- Article published:
- September 12, 2011, 17:18
- Cycling News
All-Katusha line-up for Russia
Rabobank riders dominate the make-up of the Dutch squad for the world championships road race in Copenhagen, which was announced on Monday.
Fresh from winning the points classification at the Vuelta a España, the in-form Bauke Mollema will be accompanied by Robert Gesink, who was a strong second at the GP de Quebec on Friday and Lars Boom, who will be hoping to make an impression on the strongman’s course in Denmark.
Giro d’Italia pink jersey wearer Pieter Weening and Maarten Tjallingii have also been named in the squad.
There are three representatives from the Netherlands’ other WorldTour team, Vancansoleil-DCM. Johnny Hoogerland is liable to be an aggressive presence in Copenhagen, and he is joined by Wout Poels and fast-finishing national champion Pim Ligthart.
The experienced Niki Terpstra (Quick Step) rounds out the selection, while Lieuwe Westra and Stef Clement will ride the time trial.
Elsewhere, the Russian squad for the Worlds will be composed exclusively of Katusha riders. Incidentally, the WorldTour team this year made history by sending a team made up only of Russian riders to the Tour de France.
Paris-Brussels winner Denis Galimzyanov could well prove to be the danger man for the Russians, and the young sprinter will be accompanied by Vladimir Isaichev, Alexander Porsev, Mikhail Ignatiev and Vladimir Gusev.
- Article published:
- September 12, 2011, 22:50
- Jane Aubrey
Why experience got the nod over youth
With Monday's announcement of Australia's final selections for the UCI Road World Championships later this month, the nation's Professional Men's Road Coordinator Matt White said that there are "a few sleeping giants" among the team of nine selected for the elite road race while the course itself could prove considerably harder than first thought.
Headlined by 2011 Milan-San Remo winner Matt Goss, the Australian team for Copenhagen also includes Stuart O'Grady, Baden Cooke, Simon Gerrans, Mathew Hayman, Michael Rogers, Simon Clarke, Chris Sutton and Heinrich Haussler. Much has been made of the battle to make the final selection with Leigh Howard, Michael Matthews, Robbie McEwen and Rory Sutherland missing out while Adam Hansen and Mark Renshaw were named as reserves. Why Renshaw missed out puzzled many, but White was adamant that it was a decision based on the course.
White is firm of the belief that the team will be in with a shot regardless of whether the road race finale comes down to a bunch sprint, or a closely-fought battle between a handful of riders following a breakaway.
"With what's happened with [Matt] Gossy's preparation, that's one card we can certainly play and we're not really going to know his form until race day because he's had a little bit different preparation to what we originally planned," White told Cyclingnews. "But we've also got a lot of guys who are going well at the moment and that are very capable of mixing it up in breakaways throughout the race."
Gerrans, whom White believes is in "the form of his life," Clarke, Haussler and Hayman appear to be the men most likely to appear in a breakaway whether it be in the standard early escape or in the aggressive final 50 kilometres.
Then there is veteran Stuart O'Grady who has just finished his second Grand Tour of the year, the Vuelta a España, and was in fine form – "He's one of those guys that you wouldn't want to take to the line on the course like that," warned White.
Getting the mix of youth and experience right
While it was difficult to rule out riders for selection, White explained that age was certainly not on some of the contender's side.
"At the end of the day for the world championships and for a country like Australia, we're there to get a result," he said. "And as much as you'd like to take a lot of young guys for experience, the world championships is not work experience. For the smaller countries, ones that don't have genuine winners, you can blood guys at a world championship."
Last year's under 23 road world champion Michael Mathews is one such rider, but possibly more so was Leigh Howard who has just completed his first Grand Tour – something White explained was part of the problem. With no experience in a three-week race of that calibre, it was too hard to gauge how Howard would be able to perform with 13 days of recovery.
On the complete opposite of the scale is Michael Rogers who has spent much of the season out while he battled glandular fever for the third time. Over the three months leading into the world championships, the 31-year-old will have ridden just the Tour du Poitou-Charentes, GP Ouest-France and Tour of Britain. However, Rogers himself is happy with the way his body is reacting to his return to racing.
"I'm of the opinion that if you're mentally ready to go for the Worlds and if you've done a good preparation I think sometimes - and I'm not talking about winning the worlds but for some of those team roles - if you're hungry and you're fresh I think that can be better than hopefully bouncing out of the Tour of Spain," said White.
"Mick's the consummate professional and credit to him – not many guys could come off three months of not racing and then come back at that level straight away. His value in experience and under pressure goes a long way in a group of nine."
The Copenhagen course and the competition
There may be more than a few names being tossed around as potential victors on September 25, but one thing is certain – it will be one of the peloton's more powerful fast men that succeed with the finish line at the top of a 500 metre incline.
White rates the course as being somewhere in between Zolder in 2002 - where he was a member of the Australian team and Robbie McEwen delivered what was then the nation's best result at a world's with second – and the tough Madrid course of 2005.
"On a course like that there's only so many times that you can commit to a chase as a team of nine and if you're caught out with a breakaway of five or six guys in that last 20-30 kilometres then you've got to sacrifice a couple of guys and something's going to suffer, whether it's your lead-out or you run out of troops," he said. "You've got to have a group of guys that can really race that distance and be aggressive after that 200 kilometres."
Given Goss's unexpected preparation, the Australians will now head in as underdogs – something which will suit the men in the green and gold bands just fine. What makes weighing up the competition particularly difficult is what White sees as there being "no real favourite" to win the race.
"People will say Gilbert's the favourite and going off the season that he's had this year, I think he rightly deserves being categorised in that way," said White. "For me, [Peter] Sagan is a very big dark horse but I think without a very strong Italian favourite, without a very, very strong Spanish favourite, without a strong Dutch or German favourite, I really think the course has a lot of potential to be a lot harder than people expect."
- Article published:
- September 13, 2011, 01:29
- Cycling News
Australian feels he has matured a lot at FDJ
GreenEdge have added to their one day classics stocks with the signing of 24-year-old Wesley Sulzberger.
The Tasmanian native, who has ridden the last three seasons with French team FDJ, has followed a steady development trajectory since his 2007 U/23 World Championships silver medal and believes that under the tutelage of Simon Gerrans, he can start producing results at the highest level.
"I see myself as being able to play a role in the Ardennes classics, particularly riding alongside Simon," said Sulzberger. "Firstly, I’ll be there to help Simon win one of those big races but also to learn from him as these are the races that suit my capabilities and where I want to get some big results in the future. Winning one of the big one-day races is the main goal.
"I’d love to win the Amstel Gold Race or a race like that. I’m still really young and I’m not going to be able to knock one of those off tomorrow but down the track that’s what I’m aiming for."
Like Gerrans, Sulzberger is the type of rider that relishes riding in small groups where he can hold his own on the climbs, and still be competitive at a stage finish. Breaks, and more selective races like the Ardennes are thus well-suited to Sulzberger, and that's where he hopes to build his success in the years ahead.
"Over the last few seasons I’ve learnt that I probably don’t have the physical requirements to be one of the big general classification contenders in the Tours of France, Italy or Spain but I’ll be aiming for a stage win at these races in the future," said the Tasmanian.
"I know I’m strong in a select group, in a small breakaway, and in those situations I’m normally one of the faster guys which gives me a chance to win."
Having come through the AIS program, like a number of the other GreenEdge recruits already announced, Sulzberger is also looking forward to linking back up with old mentor, and current GreenEdge General Manager Shayne Bannan.
"I came through the under-23 national team with Shayne, and to be going back [with him], in a pro team with GreenEdge is a dream come true," he said.
"It’s exciting to be part of the first Australian team at this level right from the very start."
Sulzberger is recruit number 20 for GreenEdge as the team builds a roster that it hopes will qualify it for a WorldTour berth next year.
- Article published:
- September 13, 2011, 03:00
- Cycling News
Worlds participation over as injuries prove too much for Belgian
Tom Boonen (Quickstep) has decided that he will finish his season early, admitting that the injuries he sustained at the Vuelta a Espana have gotten the better of him. The Quickstep rider had been hoping to ride the World Championships, but after consulting with national selector Carlo Bomans on the weekend, they both agreed it would be best for Boonen skip the race in favour of recovery.
The Belgian was forced to abandon the Vuelta after breaking his Scaphoid, a small bone in the wrist on stage 15. The most recent examinations, conducted yesterday in Herentals have also revealed a further fracture, which had been hidden by swelling. Boonen will have to wear a cast for at least the next two weeks, completely ruling out of any chance he had to ride in Copenhagen.
"I'm really upset," said Boonen. "I really wanted to participate in this World title. The route was perfect for me and the preparation program I was working on would have taken me to the championship event in top form.
"Unfortunately, rather than diminishing, the pain in my hand is increasing day by day and I simply cannot race in this condition. I relinquish my place on the squad to an athlete who can be of use to our national team. I wish the Belgian team a championship rich in success in Copenhagen.
"As for me, I need to recover the function in my left hand 100 per cent and then lay out a program for the 2012 season with my team, hoping to have a luckier season than the one I'm having now."
Boonen, the 2005 world champion, had been one of the Belgian team's designated leaders, and his powerful sprint will be something the team will miss in his absence.
- Article published:
- September 13, 2011, 09:16
- Cycling News
E-mails indicate transaction and delivery to close relative in France
While France awaits the announcement of the team for the upcoming World Championships, Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli, who has an incredible 59 national and 13 world titles to her name, has become entangled in a headline grabbing doping investigation. Just a few days after it was announced that she failed to provide appropriate information on her whereabouts three times within 18 months, risking a two-year suspension, reports in French newspaper L'Equipe suggest that Longo-Ciprelli's husband and coach bought EPO via the internet.
The events date back to April 2007, with L'Equipe publishing emails exchanges between Joe Papp, a Chinese contact and Ciprelli. Papp himself has confirmed the dealings in an interview with L'Equipe and the delivery of EPO to Yolande Ciprelli, a close relative of the couple who lives very near their home in the French Alps.
A police investigation cannot be opened against Ciprelli because of a three-year statute of limitations for the alleged crimes. There is also no direct proof that Longo used the EPO that was sent to France from China. However the damning evidence published by L'Equipe is a further blow to Longo's credibility.
"Ciprelli did not mention her name, but he talked of his wife," Papp told L'Equipe. "I understood that Longo was the beneficiary of the EPO, based on the messages. But he insisted to pay for it himself and that the package should be sent to a third person."
The French Cycling Federation moved quickly to investigate the reports in L'Equipe, announcing the opening of a formal investigation and suspending Patrice Ciprelli as a coach. Both Longo-Ciprelli and Ciprelli have yet to comment on the reports.
- Article published:
- September 13, 2011, 11:18
- Hedwig Kröner
Belgian team leader insists he is not the favourite for Copenhagen
Philippe Gilbert maybe the world's number one ranked rider after dominating the classics and totaling 17 victories but he insisted he is not one of the favourites for the upcoming world championships in Copenhagen.
Following the announcement of the Belgian team for the road race, Gilbert admitted that the team would miss top sprinter Tom Boonen, who was forced to miss the world championships as he recovers from a fractured wrist.
"They point at us as favourites, but we don't have a sprinter," Gilbert told DHnet, reflecting on the flatness of the course which could see a bunch sprint finish. "We miss the ultimate weapon - we'll have to do it without a rival for the pure sprinters: Greipel, Cavendish, Farrar and this sort of super fast men."
However the 29-year-old Omega Pharma-Lotto rider, who is back in his native Belgium after winning the GP de Quebec at the week-end, also saw a positive aspect to losing Boonen.
"It's not too bad, because then they can't ask us to control the race - it will be up to the Germans, Brits, Americans and others," he said when asked for comment by Het Nieuwsblad.
Gilbert is convinced that the Belgian squad will be strong for the 266km road race.
"Between Nuyens, Vansummeren and myself, we've won the bulk of the great one-day races this season," the winner of all three 2011 Ardennes Classics said. He hopes that the race distance, possible windy conditions, hard racing and the 300 metre uphill finishing straight will be to his advantage.
"If the other nations make the race hard, then perhaps I stand a chance," Gilbert conceded. This time around, it looks like Belgium may want to collaborate if its traditional rival team Italy launches attacks.
Gilbert's final preparation race this week will be the GP de Wallonie on Wednesday with its steep finish to the citadel of Namur. Back in his native Belgium, his hand injury sustained in a crash at the GP de Montreal proved not to be a concern. Even during the race, as his teammates brought him back to the front, Gilbert reportedly told them: "I am tougher than the tarmac."
- Article published:
- September 13, 2011, 12:15
- Cycling News
Longo's husband considering legal action
Following the publication of e-mails allegedly exchanged between Patrice Ciprelli, husband and coach of Jeannie Longo, and the former US rider and drug dealer Joe Papp, the Frenchman has denied any involvement.
In a statement made by his lawyer, Bruno Ravaz, Ciprelli accused the newspaper L'Equipe of having faked the documents in which the purchase of 80,000 iu of EPO is being discussed.
"Patrice Ciprelli formally denies any implication. To him, they are crude fakes and so he may resort to filing suit in this affair," said the statement.
In an interview with L'Equipe, Papp confirmed the transaction. The French Cycling Federation has already opened an investigation and suspended Ciprelli from coaching.
The revelations have also indirectly implicated another French rider, Edwige Pitel, who was coached by Ciprelli in 2007 when the alleged EPO purchase took place. Pitel was outraged to see her name linked to performance-enhancing drugs in the L'Equipe report, which mentioned that it was Pitel and not Longo who became French champion that year, two months after the alleged emails were sent.
"I am disgusted to have my name tainted like this, by association and without any proof," Pitel told RTL radio on Tuesday morning. "I have always been against doping and now I am being sullied in an EPO affair. As I understand it, I am never mentioned in the exchanges. Just because he coached me in 2007 and because I beat Jeannie, they are saying that it [the EPO] was for me..."
"My conscience is crystal clear, but what has been done is done. The association has been made and now there will always be a doubt about me," she deplored.
- Article published:
- September 13, 2011, 13:05
- Stephen Farrand
Bettini says the Azzurri are ready to be aggressive
Italian national coach Paolo Bettini has confirmed the Elite men’s team for the world championships, giving sprinters Daniele Bennati and Sacha Modolo key roles but insisting that Italy will be ready to go on the attack and blow apart the race if necessary.
As widely expected, Bettini selected Manuel Belletti and Sacha Modolo (Colnago-CSF), Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek), Oscar Gatto and Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini- Neri), Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre-ISD), Daniel Oss and Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale), Luca Paolini (Katusha) and Matteo Tosatto (Saxo Bank-SunGard).
Marco Pinotti (HTC-Highroad) and Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD) have been selected to ride the time trial. The nine riders that start the race will be decided just before the event on Sunday September 25.
“Our mentality for the road race will be ‘All for one and one for all,’ and we’ll be ready for anything,” Tuttobiciweb reported him as saying at the official announcement in Milan.
“I’m not convinced that it will be a big bunch sprint. The course is hard and it’ll be a nervous race. The circuit is a lot like Madrid in 2005 but it’ll be more technical because we’ll be on narrower roads. The finish is slightly uphill after 266km of racing and so will be hard.
“I followed the Canadian races closely and Gilbert impressed me, I think he’s the big favourite. We’ve also got to watch out for Peter Sagan, the Spanish team that has Freire and the USA who have Farrar. Cavendish will be part of a team of eight and not three like in Australia, so Great Britain will have to do their bit in the race too. Australia looks a very united team, Denmark will be dangerous on home roads and then Hushovd is a lone wolf who will be as dangerous as ever.”
The Italian team traditionally tries to dominate the racing, putting two riders in each major attack and then forcing a selection at a key moment of the race. Bennati will be the Italian team’s protected sprinter but team coach Bettini will not ride a defensive race.
“We’ll decide on our tactics but as I love to say, if we need to blow the race apart, then we’ll do it,” he said.
Bettini revealed that Filippo Pozzato called him and told him he was not available for selection. The Katusha rider struggled to find his best form after his nasty crash at the Tour of Belgium and apparently also has some problems with his team.
“Pozzato was under special consideration but he called me and said: ‘Before you call me, I wanted to call you and say that I don’t deserve to be picked.’ I think that was the gesture of a campione and of a real man.”
Bronzini leads women’s team, no Guardini in Under 23 squad
The Italian women’s team will be lead by 2010 world champion Giorgia Bronzini (Colavita Forno d'Asolo), with Monia Baccaille and Tatiana Guderzo (MCipollini Giambenini), Noemi Cantele (Garmin-Cervelo), Elena Cecchini (Colavita Forno d'Asolo), Elisa Longo Borghini (Top Girls) and Valentina Scandolara (Gauss). The final eight riders and the two reserves will be named on Friday. Cantele and Longo Borghini will ride the time trial.
Surprisingly, Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Neri) has not been selected for the Italian Under 23 team. The 22 year-old sprinter has won 11 races this year and is eligible for the Under 23 races because he rides for a Professional Continental and not a WorldTour team. However, the Italian selectors deemed that the rising finish did not suit his characteristics.