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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, September 27, 2009

Date published:
September 27, 2009, 1:00 BST
  • French elite road team inspired by Sicard

    Romain Sicard (France)
    Article published:
    September 26, 2009, 20:51 BST
    Daniel Friebe

    Team Director Jalabert hopes elite men will follow new Under 23 World Champion's example

    French national team boss Laurent Jalabert on Saturday said his men must take inspiration from their compatriot Romain Sicard as they attempt to end a drought stretching back to Laurent Brochard's World Championship win in San Sebastian in 1997.

    Jalabert was a rider in Spain that day, but on Sunday he will begin his career behind the steering wheel of the French national team car. Having watched Sicard destroy the opposition in the Under 23 race on Saturday, Jalabert said that he hoped his six riders would show similar panache in the elite road race on Sunday.

    Although Jalabert didn't single out any individuals, the best hopes of a French medal surely lie with Pierrick Fédrigo and Sylvain Chavanel. The four remaining members of Jalabert's starting six are Thomas Voeckler, Dimitri Champion, Christophe Le Mevel and Christophe Riblon.

    "We have as good a chance as anyone else," Jalabert said on Saturday night. "We have to believe and we have to ride as a team, just like our Under 23s just have. It's the same for the elite riders as it is for them.

    "The women's race and the Under 23 race have confirmed exactly what I thought before about the course. It's hard. When the race really winds up at the end, there are riders all over the road. Tomorrow it will be the same."

    France's failure to qualify among ten teams entitled to field nine riders on Sunday has been viewed by some as national sporting disgrace. Jalabert, himself a stern critic of French cycling over the past decade, believes that his team can overcome their numerical disadvantage.

    "With only six riders, there's a slight danger of the race getting away from us very early on, but anyone who attacks early will have a hard time holding on," the former ONCE and CSC star said. "We have to be good in the closing laps. That means saving energy early on. Races are won and lost in the finale, especially World Championships. We didn't even see Sicard in the first...

  • Rock racks up a new notch in its product line

    Shane Fedon designed the new frame offered by Rock Racing.
    Article published:
    September 27, 2009, 2:51 BST
    Bruce Hildenbrand

    Bikes and components join jeans and jackets

    Rock Racing had a presence at Interbike, but rather than discuss the plans for its racing team in 2010, Michael Ball took the opportunity to unveil a line of both hardgoods and softgoods.

    Ball's company, Rock and Republic is well known in the fashion industry for its designer jeans so it was not a big surprise to see pants and jackets targeted for the ever growing fixed gear crowd.

    The big news was the entry of Rock Racing into the bike and component arena. When the team was first formed in mid-2007, Ball publicly stated that he would be taking on the bicycle industry in the hardgoods area and for 2010 his company will be offering two carbon fibre frame models and several different fixed gear bikes.

    The RX-1 and X-2 road bikes will be ridden by Rock Racing next season.

    The RX-1 and X-2 (above) are road racing frames developed exclusively by Rock Racing and were designed by Shane Fedon, who honed his skills at Advanced Sports, Inc where he oversaw the development of Fuji and Kestrel carbon fibre frames. Fedon noted that two different layup techniques, "hi-fi" and "lo-fi", are used to give stiffness and suppleness, respectively, to the frames where necessary.

    Production for 2010 is limited to about 2000 framesets which will be available in even sizes from 50-60cm and in three colours - pearl black, pearl white and Kosmos red.

    The 4815 "fixie" line, so named after Ball's favorite track gear ratio of 48x15, includes both a chain drive and belt drive models.

    Rock Racing is partnering with a number of industry leaders to produce special edition Rock Racing components. Prologo (saddles), Full Speed Ahead (cranks, seatposts, handlebars, stems and headsets), Carbon Sports (wheelsets), Louis Garneau (shoes and helmet), Vittoria and Shimano are all on board for 2010.


  • Australia's O'Brien advises Evans and Gerrans

    Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto)
    Article published:
    September 27, 2009, 11:08 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Australia's best placed Under-23 rider says conservation will be the key for Elite men

    Mark O'Brien closed the Under-23 World Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland on Saturday as the best placed Australian. The 22-year-old was ready to offer advice to the nation's Elite men, who include Cadel Evans and Simon Gerrans.

    "Use little gears and conserve energy," he told Cyclingnews of the best way to approach the 13.3-kilometre circuit. "Save as much as you can, because once you punch it you feel it on next lap."

    The Elite men will today race 82.8 kilometres further than the Under-23 riders, a total of 262.2 kilometres that includes 4655 metres of climbing.

    O'Brien, finished the 179.4-kilometre Under-23 race in 25th place yesterday, 1:40 behind winner Romain Sicard (France). Despite being the only Australian finisher, he and Leigh Howard capped off a strong team showing by Australia.

    "This sort of course suits me pretty well," continued O'Brien. "I had a cramp halfway in the first lap, and I thought 'This is going to be a short race', but it went away. I felt quite good, but wasted too much energy here and there."

    O'Brien ends his season with the Sun Tour and then will prepare for the Australian nationals in 2010. Howard will join ProTour team Columbia-HTC next season, but O'Brien is still searching for a team.

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  • Skil-Shimano extend contracts with Goesinnen and Deroo

    Floris Goesinnen (Skil-Shimano) will wear the mountains jersey tomorrow.
    Article published:
    September 27, 2009, 11:36 BST
    Richard Tyler

    Dutch and French rider to continue with Skil-Shimano after signing one-year extensions

    Skil-Shimano has extended the contracts of Dutch rider Floris Goesinnen and Frenchman David Deroo. The two riders will now stay with the Pro Continental team until at least the end of 2010.

    Goesinnen, 25, has ridden with Skil-Shimano since 2006. He began his professional career two years earlier with Team Moser. A stage winner at the Tour d'Ain in 2008, he has also claimed the Mountains classification at the Eneco Tour and recorded victory at Belgium's Nationale Sluitingprijs - Putte-Kapellen in 2007.

    Deroo will enter his fifth season with the team. While he is yet to win a race in his four-year professional career, Skil-Shimano have extended the 24-year-old's contract after top-ten stage finishes at the Tour of Belgium and Eneco Tour this year.

    Skil-Shimano will remain a Pro Continental squad in 2010. The Dutch team announced earlier this month that it had withdrawn its application for a ProTour licence.

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  • Valverde calm at Worlds, despite doping storm

    Alejandro Valverde (Spain) rides to the start of the World Championship road race in Mendrisio, Switzerland on Sunday.
    Article published:
    September 27, 2009, 12:50 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Spanish favourite focussed on gold medal in Switzerland

    Alejandro Valverde (Spain) is a favourite to win the World Championship road race in Mendrisio, Switzerland today, despite facing a possible ban for his alleged involvement in the Operación Puerto doping case. The Spaniard said the same concentration that helped him win the Vuelta a España one week ago will carry him through today's 262.2 kilometre race.

    "I am calm and I am racing for gold. I have already won silver and bronze," Valverde told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

    Valverde received a two-year ban from racing in Italy in May for his alleged connection to the 2006 doping investigation, Operación Puerto. The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) used DNA evidence to connect him to blood seized in the same investigation that led to Ivan Basso's worldwide two-year ban. Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) could enforce a worldwide ban for Valverde based on court hearings to be held later this year.

    "It's difficult to stay concentrated and continue to do your job well," Valverde continued. "Luckily I have a lot of friends and people care around me. Besides, what would it change if I got upset and crazy about it all?"

    Valverde proved recently at the Vuelta a España that he can concentrate on his job. He took control of the race on the mountain stage nine to Xorret del Catí and held the leader's jersey through the following 12 stages.

    "I finished the Vuelta well, but not very well because I had to give it my all to win. But now I am even more faithful my abilities and I have a special motivation."

    Valverde has finished on the Worlds podium three times: second in Hamilton (2002), second in Madrid (2005) and third in Salzburg (2006). He finished 36th in Varese last year, a course similar to Mendrisio's, but with less climbing.

    Spain's Worlds team: Oscar Freire, Juan Manuel Gárate, Alejandro Valverde, Joaquím Rodríguez, Daniel Moreno, Samuel...

  • Columbia's Stapleton "unenthusiastic" about radio ban

    Team Columbia general manager Bob Stapleton
    Article published:
    September 27, 2009, 14:23 BST
    Daniel Friebe

    But ok with trade team time trial addition to worlds

    Columbia-HTC team chief Bob Stapleton has joined what appears to be a growing chorus of opposition to the Union Cycliste Internationale's (UCI) announcement that it will gradually phase out the use of intercom radios in races.

    On Wednesday, the UCI's Management Committee voted that the two-way radios currently used by riders and teams to exchange tactical and safety information should disappear from professional racing. The UCI plans to announce its timetable for implementing the ban in the coming weeks or months.

    Speaking at the World Championships in Mendrisio on Saturday, Columbia-HTC team boss Bob Stapleton said that he was "unenthusiastic" about the proposal.

    "I think the basic premise is wrong. It's dangerous," Stapleton argued. "There are too many cars and vehicles in races right now for it to be safe. I don't think these riders are robots. It's disrespectful to suggest that all they're doing is following suggestions from the car. Some of the guys are very good tactically. I actually think the radios enhance the racing. If you want to do more, there's a lot to do before taking the radios out."

    Stapleton, formerly a highly successful businessman in the field of telecommunications, said that the UCI would be better served using the two-way radios to the sport's advantage. He suggested allowing television broadcasters access to live recordings of messages between riders and their team cars. "Make it part of the entertainment," he said. "Cycling's biggest problem as a televisual sport is that there are too many hours where nothing is happening. Make radios part of the show."

    Pressure on the UCI to clamp down on radio use has apparently come mainly from France. The French Cycling Federation banned radios at this year's French national championships. Tour de France organisers ASO then braved the scepticism of a majority of teams and riders by scheduling two radio-free stages at this year's Tour de France.


  • Italy's Ballerini maintains that his team rode well

    Franco Ballerini thinks
    Article published:
    September 27, 2009, 17:57 BST
    Daniel Friebe

    Favorite nation rode aggressively, but defeated in Mendrisio

    During the evening after the worlds road race, Italian team coach Franco Ballerini bemoaned rival nations' reluctance to collaborate with the Italian Azzurri as his riders failed to extend their World Championship winning streak to four years.

    As expected, Damiano Cunego was the best Italian performer, finishing eighth, but the rest of the Italian team fell apart on the final lap as Cadel Evans (Australia) escaped to victory

    "I don't have a great view of everything that's happening from the team car, but I don't think we rode that badly," Ballerini said to a scrum of reporters at Lampre team bus doubling as the Italian team headquarters this week. "It's difficult when you're the favourites and the marking is so tight."

    Italy had been prominent early in the race, placing Giovanni Visconti, defending champion Alessandro Ballan, Luca Paolini and Michele Scarponi in a large break whose remnants were swept up as the main group attacked the last lap.

    Ballerini swept aside any suggestion that the Italians had committed too early.

    "We put four men into that break to try to force some other teams into action. Unfortunately everyone just watched us. What can you do when the others don't want to ride? Nothing," he lamented.

    On Sunday night, the hysterical blame-game which invariably follows Italian defeats at worlds had already begun. Some pundits pointed the finger at Filippo Pozzato, whose acceleration on the penultimate ascent of the Novezzano climb exhausted him and Cunego's remaining teammates, albeit unintentionally.

    Ballerini agreed that Pozzato's surge had put paid to Ivan Basso and even hurt Cunego. He also, though, argued that Fabian Cancellara's attack on the final ascent of the Acqua Fresca climb was the one that had caused most damage.

    "It was incredible what Cancellara did there," Ballerini said. "[Alejandro] Valverde [(Spain)] was in crisis there, and I think Cancellara really hurt...

  • Isolated Cunego unable to respond to racing-winning world championship move

    Damiano Cunego (Italy)
    Article published:
    September 27, 2009, 18:30 BST
    Gregor Brown

    Best Italian finisher happy for new champion Evans

    Damiano Cunego and his Italian team failed to make history by winning a fourth consecutive World Championships on Sunday in Mendrisio, Switzerland. Although Cunego made the leading break on the final lap, he was outnumbered by the Spanish and lacked a response to the race-winning move by Aussie Cadel Evans.

    "My condition is good, but this race was not the Vuelta a España nor even a Liège-Bastogne-Liège," said Cunego, who finished eighth as the top Italian finisher. "It was a very confusing course and not adapted to me."

    The race featured an early break of 10 riders with no Italians. That wasn't the team plan according to Cunego. The race took a turn for the better, however, on the 12th of 19 laps with a 29-man group that contained four Italians, including defending champion Alessandro Ballan. Unfortunately, for Cunego and his teammates, the group disintegrated, and the race came back together on the penultimate lap.

    "We can't hide that we were not calm, but everyone looked to us [Italy], and it got hard," said Cunego. "There were attacks and counterattacks, and you spend energy: 10,000 attacks with the others sitting on the wheels behind (adds up)."

    Alexander Vinokourov (Kazakhstan) got away solo for the start of the final lap and last two climbs, Acqua Fresca and Novazzano. His attack drew out the eventual winning move with Joaquím Rodríguez, Samuel Sánchez and Alejandro Valverde (all Spain), Philippe Gilbert (Belgium), Matti Breschel (Denmark), Alexandr Kolobnev (Russia), Evans and Cunego on the Acqua Fresca.

    "I tried to defend myself because it was hard, and my legs were feeling it," said Cunego. "If (Fabian) Cancellara (Switzerland) was there, it meant that the race was suited to him instead of attackers like me."

    Evans, Rodriguez and Kolobnev went clear after the descent of Acqua Fresca, which gave Evans space to launch his winning move ahead of the...