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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Latest Cycling News, August 22, 2008

Edited by Bjorn Haake

World Champion Sauser readies for the Olympics

Christoph Sauser would love to repeat his Worlds-winning ride on Saturday at the Olympics
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Clad in the rainbow stripes of the cross country mountain bike world champion, Christoph Sauser heads into the Olympic race as one of the top favourites for gold. The 32 year-old Sauser is part of the all-powerful Swiss team and has been meticulously preparing for the big day in China. Cyclingnews' Sue George spoke with the former metallurgist about his path to Beijing.

Sauser had been the bridesmaid twice before at the cross country World Championships before this June in Val di Sole, Italy, where he won. He'd previously won the marathon World Championship in 2007, but 2008 was his first cross country title.

"As it came closer to the cross country World Championships, I almost forgot about the Olympics because it's so important to win the Worlds jersey," said Sauser of his focus earlier this summer, during a season when everyone has been thinking about the Olympics.

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Sauser grew up in Sigriswil, Switzerland, where he still resides. He splits his training time between home and Stellenbosch, South Africa, his adopted home away from home which conveniently gives him a warm, sunny place to train when it's winter in Switzerland.

While in places like South Africa, he often competes in longer, marathon type events such as the Cape Epic stage race, but it's the Olympic-distance cross country races that he considers the most competitive and prestigious.

"It's a challenge – how to train and travel. You have to put your whole energy into it for two to three hours during the race. I like it – it's very sporting," said Sauser.

"It's so hard in cross country to win and win and win," he said. "I thought it would be easy to switch to marathon where the level is not that high and where the level suits my ability more, but I want to finish my career on top of both. I don't want to water down my career."

Sauser's natural talents help him excel in endurance events. "I don't have to train long distances at all. That's in my blood. I just grew up like that," he said. "It's a mental game and I don't bonk unless it's cold and wet. That takes my energy away – when my muscles get too cold."

It's about priorities

Sauser explained his priorities for the season in increasing order: World marathon championships, World cross country championships, and the Olympics.

Although the cross country championships went perfectly, the marathon championships two weeks later didn't go according to plan.

At the end of the race in Villabassa, Italy, Sauser and Roel Paulissen were the only two men left at the front. As they were sprinting for the finish line, the two tangled and crashed. Paulissen was the first man up after both hit the tarmac hard, but he was delayed by bike problems and had to carry his broken bike toward the finish. Sauser remounted and went on to cross the finish line first.

Read the full feature on the prospective gold medalist.

ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?

By Shane Stokes

Pat McQuaid believes the ProTour needs to be global
Photo ©:
Click for larger image

It looked dead in the water one month ago when all the teams concerned announced that they would not be looking for ProTour licences from 2009 onwards, but Monday's announcement of a new UCI World Calendar means that the series will continue. That's according to UCI President Pat McQuaid, who believes that the peace deal will restore faith in the ProTour system.

"The licences will continue, the ProTour will continue," McQuaid told Cyclingnews. "The UCI can now work to develop all the objectives [of the series] in a peaceful, serene environment, which will have no conflicting effect on the effect on the historical calendar. We can work for the benefit of those organisers and those teams which are in the ProTour.

"The objectives of the ProTour will continue, namely to bring stability, quality, good administration and things like that into the top end of cycling," he added.

Under the announced terms of the UCI World Calendar, the results of the ProTour races planned for 2009 onwards will be joined by those of the historical monuments in calculating a new ranking for individuals and teams. The latter races are those run by the Grand Tour organisers and, with all these races considered, the biggest events in cycling will be included under the same structure.

According to McQuaid - and to the UCI's statement on the developments - the deal was actually brokered with the Editions Philippe Amaury (EPA - the owner of Amaury Sport Organisation and Société du Tour de France) rather than with the organiser itself. ASO has been the biggest opponent of the ProTour system and, at the time of writing, was yet to comment and thus confirm that it would abide by the announced terms.

Many of those within the sport are waiting for ASO's response before making a judgement on how successful the new system would be, including ProTour managers such as Bob Stapleton, Hans-Michael Holczer and Gerry Van Gerwen. All three said that while they are hopeful about what is proposed, it was too soon to say that the political battle in cycling was at an end.

However McQuaid is convinced that ASO will end up backing the plan. "We dealt with EPA as it had initially made contact with the International Olympic Committee and asked that it wanted mediation," he said. "EPA owns ASO and the Société du Tour de France, so they will act under the instruction of their superiors."

Read the full feature.

Efimkin out of Vuelta

Vladimir Efimkin of French team AG2R La Mondiale is the next top rider to skip the Vuelta a España, after Denis Menchov and Cadel Evans. Efimkin is traveling to be with his wife, who is experiencing some problems in her pregnancy and is requiring surgery.

Stéphane Poulhiès will replace Efimkin for the 2008 Vuelta.

Vandenbergh confirmed to Katusha

Stijn Vandenbergh has signed a one-year contract for Katusha, the successor team of Tinkoff. The 24 year-old Belgian will encounter his compatriots Gert Steegmans and Kenny Dehaes, who also signed in recent months.

Vandenbergh, currently racing at the Eneco Tour, is upbeat about his new team. Katusha is set to have a strong line-up for next season.

Australia's BMX team unlucky in Beijing

Australian Jared Graves led in the first corner, but then crashed and limped in to finish sixth Photo ©: Casey Gibson
(Click for larger image)

Latvian Maris Strombergs won gold with Americans Mike Day and Donny Robinson taking silver and bronze in the men's BMX final. In the women's event Anne-Caroline Chausson of France was outstanding all day to claim the gold with her compatriot Laetitia le Corguille second and American Jill Kintner third.

Medal chances of Australians Jared Graves and Nicole Callisto ended with bad luck in their respective finals due to crashes. Graves had a slow start but passed everyone before the first turn to lead the final. Disaster struck on the second corner when American Donny Robinson clipped South African Sifiso Nhlapo, who crashed and took down Frenchman Damien Godet and Graves in the process.

A bruised and battered Graves limped over the line for sixth place. "I've got a pretty bad cork over the top of my thigh which is giving me a bit of curry right now and I'm sure I'll be pretty sore tomorrow," said a disappointed Graves whose rear tyre punctured in the pile up. "I didn't get the best start but put myself in a good position in the first corner.

"I was just leaning into the second corner in behind Maris (Strombergs) and I got hit from behind and was on my head before I knew it," said Graves. "It's pretty frustrating when it's out of your control but that's racing.

"I gave it the best go I could and didn't leave anything behind so I'm happy with that but would have liked a medal."

Graves, the world number two, qualified easily for the final claiming second, fifth and third in his three semi-final runs and drawing gate three on the final starting ramp.

Team-mate Kamakazi missed the final after a mixed performance in the semi finals. "I definitely wasn't on fire like I was the other day, but I got out there and gave it a ... no regrets [performance]," said Kamakazi. "This whole experience has been right up there in the clouds for me and this has been the biggest day of my life and if I can get another chance at this I'll be there (London 2012)."

In the women's competition Callisto lost her chance of a medal when she crashed on the first corner.

"I slid out on the first turn and I just sort of sat there and a few tears ran down my face... it was a race that could change your life," said the 20 year-old who says she'll now aim for 2012 in London. "This Olympics has been a big learning experience and I still have a lot to learn but I'm really looking forward to it."

She wasn't the only one to hit the dirt with pre-race favourite and reigning World Champion Shanaze Reade of Great Britain losing it on the final turn into the home straight to finish last. Anne-Caroline Chausson of France was outstanding all day to claim the gold with her compatriot Laetitia le Corguille second and American Jill Kintner third.

Australia's other starter Tanya Bailey also missed the final. She was relegated to last place in her first run and crashed in her second.

Dornbusch leaves national women's team for Equipe Nürnberger

Jochen Dornbusch will leave his position as coach of the German national women's team and move to the women's Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung as sports director, it was announced this week. He will replace Jens Zemke, who is leaving the team after seven years.

Dornbusch, 51, has demonstrated "excellent experience with women's cycling. We are sure that the Equipe will be able to repeat its major successes from the past," said Equipe manager Herbert Oppelt.

"In my role as national coach I have been able to experience ten successful years. With the exception of Olympic gold, we have won everything there is to win in women's cycling. So it was just time to look for a new challenge," Dornbusch said.

Among his successes as national coach were three world championship titles: Judith Arndt (road, 2004), Regina Schleicher (road, 2005) and Hanka Kupfernagel (time trial, 2007).(SW)

Line-ups for upcoming races

Contador is back to racing in Spain
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Team Astana is sending its big guns to the Clasica Internacional a los Puertos de Guardarrama in Spain on Sunday. Alberto Contador and Levi Leipheimer will lead the team there, supported by Dmitriy Muravyev, Daniel Navarro, Sergio Paulinho and Jose Luis Rubuiera. The race is a 146-kilometre circuit around Guadarrama, Spain, which includes six ranked climbs – four Cat. III as well as a Cat. I and a Cat. II.

On Monday, Astana will take on the Grand Prix Ouest-France à Plouay (France) with different riders. The ProTour race goes 229.2 kilometres in the Brittany region. Astana will send Assan Bazayev, Maxim Iglinskiy, Roman Kireyev, Julien Mazet, Gregory Rast, Michael Schär, Tomas Vaitkus and Sergey Yakovlev.

Gerolsteiner will send its national champions Fabian Wegmann (Germany) and Markus Zberg (Switzerland) to Plouay, where they will be supported by Mathias Frank, Sebastian Lang, Matthias Russ, Tom Stamsnijder and Peter Wrolich.

Christian Knees will lead Team Milram in the ProTour race, and the German team will also send Alberto Ongarato, Christian Kux, Martin Müller, Peter Velits, Ralf Grabsch, Sergio Ghisalberti and Volodymyr Diudia.

For Caisse d'Epargne, Anthony Charteau, Imanol Erviti, Pablo Lastras, David López, Fabien Patanchon, Mathieu Perget, José Joaquín Rojas and Rigoberto Uran will take the start in Plouay.(SW)

Jelly Belly Pro Cycling Team signs Reijnen

The Jelly Belly Pro Cycling Team has added Kiel Reijnen, the top rider from its feeder squad, as a temporary stagiaire rider for two major end-of-the-season races.

Jelly Belly Team Manager Danny Van Haute said adding Reijnen, a 22 year-old rider on Team Waste Management, was the intended outcome of the first-year relationship between the two teams.

"We wanted to bring a deserving rider up from the amateur ranks through our relationship with Waste Management," Van Haute said. "We're happy to give Kiel this opportunity and I hope that he becomes a successful long-term addition to the team."

Reijnen will race for Jelly Belly at the USPRO Road Race Championship in Greenville, S.C., on Aug. 31, and also at the Tour of Missouri from Sept. 8-14. If the races go as expected, Reijnen will join the team for the 2009 season.

Reijnen had consistent and strong results throughout this season. He was the top amateur at the Nature Valley Grand Prix and finished 10th overall. He was sixth in the Under-23 national championship road race earlier this month. He also had a solid showing at BC Superweek, including finishing second in one stage on the way to fifth-place overall at the Tour de White Rock, the final three-day race of the series.

"The entire Waste Management team did well this year," said Barney King, who served as team director at most races. "Placing someone in the pro peloton proves their form is sound, and I'm thankful for our relationship with Jelly Belly."

King said that achieving the developmental team's goal of moving a rider to the professional ranks caps off a successful season.

"The guys responded well," he said. "We hope to do even better in 2009 for both the sponsors and the riders."

Reijnen is from Bainbridge Island, Washington State, and is an engineering student at the University of Colorado. He is coached by Gary Achterberg

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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