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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News, December 27, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

Tactics turn tide for Al in Zolder

By Brecht Decaluwé in Zolder, Belgium

Thijs Al in the setting sun
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

The Flemish crowd at the Formula 1 circuit in Zolder, Belgium, witnessed an unexpected situation in the seventh round of the Cyclo-cross World Cup on Friday when the sport's top names neutralized each other and allowed a breakaway to go clear. Emerging victorious was former mountain biker Thijs Al, who snuck away from his companions on the final lap to nab his first ever World Cup victory over Belgians Kevin Pauwels (Fidea) and Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb-Projob).

"I can't believe what I just pulled off," Al said. "You know that you're in front with two [potential winners] so I had to do something. I was in a bad position during the last lap, but then I was able to move up and attack the dangerous downhill, offering me a couple of metres. I was able to hold that until the finish line."

Al, Marco Aurelio Fontana (Italy) and Vanthourenhout escaped the field after a crash between Swiss rider Simon Zahner and Palmans-Cras rider Radomir Simunek held up the favorites. Pauwels was the only rider able to bridge across, while Fontana later crashed out of the leading group. The three remaining riders were able to maintain a slim lead over a charging World Champion Lars Boom, who attacked on the final lap to finish fourth. World Cup leader Sven Nys was sixth.

"I was hesitating whether to attack and battle for the victory or focus on defending my lead in the World Cup ranking," Nys said. "Meanwhile Lars preferred to have somebody else win the race rather than having us battle for the win. It was impossible to work together with Boom," Nys said.

Also see the full results, report and photos.

Compton fourth in cat-n-mouse Zolder day

By Gregor Brown in Zolder, Belgium

Katie Compton (Spike) was marked after her win in Nommay.
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Katie Compton just missed taking her seventh trip to the podium in the Women's World Cup at round six in Zolder, Belgium on Friday. The American was in the lead group of favorites for the entire race but couldn't find the power to sprint and finished fourth behind winner Marianne Vos (DSB Bank), World Champion Hanka Kupfernagel and Daphny Van den Brand (

"It was a lot of 'cat and mouse', and no one really wanted to work. There were a lot of accelerations too, and that was hard. ... I think the four or five of us up front attacking each other caught up with me at the end," Compton said to Cyclingnews.

It was the first time in the last four World Cup races that Compton finished off the podium. She finished second in Pijnacker and won the rounds in Koksijde and Nommay. She remained in third place in the series standings behind Hanka Kupfernagel and Daphny Van Den Brand.

"Vos had a good ride today since it is such a fast course. Hanka [Kupfernagel] and Daphny [Van Den Brand], they are all riding well," Compton said.

She will face the same rivals in the World Championships, February 1 in Hoogerheide, Netherlands. Two years ago, Compton took silver at the Worlds in Hooglede-Gits, Belgium.

The peloton's best of 2008

Polls and pollsters from around the world have made their decisions about the best riders and rides of 2008, but Cyclingnews asked the peloton's insiders for their opinions about the year in cycling. What we received was an interesting collection of views (albeit a touch biased) on the best performance, biggest disappointment, rider to watch, memorable race and biggest surprise.

Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes)

Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes) has a few words
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Best performance: I would have to say the way Alessandro Ballan performed at the Worlds Championships.
Biggest disappointment: It's normal to say 'doping.' There is no rider in particular, but doping in general in 2008.
Rider to watch in 2009: I am from Italy, so I will say an Italian. Vincenzo Nibali is a young and prominent rider, not just in stage races, but he is also a complete rider.
Most memorable race: The World Championships. I watched it on television at my home in Pescara, but some day I would like to win that race.
Biggest Surprise: Again, Ballan at the World Championships. He is a good rider, but at the Worlds he confirmed it. He was not one of the favourites going into the race but he had to be the surprise of the season.

Jonathan Vaughters (Team Manager Garmin)

Best performance: Carlos Sastre winning the Tour on Alpe d'Huez.
Biggest disappointment: The loss of Crédit Agricole and Roger Legeay from cycling. They'll be sadly missed.
Rider to watch in 2009: Can I pick one of my guys? Okay, Dan Martin.
Most memorable race: The crazy uphill TT in the Giro.
Biggest Surprise: It's got to be Christian Vande Velde getting 4th at the Tour.

Bob Stapleton (Team Manager Columbia)

Team High Road, then Columbia had a fabulous season
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Best performance: I have to throw this one to our Grand Tour teams. We won ten stages in the Giro and the Tour combined and had six second place finishes, including three one/twos.
Biggest disappointment: Doping at the Tour. Kudos to AFLD for an impressive and diligent job, but the July to October saga of painful news was personally discouraging. The UCI passport needs to be fully in place and taking disciplinary actions in January to prevent this in 2009.
Rider to watch in 2009: Armstrong? No, look to the young guns. They are the future of the sport and deserve attention. Take your pick, we have Tony Martin, Edvald Hagen, Maxime Monfort, Cavendish, the list goes on.
Most memorable race in 2008: There have been lots of great performances. I would have to go with the wire to wire domination of the Tour of Germany. Stage wins by four different riders. Yellow, Points and best young riders jerseys, 1 and 2 in GC. Exceptional teamwork. For our German riders, staff and managers this was a clear and dramatic statement of the quality of the team.
Biggest Surprise in 2008: André Greipel. He always had the sheer power and endurance, but now he has the confidence. He won something like 14 races and has risen to a new level. Strong, tough, durable and did well in a team full of young sprint talent.

Karen Brems (DS Webcor Builders)

Katheryn Mattis gave Webcor a World Cup win
Photo ©: John Veage
(Click for larger image)

Best Performance: Kristin Armstrong's TT Olympic Gold medal. She had all the pressure of going in as the favourite and came through and delivered. Nicole Cooke's double Olympic and Worlds road race wins were very impressive too.
Biggest disappointment: Gina [Grain] pulling her foot out of her shoe with 1.5km to go at the Liberty Classic.
Rider to watch in 2009: Nikki Egyed - a new face in the US peloton who has not yet reached her potential.
Most memorable race: Katheryn Curi Mattis winning the World Cup in Geelong. Webcor was a first year UCI team, unknown outside the US and only got an invitation two weeks before the race!
Biggest Surprise: Big surprise was Emma Pooley's silver in the Olympic TT. She had never made the podium in an international TT before and was really struggling in Tour de l'Aude this year when I saw her.

Christine Thorburn (Webcor rider, Olympian)

Best performance: Susanne Ljungskog stage four performance at Tour de l'Aude, when she rode away from an excellent peloton for a solo victory by a stage-race winning margin.
Biggest disappointment: US team's bad luck at the Olympic RR with Kristin Armstrong crashing and Amber Neben dropping her chain at "crunch time".
Rider to watch in 2009: Nikki Egyed
Most memorable race: Frankly, the Olympic RR was memorable for the sheer quantity of rain we faced!
Biggest Surprise: Sharon Laws improvement from 2007 (especially before her fibula fracture)

Driscoll makes way in Elite ranks

By Gregor Brown in Zolder, Belgium

USA's James Driscoll (Cannondale/
Photo ©:
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Jamey Driscoll took a major step in his cyclo-cross carrier with a top-30 performance in the Elite Men's World Cup round in Zolder, Belgium. The American, who raced last year in the Under-23 ranks, battled for position with the likes of Sven Nys and eventual winner Thijs Al.

"It was kind of a scary start because it was so long and everyone was in the wind. There were a lot rims touching and people slamming breaks, but it was too darn fast to be sketchy," Driscoll, 23, said to Cyclingnews.

Earlier this month Driscoll finished an impressive second in the USA nationals before coming to Europe with his Cannondale / teammate Jeremy Powers. In Belgium, he found that positioning was even more important than usual. "It is such a deep field and you have a lot of people gunning for the lead. Especially on this course, you needed to be up in the lead."

Driscoll came to the line as first US finisher just behind three-time World Champion Erwin Vervecken to take 26th place despite a small crash on lap six. It was without consequence and he will be back to battle Monday in Middelkerke, Belgium.

Trebon blows motor on Zolder track

By Gregor Brown in Zolder, Belgium

USA Champion Ryan Trebon (Kona)
Photo ©:
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Ryan Trebon powered his large frame down the Zolder, Belgium race circuit to start the World Cup round seven in perfect position. The US Champion of Team Kona fought for position early on with Belgian Champion and World Cup leader Sven Nys.

"I blew my motor up on about the fifth lap – it was hard. It slows down, you give all your gas to get back up there and then they go again when you are already at your limit," said Trebon to Cyclingnews.

Trebon came over to Europe after he took the national championship title in Kansas City, Missouri. It was his second World Cup this year after the Nommay round last week.

"I have to give it all I can. I give it all I can at every race. ... I rode a decent race, I felt good but I was not fast enough. I enjoyed the huge crowds – it was fun."

Trebon will race Middelkerke on Monday and Loenhout the following day. He then travels to Spain with Jeremy Powers and Jamey Driscoll to train in warmer conditions before World Cup round eight in Roubaix, France in January.

McDonald finds Euro feet

By Gregor Brown in Zolder, Belgium

Junior 17-18 podium with Zach McDonald
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
(Click for larger image)

Zach McDonald got off to a good start in Europe thanks to a sixth place in the Junior World Cup in Zolder, Belgium, on Friday. The US national champion found himself in a chasing group with two teammates of eventual winner Danny de Bie (Belgium).

"The goal was try to stay at the front as long as possible. ... It was little faster than I like, but still a technical course. I like it technical because I come from the mountain bike side of racing," McDonald said to Cyclingnews.

McDonald is in his second year of racing in Europe with Geoff Proctor's 'Euro 'Cross Camp', and the Zolder race was one of his best finishes overseas. He has had a strong season, taking the US Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross series as well as the national title in mid-December. He will continue to hone his form for the World Championships at the end of January, in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands.

"I am already on the Worlds team because I won the GP and nationals. This year is going a lot better than last year."

McDonald will race Diegem, Loenhout, Baal and Sint-Niklaas this coming week. After a short return home for school, he will return for the Roubaix World Cup and Worlds.

Touffet and Häusler sign with Cervélo TestTeam

The Cervelo TestTeam announced this week three more names for its women's squad. Elodie Touffet of France and Claudia Häusler of Germany will join new directeur sportif Patrick Banfi on the team for 2009.

Touffet has been a member of Gauss RDZ Ormu (2008), Menikini-Selle Italia-Gysko (2007), Nobili-Rubinetterie-Menikini-Cogeas (2006) and Pruneaux d'Agen (2005).

Häusler had a successful 2008 with a stage win and an overall podium spot in the Giro d'Italia, as well as overall wins in the Under-24 categories of both the Giro and the Tour de l'Aude while racing for Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung. Only twenty-three years old, she already has a national road championship (2006) and a national climbing championship (2007) to her name.

"Claudia Häusler is a young cyclist with a long and promising career ahead of her," said Thomas Campana, Managing Director of Cervélo TestTeam. "We look forward to working with her as she develops into a very successful professional cyclist."

Banfi comes to the Cervélo TestTeam after two years of working as a Sports Director for the Swiss Team, Specialized Designs for Women. He is a licensed Sports Director and also the owner of Pb Sport Consulting.

"Patrick Banfi will support the current Sport Director Manel Lacambra from the upcoming season on," said Campana. "I'm confident both, Patrick and Manel will fit well together and complement each other. We have a top team and we are looking forward to the upcoming season."

Bamberger joins Touchstone

The Northern California women's team beefed up its roster with the addition of Sarah Bamberger, formerly of the Cheerwine cycling team, and Beverley Harper (Webcor). Bamberger helped her team to 25 victories including the overall team classification in USA Cycling's National Racing Calendar in 2008, as well as scoring five of her own wins including the Nevada City Classic and Tour de Nez circuit race.

Harper was seventh in the US Elite time trial championships in 2006 and took second in the Masters World Championship time trial in 2007.

The pair join Kelly McDonald, who took 9th overall at Cascade Cycling Classic and 2008 Irish National Time Trial Champion, Olivia Dillon, who participated in the World Championships in Varese, Italy. Other returning riders include Holly Borowski, Jill McLaughlin, Maria Monica, Pat Ross, and Janeen Thorpe.

Team Roster: Sarah Bamberger, Holly Borowski, Olivia Dillon, Cara Gillis, Beverley Harper, Carol Irving, Megan Rathwell, Kelly McDonald, Jill McLaughlin, Maria Monica, Pat Ross, Kristina Seley, and Janeen Thorpe.

Touchstone Climbing and Fitness remains the title sponsor, and Wrench Science continues its support of the larger roster. Additional sponsors include Velo Vie, Lezyne, Voler, Clif Bar, Williams Cycling, Fluid, Rudy Project and Psoas Massage + Bodywork.

Touchstone is also proud to continue their support of the National Ataxia Foundation and Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP). In 2008, team contributions from race winnings and personal donations totaled over $3,500 for the National Ataxia Foundation, and the Touchstone women raised over $3,000 for BORP's cycling program, which supports athletes with physical disabilities.  

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