Canadian rider to finish race and hunting Olympic berth
The Exergy Tour in Boise Idaho doesn't give out a jersey for the most courageous rider, but if it did, Canadian National Team rider Laura Brown would be a prime candidate.
Brown crashed hard in the final 200 meters of the wet stage 2 Kuna time trial Saturday and was forced to run the rest of the way across the finish line, where she immediately collapsed and had to be helped off the course and into the medical tent.
Despite the spill and subsequent run for the line, the 24-year-old track specialist, who hopes to earn a medal in the London Olympics with the Canadian team pursuit squad, finished 25th out of 98 riders, just 1:38 down on stage winner and overall race leader Amber Neben (Specialized-lululemon). Then she was back at the start line for Sunday's 96km Queen stage.
“I'm just sore,” Brown said before Sunday's start in Crouch, Idaho. “Nothing's broken, so I'm pretty happy to be here. I'm pretty happy to be on the start line today.”
Brown grew up in Alberta and was a competitive gymnast for 11 years, but she switched to cycling in 2002 following a nagging back injury and started training at the Olympic Oval National Cycling Centre. “I was kind of in a no-man's zone after gymnastics,” she said. “I was only 14 years old, so I wanted to pick up another sport. My mom signed me up for a camp, and I started track cycling at 14. I just fell in love with it.”
That love has transformed Brown into a world-class track rider and team pursuiter, a discipline in which she has earned gold medals in the Pan American Games, Pan American Championships and at the Cali World Cup. Now she and her teammates have their sights set on the 2012 London Olympics.
“It's my dream, I always wanted to be an Olympian,” She said....
Ryder Hesjedal's victory in the Giro d'Italia is quite an historic milestone in Canadian cycling. While compatriot Steve Bauer came close to a Grand Tour podium for Canada with a fourth place finish in the 1988 Tour de France, Hesjedal not only achieved the nation's first Grand Tour podium finish but claimed the first Grand Tour victory.
Four Canadians started the 2012 Giro d'Italia, with Dominique Rollin (FDJ-BigMat) plus Orica-GreenEdge's Christian Meier and Svein Tuft joining Hesjedal amongst the starters. Former professional and fellow Canadian Gord Fraser, now directeur sportif of US-based Continental squad Competitive Cyclist Racing Team, was on hand at the Giro d'Italia monitoring the progress of the Canadian riders in this Olympic Games year.
In this exclusive video for Cyclingnews, filmed prior to the final stage time trial in Milan, Fraser talks about what a Giro d'Italia victory would mean for Canadian cycling. Canada currently has one UCI Pro Continental team, Spidertech powered by C10, and one Continental squad, Ekoi.com-Gaspesien, and Fraser is hopeful that Hesjedal's victory will act as a catalyst for something bigger. Fraser spoke about the foundation that Steve Bauer has laid with the Spidertech team and Fraser hopes that big corporate sponsors may be attracted to the sport, perhaps leading to a Canadian ProTeam.
Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez may not have achieved his goal of winning the overall at the Giro d'Italia, but the Spaniard's second place was enough to push him to the top of the UCI's WorldTour rankings. He replaced Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) on the top rung, moving up from sixth place to depose the Belgian winner of Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
Rodriguez, 33, has had his best season to date, winning a stage in Tirreno-Adriatico and two in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and taking second overall there, and then sprinting to his first Classic victory in Flèche Wallonne.
After winning the Giro d'Italia's stage 10 to Assisi, Rodriguez claimed the pink jersey of race leader and held it for 10 of the next 11 stages before succumbing to Ryder Hesjedal in the final time trial.
Hesjedal's overall victory moved him up into the top 10 in the world, he sits in 8th place with Vincenzo Nibali, Samuel Sanchez, Peter Sagan, Bradley Wiggins, Simon Gerrans, Damiano Cunego and Oscar Freire occupying the rest of the top positions.
This week marks the start of the Omega Pharma - QuickStep "Talent Training Camp" specifically dedicated to the under 23 and junior riders. The three-day event follows the success of the initiative in 2011.
The team has invited 10 athletes from the under 23 category and six junior riders from Belgium, The Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Algeria and Australia. The riders will get the chance to get a hands-on, internal experience with Belgian-based outfit.
The athletes were selected based on their results, but also on the advice from the team's sports coaches and Sport Directors. However, due to various competitive commitments, not all of the invited athletes will be able to attend the camp. Those athletes who do attend will pedal side by side with some of the team's professional athletes during daily training regimens before joining individual and group meetings to determine the team's working methods.
"We believe that investing in young talent is a cornerstone for the team's medium and long term strategies," explained Sports Director Tom Steels, who heads this project.
"Last year we had positive comments and feedback from participating athletes, so we considered it important to repeat the experience. The main goal is to give these young athletes a glimpse into the atmosphere on our team, to understand our organization and get close to the team's staff. These types of activities are important for the athletes, to gain understanding as to how a professional team is managed, but they are even more important to our staff. In fact, we can learn a lot from the younger generations, especially when it comes to managing an individual versus the group. These guys are part of a new generation of athletes who in just a few years will be taking the torch from today's generation....
Diadora-Pasta Zara director notes increased professionalisim in women's peloton
Diadora-Pasta Zara team director Diana Ziliute was back on familiar ground last week at the Exergy Tour in southwest Idaho. The 36-year-old raced at least three times at the HP Challenge, the previous incarnation of the biggest women's stage race in the US, and may be best known in these parts for winning the last stage of the final HP Challenge in 2002 from a two-rider breakaway with a then-unknown opponent named Kristin Armstrong.
"Exactly my emotion I can't remember," Ziliute said before the start of Exergy's stage 3 on Sunday. "I make a lot of races, but in general I have very nice memories about the HP tour. Not only the last race HP, but I make a lot of other HP races and I always find a lot of friendly people, very good organization and very nice stages."
Ziliute, a Lithuanian who now runs the Italian team of fellow world champion Giorgia Bronzini, made her own debut in the women's pro cycling ranks in the mid 1990s after winning the 1994 World Junior Road Race Championship. In 1998 she won two World Cup races, the overall World Cup Points title and the World Road Race Championship. She won the Grand Boucle in 1999 and then took the bronze at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
Two years after Sydney she joined future Olympic medalist Armstrong in the winning breakaway during a stage on the outskirts of Boise. That race provided the results that launched Armstrong, who was racing then for the local Goldy's team, onto a pro team and her current path to the top of the sport.
"I have a lot of respect for [Armstrong]," Ziliute said. "Because at this moment, she [continues to] race. I stopped, but she race. She's always strong, and I hope that she can make very good results because I'm happy to see the riders I raced with in the past that they race today. When Ina [Teutenberg] or Kristin...
Prime Minister thanks Hesjedal on behalf of Canadian sport
Two hours after crossing the line and sealing the 2012 Giro d’Italia title, Ryder Hesjedal sat down for a phone conference from his home media. Never before has Canada celebrated a grand tour win, and never before has the national appetite and interest in cycling been so high.
At his home in Victoria, friends gathered around to watch the final time trial in Milan. Nothing surprising about that , but the presence of a CBC camera crew certainly was. For a nation hooked on ice hockey, ice hockey and ice hockey, Hesjedal’s moment appeared to have the nation wrapped up in frenzy. One cycling fan called him the Wayne Gretzky of cycling but more serious was the message delivered from the head of the Canadian government.
“We thank Mr. Hesjedal for this defining moment in Canadian sport,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said. “This remarkable win in one of bicycle racing's most gruelling competitions is a testimony to Mr. Hesjedal’s training, endurance, skill and competitive spirit.”
The man himself was a little more subdued in his choice of words but he did express hope that his win could inspire more individuals back in Canada to take up cycling.
“I think this win will create awareness. First of all people will know that there’s more than one race out there besides the Tour de France. Cycling means so many things on so many levels and there are so many positives, for your health, for your mind, your body, for the environment. Cycling has given me so much and I’ve dedicated my whole life to cycling and this is just a culmination of all those years. Canadian cycling is at the highest level it has ever been and hopefully this will continue that.”
Gord Fraser, now part of the Canadian Olympic set up, was at the Giro and yearned for a big time sponsor to...
He had planned to ride the Critérium, but those plans have now been cancelled. “After the physical stress and the pressure to which I have been subjected in the Giro, it is best to recover well enough to cope with the second half of the season with renewed vigor, with the Vuelta a España as the main objective,” he said on his personal website. “Now I need to rest and enjoy some time with my family.”
The Spaniard will hold a press conference in his hometown of Parets de Valles on Tuesday evening, with a reception at City Hall to follow.
Such a scenario would be a repeat of the Italian selection for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where Nibali got the nod ahead of Pinotti, even though he was the reigning national time trial champion.
Gazzetta reports that Luca Paolini (Katusha), Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia), Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) would complete the Italian line-up for London, with Pinotti included in the reserves alongside Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD) and Daniel Oss (Liquigas-Cannondale).
For the Valkenburg road race, it seems as though Damiano Cunego – subject of some thinly-veiled criticism from Bettini during the Giro – will miss out at Nibali’s expense.
“Vincenzo showed at Lombardy last year and then at San Remo and Liège in 2012 that he knows how to shoulder responsibility and ride with a team behind him. He has a winning mentality and this is fundamental,” Bettini said....