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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, January 27, 2012

Date published:
January 27, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Kupfernagel to skip cyclo-cross worlds

    Hanka Kupfernagel chasing in Nommay
    Article published:
    January 18, 2012, 21:22 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    German sacrifices Koksijde for road preparation

    German champion Hanka Kupfernagel has decided to skip the UCI cyclo-cross world championships in order to prepare for the road season ahead of the 2012 London Olympic Games, according to DPA.

    Kupfernagel recently scored her 11th German cyclo-cross title, but a 'cross season hampered by illness, the Olympic year and a new start with the RusVelo team has led the four-time world champion to call it quits on 'cross.

    "The decision has been very hard to make, and it breaks my heart on one hand. But on the other hand, I see that I'm not fit enough to make the podium at the world championships this winter," Kupfernagel said.

    "Now is a recovery phase, and I plan to begin training again for the road season in late January."

  • Cyclo-cross World Cup still up for grabs

    World Cup leader Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor)
    Article published:
    January 19, 2012, 21:40 GMT
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Hoogerheide the battle ground for Pauwels, Nys

    The UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup series concludes this weekend in Hoogerheide, on the Netherlands/Belgium border, with awards for the overall being given in all four categories. While the elite women, under 23 men and junior competitions are virtually wrapped up, the margin of elite men's leader Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) over Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) is too slim to call.

    Pauwels currently tops Nys by 20 points in the overall standings, and Pauwels needs to finish at least fourth if Nys wins to claim his first ever overall win in a major series. This isn't an impossible mission for Pauwels, who has not finished outside of the top four in a World Cup round this season.

    Equally important as the World Cup overall, Hoogerheide also features as the final rehearsal for the world championships in Koksijde which follow one week later. The circumstances at both events are completely different, but a rider who doesn't show good form in muddy Hoogerheide is unlikely to go smoothly through the sand in Koksijde. Except for the honor of performing well there are also valuable UCI points and a bag of money at stake in Hoogerheide.

    Riders want to boost their confidence ahead of the world championships with strong performances, but many are still seeking UCI points, which yield better positions in the starting grid at Koksijde. For example, American Timothy Johnson is currently looking at a third row start, but with a good result in Hoogerheide he might still sneak past Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) and Mathieu Boulo (Roubaix-Lille Métropolle) and join compatriots Ryan Trebon (LTS/Felt) and US champion Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) in second row at the world championships.

    In the women's category, Daphny Van den Brand only needs to crack the top 15 on home...

  • McDonald rides remarkable race in Hoogerheide

    U-23 Champion Zach McDonald (Rapha Focus) bridged up to the lead group
    Article published:
    January 23, 2012, 21:19 GMT
    By:
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Consistent pacing bodes well for American 'cross racer

    The last World Cup round of the 2011-2012 cyclo-cross season again proved a success for Dutch ace Lars van der Haar (Rabobank-Giant Off-road Team) in the U23 men's category. One and a half minutes after he won the race, three champions rolled across the finish together in 11th through 13th places. Italian champion Elia Silvestri blasted ahead of US champion Zach McDonald (Rapha-Focus) and Belgian champion Wietse Bosmans (BKCP-Powerplus). One week ahead of the world championships, McDonald showed that he's ready for a good ride in Koksijde, Belgium.

    McDonald's eventual 12th place doesn't quite reflect the remarkable race that he rode in Hoogerheide, a small town near the Belgian border and naval town Antwerp. Being able to crack the top-15 after a horrible start that put him out of the top-40 was quite impressive and McDonald acknowledged that.

    "I'm happy with the outcome after my terrible start. I didn't want to wait to move up, but the traffic was there, so I tried to be patient," McDonald said. The muddy course that was even more slippery due to some minor rain showers in the morning caused the riders to dig deep in their energy tank. The gusts of wind didn't make things easier. During the first couple of laps, it seemed like McDonald wouldn't finish anywhere near the top-10 as he barely moved up. After one lap, he was 31st, then 27th and after three laps 22nd. One week earlier in Liévin, he showed a similar progression, but that tends to stop once you face stronger riders.

    "It played to my advantage that I race with the pros in the USA, and I'm used to racing for 60 minutes. In the final laps, I had more left in my tank than many others. I moved up more than I did in Liévin last week," McDonald told Cyclingnews. Halfway...

  • Compton handles 'cross worlds pressure by killing pigs

    Katie Compton (Rabobank-Giant Off-road Team) wins Druivencross, her second victory in as many days in Belgium.
    Article published:
    January 25, 2012, 14:50 GMT
    By:
    Laura Weislo

    US champion treating it like any other race

    The cyclo-cross season's big finale is just around the corner, and while fans just can't wait until Sunday's main events - the elite women's and men's UCI Cyclo-cross world championships in Koksijde - the riders themselves are trying to contain the excitement, nervousness and stress. What is US champion Katie Compton's method for handling the pressure? Angry Birds.

    "It's tough leading up to the biggest race of the season," Compton told Cyclingnews. "Most of the time is spent relaxing and hanging out, trying not to think about it too much. That's the biggest challenge - the rest of the season you're so busy training and racing. When you're tapering the hardest part is the waiting, the excitement and the build up for the race.

    "You want it to be tomorrow, but you also don't want it to be tomororw. It's like studying for the final exams, you want to get it over with, but you also might not be ready for it."

    When asked what she does to kill the time in between now and Sunday's showdown, Compton admitted to dabbling in some video games. "I have completed a level for Angry Birds (a cartoon-ish video game where players use slingshots to launch flightless birds in an attempt to kill evil pigs), I'm not sure if I'm proud of that or not. It's a good distraction - and I've been reading. I have some good books to take my mind off of things - just stupid mysteries."

    This calm before the storm will all be over on Sunday morning, and after one last quiet evening with family and friends, Compton will transform herself from pig-slayer and sleuth into the fierce competitor who will try to conquer the sands of Koksijde against one of the toughest fields to date.

    Daphny Van Den Brand's form has been coming on strong and she's already impressed on the same course when the

  • Mani in doubt for cyclo-cross Worlds

    Caroline Mani (SRAM) has been getting some impressive results lately
    Article published:
    January 25, 2012, 21:51 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Frenchwoman's wrist likely not broken but knee injured

    Caroline Mani is set to discover on Thursday if she will be fit to compete at the world cyclo-cross championships in Koksijde, Belgium at the weekend. The Frenchwoman crashed during the final round of the World Cup in Hoogerheide on Sunday, injuring her left wrist and both knees.

    Mani fell at the very beginning of Sunday’s race after being brought down by Sophie de Boer’s crash in the opening tarmac section of the course. Mani was initially reported to have sustained a fracture of her left scaphoid in the incident, but the extent of her injury has yet to be confirmed.

    “I have a scan this evening [Wednesday] to find out the verdict but I’m optimistic about my arm,” Mani told Directvelo.com. She is rather more concerned about the wounds to her knees, however, which have kept her off the bike since the accident, describing them as “damaged and swollen.”

    Mani will find out the results of the scan on Thursday morning and if her wrist is not broken, she will take a final decision on her participation in the afternoon “by trying to train on the home trainer.”

    Mani later said on Twitter that her wrist was not broken, but her knee was too painful and would likely keep her from racing.

    In a bid to keep her spirits up, Mani has already prepared her equipment for the Worlds. “For the moment, it’s certainly compromised, but I’m keeping my morale up and I’m not going to give in that easily.”
     

  • Wellens has "nothing to hide"

    Bart Wellens (Telenet Fidea) had a dismal race, coming in 14th
    Article published:
    January 26, 2012, 9:52 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    'Cross rider relaxed after doping-related house search

    Bart Wellens was not concerned after having his house searched by Belgian police as part of a doping investigation, saying he had “nothing to hide.” He said he was confident that the investigation would clear him, although he acknowledged that it would probably harm his reputation.

    Wellens most recently made headlines when he was rushed to hospital only hours before the Belgian national 'cross championships earlier this month. He spent several days in intensive care with heart and kidney problems, which were said to be due to a virus.

    On Thursday morning Het Niueuwsblad reported that Wellens' house and four other locations were searched on Wednesday as part of a doping investigation relating to Luc Van den Broek, who manufactures the CONCAP nutritional supplements.

    As for the two-hour search, Wellens told Sportwereld: "This is not fun, but I am right in my shoes. I have no problem with the investigators doing their job.

    "I could be holed up here and deny all comments. But I do not. I have nothing to hide, so I talk about it openly.”

    He also confirmed that he knows Van den Broeck: “I have used his dietary supplement CONCAP since the middle of the season, and that's legal. It is sold everywhere and many athletes use it. Apparently it fits this research, and is linked to the insinuations after my hospitalization.

    "The search was far from pleasant. But I have nothing to fear, so I let them do it,” he continued. “They just took my old computer with them, to check e-mail. Standard apparently, because some computer studies can take days. Later, they will call me for an interview, and I will have no problems."

    Wellens knew that there would be a downside to this, though. "When people hear this,...

  • Belgian Federation tells riders to stick together at Worlds

    Kevin Pauwels won his fourth World Cup and sealed the overall series win
    Article published:
    January 26, 2012, 11:24 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    'Cross stars must support national teammates and not commercial teammates

    The Belgian team will support its captains in the cyclo-cross world championship race on Sunday, whether they like it or not. The Belgian Cycling Federation has said it expects its riders to obey their orders or face the consequences.

    “The scenario of St. Michielsgestel must not be repeated,” Jos Smets of the KBWB told sporza. In the 2000 world championships held in St. Michielsgestel, Netherlands, Sven Nys helped his commercial teammate, Dutchman Richard Groenendaal, to win the title ahead of fellow Belgian Mario de Clercq. Nys took the bronze medal.

    “We expect riders who take positions on the national team to adhere to their agreements,” Smets said. “Anyone who does not do so shows that he does not belong on the national team and that in the future he cannot count on being selected.”

    The Belgian team at the Worlds on Sunday in Koksijde, Belgium, will feature three of the top favourites for the crown: Niels Albert, Sven Nys and Kevin Pauwels.

    Pauwels just won the the UCI ranking for the 2010/2011 season by only three points, ahead of Nys. Albert, who missed a month of the season due to a wrist injury, was seventh.

    The Belgians will be looking to finally top Czech Zdenek Stybar, who finished third on the year but has claimed the world title the last two consecutive years.

  • Stybar ready for 'cross world championships

    Zdenek Stybar
    Article published:
    January 27, 2012, 17:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Two-time defending champion confident of repeat win

    The 2012 UCI 'Cross World Championships take place in Belgium this weekend, and Czech star Zdenek Stybar is full of confidence ahead of his bid for a third consecutive victory.

    Stybar will be turning his attention to the road season with Omega Pharma QuickStep after the race but is focussed on becoming the first man to win three consecutive titles since Belgium's Roland Liboton achieved the feat in 1984.

    "I feel ready for the race, I've been training as I should have and I've had an excellent approach to the race until now," he said. "I'm not feeling the pressure of the race, I'm pretty relaxed. Last week I also worked a lot on a mental level to prepare for the race and this week I've tried to relax and finish preparing. I'm calm and confident for the race.

    "Winning the World Championship three times in a row is a dream. Not many riders have done it. I'm highly motivated. I don't want to dwell on this; first and foremost I want to think about running a flawless race and I hope to be in the right place at the right time. The route is difficult and only the best will win. In the last few years I've grown a lot on sandy routes, managing to enjoy some personal gratification. On this type of course you need technique and also a lot of strength."

    Stybar identified the home team as his main obstacle to victory but stated that he hoped the local crowds would respect him in his bid for glory.

    "The Belgian team is the most fearsome. It will be hard to race against seven Belgian athletes," he said. "At the beginning of the race there could also be some surprises and somebody could get into the first positions. Surely Belgium will...