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First Edition Cycling News, Monday, September 30, 2013

Date published:
September 30, 2013, 1:00 BST
  • Worlds 2013: Cancellara unable to match the climbers

    Pre-race favourite Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) rolls along in the peloton
    Article published:
    September 29, 2013, 19:04 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Swiss leader dropped on final lap

    Fabian Cancellara was one of the big favourites for the world championships after impressing at the Vuelta a Espana. Yet the ten climbs up to Fiesole and especially the last one, when Rodriguez, Valverde, Nibali and Rui Costa went on the attack proved too much for the Swiss rider.

    Cancellara finished tenth in the results, 34 seconds behind Rui Costa (Portugal), and in the same time as fellow big-game favourites Peter Sagan (Slovakia) and Philippe Gilbert (Belgium).

    At the start in Lucca, Cancellara had waited alone, focused and straight-faced, at the back of the peloton as the riders lined up. He seemed to be praying for it to be his day but yet again, his world title dreams were shattered on the final climb when he was unable to stay with the strongest riders.

    "Maybe I'm not a climber. The real climbers were up front," he told Cyclingnews as he rode away from the confusion of the finish area.

    "I did what I could but if you don’t have what's needed, there's nothing you can do. I was just missing that little bit to stay with them on the final section of the climb. At the end of the day, it was the climb that decided the race."

    White line dangers

    Cancellara had looked strong for much of the 272km race. He was well protected and supported by his Swiss teammates and well placed near the front of the peloton to avoid any crashes.

    His Classics bike skills no doubt came in useful in the terrible conditions and the hours of racing in the rain but he was surprisingly critical of the conditions.

    "It was a strange world championships. It was also very dangerous, there were too many white lines on the roads," he said.

    "It's great that they resurfaced 150km of roads but it was too much. All those things also played a factor today," he said before riding...

  • Spanish world championship armada sunk by Rui Costa

    An emotional Joaquim Rodriguez (Spain) on the podium after coming agonisingly close to winning a world championship
    Article published:
    September 29, 2013, 20:00 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Rodriguez, Valverde out-witted in Florence

    Now with seven world championship podium finishes between them, Spaniards Joaquim Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde were their country's biggest hope for the rainbow jersey, but despite executing their pre-race plan perfectly, the pair still fell short in Florence on Sunday, taking second and third to Portugal's Rui Costa.

    It was a devastating result for the 34-year-old Rodriguez, who is watching his opportunities to wear the rainbow bands slip away year by year. This edition's circuit with its punchy climb at 5km to go was tailor-made for his physical abilities, and he was reduced to tears as the Portuguese anthem played for Costa.

    "We can run through a million scenarios, but the only thing that counts is if you win, and I didn't win today," a dejected Rodriguez said.

    "Alejandro and I both wanted to win. We already have big wins in our palmares but are missing the world championships. We are missing something, maybe luck, but it's been impossible to win.”

    When Rodriguez put in his bid in the finale, he had a strong tactical advantage: behind, Valverde sitting on the wheel of Vincenzo Nibali, and both Valverde and his trade teammate Costa were happy to leave the Italian chase alone.

    “I knew I had to take some risks in the finale. Vincenzo is very good on the descents, but he already crashed, so maybe he was nervous,” Rodriguez said. “I could see that he was not the same Nibali we typically see on the descents. I don't like to take advantage on the descents, but the race was unfolding like this, and with the wet roads, I could open a gap.”

    However, when Costa came across in the final 2km, Rodriguez had spent too much and could not...

  • Rui Costa cashes in big in world championship lottery

    The national anthem is played for newly crowned road race world champion Rui Costa (Portugal)
    Article published:
    September 29, 2013, 21:10 BST
    Laura Weislo

    First Portuguese champion in history

    Every rider dreams of winning the world championships, and Portugal's Rui Costa was no different, but few have the kind of tactical sense, self-confidence and power necessary to pull off a rainbow jersey performance. Costa showed that he has all these qualities as he dashed the hopes of Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez to claim the 2013 world title.

    "I feel like I won the lottery in a sense," Rui Costa said. "It means a great deal to me. I've wanted this more than anything in my career. I can't believe I'm the world champion, and I will do everything I can to honour this jersey."

    Costa made the final selection of the 16km last lap with a pair of Spaniards, Joaquim Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde, and Vincenzo Nibali - all of whom have palmares stacked deep with victories. Yet he timed his bridge across to the solo attack of Rodriguez perfectly.

    "In the last two kilometres, as I was closing the gap, all I could think of was to close it as efficiently as possible. When I got to him, he told me to pass him and I didn't want to. I looked back and saw we had a gap, and then it was just playing tactics, hoping my legs didn't fail me, and then I was able to realize my dream."

    To have good legs at the end of a 272km race that began in pounding rain, with 10 demanding closing circuits, with only two teammates, and on a day marked with numerous crashes was remarkable.

    "It was a very complicated race with the rain in the first three hours, it made it very hard. We were thinking mainly about how to get to the end of the race in one piece. I had good and bad moments as you do in any race, but luckily I was able to overcome them.

    "When there were five of us in the last lap, I started to believe. Luckily I was feeling very good."

    In Florence,...

  • Video: Stetina one of USA's last men standing in world championship

    Pete Stetina (Garmin-Sharp)
    Article published:
    September 29, 2013, 22:10 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Leaders van Garderen, Horner crash out

    Torrential downpours and a tricky circuit in Florence spelled the end of rainbow jersey dreams for a large number of riders in the peloton, but Team USA suffered the loss of both team leaders Tejay van Garderen and Chris Horner on the first of ten finishing circuits, and all but two others - Peter Stetina and Alex Howes - over the subsequent laps.

    Speaking after seven and a half hours of racing, most of which took place in torrential rain, Stetina recounted the world championship road race as one of "luck and survival".

    "It was lucky if you were in the right spot and if you weren't in the wrong spot," Stetina told Cyclingnews. "I saw Tejay have wheel problems and I tried to wait for him, but he wasn't going anywhere fast. I saw Taylor do some kind of pirouette but keep it up just waiting for Tejay. Chris crashed, and Matthew slid on his belly and Andrew stopped, so then it was just me and Alex all of a sudden."

    When he found himself one of the last men standing, Stetina decided to try an attack with four laps to go. "We had to try something, it's the world championships. For USA Cycling to have the faith to bring me here after my wild September... I tried something with four to go just to get the race moving. As Americans, we have to go down blazing instead of just fizzle out. I tried that and it didn't go anywhere. Then we had to at least finish it out strong, and ride hard to the end. Then the sun came out, go figure."

    Stetina described the race as one spent avoiding crashes and then chasing back on, the constant surges wearing everyone down by the end.

    "I think everyone was just so tired at...

  • U23 Worlds medalist benefits from MTN-Qhubeka support

    Louis Meintjes (South Africa)
    Article published:
    September 30, 2013, 0:30 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Meintjes fulfils African dream in Florence

    South Africa claimed the sole medal at the UCI road race world championships from the African continent, and it should be no surprise it was a rider from the continent's only Professional Continental team, MTN-Qhubeka. Louis Meintjes won the silver medal in the U23 men's road race, but his success is just the tip of the iceberg.

    "We identified Louis as a major talent a few years ago and I've always admired his work ethic," Douglas Ryder, the team principal of MTN-Qhubeka said. "As a team we believe he's a major star for the future, which is why we're investing heavily in athletes like him."

    While South Africa previously earned a silver in the junior women's race thanks to Cherise Taylor in 2007, and Tunisia won silver in 2004 with Rafaâ Chtioui, the African continent has increased support now that it has a division two team and a service course in Italy.

    While it is not unusual for professional teams to support national team riders at the world championships - BMC is with the USA, Sky with Great Britain, Lotto-Belisol with Belgium, Rabobank for the Dutch and more - because MTN-Qhubeka has its service course in nearby Lucca, it has been supporting several African nations. The team staff have been busy all week supporting riders not only from South Africa, but also riders from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Algeria and Lithuania, and not just the ones riding for the pro team. They have been behind the juniors, women and U23s as well.

    "Our service course has been like a train station which has been really fun," Ryder said. "[Meintjes' medal] is a huge moment for South Africa. It shows the support, investment in coaching and race program that we have invested...

  • Durbridge and Tuft break course record at Duo Normand

    Tuft powers at the head of the Orica-GreenEdge train
    Article published:
    September 30, 2013, 4:13 BST
    Cycling News

    Voigt and Boardman's benchmark bested by GreenEdge pairing

    Luke Durbridge and Svein Tuft (Orica GreenEdge) have delivered a record breaking performance to win the 1.1 Duo Normand in Normandy, France, on Sunday. Whilst their GreenEdge teammates and respective Australian and Canadian compatriots where competing in the World Championship Road Race in Florence, the pairing were busy defending their 2012 pairs time trial title.

    Durbridge and Tuft clocked a time of 1:04:10, 1:20 ahead of teammates Michael Hepburn and Jens Mouris, and 37 seconds quicker than the course record set by Chris Boardman and Jens Voigt in 1999 for French team Crédit Agricole.

    "To finish up the time trial season and have it all come together like this is really special," said Durbridge. "We missed out on the gold medal at Worlds [in the team time trial] by less than a second, so it's a great feeling for us to break the record that's been standing for 14 years. I've done a lot of training and racing with Svein this year. It's pretty special to share this moment with him."

    After starting very aggressively last year, Durbridge made sure to adopt a more conservative pacing strategy and it paid dividends for the 22-year-old.

    "We went out really hard last year," explained Durbridge. "I ran out of legs toward the end and Svein carried us to the finish. This year, I tried to control myself more and ride a little bit more evenly.

    "We learned from our mistakes and didn't go out as hard so that we could hold our pace until the end."

    The strong performances by both GreenEdge teams is something that Durbridge attributed to the team's preparation coming into the World Championships.

    "When you do a three...

  • Great Britain fail to finish a single rider in men's Worlds

    Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) was at the fore of the men's race in the early kilometres
    Article published:
    September 30, 2013, 5:25 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Froome: "It's a big disappointment"

    Great Britain has become one of the strongest nations in Elite men's cycling in recent years and dominated the 2011 road race, with Mark Cavendish taking the rainbow jersey. Yet two years on, after back-to-back Tour de France victories, the team failed to finish a single rider in this year's road race in Florence, Italy.

    National coach Rod Ellingworth struggled to hide his embarrassment and anger and was not afraid to criticise the riders who failed to perform.

    "All of them sitting on the bus with 100km of the race still to go is very disappointing," Ellingworth told Cyclingnews.

    Mark Cavendish and Luke Rowe rode on the front of the peloton for much of the 106km from Lucca to Florence but the rest of the team barely made an impact.

    Bradley Wiggins won a silver medal in the time trial and dominated the Tour of Britain just a week ago but he struggled in the rain, bringing back the ghosts of his Giro d'Italia descending problems.

    Chris Froome was designated team leader for Great Britain after spending several weeks training at altitude in Colorado. He'd claimed he had an outside shot a medal but was quickly isolated and then was dropped from the front group after 170km. He quickly threw in the towel when he realised there was no way back to the head of the race.

    A total 61 riders finished the Elite...

  • Simon Clarke flies Australian flag in Florence

    Robert Gesink (Netherlands) rolls along in the peloton on the world championship circuit in Florence
    Article published:
    September 30, 2013, 5:57 BST
    Cycling News

    McGee: "He's not just a wingman."

    Orica GreenEdge's Simon Clarke was the sole Australian finisher at the World Road Race Championships in Florence in seventh, 34 seconds down on race winner, Rui Costa (Portugal). In the reduced bunch sprint for sixth -after Ukrainian Andriy Grivko slipped away for fifth, Clarke was bested only by Peter Sagan as he came in ahead of headline riders such as Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) and Philippe Gilbert (Belgium).

    Originally charged with protecting Cadel Evans until the last lap, Clarke was literally the last man standing for Australia after six of the nine Australian starters were brought down in crashes throughout the race. Rory Sutherland and Cameron Meyer were the only other Australians to avoid going down, but were never in contention after being distanced by the Italian lead peloton, leaving Clarke to ride the final 100km on his own.

    "The conditions out there were just unbelievable," said Clarke. "Richie [Porte] crashed on the way into Florence and then there was that massive crash coming into the second climb and I knew I had Cadel, Michael Matthews and David Tanner on my wheel and they were all caught up in it.

    "The difference between me being a part of that crash and not was only a couple of millimetres. I'm extremely lucky not to have been involved. When I heard the noise from behind, knowing where our guys were positioned, I was pretty sure that we had gone down.

    "Soon after I got the message that those three were out. I knew it was my turn to step up and try to deliver a result for Australia. I did everything I could."

    Having previously ridden three senior world championships as a domestique, including helping to guide Cadel Evans to victory in Mendrisio, Clarke...