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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, September 23, 2012

Date published:
September 23, 2012, 13:00
  • Stephen Farrand joins Cyclingnews

    Article published:
    September 22, 2012, 17:25
    Cycling News

    Experienced journalist to be based in Italy

    Cyclingnews is pleased to announce that Stephen Farrand has joined the editorial team as European Editor.

    Farrand, who worked for Cyclingnews for two years until October 2011, will be based in Livorno, Italy and work alongside fellow European Editor Barry Ryan, Managing Editor Daniel Benson, and the global teams in the rest of Europe, Australia and the USA.

    “I’m really happy to be back as part of the Cyclingnews team. I’m more motivated than ever after a year away and hope I can help Cyclingnews grow and develop even more in the years to come thanks to my experience and ability,” Farrand said.

    Managing Editor Daniel Benson said: “Stephen brings a wealth of experience and knowledge. His skill as a journalist and a writer are respected within the world of cycling and I and the rest of the team are looking forward to working with him.”

    Cyclingnews was created in 1995 and has become the leading website in the world of cycling. In July more than 2.89 million readers enjoyed Cyclingnews content, with more than 66.4 million page views, according to ComScore.

  • Vos takes stunning solo win on home soil

    Marianne Vos (Netherlands) flies the Dutch flag as she wins the 2012 road world championship on home soil.
    Article published:
    September 22, 2012, 18:58
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Dutchwoman claims Worlds gold again after five silvers

    It may have been widely predicted, but Marianne Vos's victory was no less memorable for that as the Dutchwoman blazed ahead of the remnants of the leading break on the Cauberg to claim a superb solo win in the elite women's world championship road race.

    From the moment Vos had charged across to the seven rider move just 30 seconds ahead of her, it was clear she was the strongest of the race. Her ability to convert that into her latest gold medal triumph - in a year which has already netted her the World Cyclo-cross title, the Olympic gold, the women's Giro and the women's World Cup - was faultless in its execution and spellbinding to watch.

    "I have nearly forgotten what it feels how to have this jersey, but after five years of silver it's wonderful to have it again," Vos said.

    "This year has been amazing, it started off really well in the Worlds Cyclo-cross, then it was a little stressful in May" - with a broken collarbone when in a two-up move with Sharon Laws (AA in the Parkhotel Classic, ironically enough held near Valkenburg where she triumphed today.

    "But then there was the Olympics, I won the Giro d'Italia with a better build-up than I expected, I won the World Cup overall and this [the World Championships] was still coming.

    "I didn't want to ruin my chances so I've been in form and keeping in shape. Then my team kept me in good training mode and now I'm here in rainbow stripes. It was a good day and I'm glad it worked out so perfectly."

    As for the Cauberg and that final attack, she said, "Of course it is hard, and if you've done it seven times before you know it is going to hurt. I knew I had some energy left and I knew in this break it was possible to attack there.

    "I waited till the speed was high and then I just made that attack. Of course it helps when you have done the Cauberg 100,000 times before, so I did this at the hardest spot and knew i could do this (keep the pace going) to the top then there was 'only' a kilometre and a half to go at the top. I say 'only' because there was a headwind and it was pretty hard actually."

    When the break was out there and Vos bridged across she had already worked out "that it was a good move with nice riders and it was good to have Anna [Van Der Breggen, teammate] out there in front.

    "We'd made a hard race, but if you have a rider ahead and can bridge across then you've already got two there.

    "The plan worked out, but I told my other teammates to keep the break at 30 or 40 seconds so I could make my move. Then when we were at the foot of the Cauberg it was 35 seconds, so that was perfect."

    World championships
  • Spain ready to play various cards at world championships

    Alberto Contador rolls out in his Spanish colors
    Article published:
    September 22, 2012, 20:05
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Contador set for secondary role

    Spain is one of the big favourites for victory in the Elite men's road race in Limburg, and with Oscar Freire, Samuel Sanchez, Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde and Joaquim Rodriguez in their nine-man squad, it is not hard to see why. But how can a team with so many top riders decide on who works for who?

    One of the most important problems facing the Spanish selection is that they have so many riders that could win the world title, that they risk having a top-heavy structure. Certainly none of the five above would be out of place at all as sole leaders of other, weaker teams. But can so many cooks spoil the Spanish broth?

    “We’ve got a saying in Spain which is ‘better too much luxury than too little,’” responded Juan Antonio Flecha, whose role is expected to be one of the ‘team captains’ on the road with Pablo Lastras. This leaves just Dani Moreno and Jonathan Castroviejo as Spain’s only domestiques.

    “A Worlds that is always unpredictable, it’s better to keep your options open,” Flecha said.

    “If there’s a bunch of 50, then we’ve got Freire, Samuel is good for breakaways, Valverde if it’s a small group sprint. The only thing that’s certain in a Worlds is that nothing is certain, and nobody’s got a crystal ball.”

    One rider who looks set to have to accept a secondary role is Alberto Contador. He said he will probably be there “to make the circuit feel much tougher than it really is. Then on the last two laps it’s over to other riders. In terms of climbing, it’s 2500 metres of climbing over 267 kilometres. 267 kilometres is a lot, but that amount of climbing isn’t so significant in that kind of distance.

    “I’ve recovered from Wednesday’s time trial”- where he finished ninth, well below expectations. “It didn’t work out, I never got into the right kind of rhythm, but sometimes that happens. I got overtaken by Tony Martin, but at least I can say it was the world champion who came past me,” he said with a smile.

    Spanish team coach Jose Luis de Santos was asked which Spanish riders will look after the breaks?

    “I’m not going to give anything away and we’ve got a team meeting this [Saturday] afternoon to reach a final decision,” he said, “But I expect both Moreno and Castroviejo to have a very big team role. It’s not that hard a circuit and we rode the first 100 kilometres as well and that wasn’t so difficult, but a lot will depend on the weather. If it’s windy or raining, it could be very different. For me, either way, the Belgians are our biggest rivals.”

    Joaquim Rodriguez
    - the last Spaniard to take a top three result in the road-race, a bronze back in 2009 in Mendrisio, is ready for any possible outcome.

    “The Worlds is so different a race to any other that you have to be prepared to adapt for all sorts of different circumstances. If it breaks up, for example, Alejandro [Valverde] could have an option,” he said.

    Valverde said he was fully recovered after fainting on Friday after lunch. Three times a podium finisher in the Worlds, Valverde warned he “was in perfect condition to race.”

    Samuel Sanchez could be just as dangerous as Valverde and Rodriguez. After his crashes and injuries wrecked his chances in the Tour and the Olympics, the 2008 Beijing Olympic champion rode well in the Tour of Great Britain, his last race, with a long attack on the second last stage across Devon.

    “I’m going ok, my injuries are basically cured although sometimes I’m in pain when I’m off the bike, not on it,” he said. “The terrain in the Tour of Britain was good for try outs for the Worlds, very similar to here. But the Worlds is a very different race to anything else. What’s crucial, though, is that we have riders in any of the breaks that go in the last three laps."

    World championships
  • UCI has nothing to apologise for, says McQuaid

    UCI president Pat McQuaid faces the media at a press conference during the road Worlds in Valkenburg.
    Article published:
    September 22, 2012, 20:50
    Barry Ryan

    Governing body still waiting for USADA's Armstrong file

    UCI president Pat McQuaid has said that the governing body has "nothing to apologise for" in relation to its management of the sport during the Lance Armstrong era. In a press conference in Valkenburg on Saturday, McQuaid also said that the UCI was still waiting to receive the file from USADA's case against Armstrong, but at this point he did not envisage that they would appeal the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

    "The UCI assumes that the reasoned decision and the file will justify USADA's position on all of the issues, but we still need to be able to go through those documents before giving our position," McQuaid said. "The UCI is ready to take its responsibility and unless USADA's decision gives us serious reason to do otherwise, we have no reason to go to CAS [to appeal their decision.]"

    In August, Armstrong decided not to contest USADA's charges of doping and conspiracy, and faces being stripped of all results from August 1998, but McQuaid refused to speculate on who, if anyone, would be declared the winner of the seven Tours de France that Armstrong won between 1999 and 2005.

    "At the moment that's a hypothetical question. We have to wait for the USADA file before deciding," McQuaid said.

    During an hour-long press conference in which McQuaid refused to comment in depth on his decision to proceed with a defamation suit against journalist and former rider Paul Kimmage, he defended the UCI's management of cycling during his tenure and that of his predecessor Hein Verbruggen. He refuted the allegation made by both Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton that the UCI covered up a positive test from Armstrong at the 2001 Tour de Suisse.

    "The UCI has nothing to be apologetic about. The UCI has always been the international federation that does the most against doping," he said. "In relation to hiding a sample, the UCI has never hidden the sample of any rider, in particular Lance Armstrong."

    McQuaid also dismissed as a "fallacy" the allegation that the UCI had informed Armstrong of doping tests in advance, and said that other drug-testing bodies had also failed to snare the American in a positive test during his career.

    "Armstrong claims to have done something in the region of up to 500 controls. I know for a fact that the UCI has done 215 of them. The other 280 were done by other agencies which could include USADA, WADA and AFLD. If the UCI was informing him about tests, then who was informing him from the other agencies?

    "If the allegations are correct that people were beating the system, it's not the UCI's system, it's the system put in place by WADA. So I repeat, we have nothing to be apologetic about."

    David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) was on hand at the press conference due to his work with the BBC during the Worlds, and he challenged McQuaid's assertion that the UCI had no cause for apology, expressing the wish that the governing body would show more humility.

    "How can we be apologetic? We do more testing than anyone else. As I said already, we send those samples to laboratories and they do the tests. If we got information at any time on athlete we would act on that, but we've never had that," he told Millar. "You were one who did what you did [Millar confessed to doping in 2004 – ed.] and you didn't inform the UCI you were doing it. Others who have been caught since never informed the UCI what they did. The UCI is not to blame for the culture of doping in this sport."

    Instead McQuaid limited himself to admitting that the recent past had been "a black period" for cycling, adding, "but that's not to apportion blame." He was also lukewarm on the idea of retroactively retesting stored urine and blood samples from the past decade.

    "This issue naturally was discussed at length by the management committee and congress and the decision was made that the UCI should concentrate on the cycling of the day. That doesn't mean we ignore the past or that we're trying to hide it."


    During the London 2012 Olympics, McQuaid had floated the possibility of an amnesty for riders who confessed to doping as part of a sort of truth and reconciliation commission for cycling, but he tracked back on the idea in Valkenburg.

    "The UCI management committee discussed the possibility of an operation similar to what South Africa knew at the end of Apartheid with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The conclusion was that it would first be inappropriate to take any action while the USADA-Armstrong affair is underway and, in addition, the WADA code does not provide for any amnesty."

    McQuaid expressed his empathy with the Italian federation's decision not to select riders named in doping investigations for the national team, although he wondered if it were legally enforceable. "From a legal point of view, it's difficult to support," he said. "From a philosophical point of view, I do support it."

    In the midst of the Armstrong case, it has often been overlooked that his doctor, Michele Ferrari, and manager Johan Bruyneel, have also been charged by USADA, and McQuaid insisted that the UCI was serious about taking action against managers and doctors who encourage doping.

    "If the UCI can get information on any doctor, trainer or manager who aids, abets or uses his influence in any way to bring riders into doping programmes, we will do what we can to get rid of him, but we need the information," he said.

    McQuaid's term as UCI president comes to an end in 2013, but the Irishman confirmed that he was likely to stand for re-election in Florence next year. "At this point in time I would say yes. The reason I would say yes at this point is that there is still work to be done in the fight against doping and the globalisation of the sport. They are my two objectives."

  • Neylan and Longo Borghini join Vos on road Worlds podium

    Women's road race podium (L-R): Rachel Neylan (Australia), Marianne Vos (Netherlands) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy)
    Article published:
    September 22, 2012, 21:50
    Alasdair Fotheringham

    Vos is the best in the world and the strongest today, said bronze medalist

    Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy) was brutally honest in her assessment of her chances in the women's road race world championship, taken by Marianne Vos with such dominance it left almost no opportunity for anybody to do much more than fight for the honour of standing beside the Dutchwoman.

    "Marianne was the strongest today and she's the best in the world," Longo, who netted the bronze, said afterwards. "She showed that she deserved this win, but I'm not afraid of her, and I tried my best. Getting a result like this in any case, is wonderful for me, a big success."

    Luckily unaffected by the early mass crash that saw a large number of riders go down - although most were uninjured - Longo said, "Once the break formed, we knew that Marianne would try to get across at some point. Then when she attacked, I tried to follow her on the Cauberg, but she was too strong. Her pace was too much for me and I was really running out of energy."

    "It wasn't a big surprise that she bridged across," added silver medalist Rachel Neylan, "but with two Dutch and two Italians in the break it wasn't my job to do the work. I was there for [Australian team leader] Tiffany Cromwell, but with two laps to go I got the all clear to finish it off."

    2011 saw Neylan have two major accidents, breaking her pelvis twice in crashes. Then after what has been a tough 2012 season, too, ended with a slightly unexpected call-up to the Australian team for Neyland and a debut ride in a World's squad, she said she felt "surprised, proud and delighted to be here. Australia has a big talent pool so to be able to represent my country at this level is really something.

    "I did my job to the best of my abilities, I covered the breaks until the time came for me to focus on a result for myself."

    One of the squads that lost out badly in the race was Great Britain, with pre-race favourite Emma Pooley missing the crucial break. Pooley was strongly self-critical after the race, saying bluntly, "I messed up."

    "It was disappointing, a disappointment," Pooley said. "I had great support from my teammates but when Vos went I was a bit boxed in and didn't have the legs to go with her.

    "I was even in the right place but when she's gone she's gone, so I messed up there. The gap went up pretty quickly so it was entirely my mistake.

    "We didn't have the kind of team to chase that back, and I never planned to. The idea was to go with Vos, and I couldn't. The other [GB] riders had done their work keeping me at the front and keeping me safe, so I'm really sorry I let them down."

    Pooley - who has not yet decided whether she will take a year out from the sport, as she has suggested earlier this month - said she was involved in the big crash early on and had hurt her back. "It's not a very good excuse but I was not feeling at my best. That kind of thing happens in races."

    She said that Vos's win was "not unexpected, congratulations to her. I'm not saying I'd have beaten her, but not being in that break was a big mistake on my part."

    As for the circuit itself, she said, "It's got some climbing in but it's not as tough as it seems on paper. It's got the Cauberg in it, but the climb round the back is really pretty easy. So that made it faster."

    Vos's Dutch teammates, on the other hand, were understandably ecstatic. "It's been a great day," Adrie Visser told Cyclingnews. "I really enjoyed it all, it went how we planned, it was perfect.

    "Nobody could stop Marianne, and the whole team did really good, Anna [Van Der Breggen] was amazing. A great day, a historical day, to win on home soil is something very special.

    "The Olympics was a lot of pressure, but winning here in Holland was also a lot of pressure too for Marianne, and she did it again."

    As for Vos bridging across, "I asked her if she needed us to do anything, because when she goes she's hard to follow, so I went a bit harder on the Bemelerberg [climb] and then Lucinda [Brand, teammate] went after that and then Marianne went. This is how we planned, it's easy when you can plan it and it all works. A great day for women's cycling - again!"

    World championships
  • Cavendish predicts sprint finish from small group at Worlds

    Stage 3 winner Mark Cavendish (Sky) at the post-race press conference.
    Article published:
    September 22, 2012, 22:35
    Barry Ryan

    Manxman states he can't win, will race as a matter of respect for number one dossard

    The eve of the world championships road race is perhaps hardly the time for an outgoing champion to make sweeping declarations about his future and Mark Cavendish was giving little away when he met the press in Maastricht on Saturday.

    Cavendish has already admitted that he may leave Sky this winter, just one year into his contract, and speculation has been rife in the Belgian newspapers this week that Omega Pharma-QuickStep is preparing to buy out the remainder of his deal.

    The Manxman was reticent when asked when he thought his team for the 2013 season would be confirmed. "It's out of my hands a little bit," Cavendish said. "I'm here to race the world championships and I'm out of the team environment right now, I'm with Great Britain."

    Although the world championships course did not prove as selective as anticipated in the junior women's and under-23 road races, Cavendish reiterated that the rolling hills of Limburg was no country for sprinters. "It'll probably be a group at the finish but it's not going to be a bunch with me in it, that's for sure," he said. "There's so much more diversity in pro racing, it's a lot more aggressive than under-23 and junior women. There's only going to be forty or fifty people in the peloton the last time it hits the Cauberg, so there's not going to be a big bunch sprint tomorrow."

    In spite of the parcours, Cavendish said that there was never any possibility that he might pass up on the opportunity to defend his title, citing his respect for the race and desire to play his part as a support rider one year on from his victory in Copenhagen.

    "It's just a matter of respect, whether you can do it or not, to go back and defend it," he said. "I knew I couldn't win here, but I wanted to respect wearing the number one and in whatever little bit I can do to try and do my little part this time around."

    Cavendish was one of four riders – along with Jonathan-Tiernan Locke, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome – at the British press conference, and there were scarcely more journalists on hand to hear their thoughts. It was a far cry from the hype and expectation that followed the team's every move in Copenhagen twelve months ago, but Cavendish insisted that the mood within the camp was the same.

    "It's just a bunch of lads, it doesn't really change," he said. "Even last year, we didn't really feel it [pressure], we just knew what we had to do. We don't feel any more or less pressure, we just want to go out and do the best job we can, both as individuals and as a team and see what's the best result we can get from that."

    Cavendish paused when asked to recall his most memorable moment from his year as champion, before ultimately plumping for his win on the final stage of the Tour of Britain in what was his last outing in the rainbow jersey. "That was a nice way to end it, my last race in the jersey to cap off what's been a pretty successful year," he said. "It could have been better, but it was pretty successful."

    World championships
  • Hamilton calls on Armstrong to tell the truth

    Tyler Hamilton in 2004
    Article published:
    September 23, 2012, 10:59
    Cycling News

    American to sell cycling memorabilia to raise funds for anti-doping

    Tyler Hamilton has called on Lance Armstrong to tell the truth about his past, suggesting his life will improve even if any confession to doping could have huge financial implications.

    Speaking to David Walsh in a long interview in the Sunday Times newspaper, Hamilton reiterates many of the details he revealed in ‘Secret Race’ -the book he wrote with Dan Coyle.

    He recalls the moment when FDA agent Jeff Novitsky called him and he decided to confess every detail of his doping.

    “I was forced to reflect on everything and it was like I had all this stuff buried inside me and I realised, ‘What a f****d-up world we were part of,” Hamilton told Walsh.

    “For me what mattered was getting it out there. If we sold one or one million copies, it didn’t really matter. Writing the book was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. I’m proud that I’ve done it but I’m not proud of what’s in there. It’s hard reading about yourself doing the things I did.”

    Armstrong has always strenuously denied doping during his career, calling the USADA investigation a witch hunt, but he then opted not to contest USADA’s charges. He was banned for life and lost his seven Tour de France victories.

    When asked by Walsh if Armstrong will ever tell the full truth of what happened during his career, Hamilton said: “From the bottom of my heart I hope he does. I really mean that. I wouldn’t wish the kind of suffering I’ve had holding these secrets, getting accused of all this stuff, and just denying, denying, denying.”

    “I hope he comes clean because his life will improve if he does. I understand he could ask a hundred different lawyers and each one would say, ‘Don’t tell the truth because there could be serious financial consequences.’ But I think it would be worth it. It’s his way to freedom.”

    Hamilton revealed that he is ready to sell all his cycling memorabilia and donate the money raised to help fight doping.

    “I’ve still got every bit of memorabilia from my career, tons of stuff from the Tours, and classics; bikes, jerseys, trophies, race numbers, everything,” he says. “It fills an entire room. I don’t want any of it and have been thinking what to do with it. I’m going to auction it online and donate the proceeds to anti-doping.”

  • Tiernan-Locke steps up to lead British team at Worlds

    Race leader Jonathan Tiernan Locke goes to sign in
    Article published:
    September 23, 2012, 11:33
    Barry Ryan

    Endura Racing rider one of the surprises of 2012

    Twelve months ago Jonathan Tiernan-Locke was never even in consideration for the Great Britain team that piloted Mark Cavendish to victory at the world championships in Copenhagen, but one year on, the quietly-spoken Plymouth native leads his country at the Worlds in Valkenburg.

    Tiernan-Locke rocketed from relative obscurity in February of this year with a series of stunning early-season performances, including victory at the Tour Méditterranéen and the Tour du Haut Var. Even at that early stage, and even though he plies his trade at Continental level with Endura Racing, Tiernan-Locke was already being touted as a potential leader for the Valkenburg Worlds.

    “I wouldn’t have thought I’d have been here, even this year,” Tiernan-Locke on the eve of the race. “I’ve had some good results and this is another step up again. The team’s taken a leap of faith in me because I’m a bit unproven but I wouldn’t have said I’d have been here a year ago, no way.”

    After riding to overall victory at the Tour of Britain last week, the punchy climber rubber-stamped his selection for the national team and, it seems, guaranteed himself the role of leader. Bradley Wiggins – who may yet have Tiernan-Locke as a trade teammate at Sky next season – endorsed the 27-year-old’s status within the squad.

    “Everyone’s saying he can win the race, we all think he can win the race so we’re doing as much as possible to help him win the race,” Wiggins said, before joking: “So there’s no pressure on him at all.”

    The man himself was a little more circumspect, and he enters the race aiming simply to stay in contact with the front group in the closing stages. “The smaller the group the better, obviously,” Tiernan-Locke said. “In terms of composition, there’ll be a lot of guys who’ve just come out of the Vuelta, who are fast and can climb, so just to make that would be good.”

    Tiernan-Locke’s inexperience at the highest level was highlighted when he admitted that he has never ridden on the Cauberg, and the British team’s late arrival in the Netherlands this week meant that he was unable even to reconnoitre the course beforehand, a far cry from the marginal gains philosophy that backboned Cavendish’s “Project Rainbow” in Copenhagen.

    “I’ve never been up those climbs, never,” he confessed. “We didn’t hit the circuit because there was racing on, but it’s just a rolling area isn’t it? The Cauberg’s not a big climb but you’re doing it eleven times so I’m sure it’s going to be tough.”

    Tiernan-Locke’s unexpected rise has been one of the most fascinating storylines of the 2012, ever since he put the likes of Philippe Gilbert to the sword at the Tour du Haut-Var in February. He made a belated return to racing in 2009 after a bout of the Epstein-Barr virus interrupted his amateur career and saw him take a three-year hiatus, but has made a particularly dramatic leap forward during this campaign.

    “It’s been thanks to my whole approach for the past two years, not just this year,” he said. “The confidence has grown, and I’ve looked to tried to look at everything I possibly can and optimise everything, and obviously one of those things was training.”

    World championships