- Article published:
- September 24, 2011, 20:50
- Barry Ryan
Italian denies Vos for second year in a row
While the elite women's road race at the UCI Road World Championships ultimately came down to a sprint royale, champion Giorgia Bronzini (Italy) revealed that the tense afternoon of racing was something of a psychological battle between the main contenders.
Bronzini entered as the defending champion, but Marianne Vos (Netherlands) was the pre-race favourite following her phenomenal string of victories this season, while the experienced Ina Teutenberg had the support of a strong German team. All three would finish on the podium, but Canada's Clara Hughes threatened to spring an upset when she entered the final lap with 34 seconds in hand over the peloton, after attacking with three laps to go.
"I never thought that she would get to the finish alone, because Marianne [Vos] would never, never, never have allowed it," Bronzini stressed in the post-race press conference. "Besides Germany would probably have helped her too."
In a race that was locked in stalemate almost from the outset, Bronzini refused to blink even as Hughes' lead stretched out. "I told the girls absolutely not to move a muscle on the front to chase her," Bronzini said. "I said if the others think we're going to chase her down, they're very much mistaken. I told them not do anything, just stay near the front but no more."
At one point, Bronzini even played the bluff of sending her teammate Elisa Longo Borghini off the front to plant seeds of doubt in Vos and Teutenberg's minds. "I made her do it because the pace was dropping a little bit and so that the others wouldn't know what we were doing, maybe make them think that I wasn't going well and to stress them out a little bit more," she said, smiling. "I think I even stressed Marian and Ina out on a psychological level because theoretically I thought I would have to mark them, but I today I saw them marking me, or at least the Italian team."
In the finale, the Italians also sent Noemi Cantele on the offensive, but the purpose of her acceleration was to thin out the peloton rather than specifically shut down Hughes. "We adopted the tactic in the finale to send Noemi off the front to thin things out, because otherwise there would have been too much confusion in the finale."
The finishing sprint
As expected, the peloton came back together in the closing kilometres, and as the road kicked up towards the line, Bronzini was able to rely on double Italian champion Monia Baccaille to lead her out.
"If Monia hadn't been there, I would have had to fight for Vos' wheel," she said. "But seeing as I had Monia there, I didn't see the need to take that risk as the finish was quite wide. I was still hoping Monia would sense I was there and understand that there was an Italian behind her.
"I shouted at her to go and I think she went with about 200 metres to go. She must have made a lead-out of 100 metres and when she started to fade, I went."
In spite of Vos' best efforts to get on terms, the Dutch woman was soundly beaten and after the race Bronzini was able to joke that the rainbow jersey was something of a revenge for her losing to Vos in her home town of Piacenza at the Giro Donne earlier in the season.
World champion for the second consecutive year, Bronzini noted that her status in the Italian team was very different this time around.
"Last year was a surprise for me," she said. "In the first part of the race in Geelong, I worked for Guderzo and Cantele, but then I was there in the finale, and I was the sprinter so they pulled the sprint for me. That was a surprise, but I started with no pressure last year.
"This year the team was for me. If we arrived together, the last sprint was for me. So I started with more pressure this time."
- Article published:
- September 24, 2011, 22:11
- Barry Ryan
Dutch woman's frustrating streak continues
A class apart throughout the 2011 season, Marianne Vos (Netherlands) once again suffered heartache on the sport's biggest stage in Copenhagen on Saturday. For the fifth consecutive year, the Dutchwoman stood on the second step of the podium at the UCI Road World Championships after being pipped in the sprint in the elite women's road race by Giorgia Bronzini (Italy).
Vos, who won the world title in her first season as an elite rider in 2006, could scarcely hide her frustration on crossing the line and admitted afterwards that she was a little too hesitant in launching her sprint against the defending champion Bronzini.
"I didn't believe it was possible to get five silvers in a row," Vos said. "I made a mistake not to go in the sprint. It was a bit late, and when I started the sprint I think it was close but not enough."
Nontheless, Vos insisted that Bronzini had been the strongest rider on the day. "Giorgia is a fantastic sprinter, she won in a great way. Of course you think back about whether you made a mistake in the sprint, but I didn't. She was the best."
The race itself was a dour, tactical affair that was locked in stalemate until Canada's Clara Hughes gamely upped the ante with a solo move three laps from the finish. Vos explained that the nature of the course meant that the Dutch squad had little option but to pin their hopes on a bunch finish, and that her teammates had patrolled the race to that end.
"It was a perfect race for us," she said. "We knew it was going to be hard to get away in a small group or alone, so we tried to stay in front with all the team. We were prepared for a bunch sprint, and they placed me in a perfect position at 150 metres."
Vos won the Giro Donne, Flèche Wallone and Ronde Van Drenthe in a glittering road season, as well as world titles in cyclo-cross and on the track. Consequently, she was strongly fancied to take the rainbow jersey in Copenhagen. She said that while there was a certain pressure to being so strongly fancied to take the rainbow jersey, she saw it as an inspiration rather than a burden.
"It's the world championships. There's always a lot of pressure in that race. That's what you do it for, you race for the big races and it's great to do the world championships for your country," Vos said. "Of course when everybody in the team does the work for you, you want to end it perfectly. That's a bit of pressure. But it's also great to have and after this season, I was sort of used to it."
Vos's silver medal continues a remarkable sequence that began when she won the junior road race in 2004 and then took silver in the same event the following year. She instantly won the rainbow jersey on stepping up to the senior ranks in 2006, before her current run of near misses began in Stuttgart 12 months later.
- Article published:
- September 24, 2011, 23:57
- Jane Aubrey
Australian hunting for breakaway chances in Copenhagen
Simon Gerrans looms as one of several genuine chances for Australia for today's elite men's road race at the 2011 UCI World Championships in Copenhagen, with Australian Men's Road Coordinator Matt White claiming the 31-year-old "is in the form of his life."
Gerrans countered White's enthusiasm by explaining that it's probably the best form that he's experienced "at this time of year," when speaking to Cyclingnews prior to his departure from his home in Monaco, to Copenhagen to meet up with the rest of the Australian squad.
"It's kind of hard to compare condition-wise between this stage of the season and the spring or during the Tour de France because there's so many guys on different levels," he said. "I definitely feel like I'm doing well at the moment."
Coming off this year's Tour, Gerrans topped the General Classification at the Tour of Denmark – his first overall victory since the 2006 Herald Sun Tour, before going on to finish as runner-up at the GP Plouay. It's a run of form that the Victorian puts down to simply being in good health from June onwards, and also coming away from the Tour de France injury-free given he was forced to endure three separate heavy crashes before finally withdrawing with a broken arm on last year's eighth stage.
"I got through the Tour de France unscathed this year, which is a lot more than what most guys can say, and in good health so I was able to convert that into some good results throughout August and I've just been doing what I can to maintain that kind of form now through until the end of the season," Gerrans explained.
The man for the break
Australian selectors White, Rik Fulcher, Brian Stephens, and Kevin Tabotta chose a team to cover "alternative scenarios" with Gerrans, Matt Goss, and a wily Stuart O'Grady looming as the men most-likely to figure prominently at the finish of the 266 kilometre race for the rainbow jersey.
"Being a world title there's going to be a natural selection throughout the day and then at the final few laps I can really see the race exploding," breakaway specialist Gerrans said of the way he sees the day unfolding. "There're a lot of nations going without a sprinter in great shape so that means that there's going to be a lot of aggressive racing in the last laps so I'm going to do my best to be there and go with those breakaways on the last few laps that's for sure."
Friends and rivals
It was somewhat unsurprising that Gerrans found his moves being marked by occasional training partner Philippe Gilbert in Plouay a month ago, and Gerrans like most, is tipping the Belgian to be in the mix for the podium.
The jury is out when it comes to a definitive answer as to how hard the race will play out with parcours certainly no reflection of overall difficulty but regardless, it's expected that Gilbert will have the answer.
"Just purely for the season he's had, you've got to say that Philippe is one of the big favourites," Gerrans admits. However, he doubts that Belgium should be considered a one-trick pony with Tom Boonen unavailable through injury.
"There are probably a couple of dark horses in that Belgian team with [Greg] Van Avermaet as well, he's one worth watching. And even in a race like I described, there's a couple of guys in the French team that could really make an impact on the race as well. I think it's quite an open world championship but for me you really can't go past Gilbert at the favourite."
- Article published:
- September 25, 2011, 02:25
- Barry Ryan
Worlds podium react to McQuaid's comments
UCI president Pat McQuaid's assessment that women's cycling has "not developed enough" for a guaranteed minimum wage for riders was met with robust criticism from the podium finishers in the women's road race at the UCI World Championships.
At a press conference on Saturday morning, McQuaid was questioned on whether the UCI had plans to introduce regulations governing minimum salaries in women's cycling.
"We have an agreement in men's sport, but women's cycling has not developed enough that we are at that level yet," he replied.
World champion Bronzini was informed of the comment when she met the press after the race, and stated that the time was ripe for women riders to have more closely regulated contracts. "We're not less than the men," she said.
Bronze medallist Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Germany) was more outspoken when she outlined her stance on the matter. "Why do they say that? I think that's total bullshit," she said. "We've seen in the last number of years that it's getting more and more professional. The level is getting harder. You can't come to a race anymore and win if you are not fit. I don't know why guys would deserve a minimum salary and women don't. We're living in the 21st century so there should be equal rights for everybody."
Marianne Vos (Netherlands), who took a fifth consecutive silver medal in the road race, supported Teutenberg's rebuttal of the UCI's position, pointing out that a minimum wage would also serve to raise the level of women's cycling and aid in its development.
"I think we all do as much for the sport as the men do, so why not equal it?" Vos asked. "Of course, it's a younger sport than the men's sport, but it's getting more and more professional and with a minimum salary it can only be more professional."
- Article published:
- September 25, 2011, 05:03
- Cycling News
Barras says it's a promising result ahead of London
Canberra's Chloe Hosking has enjoyed a promising world championship debut with sixth place in the elite women's road race in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The 20-year-old mixed it up with her more experienced rivals in the bunch sprint to decide the title but it was defending champion Giorgia Bronzini of Italy who triumphed on the uphill drag to the line.
She completed the 140 kilometre course in a time of 3:21:28 to edge out Marianne Vos (NED) who won in 2006 but since then has been a perennial bridesmaid with five straight silver medals. Germany's Ina-Yoko Teutenberg was third.
Hosking, who rides with pro team HTC - Highroad, says she's happy with her result and that she managed to avoid crashing during the perilous last lap.
"I was just hoping to stay upright. There were crashes left, right and centre coming down the back straight," said Hosking. "It was fast and it was dodgy but I came away with a sixth at my first world championships so I'm happy."
As has been the case with the previous races the medals have been decided in a frantic dash to the line.
"I was hoping that on that last little kick up it would break into a smaller group but it didn't and I think, you've seen in the last few races it's such a fast course. To stay away is not so easy," said Hosking. "We never wanted to do a lead out train it was more of a sit in, protect yourself and if the girls could, if they still had it in their legs, fire missiles and see if they it would string it out."
Cycling Australian women's road coach, Martin Barras, says the team performance augers well for next year.
"When you look at where our team has been that is our best result for the last few years," said Barras. "I am not going to go and get overly excited with a sixth place, (but) the fact is it comes from a young girl it is a step in the right direction especially heading into the Olympics."
Meanwhile Amanda Spratt, team captain on the road for the Australian women, was one of those who came down in the last lap but recovered to finish the race, albeit more than two minutes after the leaders.
"The crash happened with a couple of k's to go, it was getting hectic in the finish but I'm fine and I crossed the line," Spratt said. "It was pretty chaotic. A flat course and it went so quickly. We had to be really attentive and up the front and I think we did a good job of that.
"The plan today was to be patient throughout the day and wait for the last few laps which we tried to do but nothing was sticking so in the end we put Chloe up for the sprint and she was sixth so a good result for the team."
- Article published:
- September 25, 2011, 07:02
- Cycling News
Seven-time Tour winner "immune to any controversy"
Lance Armstrong has criticised a report by Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera which published details of the international investigation into the activities of Dr. Michele Ferrari and his many clients, including the seven-time Tour de France winner.
Speaking at the XTERRA USA Championship — an off-road triathlon, where he finished fifth, Armstrong denied any continued business links with the Ferrari family.
"I've always maintained those guys are my friends and that's not going to change," he said.
"To be honest, I'm totally immune to any controversy... I've been listening to this stuff for 15 years."
While Ferrari was handed a lifetime ban by the Italian Cycling Federation following accusations that he was a preparatore for many top cyclists, including Armstrong, he was cleared of any criminal charges in 2006. However, any rider shown to have worked with Ferrari faces a sporting ban. Armstrong ended his professional relationship in 2004.
In response to this week's report in the Italian broadsheet, Ferrari issued a statement on Thursday denying the allegations and said "my son Stefano is administering a website which offers personalized training consultancy to various cyclists and triathletes; Lance Armstrong is among them."
Armstrong denied this latest link at the triathlon event and argued that the report in Corriere della Sera was timed to interfere with his appearance there and at the United Nations where he represented his LiveStrong charity.
"It's no accident they leaked that this week," he said. "It's just the clowns on the other side just capitalizing on all you guys standing here. And you guys fall right into it."
Armstrong has never failed a drug test although he is currently being investigated by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles that has been meeting for more than a year to examine illegal drug use in professional cycling.
- Article published:
- September 25, 2011, 07:56
- Barry Ryan
Freire's men not concerned with eliminating sprinters
There was a relaxed atmosphere in the Spanish camp on the eve of the UCI World Championships road race in Copenhagen, with the experienced Juan Antonio Flecha explaining that Oscar Freire and his team are ready to deal with any scenario that arises in Copenhagen.
In the build-up to the race, swathes of column inches have been taken up by speculation over just how many riders will still be in contention in the final lap of one of the least exacting Worlds courses in recent years, but in Flecha's view, any such guess work is idle and even counter-productive.
"I don't know, I don't even think about it," Flecha told Cyclingnews at the team hotel on Saturday. "For me, if you think about how many riders there will be at the end, you are already worrying too much about it. It's not up to us. Oscar [Freire] is able to win whatever the conditions, however the race is at the end. We will adapt to whatever comes."
While the Italian and Belgian teams have hinted that they will look to reduce the peloton and shed the likes of Mark Cavendish before the finale, Flecha said that the Spanish team was not unduly concerned by the race's difficulty or otherwise.
"I think Oscar has showed that he is capable of winning bunch sprints of 200 riders and of winning alone. He can win in many different ways, so he is confident," Flecha said. "It's not that the race has to be one way, it's not that the race has to be hard to get rid of Cavendish or whoever. I think Oscar is able to win in many different ways and he will adapt to whatever comes at the end."
In spite of the embarrassment of riches at Spain's disposal over the past decade, Freire has consistently been the man chosen to lead the line at the Worlds. For Flecha, the logic is simple: "He has already won three world championships, and beyond that, I don't think there are too many riders on the start tomorrow who have his list of victories.
A recurring theme of Freire's greatest victories has been ability to fly under the radar in the weeks beforehand and although he was forced to abandon the Vuelta a España through illness, Flecha is confident that his leader has the legs to take a record fourth world title.
"You can't have any doubt that he's a great rider, and he's in great form for sure now. He hasn't shown it but he doesn't need to show it to come good at the world championships. That's Oscar Freire," Flecha said. "Probably for other riders, they really need to ride well beforehand to have this confidence to be able to perform well tomorrow but it's not the case for Oscar. He is always as relaxed as you've seen today, he's above everything 100 per cent confident."
The Spanish press conference took place ahead of coach José Luis De Santos' final team briefing, but Flecha envisaged that he his primary duty would be to stay close to Freire rather than to infiltrate breaks.
"We haven't talked about specific roles yet, but I think my role will be to stay with Oscar to try and protect him throughout the whole race," he said. "I'm not going to be moving or trying to get away in some breakaways, I'll be more in charge of taking care of Oscar."
- Article published:
- September 25, 2011, 09:14
- Cycling News
Dane sees Greipel as major rival
If Mark Cavendish is in top form today at the UCI World Championships road race, “he will win by 20 meters,” according to his HTC-Highroad directeur sportif Brian Holm. The main rival will be former teammate Andre Greipel of Germany.
Examining the British sprint leadout, Holm said, “With Geraint Thomas, Bradley Wiggins and David Millar for Cavendish, it doesn't look bad.”
If he had to bet on someone other than Cavendish, “it would probably be Greipel,” he said. “The Germans are so strong with Danilo Hondo to lead the way for them. The Germans have a very good team with leadout for Greipel.
Holm noted, however, that the course makes the race unpredictable, as was shown when it was included in last year's Tour of Denmark. Hayden Roulston of HTC-Columbia won that stage.
“That is a very good example that it is not always as you expect. What he did was almost impossible. But it's harder than people think.”