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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, September 11, 2011

Date published:
September 11, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Cobo puts off Vuelta celebrations until Madrid

    Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) defend his 13-second lead.
    Article published:
    September 10, 2011, 22:26 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Spaniard still worried about time bonuses

    Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) is just one stage away from securing victory at the Vuelta España but with just a 13-second lead on Chris Froome (Team Sky), he is refusing to start any celebrations until he has crossed the final finish line in Madrid on Sunday.

    Cobo kept Froome under control during the hilly stage to Vitoria, even when the Briton made a surprise attack as he mistook the 20km to go banner for that of the final intermediate sprint.

    He knows that there are still 32 bonus seconds up for grabs during Sunday's final 95.6km stage to Madrid: 6, 4 and 2 at two late intermediate sprints and then 20. 12 and 8 seconds on the line at the finish.

    "I haven't won mathematically yet, I can still lose because of the time bonuses, so I've got to suffer for another day," Cobo said after pulling on the race leader's red jersey again in Vitoria.

    Cobo and his Geox-TMC team have carefully controlled the racing during the two stages in the Basque Country, letting breakaways take away key time bonuses and then giving Igor Anton the chance of winning in his home town of Bilbao.

    "I've enjoyed the last few days and it's been great to visit the Basque Country and see so many people along the roadside," Cobo said.

    "Today there were a lot of people on the Urkiola climb. I was ready to respond to an attack from Froome but instead he went for the time bonuses. But it didn't work out for him. When he jumped away I thought that he was going for a long attack. I didn't stop to work out why and just went after him. Then I realised he'd got confused by the banners. After that there was no problem because we had Carlos Sastre up the road and then the sprinters team took over."

    Sastre tries for stage win

  • McEwen sees no chance to ride in Worlds

    Robbie McEwen (RadioShack)
    Article published:
    September 11, 2011, 10:13 BST
    Cycling News

    Australian said he needed to win Paris-Brussels

    Robbie McEwen thinks it highly unlikely that he will be selected to the Australian World Championship team.  The RadioShack rider finished only twelfth in Paris-Brussels on Saturday, a race he has won five times in the past.

    “Sunday the names will be officially announced, but twelfth place is not a good recommendation.  To be in Copenhagen, I had to win.”

    The World Championships will be held September 19-25 in Copenhagen.

    McEwen won Paris-Brussels in 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, and had hoped to repeat his success this year.

    “I was a bit blocked in and two kilometers from the finish I hit a traffic island.  About 40 to 50 riders shot past me.  I tried to come back on the home straight, but it was already over.  If you have to come from so far behind, you know it's difficult to win.  And I did not have the strength.”

    The 39-year-old has only one win this season, a stage at the Tour de Wallonie.  He has signed for the new Australian GreenEdge team for next season, saying he will ride for only the first half of the season and then become a technical advisor to the team.

  • Moncoutié seals fourth Vuelta mountains title

    Mountains leader David Moncoutie
    Article published:
    September 11, 2011, 11:13 BST
    Cycling News

    Frenchman to return for record bid in 2012

    David Moncoutié (Cofidis) has said that his latest Vuelta a España king of the mountains title was perhaps his most keenly-contested, and he hinted that he will be return in 2012 in a bid to win a fifth consecutive crown.

    The veteran Frenchman shored up the polka dot jersey on the road to Vitoria on Saturday, when his closest challenger Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r-La Mondiale) failed to pick up any points on the final climbs of the race.

    “I admit that I’m very proud of this achievement,” Moncoutié told L’Équipe. “It wasn’t easy this year either. Perhaps even more complicated than the three previous years. I managed it differently, and I was careful right to the end in trying not to use up too much energy in every stage.”

    A rider capable of creating and taking his own opportunities, Moncoutié was able to count on the support of his Cofidis team this time around, and in particular Nico Sijmens, who repeatedly outsprinted Montaguti for points when the pair were in the winning break on the road to Noja on stage 18.

    “It all went well, and my teammates, especially Sijmens, also contributed to this jersey,” Moncoutié said.

    As well as winning the mountains prize in each of the past four Vueltas, Moncoutié has succeeded in taking a stage victory in every edition of the race since 2008. This time around, his success came at Estación de Montaña Manzaneda on stage 11. Although he also has two Tour de France stage wins in his palmares, unusually for a French rider, Moncoutié’s appears more at ease south of the Pyrenees.

    “The Vuelta suits me perfectly,” Moncoutié...

  • Video: Cavendish motivated for Tour of Britain

    Roger Hammond, Mark Cavendish and Geraint Thomas ahead of the Tour of Britain.
    Article published:
    September 11, 2011, 12:03 BST
    Cycling News

    Home stars give their thoughts as race gets underway

    After being forced out of the Vuelta a España early on, Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) has a chance to get his world championships preparation back on track at the Tour of Britain, which gets under way on Sunday.

    Cavendish withdrew from the Vuelta on the road to Sierra Nevada on stage 4, but the Manxman has prepared well in the intervening period and will be the star attraction in what is his first appearance at the British race since 2007. Finishing just a week before the road race in Copenhagen, Cavendish is hopeful that the Tour of Britain may yet turn out to be the ideal preparation.

    "I am glad to get a start here, I’ve been training well and hopefully I will taper well for the world championships,” he said at Saturday’s pre-race press conference. “Eight days is a good length of tour as final preparation for the world championships.”

    Not that Cavendish is riding solely to make up the numbers and build for the Worlds. "I am not here just to ride the route, I want to win stages and we want to be successful," he said.

    After missing out on overall victory in their first tilt at the race in 2010, Team Sky will be looking to make amends this time around, as Geraint Thomas (Sky) pointed out.

    “It has been a long year but we’ve got a strong team here and we want to win the race,” the Welshman said. “It’s a tough race and it’s grown over the past few years. We’re looking forward to it and hopefully come away with the jersey.”

    Veteran Roger Hammond is part of a solid Garmin-Cervélo line-up and he said that the inclusion of riders of the calibre of world champion Thor Hushovd is indicative of how the race and cycling’s profile...

  • Bennati's win seals Italian leadership for Worlds

    Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek) book ends his Vuelta with a win.
    Article published:
    September 11, 2011, 14:10 BST
    Barry Ryan

    No place for Pozzato but Pinotti set to line up in time trial

    Paolo Bettini has confirmed that Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek) will lead the Italian team at the world championships in the wake of his win in Vitoria at the Vuelta a España on Saturday. The Italian coach also closed the door on Filippo Pozzato’s chances of selection after he failed to finish GP de Quebec on Friday.

    Following the strong performances of Sacha Modolo (Colnago-CSF Inox) and Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale) in recent weeks, Bennati’s status of leader had appeared under threat, and Bettini was pleased that his fellow Tuscan had responded in such a fashion in Spain.

    “We needed this win for his morale, which I had heard was in pieces, and to dispel any doubts about the hierarchy of the team. Bennati is there,” Bettini told Gazzetta dello Sport.

    Bettini’s squad will be made up of two distinct groups, one to marshal Bennati and another to infiltrate and control breakaways. Matteo Tosatto (Saxo Bank-Sungard) will be the team’s regista, or road captain, while the man who filled the role last year, Luca Paolini (Katusha) will be charged with policing the breaks.

    “Paolini will have a more important role this year as he will be the head of the group of attackers. Then if nothing happens, the two groups should merge two laps from the finish,” Bettini said.

    The Italian team will set out to shed the main peloton of as many of Bennati’s sprint rivals as possible before the finish, and tactically, they may have an ally of circumstance in the form of the Belgian team.

    “Belgium will make the race hard for Gilbert, and we will give them a hand,” Bettini said. “I want there to be at least two of our riders in every break, but sitting in the wheels,...

  • Hunter returns to Garmin-Cervélo

    A very concentrated Robert Hunter (Team RadioShack)
    Article published:
    September 11, 2011, 18:26 BST
    Kirsten Frattini

    South African sprinter to work with Tyler Farrar

    RadioShack's Robert Hunter has confirmed that he will return to his former Garmin-Cervélo team having signed a two-year contract that will expire at the end of the 2013 season. The South African says he and American sprinter Tyler Farrar have mutually agreed to work together during the sprints next year.

    "I will be back with Garmin-Cervélo next year and the year after," Hunter told Cyclingnews. "I have signed a two-year contract with the team. I am very happy with my decision. I think I will be racing a bit of everything from the stage races to the one-day races. One of the main reasons why I went back to the team was to work with Tyler again."

    Hunter has enjoyed a lengthy career as one of the top sprinters in the world having won stages of the Tour de France, Vuelta a España, Tour of Langkawi and Tour de Suisse. He has raced for Lampre, Mapei, Rabobank, Phonak and Barloworld, and was a part of the Garmin squad during the 2010 season.

    Last year’s merger of two powerhouse squads Garmin-Transitions and Cervélo Test Team caused him to feel uneasy about how he would fit into a team that housed several dominant sprinters. He left for the Pegasus team, and following its demise joined RadioShack for the 2011 season, where he believed his opportunity to be the lead sprinter was greater.

    "Tyler and I worked well together before," Hunter said. "But, I felt that last year with the whole infusion of the two teams there wasn't enough opportunity for me and that is why I decided to leave."

    Hunter is confident that he will have a place in the sprints during some of the Grand Tour stages and one-day races during the next two seasons.

    "Now, there are a lot of guys leaving the team this year, Julian Dean and others," he said. "I spoke with Tyler and we both feel that this is a good time to come back...

  • Video: Froome has no regrets about Vuelta second place

    Froome put in a strong attack that nearly succeeded in dropping Cobo
    Article published:
    September 11, 2011, 18:58 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Briton considering five-year offer from Team Sky

    Chris Froome (Team Sky) finished second overall in the Vuelta a España, just 13 seconds behind Juan José Cobo (Geox-TMC) but he has no regrets about failing to topple the Spaniard after attacking almost every day in the last week.

    "He held onto a 13 second gap really well. I had my opportunity to take it from him in the mountains but he defended it well and kept me there all the way through. Hats off to him, he's ridden a really good race," the Kenyan-born Briton told Cyclingnews in a video interview in Madrid.

    Cobo's winning margin is the third smallest in the history of the Vuelta. He won thanks to picking up 52 seconds in time bonuses on four different stages. Froome picked up just one 20-second time bonus when he won stage 17 to Peña Cabarga. Earlier in the race, Froome worked to help teammate Bradley Wiggins instead of focusing 100% on his own race. However, he is happy to accept how the Vuelta evolved, knowing that grand tours are not just about simply adding up the seconds.

    “It would be great if it was as simple as that,” he said. “Time bonuses are there for a race to be more exciting but it didn't play in my favour this time around. I can only say that I don’t really agree that so much time bonus is given at mountain top finishes, but we all know the rules prior to racing and we have to race accordingly."

    "You can always look back and say: 'Maybe we should have done something differently earlier on.' But that's how the race panned out. I came here to work for Bradley and that's normal, that racing."

    The start of a successful stage race career

    Froome knows that his second's place and his consistent riding throughout the Vuelta have changed his career forever. He believes it could be just the start of a successful...

  • Cobo celebrates his Vuelta win in Madrid

    Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) celebrates his Vuelta a Espana triumph.
    Article published:
    September 11, 2011, 20:26 BST
    Stephen Farrand

    Spaniard talks about his fight with depression

    Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) was mobbed by hundreds of friends and supporters wearing horns and special 'El Bisonte' T-shirts in Madrid, and despite being crowned the winner of the 2011 Vuelta a Espana, he was struggling to understand that he had achieved.

    He started the race three weeks ago in Benidorm as a domestique but emerged as Geox-TMC's best rider and went on to take the leader's red jersey by winning atop the gruelling Angliru climb. He then defended a slim 13-second lead on his home roads in the northern Cantabria region and subsequently all the way to Madrid.

    Last year he was ready to quit the sport for good and return to being an electrician. Now he has been crowned the winner of the Vuelta by Prince Felipe. "I came to the Vuelta to help Carlos Sastre and Denis Menchov and three weeks later, I’m here to talk about winning the Vuelta, it’s unbelievable!" he said.

    Cobo claimed that his Vuelta win did not happen by chance. "I've known that I was in a good shape since the Tour of Burgos at the beginning of August and I had two weeks after that to improve my condition," he said.

    "I suffered a lot on the finish at the Sierra Nevada, I didn’t have the legs. I didn’t have the race rhythm and I was lucky that the headwind neutralized the racing. That day, I was far from imagining that I’d be the eventual winner of the Vuelta. But after that, I didn’t have any worries. But it was harder than it looked like during the two stages in Cantabria and the two stages in the Basque Country."

    Fighting depression and future success

    Cobo is not embarrassed to talk about his battle with depression and how racing his bike and riding the Vuelta has helped him enormously. "I suffered with...