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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, August 31, 2009

Date published:
August 31, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Riders share thoughts after opening Vuelta stage

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)
    Article published:
    August 29, 2009, 21:53 BST
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Pros reflect after a wet and slippery day in the Netherlands

    During the opening stage of the Vuelta a España, some riders got to compete on relatively dry roads before a mid-stage downpour made conditions wet and slippery for the rest.

    Races completed a 4.5km prologue to kick off the Spanish Grand Tour in Assen, The Netherlands. Below, several riders share their reactions after the prologue time trial.

    Ex-track cyclist Jens Mouris (Vacansoleil) - 4th

    "Since the beginning of the season I looked forward to this. I hoped for top-five but didn't expect it. It was a great atmosphere, and in the upcoming days, we aim to help Borut Bozic in bunch sprints."

    GC contender Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) - 9th

    "I am personally satisfied with my time. I started really fast and went on the same way till the last meter!"

    "The course was really made for pure (prologue) specialists, and it is a fact that Fabian Cancellara, who is so powerful and also in wonderful shape right now was absolutely unbeatable today. He was the number one favorite and nobody was able to defeat him."

    "I finished this time trial more or less in the position I intended and lost no time compared to my rivals. It will be important to be careful in the next three stages, which can be very dangerous ones because of narrow streets and lots of roundabouts on the course and because the wind can separate the bunch into several groups. Nobody will win the Vuelta in Holland, but somebody could lose plenty of time."

    Ignas Konovalovas (Cervélo TestTeam), 18th

    "I didn't feel anything special today. I was just turning the pedals."

    Markel Irizar (Euskaltel-Euskadi) - 23rd after being an early race leader

    "The truth is that I'm starting the Vuelta with a good feeling . I was lucky to race on roads that were quite dry, although the winds bothered me when I was trying...

  • Can King rule USPro road race?

    Cervelo Test Team's Ted King.
    Article published:
    August 30, 2009, 5:06 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Cervelo rider to mount solo challenge against Garmin

    Ted King goes into the USPro Championships road race on Sunday as a lone gun, competing without team-mates against a tide of Garmin-Slipstream riders and other domestic opposition. However the 26-year-old American believes that despite the numerical disadvantage he can pull off a fairly-tale win in the national championship in Greenville, North Carolina.

    King has been back in the United States for little over a week after completing his first full season on the European circuit, a highlight of which was competing in and finishing his first Grand Tour, the Giro d’Italia. However it’s the national road race, a big aim for King, that he’s now focused on.

    “All my eggs are in that basket,” King told Cyclingnews. “There were a lot of time trial specialists here with Tom Zirbel and David Zabriskie, so I didn’t fancy the time trials.”

    “I know that with no team support the road race is going to be a long shot and being up against the likes of Garmin will make it harder as they have strength in numbers, but I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think that I had a fighting chance,” he said.

    King won’t be the only high-profile European based rider racing in the event. Columbia-HTC’s George Hincapie will also ride solo after his only team-mate, Craig Lewis, was struck down with H1N1 – commonly referred to as swine flu. However like Hincapie, King will be looking to play his cards when it matters. “I don’t have to show my face until the big hitters start to factor in the race and the European experience I have will hopefully show,” he said.

    But for King even competing in his national road race holds a unique place in his heart. “It is special,” he said. “It’s been a phenomenal year and as the only American at Cervelo it means even more that they have faith in me to be here.”

    King will have support...

  • Martin okay after crash in Vuelta a España prologue

    Dan Martin (Garmin-Slipstream) has been ruled out of the Tour de France with a knee injury
    Article published:
    August 30, 2009, 12:40 BST
    Shane Stokes

    Irishman Dan Martin makes Grand Tour debut at Vuelta a España

    Ruled out of the Tour de France due to tendonitis, Ireland's Daniel Martin fortunately avoided a premature end to another Grand Tour campaign yesterday.

    Martin (Garmin-Slipstream) made his Grand Tour debut yesterday, but crashed shortly after the start of the 4.8-kilometre time trial on the motor circuit in Assen, Netherlands.

    "I felt really good and just got unlucky with the weather," he told Cyclingnews. "My front wheel slid out at the third corner. I tried to pick it up on my knee, Moto GP style, but my elbow and the rest of me followed."

    It started raining about thirty minutes before Martin start time, 17:17. He started his first Grand Tour completely wet.

    "I'm a bit pissed it [the crash] wasn't on TV, but there you go. I'm a bit banged up but it could have been a lot worse. Apparently I didn't lose much time, which is cool and shows how well I'm going."

    He placed 173rd, conceding 47 seconds to the stage winner, Olympic time trial champion Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank).

    Martin showed good form leading into the race, placing fifth in last Sunday's GP Ouest France in Plouay. He jumped across to a four-man group in the closing kilometres and felt that he would have been closer to the win had he not misgauged his gearing in the final sprint. "I was leading until 75 metres to go, then the gear got too much."

    His compatriot Philip Deignan (Cervélo TestTeam) also started the Vuelta yesterday, making it the first time that two Irishmen have ridden a Grand Tour since the days of Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche.

    Deignan, from Letterkenny, finished 36 seconds back in 116th place. Deignan stated afterwards that the strong winds made things very difficult for him.

    "I knew today wasn't going to suit me because I am not really a time trial specialist," he wrote on his website

    Deignan placed 116th, 36 seconds back from Cancellara.

    The Vuelta a...

  • Pozzato wins place in Italy's Worlds team

    Italian champion Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) wins the Giro del Veneto Saturday in Padova, Italy.
    Article published:
    August 30, 2009, 12:40 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Filippo Pozzato has almost secured a spot in Italy's Worlds team with Veneto win

    Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) is nearly assured of a spot in Italy's team for the World Championships, September 27. The Italian Champion won yesterday's Giro del Veneto in front of national director Franco Ballerini, 16 days before the team selection is finalised.

    "I had made an appointment here with Ballerini, and I was punctual," Pozzato told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

    Pozzato formed a winning move with three other riders by attacking on the Valico climb, 15.6 kilometres to race. The four – Pozzato, Alessandro Proni, Carlo Scognamiglio and Luca Paolini – arrived with 18 seconds advantage.

    Proni anticipated the sprint with an attack. Pozzato remained calm and helped reel in Proni to then win ahead of Scognamiglio in Padova, Italy.

    It was a decisive victory for Pozzato, his third of the year. Ballerini has to build his first ever national team without double World Champion and 2004 Olympic Champion Paolo Bettini, who retired last year.

    Ballerini will select his nine-man team (and two reserves) on September 14. He will likely lead the team with 2008 winner Alessandro Ballan and silver medalist Damiano Cunego, but now has another rider to rely on.

    "It will be a different national team, without the guiding light [Bettini - ed.]," said Pozzato. "The team will be just as strong, with the reigning champion and vice-champion. And then Ballerini is great at finding the right spirit."

    Pozzato first competed at the Madrid Worlds in 2005, and helped Italy win with Bettini in 2006 and 2007. He missed out on the selection for Varese last year.

    "If there is also space for me in the national team, I will try to honour the jersey and responsibility," he said.

    This year's course in Mendrisio, Switzerland, will be harder than last year's 17.35-kilometre circuit in Varese, Italy. The circuit has two climbs, Acqua Fresca and Novazzano, in a short 13.8-kilometre circuit repeated 19...

  • Zwizanski, Mumford surprise some at the US Pro time trial

    Scott Zwizanski (Kelly Benefit Strategies) on his way to third place.
    Article published:
    August 30, 2009, 14:52 BST
    Peter Hymas

    Third and fourth places set the tone for the KBS team heading into the road race

    While it was hardly a surprise to see heavy favourites David Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) and Tom Zirbel (Bissell Pro Cycling) claim the top two steps of the podium at Saturday's US professional time trial championships, Kelly Benefit Strategies' Scott Zwizanski's bronze medal ride, coupled with a fourth place by teammate Reid Mumford, may have been unexpected. The underdog role, however, is one that Zwizanski and his teammates have revelled in throughout their 2009 season.

    "I'm pretty pleased going three-four," said Zwizanski. "Probably a lot of people didn't expect that of us today, but we've been surprising people all year."

    Zwizanski and Mumford finished one-two in the Vuelta Ciclista del Uruguay's stage seven time trial in April, putting Mumford into the race lead with Zwizanski in second. The next stage Zwizanski assumed the overall lead which he held through the conclusion of the 10-day national tour.

    Two months later at Canada's Tour de Beauce, Zwizanski again won a pivotal time trial which put the California resident into the race lead which he defended through to the seven-stage event's conclusion.

    For Zwizanski, his burgeoning time trial prowess has been a matter of gaining confidence, whose origin can be traced back more than a year ago to a time trial in the 2008 season.

    "It was my strength as an amateur, but I kind of didn't focus on it when I turned pro back in 2004," said Zwizanski. "But last year it kind of just started clicking again suddenly. I think Nature Valley was the first time I really felt confident again.

    "Ever since then it's been a confidence thing and just the mental ability to suffer. Time trials are all about suffering. I feel that's back, and I'm also racing a little bit better weight this year, which is good. I have a great environment with Kelly [Benefit Stategies] which also is good."

    Speaking to the environment on his team, Zwizanski mentioned the tone set by...

  • Valverde cautious in next Vuelta stages

    Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) is a favorite.
    Article published:
    August 30, 2009, 14:55 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Alejandro Valverde placed ninth in first stage, cautious ahead of Vuelta's Spanish stages

    Spaniard Alejandro Valverde finished ninth in Vuelta a España opening stage in Assen, Netherlands. He remains cautious for the race's next three stages in The Netherlands and Belgium, ahead of the race's transfer to Spain.

    "They are very dangerous stages because of the very narrow streets and a lot of roundabouts. The wind can also break the bunch into several groups," said Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne). "Nobody will win the Vuelta in Holland but somebody could lose plenty of time."

    He is 18 seconds back from race leader and winner of yesterday's 4.8-kilometre time trial, Fabian Cancellara. The first decisive stage for the overall classification should be the 30-kilometre time trial in Valencia on Saturday.

    Valverde finished only 1:12 behind race overall Vuelta winner Alexander Vinokourov in 2006. Vinokourov of Team Astana finished in seventh place at 18 seconds back yesterday.

    Valverde was unable to race the Tour de France this year and has put his hopes on the Vuelta. A two-year suspension in Italy for his involvement in the 2006 doping investigation, Operación Puerto, prohibited him from racing the Tour. The race passed through Italy on stage 16.

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  • Milram manager thrilled with Vuelta stage win

    Gerald Ciolek (Milram)
    Article published:
    August 30, 2009, 20:20 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Dutchman enjoys Ciolek's Vuelta victory in the Netherlands

    The 2009 season hasn't gone as Team Milram general manager Gerry van Gerwen had hoped, but Gerald Ciolek's stage win in the Vuelta a España on Sunday in Emmen, Netherlands, has gone a long way to making things right. The Dutch manager of the German ProTour team was thrilled with the team's biggest win of the year.

    "That is a very special win for me," he told Cyclingnews. "The Vuelta a Espana visits my homeland the Netherlands for the very first time, and we win the first sprint."

    "That is the kind of day that makes you really proud!"

    Van Gerwen noted that the team's major goal going into the race was a stage win. "We were so close so often at the Tour de France, but at the last moment didn't have that little necessary bit of luck. Today we showed an overwhelming team performance, which Gerald Ciolek rewarded with this classy win."

    Directeur Sportif and former rider Ralf Grabsch also emphasised the whole team's role in the win. It started with Dominik Roels getting into the day's escape group, which relieved the team of the need of being involved in the chase work.

    "We had planned to wait a long time at the finish. So we fell back after we made the tempo up to the five km mark," he explained. "It was clear to us that we couldn't build a proper sprint train, so Björn Schröder brought Gerald Ciolek into the right position fairly late.

    "This victory is very important for us and gives us a lot of self-confidence for the coming three weeks."

  • Jalabert names Fédrigo as France's leader for Worlds

    Pierrick Fedrigo (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) celebrates his second career Tour stage win.
    Article published:
    August 31, 2009, 11:11 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Laurent Jalabert selects France's six-man team for the World Championships

    Pierrick Fédrigo will lead the French national team at the World Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland, said team director Laurent Jalabert.

    "It is important to develop confidence [in a leader] long enough before the big day," Jalabert told L'Equipe.

    He named the six riders yesterday on television who will form the national team. Fédrigo, Sylvain Chavanel, Thomas Voeckler, Christophe Le Mevel, Dimitri Champion and Christophe Riblon will race the Worlds road race, September 27.

    "I fully back my selection, although there are plenty of other guys that I would have liked to select," said Jalabert.

    The International Cycling Union (UCI) confirmed two weeks ago the number of riders allowed for each nation. Ten nations may have the maximum number of nine riders, but some historically powerful nations can only bring six. The UCI decided the numbers based on team rankings as of August 15.

    France and The Netherlands will have six-man teams, but countries like Great Britain, Norway and Luxembourg can bring nine. Jalabert will likely allow Italy and Spain (both nine-man teams) to control the first part of the race.

    "We still have time to think about it, but it will certainly be a race of waiting."

    This year's course in Mendrisio, Switzerland, will be harder than last year's 17.35-kilometre circuit in Varese, Italy. The circuit has two climbs, Acqua Fresca and Novazzano, in a short 13.8-kilometre circuit repeated 19 times.

    It is the first time for former-cyclist Jalabert to lead the French team. He won the 1997 World Championship time trial in San Sebastián and many one-day races before retiring in 2002.

    The last time France won the World Championships road race was also in 1997, with Laurent Brochard.

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