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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, September 28, 2009

Date published:
September 28, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • Evans takes emotional, historic world championship win for Australia

    Cadel Evans smiles as he presents his medal and jersey in Mendrisio, Switzerland.
    Article published:
    September 27, 2009, 18:40 BST
    Richard Moore

    A season's hard work is repaid in gold in Switzerland

    After seven World Championship medals as a cyclist - all of them as a mountain biker, and none of them gold - Cadel Evans finally completed his collection in Mendrisio on Sunday, winning a seven-hour war of attrition to be crowned road race World Champion.

    Evans attacked his two breakaway companions, Alexandr Kolobnev (Russia) and Joaquin Rodriguez (Spain), at the foot of the final climb, and sped alone to an emotional solo victory. As he crossed the finish line his celebrations were muted - one hand off the bars, and a kiss to one grandstand, then the other - but he broke down as soon as he came to a halt, and held his wedding ring, which he wears on a chain around his neck, to his mouth.

    "On the climb, I realised I could do it," said Evans, who failed this year to build on two consecutive second places in the Tour de France and finished 30th. Third in the Vuelta a Espana, which finished last Sunday, indicated that his form had returned, but few would have bet on him to win a race that the Spanish and Italians - going for their fourth consecutive victory - seemed set to dominate.

    "I had two big problems this year," said Evans, "and not much luck. But today I was lucky. I was feeling good, and my legs were very good. Today the luck was with me."

    He didn't elaborate on what his two big problems were, though one, he revealed, was an illness he suffered on the eve of the Tour de France. "For me it was very emotional," he said of the finish. "The course is 3km from my house, from what is my home-away-from-home for nine months of the year, when I'm not in Australia."

    Of his race winning move, he said, "Spain had the numbers [in the selection of nine that formed on the final lap]. Italy only had one. If one Spanish guy's away, no one was going to chase him down. So that's why when Spain made a move [with Rodriguez's attack before the final climb] I made sure I was there."

    It was put to Evans that his success represents...

  • Silver medallist Kolobnev wistful after his second place

    Alexandr Kolobnev (Russia) with his World Championship silver medal.
    Article published:
    September 27, 2009, 18:58 BST
    Richard Moore

    Rodriguez happy to bring home bronze for Spain

    Of the two non-gold medallists in the road race World Championship, it was, perhaps surprisingly, Alexandr Kolobnev of Russia who appeared most disappointed. The silver medallist out-sprinted Joaquin Rodriguez for second place, though afterwards he was left rueing the one that got away. Cadel Evans (Australia) had won gold with a bold solo move.

    "I had the legs and the strength to follow Evans," said Kolobnev, who was one of the main aggressors on the final lap. Kolobnev attacked powerfully, on the first of the two climbs. On that occasion he was brought back, but he joined Evans in chasing after Rodriguez on the approach to the second and final climb, and seemed well-placed to go for the win.

    "If he'd slowed 3km from the finish [just before the summit], I could have caught him," said Kolobnev. "But on the uphill, he pushed a lot, he was strong. I couldn't make it [across to him] by myself. But if the gap had been closer, I could have done it."

    Rodriguez, who was one of three Spaniards in the final nine man lead group, claimed that neither he nor his team were disappointed with his bronze medal. "It was very important for the whole team [to win a medal]. We had an agreement at the beginning of the race to work together; everyone did an excellent job, and we're content to have won a medal."

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  • Gilbert narrowly misses World Championship medal

    Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) looks happy to be in Mendrisio.
    Article published:
    September 27, 2009, 19:14 BST
    Daniel Friebe

    Belgian raced to sixth placed despite pressure on a "demanding" day

    On Sunday night, Philippe Gilbert put the disappointment of narrowly missing out on a World Championship medal behind him to thank his teammates for their contribution to his sixth place finish in the elite men's road race in Mendrisio, Switzerland.

    Gilbert had entered Sunday's race under intense pressure, having been handed the role of sole team leader by Belgian national team coach Carlo Bomans. If Bomans's decision had raised some eyebrows, Gilbert vindicated his faith with a typically spirited performance, his hopes of a top-three finish only vanishing on the final climb to Novazzano on the last lap. There, Gilbert accelerated and briefly looked capable of catching Joaquin Rodriguez (Spain) and Alexandr Kolobnev (Russia), but was swept up by the Saxo Bank riders Matti Breschel (Denmark) and Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland), Spain's Alejandro Valverde and Italy's Damiano Cunego.

    "I got to within about 150 metres of Rodriguez and Kolobnev but then I cracked. It was really demanding today," Gilbert said reporters at the finish line.

    Earlier in the day the Belgian quartet of Françis De Greef, Greg Van Avermaet, Tom Boonen and Bert De Waele had joined the 29-man group that finally fizzled out at the start of the 19th and last lap.

    "It was a great performance by the team," Gilbert said after consolatory embraces from Bomans and Frank Vandenbroucke, who is following the Worlds as a columnist for Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. "I got a lot of help from everyone. It was perfect, with four riders in the big break, including Boonen.

    "(Alejandro) Valverde (Spain) came to see me, then Cunego came to see me to ask us to ride, but I always had the excuse of our riders being in the break. Tom even helped me when his group was caught. That was really great to see. It also gave me another psychological boost in the finale; I didn't want to disappoint Tom."

    Gilbert, whose best previous result in a World...

  • Cancellara misses out on Worlds double gold

    Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) after the finish
    Article published:
    September 27, 2009, 19:28 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Cancellara disappointed after strong showing by Swiss riders at home

    Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara came agonisingly close to becoming the first cyclist to win the World Championship time trial and road race in the same year. He was part of a decisive, final-lap move in today's road race in Mendrisio, Switzerland, but finished fifth, three days after winning time trial gold.

    "I thought it was possible to double; it was my dream, my objective. I always believed that, right up until the end," Cancellara said.

    Team Switzerland rode strongly on home soil and set Cancellara up with the opportunity to realise his dream. Oliver Zaugg, Michael Albasini and Rubens Bertogliati placed their captain in the front for the final two of 19 circuits, which included the climbs of the Acqua Fresca and the Novazzano.

    Cancellara took advantage of his speed and power on the descents and flats to string out his rivals on the penultimate descent from the summit of the Acqua Fresca.

    "If you look at those who where ahead in the end – three Spaniards and Damiano Cunego [Italy] – the best were there and our team did a great ride."

    Spain put Cancellara in a difficult position on the final lap. It had Joaquím Rodríguez, Alejandro Valverde and Samuel Sánchez in the final move of eight men. Cancellara put in another hard acceleration coming off the Acqua Fresca, in a final attempt to free himself, but three men slipped away. Rodríguez, Alexandr Kolobnev (Russia) and eventual winner Cadel Evans (Australia) were able to escape as the race approached the Novazzano and the final five kilometres.

    "I raced until my legs would not go further. I gave it all I could on the descents and ascents, but Spain was always there behind me. It was almost impossible to do what I wanted to do.

    "It slipped out of my hands. I'll have to recover from this one because it is hard when you get so close but fail."

    Spain's Abraham Olano was the only rider to win both the...

  • British team considers worlds performance in positive light

    Steve Cummings (Great Britain) rides alongside Alejandro Valverde (Spain)
    Article published:
    September 27, 2009, 19:39 BST
    Daniel Friebe

    Cummings, Hammond are the team's two finishers

    Great Britain coach Rod Ellingworth was keen to draw the positives from his team's performance in the World Championship road race in Mendrisio, Switzerland, on Sunday, despite the fact that only two British riders made it to the end of the gruelling 262km course.

    Fresh from his first ever Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España, Roger Hammond finished in 92nd position, nearly 11 minutes behind winner Cadel Evans (Australia). Steve Cummings's 52nd-place, just over five minutes behind Evans, barely did justice to a strong display by the Barloworld rider.

    Ellingworth and his team had gone into the race with high hopes, particularly for David Millar. The Scot ended up pulling out with five laps to go, admitting later that he simply didn't have the legs to hit his pre-race target of a top-20 finish. Like the rest of the British team, Millar was hampered by bad luck.

    "Dave broke his gear lever, and he had a puncture," Ellingworth said. "Chris Froome lost a lot of energy trying to bring Dave back, and unfortunately, Dave just didn't have the legs today. Ian Stannard was also unlucky: he had a tyre roll off his wheel and crashed."

    Ellingworth said that he was most encouraged by his riders' attitude, in spite of their many misfortunes.

    "The absolutely great thing was that they were all buzzing when they got off the bike. They loved the way we worked together as a team. That's massive," he effused. "The plan was for Steve Cummings to bring Dave [Millar] into the last two laps and launch him there. It's just unfortunate that Dave didn't have his best legs on the day. We did what we could to execute the plan, and you can't moan if all of the guys have given it a good shot. It was incredibly tough out there."

    Ellingworth hopes to put together an even stronger British team for next year's worlds in Geelong, Australia. Early indications are that a relatively flat course will suit Ellingworth's protégé, Mark...

  • Wrolich's season ends after Worlds crash

    More bad luck for Austria's Peter Wrolich (Team Milram)
    Article published:
    September 28, 2009, 8:40 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    Austrian out with shoulder dislocation and fracture

    The men's World Championship road race came to an abrupt and early end for Austria's Peter Wrolich. A crash in one of the race's first corners sent him to hospital with a dislocated and fractured left shoulder; injuries that have now ended his season.

    “A Russian slid in front of me and wiped me out,” the 35-year-old said on his website, “In doing so I fell on my shoulder and suffered both a dislocation and fracture.”

    Wrolich was immediately taken to hospital in Mendrisio, where he received treatment on his dislocated shoulder. On Monday he was scheduled to return to Austria for further examinations.

    “This is all very bitter for me, since I was doing well and now have to end my season early,” he said.

    It was the second disappointment of the season for the Milram rider. He was forced to leave the Tour de France early, when he was struck down by an intestinal infection

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  • Düster heartbroken after Worlds debacle

    The German World Championships road race team.
    Article published:
    September 28, 2009, 10:04 BST
    Susan Westemeyer

    German federation admits administrative failure

    Scandal hit the German team at the World Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland, when it was discovered that one of the starters in the women's road race was not registered to ride. Sarah Düster left the team hotel in tears on Friday when she learned she would not be able to take part in what would have been her debut World Championship appearance.

    The German cycling federation, the Bund Deutscher Radfahrer (BDR), acknowledged its failure to register Düster for the Championship road race. Her name did not appear on the starting list which it sent to the International Cycling Union (UCI), thereby excluding the 27-year-old from the event. The BDR could still have registered her after her arrival in Mendrisio, but did not do so.

    It would have been the first World Championship appearance for Düster. She rides for Cervélo TestTeam and the German registered squad has called for a thorough explanation of the matter. Her place in the German team was taken by substitute Charlotte Becker.

    Düster's German teammates expressed their own disappointment, after being told of the incident. “Sarah has been passed over by the federation for years,” said Ina Teutenberg. “”Now she should finally start – her world has fallen apart.”

    Judith Arndt called it a “nightmare. A simple 'sorry' isn't enough.”

    Düster was restrained in her reaction. On her website she noted that the BDR had made a mistake, which was not corrected in a timely fashion. “I am naturally very disappointed and need to take some time away.”

    Burckhard Bremer, the BDR's sport director, offered his resignation over the matter. The BDR was not expected to accept it.

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  • Sánchez rues fourth place finish at Worlds

    Samuel Sanchez (Spain) finished the day in fourth.
    Article published:
    September 28, 2009, 11:06 BST
    Peter Cossins

    Spaniards philosophical after strong team performance in Mendrisio

    Spain's World Championship team professed themselves generally happy with their performance in Mendrisio, which saw Joaquím 'Purito' Rodríguez claim the bronze medal behind Cadel Evans (Australia) and Alexandr Kolobnev (Russia). However, there was a feeling of 'what might have been', particularly from Samuel Sánchez, who felt he had the legs to add the world title to the Olympic crown he won in Beijing last year.

    According to Sánchez the Spanish team had "taken two medals, Joaquím Rodríguez's bronze and my chocolate medal [for fourth place and first non-medallist], and that's not a bad result." The Euskaltel team leader said of Caisse d'Epargne's Rodríguez: "He totally deserved his reward for the work he did during the race when he was in a break for almost 100 kilometres."

    Of his own chances, Sánchez said that he had to "respect Purito's options. He was in front and we had to respect that. We defended his interests and the team's tactics were good."

    Asked whether the race could have ended differently for him, Sánchez responded: "I don't really know and, at the age of 31, I don't ask myself that kind of question any more. What's done is done. I had good legs, but sometimes that is not enough."

    The Olympic champion confirmed that the favourites for the title had marked each other out of contention at the finish. "I spoke with Alejandro [Valverde], and as he was feeling below his best we decided that he would follow the attacks of [Damiano] Cunego and I would follow [Fabian] Cancellara's, because he was the strongest and I could follow him better on the descents."

    After the fiasco of the Varese Worlds last year when Rodríguez was their best finisher in sixth, Sánchez felt "that we showed we're a team again. The Italians didn't get anything out of the race and we showed that we were the team we had been at the Olympics, and in previous World...