A close-up look at the Australian's purpose-built ride
Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
New and old kicks and lids seen at WorldTour race
Protest over selection results in team USA change
2008 time trial world champion Amber Neben will take the place of Olympic champion Kristin Armstrong in the upcoming UCI road world championships in Copenhagen.
"Following consideration of the protest USA Cycling's Selection Committee reconvened and, after further review, named Amber Neben as the discretionary nominee to compete in the women's time trial alongside Evelyn Stevens, an earlier announced automatic qualifier based on her time trial win at the national championships," a USA Cycling press release stated.
USA Cycling's selection procedure for the time trial lists a top three finish in the prior Worlds as its top criterion, but neither Neben, who placed fourth in Geelong, nor Armstrong, who did not compete in 2010, met that standard. A current US national championship is the second consideration, and Neben placed second to Stevens, while Armstrong was third.
With neither rider meeting the top two standards, the decision came down to the committee's discretion, and as of September 2 they had deemed Armstrong as the rider more capable of a medal. USA Cycling would not speak to what factors led to the reversal of that decision.
Armstrong, twice a world time trial champion (2006, 2009) and the Olympic champion (2008), made her comeback to the sport this year following the birth of her first child, and has raced a largely domestic calendar this season. Her victories include a time trial victory in the Nature Valley Grand Prix,...
Mancebo clinches NRC, Allar wins USA CRITS
A late position in the calendar has spelled the end of the Capital Criterium (CapCrit) in Washington, DC, a race which served as the finale for the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar and USA CRITS series.
Organisers announced earlier this week that the race, scheduled for October 2, will not take place due to problems attracting a top field to the nation's capital.
"The October date of the CapCrit presented difficulties for teams and riders (both men and women), as they face fatigue and injuries from an already long race season and/or depleted budgets and travel monies at the race year’s end," the statement said.
"In addition, overlap and conflicts have surfaced for riders competing in multiple disciplines, such as the Elite Track Nationals, which are being held in LA during this time, and the cyclocross season, which will be in full swing by October 2nd.
"While the decision was especially difficult given that the CapCrit was positioned as the men’s and women’s finals for the 2011 USA CRITS Series, the final race of USAC’s 2011 NRC, and the finals of the 2011 US Handcycling Series, it was made with the best interest of spectators, the local community, the event’s numerous partners and sponsors, and, of course, the riders, in mind. We also did so knowing that, because of the substantial amount of financial, human, and city resources needed to secure and close a course in the heart of Washington, D.C., full fields of competitors are required to ensure the long-term success of the event."
The NRC will now conclude with this weekend's Univest Grand Prix, but there are not sufficient points available to unseat series leader Francisco Mancebo (RealCyclist.com), who has a 130-point lead over Jake Keough (UnitedHealthCare). The maximum available is 120 points.
HTC riders bolster Belgian team
Both currently ride for HTC-Highroad and will boost Quickstep’s sprint lead-out team and strengthen the squad for team time trials. Grabsch won the world time trial title in Varese in 2008 and is the current German time trial champion. He excels in riding long spells at the head of the peloton and chasing down breakaways before helping set up teammates for the sprints.
Rabon is from the Czech Republic and is a proven short time trial specialist and lead out man. He is a triple Czech time trial champion and won the prologue of Tour de Romandie 2009 and the Vuelta a Murcia in 2010.
Both riders are expected to boost Tom Boonen’s lead out train in 2012 and boost the number of HTC-Highroad riders joining the team. These already include Tony Martin and Martin and Peter Velits. HTC directuer sportif Brian Holm will also join Quickstep in 2012.
Quickstep recently confirmed the arrival of Polish riders Michal Kwiatkowski and Michal Golas. Levi Leipheimer has been linked to the Belgian team but has yet to confirm his signing for 212.
“František and Bert are two excellent team players, athletes with great intellect who can win and carry their teammates into position to vie for victory," Quickstep team manager Patrick Lefevere said in the press release announcing the riders’ arrival. "Both are fantastic cronomen and great pace setters who can carry out quality and quantity work at the front of the group."
Defending champion Nuyens says "give course a chance"
One of the most iconic climbs of the cobbled Classics will not feature in the Tour of Flanders for the coming years, and the exclusion of the Muur van Geraardsbergen (also known as the Wall of Grammont or Kapelmuur) from the race has caused great consternation across Belgium.
Notable sports commentator Michel Wuyts told Sporza.be, "It's as if the Ronde has been decapitated."
Two-time champion Stijn Devolder was also unhappy with the changes, saying, "This is no longer the Ronde van Vlaanderen".
"Three times up the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg in the finale is probably all in my favour," said Devolder to Sportwereld. "But I believe that the organizers made a wrong choice by simply replacing the old finale. The Muur van Geraardsbergen and the Bosberg cannot be erased from the Ronde."
"Besides, the finish must remain in Meerbeke. I could win ten times in Oudenaarde but this would never be the same feeling as the finish in Meerbeke."
Since 1973, the Tour of Flanders has finished on the same route which incorporated the Kapelmuur and Bosberg as the final two climbs. The new course shifts the finale to Oudenaarde, using three circuits of decreasing length, all of which take in the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg, with the latter serving as the final ascent with 13.3km remaining before the finish line near the Centrum Ronde van Vlaanderen, a museum dedicated to the history of the race.
The defending Ronde champion Nick Nuyens agreed with the race organiser Wim Van Herreweghe, who asked for people to give the new course a chance.
"It's a shame that it is changing, but we have to give it a chance anyway," Nuyens said to Sporza.
"The concept has changed little. It is still a succession of hills with little recovery time and there remains two killers in the finale, only the hills now have different names. Although I must say that the finish in Meerbeke was a beautiful place."...
HTC-Highroad manager has numerous offers
Rolf Aldag is still pondering his future and has revealed that it may be away from cycling. The HTC-Highroad team manager has told Cyclingnews that he would make his decision “in the next few days”.
“I have interest from some teams, but I have also a very interesting offer from another sport, outside of cycling, in a management position,” he said.
Aldag, 43, denied a report that he has accepted a position as technical director at the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team for 2012, saying “I have not decided yet.”
However, he did not rule it out entirely, saying the Belgian team “is a good project which will be joined by many members of team Highroad and of course there is communication between us as I want to see our people succeeding in a different environment as well.”
He expects to make up his mind soon, “because there is a lot of work to do on all different projects.”
If he were to join Omega Pharma-Quickstep, he would meet many familiar faces. his former teammate and HTC-Highroad directeur sportif Brian Holm will be part of the team, while former and current Highroad riders Tony Martin, Bert Grabsch, Frantisek Rabon, Martin and Peter Velits and Gerald Ciolek will ride for the team.
Aldag rode for Team Telekom from 1993 to 2005, and then served in a managerial function for T-Mobile and Highroad from 2006 onwards. The team is stopping at the end of this season, as it was unable to find a new sponsor.
Riders talk about World Championship hopes
König, Barta and Bartosz Huzarski were part of a 21-rider group which got away on the final climb and finished 1:24 ahead of the peloton in Wells on Friday. They finished third, fourth and ninth, to give the German Professional Continental team the team ranking on the day, for the second time in this race.
"Everything worked out very well again. Bartosz did a great job of supporting Leo and Jan in the group,” said sport director Jens Heppner. “Now, the two of them are in excellent position going into the time trial on Sunday. If nothing unusual happens, it will decide the outcome of the tour, at least second to tenth places. Jan and Leo are both good time trial riders, and I think top five finishes are possible.”
The key stage will be Sunday morning's first half stage, a 10-km time trial in London. König did well enough in the time trial at the Tour of Austria to move up from third to second overall, where he finished the race. Barta did even better, finishing sixth in that time trial.
Barta, 26, is not so sure about it, though. “That is difficult to say, since I can't really estimate the time trial qualities of the other top ten riders.” He will try to maintain his placing in Saturday's stage, in order to “have the best starting position for the time...
Team manager reveals details of RadioShack-Nissan-Trek merger
Johan Bruyneel has confirmed that the first talks regarding the creation of the new RadioShack-Nissan-Trek team super team were held the day after the Tour de France ended in Paris. The Belgian team manager now faces the challenge of successfully combining the two teams and then helping Andy Schleck win the 2012 Tour de France.
During this year's Tour de France, Bruyneel had confirmation that RadioShack and Nissan would continue as sponsors for another two years, but has revealed to Het Nieuwsblad that there would be “budgetary limitations”. The Monday after the Tour, he attended the first meeting to discuss “the opportunity” of taking charge of the Leopard Trek team. The impulse came from John Burke at Trek.
“He brought RadioShack, Nissan and Leopard together. Leopard had a team, but no sponsor. We had no team to win the Tour, but we offered in the form of RadioShack and Nissan two passionate cycling sponsors,” Bruyneel said.
Bruyneel is now looking forward to winning the Tour de France with Andy Schleck, who he has been watching for a long time.
“He had already struck me in 2005 when he first rode the Tour of Georgia. The talent drips off him. You can't finish second in the Tour three years in a row and second in the Giro otherwise. I think it is time he really starts to believe he can win the Tour,” he said.
Bruyneel also knows who the main competition will be. "If Contador is on form, he is really tough to beat. Ultimately, the Tour always come down to a battle of man against man. I know Alberto's level, but he proved that he is not unbeatable."
The Belgian team manager is very much looking forward to the challenges of the new team in 2012. He almost retired when Lance Armstrong ended his career...
Insists he and brother Fränk will always race together
Andy Schleck has revealed that a lost filling during the Tour de France was the cause of his tooth infection that has disrupted his end of season and cost him his spot at the World Championships.
The infected tooth was pulled two weeks after the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado but his recovery was hit by an infection and he needed to take antibiotics. That made it too risky for him to ride the Worlds road race.
“Both my dentist and the team doctor advised me against participating in the World Championships. My health is the most important thing, and I really don't want to risk a heart muscle infection, which would mean I would have to sit out a year,” he told Tageblatt.lu.
Schleck vehemently denied that the dental problem was just an excuse not to ride in Copenhagen, and that he didn't care about representing his country.
“I absolutely don't make up stories in order not to participate in the World Championships, which is always a great moment in the career of any athlete. I feel I have always represented Luxembourg during my big successes, like the stage wins at the Tour de France.”
Schleck hopes to race again this season, although he is still not able to fully train. “Whenever I get into the higher pulse rate, I also have strong pains,” he said.
He must wait and see how he recovers and then will decide his race program. “But if I can't build my form backup, then the Colorado tour would be my last race Which I don't hope in the case.”
Next year, Schleck will ride for RadioShack-Nissan-Trek, which he inisists will be registered in Luxembourg.
“One thing is for sure, the team will remain a Luxembourg team. As for any further details I can only refer you to...