect Spain to start the fire with Valverde, Flecha, Astarloa and Pereiro. It will be an elimination race, a survival of the fittest. The parcours is less hard than Athens, but 50 kilometres longer. At the Olympics Bettini screwed things up for sprinters like myself. The task is to organise the race well and drink lots in that heat. I'll glide along in the body of the peloton. I hope that I'll still have enough juice left in the tank for the sprint."
Rumours the Australian might be leaving his Belgian Davitamon-Lotto team were quashed when he said, "I'm still under contract for one more year, but I want to break that open and sign till 2008. We'll get it sorted. After Paris-Tours we'll talk further."
And the final word on his future with the team was, "You can write it down: Robbie stays with this team."
Courtesy of Sabine Sunderland
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)