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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, July 28, 2012

Date published:
July 28, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Belgian team aiming for breakaway in Olympic road race

    Belgian champion Tom Boonen leads the peloton
    Article published:
    July 27, 2012, 12:07 BST
    Cycling News

    Coach and riders hoping to make race hard for Cavendish, Greipel and Sagan

    Even if he is a great sprinter in his own right, Tom Boonen is not hoping for a fast finish at the Olympic road race at the Mall this Saturday. Instead, the Belgian team will be aiming to race aggressively against the event's favourite, world champion and British team leader Mark Cavendish, as well as his sprinting peers André Greipel or Peter Sagan.

    "Boonen has his chances in a bunch sprint, but it will be hard against guys like Cavendish and Sagan," the Belgian team coach Carlo Bomans told Sporza, a view shared by the second man in the Belgian squad, Philippe Gilbert.

    "We'll certainly not look for a sprint. Even Boonen says he'll find it difficult against guys like Cavendish, Sagan and Greipel," Gilbert agreed.

    Despite the widespread belief that the 250km road race will end in a bunch sprint, the Belgian team is not without hope that its strategy will bear fruit. "We're not at the start going for silver or bronze," stated Boonen. "That's really the very last option. We have a strong and experienced squad. We have to try and ride to the finish with a small group.

    "With four finishers in the team [Boonen, Gilbert, Greg Van Avermaet and Jürgen Roelandts, as well as Stijn Vandenbergh - ed.], that is entirely possible. We're not going to avoid taking risks. I'm the team leader, but that doesn't mean that I'm the only one that can wrap it up in the finish. I can also be a diversion."

    Bomans insisted on the necessity for a larger group to be up the road after the final ascent of Box Hill, as there are still 40 kilometres of flat terrain to go...

  • Millar ready for pivotal role in Olympic road race

    David Millar (Garmin-Sharp)
    Article published:
    July 27, 2012, 12:41 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Experience of Team GB road captain invaluable in bid for gold

    If Mark Cavendish is to win this weekend's Olympic road race he's likely to power down the the Mall, unleashing a trademark sprint that leaves his rivals trailing.

    But before those final 250 meters lies 249.8 kilometres of a testing, narrow, and unpredictable course. If Cavendish has any chance of success he'll need to count on the support of his four teammates, and none more so than David Millar.

    Millar, 35, may not be the strongest powerhouse on the Great Britain team, he probably isn't the best candidate to lead Cavendish out either, but as the team's road captain he'll play a pivotal role in the home nation's race.

    Unlike the majority of the events professional riders compete in throughout the calendar year, the Olympic road race stands out: a unique set of differences separating it from the Classics and grand tours. Trade team loyalties are forgotten, race radios are switched off and typical eight-man squads (nine for grand tours) are slimmed to a maximum of five.

    Millar, by far the most experienced rider on the squad, labels his team role as 'panic management'. He'll assess situations and with the team's race car almost powerless and communication muffled, Millar's cool headedness will be crucial as he lines the team's defences. Cavendish is aware of how important Millar will be.

    "He's able to stay calm and analyse situations really, really well. He knows this sport and he's not scared to call shots. He's not hesitant and that's great - as someone who knows how to read a race and is willing to take the responsibility, it's refreshing to have. And he's strong, he knows how to ride for a sprint, he knows how to ride climbs, all types of terrain," the sprinter told the assembled press on...

  • Andy Schleck out of Vuelta a España

    Andy Schleck confirmed that he won't be competing in the Tour de France due to a fracture to his pelvis sustained at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
    Article published:
    July 27, 2012, 15:03 BST
    Cycling News

    RadioShack-Nissan rider to race in North America instead

    The younger of the Schleck brothers, Andy Schleck, will soon come back to racing but not, as had been his initial plan, at the Vuelta a España. The RadioShack-Nissan rider, who had to skip the Tour de France because of a pelvic fracture sustained at the Dauphiné, will instead feature in North American races.

    Schleck will participate in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge from August 20-26, the GP Québec (September 7), GP Montréal (September 9), followed by the Worlds (September 23), the Tour of Beijing (October 9-13) and the Tour Hangzou (October 17-21), the two newly created WorldTour events in China.

    Recent reports that stated Schleck was about to end his 2012 season are therefore false. "I'm happy to report that Andy Schleck is set to resume racing soon," RadioShack-Nissan manager Johan Bruyneel wrote on his personal website. "We've established a schedule for the remainder of the season where he should be in a good position to attain results."

    The Luxembourg-based squad will send Maxime Monfort and Tiago Machado as team leaders to the Vuelta, with the rest of the roster yet to be announced. "We will aim for a top ten placing for Maxime and Tiago, stage wins and the team GC," Bruyneel added.

  • Jalabert comments on "demanding" Olympic course

    Laurent Jalabert in the car.
    Article published:
    July 27, 2012, 16:17 BST
    Cycling News

    French team coach expects "very open" race

    Even though many observers think that the Olympic road race this Saturday will come down to a bunch sprint, chances are some national teams will do anything in their might to prevent a fast finish. Italy, Belgium, Spain and also France will aim to launch their riders into what may well be a powerful breakaway providing chances of victory for those riders better known for their results at the Classics.

    France will be represented by a three-man team at the event, including Sylvain Chavanel, Arnaud Démare and Tony Gallopin. At the IOC press conference on Thursday, national coach Laurent Jalabert explained its team selection and gave arguments supporting a different race outcome than what the British team around super-sprinter Mark Cavendish will aim at.

    "I see a very open race. I remember in Atlanta, Erik Zabel was the favourite but he only sprinted for 20th place. At the time we had a hard-fought race, difficult to control. The race was on far from the finish line, after just 100km, and it's there that we'll have to be present," Jalabert said, admitting that a sprint finish was probable but that it might not be the world champion who would win it.

    "It's easy to say it's a course tailored for Mark Cavendish. Last year he won the test event, but it was basically half the distance. It's the man most on form after the Tour de France, so of course he's on the list of the favourites. But Peter Sagan is more of a favourite than him, for example, the course suits him better," the Frenchman said.

    But Jalabert was not convinced that the bunch would stay together until the finish at the Mall in downtown London. "It's not a course I consider...

  • Hesjedal preparing to go it alone at London Olympics

    Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) with the Canadian national flag
    Article published:
    July 27, 2012, 17:05 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Giro d'Italia winner fit again after Tour de France injury

    With just one spot in the men's Olympic road race Canada has been forced to shoulder Ryder Hesjedal with the sole responsibility of showing off the nation's jersey. However, the Giro d'Italia winner hasn't arrived in London just to showcase the Maple Leaf jersey and is adamant that he can play a significant part in the men's road race, and possibly the time trial.

    Hesjedal was selected to represent Canada after his Giro triumph in May and at the end of June he set off for the Tour de France in a bid to win the double. The first few days passed without incident: a strong prologue was followed by assured rides through Belgium but on the stage to Metz Hesjedal's race fell apart. Crashing with 25 kilometres to go in one of the biggest pile-ups in recent years, he was forced out of the race, unable to start the following stage due to a haematoma on his right hip.

    "I've just had to get the recovery in and deal with the injury," Hesjedal told Cyclingnews after touching down in London.

    "The crash came early so I was training and back to normal after about a week. The last few weeks I've been training well in Girona [Spain] and in the last few days I've just been fine tuning and yesterday I was able to get out on the course."

    The Olympic course is one that suits Hesjedal's ability to grind out results. The nine laps of Box Hill will first tire and then provide opportunities for a selection to be made. But with no team support Hesjedal is on his own and will be forced to fend for himself from the word go.

    "I've shown my ability to ride on the tough races and I'm hoping to do that on Saturday. It's going to be about taking your chances in the race and going for it. I'll have to read the race as best as...

  • Wiggins rings Olympic bell to kick off London Games

    The Olympic bell was rung by Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins to kick off the Opening Ceremony at the London Olympic Games.
    Article published:
    July 27, 2012, 21:43 BST
    Cycling News

    Tour de France champion honoured at home Games

    Bradley Wiggins, who last Sunday became the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France, has been honoured in his home country by being the person who rang the Olympic bell today in the Olympic Stadium to commence the Opening Ceremony. The bell ringing is the climax to the countdown to the official start of the Games.

    The Olympic bell is the largest harmonically tuned bell in the world. It was made only a few miles from the stadium in Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the same foundry that created the Liberty Bell and Big Ben. The Olympic bell weighs 23 tons and is 2m by 3m in size.

    Wiggins, 32, is competing in his fourth Olympic Games and has medalled in each of the previous three Olympics. The Briton earned two gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games in the individual and team pursuit on the track and has six Olympic medals in his palmares in total: three gold, one silver and two bronze, all earned on the track.

    Wiggins will compete on the road at the London Games in both road events: the 250km road race on Saturday, July 28, an event in which teammate Mark Cavendish is a favourite for gold, as well as the 44km individual time trial on Wednesday, August 1, where Wiggins himself is a contender for the gold medal.

  • Australian women's Olympic team well supported

    Amanda Spratt (GreenEDGE) - 2012 road National Champion
    Article published:
    July 28, 2012, 0:44 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Team of debutantes surrounded by experience

    When the Australian team lines up for the women's road race on Sunday, they will do so as a team of three newcomers to the Olympic Games: all three of the riders who competed in Beijing have retired. But Chloe Hosking (21), Amanda Spratt (24) and Shara Gillow (24) represent the next wave of talent from Down Under. Surrounded by a wealth of experienced staff and a huge number of supporters in London and back home, the trio is prepared and confident of their medal chances.

    Cyclingnews sat down with Hosking and Spratt on Wednesday at their hotel on the Box Hill circuit, in a quiet, bucolic setting that was the epitome of the calm before the storm. Gillow had yet to arrive.

    Hosking, a young, up-and-coming sprinter has had the privilege on her professional team of being schooled in the art of sprinting by Specialized-lululemon teammate Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, one of women's cycling's most accomplished riders. Hosking will now face the German as a competitor.

    Hosking is united in London with her professional rivals from the Orica-GreenEdge team: Spratt, the national road race champion, and Gillow, the Australian time trial champion. They will form a compact but powerful team that, although new to the Games, has a combined 16 years of international experience. One rider shy of the four woman maximum, Hosking says the team will have to play off the bigger nations in the 140km race.

    "For all three of us, we've never been in this situation. I like to think we're equally strong [as the other teams] ... the top five nations...

  • Vos hunting gold in women's Olympic road race

    Marianne Vos (Rabo Women) checks her radio before the start
    Article published:
    July 28, 2012, 2:45 BST
    Cycling News

    World number one seeks to complete resume with victory in London

    Marianne Vos (The Netherlands), despite only being 25-years-old has only a few items missing before her cycling palmares can be considered complete. She won gold in the points race at the Beijing Olympics but this year it’s the gold medal in the London Olympic road race she is desperate to obtain.

    Vos was crowned road world champion in 2006 however, since then she’s come agonisingly close to repeating that victory but without success. It’s been five years of coming second in the sport’s biggest annual race - the world championships - so now that the Olympic Games are finally here, Vos is adamant she doesn't want to finish in the runner-up spot again.

    "It will be a tough race but I do not think I can be satisfied with silver or bronze," Vos told Reuters.

    The Netherlands will field the maximum four-rider quota for the women’s road race, held on the Sunday following the men’s race. Vos will be surrounded by her teammates Annemiek van Vleuten, Loes Gunnewijk and Ellen van Dijk.

    Vos made a splendid return from a broken collarbone when she dominated the recent women’s Giro Donne, winning five of the eight stages and capturing the overall. Asked about her condition for the race, Vos was confident of her form.

    "Am I stronger than ever? Yes, I think I can say that," she said.

    Vos will ride the time trial, held just three days after Sunday’s road race. The women will cover a 29km route while the men will ride a longer, 44km course.