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First Edition Cycling News, Friday, September 25, 2009

Date published:
September 25, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Wiggins' Worlds podium bid derailed by chain

    Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain)
    Article published:
    September 24, 2009, 17:56 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Cancellara in a class of his own, Wiggins questions Larsson's time trial tactics

    Bradley Wiggins' hopes of a podium place in the World Championships time trial on Thursday in Mendrisio, Switzerland, ended with a mechanical problem seven kilometres from the finish. The British rider finished 4:50 behind winner Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) to finish a disappointing 21st place.

    "I dropped my chain at the bottom of the climb," said Wiggins. It forced his brake calliper, mounted below his chain stay, to rub on his rear wheel.

    "I did the climb, I didn't want to change [the wheel] at the bottom. I jumped off my bike at the top without knowing the car wasn't there."

    Wiggins lost time while his team car waited behind following rider Gustav Erik Larsson (Sweden). At the time, Wiggins was already out of contention for a gold or silver medal, but fighting for bronze with Tony Martin (Germany).

    Cancellara was dominant en route to his third time trial world title. He caught Larsson in the first lap and Wiggins, who started two minutes ahead, on the second of three laps. He won by 1:27 over Larsson and 2:30 over Martin.

    "It is not a surprise," said Wiggins of Cancellara's dominance. "This morning, I thought if I could finish about two minutes behind Fabian that would be all right. That is kind of the time gap you are looking at for that distance."

    Prior to the mechanical issues on the final climb, Wiggins admitted that had eased off after being passed by Cancellara. He said he had felt the Swiss rider's slipstream assisted him, even if he was following at distance ruled fair by race commissares.

    "I thought 'I am just going to sit up, this is no way to win the bronze.' I felt like I was cheating a bit...The same [thing] with Larsson; I don't think he is a worthy silver medallist. Tony Martin is a silver medallist for me."

    Wiggins, who finished fourth overall at this year's Tour de France, will now head home to England before he ends his season with the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in...

  • Zirbel makes mark at time trial worlds with fourth place

    Tom Zirbel (USA) impressed everyone with a fourth place finish.
    Article published:
    September 24, 2009, 18:18 BST
    Gregor Brown

    American set to join Garmin team

    American Tom Zirbel finished fourth at the World Championship time trial on Thursday in Mendrisio, Switzerland. He set the fastest times checks and topped the provisional leader board for much of the duration of the race until Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) led the top three into the finish.

    "I wasn't expecting to get fourth," Zirbel told Cyclingnews. "I would have been all right with a top ten."

    The 30-year-old started his run at 12:39 and quickly knocked off early leader Jean-Christophe Peraud (France). He finished with a time of one hour and 42 seconds, which held up as the fastest for the next three hours. He eventually finished 2:47 behind Cancellara, 1:20 behind Gustav Larsson (Sweden) and 17 seconds behind Tony Martin (Germany).

    "I could have ended up 10th," said Zirbel. "Once the splits started coming in, I started to believe it was possible to get a medal. It is hard to think about it now - it's so fresh, but I will be happy with it."

    Cancellara impressed Zirbel on his way to his third worlds win. He caught Larsson and Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) on his way to his win, and he had enough time to throw his hands up in celebration.

    "He is on another planet," said Zirbel of the winner. "Second place would be a win in any other generation. That's how you have got to view it. We were all scrapping for second and third."

    The fourth place at worlds ended Zirbel's season, and he is looking forward to resting at home. Next year he will take a step up, from a Continental squad to a ProTour team in Garmin-Slipstream. He will race along side David Millar, Wiggins and Tyler Farrar.

    "I will learn as much as a can and help the team has much as I can. I think I will get results even being a donkey."

  • Larsson: World time trial silver as good as gold

    Gustav Larsson (Sweden) is happy with his medal.
    Article published:
    September 24, 2009, 18:40 BST
    Richard Moore

    Swede rejects suggestions that he drafted Cancellara

    Gustav Larsson declared his World Championship silver medal "as good as a gold" in a time trial against the Swiss maestro, Fabian Cancellara. But the Swede rejected suggestions that he remained too close to his Saxo Bank teammate after being overtaken by him at the start of the second lap.

    "I was going faster in some parts, and slower than him in other parts," said Larsson, in explaining why he seemed, for several kilometres, to yo-yo behind the eventual winner. "Fabian has a better way of distributing his power [around the course]," he said. "Not only is he stronger, he is also very good at riding consistently like that."

    On a circuit that was tight and narrow in places, Larsson wasn’t the only rider to get close to someone after being caught. It was a problem exacerbated by one-minute time gaps, which Larsson felt were not enough.

    "No, I don’t think a minute is long enough," he said. "It should be two minutes, and usually it is two minutes in big time trials. I think that’s how it should be. It’s really hard with so many riders, and there were five groups today, but I think it’s important."

    Having criticised the time trial circuit before the race – calling it "a shit course" – his silver medal didn’t persuade him to revise his opinion. "I still think it," said Larsson. "The tarmac is really rough in a lot of places. It’s not really smooth, there are holes. It’s not a nice course."

    Larsson admitted he wasn’t surprised – or too disappointed – to be caught by Cancellara. "Like he said himself, he was going out really, really hard," said the Swede. "I was going hard, but not super hard. I thought he would come from behind; he has won by big margins before, so I wasn’t frightened. I saw as I crossed the line [after one lap] that I was five seconds faster than everyone else [in fact, he was second, five seconds behind Tony Martin] and I was...

  • McCann takes 11th but regrets slow start

    David McCann (Ireland National Team) at the 2009 FBD Insurance Rás.
    Article published:
    September 24, 2009, 19:47 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Irishman misses top 10 place by seconds

    Irish rider David McCann today raced to his best-ever finish in the Elite time trial, bettering his 2004 result when he finished 15th.

    The Belfast rider was 3:40.61 behind a dominant Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) in the 49.8 kilometre test, and was just 3.22 seconds off the 10th place achieved by defending champion Bert Grabsch (Germany).

    Despite his high finish, he felt that a better pacing strategy would have seen him go faster.

    "I am a bit disappointed," he told Cyclingnews. "I didn't really pace it well. I had much too much left in the tank at the end.

    "My warm-up was fine, I just didn't push it hard enough soon enough. I was only 38th fastest at the first split, but I was fifth quickest for the second-last split. It feels bad finishing with fresh legs when you know you should be empty."

    McCann's first intermediate time was by far his slowest; his time for the five subsequent sectors was 7th, 10th, 14th, 5th and 10th-fastest, giving him that final placing of 11th.

    A visual indication of the incorrect pacing strategy was seen when he was caught for a minute by Tom Zirbel (United States of America) and passed. McCann remained relatively close for several kilometres, then overtook the American and reclaimed seven seconds by the line.

    "Zirbel caught me after two laps. I held him then passed him on the climb last time up, and put time into him! My legs were way too fresh. It's frustrating - 'three seconds outside the top 10' doesn't sound the same as 'top 10'."

    The multiple Irish road race and time trial champion showed signs of good form on Sunday when he beat Chris Boardman's 16-year-old British 25-mile time trial record by three seconds.

    He is not due to ride Sunday's road race, but has invitations to both the GP Nations time trial and the Jayco Herald Sun Tour. He's hoping to find a pro team for 2010.

  • Evans expects bunch finish at 2010 Worlds

    Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) rides in the final stage of the Vuelta, thinking of Worlds
    Article published:
    September 24, 2009, 22:59 BST
    Richard Moore and Gregor Brown

    Aussie intrigued by unique course in home country

    The 2009 world championship road race is still to be decided, but Cadel Evans, who is set to be in contention for Sunday's title, spent Thursday evening looking forward to next year's championship in his native Australia.

    It will be the first time the championships have been held Down Under, and Evans was joined at a preview function in Mendrisio by officials from Cycling Australia, politicians from host cities Melbourne and Geelong, and Pat McQuaid, the UCI president.

    Another first will be that the road race will start and finish in different cities, rolling out from Melbourne and heading to Geelong, where the other world championship events will be held, and where the men's road race will conclude on a traditional circuit.

    Fresh from a six-hour training ride, Evans said, "I live 5km from Mendrisio for nine months of the year, and I live 20km from next year's course the other three months. I'll be honest, this year's course suits me a lot better, but the Vuelta [which finished last weekend], and finishing on the podium, is a good lead-in to it.

    "To race in Australia next year will be a great opportunity for Australian fans to see one of the best one-day races of the year right at home," continued Evans. "It's going to be a bit different. Having that section at the start, leading to the circuit, it's the first time it's ever happened at the world championships - it's more like the Olympics. The small circuit is the one that interests me most, but I'm expecting a group of fifty to contest the finish."

    It is unlikely, as Evans acknowledged, that he will emerge at the head of that fifty-man group to claim the rainbow jersey. But Sunday's mountainous circuit in Mendrisio, Switzerland could be a different matter. Asked if he could win the world title, he said, "I'm not going to say I can't."

  • Bike makers seek easing of relations with UCI

    Cervelo's Phil White in action at the Tour de France.
    Article published:
    September 25, 2009, 5:12 BST
    John Stevenson

    Manufacturers form GOCEM in world first

    The traditionally fractious relationship between bike equipment makers and cycling’s governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI), might just be about to take a smoother turn with the announcement at the Interbike show today of GOCEM, the Global Organisation of Cycling Equipment Manufacturers.

    The first ever worldwide organisation of bike companies has been formed in reaction to the UCI’s enforcement of its 3:1 rule on aero equipment. Directors Phil White of Cervelo Cycles and Claudio Marra of Full Speed Ahead (FSA) are keen to stress that the objective is to work with the UCI to clarify and document the rules, not to fight it.

    “We have made it clear that we want to make the process of interpreting the rules work better,” White told Cyclingnews. The idea is to avoid situations where commissaries and teams are fighting over the interpretation of rules as the clock ticks toward the start of a race.

    “Nobody wants pre-race drama,” said White. “It makes us all look un-professional. We can all do without that stress two minutes before the start. So one objective is to have a list of gear that is and isn’t legal, so that it’s clear at any race.”

    That would avoid the biggest problem that the 3:1 rule has thrown up for manufacturers, having to rework components and bikes if the interpretation of a rule changes.

    “The situation right now is not good for manufacturers,” said White. “We put 100 million Euros into the sport and if we have to spend money retooling it comes out of that pot.

    “We want to see an approval process [as equipment is developed] and we want to help document the interpretation of the rules,” said White.

    The unanswered question is who would do homologation and certification of equipment. Except for approval of low-spoke-count wheels, the UCI has steered clear of the homologation business.

  • Tale of two races for German duo

    Last year's time trial champion Bert Grabsch (Germany)
    Article published:
    September 25, 2009, 6:17 BST
    Les Clarke

    Outgoing world champ disappointed but realistic

    This time last year Bert Grabsch was celebrating a victory in the time trial at the world championships in Varese, Italy. Fast forward 12 months and it's a different story for the German and his young countryman and teammate, Tony Martin.

    The more experienced of the two Columbia-HTC riders finished Mendrisio's test against the clock in 10th, 3:37 behind the one-man juggernaut that is Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara. Meanwhile, Martin took third, finishing 2:30 in arrears of the winning time.

    Cancellara missed last year's world titles after a successful but exhausting Olympic campaign. It left the door open for Grabsch to take the rainbow jersey, although in 2009 it was a different story.

    "I'm really disappointed. I didn't find my rhythm today," Grabsch told Radsport-News after his ride. "This morning, at the start of the day, I felt fine, but unfortunately this was not the case in the race."

    This was in contrast to Grabsch's countryman Tony Martin, who managed to secure the bronze, despite the threat of cramps during the second lap. "I'm really pleased with how it all worked out. Normally [2008 World Champion and Columbia-HTC teammate] Bert Grabsch and I are about equal, but today I had a really good day," said Martin.

    "It was a tough ride to calculate your strength in, so I had to be careful, but it all paid off. I did a very fast first lap and paid the price a bit for that in the second, where I had cramps and thought I was heading for a difficult moment," he explained.

    "But then in the third lap I started feeling better again and finally I could finish strongly and end up with bronze."

    While there were other big names in addition to Grabsch who struggled for a variety of reasons - Bradley Wiggins' mechanical, for example - the defending champion said he just wasn't feeling right in the saddle, and it showed.

    "After five or ten kilometres you notice if it's working or not. I have no explanation...

  • No going back for Armstrong

    2009 women's time trial world champion Kristin Armstrong (United States of America).
    Article published:
    September 25, 2009, 6:44 BST
    Richard Moore

    American stalwart's swansong draws near

    For another famous Armstrong retirement from cycling proved short-lived. But Kristin Armstrong, who will bow out of the sport after Saturday's women's road race as world and Olympic time trial champion, insists that her mind is made up.

    "It's amazing," said the 36-year old, "but a lot of people out there still think that, come Saturday, my mind will switch. I keep telling them, ‘no, it's not going to switch.'

    "But I just want to focus on Saturday," she added, "because it's not over. I've achieved my individual goals, I've come out on top, but don't count the American team out. We're ready."

    In her seven years on the national team Armstrong says that the team for Saturday's road race is the strongest ever. "I'm really looking forward to it," she said. "The team has been coming together, it's the best we've had, and it's going to be amazing."

    In retirement she will turn her attention to assisting American women, especially juniors. "I'll be helping young US riders come up in the sport, starting with riders at a younger age, and helping them come over to Europe at an earlier age," she said. "I'll be directing a team in America at larger US races, and the same athletes will come over to Europe and race with the US national team.

    "I also want to do some [training] camps," she continued. "I opened the Kristin Armstrong Academy [a training initiative aimed at female riders aged 15-18]. I'm not ready to come back and work full time as a [team] director, but I wanted to give something back to the sport and enjoy some time at home. I'm really excited to have some time - I got some golf clubs for Christmas last year."

    "I have a love-hate relationship with the travel," she added. "I think I'll miss travelling over here in Europe, and I'm going to miss the friends I have, and of course I have competitive blood. I'm going to miss the competition. I think it's something that is going to hit me. I know that come March, it's...