- Article published:
- September 21, 16:45
- Cycling News
Women could surprise, men hoping for top 15
The Optum Pro Cycling team is one of several organisations fielding both men's and women's squads at the UCI road world championship team time trial. As a trade team event, the race was attractive to the American team because of the prestige of the event.
While other teams have bases of operation in Europe, Team director Jonas Carney told Cyclingnews that they have had to find vans to transport the bikes, cars and racks to use as team vehicles in addition to the normal activities of a big race, but it will be worth the effort.
The 57.2km course with the vast majority of it being flat and straight is well suited to the US time trial champion Tom Zirbel, but it also suits the women's squad, who are racing a team time trial for the very first time.
"It's not too technical, and it will favor powerful riders like Zirbel, Scott Zwizanski, Mike Friedman - and the women like Jade Wilcoxson and Joelle Numainville."
At least one team has its eye on the Optum women: British champion Lizzy Armitstead of the Boels-Dolmans team told Cyclingnews that "they might be a surprise, they might overtake us" in their goal of making the top five.
Last year, the men's team was 20th of 33 teams, but Carney hopes to up the ante this year. "The goal is to do better than last year. An exceptional results would be a top 15, but to be top 10 would be unbelievable."
"It's a goal for us to perform at a high level. We know we're not going to win the world TTT championship this year, but we can be competitive against the best in the world, and it's good experience for the future."
- Article published:
- September 21, 21:00
- Stephen Farrand
Froome: I think on a good day we finish on the podium
Team Sky will be without Bradley Wiggins for the team time trial world championship but the British squad will field six strong riders from its Tour de France winning team, including yellow jersey winner Chris Froome, Richie Porte and pursuit specialist Geraint Thomas.
Wiggins is close to securing victory at the Tour of Britain and an overlap between the British stage race and the world team time championships means he is unable to be part of the six-rider Team Sky line-up. However he will ride the individual time trial on Wednesday and then give support to Chris Froome in next Sunday's Elite men road race.
Team Sky is hoping the combined strength of Froome, Porte, Thomas plus Edvald Boasson Hagen, Vasil Kiryienka and Kanstantsin Siutsou will have the power and balance to secure them a place on the final podium.
Froome and Porte are back in Europe after along spell training in Colorado. Froome seemed unsure of his form just a few days after returning to Europe but was upbeat about Team Sky's chances.
"I think on a good day we can run a podium," he told Cyclingnews after warming down after reconnaissance of the 57km time trial route.
"It's fast, really fast. Like any team time trial it's going to very rapid. It should be about an hour long effort. We've got a decent team here: a couple of guys who rode the Vuelta, a couple of guys who trained specifically for this."
Thomas happy to back in Tuscany
Geraint Thomas lived and raced in Tuscany with the Great Britain Under 23 Academy before becoming one of the best team pursuit and time trial riders in the sport. He liked the flat and fast course and is looking forward to using his track power and aerodynamics to use in the team time trial.
"It's super fast, it's like riding the track because its super smooth," the Welshman told Cyclingnews before heading back to the team hotel.
"I'm looking forward to it. I know al the roads except in the centre of Florence, so it's nice to be back."
"It'll suit big engines who can ride fast on the flat. I think we've got a good team for that. Everyone can ride fast. It's always different trying to put out the power on a TT bike on the flat but I can that thanks to the track and so can these guys."
Like many, Thomas is fascinated by the close battle and the spectacular racing the team time trial event always produces. Team Sky has done little specific preparation but all six riders here in Tuscany were in the Team Sky Tour de France squad.
"I think we'll be there or thereabouts," Thomas predicted.
"We haven't do much specific work for it. But we all rode the Tour de France and so have that experience. We've all been around and done it before. We all know what to do. One of the fascinating thing about team time trials is that no one team has ever dominated. There's always a scrap between four or five teams."
"Hopefully we'll win it but it's between us, BMC, Orica has some big units. RadioShack has got some strong guys but I'm not sure on their strength in depth, Garmin will be there. It's the usual suspects."
- Article published:
- September 21, 22:03
- Stephen Farrand & Laura Weislo
Aldag dialing in gears for team's TTT defense
Tony Martin will be expected to lead and inspire the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team in the world team time trial championships, using his power and speed to provide long turns on the front on the flat sections, and then marshal the squad through a technical finale.
Martin is the current individual time trial champion and is determined to go on to complete a world title double by winning a third consecutive individual time trial title on Wednesday.
Both time trials follow the same 57km route from Montecatini Terme to Florence, covering a short climb to Serravalle Pistoiese early on before 42km on flat straight roads that have been resurfaced specifically for the world championships. Only the technical section in the centre of Renaissance Florence and in the shadow of the stunning Duomo offer a technical challenge due to cobbles, speed humps, and some tight turns,
"It's a really nice parcours. It's not really technical until the final two or three kilometres," Martin told Cyclingnews after Omega Pharma-Quick Step completed their reconnaissance of the roads.
"But as soon as you hit the finale, it really gets tricky, especially in the old centre of the city. There are some narrow roads and some cobbles. When you're on your own, it's not a problem but with six guys it makes it tricky. You have to find a balance between taking some risks and not losing time."
When Omega Pharma-Quick Step won the first ever team time trial world title, their squad of six included Tom Boonen. He has been replaced by Michal Kwiatkowski this year but Martin is confident in Sylvain Chavanel, Kwiatkowski, Niki Terpstra, Kristof Vandewalle and Peter Velits.
"There's a good atmosphere, I think it's going to be a good Worlds."
"I think BMC and Orica-GreenEdge are the big favourites along with us. We want to win for sure. For me we're the best team but we still have to keep in mind that other teams have worked hard to be successful here. We're not sure of winning but we're pretty confident."
Aldag dialing in the gear
The team's technical advisor Rolf Aldag helped the riders work through the tricky prospect of dialing in the gears for a three-part course which begins with a climb, has 50km of dead flat, straight road, and then ends with a heart-stopping series of turns in the city of Florence.
"We didn't necessarily want to limit riders on the gears, we might be able to go faster, but then they couldn't hold the cadence. You don't necessarily want to go into the small ring [on the climb]," Aldag said. "Today we don't have a strong wind, but usually we should have a side-tailwind and that will make it faster."
"What we learned from the Tour de France was that every team can go fast on a dead flat, straight road. The time differences were really small," Aldag said. Omega Pharma lost by a single second to Orica-GreenEdge, with Sky only three seconds back. In last year's championship the team beat BMC by two seconds.
"We're prepared for it to be very tight again. Last year's championship was super close, this year's Tour de France was super close. It's double the distance, but even if you double it, the gap between teams is not one second, it's two, or four. You never know. They'll have to take risks, go to their limit - there will never be a point where they're leading by 1:30 and they can just relax."
While most teams previewed the course from start to finish, BMC skipped the first 50km and spent the morning doing laps of the final kilometres in Florence to dial in all of the turns. Omega Pharma-Quickstep is relying on video footage to help the riders memorize the turns, but Aldag says getting it right will be critical.
"After 50km to get into all these left, right, left corners and not a chance to see it too many times, it's a bit scary. Hopefully - we have it on film and they'll watch it over and over, but it would be better to be able to ride it 10 times."
- Article published:
- September 21, 22:05
- José Been
Anti-doping testing not good enough during Armstrong era
UCI President Pat McQuaid rethought his previous comments about Lance Armstrong and his role in the sport of cycling. McQuaid, who is currently running for re-election as UCI President, reflected on Armstrong's doping and what kind of punishment he deserves for his infractions.
"When I look back at it, I wouldn't have said that Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling. I wouldn't have said that now. It was a hard statement," UCI president Pat McQuaid told Dutch newspaper Telegraaf.
"The large majority of the peloton was on EPO in those years. But I do think Lance deserves harsher punishment because of the fame and wealth he gathered in his career."
Pat McQuaid was elected UCI president in 2005, just after Armstrong won his seventh and last Tour de France.
"Furthermore, Lance Armstrong was incredibly arrogant," the Irishman said. "He yelled at everyone who criticized him, even threatened people. He wasn't the only one on EPO but he does deserve a share of the criticism and punishment he now gets."
McQuaid and the UCI also received criticism in the fallout from the Lance Armstrong and US Postal investigation. .
"We tested Armstrong over 200 times between 1998 and 2005. USADA tested 12 times and WADA only three times. Over half of the year, Armstrong resided in the United States and was their responsibility. It's easy to shift that responsibility to the UCI but we did everything we could. The anti-doping tests weren't sophisticated enough in those years."
Disappointment is also a sentiment McQuaid has when thinking of the former Tour de France champion. "I read his books, read about his fight against cancer. He looked death into the eyes. You just don't expect anyone to risk his health with performance enhancing drugs after everything he went through? I am very disappointed in Armstrong. He lied to the UCI, the media. He lied to the entire world."
When asked what his biggest disappointment in eight years as UCI president was, McQuaid mentions another American. "Floyd Landis' positive test only two days after the Tour de France finished in Paris. I remember very vividly where I was that day.”
“My lawyer called me at the Munich airport. I knew that it wasn't the number 15 of the overall classification involved. Landis was the first time an actual Tour de France winner tested positive. The yellow jersey. It was a disaster. The phone rang for 48 hours straight and I didn't sleep for three days."
The Landis affair wasn’t the only doping headlines to dominate McQuaid start as President. Just months after he was elected president in Madrid, Operación Puerto began to unravel.
"I flew to Madrid immediately and found myself around the table with two inspectors, the Spanish Olympic committee, WADA and the minister of sports. A large doping ring was exposed and I knew cycling would receive a hard blow but also heard other sports were involved so we wouldn't be hit alone. I never understood though why the other sports were left unharmed and only the names of cyclists were revealed."
McQuaid firmly believes cycling is busy regaining credibility. "In the nineties young athletes died of EPO. We introduced the hematocrit values to protect the riders. We were also the only sports federation to embrace the biological passport.”
“I would also like to see an independent anti-doping institution do the testing instead of the federations but under current WADA regulations this is impossible. This would have to change for every sport, not only cycling."
- Article published:
- September 22, 01:23
- Cycling News
Beats Weening in two-up sprint
Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin) took his first win for the season in the UCI 1.1 GP Impanis-Van Petegem on Saturday. After 197km of racing Vanmarcke won the sprint ahead of fellow escapee Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge) in Haacht, Belgium.
After finishing an agonising second place by just millimetres in the UCI 1.1 GP Jef Scherens last week in Leuven, Vanmarcke was glad to finally take his first win for the season.
"The fact that I couldn't finish it off last week makes this win extra nice," Vanmarcke said. "I didn't expect this because I had a bit of cold this week. However, I got better and better during the race."
In the final kilometres Vanmarcke and Weening hovered just ahead of a chase group of five riders including Roy Curvers (Argos-Shimano), Danilo Wyss (BMC) and Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil-DCM). Knowing his sprint would carry him to victory, Vanmarcke took the front to prevent the others from catching the two leaders and sealed the win in style.
"I was preventing the others from coming back," explained Vanmarcke. "With five hundred metres to go, I slowed down and waited for the sprint because I know I'm more explosive."
Residing in Waregem, roughly 100 kilometres from the race finish, made this a home-town victory for 25-year-old Belgian. And Vanmarcke's idea of celebration was to ride home, clocking up 300km for the day.
He said with a laugh: "I will ride home by bike!"
- Article published:
- September 22, 05:00
- Cycling News
Joins strong Garmin Sharp team chasing gold
Christian Vande Velde (Garmin Sharp) will close out his career during Sunday's team time trial at the UCI Road World Championships in Florence, Italy. After saying goodbye to American fans at the recent US Pro Challenge, the 37-year-old will now ride the final 56.8km of his career whilst chasing a world title.
"It is an honour to have the World TTT Championships be my last race, and to have the opportunity to finish my career racing alongside some of my best friends," said Vande Velde. "It's been a privilege to call Garmin-Sharp my home, and to ride out my career with a team that feels like family."
Rohan Dennis, Andrew Talansky, David Zabriskie, David Millar and Tylar Farrar will join Vande Velde as he rolls down the start ramp for the final time.
"Team Garmin-Sharp is 100 percent focused on our work as a team, and for that reason the TTT is always a special and important event for us," said Garmin Sharp Director, Jonathan Vaughters.
"We have a strong team this year for the World TTT Championships with a mix of great young talent in Andrew and Rohan, combined with the deep experience of TTT experts Tyler, David M, Dave Z and Christian. It should be an exciting race," added Vaughters.
It's the mixture of youth and experience that David Millar recently told Cyclingnews would prove successful for Garmin on Sunday, and on the eve of the final race of his career, Vande Velde was similarly enthusiastic about the Garmin line-up.
"We go into Sunday with great mix of experience and youth, and we will do our absolute best ride possible."
- Article published:
- September 22, 07:15
- Cycling News
New sponsor secured
Accent Jobs has reportedly ended its co-sponsorship of Belgian UCI Pro Continental team Accent Jobs-Wanty. Belgian newspaper RTBF is reporting that the rumoured move by current Vacansoleil-DCM directeur sportif Hilaire Van der Schueren into the ranks of Accent Jobs-Wanty is complete and will act to offset the hole left by the departure of Accent Jobs.
As reported yesterday, Van der Schueren was on the brink of completing this transition -and taking the two million euros he has already raised- with his hopes of salvaging the collapse of Vacansoleil-DCM looking increasingly unlikely.
Now it is being reported that Van der Schueren has secured a new Walloon sponsor who will partner with Wanty to ensure the team continues at Pro Continental level. This soon to be revealed sponsor has reportedly signed for one year up front with a contract extension possible.
- Article published:
- September 22, 11:05
- Alasdair Fotheringham
Predicts breakaway of four to decide road race
New Spanish road trainer Javier Minguez has confirmed that Alejandro Valverde will be the main leader of his nine-man team in the men’s road-race next Sunday.
“Spain and Italy are the strongest squads for this, the Italians have always been a reference point in this kind of racing,” Minguez, a long-standing sports director of Spanish teams in the 80s and 90s, and a commentator for Spanish radio in recent years told the Spanish sports daily AS on Sunday.
“Individually, though, I’d mention [Peter] Sagan, [Vincenzo] Nibali, Philippe Gilbert, [Fabian] Cancellara, [Edvald] Boasson Hagen. There’s a long list out there, and always quite a few riders who show up who were never on anybody’s betting card.”
Valverde certainly has the results to justify a leader’s role. Following Oscar Freire’s retirement, Valverde is Spain’s most ‘be-medalled’ pro rider, with two silvers (2003 and 2005) and two bronzes (2006 and 2012) in his palmares - a total which no other current rider from any other country matches. Rodriguez is a distant second, with a bronze medal from the 2009 Worlds.
As for prioritizing Valverde - who took bronze amidst controversial circumstances last year, when he was criticised for failing to guide Oscar Freire up the Cauberg on the final lap - Minguez says nonetheless “He’s won four medals and he’s good at long, hard races. It’s not a question of guiding Alejandro up to a final sprint because there won’t be one in this race, there will be four riders at most off the front in the last part of the last lap. And I think Alejandro can be one of them.”
Asked what chances Spain had of taking a medal, Minguez said “at least 60 percent. But if we think of ourselves as favourites, that’s where we’ll start making mistakes. We have to tackle this race from a humble point of view.”
It’s been nearly ten years since Spain last won the men’s World’s and since then an often excessively top-heavy squad has seen many opportunities squandered. “My job is to be sure that nobody makes a mistake when it comes to the role they have to play,” Minguez said, although for the mens race the proof will be in the pudding, as it were, next Sunday.
“Our objective is take a medal,” Minguez told AS, “That’s what people get obsessed with. But my main worry is to get the team to work as a team. If we get a medal without doing a good race, I won’t be satisfied.”