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Cyclo-cross News & Racing Round-up, Sunday, January 31, 2010

Date published:
January 31, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • UCI add sand to the mix for 'cross Worlds

    A British rider crashes on the snow and ice covered course in Tabor.
    Article published:
    January 30, 2010, 9:51 GMT
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Opinion split amongst US riders over UCI efforts to counter snow and ice in Tabor

    In an effort to counter icy conditions for this weekend's Cyclo-cross World Championships, the International Cycling Union (UCI) has introduced sand to sections of the course in Tabor, Czech Republic. The decision has drawn mixed reactions from the Elite men's field, with opinion within the US men's team particularly divided over the virtue of alterations made.

    The course, located at a park in the suburbs of Tabor, has been covered with huge packs of snow after several weeks of freezing conditions in the Czech Republic. The UCI's cyclo-cross co-ordinator Peter Van den Abeele had taken the decision to add sand earlier this week. "It can snow every day," Van den Abeele told cyclo-cross.info. "If that happens we'll have to remove it and the remaining bits will be covered with sand, to make it less slippery."

    While the predicted snowfalls had failed to materialise on Saturday, low temperatures have ensured that the course has remained unpredictable. Riders exploring the course this week witnessed the changeability of conditions; morning sessions marked by a mixture of snow and ice, before turning into an ice rink in the afternoons. Czech champion and top favourite Zdenek Stybar tested the course earlier in the day mid-week and explained that the track was likely to suit riders best equipped for mud-like conditions.

    "It's not comparable with the Czech championships [held on the same course]. Because of the snow one has to work hard, just like in a muddy race," Stybar said.

    However, with the Elite men's race to begin at 2pm CET on Sunday, Stybar and his colleagues are likely to race in slicker conditions. Photographers witness to afternoon training sessions throughout the week captured countless riders who hit the ice after losing traction in one of the multiple corners of the twisting course. The difficulty was not restricted to junior riders, with Elite riders including French champion Francis Mourey, US rider Jeremy Powers...

  • Ricco's partner denies taking EPO CERA

    Vania Rossi and partner Riccardo Riccò
    Article published:
    January 30, 2010, 12:57 GMT
    By:
    Stephen Farrand

    Vania Rossi: “If I’d taken CERA or anything else, I’d deserve to be put in jail.”

    Riccardo Riccò's girlfriend has denied taking the banned blood-boosting drug EPO CERA, revealing she breast fed her baby boy just before undergoing the anti-doping test on January 10 that showed the positive test.

    The Italian Olympic Committee announced on Friday that Vania Rossi failed a test for EPO CERA after she finished second at the Italian national cyclo-cross championships. Ricco tested positive for the same drug at the 2008 Tour de France.

    "I can’t believe it. I’ve nothing to do with the accusations made against me," Rossi told the Italian La Repubblica newspaper.

    "I’ve never taken banned substances and I especially haven’t done it now because I’m a mum and I’ve been breast feeding my baby boy since last July."

    "People who know me and know my past, understand only too well that the whole thing is absurd. I’d never risk my son’s health for a bike race. That Sunday, while I was waiting for the control, I breast fed my son. If I’d taken CERA or anything else, I’d deserve to be put in jail."

    "What happened? I don’t know but there are too many things that don’t add up."

    On Friday afternoon the Italian Olympic Committee officially suspended Rossi from competition, just hours after her positive test was announced. She now faces an investigation by the Italian anti-doping investigators.

    Doping is illegal under Italian law and so Rossi could also face criminal charges.

     

  • Johnson welcomes World Championships Stateside

    American champion Tim Johnson (Cannondale - Cyclocrossworld.com) descending.
    Article published:
    January 30, 2010, 13:56 GMT
    By:
    Kirsten Frattini

    US national champion pledges to compete in Louisville in 2013

    United States of America's National Cyclo-cross Champion, Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) welcomes the International Cycling Union (UCI) Cyclo-Cross World Championships to Louisville, Kentucky in 2013. It will be the first time the world's stage will set up on American soil.

    "As someone who has seen our American cross scene grow to a boil for the last 15 years, it meant so much to be standing there while Pat McQuaid made the selection official," Johnson told Cyclingnews. "Cyclo-Cross is a different animal in the US and having the World Championships will give all of us, from athletes to fans, something incredible to shoot for."

    UCI President Pat McQuaid announced the Cyclo-Cross World Championships would be held in Eva Bandman Park in Louisville, Kentucky in 2013. The planned course will be held in a park nearby the US Grand Prix of Cyclo-Cross (USGP) Derby City Cup held in Champions Park.

    "I have seen the park which will host the race, it's similar to the current course we use but with more elevation and will have established course features of a world class race venue, stairs, paved start straights, pit areas," Johnson said. "It will be a permanent Cyclocross race and practice venue much like Valmont Park in Boulder. One thing that will set it apart from many of the worlds venues I've been to is that it will be within a couple kilometres of a large downtown city with nice hotels and restaurants. The sports commision there is very excited and committed to making Louisville a city known for cycling."

    Bruce Fina and Joan Hanscom are the organizers of the USGP, an eight round series herald as the most well-run events in the country. Its includes double weekends at the Planet Bike Cup in Madison, Wisconsin, the Derby City Cup in Louisville, Kentucky, the Mercer Cup in New Jersey and the Stanley Portland Cup in Oregon. Ryan Trebon (Kona-FSA) won this year's overall title. Johnson, a long-time member of the US National...

  • Stybar, Nys top picks for Worlds

    A muddy Zdenek Stybar (Telenet - Fidea)
    Article published:
    January 30, 2010, 17:05 GMT
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Dark horses ready to stampede if favourites fall

    With a home field advantage, the Czech Republic has never been closer breaking its now 19-year drought in the elite men's cyclo-cross World Championships. As favourite Zdenek Stybar seeks to be the second Czech winner after Radomir Simunek, Senior took the crown in 1991, he has the weight of his entire country's expectations on his shoulders.

    Though Stybar is from Stribro, about 150 kilomters West of Tábor, he will surely have plenty of hometown support, and he is confident that he can deliver in the face of a tough challenge from the Belgians, especially defending champion Niels Albert and Sven Nys.

    "Nys has more experience but I've ridden this course already. I know where I can expect a difficult moment. Nys remains my top favorite, more than Niels Albert who's not super on the snow although the difficult grade might benefit him," Stybar told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad.

    "My season's already a success. I'm very happy with my overall win in the World Cup and if I wanted I could watch the race on Sunday on TV with my legs on the table. I'll do all I can with the benefit that nothing has to happen in that race," Stybar added.

    Last Sunday Stybar had to dig deep in order to keep up with Albert, making a last lap error which put him in second place. But he insists that last week's result has no bearing on his current chances.

    "I wasn't fresh in that race. I had trained really hard the week before, a little too hard. I misunderstood my trainer and ran up and down 1600 stairs instead of 160. That's why I felt miserable, but now I'm in top form," Stybar said.

    Can Nys finally do it?

    Even though Belgian champion Sven Nys has won everything there is to win in cyclo-cross, claiming the overall win in every 'cross series at least six times, he boasts just one single rainbow jersey taken in Sankt-Wendel in 2005.

    His failure to translate his sheer dominance of the cyclo-cross world is...

  • De Bie draws lessons from Worlds' day one

    Pre-race favourite David van der Poel (Netherlands) leads Julian Alaphilippe (France) into a corner
    Article published:
    January 30, 2010, 17:26 GMT
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Belgian coach says fast start critical in Tabor

    With the first two gold medals of the 2010 International Cycling Union's (UCI) World Cyclo-cross Championships having been claimed by outsiders, expectations have been raised of similarly unpredictable results in Sunday afternoon's elite men's event.

    Witness to the victories of Czech rider Tomas Paprtska in the junior men's race and Pawel Szczepaniak's triumph in the under 23 title race, Belgian national coach Rudy De Bie told Cyclingnews that the elite riders would need to be ready to adapt to rapid changes in conditions.

    "The first two laps are super important. All the small gaps that are created then can be crucial later on in the race," said De Bie. "The circumstances are quickly changing and every race is different. It was already more of a water soaked course for the under 23 riders. God knows what we're going to get tomorrow. For the riders it is important that they can deal with the changes."

    The UCI's mid-week efforts to clear the course of snow were assisted greatly by favourable weather conditions on Saturday. The absence of further snow saw underlying dirt revealed for the first time throughout much of the course.

    Despite the dramatic change from what had previously been a thick base of snow, the division of races between the morning and afternoon showed the dramatic effect the change in temperature could have come Sunday.

    The junior race ended with none of the top-five riders from their World Cup series making the podium today. Runner-up Julian Alaphilippe (France) proved adept at reading the effect the icy conditions were having on World Cup champion and race favourite David van der Poel. "I was keeping an eye on him but I noticed he made a lot of mistakes so I realized I had to get past him," said Alaphilippe at the post race press conference.

    Dutchman Van der Poel admitted with hindsight that his tactic of running many sections of the course had backfired. "During one lap I crashed twice,...

  • Compton, Walsleben in doubt for 'cross World Championships

    Article published:
    January 30, 2010, 21:28 GMT
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    US champ, former U23 world champ not tip-top for Sunday

    Until two weeks ago, she was arguably the USA's best chance for a medal at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships this weekend, but with leg cramps still plaguing her and nearly two weeks off the bike, Katie Compton may not even be able to finish Sunday's elite women's race.

    Compton was the UCI rankings and World Cup leader after her most successful season to date until the Roubaix World Cup when she failed to start after the cramps surfaced. It is a problem she's struggled with in recent years, and her husband Mark Legg said it usually takes two to three weeks to clear up.

    “Katie still hasn't been able to ride a bike,” Legg said. “Tomorrow we're going to get everything ready and wait until the last minute to get her on a bike at the start.”

    The body language from Legg made it clear that Compton fans shouldn't have high hopes of the US-champions repeating or besting last year's performance at the world championships when she grabbed a bronze medal.

    Walsleben possibly not starting

    About a month ago Christophe Roodhooft, manager of the BKCP-Powerplus team from defending cyclo-cross world champion Niels Albert, said that his German champion Philipp Walsleben would be his joker for the end of the season. The start of the season of the Men Under-23 world champion was spoiled by a virus that kept him from training and racing until mid-October.

    Walsleben made his debut in the Elite Men's category this season and soon it was clear that he wouldn't leave his mark on his inaugural season like his team-mate Albert did last year by winning the world championships in his first year.

    Still, two weeks before the world championships in Tábor, Walsleben claimed his best World Cup result of the season in Roubaix with a fourteenth place and he had high hopes of a strong performance in the Czech Republic.

    Since then he has been out again due to illness and on...

  • Vos' rainbow run continues

    The women's podium: Hanka Kupfernagel (2nd, Germany), Marianne Vos (1st, Netherlands) and Daphny Van den Brand (3rd, Netherlands)
    Article published:
    January 31, 2010, 16:37 GMT
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Ferrier-Bruneau, Nash rue opportunities missed

    Marianne Vos again confirmed her immense multi-discipline cycling talent on Sunday by taking her third cyclo-cross world championships title in Tabor, Czech Republic. The 22-year-old Dutch rider dominated the race from start to finish to claim her fifth elite world title.

    Vos was marked by compatriot Daphny van den Brand and German champion Hanka Kupfernagel on the first lap but during the second lap Vos created a gap and it was clear that only bad luck could have kept her from winning in Tabor. She then avoided any trouble and confidently held a half a minute gap on Kupfernagel for the rest of the race.

    "I'm really happy that it worked out once again. A third [cyclo-cross] world championships title is fantastic," Vos told Cyclingnews. "Nothing's perfect but it went well right from the start and I didn't make many mistakes despite feeling a lot of pressure."

    It was her second consecutive world cyclo-cross title and further boosted her already imposing palmares. Vos has now has a total of five elite world championship wins: Her cyclo-cross haul joined by her road title (Salzburg, 2006) and a points race world title, won on the track in Manchester in 2008.

    Battles for bronze

    Vos had plenty of time to celebrate before crossing the line, as did Germany’s Hanka Kupfernagel, who was second yet again to Vos. But the battle for bronze was hard-fought between Christel Ferrier-Bruneau of France, local hero Katerina Nash of the Czech Republic, and Daphny van den Brand of the Netherlands.

    French road champion Ferrier-Bruneau and Van den Brand were riding together halfway through race, with Nash crawling back into the race after a bad first lap. However, Ferrier-Bruneau was the first to have high hopes dashed by the icy Tabor course.

    "It happened at the backside of the course. I slid away in the ice and went down. It's too bad because I was targeting the podium,"...