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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, September 2, 2012

Date published:
September 2, 2012, 11:00
  • Rojas out of Vuelta a España after crash

    Spanish rider Jose Joaquim Rojas (Movistar)
    Article published:
    September 1, 2012, 11:21
    By:
    Cycling News

    Unable to start stage 14

    José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar) has been forced to abandon the Vuelta a España after crashing on stage 13 to Ferrol. The Spaniard fell inside the final two kilometres of the stage and although he was able to resume racing and finish the stage, he has been ruled out of starting stage 14 due to muscle strain in his right leg and abrasions sustained from the crash.

    Rojas was a key member of Movistar's nine-man squad built around Alejandro Valverde, who sits fourth overall, 1:20 behind race leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).

    Rojas, will now fly back to his Murcian hometown Saturday morning to rest.
     

  • Boonen on track for Worlds

    Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) couldn't hide his delight at winning on home roads.
    Article published:
    September 1, 2012, 12:44
    By:
    Cycling News

    Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider looks to win World Ports Classic

    Tom Boonen's victory in the first stage of the World Ports Classic was “good for the morale” and as preparation for the World Championships later this month. It was “a good feeling” for the Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider to beat such riders Andre Griepel (Lotto Belisol) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha).

    It was Boonen's first win since the Belgian national championships in June. He lit up the early part of the season, winning the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen, Gent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, all within a two-week period.

    "This is good for morale for the real preparation for the World Championships, which begins after this weekend," he told Het Nieuwsblad.

    Boonen will look to defend his leader's jersey in today's second and final stage, and thinks he has good chances to do so.  “I am happy with my form, especially considering the results and how I worked all day. I felt in the Tour of Denmark that it was right, but then lacked the result. I recovered well and it does not look bad. Sunday I will ride  in Leuven (the GP Jef Scherens, ed.) And then starts the specific preparation for Valkenburg. This victory is good for morale. I'm on schedule. "

    He could have gone to the Vuelta a Espana to prepare for the Worlds, but decided against it. "This preparation is indeed not easy, but I have raced too much to go on to Spain. It would have been too much.

    He did one have one small concern, though. “The last time I went to the Worlds without the Vuelta, I regretted it. I hope it is different now.” That last time was in 2006 in Salzburg, when he finished only ninth in the road race and thus failed to defend the Worlds title he had won the previous year in Madrid.

  • Gesink preparing to launch attack?

    Robert Gesink (Raboank) finished in 4th place on the Mirador de Ézaro mountain finale.
    Article published:
    September 1, 2012, 14:05
    By:
    Cycling News

    Rabobank optimistic about chances for “Condor Of Varsseveld”

    Fifth at 2:59 as the Vuelta d'Espana hits the mountains, Robert Gesink (Rabobank) is currently in the position of being ‘best of the rest,”in that he is the closest to the ‘Big Four’ favourites of the red jersey in Madrid. So can the ‘Condor of Varsseveld’, as he is nicknamed, fly even closer to the overall favourites?

    Seventh in the 2008 Vuelta and sixth in 2009, Rabobank’s management believe that after an uneven first week, his strong showing in the Mirador de Ézaro, where he finished fourth ahead of Chris Froome (Sky), indicates that Gesink is back on track.

    “He was never in the first four before in this year’s Vuelta, so I told him that on Saturday he has to finish third, then second on Sunday and then he’ll win the big stage on Monday,” Rabobank’s team director Adri Van Houwelingen told Cyclingnews with a big grin.

    “That’s the plan, anyway!”

    “Seriously, though, up until now [stage 14] the race has been made for Purito [Joaquim Rodríguez - race leader] and we have to admit that Purito is strong. But the others are still close, just seconds behind, and Robert isn’t far away at all.”

    Gesink’s most uneven day was doubtless the race’s time trial [on stage 11 from Cambados to Pontevedra], where he was close to the fastest times after the first checkpoint at km 13 then bombed badly. But according to Van Houwelingen, this isn’t a specific problem for Gesink - it’s to do with the team.

    “We’ve seen this before but it’s not only Robert’s fault, it’s the problem of the team. When the time trial is flat, we do ok, but in the hilly ones like in the Basque Country or Romandie, we don’t do so well as a team. Maybe it’s something to do with the material, or the gears, but we have to work on it.”

    As for his chances overall, rather than attacking “he just has to stick with the big guys and see what happens. It’s definitely more his kind of race from here on. And we think his form is where it should be.” Considering Valverde, in fourth place, is just 1:39 away, Gesink certainly can’t be ruled out yet

  • Contador: I’m focusing on Rodríguez

    Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) couldn't keep pace with Joaquim Rodriguez in the final push to the line and crossed the line in 2nd place.
    Article published:
    September 1, 2012, 16:57
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Saxo leader switches attention from Froome to Rodriguez

    As Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha) claimed his third stage win of the Vuelta and opened up his overall advantage on the race’s first full high mountain stage, Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) says that he is no longer looking at Chris Froome (Sky) as the chief dangerman. Instead - logically - it is now Rodríguez whom he views as his greatest rival for the red jersey in Madrid.

    “Froome?” Contador said when asked what he thought of the Briton’s chances of challenging. “For now I’m not thinking about him any more.”

    “Froome is secondary to Purito for me from now on, because I’ve got to think about the riders I’ve got ahead of me overall, not those behind.”

    A sign that, encouragingly for the race, is despite Rodríguez strong performance on the Ancares climb, Contador is not wiling to play a defensive game and settle just yet. Instead, he is still going all out for victory.

    Contador drew encouragement from the fact that he and Rodríguez could outpace the rest of the field.

    However - as he had also admitted - it is now surely more important whether Contador can finally dislodge the Katusha rider, not the Briton. Froome has lost time for a fourth consecutive crucial stage (the time trial and the last three mountaintop finishes) and Valverde seems unable to match either his or Rodriguez’ attacks. Rather he continues to race at his own pace and then claws his way back into contention.

    Nor can there be any doubt that - finally - Contador has opted for open war. For the first time in the race, Saxo Bank controlled events from the start of the stage, and then made prolonged drives on the second last and final climb. It all indicated that when the Spaniard said before today’s stage that “the Vuelta starts here,” he wasn’t exaggerating.

    “We wanted to toughen up the race as much as possible,” Contador said, “and we could get some time differences. But Joaquim was very strong, I didn’t expect him to get back to that last attack of mine, but when he did, I knew that in that final kilometre it would be difficult to gain time on him.”

    “What I’m pleased about is that my legs felt good even though it was a tough day. Now there are three stages left to try and do it.” - Lagos, Cuito Negru and the Bola del Mundo.

    But when asked which one would be the most important, Contador smiled and said, “I’ll tell after the race is over.”


    Valverde’s challenge


    Valverde was adamant that of the top four riders, however, that “Purito is the strongest of all of us, his form is the best. I’m pleased because the podium is still my big objective and I’m on target, my form felt good, I have to be pleased.”

    “However, it’s Purito who is looking the most likely to win.”

     

  • Report: Cavendish confirmed to leave Team Sky

    World champion Mark Cavendish (Sky) won the Tour's final stage in Paris for the fourth straight year.
    Article published:
    September 1, 2012, 19:20
    By:
    Cycling News

    Norwegian website sites source “close” to team

    Mark Cavendish is confirmed to be leaving Team Sky at the end of this season, a Norwegian website has claimed.

    The website said that “a source close to Team Sky” confirmed to them that Cavendish was indeed leaving after only one season.

    According to Procycling.no, Cavendish's problems with the team erupted during the Tour de France, when the team concentrated on eventual winner Bradley Wiggins and runner-up Chris Froome. That left no one to help Cavendish in the sprints and he was unable to defend the green points jersey which he had won the year before.

    Cavendish's departure had long been rumoured. Patrick Lefevere told Cyclingnews last month that Omega Pharma-QuickStep would be glad to welcome him to the Belgian team.  Wiggins said that it would probably be best for the Manxman to be on another team, and Edvald Boasson Hagen has said that the team has told its riders not to discuss Cavendish's future plans.

  • Rodríguez takes Vuelta battle to high mountains

    Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) had a bottle with his name on it
    Article published:
    September 1, 2012, 20:21
    By:
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Purito dominates on day one of the Vuelta's big climbing days

    It's been calculated that there are no less than 11,500 metres of climbing for the Vuelta a España's peloton in the three days the race spends in the mountains of northern Spain. But if anybody thought that that amount of riding uphill inevitably meant some major upsets on general classification, on day one at least - from Palas de Rey to Ancares - they were sorely mistaken.

    instead, after becoming the race leader since stage four to Ezcaray, ten days later Joaquim Rodriguez continues to dominate the Vuelta, with his third - and arguably most important - stage win so far at Ancares.

    Frequently asked about his capacity to handle high mountain climbing, as if finishing second in the Giro this May and fourth in the Vuelta in 2010 was not enough of an answer, Rodríguez silenced the armchair critics again this afternoon. The 33-year-old Katusha rider not only comfortably handled the fast pace set down by Alberto Contador's Saxo Bank team throughout the stage over four earlier classified climbs, but also powered past the Spanish stage racing star on the ten kilometre Ancares to claim the win and open up his overall lead a little more.

    Although the two exchanged a friendly hug afterwards, Rodríguez preferred to play down his latest triumph, saying "this is only the beginning, there is still a long way to go."

    "Alberto is a very dangerous rider, and his attacks are difficult and I suffered a lot just to keep in contact with him."

    "But in the last kilometre I saw that Valverde [Movistar] was closing the gap and I decided to go for it again." - so successfully that he not only shed Valverde for good, but regained contact with Contador and roared past him.

    Having Katusha team-mates Alberto Losada up the road in the early break and Dani Moreno with him in the closing kilometres were "crucial for me," Rodriguez said. "Knowing Alberto was there was great for my morale, and having Dani there with me was really useful in the final part of the day. Top marks to both of them."

    Rodríguez only showed some annoyance when asked if his counter attacks on Ancares showed he had improved in the high mountains. "I never doubted about my capacity to climb, I've always climbed well," he said. "I think somebody's obsessed with that idea."

    "In any case, if someone like Alberto or Valverde or Froome, one of the top climbers, manages to drop you in the mountains, it's no disgrace."

    His ability to produce extra burst of speed at the end of a big mountain climb made all the difference on Ancares, one reporter said, but Rodriguez responded, "yes, but you've got to get there first. You can't sprint like that if you've not climbed up there first."

    "The stage was very spectacular, very fast, and Saxo Bank never let the other breaks get more than 90 seconds or a couple of minutes. But knowing I had Losada up there was a boost to my morale."

    He was mildly critical of Froome's late, unexpected, counter-attack around three kilometres from the line, saying "when he came past me on a false flat, I couldn't believe it was him. But then he blew again on the harder section. Personally, I think it's better to try to be more consistent."

    So round one of the three big mountain stages of northern Spain went to Purito. However, Rodríguez has no doubt that this is still a four way fight between himself, Contador, Valverde and Froome.

    "Valverde's still there and even if Froome's not been up there today, he's not out of the fight by any means. One minute, 90 seconds or two minutes, it's nothing when there are three really tough stages" - two in the north and one outside Madrid on the Bola del Mundo - "left to come. WIth just one bad day, you can be out of the fight."

    And then displaying his usual humour, Rodríguez concluded, "of course, I'd prefer it to be a two-way fight. Or if it was just me at the top, then so much the better."

  • Alem Mumuni: “I want to change perceptions about people with physical disabilities”

    2008 Beijing Paralympic Games TT
    Article published:
    September 2, 2012, 08:00
    By:
    Peter Cossins

    Paralympian debutant aims to make Ghana proud in Brands Hatch road events

    With the road race events at the London Paralympic Games now just a few days away, Ghana’s African champion Alem Mumuni is putting the finishing touches to preparations that could lead to him becoming the West African country’s first Paralympic medallist. The 29-year-old has spent the last six weeks in the UK and says that even if he doesn’t win the medal that some are predicting he is capable of taking, he will still be a happy man having achieved his ambition of competing in the Paralympics.

    The son of peasant farmers in the Garu-Tempane district of Ghana, Mumuni was affected by poliomyelitis at the age of two and for the next eight years he was only able to get around by crawling. Given a walking stick at the age of 10, he soon got involved in a variety of sports. Mumuni went on to become a member of Ghana’s amputee football team, before discovering his talent on two wheels.

    “I don’t just ride for riding’s sake. I’ve got real passion for riding a bicycle,” says Mumuni, who is set to become Ghana’s first Paralympian cyclist. “The Paralympics is my greatest ambition, and this ambition will help me in my journey. I want to change people’s perceptions about people with physical disabilities. I have seen that the talent I have is one of the tools that I can use to do that.”

    Mumuni and his three teammates on the Ghana’s Paralympic squad have been supported in their ambitions by Right to Dream, a sports, education and leadership academy in Ghana that provides young and underprivileged athletes across a whole range of sports with access to better opportunities. The academy’s goal is to foster development in Africa sustainably by increasing the number and quality of role models who can inspire positive change.

    As part of this strategy, Right to Dream and Ghana’s National Paralympic Committee have developed a programme to support the athletes’ training and provide them with equipment. The quartet have been training at the Right to Dream Academy since 2011.

    They travelled to Britain in July, initially spending a month at a training camp at Exeter University, where they used High-Performance Unit and strength and conditioning facilities, and were also given sports science and nutritional advice.

    They moved on to a two-week training camp at the University of Bedford. During this period Mumuni competed in two time trials with Bedford Road Club, surprising club members with his speed. He was made an honorary member of the club, receiving a club jersey and cap.

    “Since we’ve been in England it’s been fantastic, especially getting access to the gym. We don’t have enough ways to express our gratitude, considering what they have done to help us in our sports careers and especially towards these Paralympics Games. They’ve really shown great hospitality,” says Mumuni, who has already represented Ghana in World Paracycling Championships, most notably when finishing seventh in Italy in 2009.

    Mumuni’s first taste of Paralympic action will come on September 5 in the C2 time trial at the Brands Hatch motor-racing circuit that is hosting the Paralympic road events. The following day, he is due to line up in the C1-C3 road race.

    “I do not feel like I’m doing something extraordinary. But I get the chance to shine my little light in the darkness,” says Mumuni. “I am using the sport and my disability to show that human ability can overcome bodily limitations.”

    He adds: “In life there are obstacles and no one can make you who you want to be except you yourself. The background you come from can’t stop you from becoming the person you want to be in life.”
     

  • Froome holds podium place in Vuelta despite cracks

    Chris Froome (Sky) is starting to fade in this year's race
    Article published:
    September 2, 2012, 09:43
    By:
    Cycling News

    Sky leader third ahead of Lagos de Covadonga

    Despite cracking on the final climb of stage 14 of the Vuelta to Puerto de Ancares, Chris Froome (Team Sky) remains in third place overall. The Tour de France runner up was in trouble on the lower slopes of the final climb, needed assistance from Rigoberto Uran and Sergio Luis Henao after Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank Tinkoff Bank) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) attacked.

    Although the Sky leader regained contact with the Spaniards – and even managed his own attack – he was dropped inside the final two kilometres, losing 38 seconds to stage winner Joaquim Rodriguez. Froome now lies third overall, 1:41 behind Rodriguez, and tied on the same time as Valverde.

    Sky’s director sportif Marcus Ljungqvist admitted that Froome missed the speed to match the accelerations from his main rivals but hoped that his rider would find his footing. Froome entered the race as one of the main favourites for overall victory but despite a valiant showing on the stage to Jaca he has lost time on all of the mountain finishes.

    “Today was the first of the really tough mountain stages and it was a big battle again among the top contenders," he said on Sky's team website. "Froomey was just missing that little bit extra on the climb but he hung in there well.

    “Saxo Bank controlled the pace during the stage. You can’t say we had an easy ride but we were able to sit tight in the peloton and wait for the final climb.

    “Froomey is still up there and in the mix. There is a long way to go and this was the first really tough mountain stage. There is plenty more climbing to do, starting tomorrow, and we will look to support him again.”